MANILA, Philippines -- Amendments to the anti-sexual harassment law are being pushed by lawmakers at the House of Representatives who are seeking to update the definition of the offense, especially in the workplace, and the imposition of stronger penalties.
Gabriela Representatives Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan said amendments were needed because even with the existence for over a decade of the anti-sexual harassment law or Republic Act 7877, convictions were few.
They noted that sexual harassment victims, particularly women employees, students and workers, usually would not receive relief from courts because required pieces of evidence such as offenders' use of influence or moral ascendancy against them were difficult to meet.
To resolve these problems, Maza and Ilagan have proposed further definition of ?work, education or training-related sexual harassment? in Section 3 of the law by specifying the crime as ?any unwanted or unwelcome advance, request or demand for favor or physical conduct of a sexual nature? in the workplace, training field or school.
They added that outside the place of employment, the crime could also be characterized by words or actions of a sexual nature by a person in position, or moral ascendancy, towards employees, students or trainees.
Other proposed amendments to the law would include mandates for institutions to have detailed policies against sexual harassment and a 48-hour deadline to act on complaints. Institutions will also be held liable for damages arising from committed acts.
The lawmakers also pushed for stiffer penalties against employers and heads of management who would neither comply with policies nor act on complaints and cases in their places of responsibility. Fines between P50,000 and P200,000 or imprisonment from one month to six months have been proposed.