Monday, 20 May 2019



SALIGAN supports the proposed Naga City’s


The right of the child against cruel and inhumane punishment is not subordinate to the right of parents to discipline their children.

SALIGAN[2], in its mission towards the protection and empowerment of the vulnerable members of the society, supports and calls for the passage of the proposed ordinance Promoting Positive and Non-Violent Forms of Discipline of Children and Prohibiting Corporal Punishment and All Forms of Degrading and Humiliating Punishment on Children.

The proposed ordinance fulfills the Philippines’ international obligations and adheres to the Philippine Constitution.

The UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child[3] provides that the best interest of the child shall be the paramount consideration in the enactment of laws that would enable the child to enjoy special protection[4], including protection from all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation[5].

The more recent and comprehensive United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child[6], reiterated that all actions concerning children, including legislative bodies, must take as a primary consideration the best interest of the child[7].  Furthermore, the Convention protect the child from all forms of violence[8], including abuse and neglect by parents or people exercising parental authority.

“Although the Convention does not specify what forms of punishment parents should use, any form of discipline involving violence if unacceptable.  There are ways to discipline children that ate effective in helping children learn about family and social expectations for their behaviour – ones that are non-violent, are appropriate to the child’s level of development and take the best interests of the child into consideration.”[9]

The Philippines, being a signatory to international instruments and treaties on the rights of children, is duty-bound to comply with the commitments thereto.

Under the Philippine Constitution, we adopted as a policy the promotion and protection of the youth’s physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being[10].  The policy includes the promotion of positive ways to discipline children and protect them from all forms of harmful and degrading punishment.

The proposed ordinance addresses the lack of laws and mechanisms dealing with corporal punishment on children.

In our system, parental authority is the natural right and duty of the parents.[11] In certain instances, our laws provide for substitute parental authority[12] and special parental authority[13].  While the parents have the right to discipline the child[14], they are prohibited from inflicting cruel and unusual punishment to the child or deliberately subject the child to indignation and other excessive chastisement that embarrass or humiliate the child[15].  It is however unclear what is cruel and unusual.  Furthermore, the Family Code provides the remedy of a court procedure for disciplinary measures over the child[16].

Our present penal laws are too broad to address the issues of corporal punishment inflicted on children.  The Revised Penal Code treats of physical harms inflicted upon another: parricide[17], murder[18], homicide[19] and physical injuries[20].  The only instance which deals with a situation where a parent disciplines a child is where death or physical injuries were committed under exceptional circumstances[21].

To address the issues of child abuse, the Philippines enacted the Anti-Child Abuse Law[22].  Although commendable, the law has a very general definition of child abuse[23] as referring to the maltreatment, whether habitual or not, of the child which includes the following:

  1. Psychological and physical abuse, neglect, cruelty, sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment;
  2. Any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being;
  3. Unreasonable deprivation of his basic needs for survival such as food and shelter; or
  4. Failure to immediately give medical treatment to an injured child resulting in serious impairment of his growth and development or in his permanent incapacity or death.[24]

The generality of the provisions of the Anti-Child Abuse Law prompted the Congress to enact a number of laws dealing with specific situations, e.g. child labor[25], children in conflict with law[26], and child pornography[27].  Child trafficking[28] and child abuse committed as a result of violence committed in intimate relationships[29] are also addressed by special laws.

The proposed ordinance is in the exercise of the power of local governments to enact laws for the welfare of children.

The review of the existing policies mentioned above shows the insufficiency of our mechanisms to protect children against corporal punishment, and promote positive discipline of children among parents and those exercising substitute and special parental authority over them.  The lack of legislation to this effect may be addressed by local governments, who have, under the principle of decentralization, the power to enact laws for the welfare of their constituents, especially the vulnerable[30], within the limits[31] prescribed by law.

The proposed ordinance comprehensively defined corporal punishment[32], and more importantly, adopts an alternative form of child discipline[33]. More than penalizing the parents for acts committed in disciplining their children, the proposed ordinance aims to promote positive discipline and children in order to foster a more harmonious relationship between parents and children.  To this end, the proposed ordinance provides mechanisms for intervention wherein parents and other persons entrusted with children will have the capacity to practice positive child discipline.

Given all these, SALIGAN calls for the immediate passage of the Ordinance Promoting Positive Discipline of Children.


[2] SALIGAN (Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal) is a legal resource non-governmental organization doing developmental legal work with farmers and fishers, workers, the urban poor, women, and local communities.  It has established its Bicol branch in 1990.  SALIGAN – Bicol office is located at 104 Abonal-Soria Building, Mayflower Street, Magsasay Avenue, Naga City. Telefax: 8111310 Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Website:

[3] Proclaimed by the General Assembly Resolution 1386(XIV) of 20 November 1959.

[4] Principle 2, Id.

[5] Principle 9, Id.

[6] Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by the General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989, entered into force on 2 September 1990.

[7] Article 3, Id.

[8] Article 19, Id.

[9] (last accessed 27 January 2012)

[10] Article II Section 13 1987 Philippine Constitution

[11] Article 209, Family Code of the Philippines

[12] Substitute parental is exercised in case of death, absence, or unsuitability of parents. (Sempio-Dy, Alicia, Handbook on the Family Code of the Philippine 2002 page 344).  Article 216 of the Family Code of the Philippines provides that the following persons shall exercise substitute parental authority over the child in the order indicated: (1) the surviving grandparent; (2) the oldest brother or sister, over 21 years old, unless unfit or disqualified; and (3) the child’s actual custodian, over 21 years old, unless unfit or unqualified.

[13] Special parental authority is concurrent with the parental authority of the parents and rests on the theory that while the child is in the care and custody of such persons, the parents temporarily relinquish parental authority (Id.)  Article 218 of the Family Code of the Philippines provides that the school, its administrators and teachers, or the individual, entity or institution engaged in child care shall have special parental authority and responsibility over the minor child while under their supervision, instruction and custody.

[14] Article 45, Presidential Decree No. 603; Article 220(8), Family Code of the Philippines.

[15] Article 59(9), Id.

[16] Article 223, Id.

[17] Article 246, Revised Penal Code.

[18] Article 248, Id.

[19] Artcile 249, Id.

[20] Articles 262-266, Id.

[21] Article 247 treats of a situation where a parent caught a minor daughter in the act of committing sexual intercourse.  In case of death of the child and/or the partner, the penalty is destierro.  In case of physical injuries of any other kind, he parent is exempt from punishment.

[22] R.A. No. 7610: Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act (June 7, 1992).

[23] Section 3 (b), Id.

[24] The law provides the penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period (Section 10 in relation to Section 31 of R.A. 7610). Similar penalty is applicable to those crimes committed under Article 59 of P.D. 603 (Section 10, R.A. 7610)


[26] R.A. 9344: Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006.

[27] R.A. 9775: Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009.

[28] R.A. 9208: Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.

[29] R.A. 9262: Anti-Violence in Women and their Children Act of 2004.

[30] The “General Welfare” clause of the Local Government Code of 1991 provides that: Every local government unit shall exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate and incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare (Section 16).

[31] Local governments can enact laws as long as they are not contrary to the constitution and to laws of “higher” sanggunians, and for cities, the penalty should not exceed 1 year imprisonment and/or fine not exceeding P5,000 (Section 458(1)(iii), Local Government Code of 1991).

[32] Section 3 (b) Corporal Punishment refers to punishment of penalty for an offense of imagined offense, and/or acts carried out to discipline, train or control a child, inflicted by an adult or by another child, which result in or likely to result to physical maltreatment or psychological harm or suffering to the child.

 As used in the immediately preceding paragraph, physical maltreatment refers to punishment or penalty which causes bodily harm, including but not limited to the following:

  1. Blows to any part of a child’s body, with or without the use of an instrument such as a cane, shoes, broom, stick, whip or belt, through acts such as but not limited to (1) beating, (2) kicking, (3) hitting, (4) slapping, or (5) lashing;
  2. Acts perpetrated as a form of punishment for an offense committed by the child, such as but not limited to (1) pinching, (2) pulling ears or hair, (3) shaking, (4) twisting joints, (5) cutting and shaving hair, or (6) dragging or throwing a child;
  3. Forcing a child, through the use of power, authority or threats, to perform physically painful or damaging acts, such as but not limited to (1) holding a weight or weights for an extended period, (2) kneeling on salt, seeds, stones or pebbles, (3) squatting, or (4) standing or sitting in a contorted position.
  4. Bringing the child in contact with or exposure to, as punishment or for the purpose of discipline,  external substances, such as burning or freezing materials, water, smoke, pepper, alcohol, excrement, urine or other dangerous or unhygienic substances causing certain degree of suffering, however light.
  5. Use of hazardous tasks as punishment or for the purpose of discipline, including those that are beyond a child’s strength.  Such tasks include but not limited to (1) sweeping, digging or standing under the heat of the sun or (2) unprotected cleaning of toilets;
  6. Confinement, including being shut in a confined space or material, tied up, hung in a sack or forced to remain in one position for an extended period of time;
  7. Any other physical act perpetrated on a child’s body, for the purpose of punishment or discipline, intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light.

Psychological harm or suffering refers to acts or omissions causing mental or emotional suffering to the child, such as but not limited to:

  1. Deliberate neglect of a child’s mental, emotional, physical, social and spiritual needs when said neglect is intended as punishment;
    1. Verbal assaults, threats, or intimidation
    2. Verbal abuse, scolding, swearing, ridiculing or denigrating;
    3. Making a child look or feel foolish in front of one’s peers and/or the public;
    4. Other acts or omissions which belittle, humiliate, blame, ignore or isolate the child.

 [33] Section 3(g) Positive discipline refers to an approach to parenting that teaches children and guides their behavior, while respecting their rights to healthy development, protection from violence and participation in their learning. The positive and non-violent approach of disciplining a child shall include, but not limited, to the following:

  1. Beat-the-Clock which refers to a motivational technique that uses the child’s competitive nature to encourage completion of tasks on parent’s timetable;
  2. Grandma’s Rule which refers to a contractual agreement that allows a child to do what the child pleases as soon as what the parent wants has been accomplished;
  3. Neutral Time which refers to the taking advantage of  time that is free from conflict, such as the time after a tantrum has passed and the child is calm and receptive, to teach new behavior to the child;
  4. Praise referring to a verbal recognition of a behavior that a parent wants to reinforce;
  5. Reprimand referring to statements that include a command to stop the behavior, a reason why the behavior should stop,  and an alternative to the behavior;
  6. Rule which refers to a  pre-determined behavioral expectation that includes a stated outcome and consequence;
  7. Time Out or to take the child out of a situation because of inappropriate behavior, making  the child face a blank wall for several minutes  or until the child calms down;
  8. Responsibility Building which refers to making a child perform age-appropriate simple household chores.