Bill punishing catcalling lapses into law

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 29) — The principal authors of the Safe Spaces Act are elated as the bill that penalizes catcalling and other forms of sexual harassment has lapsed into law.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, one the principal authors of the proposed Safe Streets, Workplaces and Public Spaces Act, said the measure lapsed into law on April 21 after President Rodrigo Duterte did not act on a bicameral conference committee report ratified in February. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that since there is no recommendation from Duterte to veto, it may have been signed or it lapsed into law.

Hontiveros described this as a massive victory against what she called as the country's "growing bastos culture."

"Now, women and LGBTs have a strong policy instrument to protect us from gender-based street harassment. With this law, we will reclaim our streets from sexual harassers and gender bigots and make public spaces safe for all," she said in a statement.

Under the final version of the bill agreed upon by the bicameral conference committee, those apprehended for cursing, wolf whistling, catcalling, and saying misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, and sexist slurs for the first time will be fined ₱1,000 and will serve 12 hours in community service, which includes attendance in a gender sensitivity seminar. Second-time offenders will be jailed for six to 10 days or fined ₱3,000, while third-time offenders will be jailed 11 to 30 days and fined ₱10,000.

Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, the principal author of the law in the House, said, "These penalties are crucial in sending the message: mahal mambastos sa Pilipinas."

Hontiveros earlier said any person who feels offended by slurs and actions directed at them can simply report the incident to a police officer or any public safety officer who can immediately issue a violation ticket.

The lawmaker also urged the government to ensure that the provisions of the law will be implemented, especially in relation to funding and personnel.

CNN Philippines correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.