MANILA – Detained Sen. Leila de Lima said President Rodrigo Duterte should not be exempted from Republic Act (RA) No. 11313, or the “Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act” which he signed into law recently.
De Lima added Duterte must lead an example by respecting and properly implementing the law, which imposes stiffer penalties against gender-based sexual harassment occurring in public spaces and online.
“Masaya po tayo sa pagiging ganap ng batas na tutugon sa mga pang-aabuso sa mga kababaihan at miyembro ng LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community na madalas na nagiging biktima ng pambabastos sa pampublikong lugar,” de Lima said.
“I hope that this new law will be implemented strictly and properly, and will not exempt from compliance our public officials, especially Mr. Duterte who is infamous for his sexist jokes and misogynist remarks,” she added.
De Lima said that although these penalties may not be sufficient to deter committed misogynists like Duterte, at the least they might think twice before violating the law.
“Kung iipunin lang naman lahat ng pambabastos sa kababaihan na sinambit at ginawa ni Duterte mula noong maupo siya sa Malacañang, kulang na kulang ‘yang parusa na ‘yan. Baka nga kulang pa ang parusang reclusion perpetua para sa kanya,” she said.
The new law places cursing, catcalling, wolf-whistling, leering, taunting, misogynistic and sexist slurs, persistent telling of sexual jokes, and use of sexual names, among others, as gender based streets and public spaces sexual harassment.
The specified acts may be punishable from community service of 12 hours up to arresto menor or 11 to 30 days imprisonment for the third offense.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo assured the public that Duterte was committed to follow the law against public sexual harassment but insisted that offensive comments on women during his public speeches were meant to make light of a serious situation.
“Since the President signed that law, it means that he recognizes the need of that law. And since he is the chief enforcer of all laws of the Philippines, he will be the first one to obey the law,” Panelo said.
“Kasi naman when the President delivers his speech and then he shares stories about that, mayroon siyang intensyon – either to make you laugh or to make a situation more pronounced to convey a message in relation to that anecdote,” he added.
Panelo believed that the new law should benefit all “so that everyone should be cautious to make some sexist remarks that maybe offensive to those who are more sensitive.”/PN