Published: 22 December 2022
The Commission on Audit (COA) Committee on Protection of Women and Men Opposed to Violence Everywhere (MOVE) COA Central Office Chapter, both of the Gender and Development Focal Point System (GFPS), conducted a webinar via Cisco Webex on Republic Act (RA) No. 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act (Bawal Bastos Law) on 09 December 2022 as part of the 18-day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW). There were 273 participants from the COA Central and Regional Offices.
Atty. Princess L. Ramirez, Acting Division Chief of the Prosecution and Litigation Division, Prosecution and Litigation Office, Legal Services Sector, served as the resource speaker for the webinar. She was introduced by Director Fidela M. Tan of the IAO.
Atty. Ramirez gave an overview of laws pertaining to women’s rights and discussed the salient features of RA No. 11313, with particular focus on the prohibited acts and corresponding penalties, responsibilities of the employer and employees, and remedies of offended parties. She also shared decisions of the Supreme Court illustrating the crime of sexual harassment.
The Law defines gender-based sexual harassment in streets, public spaces, online, workplaces, and educational or training institutions, provides protective measures and prescribes penalties therefor.
The Bawal Bastos Law expanded the definition of sexual harassment in the workplace to include the following:
“(a) An act or series of acts involving any unwelcome sexual advances, requests or demand for sexual favors or any act of sexual nature, whether done verbally, physically or through the use of technology such as text messaging or electronic mail or through any other forms of information and communication systems, that has or could have a detrimental effect on the conditions of an individual’s employment or education, job performance or opportunities;
(b) A conduct of sexual nature and other conduct-based on sex affecting the dignity of a person, which is unwelcome, unreasonable, and offensive to the recipient, whether done verbally, physically or through the use of technology such as text messaging or electronic mail or through any other forms of information and communication systems;
(c) A conduct that is unwelcome and pervasive and creates an intimidating, hostile or humiliating environment for the recipient: Provided, That the crime of gender-based sexual harassment may also be committed between peers and those committed to a superior officer by a subordinate, or to a teacher by a student, or to a trainer by a trainee xxxx”
In her discussion, Atty. Ramirez emphasized that under RA No. 7877, an offender must have influence, authority, or moral ascendancy over the offended party while under RA No. 11313, a peer or someone of lower rank may now be held criminally liable under the expanded definition of sexual harassment.
Meanwhile, Section 12 of the law states that online sexual harassment includes “acts that use information and communications technology in terrorizing and intimidating victims through physical, psychological, and emotional threats, unwanted sexual misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist remarks and comments online whether publicly or through direct and private messages, invasion of victim’s privacy through cyberstalking and incessant messaging, uploading and sharing without the consent of the victim, any form of media that contains photos, voice, or video with sexual content, any unauthorized recording and sharing of any of the victim’s photos, videos, or any information online, impersonating identities of victims online or posting lies about victims to harm their reputation, or filing, false abuse reports to online platforms to silence victims which explains letter D under Section 16.”
In addition to the punishable acts, the law also imposes on employers the duty to prevent, deter, or punish the performance of acts of gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace.
COAns should also remember to report any circumstance that one feels is considered gender-based sexual harassment to ensure that corrective action is properly implemented.
Assistant Commissioner Alexander B. Juliano of the Special Services Sector who is also the President of (MOVECOA Central Office Chapter gave the opening remarks through Atty. Richard Fulleros, Public Information Officer, MOVE Assistant Commissioner Juliano said the topic will be beneficial for all to be educated on the subject and apply learning in the workplace. Assistant Commissioner Fortunata M. Rubico, Chairperson of the COA-GFPS Technical Working Group, closed the program by thanking everyone for their support to the COA-GFPS throughout the year.
The webinar was hosted by Mr. Christian O. Talisay and Atty. Feliz Hughenio J. Lopez of the Professional Development Office.
The 18-Day Campaign to End VAW is observed in the Philippines every year from November 25 to December 12. The United Nations has defined VAW as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.”
Here is link to the text of RA No. 11313 and its IRR.