Student victims of sex offenders told to speak up

September 6, 2022 PS Jun M. Sarmiento 275 views

SEN. Robinhood “Robin” C. Padilla on Tuesday encouraged students who have fallen victim to sexual harassment in schools as well as their parents to speak up against the offense and the offenders.

Padilla made the call at the hearing of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, where he lauded Jerom Canlas for detailing his ordeal at the Philippine High School for the Arts.

“Gusto ko lang po saluduhan si Sir Jerom. Ikaw ang bayani dito, pinagtatanggol mo rito ang mga bata. Napakaganda ng ginawa mo at magkaroon sana ng lakas loob ang mga magulang din na ang mga anak nila ay biktima na magsalita at mag-file ng kaso,” Padilla told Canlas.

“Tandaan natin hindi ito magaan, mga bata ito. Bata ito. Yan ang gusto ko ipaintindi, bata ito, bata ang mga biktima dito, walang kamalay malay, anghel ang mga ito,” he added.

During the hearing, Canlas narrated the abuses he underwent while studying at the Philippine High School for the Arts. Canlas earlier called for justice through his Twitter account.

Padilla said it is painful to learn that such harassment is being committed against youths because they may carry this burden for the rest of their lives.

“If you become a victim of such abuse, it will be hard to forget. This may lead to mental health problems. This is quite a burden, especially for law enforcement,” he said.

Also, Padilla stressed that under the Safe Spaces Act of 2019, anyone who has knowledge of an incident can file a complaint for harassment, to protect the privacy of a minor.

“Sana ay mabigyan ng attention at protection ang bata. Nariyan na batas kung di natin gagamitin,” he said.

Meanwhile, Padilla reminded schools of the stigma of sexual abuse and sexual harassment, which he has seen in the entertainment industry.

He said schools should foster a new culture and new image for the arts, for future generations of Filipino artists.

Padilla added he will write Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte to ensure safe spaces in schools. “Gagawa ako personal na sulat kay Madam VP patungkol dito,” he said.