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Gender and Development

Bicol University creates committee against sexual harassment

December 17, 2022

Bicol University created a Committee on Decorum and Investigation (CODI) for Sexual Harassment Cases, a special body to protect students and teaching and non-teaching personnel including contractual and job order workers against sexual harassment.

Based on the Administrative Order No 543, series of 208 issued by BU President Dr. Arnulfo M. Mascarinas, the special Committee is tasked to receive and investigate sexual harassment complaints and submit reports of its findings based on the prescribed procedure. The prescribed procedure is contained in the University’s Rules and Regulation in Administrative Cases of Sexual Harassment and Similar Offenses. The creation of this special committee is provided in Republic Act 7877 (Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995), CSC Resolution No. 01-0940, and CHED Memorandum No.1, Series of 2015.

Complaints of sexual harassment sent by electronic mail or through text messaging are considered non-filed unless there is a complaint is in writing, signed by the aggrieved party and notarized. Complaints can be filed with the department head, Dean/Director of the college/unit/office or directly to the CODI Chairperson. If the complaint is sufficient in form and substance, preliminary investigation should begin not later than five (5) days from receipt of the complaint by the CODI. The accused, if proven guilty, would be fined or suspended not exceeding 30 days, or even dismissal or expulsion from work or school depending on the intensity of the offense committed. Sexual harassment can be classified as light, less grave and grave offenses such as that provided by in Rule X of CSC Resolution No. 01-0940 and more detailed by the University of the Philippines’ Anti-Sexual Harassment Code.

Light offenses include surreptitious looking at a person’s private parts of underclothing, malicious leering or ogling, sexual flirtation or persistent unwanted attention with sexual overtones, inquiries or comments about a person’s sex life and gender orientation, communicating sexist/smutty remarks causing discomfort, embarrassment, offense or insult to the receiver, and display of sexually-offensive pictures, materials, or graffiti.

Less grave offenses include verbal and/or non-verbal abuse with sexual overtones, including but not limited to, offensive hand and body gestures, derogatory or degrading remarks or innuendos directed toward the opposite or one’s sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, touching or brushing against a victim’s body, pinching that does not fall under grave offenses, and sexual advances or propositions.

Grave offenses include touching or groping or private parts of the body such as the breasts, genitalia or buttocks, forced kissing, requesting sexual favor in exchange for employment, promotion, local or foreign travels, favorable working conditions or assignments, a passing grade, the granting of honors or scholarships, or the grant of benefits or payment of a stipend or allowance, and attempted or consummated unwanted sexual intercourse or torture of the person in a sexual manner.

Sexual harassment may take place in the workplace or school, during work or social functions, and at official conferences, fora, symposia or training sessions. It can occur while on official business outside the office or school and by cellular phone, fax machine or electronic mail. Provisions on sexual offenses and their corresponding penalties should be included in collaborative engagements with partner agencies involved in practicum or on-the-job training programs.

The Bicol University Committee on Decorum and Investigation (CODI) for Sexual Harassment is currently chaired by Prof. Erwin E. Torres. Other members are Dr. Maria Joselyn J. Paje, Mr. Salvador R. Bilono II, Dr. Ana Linda G. Marcellana, Prof. Ma. Elaine I. Salazar and Mr. Brian Mitchel R. de la Rama. The CODI is also mandated to lead discussions and plan for activities to increase awareness and understanding about acts of sexual harassment and how sexual harassment can be prevented in the University. (BUCGAD/MEISALAZAR)