By PR | 08:05 PM November 29, 2021

The Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Tagbilaran, led by City Vice Mayor Jose Antonio S. Veloso, marked the country’s 18-day campaign to End Violence Against Women from November 25 to December 12, 2021 with the approval of the Tagbilaran City Safe Spaces Ordinance.

Localizing the provisions of Republic Act 11313 or the Bawal Bastos Law, the Ordinance declares and designates all streets and alleys, buildings, schools, public utility vehicles, privately-owned areas accessible to the public, and all other public spaces within the territorial jurisdiction of the city as safe spaces against gender-based sexual harassment.

The passage of RA No. 11313 expands the law on sexual harassment in the country, as provided under Republic Act No. 7787 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, to cover all forms of sexual harassment including verbal, non-verbal and physical. Further, it seeks to secure all persons, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression, from all kinds of gender-based violence and discrimination such as sexual harassment, not only in private spaces but also in public spaces.

The Safe Spaces Ordinance of the city provides for mechanisms and procedures by which the provisions of RA 11313 are effectively implemented and enforced in the City of Tagbilaran.

The Ordinance creates in the city government the Anti-Sexual Harassment Desk and Hotline; establishes a referral system for victims of sexual harassment; and designates Anti-Sexual Harassment Enforcers (ASHE) stationed in streets and public spaces to receive complaints on GBHS and immediately apprehend perpetrators.

Wolf-whistling (taghoy), catcalling, using homophobic (calling someone “bayot”) and sexist slurs or making any statement that tends to invade a person’s personal space or threatens his/her sense of personal safety are just among the acts that can be immediately reported to ASH enforcers for appropriate action.

Where the perpetrator of the gender-based sexual harassment is the driver of a motorized tricycle-for hire in the city, the Ordinance prescribes suspension of Motorized Tricycle Operator’s Permit (MTOPs) for thirty (30) days, in addition to the penalties provided under R.A. 11313.

The Ordinance also mandates privately-owned areas open to the public such as restaurants, stores and malls to set up their own anti-sexual harassment mechanisms, including the installation of clearly-visible warning signs against gender -based public spaces sexual harassment in their business establishments.

Authored by City Councilor Agustinus “Dodong” Gonzaga and sponsored by City Councilor Philipp “Pepot” Besas, the Ordinance is a stride toward making Tagbilaran a city with zero-tolerance for VAW.

By Bohol Island News

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