Gov’t employee in groping case could face dismissal

If found liable for the grave offense, the Catanduanes State University employee accused of sexual harassment could face the penalty of dismissal from the service under existing disciplinary rules of the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

With the formal complaint for acts of lasciviousness already filed with the Provincial Prosecution Office, he could also be meted by the Court the penalty of imprisonment ranging from six months to six years.

Under Republic Act 11313, he could also be jailed for 11 to 30 days or pay a fine of P30,000.00, including attendance in a Gender Sensitivity Seminar to be conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in coordination with the local government unit and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW).

Under Memorandum Circular No. 11, s. 2021, providing Revised Administrative Disciplinary Rules on Sexual Harassment Cases, grave offenses punishable by dismissal from the service shall include, but not limited to, unwanted touching of private parts of the body (inner thighs, genitalia, buttocks and breast); sexual assault; malicious touching; and requesting for sexual favor in exchange for employment, promotion, local or foreign travels, favorable working conditions or assignments, a passing grade, the granting of honors or scholarship, or the grant of benefits, or payment of a stipend or allowance.

Less grave offenses of sexual harassment in streets and public spaces include unwanted invitations; misogynistic, transphobic and sexist slurs; persistent uninvited comments or gestures on a person’s appearances; relentless request for personal details; or making statements, comments and suggestions with sexual innuendoes, which are punishable by suspension of one month and one day suspension to six (6) months for the first offense, and dismissal from the service for the second offense.

On the other hand, light offenses include catcalling or wolf-whistling; surreptitiously looking at a person’s private part or worn undergarments; making sexist statements and uttering smutty jokes or sending these through text, electronic mail including but not limited to social media platform, causing embarrassment or offense and carried out after the offender has been advised that they are offensive or embarrassing or, even without such advise, when they are by their nature clearly embarrassing, offensive or vulgar; malicious leering or ogling; display of sexually offensive pictures, materials of graffiti; unwelcome inquiries or comments about a person’s sex life; unwelcome sexual flirtation, advances, propositions; making offensive hand or body gestures at an employee; persistent unwanted attention with sexual overtones; and unwelcome phone calls with sexual overtones causing discomfort, embarrassment, offense or insult to the receiver;

Light offenses are punishable by reprimand for the first offense; suspension of one to thirty days for the second offense; and dismissal from the service for the third offense.

The CSC Circular also mandates that complaints shall be filed with the Committee on Decorum and Investigation (CODI) which is supposed to be created in all national or local agencies of the government, state/local colleges and universities, including government-owned and controlled corporations.

An independent internal mechanism, the CODI shall be composed of at least one representative each from the school administration, the trainers, faculty members or instructors/professors, coaches and students or trainees, as the case may be.

“Every CODI shall be headed by a woman and not less than half of its members shall be women,” it stressed.

It shall ensure the protection of a complainant from retaliation without causing him/her any disadvantage, diminution of benefits or displacement, and without compromising his/her security of tenure, with a guarantee as to the gender-sensitive handling of the case and confidentiality of the identity of the parties and the proceedings.

The Circular does not specify a time frame for the duration of the investigation but the CODI is given 10 days from the termination of the probe to submit a report of the findings with the corresponding recommendation to the disciplining authority for decision.

Section 16 of said Circular also states that the withdrawal of the complaint does not result in its outright dismissal of discharge of the person complained of from any administrative liability.

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