The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) spearheaded an orientation on Republic Act (RA) 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act of 2019—also known as the “Bawal Bastos” Law—for its executives nationwide to reinforce awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Held as part of the DENR Gender and Development (GAD) activities for National Women’s Month, the event gathered around 300 participants coming from the ranks of DENR undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, directors, regional and assistant regional executive directors, provincial and community environmental and natural resources officers, bureau directors, heads of attached agencies, and division chiefs.

“I, not only as your Secretary but as a father and a good shepherd, call on our GAD committees nationwide to leave no stone unturned.”

“This management will not tolerate any big or small acts of harassment. I, not only as your Secretary but as a father and a good shepherd, therefore call on our GAD committees nationwide led by Undersecretary Atty. Analiza Rebuelta-Teh to leave no stone unturned to implement the Safe Spaces Act,” DENR Acting Secretary Jim Sampulna said.

The orientation served as an avenue to familiarize the DENR officials on Republic Act (RA) 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, as well as punishable acts, liabilities, and penalties under RA 11313 and Civil Service Commission (CSC) Memorandum Circular No. 11, series of 2021.

The officials were also briefed on the process of filing complaints to the DENR’s Committee on Decorum and Investigation (CODI) on work-related sexual harassment incidents.

The orientation was given by Teh, DENR Undersecretary for Finance, Information Systems, and Climate Change.

She is also the chair of the National GAD Focal Point System and DENR Central Office CODI.

Under RA 7877, heads of offices have the duty to prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment and to provide the procedures for the resolution, settlement, or prosecution of acts of sexual harassment.

Teh said that aside from refraining from committing acts of gender-based sexual harassment, employees and co-workers must “provide emotional or social support to fellow employees, co-workers, colleagues or peers who are victims of gender-based sexual harassment, and report acts of gender-based sexual harassment witnessed in the workplace.”

RA 11313 states that officials or heads of offices will be held liable for not taking action on reported acts of gender-based sexual harassment committed in the workplace.

“We, as officials, need to come up with measures to encourage victims to speak up.”

“We, as officials, need to come up with measures to encourage victims to speak up. We should practice a zero-tolerance policy towards these kinds of actions within the DENR,” she said.

“Even if we have these laws, these are not enough as a deterrent for sexual harassment. It has something to do with our values, culture, and how we look at our women and men that we need to develop. It is rooted on a much deeper scale which is why we need to look at it in a much wider context to prevent such acts,” Teh added.

The DENR GAD office is planning to hold skills development for CODI members on understanding behaviors, conducting investigations sensitively, conveying mental health resources, and setting up a counseling program for employee victims.

This will be part of the “Bawal Bastos sa DENR” campaign for the DENR Central Office, bureaus, attached agencies, and regional offices.

In cooperation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Philippine Commission on Women, the DENR also held a webinar for the DENR CODI members nationwide on Adopting a Culture of Safety and Safe Work Spaces.

DENR employees were given an orientation on the Safe Spaces Act.

According to a recent Social Weather Stations Survey commissioned by the Commission on Population and Development, 25 percent of Filipino adults in the country have experienced harmful acts such as physical, sexual, and emotional violence.



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