Nalzaro: Bullying

I was thin but tall during my childhood days. I practiced informal karate because that was the time Bruce Lee and other Chinese karate and Kung Fu movie action stars were very popular. In school, nobody dared to bully me because they knew that I would fight back. In fact, I was the “defender” of my friends and classmates who were victims of bullying. I fought for them even if my “enemies” were bigger than me.

I experienced street fistfights during my adolescence against my “rivals” in courting girls. They provoked me, the so-called “paregla,” so I fought back. I was not a troublemaker, but when challenged and provoked, I fought back. But during our time, it was different. We only engaged in fistfights and sometimes we use our belts as weapons. No bladed instruments and guns. Now, because of the proliferation of firearms, people use guns to hurt or kill their nemesis.

Slow learners and pupils with physical disabilities were usually bullied by their bright and bigger classmates. There was no anti-bullying law that made bullying a crime. Republic Act 10627, or the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013, and its child protection policy was passed by Congress six years ago. This law institutionalized zero tolerance against any form of violence against children.

The law underscores that bullying prevention program in schools should be comprehensive and multifaceted and should involve all education stakeholders and personnel. The law also encourages students who experience and witness bullying abuse or retaliation to speak up and report the incidents to their peers, parents, teachers and authorities for proper intervention. Any information about the identities of the victim and the “aggressor” is treated with utmost confidentiality.

The bullying case of those Ateneo de Manila University junior high school students that became viral on social media caught the attention of Malacañang. No less than President Duterte urged the school administration to look into the matter. Some kibitzers, like politicians, immediately issued statements condemning the incident. On his Facebook account, A Fil-Canadian Afghanistan war veteran Joseph Perez Otazu, who was trained in close-quarter battles, challenged the father of the “student aggressor” to a fight. He even offered money if the father fights him. This is already out of the issue.

We will not immediately condemn the “student aggressor” for his action because we don’t know the whole story. Who knows that the “aggressor,” who trained in Taekwondo, was just provoked and challenged, prompting him to fight back using his skills. What we saw was only a portion of the footage.

But as of yesterday, the university administration announced that the student would be dismissed. Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, ADMU president, announced the development: “After a thorough investigation that included listening to all parties involved, the decision of the administration is to impose the penalty of dismissal on the student caught bullying another student in the comfort room of the school.”

Villarin also urged the public not to be part of the cycle of bullying. This, after the video of the bullying incident went viral. Worse, some netizens threatened the bully and his family. Netizens even mentioned his name, posted his photo and other information on the social media, which is not allowed under the law since incidents like that should be treated with confidentially. This is the sad reality in these modern times. Using technology, people who do not know the real story tend to condemn other people’s action. As the saying goes: ‘If you don’t know the whole story, just keep quite.”


Tomorrow, is Christmas Day. I just want to greet our avid readers, a very Merry Christmas!” Enjoy the holidays.


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