25 November 2021 - The Civil Service Commission (CSC) urged government employees to be vigilant about their behavior as it reminded them on the stricter rules governing sexual harassment.
The CSC said that sexual harassment covers not only physical or verbal acts but also those done using technology. This may include unwanted sexual misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, and sexist remarks and comments, committed whether publicly or through direct and private messages; invasion of victim’s privacy through cyberstalking and incessant messaging; uploading and sharing without the victim’s consent any form of media that contains photos, voice, or video with sexual content; and any unauthorized recording and sharing of any of the victim’s photos, videos, or any information online.
The CSC also expanded the coverage of sexual harassment to include those performed in streets and public spaces such as in alleys, roads, restaurants, malls, public washrooms, bars, and public utility vehicles. This includes catcalling; wolf-whistling; unwanted invitations; misogynistic, transphobic, and sexists slurs; persistent uninvited comments or gestures on a person’s appearances; and relentless request for personal details that are unwanted and threatens one’s sense of personal space and physical safety.
In its Resolution No. 2100064 dated 20 January 2021, circularized via Memorandum Circular No. 11, s. 2021, the CSC amended certain provisions in the 2017 Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (RACCS), specifically those pertaining to the administrative proceedings for sexual harassment complaints where the offender is a government employee.
The changes in the 2017 RACCS were made to further deter sexual harassment in the public sector, as well as to harmonize said rules with Republic Act No. 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.
In support of the observance of the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW), the CSC also called for the strengthening of the Committee on Decorum and Investigation (CODI) in government agencies.
The CSC said that an active and working CODI would not only deter sexual harassment offenders but also embolden victims to come forward and seek legal remedy.
CSC Resolution No. 2100064 strengthens the role of the CODI in a government agency and averts possible delays in their investigation of complaints of sexual harassment.
Among the duties of the CODI is to ensure that the complainant does not suffer from retaliation or any disadvantage in terms of benefits or security of tenure, as well as to guarantee the observance of due process, gender-sensitive handling of the cases, and confidentiality of the identity of the parties involved.
The CODI is given 10 days from the termination of the investigation to submit its findings with recommendations to the disciplining authority for decision.
Notably, the policy also requires that the CODI “be headed by a woman and not less than half of its members shall be women.”
Either the complainant or the person being complained of may request any member of the CODI to inhibit from the proceedings based on conflict of interest, manifest partiality, and other reasonable grounds. A CODI member may also voluntarily inhibit on the same grounds. The CSC resolution mandates the head of agency, or the head of the education or training institution, to ensure sufficient number of people to replace any member of the CODI in case of his/her absence or need to inhibit from the case.
Duty of Head of Agency
CSC Resolution No. 2100064 specifies the duties of the head of agency in preventing and deterring the occurrence of sexual harassment cases, among which are to ensure widest dissemination of the law and rules to all persons in the workplace, the conduct of orientations among employees and distribution of relevant information materials, and conduct of gender sensitivity trainings.
Heads of agencies who will be found remiss on their duties under CSC Resolution No. 2100064 or not taking action on complaints may be charged with Neglect of Duty.
Sexual harassment may be classified as light offense, less grave offense, or grave offense depending on the act committed, and may be meted a penalty ranging from a reprimand to outright dismissal from the service.
The full text of CSC MC No. 11, s. 2021 can be accessed from the CSC website at www.csc.gov.ph.
Presidential Proclamation No. 1172 s. 2006 declares 25 November to 12 December of every year as the “18-Day Campaign to End VAW in the Philippines” in line with the government’s commitment to protect the human rights of women against violence and other forms of discrimination.
The campaign theme for 2016 to 2021 is “VAW-Free Community Starts With Me”, which is a positive advocacy enjoining everyone to participate in freeing communities from violence against women and girls.
This year’s campaign, with the slogan “Filipino Marespeto: Safe Spaces, Kasali Tayo” aims to intensify awareness on the core provisions of the Safe Spaces Act.
To know more about the campaign, visit the Philippine Commission on Women website at pcw.gov.ph.