Roman files House Bill to amend Anti-Child Abuse Law

Bataan 1st District Representative Geraldine B. Roman has filed House Bill No. 5662 that calls for the amendment of Republic Act 7610 commonly known as “Anti-Child Abuse Law.”

“1992 was a quarter of a century ago yet until now there are still numerous instances where minors are exploited by both foreign predators and domestic abusers. The law definitely needs urgent updating,” Roman said in her Facebook Page.

RA 7610 or “The Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act” was enacted into law on June 17, 1992. The law was designed specifically to allow the State to play a vital role in the safe and wholesome rearing of its children for them to be protected to become good citizens of the country.

“It is time to put a stop to any person who commits child abuse and exploitation. We must protect our country’s children,” Roman reiterated.

In the first quarter of 2016 alone, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) thru Sec. Judy M. Taguiwalo reported 2,147 cases of child abuse, more than one–fourth of which were of sexual nature. The said figure was nearly half of the total 4,374 child abuse cases reported in the entire 2015 data of the Policy Development and Planning Bureau of the DSWD.

Some of the child abuses reported were neglect, abandonment, sexual exploitation, trafficking, physical abuse and maltreatment, illegal recruitment and child labor.

A 2009 report of PLAN Philippines, a children’s organization, published that at least 5 out of 10 Filipino children in grades 1-3, 7 out of 10 in grades 4-6, and 6 out of 10 in high school have experienced some kind of violence in school.

The most common forms of physical violence experienced by Filipino children are: pinching; having objects such as books, chalks, erasers thrown at them; being kicked, choked, hit on the head or nape area, or having one’s head banged.

Physical punishments, the report stated, are linked to poor learning outcomes and higher dropout rates among students. It has found that children who are discriminated on the grounds of disability, class, ethnicity, and sexuality are more likely to suffer from such punishments.

“Those who discriminate against the children of indigenous cultural communities must not only face penalties, they must also undergo a re-education and re-orientation program on the indigenous peoples and culture of the Philippines,” Roman added.

She added that any person who shall hire, use, persuade, induce, or coerce a child to perform in obscene exhibitions and indecent shows or pornographic materials, shall suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period.

Roman’s bill also want to amend Sections 9, 10, 16 and 20 pertaining to heavier penalties and punishments for offenders of the said law.

For example, the present penalty under the R.A. 7610 for an offender having a minor aged 12 years old in a private place like hotel, motel, cabaret or a pension house shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor and a fine of not less than P50 thousand but under Roman’s proposal, it will become a penalty of reclusion temporal and a fine of not less than P500 thousand. — MHIKE R. CIGARAL