THE House of Representatives has approved an expanded anti-sexual harassment law on third and final reading.
The measure authored by Representatives Emmi A. De Jesus of Gabriela party-list and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya, Jr., amends the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 by defining sexual harassment as an act that may be committed physically, verbally, or visually with the use of information communication technology or any other means of technology within or outside the place of employment, training or education.
The other acts covered by the proposed law will also include unwanted, unwelcome or inappropriate sexual advances, demanding sexual favors by an employer, manager, supervisor, teacher, professor, coach, trainer or any person who have authority, influence or moral ascendancy over another’s work, training or education, or making any offensive remark about the victim’s sexual orientation.
Under the bill, sexual harassment will no longer be limited to persons of authority.
“Someone guilty of harassment is no longer confined to just being someone who has authority or moral ascendancy over the victim but anyone, including a colleague or subordinate staff, who makes gestures which are sexual in nature and create an intimidating, hostile or humiliating working, learning or training environment for the recipient of unwelcome gestures,” Andaya said.
The proposed law also holds people who have authority or influence in approving or granting appointments, reemployment or continued employment, granting favorable compensation, terms and conditions of employment, promotions or privileges, with respect to committing acts against employees and applicants for employment or promotion, or admission to an educational scholarships, payment of stipends, allowances or other benefits, privileges or considerations, with respect to committing acts against students and applicants.
The bill mandates employers or heads of offices to adopt a comprehensive, detailed, and written policy on sexual harassment that outlines procedures for the investigation of sexual harassment cases and administrative sanctions to be imposed.
A Committee on Decorum and Investigation should also be established in every office or company within one year of the agency’s existence or initial operations, exempting those that employ or have less than 20 people.
Violators will be penalized with imprisonment of not more than six months or a fine of not more than P200,000 or both at the discretion of the court.
The other authors of the measure are Reps. Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela, Fernando Hicap of Anakpaiws, Carlos Zarate and Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna, Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list, Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Leni Gerona-Robredo of Camarines Sur, and Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman of Abante Mindanao.