By Danny O. Calleja
There is no more lashing of children in this remote Bicol municipality by the coastlines of the Visayan Sea.
This is what the local government here is achieving in enforcing the Cawayan Child Welfare Code (CCWC), a painstaking piece of legislation aimed at safeguarding the rights of children to be “endowed with dignity and worth of a human being and wholesome family life that will provide him with love, care, understanding, guidance and proper counseling”.
The CCWC is towards the suppression of corporal punishment which is the unusual punishment or acts that subject the child to indignities and other excessive chastisement that embarrasses or humiliates the child, Edgar Candor, the town mayor over the week said.
He said that Presidential Decree No. 603 or that promulgated in December 1974 the child and Youth Welfare Code of the Philippines says that “every child has the right to a well-rounded development of his personality to the end that he may become a happy, useful and active member of society” thus, he should be treated with sympathy and understanding.
“We based the CCWC on this Code including the penalties to violators prescribed by it which are imprisonment from two to six months or fine not exceeding P500 or both at the discretion of the Court,” Candor said.
Under the local Code, he said corporal punishment that includes physical punishment imposed by an adult or by another child to discipline, train or control the victim is an unacceptable method of imposing discipline on children as it develops in children anger, resentment and low self-esteem.
“Corporal punishment instills in our children domestic violence that makes them confused because the persons they rely on the most for love and affection are allowed to physically hurt and abuse them in the guise of discipline. Children who are afflicted with corporal punishment eventually become a part of our social ills in the future,” the mayor explained.
“We take the pride of pioneering this campaign in the province or perhaps even across the Bicol region. Masbate has been known for violence, reason why it has been once tagged as the murder capital of Bicol and we know that one factor which earned for us this undesirable tag was the way our children were handled in the past,” Candor said.
“We are on our way into reversing that situation as our place will become a showcase of children discipline not through corporal punishment but through understanding, care and proper guidance so that they grow up as peace-loving and dignified citizens,” he added.
The anti-corporal punishment on children advocacy of this municipality is supported by the Philippine Legislative Council for Policy and Development (PLCPD) that campaigns to end such kind of child abuse in order for the children to fully achieve their callings as an individual.
During the recent launching here of the advocacy program in cooperation with Plan International, PLCPD representative Dante Tizon said that the municipality was chosen as pilot area in Masbate province of this campaign not because there is a big problem concerning corporal punishment of children in this place but because of its receptiveness of the project.