MANILA, Philippines - A pending bill in Congress seeks to impose stiffer penalties, including longer prison terms and heavier fines, for parents or guardians who neglect their children or wards.
House Bill 2447 aims to amend Articles 276, 277 and 278 of the Revised Penal Code to clamp down on cases of abandonment and exploitation of children.
"It is considered a criminal act for parents and persons entrusted with the custody of minors to abandon them and not give them the proper education that they need," said the bill's author, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez in a statement posted on the Lower House's website.
The bill seeks to punish a guardian who abandons a minor with up to six months' imprisonment and a fine of up to P15,000.
Parents who abandon their children face a maximum of four months imprisonment and a fine of P50,000 to P100,000.
When a minor dies because of abandonment of his or her parent, the parent shall face imprisonment of up to eight years.
"Should a parent endanger the life of his or her child, she or she shall be punished by prision correctional in its medium and maximum periods," Rodriguez's bill said.
The bill also stipulates imprisonment of up to six months and a fine of up to P100,000 on parents who shall neglect their children of school age and deprive them of compulsory elementary education as mandated by the Constitution.
This penalty likewise applies to anyone who has responsibility over a minor and delivered the minor to a public institution or other persons without the consent of the parent or guardian or of proper authorities.
Imprisonment of up to six months and a fine of up to P100,000 shall be slapped against those who shall exploit minors.
Rodriguez said parental authority and responsibility under the Family Code include the caring for and rearing of children for civic consciousness and efficiency and the development of their moral, mental and physical character and well-being.
Parents and guardians are also mandated by the law to keep their children in their company, to support, educate them, to give them love and affection, advice and counsel, companionship and understanding, and to represent them in all matters affecting their interests, he added. - GMANews.TV