Fred Lim makes a comeback/Safe cities for women and girls

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas - The Philippine Star

Former mayor and senator Fred Lim is making a comeback, i.e., running for  chief executive  of  the city in the 2016 polls. He is the rare type  of politician who curses no one,  has run after criminals with passion, and who lives with only one wife and is proud of that fact.

His campaign calls for demythologizing charges raised against him. At the Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel media forum, he denied the “myths” circulated by his opponents. He showed a signed report by a finance officer showing that there was money in the city coffers when he stepped down from office. He wants to return the city’s benevolent program consisting of free education, hospitalization, birthing and burial services, and looks askance at the current city’s real estate taxes. He wants to bring down real estate taxes that businessmen complain loudly about.

Fred, a Chinese-Filipino, rose from poverty to become the most heavily decorated police officer in Manila’s history. He joined the police force in 1951, and in the years that followed, earned 40 medals and 400 commendations. He served as superintendent of the Philippine National Police Academy, director of the National Bureau of Investigation. He gained reputation for quick justice. As head of the NBI, he ordered the arrest of a notorious Manila drug lord who was shot dead while being  escorted to police headquarters, allegedly after he reached for one of his captors’ guns. He is likened to presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte – but the less offensive kind. He will turn 86 in December, but he is healthy because of “clean living.” 

He was elected mayor in 1992 and senator from 2004 to 2007. He ran for president but lost to Joseph Estrada, who is Manila’s incumbent mayor,  served as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, was reelected mayor of Manila, and in the past mayoral race, was defeated by Estrada.  

He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a law degree from the University of the East  and a master’s degree in national security administration from the National Defense College of the Philippines.

As mayor, he was viewed as a restorer of peace and justice, but also as a strong-arm enforcer. He was called “Dirty Harry” after Hollywood’s Clint Eastwood, because he wanted to clean up the city streets, and “love” motels in the city. Some owners filed lawsuits and obtained restraining orders.

His vice-mayoral teammate in next year’s elections is  First District Representative Benjamin Asilo.

His opponents in next year’s elections are Estrada and Fifth District Representative Amado Bagatsing.

This will be an interesting fight for politicians who resent Dan Brown’s depiction of Manila as a terrible city to live in.

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You may have noticed how the Quezon City monument “turns orange” every evening (starting from Nov. 25, up to Dec. 12 ), an activity that  is part of the partnering program between the city government and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, or UN Women to implement the “Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Initiative” with the support of the Spanish International Cooperation for Development (AECID).  

The city is the first city in Metro Manila to join over 24 cities around the world in the program to stop street harassment and sexual violence against women in public spaces.

Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista hosted the Safe Cities Advocacy expo of government agencies and officials, non-government organizations, embassies, and members of the United Nations and international development community at the QC hall lobby.  

In addition to the orange color change, the city also launched a city-wide public education campaign called “Tunay na lalaki ka ba? Dapat ‘di ka Bastos” lamppost banners along major roads such as Quezon Avenue, Timog, Visayas, East, Commonwealth, and the Quezon Memorial Circle, as well as on waiting sheds around the city.

The Safe Cities Metro Manila (SCMM) program, according to the UN Women Safe Cities national project officer Katherine Belen, seeks “to promote a  deeper understanding of the lack of security that women feel as they move about in public spaces, and how everyone in society has a critical role in stopping street harassment and sexual violence against women and girls in the cities.”

“Whether due to shame or fear, women traditionally ignore and keep silent about catcalls, stalking, repeated harassment for their numbers, male public exposure, rubbing or groping (panghihipo) inside the MRT/jeepneys, even bearing indecent language being yelled at them by men as they walk by,” says Belen.

“UN Women has also launched the hashtag #FreeFromFear as part of the social media campaign to raise awareness that all women have the right to be free from violence and to be free from fear of violence as they go to work, school, participate in recreation and community life, and enjoy public spaces.”

You will find of interest the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/UNWomenSafeCitiesFreeFromFearCampaign that features a photo blog and testimonies of women in Metro Manila who have experienced street harassment, a celebrity “fan sign” collage, a community poll, and other resources on preventing and responding to sexual harassment and violence against women in public spaces.

In the Philippines, the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 or RA 7877 defines sexual harassment as “committed by an employer, employee, manager, supervisor, agent of the employer, teacher . . . 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. . .”

The Safe Cities Global Initiative refers to a more general definition of sexual harassment. This is unwelcome sexually determined behavior, both physical and non-physical, whether by words or actions.

Some examples of physical contact  and sexual demand by action includes touching a person’s clothing, hair or body, hugging,  kissing, groping, pushing or pulling, patting or stroking, standing close or brushing up against a person, while non-physical sexual harassment includes sexual demand by words, sexually colored remarks, showing pornography, staring (“eve teasing”), “cat calling”, following, chasing, stalking, flashing, masturbating in public spaces.

We hope to hear initiatives and recommendations from the SCGI planners and advocates after the 18-day campaign against violence against women and girls in public places. 

Recommending laws, I believe, will be taken up.

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