When I found out that the so-called “Bawal Bastos” Law or Republic Act 11313 has finally been signed, the initial reaction was: FINALLY. It’s about damn time. Women don’t deserve being uncomfortable walking home alone at night, or be afraid to speak up in the event of being sexually harassed. The woman race deserves this law.
But then I realized who goes about signing and approving these laws, and I couldn’t help but snort—my thoughts automatically lingering on the number of disturbing misogynistic slurs this person has had the nerve to utter, and calling it part of his “freedom of expression.” Oh please. With the whole world as a witness to your controversial and inappropriately sexual remarks, President Duterte, forgive me for being immensely skeptical.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros’ Republic Act 11313 or the Safe Spaces act was signed by the president last April 17, but was only released to the media on Monday.
According to the Safe Spaces Act, actions or deeds that are considered gender-based street and public spaces sexual harassment are committed through unwanted and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person, regardless of the motive.
These acts include catcalling, wolf-whistling, unwanted invitations, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist slurs, persistent uninvited comments or gestures on a person’s appearance; relentless requests for personal details, statement of sexual comments and suggestions; public masturbation or flashing of private parts, groping, or any unwanted advances.
The law also encompasses gender-based online sexual harassment such as: the use of information and communications technology in terrorizing and intimidating victims through physical, psychological, and emotional threats, unwanted sexual misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist remarks and comments online.
This bill is what every woman has ever hoped for since the genesis of patriarchy. It will finally deem disgusting and repulsive acts of unwanted groping, uninvited sexual advances whether verbal or physical, and even the classic and especially disturbing “Hi miss sexy”—punishable by law. However, amidst the jubilee over the big “FINALLY”, the most important question is: does this also apply to our very own President?
According to Inquirer.net, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing on Tuesday “Since the President signed that law, it means that he recognizes the need for that law. Since he’s the Chief enforcer of all the laws in the Philippines, he’ll be the first one to obey that (new) law.”
Panelo also insisted that the President’s appalling sexist “jokes” in the past were never meant to offend anybody.
“He never was bastos. When he cracks jokes, it was intended to make people laugh. Never to offend. If you will just listen to the jokes of the President, talagang matatawa ka e. Hindi naman bastos,” he said.
In an alternate universe so kind and honest, Sec. Panelo, we might have banked on your statement if not for your poor defenses. Sexist jokes never meant to offend? Hindi naman bastos? Now those just make your promise far too shady. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
Duterte has been notorious for spurring inappropriate comments, especially while doing very important speeches. He’s done it far too many times that I’ve compiled a list. Let’s recall a few of those episodes:
- May 13, 2019– The President calls veteran journalist Ellen Tordesillas a “prostitute.”
- March 11, 2019– Duterte slams women for ‘depriving’ him of freedom of expression, using the word puta (bitch) to address females.
- April 13, 2018– “Talagang dapat paalisin ka, noon pa. Bobo ka na, putang ina, kung anong pinagsasabi mo” Duterte addresses Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
- April 12, 2016– Duterte makes a rape joke on Australian missionary woman: “napakaganda, dapat ang mayor muna ang mauna. Sayang.”
With just a few of these accounts of the President’s behavior towards women, the signing of this bill is indeed a feat but still leaves us in doubt. How can the people abide by such a crucial law if our very head of state refuses to respect it?
At the end of the day, the bill is now in motion and we must look at this triumph as a step towards better treatment and equality for women in society. However the promises made by the Office of the President will not be forgotten.
Photo courtesy of Inquirer.net
For the latest in culture, fashion, beauty, and celebrities, subscribe to our weekly newsletter here
Pride Month just started and Duterte is spewing homophobia already
The bigger problem with Duterte’s PMA rape joke
It’s 2019 and Pres. Duterte is still getting away with misogynistic statements
Duterte’s rape jokes speaks volumes of who we are as a nation