Pisay Ilocos community decry sexual harassment vs teacher

Artemio Dumlao - Philstar.com
Pisay Ilocos community decry sexual harassment vs teacher
Building of the Philippine Science High School-Ilocos Region Campus as uploaded on its Facebook page on Feb. 3, 2019.
Facebook / Pisay Ilocos

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Close to 300 alumni of the Philippine Science High School-Ilocos Region Campus (PSHS Ilocos) urged administrators to ensure justice for the victims of sexual harassment after several students and graduates exposed lewd acts by one of its teachers.

“We find it utterly reprehensible that the person who is allegedly responsible for such dastardly acts remains scot-free and that he can continue victimizing students for as long as he goes unpunished,” an open letter posted on social media said.

They said the number of incidents suggests that school authorities might have concealed the actions of the "sexual predator", allowing impunity to reign.

“We urgently call on our alma mater and relevant authorities to preventively suspend and file criminal proceedings against this staff who perpetrated these crimes and those who helped cover up the suffering that our fellow Pisayers should not have had to endure,” they added.

The alumni also urged the school administration to afford the victims financial, legal and psychological aid.

On September 13, a student posted on Twitter his ordeal in the hands of his teacher, who sent him sexually charged photographs and messages. He detailed how his teacher sent him a photo of his genitals and nagged him to also send a picture of his' for two hours. The teacher also told him that he wanted to masturbate and needed a photograph of his private part. He said the teacher threatened him with his grades.  

Several students and alumni shared similar ordeals they suffered from the same teacher which dated back to 2015. According to the victims, the teacher sent messages on sexual topics and masturbation.

'Academic boycott'

In a statement, the PSHS Ilocos graduating class of 2022 warned that they would boycott all academic activities if the school fails to investigate and resolve the issue and acknowledge the victims.  

“We ask for reform on how the school treats such situations, and for the faculty and staff to be more thoroughly vetted for pedophilla, sexual harassment and assault,” the statement of class 2022 read. 

“This has happened before, and if this goes unnoticed, it may very well happen again. As an institute of learning that upholds truth, the school administration should be responsible for creating a safe environment for its students,” the graduating class added.

The alumni and 2022 graduating batch lauded the courage of the victims who came out to tell their stories to warn others. They also assured them of their support.

“We assure them that we are one with them in seeking justice and accountability and that we are ready to extend support to them to the best of our ability. We call on the survivors to collectively band together to strengthen their resolve and struggle to have the perpetrator and those who helped tolerate his acts jailed behind bars,” the PSHS alumni said.

“Please know that this is an issue that we deem with utmost importance. We will not stand for the injustice and wrongdoing against the victims of this issue. With this, we hope you will be given time to heal and tobe served justice you deserve,” batch 2022 said.

'School taking action'

PSHS Ilocos Campus Director Ronnalee Orteza confirmed that they received a formal sexual harassment complaint against one of their faculty in her September 15 statement. She did not name the teacher.

“We would like to reiterate that the campus condemns sexual harassment in all forms,” she stated.

Orteza said they cannot disclose details of the school’s course of action but assured that they are already taking appropriate steps to deal with the complaint. 

“While reaching out to the school’s administration may seem challenging at times and we acknowledge the power of social media as the easiest recourse to raise concerns and for these to be acted upon, processing incidents through the proper forum is important for justice to be swiftly and properly served while upholding due process and the rule of law,” she added. 

Orteza stated that they would immediately provide psychological debriefing for the victim. 

The director encouraged scholars and parents to lodge reports on similar cases with their complaint desk officer or through the complaintdesk@irc.pshs.edu.ph.

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