Toothless law on bullying may soon bite

A neophyte lawmaker on Thursday filed a measure that, if passed, would penalize those who were found to have bullied others in public places like schools, workplaces, or even online.

House Bill 2886, otherwise known as the “Stop Bullying Act of 2022”, filed by Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Partylist Rep. Margarita “Migs” Nograles aims to provide penal provisions on the anti-bullying law and expand its coverage beyond schools to include workplaces and even the internet.

Nograles emphasized that the bill seeks to cover all types of bullying across all genders, and anyone found to have engaged in bullying behavior, even adults or those above 21 years old or the age of majority, will be subject to both criminal and civil penalties.

“Having established and equipped with national helpline through the passing of the Republic Act No. 10627 or the “Anti-Bullying Act of on September 12, 2013, the prevalence of bullying in the country has not gotten down drastically. In fact, at least 6 out of 10 students are being bullied, which is nearly 3 times higher compared to developed countries,” the explanatory note read.

The House assistant majority leader highlighted that RA 10627 is already outdated and has become practically useless because it lacks penal elements that can discourage acts of bullying.

She pointed out that “the bill seeks to stop bullying by placing ‘Hammurabi’s Code’ on the law by attaching penalties and huge fines and create a more peaceful and tranquil environment for our children and human beings in general.”

If the individual found guilty of bullying is over 18, or between the ages of 15 and 18, but acts with discretion, they may be imprisoned for up to six years.

All persons proven to be engaging in bullying, regardless of age or discernment, may face civil liability, including a penalty ranging from P50,000 to P100,000.

Those who are considered Children in Conflict with the Law who are found guilty of the offense may undergo a center-based or community-based rehabilitation program.

The current anti-bullying law only mandates all elementary and secondary schools to adopt policies to prevent and address the acts of bullying in their institutions, and administrative sanctions are only imposable against school administrators who fail to comply, while private schools may lose their permit to operate.

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