Hontiveros seeks inquiry into spate of ‘sexual harassment’ in PH schools

August 31, 2022 Camille P. Balagtas 353 views

SENATOR Risa Hontiveros has filed a resolution to investigate the constant reports of “sexual harassment” allegedly committed by educators in various schools across the Philippines.

In Proposed Senate Resolution (PSR) No. 168, Hontiveros, the principal author of the Safe Spaces Act, cited incidents of harassment and abuse involving teachers at Bacoor National High School in Cavite, St. Theresa’s College in Quezon City, and the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) in Los Baños, Laguna.

“Sigurado na hindi lang ang mga paaralang ito ang may mga kaso ng karahasan, pang-aabuso, at harassment. Often, victim-survivors do not report because their abusers are persons of authority.

How many more of our students are suffering in silence? Hindi puwedeng hayaan lang natin ito,” Hontiveros said.

The senator previously filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 26, urging the Senate to probe the reported culture of abuse, harassment, and violence at PHSA. The resolution was filed after a Vice World News report revealed that PHSA students had experienced “harrowing forms of harassment and abuse” committed by teachers, non-teaching staff, and students.

“The issues in both resolutions will be tackled in the hearing next week, in time for the opening of face-to-face classes. Hindi puwedeng hindi ito matugunan habang papasok na ang ating mga anak sa eskwela. Schools should remain as safe havens for students,” Hontiveros said.

PSR No. 168 additionally detailed the evidence shared online by survivors from Bacoor National High School, including messages of married teachers pestering their students into illegal and immoral relationships despite the clear, explicit, and unmistakable refusal by the students.

Hontiveros also emphasized that the Safe Spaces Act mandates all schools, whether public or private, to publish grievance procedures and to assign an officer-in-charge who can receive complaints regarding violations of the Act.

“Do our schools follow the law? Sexual harassment cases brought up to educational institutions’ notice must be resolved in a transparent, pro-active, and timely manner in order to ensure the swift delivery of justice. Tila nagiging last resort ng mga estudyante ang pagrereport sa social media ng kanilang karanasan dahil baka hindi sila pinapakinggan o sineseryoso sa kanilang mga paaralan,” Hontiveros said.

The senator then stressed that “teachers and perpetrators who harass students have no business remaining in schools in the company of young students and must be made to answer for the consequences of their actions.”

“I take exception to statements made by school administrators who prioritize saving face instead of prompt and transparent case resolutions. Nagbabalik-eskwela na ang ating mga bata. Please be reminded na may responsibilidad kayo sa mga estudyante. May obligasyon kayo na panatilihin silang ligtas at malayo sa panganib. Tungkulin ninyo na protektahan ang kapanan ng bawat mag-aaral. We cannot accept anything less,” Hontiveros concluded.