2020-04-09

Sexual harassment at top PH University

As seen on the November 2019 issue of The Philippine Sentinel


Both students and faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) staged a protest demo over the growing number of sexual harassment and misconduct cases in its Loyola campus on Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City. They claimed it was the “impunity” of the offenders that was unacceptable.

There were at least three professors who were named in the incidents that have gone viral on social media, especially on Facebook and Twitter.

One victim noted that a professor who had “preyed on vulnerable students” was allowed to teach again after being suspended for only 15 days.

The university’s student council, lamented that “the systems put in place in institutions like Ateneo de Manila University “have failed in creating a safe environment for its students, and neglected to uphold the very morals that it aims to implant among its students.”

“We trust, time and time again, in a system that is supposed to protect the student body from all these abuses, but we see our hopes being shattered by menial punishments and the administration’s short-term memory loss,” the student council leaders said.

ADMU president Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ has yet to respond to media’s request for comment, as well as the university’s official position on the issue raised by the student protestors.

Under the country’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, educators can be penalized if found to have solicited sexual favours in exchange for giving passing grades or granting scholarships or awards to students, or if the sexual advances made were found to have created an “intimidating, hostile
or offensive environment” for the student.

Under the law, sexual harassers can be sentenced to one to six months in prison and fined P10,000 to P20,000, at the discretion of the court.

Incidents of sexual harassment on campus had surfaced as far back as 2017, recalled one Ateneo graduate who requested not to be identified. She was a former student council president.

It is only now that victims have found the voice and courage to fight back against their abusers, the student said during the rally.

According to Rappler, the ADMU Student Council is preparing to file a case with the university against a long-time male professor who has allegedly sexually harassed several students. The university Vice President Maria Vilches said the matter is now with the University Committee on Decorum and Investigation.

But the student body said it was kept in the dark on the progress of the investigation.

The university Student Council (Sanggunian) quoted Ateneo as saying that disclosing any information about the disciplinary proceedings could have legal repercussions.

The Ateneo anti-sexual harassment policy states as much in Section 5.12: “All records and proceedings shall be considered as strictly confidential.” Ω