CatSU committee probes sexual harassment case

Catanduanes State University (CatSU) President Patrick Alain T. Azanza disclosed last week that an investigation committee has been created to look into the allegations of a female employee who filed a sexual harassment case against a male employee recently.

“We want the University to be a safe place for all,” he stressed, assuring everyone of an impartial investigation.

“We are duty-bound under the law to take action on every sexual harassment case/complaint filed in our office,” the president stated in response to a Tribune query. “Morally and legally, the University Administration has to ferret out the truth, and will have to uphold the employee code of conduct and the rule of law.”

In the meantime, he appealed to everyone concerned to allow the Investigation Committee to do its job and appreciate the facts of the case, as well as determine the quantum of evidence whether to find the subject of the complaint guilty or not.

“I hope that all parties, the complainant and the subject of the complaint, as well as the witnesses, if any, shall cooperate so that we can immediately resolve the case,” Dr. Azanza said. “May God bless the University.”

He said that the university’s Gender and Development (GAD) unit had been very busy conducting symposia and trainings on gender awareness and sensitivity.

It may be recalled that last Feb. 3, 2023, a 25-year-old single female resident of Bigaa, Virac, working as an office clerk at the university, went to the Virac police station to file a complaint regarding two instances of sexual harassment against a permanent employee.

According to the woman identified only as AAA, the first incident occurred on Nov. 9, 2022 at around 2 PM while she was at the administrative office.

She claimed that the 55-year-old suspect, an Administrative Officer III and resident of Belmonte, San Andres, went near her and suddenly kissed her head and hugged her, causing her fear and annoyance.

Then in the morning of Feb. 3, 2023 at around 10:10 AM, she went to the Cashiering Office to let her superior check the report she made.

When she was about to leave, the suspect came near her and told her that he would also check the report. But she handed the documents to the suspect, the latter maliciously touched her breast and buttocks.

A police source who requested anonymity told the Tribune that an appropriate legal charge against the suspect has been filed by the Women and Children Protection Desk (WCPD) personnel before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office for violation of Republic Act 11313.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports claim that there could be other victims of sexual harassment by the same suspect in the university.

This possibility arose after netizens noted a social media post by a former job order employee who claimed to have suffered unwanted advances from a male employee she did not name but hoped would be punished for his deeds.

This will be the first time in recent years that an employee or official of the university will be investigated by the prosecution office for sexual harassment.

At least three other employees, all males, had been involved in similar cases, including an instructor who had a love affair with his student and continued to harass her after a breakup and a ranking official who sexually harassed an employee.

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