Implementing rules for 'Bawal Bastos' Law signed

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Implementing rules for 'Bawal Bastos' Law signed
The new law seeks to protect Filipinos from any unwanted sexual actions or remarks against them in public and online spaces.
Philstar.com / Jonathan Asuncion

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Monday led the signing of the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 11313, also known as the Safe Spaces Act or the "Bawal Bastos" Law, of which she was principal sponsor and author at the Senate.

Hontiveros, who is also the chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, said that passage of the act would reform laws and policies surrounding gender-based public harassment. 

"The Bawal Bastos Law is a game changer," she said. "It will promote positive policy, behavioral and cultural changes to end gender-based harassment in public spaces."

Although Congress writes the laws, agencies of the executive branch are in charge of coming out with IRRs that serve as more specific instructions on how the law will be implemented.

The Safe Spaces Act, which aims at bolstering the country's legal framework in the area of sexual and gender-based harrassment, was signed on April 17 and came into effect in August.

Under Republic Act 11313, acts such as sexual harassment, staring, stalking, catcalling or taunting on the basis of one's gender are punishable by law and can warrant fines of up to P20,000. This covers both online and physical spaces. 

"Babaguhin nito ang ating pag-uugali at paggamit ng ating lengwahe sa mga kababaihan at LGBT," Hontiveros said at the IRR's signing ceremony in Ortigas.

(This will change how we act towards and speak to women and the LGBTs)

"Magtutulak ito ng bago at positibong kultura sa mga Pilipino kapalit ng kultura ng kabastusan at karahasan sa ating lansangan."

(This will push a new and positive culture among Filipnos to replace the culture of vulgarity and violence on our streets)

The Philippine Commission on Women held a series of eight nationwide consultations before signing the IRR.

In a press release, Hontiveros said that the law was subjected to "intense review by government agencies, advocacy groups and members of the academe."

Bawal Bastos declares as State policy the "role of women in nation-building" and the "fundamental equality before the law of both men and women."

READ: CHR seeks full implementation of ‘Bawal Bastos’ law

Local governments to pass anti-harassment ordinances

Section 8 of the act states that local government units hold premium responsibility in the implementation of the law. Under the Bawal Bastos Law, LGUs are tasked to pass local ordinance enforcing the act by imposing fines on erring citizens, publicize and disseminate the act and establish an anti-sexual harassment hotline.

"Bilang na ang mga araw ng mga 'Boy Bastos' at lahat ng sino man na gagawa ng gender-based public harassment," Hontiveros warned. 

(The days of the 'Boy Bastos' and thise who commit gender-based public harassment are numbered)

The Safe Spaces Act is an expansion of the earlier Republic Act 7877, or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, where sexual harassment was defined as being "committed by an employer, employee, manager, supervisor, agent of the employer, teacher, instructor, professor, coach, trainor, or any other person who, having authority, influence or moral ascendancy over another in a work or training or education environment." 

Under the new law, sexual harassment can be committed even outside the workplace, whether online or in person. 

Of the passage of the Safe Spaces Act, Sen. Panfilo Lacson too to his Twitter account in July to say that "walang matitira sa gobyerno (nobody will be left in government)." 

Gabriela Women's Party previously said that the law would be difficult to implement under President Rodrigo Duterte's administration, calling him the "the chief propagator of a culture that degrades and objectifies women, and that which exhorts catcallers, sexual offenders and even uniformed personnel to disrespect women."

Duterte has long been criticized for his constant sexist and misogynistic rhetoric dating back to his campaign for the presidency. 

But his spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the president would be the first to follow the law, pointing out that Duterte had signed it into law.

"First of all, you’ve assumed that the president is bastos (lewd), naging bastos (that he was ever lewd). He never was bastos. When he cracks jokes, it was intended to make people laugh, never to offend," Panelo said in July.

"I am confident that the IRR is appropriate and sufficient to ensure that the provisions of the law are easily understood, that offenders will be held accountable while ensuring due process, and most importantly, that victims are assured of justice and assistance to help them recover and move on," Hontiveros said.

RELATED: Use 'Bawal Bastos' Law to address harassment complaint, Angkas urged



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