DepEd to probe sexual harassment complaints in Miriam College

Jaehwa Bernardo and Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 28 2020 12:23 PM | Updated as of Jun 30 2020 11:15 PM

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MANILA (2nd UPDATE)– The Department of Education vowed Sunday to investigate complaints of harassment made by high school students and alumni of Miriam College against teachers.

Students and alumni of Miriam College High School, an all-girls educational institution in Quezon City, recently flooded the hashtag #MCHSDoBetter on Twitter with their experiences of alleged sexual harassment and emotional manipulation committed by teachers.

“’Yan po ay talagang titingnan nating mabuti, iimbestigahan nating mabuti,” Education Undersecretary Tonisito Umali told TeleRadyo.

(We will look into it thoroughly, we will investigate it thoroughly.)

“We will make sure that this private school has convened their Child Protection Committee and has commenced the investigation,” Umali said, citing a 2012 department order that sets guidelines on protecting children in schools from abuse.

Umali said he is aware of similar cases in other schools and assured that the DepEd will not tolerate such incidents.

"Olivia", an alumna of an all-girls school in Quezon City, recalled her experience there in 2006 when she was still 14 years old.

"Pasakay na kami ng school bus, na-late kami. Noong isa-isa na kaming sumakay ng school bus, pinalo kami sa pwet ng teacher namin na lalaki," she told ABS-CBN News.

"The same teacher, class experience namin, nagbibihis kami after PE, and pumasok 'yung teacher na 'yon."

Olivia said the teacher was reported to school authorities, but nothing came out of it. She said that since then, no changes were implemented at school to prevent such incidents.

"There is an institutional problem na. Hanggang ngayon meron pa din. Hindi namin nilalabanan ang school, it really needs to take the difficult path of healing and changing talaga the full structure na it has to hold itself and its teachers accountable," Olivia said.

"Some of us are parents already. We cannot imagine our children going through the same things that we went through."

On Friday, Miriam College said it has formed an independent committee to look into the reported incidents of sexual harassment.

The committee will start accepting written reports of harassment incidents on Monday through the email safespaces@mc.edu.ph, Miriam College said in a statement.

“We encourage all aggrieved to speak out and voice their concerns to the Committee. Rest assured that all parties involved will be afforded due process through an impartial and objective proceeding,” the school said.

ATENEO VERIFYING HARASSMENT REPORTS

Ateneo de Manila University also said it was looking into reported incidents of sexual harassment committed by faculty members to students.

“We assure our students that we are here to listen and support anyone who has experienced harassment,” said Maria Elissa Lao, chairperson of Ateneo’s gender and development focal point committee.

Lao urged students to report incidents of harassment to the emails genderdev@ateneo.edu or genderhub.ls@ateneo.edu.

The president of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Association said that 5 schools, including Miriam and Ateneo, have been involved since #MCHSDOBETTER went viral.

"I think it's copying the DoBetter also campaign in the US about sexual harassment so it started there until many students followed. Sumunod na yung mga maraming estudyante from different schools," said COCOPEA president Joseph Noel Estrada.

Estrada said such allegations still need verification since teachers involved in the accusations are not named or have resigned by the time of the viral posts.

--With a report from Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News