MANILA - Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte should not be exempted from the so-called “Bawal Bastos Law” which imposes stiffer penalties on a range of acts from catcalling, sexist slurs, stalking, and cyberstalking.
Republic Act 11313 or the "Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act" seeks to prevent gender-based sexual harassment from occurring in streets, public places, online workplaces, and educational and training institutions.
In a statement, De Lima said Duterte, who has been criticized over his controversial statements about women, should lead by example “by respecting and properly implementing the law.”
"I hope that this new law will be implemented strictly and properly, and will not exempt from compliance our public officials, especially Mr. Duterte who is infamous for his sexist jokes and misogynist remarks. He should respect his own signature under a presidential seal affixed in that law,” De Lima said.
De Lima, one of Duterte’s staunchest critics, said reclusion perpetua, or imprisonment of 20 years and one day to 40 years, may not even be enough punishment for Duterte if his previous acts would be taken into consideration.
Duterte has made controversial remarks about women, which some groups find to be misogynistic or sexist.
He has drawn flak many times for his comments, particularly for his joke about an Australian woman raped in Davao City in 1989.
Malacanang has repeatedly defended Duterte, saying the chief executive must be judged based on his actions and not on his words, noting that the President is known for uttering jokes that must not be taken literally.
Malacanang had said Duterte even set up “pro-feminist policies” when he was local chief executive, including the establishment of a reproductive health and wellness center for women in Davao City.
Local government units are mandated to pass ordinances based on the law, while the Philippine National Police and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority will arrest those who violate it.
Those found guilty of violating the law will be fined P1,000 to P100,000, and may also be imprisoned for 1 month.
Online sexual harassment, cyberstalking, invasion of privacy and harassment in educational institutions are banned. Those found guilty of these acts will be fined P100,000 to P500,000.
Schools and universities are ordered to create standard procedures, to be followed in case harassed students or teachers file their complaints.
The Philippine Commission on Women will lead in reviewing the implemented provisions of the law along with other government agencies.