MANILA, Philippines – “Who will protect us from being bullied?”
A teachers’ advocacy group posed this question to Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara as they called on him to withdraw his controversial bill which will punish teachers who bully their students.
Under Angara’s Senate Bill (SB) 2793, teachers and other school personnel would be penalized with either imprisonment and/or a huge fine.
Teachers guilty of bullying their students would be punished with a fine of P50,000 – P100,000 and/or a jail term between six months to one year.
If a student attempts to take own life, the offender would be penalized with a P100,000 – P500,000 fine and/or a jail term of one to three years.
Finally, the same fine but a longer jail term (three to six years) awaits the teacher if d***h occurs as a result of the bullying.
Calling the proposed bill unfair, Teachers Dignity Coalition National head Benjo Basas said there were enough laws including Republic Act 7160 and the DepEd Child Protection Policy to protect the students.
He lamented what he described as the negative publicity teachers often have to undergo whenever they impose discipline on their pupils.
“To penalize teachers or call them bullies would be too much. Teachers who are often misunderstood and sensationalized for imposing discipline are actually the ones that need your protection,” he said.
Angara Open to Amendment
In response, Angara said he was open to suggestions to amend the bill.
“It’s good that some teachers’ groups are making their sentiments heard. We welcome it,” he said on Wednesday.
Assuring the teachers that their voices will be heard via meetings and consultations, Angara said the bill is just the first step towards the end goal of ultimately protecting children from untoward violence.
“There’s really a fine line between interfering with a teacher’s prerogative and ensuring our children’s safety given that there are reports of abuses and humiliations still being committed up to this day,” he said. “Where to draw the line between disciplining and teacher bullying is something we have to discuss going forward.”