The major areas of concern for RA 11313 are as follows:
1 Gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment
2 Gender-based online sexual harassment
3 Gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace
4 Gender-based sexual harassment in educational and training institutions

What acts are considered as gender-based sexual harassment in streets and public spaces?

Bea, a gay man, was walking from home to the corner store when a group of male neighbors spotted him. “Salot na Bea Bakla, bibili ka na naman ng itlog? (Homosexual Bea the Menace, on the way to buy eggs again?)” George asked aloud, grinning.

Romeo wolf-whistled as Chris and Cesar laughed. Rey sprung from his seat and tried to block Bea’s path. Meanwhile, George slapped Bea’s buttocks.

ILLUSTRATIONS BY LUCIANO RAMIREZ

“Ang babastos nyo! Kayo ang mga salot! (How rude of you! You are the menaces!)” Bea retorted as he pushed Rey and George out of his way. “Ipapapulis ko na talaga kayo! (I’ll really report you to the police this time!)”

This is a clear example of gender-based sexual harassment in a public place. Wolf-whistling, catcalling, or giving unwanted remarks toward any person; as well as making misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, and sexist slurs are now punishable under RA 11313.

Even persistent uninvited comments or gestures on a person’s appearance, sexual comments and suggestions are now prohibited. Flashing of private parts and public masturbation, groping or any advances, whether verbal or physical, that is unwanted and has threatened one’s sense of personal space and physical safety are likewise punished.

Public spaces include streets, alleys, parks, schools, buildings, malls, bars, restaurants, terminals, public markets, government offices, public utility vehicles, transport app-based private vehicles, and other recreational spaces like cinemas, theaters, and spas—basically any place frequented by the public.

First-time violators may face a penalty ranging from 12-hour community service inclusive of attendance in a gender sensitivity seminar plus a fine of Php1,000 to imprisonment of 11-30 days or fine of Php30,000.

Who will implement the provisions on streets and public spaces sexual harassment?

The Philippine Commission on Women, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) are responsible for overseeing the implementation and the formulation of policies for the implementation of the new law.

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and local units of the Philippine National Police (PNP), meanwhile, shall be deputized as Anti-Sexual Harassment Enforcers (ASHE). They are empowered to make arrests if the violator is in the act of committing the offense.

What acts are considered as online sexual harassment?

Susan was checking her Facebook account when she received an online message from her former neighbor Dan.

“Hi Susan. Saw some pics you were tagged in. Ang ganda mo talaga. Kakagigil, sarap yakapin! (You’re really so beautiful! I’m afraid I can’t keep myself from hugging you.)”

Realizing she had had enough of Dan’s sexually suggestive messages, Susan finally blocked Dan both on Messenger and Facebook. She also made good on her earlier threat of reporting Dan’s account for sending abusive messages.

ILLUSTRATIONS BY LUCIANO RAMIREZ

Susan took screenshots of Dan’s latest message as well as the others he had sent previously. “Wait ‘til the guys from the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group give you a surprise visit,” she blurted out.

Susan has become a victim of online sexual harassment. Online sexual harassment covers acts committed using information and communications technology which has the effect of terrorizing and intimidating victims through physical, psychological, and emotional threats. These include unwanted sexual, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, and sexist remarks online whether publicly or through direct and private messages. Invasion of privacy through cyber-stalking and incessant messaging; uploading and sharing without the victim’s consent any media that contains photos, voice, or video with sexual content; unauthorized recording and sharing of the victims’ photos, videos, or any information online; and impersonating the identity of the victim online, are also prohibited. Likewise, posting lies about others to harm their reputation; or filing false abuse reports to online platforms to silence victims, are punishable by the law.

Penalty for violation of this part of the law may range from imprisonment of six years, one month and 11 days to eight years and 20 days or a fine not less than Php100,000 but not more than Php500,000 or both, at the discretion of the court.

Who will implement the online sexual harassment provisions?

The PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP ACG) will be the main agency responsible for the implementation of this part of RA 11313. It is mandated to develop an online mechanism for reporting real-time gender-based online sexual harassment and apprehend perpetrators. This shall be done in coordination with the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) of the DICT.

What acts are punished for gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace?

“Your performance assessment score doesn’t look so good, Timmy. But you very well know that we could discuss this over dinner…” Mr. Cabalan said.

“This, your office, is the perfect place to discuss the matter, Sir,” Timmy replied. “And now is the perfect time to do so.”

“I’ve already told you this before, Timmy,” her supervisor said. “I could get you that promotion if you just spend a night with me. I promise, you won’t regret it. You won’t forget it!”

ILLUSTRATIONS BY LUCIANO RAMIREZ

“I’m sure you’ll regret this, Sir,” Timmy said. She bolted the room, intent on filing a sexual harassment case with their human resources department.

Timmy has been exposed to sexual harassment in the workplace. RA 11313 penalizes any act or series of acts involving any unwelcome sexual advances, requests or demands for sexual favors or acts of a sexual nature, whether done verbally, physically, or through any form of information and communications technology, that could have a detrimental effect on the conditions of employment or opportunities. Clearly, Mr. Cabalan’s demand for Timmy to spend a night with him in exchange for a promotion constitutes a violation of the law. It is unwelcome, unreasonable, and offensive, and adversely affects Timmy’s dignity as a person. It also creates a hostile environment for Timmy to be able to work productively. In Timmy’s case, the act was committed by a superior, but the same conduct, when done by peers, is also punishable by law.

Timmy’s office seems to have an independent internal mechanism, as provided by law, to investigate and address sexual harassment complaints. This is part of the duties of employers, which also includes disseminating a copy of RA 11313, providing measures to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, and setting administrative policies related to sexual harassment in the workplace.

What are the provisions for Gender-based sexual harassment in schools?

“Why didn’t you inform us about this the first time, Angelo?” Mrs. Tamayo asked. “As your guidance counselor, I have been designated to receive complaints regarding violations of the Safe Spaces Act.”

“I thought Ms. Osorio would stop after I told her to the first time,” Angelo answered. “But she did it again after I failed to take an exam because I was sick.”

“We have already commenced an investigation, and if the evidence warrants it, Ms. Osorio may be dismissed from the school. She definitely cannot force you to do any sexual act in exchange for a passing grade. Of course, we will also assist you in filing the proper complaint with the police.”

ILLUSTRATIONS BY LUCIANO RAMIREZ

Schools are duty-bound to designate an officer-in-charge to receive complaints regarding violations of the Safe Spaces Act. They are also required to adopt and publish grievance procedures to facilitate the filing of complaints by students and teachers. Even if the victim—in the above case, Angelo—does not want to file a complaint, the school may investigate and take appropriate actions to resolve the situation. Moreover, the school must take immediate action to eliminate harassment, prevent the recurrence of such, and address their effects. Schools which fail to do their part may face a fine of Php5,000 to Php15,000.

What is the duty of local government units in relation to the law?

Local government units are mandated to introduce an ordinance that covers the localized implementation of RA 11313. They should likewise disseminate copies of the law and regularly conduct anti-sexual harassment seminars in order to heighten public awareness. The law also provides for the creation of a municipal anti-harassment hotline to be manned by competent female staff.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS SHOULD ENACT AN ORDINANCE THAT LOCALIZES THE IMPLEMENTATION OF RA 11313 AND HEIGHTEN PUBLIC AWARENESS ABOUT SEXUAL HARASSMENT.

When will the law take effect?

The law was published in Manila Bulletin and Business Mirror on July 19, 2019 and took effect on August 3, 2019. The implementing rules and regulations are expected to be ready by November 1, 2019.

The full text of RA 11313 may be accessed at
https://www. officialgazette.gov.ph/downloads/2019/04apr/20190417-RA11313-RRD.pdf

The author is a graduate of the UP College of Law and former city legal officer of Malolos City, Bulacan.

 

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