In culmination of National Women’s Month Celebration (NWMC), NIA Region IX conducted a seminar on Republic Act 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 and a pampering session for women at NIA Regional Office Function Hall, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur last March 27, 2018.
Invited resource speaker District Public Attorney Easter Norie F. Talip from the Public Attorney’s Office Pagadian City lectured to both men and women employees the present law on sexual harassment, where and when it is committed, its forms, the functions of the committee on decorum and investigation (CODI), the assistance the agency can provide to an alleged victim of sexual harassment, the charges, classification of offenses, and the possible administrative consequences to the offender.
Atty. Talip particularly clarified the elements by which the law defined sexual harassment, that is, it must be committed within (1) the premises of the workplace or office or of the school or training institution; (2) in any place where the parties were found, as a result of work or education or training responsibilities or relations; (3) at work or education- or training-related social functions; (4) while on official business outside the office or school or training institution or during work or school or training-related travel; (5) at official conferences, fora, symposia or training sessions; or (6) by telephone, cellular phone, fax machine or electronic mail.
Hence, RA 7877 limits the definition of sexual harassment as one that occurs in the settings cited above. Lewd acts beyond the limits provided by RA 7877can be punished under Article 36 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) as acts of lasciviousness. In RA 7877, the offender should have some form of moral ascendancy, influence, or authority over the offended party. Intent need not be proven and good faith is not a defense. While in acts of lasciviousness, the relationship of the offender and the offended party does not matter. Intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person must be proven and good faith is a defense.
Many questions were raised during the open forum before the morning session ended. One of which is, “What are the requirements for a complaint?” for which Atty. Talip explained that it must be in writing, signed and sworn to by the complainant, and must contains the following: full name and address of the complainant, full name, address, and position of the respondent, a brief statement of the relevant facts, residence, in support of the complainant, and a certification of non-forum shopping.
The region’s celebration of this year’s NWMC which is still anchored on the theme, “We Make Change Work for Women,” a theme to be adapted until 2022, aims to bring awareness to both men and women on the rights of women in the workplace, education and training settings. While the women’s pampering session in the afternoon intends to show appreciation to all women in their nation-building efforts.
“The activities today are both mind and body pampering, I learned a lot from this morning session and I am very satisfied, too, with the services provided this afternoon – thank you for this yearly activity," says Engr. Gilliane B. Sapong.
The celebration of the National Women's Month is under the Gender and Development program of the government which tries to address gender inequality and inequity issues among men and women.