Solon seeks tougher anti-bullying law

August 25, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 351 views

A NEOPHYTE legislator is seeking to give more teeth and expand the coverage of Republic Act 10627 or the Anti-Bullying Law.

House Assistant Majority Leader and Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta party-list Rep. Margarita “Migs” Nograles filed House Bill 2886, otherwise known as the “Stop Bullying Act of 2022” to provide penal provisions on the anti-bullying law and expand its coverage beyond schools to include workplaces and even the internet.

Nograles said her proposal also seeks to cover all types of bullying across all genders and age groups and not just children.

According to Nograles, RA 10627 is already outdated and has become practically useless because it lacks penal elements that can actually discourage acts of bullying.

“Having established and equipped with national helpline through the passing of the Republic Act No. 10627 or the “Anti-Bullying Act of on September 12, 2013, the prevalence of bullying in the country has not gotten down drastically. In fact, at least 6 out of 10 students are being bullied, which is nearly 3 times higher compared to developed countries,” Nograles said in her explanatory note.

“This bill seeks to stop bullying by placing ‘Hammurabi’s Code’ on the law by attaching penalties and huge fines and create a more peaceful and tranquil environment for our children and human beings in general,” she added.

Under her proposal, HB 2886 seeks to impose criminal and civil liability for those who are found to have committed acts of bullying including adults or those who are in the age of majority or over 21 years old.

Those who committed the offense at age 15 or lower or above 15 years old but below 18 “who acted without discernment based on assessment” are exempted from any criminal liability but are required to undergo intervention programs and can still be held for civil liability.

Those who committed the offense who are above 15 years old but below 18 who are found to have acted with discernment are not exempt from any criminal liability.

Those who are considered Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL) who are found guilty of the offense may undergo a center-based or community-based rehabilitation program. However if the CICL is not successfully rehabilitated, he/she may be required through a court order to serve the remainder of their sentence, “upon reaching the age of the majority or over 21 years old.”

As a penal provision, the proposed law seeks to impose a jail term of six years and below, a fine, or both. For civil liability, the bill seeks to impose a fine of P50,000 but not more than P100,000 for those who are found guilty of bullying.

The present anti-bullying law only mandates all elementary and secondary schools to adopt policies to prevent and address the acts of bullying in their institutions and administrative sanctions are only imposable against school administrators who fail to comply while private schools may lose their permit to operate.

Under Nograles’ proposal, the following acts shall be considered acts of bullying:

a. Any unwanted physical contact between the bully and the victim like punching, pushing, shoving, kicking, slapping, tickling, headlocks, inflicting excessive pranks, teasing, fighting, and the use of available objects as weapons;

b. Any act that causes damage to a victim’s psychological and/or emotional well-being;

c. Any slanderous statement or accusation that causes the victim undue emotional distress like directing foul language or profanity at the target, name-calling, tormenting and commenting negatively on the victim’s looks, clothes, and body; and

d. Cyber-bullying is done through any conduct resulting in harassment, intimidation, or humiliation, through the use of other forms of technology, such as but not limited to texting, email, instant messaging, chatting, internet, social media, online games, other platforms or formats;

e. Gender-based bullying- any act that humiliates or excludes a person on the basis of perceived or actual sexual orientation and gender identity. Furthermore, any act of retaliation against a person who reports bullying, who provides information during an investigation of bullying, or who is a witness to or has reliable information about bullying, is likewise prohibited.

f. Social Bullying- any deliberate, repetitive, and aggressive social behavior intended to hurt others or to belittle another individual or group.