CHR hopes Duterte will follow 'Anti-bastos Law'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 17) — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has high hopes that President Rodrigo Duterte will obey the new law penalizing catcalling and other forms of harassment in public areas.

"As the chief ng bansa dapat sya 'yung unang tutupad ng panukala na 'yan (of the country, he should be the first one to follow the policy) and it remains to be seen how he's going to act after this kasi pinirmahan nya ngayon (now that he has signed it). Mas magbabantay na ang women's group at kami din.. (We, along with women's groups will keep a strict eye on his actions)," Twyla Rubin, head of CHR's Center for General Equality and Women's Human Rights, told CNN Philippines' Newsroom Tuesday.

"May tiwala naman kami na sana ay maging senyales to sa kanyang sinseridad na tutuparin nya 'yung 'bawal bastos'," she added.

[Translation: We hope that this is a sign of his sincerity to follow the law.]

Republic Act 11213 or the Safe Spaces Act signed by Duterte on April 12 outlines gender-based harassment in streets and other public areas such as online space, government offices, workplaces and educational institutions.

Under the policy, 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, including 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.

Penalties for making offensive body gestures and exposing private parts are at ₱10,000 for first-time offenders, and ₱15,000 for first-time offenders along with jail time of 11 to 30 days for second-time offenders. Those who commit the crime for the third time will be fined ₱20,000 and will be detained for a minimum of one month and a day up to six months.

Rubin said the President, who is known for cracking rape jokes in public speeches, has no immunity against the policy.

"Not necessarily na (that it is) directed to a specific person, it could be the impact ng sinabi nya sa taong nakarinig noon (of what he said to the people who heard his remarks), it could be that, but of course it has to be stated in an affidavit," she said.

Rubin lauded the enactment of the policy, which she said will address the "gaps" in the current anti-sexual harassment law.

"Dati kasi 'pag naha-harass ka tapos nasa daan, nasa public transport, usually mahirap makahanap ng batas (When people are harassed in roads or public transport, they usually couldn't find laws) that would cover that. It's very challenging for women to invoke laws or provisions ng (of the) revised penal code, pero (but) with this law, ma-address na 'yung gap na 'yun (this gap will be addressed), pwede mo nang sampahan ng kaso 'yung mga nambabastos sayo.. (you can sue those will harass you)," she said.

Malacañang had earlier said that Duterte would be the first to obey the policy.