House increases fine vs sexual harassment
Under House Bill 8244 passed on Monday with 162 votes, the fine for sexual harassment was raised from P50,000 to P200,000.
Michael Varcas
House increases fine vs sexual harassment
Jess Diaz, Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - November 15, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill increasing the fine for sexual harassment.

Under House Bill 8244 passed on Monday with 162 votes, the fine for sexual harassment was raised from P50,000 to P200,000.

The present law, Republic Act 7877, provides for a fine of P10,000 to P20,000.

The imposable jail term remains the same at one month to six months. The judge can impose both penalties.

The bill also expands the definition of sexual harassment and strengthens the mechanisms for monitoring compliance with policies against sexual abuse in the workplace as well as educational and training institutions.            

It defines sexual harassment as “an act, or a series of acts, which may be committed physically, verbally or visually or with the use of information and communications technology or any other means of technology within or outside the place of employment, or a training or education environment that would result in an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for the employee.”

It can also be committed by any person who “makes any unwanted, unwelcome or inappropriate sexual advance, requests for or demand sexual favor, regardless of whether the request or demand is accepted by the object of sexual advances.”

Any person who directs, induces or cooperates with another to commit sexual advances will also be guilty of sexual harassment.

The bill mandates the imposition of the maximum penalties on any offender who has authority, influence or moral ascendancy over the aggrieved party’s work, education or training.

Under present law, sexual harassment is committed by “any employer, employee, manager, supervisor, agent of the employer, teacher, instructor, professor, coach, trainer or any other person who, having authority, influence or moral ascendancy over another in a work or training or education environment, demands, requests or otherwise requires any sexual favor from the other, regardless of whether the demand, request or requirement for submission is accepted by the object of said act.”

HB 8244 also requires the employer or head of office to implement a comprehensive written policy on sexual harassment and to monitor compliance.

The right to privacy of the victim must be ensured at any stage of the investigation, prosecution and trial of any offense of sexual harassment unless explicitly authorized by the victim.

Any person who violates the confidentiality provision will be fined P20,000 to P50,000. 

Principal authors of the bill include Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr., party-list Reps. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, John Bertiz III of Acts-OFW, Victoria Isabel Noel of An Waray, Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol, Bernadette Herrera-Dy of Bagong Henerasyon, Rosemarie Arenas of Pangasinan and Harry Roque, formerly of Kabayan.

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