Press Release
October 17, 2019

*Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on allegations of sexual harassment in Ateneo de Manila University

As a woman, Atenean and mother, I am extremely concerned about reports of sexual harassment at the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) allegedly committed by professors against their students and colleagues. Sexual harassment has no place in any educational institution. It is not only a crime clearly punishable by law, it also undermines the safety and integrity of the academic community and is an attack against the dignity and human rights of the victims.

I am equally incredulous over a statement issued by Ateneo's Marketing and Communication's Office invoking the Safe Spaces Act or the Bawal Bastos Law, which I principally authored, as one of its reasons for refusing to heed the call for greater transparency regarding the identities of the harassers and the overall conduct of the school's investigations into the matter. It is patently false and a misrepresentation of the intent of the law.

"Don't misuse Safe Spaces Act"

The school's marketing and communication office has clearly misunderstood the law. The Safe Spaces Act protects the identities of the accused if they are minors, not adults accused of being sex offenders. While the law recognizes the right to due process, it does not promote non-transparency, nor does it condone any culture of secrecy regarding cases of sexual harassment, especially if it favors the harassers. I respectfully admonish the office for its misuse of the law, and wish to set the record straight.

As a woman, alumna and mother, I trust that Ateneo will do the right thing, hold these people fully accountable, and place the welfare of the students above all other things. No space is ever safe for as long as sex offenders are allowed to thrive. The Safe Spaces Act was passed into law to keep potential victims safe from different forms of gender-based harassment and abuse. It is not meant to insulate offenders from accountability. Because the first safe space is the truth.

News Latest News Feed