House panel OKs bill protecting teachers from false abuse claims
MANILA, Philippines — A substitute bill that consolidates different proposals seeking to protect teachers and instructors from wrongful accusations of child abuse was approved by a House of Representatives panel on Tuesday.
The still unnumbered substitute bill was approved by the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture subject to style and amendments — over a month after a technical working group was formed to discuss the issue.
According to Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo, the committee chair, discussions revolved around whether teachers would be exempted from the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act (Republic Act No. 7610).
“There are teachers who are really in a pitiful situation. They did nothing, but they were charged. And then their retirement pay would take a hit,” Romulo said in Filipino.
Three proposals were integrated into the unnumbered substitute bill — House Bill No. 364 by OFW party-list Rep. Marissa Magsino; HB No. 549 from Makabayan bloc lawmakers; and HB No. 6940 from Parañaque First District Rep. Edwin Olivarez.
Lawmakers reiterated that, while child abuse would never be tolerated, the government should not turn a blind eye to incidents where the law could be used to go after teachers who were only trying to discipline students.
Similar bills were passed in the 16th and 17th Congress but did not push through in the Senate due to lack of time — leading the authors to hope that the bill would be approved in the 19th Congress.