MANILA - Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas said Thursday he made an "honest mistake" when his proposal to ban homework during weekends accidentally included a provision on penalties for teachers.
The proposed law seeks to ban elementary and high school teachers from giving assignments over the weekend. Violators will face a fine of P50,000 and jail time of up to 2 years.
The penalty provision was for another bill that Vargas's staff prepared at the same time as the homework ban proposal, he said.
"It was a legislative mistake. Honest mistake po iyun na pinaninindigan ko naman po. Hindi naman kasi iyan criminal law. Hindi 'yan dapat lagyan ng penal [aspect]... Para po iyon sa isang bill kong inihahanda. Nalito lang po kami," Vargas told radio DZMM.
(It was a legislative mistake, honest mistake that I take responsibility for. That is not a criminal law, so it shouldn't have a penal aspect. It was for another bill that I was preparing, we were just confused.)
"Pasensya na po sa mga naging concerned, pasensya na po sa mga nasaktan," he added.
(I apologize to those who were concerned, to those who were hurt.)
Vargas said he sought a homework ban during weekends to provide "development opportunities to students in aspects outside the classroom."
The time that students would spend on homework could be dedicated instead to honing entrepreneurship skills with their family and friends, or joining sports competitions and artistic workshops, he said.
Asked to react on criticism that students may instead spend more time on social media, Vargas said: "Parenting is another topic for another day, for another bill."
He also said he was "flexible" on implementing rules for the bill, which may allow homework to make up for class suspensions due to weather disturbances.
"Ang gusto lang po talaga natin dito (all we want here is to have a), holistic approach," he said.
A separate bill by House Deputy Speaker Evelina Escudero seeks a no-homework policy for kinder to grade 12 students. Students in this level will also be barred from taking their textbooks out of all public and private schools, under the measure.