The Department of Education (DepEd) and the media get reports of very serious cases of bullying at least once a week.
The situation has prompted Education Secretary Armin Luistro to issue in May Department Order No. 40 or DepEd’s Child Protection Policy.
The order stressed DepEd’s “zero tolerance policy for any act of child abuse, exploitation, violence, discrimination, bullying and other forms of abuse…” The directive even contained a provision on cyberbullying. It outlined the responsibilities of different levels of DepEd offices, as well as concerned schools.
With regard to existing cases like the highly publicized incident of a father threatening with a gun his son’s classmate at Colegio de San Agustin (CSA), DepEd, while not directly involved in the prosecution of the case, was closely monitoring its progress.
DepEd’s Anna Cristina Ganzon explained the department could not be the “complainant” in the case but it was “assisting the complainants in securing documentary requirements.”
She said, “As part of our supervisory function over private schools, it is our duty to see to it that laws and rules of DepEd are faithfully complied with by CSA. We have directed the school to report regularly on actions taken (and penalties imposed) regarding the case.”
The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) said it monitored regularly the implementation of various student services in higher education institutions (HEIs) through its regional offices.
“Reports are then submitted to the Office of Student Services for policy review and enhancement. (In partnership with other government and nongovernment offices), various orientation seminars are conducted to strengthen preventive education in the HEIs,” said Isabel F. Inlayo, director of CHEd’s Office of Student Services.
CHEd also issued implementing guidelines for the creation of the student crime prevention councils in all HEIs and was enhancing the guidelines on student affairs and services program with the help of resource persons from government agencies and the academe. A public hearing on the revised guidelines will be held on November 22.
Local governments have also passed their own legislation on bullying and/or violence in school.
In passing Ordinance SP-2157, Anti-Bullying Ordinance, the Quezon City government said it “recognizes and aims to put an end to the alarming problem of bullying among students.” The ordinance said bullying not only adversely affected the victim physically and psychologically, but also socially and emotionally.
The city said the ordinance aimed to help instill discipline as one of the essential values students needed to become more productive, dynamic and industrious members of the community. The ordinance also aimed to protect the overall well-being of students within the school premises and their immediate vicinity.
Under the ordinance, the school and its personnel are given special parental authority and responsibility over their students and their activities inside and outside the school and its premises. “With this, they are the ones principally liable for the damages incurred from acts of bullying, whereas parents or judicial guardians of students who have committed acts of bullying are held subsidiarily liable,” unless it was proven “that they exercised due and proper diligence.”
Violations of the ordinance are punishable with imprisonment and/or fines.
Bulacan passed Provincial Ordinance No. 2012-06 authored by Board Member Therese Cheryll Ople of the First District of Bulacan and Board Member Mark Jerome Anthony Santiago, Sangguniang Kabataan Provincial Federation president.
“With the approval of the antibullying ordinance, all schools within the province, whether public or private, are hereby tasked to formulate guidelines, policies, rules and regulations against bullying which lately, according to reports, has reached alarming proportions,” the ordinance said.
A provincial council, the Panlalawigang Konseho sa Pagsasawata sa Bullying, was also created. It will draw up policies and monitor and evaluate the implementation of the ordinance. The council, headed by Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado, is composed of representatives of DepEd and school organizations.
Like the Quezon City ordinance, violations are punishable with a fine and/or imprisonment.
San Juan in Metro Manila is also considering passing an antibullying ordinance, according to Councilor Angelo Agcaoili, in response to earlier reports of Sangguniang Kabataan that bullying in the city’s schools had also reached alarming proportions.
Allan Bantiles, the father who threatened a CSA high school student, is facing revocation of his gun licenses by the Philippine National Police. The victim’s family is also planning to file a case in court against him.
Court cases are also being readied against four female students of the Far Eastern University who stabbed and critically injured a visiting University of Santo Tomas co-ed. The police said all four suspects had already been identified.
Charges have also been filed against suspects in two fatal fraternity hazing incidents involving San Beda College students. San Beda also expelled 27 of those involved in the latest incident, on the recommendation of an investigating committee.—With additional materials from Inquirer Research