MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Sunday pushed to strengthen the sexual harassment laws in the country and increase the penalties provided by the statute “both as a deterrent, and as proof of government’s unwavering commitment to protecting and upholding gender rights.”
“Republic Act 9262, the Violence Against Women and Children Law was passed in 2004, more than a decade ago. Republic Act 7877, the Anti Sexual Harassment Act is even much older. It was passed in 1995. We must update and toughen these laws to be able to adjust to the demands of the times,” Pimentel said in a statement.
“The law should be a strong shield that provides protection to victims of harassment, and stiff penalties to offenders and would-be offenders. I’m planning to direct the appropriate Senate Committees to look into increasing the penalties for acts of sexual harassment and sexual abuse,” he also said.
Pimentel added that the Philippines has been a “trendsetter and pioneer” in rights of women, citing that the country has already produced two female presidents, granted women the right to vote in 1937 even before many of the modern republics in Asia were born.
“It’s incumbent upon us today to protect not only women’s political rights but their civil rights as well, those that protect the dignity of their persons,” the senator said.
Reports of alleged sexual abuse and intimidation rose in entertainment and sports industries in the United States dragging some names as Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
Meanwhile, Dr. Carmen Valdes, president of the Assumption College, an all-female educational institution, revealed in a recently-released book this month that she was repeatedly sexually abused during her childhood.
“For example, under the 1995 Harassment Law, those convicted only face imprisonment not more than six months or a fine of not more than P20,000. We should update these penalties to reflect modern realities. As a lawyer and legislator, I consider sexual harassment as one of the sickest and most deplorable offenses that can be committed because it goes into the very dignity of the victim,” the senator stressed.