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Anti-bullying ordinance approved

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan approved the Anti-Bullying Ordinance of Baguio City passed by the city council last June 5.

Authored by Vice Mayor Edison Bilog, Ordinance No. 59 series of 2017 seeks to prevent acts of bullying from being committed against students in the city.

Bilog said the measure is a must since incidents of bullying have been very rampant of recent.

"On many occasions, bully-students have been harassing, vexing and even killing other students. These incidents have become alarming as it compromises the emotional, social, and psychological growth of students. Also, it hinders the exercise of the students of their rights to quality education and healthy educational environment. Lastly, it affects the peace and order situation in the City," Bilog said.

In the ordinance, the different acts of bullying were defined thus:

Cyber-bullying "refers to any acts of bullying which results in harassment, intimidation or humiliation through electronic means or other technology, such as, but not limited to texting, email, instant messaging, chatting, internet, social networking websites or other platforms or formats as per Department of Education Order No. 40 series of 2012."

Emotional bullying "is manifested through repeated name calling, ignoring a student intentionally, students whispering amongst themselves in front of another student, keeping secrets away from a 'friend,' eye-rolling, embarrassing another student based on religion, physical appearance and financial status and silent but hurtful body motions like pointing, signing dirty fingers or face-making. It also includes shouting slanderous statements, directing foul language and profanity and harassing and provoking victims."

Physical bullying "refers to punching, pushing, showing, kicking, slapping, tinkering, headlocks, school pranks, teasing, fighting and using available weapons, and all other unwanted, sudden physical contact between a bully and a victim leaving the latter defenseless" while psychological bullying "refers to any acts of causing psychological or emotional damage to any pupil or student or learner because of spreading malicious and nasty rumors about them. It includes the experience of being excluded from a group or 'ganged-up' on" and sexual bullying is the physical touching of "the private parts like legs, breasts, buttocks, or genitals of the student."

As decreed, any student or pupil or learner is prohibited from committing any acts of bullying against another pupil or learner or student.

"The school, college or university is mandated to prevent any acts of bullying inside their school, college or university premises and during school-sanctioned activities. The school, college or university is mandated to act immediately on the complaints of bullying committed by their students and within their premises."

"On the other hand, parents or guardians of the pupils or students are also mandated to prevent any acts of bullying inside and outside their school premises. The parent or guardian is mandated to appear before the Child Protection Committee or Anti-Bullying Committee or before the appropriate law enforcement agency when called upon during their investigation."

The ordinance also prohibits school personnel whether teaching or administrative, parents and/or guardians from instigating, initiating or bringing about acts of bullying among students and from omitting to report any acts of bullying and any person from fabricating any allegations of bullying inside and outside any school, college or university premises.

Under the measure, every school, college or university in the city is mandated to create a Child Protection Committee or Anti-Bullying Committee composed of principal or university president, representative of parents, guidance counselor or its equivalent, student or pupil or learner council president and representative of the teaching or academic staff, and representative from the community as designated by the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children that will come up with policies to address bullying.

The policies must include the following provisions:

"Forbid acts of bullying within the campus, in property adjacent to it, during school activities regardless of location, in school buses and other vehicles owned, leased or used by the school, and through the use of electric devices owned, leased or used by the school and forbid acts of bullying that may not directly involve these but create a hostile environment for victims at school, infringe on their rights at school, or materially or substantially disrupt the education process or the orderly operation of the school;

"Prohibit the retaliation against a person who witnesses and/or reports an act of bullying;

"Establish clear procedures on how to report an act of bullying;

"Show how to report in anonymity, provided that no disciplinary administrative action may be taken against a student on the sole basis of an anonymous report;

"Set procedures that would promptly respond to and investigate reports of bullying or retaliation;

"Identify the range of disciplinary administrative actions that may be taken against a perpetrator that are commensurate with the nature and gravity of the offense;

"Establish procedures and strategies on how to restore sense of security for victims and those who have reported or witnessed an act of bullying and assess their needs for protection;

"Define procedures on notifying parents and guardians of both the victim and perpetrators to ensure that acts of bullying would no longer continue and indorse to the proper law enforcement agencies in case criminal charges are pursued;

"Include a provision that students who make false accusations of acts of bullying are subject to disciplinary administrative actions;

"Establish a strategy on providing necessary counseling for perpetrators, victims and their parents or guardians; and

"Educate parents and guardians about acts of bullying including cyber bullying, the policies regarding them, how they can help and support such policies at home."

After the enactment of these policies, the school, university or college is mandated to provide copies of their anti-bullying policies to students and their parents and/or guardians, include them in their student handbook and conspicuously posted on walls and websites.

The measure also specified procedure in pursuing criminal and administrative prosecution of the bullying cases.

Penalties will be as follows:

*For students who are not criminally exempted from liability and who committed acts of bullying against another student, three to six months imprisonment and a fine of P5,000;

*For school, university or college, one month imprisonment and ?5,000 fine on the school president, school administrator and members of the board if the school, college or university grossly neglect and willfully failed to act on any complaints of bullying committed by their student;

*For school personnel whether teaching or administrative, parents and/or guardians and students not criminally exempted if they are found guilty of instigating, initiating or bringing about acts of bullying among students, one month imprisonment and ?5,000 fine;

* For school personnel whether teaching or administrative, parents and/or guardians, and students not criminally exempted if they willfully and feloniously omit to report any acts of bullying witnessed, three-month imprisonment and P5,000 fine; and

*For any person who fabricates allegations of acts of bullying, six-month imprisonment and P5,000. – Aileen P. Refuerzo

 
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STATEMENT IN REPLY TO THE PUBLISHED OPEN LETTER OF BCDA PRESIDENT and CEO ARNEL PACIANO D. CASANOVA

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