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NEDA official found guilty of sexual harassment

/ 06:08 PM November 10, 2014

MANILA, Philippines – For sending vulgar sex jokes and declaring his unrequited love for a staff member, an official of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) was found guilty of sexual harassment by the Sandiganbayan.

The anti-graft court fifth division convicted Neda Region 7 director Jose Romeo Escandor in a sexual harassment case filed by a female staff.

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“(T)he Court is convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the acts of sexual harassment perpetrated by the accused against (complainant) resulted in an intimidating and offensive environment for (her). Wherefore, premises considered, the Court finds Jose Romeo Escandor guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of sexual harassment…,” the Sandiganbayan said.

The court overruled a jail term imposition, but penalized Escandor with a P20,000 fine.

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The fifth division found as a mitigating circumstance the absence of evidence that the NEDA official used his position to threaten the complainant or to bribe her with a promotion.

According to the complainant, a married Economic Development Specialist who worked under Escandor, the director harassed her from 1994 to 2004.

The complainant testified that Escandor talked to him in 1994 and said he was “falling in love” with her.

Escandor also made advances to the staff, like forcing her to sit beside him during lunch meetings and touching her hands under the table, sending her pop-up love notes on her desktop computer, and kissing her on the cheek against her will and declaring that he missed her.

Escandor also sent vulgar messages on her email about sex, and even forwarded sex jokes that included a picture of a topless former US first lady.

The complainant later learned that Escandor had a perverse habit of borrowing pornographic films from office mates. She was also told by Escandor’s wife that he had an “intense appetite” for sex that makes her tired.

Escandor went on to invite the complainant to have sex with him in 1999.

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Later on, as the complainant refused his advances, Escandor started to berate the complainant in NEDA meetings.

This was not the first time Escandor was convicted of sexual harassment. The third division convicted Escandor in October 2013 to a six-month imprisonment and a P20,000 fine for a sexual harassment complaint by another female staff.

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