Hontiveros seeks Senate probe into Miss Earth sexual harassment issue

Camille Elemia
'Sexual harassment has no place anywhere, especially in a pageant that claims to uphold the value and power of women,' says Senator Risa Hontiveros

SEEKING A PROBE. Senator Risa Hontiveros wants the Senate to look into the sexual harassment allegations against Miss Earth pageant sponsor Amado Cruz. File photo from Hontiveros' Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday, November 12, sought a Senate investigation into the alleged sexual harassment experienced by Miss Earth 2018 candidates.

Hontiveros filed Senate Resolution No. 932 calling for an inquiry into the incidents, saying there should be zero tolerance for such acts.

“Sexual harassment has no place anywhere, especially in a pageant that claims to uphold the value and power of women,” said Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality.

“At a time when women and girls are battered by rape jokes, sexual violence, and sex for freedom cases, it is imperative that sexual harassment of any kind, shape, or form be brought out into the open,” the senator also said.

Miss Earth-Canada Jaime Vandenberg, Miss Earth-England Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown, and Miss Earth-Guam Emma Mae Sheedy came forward with claims of sexual harassment against pageant sponsor Amado Cruz during the pageant’s run in the Philippines, which ended with a coronation night on November 4.

The women claimed that when they brought up their concerns with their team managers, they were not taken seriously.

Lorraine Schuck, one of the heads of Miss Earth organizer Carousel Productions, said in an interview with GMA News that Vandenberg did not bring up any sexual harassment issue.

Cruz has denied all allegations against him, while a staff member of his claimed her boss is “too old [and] weak” to have committed sexual harassment.

Hontiveros, however, said both the alleged harasser and the event organizers must be held accountable.

“I am surprised that despite reports of sexual harassment, the sponsor was still allowed to see the candidates in succeeding events. This shows disregard for their welfare and a flippant attitude towards the handling of this case,” the senator said.

“This cannot be allowed to pass unaddressed. This inquiry seeks to shed light on the true events of the case, and to aid in the future protection of women from sexual harassment. No woman should ever be a victim, whatever country they come from.” – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com