Philippines’ Duterte backs smacking kids, vetoes ban

A draft law that would have made it illegal for parents to smack their children in the Philippines has been vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte. (File/AFP)
Updated 28 February 2019
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Philippines’ Duterte backs smacking kids, vetoes ban

  • The bill would have banned physical, humiliating, or degrading acts of punishment or discipline by parents or teachers on children
  • It also called for repeat offenders to undergo anger management counselling

MANILA: A draft law that would have made it illegal for parents to smack their children in the Philippines has been vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte, the presidential palace said Thursday.
The bill would have banned physical, humiliating, or degrading acts of punishment or discipline by parents or teachers on children.
It also called for repeat offenders to undergo anger management counselling.
“I am aware that there is a growing trend, prevalent in Western nations, that sees all forms of corporal punishment as an outdated form of disciplining children,” Duterte told Congress, explaining why he would not sign it into law.
“I strongly believe that we should resist this trend,” he said in a statement Thursday, adding he believed parents should be able to impose corporal punishment.
The president has also called for the age of criminal liability — currently 15 years old — to be lowered, to give more teeth to a narcotics crackdown that has claimed the lives of more than 5,000 drug suspects.
Richard Dy, spokesman for the Child Rights Network, told AFP rights groups were surprised at Duterte’s veto, and said his organization will call on Congress to vote to override the veto so it becomes law.
Dy said three in five Filipino children are victims of psychological and physical violence, and “more than half of these are happening at home.”
“There is a cultural norm in the Philippines that we can hit children in order to discipline them. That’s what we wanted changed with this bill,” Dy said.
Studies have shown that corporal punishment of children could lead to depression, suicide, or turn victims into child-smackers themselves when they grow up, Dy added.
Duterte has said publicly that as a child his mother would hit him “with whatever she could grab” and make him kneel in front of the altar with his arms spread like those of Jesus Christ nailed to the cross as punishment.
Dy said the bill took more than 10 years to pass in the House of Representatives and the Senate, with majority approval secured after its sponsors agreed to drop an early provision that would have imposed jail terms for offenders.
Last month parliament passed a controversial bill lowering the minimum age of criminal liability to 12, among measures sought by Duterte to further extend his deadly crackdown on drugs and crime.
However the Senate has yet to pass the bill, which has been criticized by the United Nations and rights monitors.
cgm/tom


India holds ‘Super Tuesday’ vote

Indian National Congress party president Rahul Gandhi (C) gestures after laying a wreath to pay tribute on the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre at the Jallianwala Bagh martyrs memorial in Amritsar on April 13, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 46 min 26 sec ago
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India holds ‘Super Tuesday’ vote

  • Rahul Gandhi is standing in Wayanad in Kerala state, taking a risk as south India is considered a stronghold of regional parties
  • This election is seen as a referendum on his five-year rule — which has seen impressive economic growth but not the jobs that the BJP promised

NEW DELHI: Indians are voting Tuesday in the third phase of the general elections with campaigning by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party and the opposition marred by bitter accusations and acrimony.
People lined up outside voting station at several places even before the polling started at 7 a.m.
The voting for 117 parliamentary seats in 13 states and two Union Territories on Tuesday means polls are half done for 543 seats in the lower house of Parliament. The voting over seven phases ends May 19, with counting scheduled for May 23.
The election is seen as a referendum on Modi’s five-year rule. He has adopted a nationalist pitch trying to win the majority Hindu votes by projecting a tough stance against Islamic neighbor Pakistan.
The opposition is challenging him for a high unemployment rate of 6.1% and farmers’ distress aggravated by low crop prices.
Modi is scheduled to vote on Tuesday in his western home state of Gujarat, though he is contesting for a parliamentary seat from Varanasi, a city in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The voting also is taking place in Wayanad constituency in southern Kerala state, one of the two seats from where opposition Congress party president, Rahul Gandhi, is contesting. His home bastion, Amethi, in Uttar Pradesh state will have polling on May 6. He will give up one seat if he wins from both places.
The voting is staggered to facilitate movement of security forces to oversee an orderly election and avoid vote fraud.
India’s autonomous Election Commission intervened last week to block hate speeches by imposing a temporary ban on campaigning by some top politicians across political parties.
Uttar Pradesh state chief minister Yogi Adityanath of Modi’s BJP was barred from campaigning, in the form of public meetings, road shows or media interviews, for three days for making anti-Muslim speeches. He said a Hindu god will ensure the BJP victory in elections, while the opposition was betting on Muslim votes.
Mayawati, a leader of Bahujan Samaj Party, was punished for 48 hours for appealing to Muslims to vote only for her party. India’s top court ordered strict action against politicians for religion and caste-based remarks.
Hindus comprise 80% and Muslims 16% of India’s 1.3 billion people. The opposition accuses the BJP of trying to polarize the Hindu votes in its favor.
Meenakshi Lekhi, a BJP leader, filed a contempt of court petition against Rahul Gandhi in the Supreme Court for misrepresenting a court order while accusing Modi of corruption in a deal to buy 36 French Rafale fighter aircraft. Modi denies the charge.
Modi has used Kashmir to pivot away from his economic record, playing up the threat of rival Pakistan, especially after the suicide bombing of a paramilitary convoy on Feb. 14 that killed 40 soldiers, in a bid to appear a strong, uncompromising leader on national security. The bombing brought nuclear rivals India and Pakistan close to the brink of war.
Opposition parties have consistently said that Modi and his party leaders are digressing from the main issues such as youth employment and farmers’ suicides.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989. Most Kashmiris support the rebels’ demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.