Press Release
July 13, 2022


Senator Risa Hontiveros has asked the Senate to investigate the reported culture of abuse, harassment and violence at the Philippine High School for the Arts.

Hontiveros filed a resolution directing the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the alleged gender-based sexual harassment, emotional abuse and other violence experienced by alumni and students of the said government-run boarding school, as well as to look into possible violations of the Safe Spaces Act.

"It is imperative that the Senate, exercising its oversight powers, initiate a thorough but expeditious investigation on the matter to ensure that PHSA and other educational institutions are safe spaces, especially with the upcoming blended/face-to face-classes in August," the resolution stated.

Hontiveros, principal author of the Safe Spaces Act, earlier expressed her support for the victims who came forward and revealed their harrowing experiences.

The senator's office met with some of them and was informed that a PHSA student, a minor, has formally filed a complaint against a PHSA non-teaching staff after being catcalled in November 2019 in campus.

According to a report, there were already other complaints filed but they were "downplayed by the PHSA Administration, brushed off as hearsay and were not entertained for failing to comply with the "format required under existing Civil Service rules." Worse, survivors of abuse claimed to have been victim-blamed, silenced, and neglected by the PHSA administrators.

Under the Safe Spaces Act, schools are required to provide a gender-sensitive environment and confidential mechanism for the reporting and redress of grievances on matters of sexual and gender-based harassment.

The resolution pointed out that, "If the accounts are accurate, the repeated failure of PHSA administration to address the violence and abuses is a blatant violation of the Safe Spaces Act and a flagrant disregard of the interests of PHSA students -- interests they are duty bound to protect and promote as persons reposed with special parental authority."

The Senator also underscored the "urgent need to review the reporting protocols and the procedures of the Committee on Decorum and Investigation of the educational institutions tasked to investigate and address complaints of abuse and harassment."

The inquiry also seeks "to determine the lapses and to propose corresponding reforms to improve implementation of the Safe Spaces Act and other child protection policies."

"Pangalawang tahanan ang turing sa mga paaralan kaya dapat ligtas at panatag tayong mga magulang kapag ipinagkakatiwala natin ang ating mga anak. Educational and training institutions should be our children's safe spaces. Walang puwang dito ang mga mapang-abuso," Hontiveros concluded.

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