Duterte vetoed consolidated bills Senate Bill 1477 and House Bill No. 8238 on Feb. 23 but a copy of the veto message was released on Thursday (Feb. 28).
The consolidated bills prohibit subjecting the child to any form of punishment or discipline using physical force and intended to cause pain or discomfort or any nonphysical act that causes a child to feel belittled, denigrated, threatened, or ridiculed.
In his veto message, Duterte said although he believed children should be protected from humiliating forms of punishment, he believed that disciplining children can also be done responsibly.
“I am gravely concerned that the bill goes much further than this as it would proscribe all forms of corporate punishment, humiliating or not, including those done within the confines of the family home. I do not share such an overly sweeping condemnation of the practice,” Duterte said.
Duterte pointed out the legislation seemed to have condemned all forms of disciplining children.
“Regrettably, this bill places such responsible disciplining of children in the same category as humiliating and degrading forms of punishment, and condemns them all in one broad stroke,” Duterte said.
The Chief Executive also said that the measure violates the Constitution because it intervenes in the life of the family.
“Making no distinctions, the bill would allow government to extend its reach into the privacy of the family, authorizing measures aimed at suppressing corporal punishment regardless of how carefully it is practiced,” Duterte said.
“In so doing, the bill transgresses the proper boundaries of State intervention in the life of the family, the sanctity and autonomy of which is recognized by the Constitution,” he added.
Duterte emphasized that corporal punishment may sometimes be done as “a loving act of discipline that desires only to uphold their welfare” and even raise children to become law-abiding citizens.
“I am of the firm conviction that responsible parents can and have administered corporal punishment in a self-restrained manner, such that the children remember it not as an act of hate or abuse, but a loving act of discipline that desires only to uphold their welfare,” Duterte said.
“Such manner of undertaking corporal punishment has given rose to beneficial results for society with countless children having been raised up to become law-abiding citizens with a healthy respect for authority structures in the wider community,” he added.
Meanwhile, Duterte also stressed that despite the view of Western nations that all forms of corporal punishment are “outdated”, these do not necessarily apply to the Philippines.
“The cultural trends of other countries are not necessarily healthy for our own nation. Indeed, in many instances such trends are of doubtful benefit even for the very countries which originated and popularized the,” Duterte said.
“To uncritically follow the lead of these countries, especially in matters as significant as the family, would be a great disservice to the succeeding generations,” he added.
Duterte said that instead of copying the style of the Westerners, the Philippines should create a “nuanced” approach to disciplining children responsibly.
“I strongly believe that we should resist this trend in favor of a more balanced and nuanced approach, one that is both protective of the child as well as cognizant of the prerogatives of devoted parents who believe in the merits of corporal punishment, rightly administered,” Duterte said.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea told reporters that Duterte vetoed the measure because he still wanted to give parents some “degree of control.”
Former Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher “Bong” Go, for his part, cited that the Constitution recognizes parents’ role to determine how they would raise their children to be morally upright and responsible citizens.
Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution provides in part that “the natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the government.”
Go, however, said there are several laws that provide ample protection to children from physical and emotional abuse.