DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The city council has passed an ordinance to create a space free from bullying in public and private spaces, online platforms, workplaces, and educational institutions.
Councilor Lorenzo Benjamin Villafuerte said the aim of the Anti-Bullying Ordinance of Davao City is to establish a City Anti-Bullying Council that will be responsible for formulating policies and necessary education, prevention, counseling, and intervention measures.
Seventeen voted for the city law, two objected, and another abstained on Thursday, April 13.
Villafuerte said the ordinance is Davao’s version of Republic Act 10627, also known as the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013. It expands the scope to protect individuals in workplaces, colleges and universities, including post-graduate, vocational schools, and other public places.
The ordinance adopted Section 2 of RA 10627, which defines bullying as “any severe or repeated use of written, verbal, physical, or electronic expression done by a student or school employee to a student that causes fear of physical or emotional harm or damage to property; creates a hostile environment at school for the student; infringes on the rights of the student at school; or materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.”
The ordinance aims to provide rehabilitation, intervention, diversion, and counseling programs to minor offenders determined by the court, while adults will receive counseling programs from the Mental Health Division of the City Health Office.
According to the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment survey published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 65% of 7,233 15-year-old Filipino students reported being bullied at least a few times a month.
The study showed that bullying prevalence in schools in the country is nearly three times higher compared to developed countries, with at least six in 10 Filipino students bullied regularly. It also found that 26% of students in the Philippines felt lonely at school.
The ordinance recognizes the role of Women and Children Protection Desk Officers or Violence Against Women Desk Officers in enforcing anti-bullying policies at barangays and district centers. They have the power to conduct preliminary investigations and refer identified cases to the Barangay Justice System.
The city law created the City Anti-Bullying Desk which will be under the City Social Welfare and Development Office. (originally posted on rappler.com)
Lucelle Bonzo is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.anti-bullying, davao city