MANILA - The government's child welfare office said Friday it considers the bullying incident at the Ateneo de Manila University Junior High School as a crime.
Council for the Welfare of Children Undersecretary Mitch Cajayon said the student seen hurting a schoolmate in a video that has gone viral online may be considered a child "in conflict with the law."
“Nakikita natin sa mga video, it is already a crime. Bullying siya in a way but since may injury na, tapos ang act na... pinapa-kiss ang ari, it is already a crime," Cajayon told ABS-CBN News.
(We can see in the video, it is already a crime. It is bullying in a way but since there was injury and the perpetrator was asking for a sexual act, it is already a crime.)
The video of the incident, which has gone viral on social media, shows a student challenging his schoolmate to fight after asking him to choose between "bugbog o dignidad" (fight or dignity).
Cajayon said a case of physical injuries could be filed against the boy if he is aged 15 years and above.
If the child is below 15, a case for damages against the parents could be filed.
She said the aggrieved party could file a complaint at the Juvenile Justice Welfare Council, an office under the social welfare department which handles children in conflict with the law.
“May facilities tayo na kailangan i-rehab ang bata. Ang bata ay nangangailangan ng tulong," Cajayon said.
(We have facilities where the child could be rehabilitated. The child needs help.)
Cajayon said the case should be handled by the proper agencies, not the Philippine National Police, which earlier said it would like to help in the investigation of the incident.
“Nakikiusap kami na dapat ibigay sa tamang ahensya. Di kasi dapat ikonsider ang bata na kriminal kaagad. Kung baga, may pino-proseso tayo," she said.
(We hope that [the case] will be referred to the proper agency. The child should not be considered as a criminal right away. There is a process.)
“Dapat ang social welfare ay may intervention din dito para ma-assess ang bata kung bakit siya nagkaka-ganito... Paulit-ulit na ginagawa kaya kailangan ng isang social welfare."
(The social welfare department should intervene in order to assess the child why he's behaving like this... He has repeatedly done this that's why [the help of a social welfare worker is] needed.)
-- Report from Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News