Slapping or even pinching a child’s ears will now be prohibited in Cebu City after the City Council approved last Wednesday an ordinance which penalizes such act and other acts that will cause pain and humiliation to a child.
Violators will be meted with a maximum fine of P5, 000 and/or imprisonment for a maximum of six months.
The vote was already delayed in past sessions mainly on disagreement over the liability of parents.
But yesterday, the ordinance was finally approved when Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young called for a vote.
Those who voted in favor were Councilors Japson, Dizon, Po, Noel Wenceslao, Jun Pe, Micheal Rallota, Raul Alcoseba, Bebot Abellanosa, Sisinio Andales and Alvin Arcilla led to passage of the ordinance.
“I am for the passage of an ordinance banning corporal punishment but this should not include the parents,” said Daluz. His vote along with the vote of Councilor Ronald Cuenco were counted as negative votes.
Councilors Leah Japson, Margot Osmeña, Alvin Dizon and SK president John Philip Po II filed the ordinance before the City Council last February.
Quoting a UNICEF study which was made in 2005, councilor Dizon said in most cases it is the parent who inflicts physical abuse on a child.
Dizon said 85 percent of the children who were surveyed claimed having experienced punishment in their respective homes.
Councilor Jose Daluz III, a lawyer, said that parents should also be exempt from the penalties provided for in the ordinance.
He said it is the right of parents to discipline their children.
Discipline would sometimes include the need to spank a child. Councilor Ronald Cuenco concurred with Daluz.
“Whether the punishment is justifiable or not, parents should not be made liable because it is a right of the parent to discipline their children,” he said.
Daluz said physical abuse inflicted by parents are already punishable under Republic Act 7610 which is also known as the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination.
Section 5 of the ordinance says that anyone can report abuse on children to the barangay police of the health care provider who will in turn refer the case to the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS).
It will then be the job of DSWS social workers to assess the case and determine if there was a need to charge the violator in court.
First time violators will most likely be recommended for psychological intervention which include counseling, anger management and referrals to rehabilitative services.
Repeated violation of the ordinance will already result to the filing of a court case against the violator, said Japson.
“The ordinance is enacted to impose upon parents, teachers, guardians and all persons legally responsible for the care and custody of the child the preservation of his/her dignity and the protection of his/her welfare at all times to the end that the child becomes a responsible member of society,” said the approved ordinance.
The Cebu City Commission for the Welfare and Protection of children is mandated by the approved ordinance to set aside 2 percent of their annual budget for intervention programs, training of parents on positive and non-violent discipline, and referral of the child victim and her/his abuser for psychological interventions.
The ordinance will be implemented 15 days from its publication.
Japson assured Daluz that the ordinance would not necessarily deprive parents their right to impose discipline on their children. She said it only prohhibits excessive abuse on a child. /Doris C. Bongcac and Patricia Andrea Pateña