MANILA - The United Nations children's agency UNICEF on Friday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to sign into law a measure that prohibits beating children and other physical forms of punishment to discipline them.
Malacañang on Thursday confirmed that Duterte rejected the measure, saying that the President believes parents can physically punish their children in a "self-restrained" manner.
Duterte also believes that corporal punishment remains as an "effective form of discipline" that is also "uniquely Filipino," Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
In a statement, UNICEF emphasized that the bill does not impede parents' right to discipline their child but "seeks to promote positive discipline instead of corporal punishment."
"We reiterate that the proposed law does not take away from parents the responsibility of raising their child or give more authority to the Government. Rather, it contributes to protecting and assisting families as nurturers of children," it said.
"The Government needs to support the Filipino family to ensure that no child should have to experience violence, especially in a place where he or she needs to feel the safest."
UNICEF defined positive discipline as "a non-violent approach to help and guide children to develop positive behavior while respecting their rights to healthy development, protection from violence, and participative learning."
Three in 5 Filipinos experienced physical violence during childhood, with more than half of the cases happened at home, UNICEF said, citing the 2015 National Baseline Study on Violence against Children.
"Children who experience corporal punishment also experience higher levels of aggression and anxiety. Harsh physical punishment and hurtful verbal discipline may lead to overall poor psychological and emotional adjustment," UNICEF said.
An ideal home is where positive discipline is practiced, the group added, citing a 2016 report by the Council for the Welfare of Children.
"We call on the Government to uphold its responsibility to respect, protect, and fulfill children’s rights and to support all measures that support families," UNICEF said.