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MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said on Tuesday, September 6, that the Department of Education (DepEd) should create a database of allegations and reported misconducts of teachers, and this should be accessible to schools to help check the background of teaching applicants.
NBI Special Action Unit head Jerome Bomediano gave the recommendation during a hearing of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality where senators discussed the alleged sexual abuse cases in the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA).
Committee chair Senator Risa Hontiveros expressed concern over how teachers and personnel who resigned or were dismissed because of sexual abuse could still apply and be hired in other institutions. She noted that there is currently no policy that bars offenders from doing so.
According to Bomediano, aspiring teachers who apply for jobs are required to submit NBI and police clearances. But Hontiveros noted that derogatory files might only appear in official records if complaints “actually mature” into cases.
“Mag-aappear lang kung may derogatory information kung ’yung reklamo or isinumbong ay actually nag-mature into a case. But what if hindi?” Hontiveros said. (Derogatory information will only appear if the complaint actually matures into a case. But what if it doesn’t?)
“I think it’s about time na siguro ang DepEd mag-create ng database sa mga ganoong klaseng ano, ng teachers. At lahat ng schools ay bigyan ng access doon sa database na ‘yon para in case mayroong mga aplikante sa school nila ay macheck nila kung may previous ganoong allegations ba itong isang teacher na nag-a-apply sa kanila,” said Bomediano.
(I think it’s about time that DepEd created a database for those types of teachers. And all schools should be given access to that database, so that if there are people applying for jobs in their school, they can check if that applicant has previous [harassment] allegations.)
The senator welcomed the suggestion, relating it to sex offender registries provided by foreign embassies and used by Philippine immigration authorities to prevent offenders from entering the country.
Hontiveros added that the Philippine government should look into Australia’s Working with Children Check (WWCC) which is an additional requirement for employees or volunteers who work in the company of children, saying this “might be a need” in the present cases.
In WWCC, “a review of reportable workplace misconduct” is done aside from the criminal history record check.
Former PHSA director Vim Nadera said during the hearing that a teacher accused of abuse was forced to resign years ago because of the sexual harassment case. However, the only punishment given was that the teacher was barred from entering the school.
During the hearing, Hontiveros cited Rappler’s March 2021 report about a teacher who sexually harassed his students in St. Theresa’s College Quezon City and was able to find new teaching jobs in other schools.
“Nakakabahala na yung mga tinanggal o nag-resign na guro dahil sa pang-aabuso at harassment sa isang school, ay pwede lang mag-turo ulit sa ibang paaralan. Wala tayong nalutas na problema kung hinahayaan nating palipat-lipat lang ang mga abuser. Sexual predators should never be allowed to be around children,” Hontiveros said in a statement on Wednesday, September 7.
(It is bothersome that teachers who resigned or were dismissed for abuse and harassment in one school are able to just teach again in another school. We did not solve any problem if we let abusers go from one school to another.)
In a 2021 interview with Rappler, Aurora de Dios, senior project director of the Women and Gender Institute at Miriam College, made a similar suggestion.
“I think all the schools should make it a policy for new or returning faculty to get a referral from the institution from where they came from…[It] should be included in the referral system if a teacher has had a record of sexual harassment,” De Dios said.
“There’s a sexual offender registry in the US. Wala tayong ganyan (We don’t have that),” she added. There are at least two bills pending in Congress seeking to establish a national sex offender registry.
Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte earlier requested the NBI to investigate the alleged “culture of abuse” in the PHSA and provide a comprehensive report “as soon as possible.”
On August 31, Hontiveros filed a resolution to probe the sexual harassment reports in several schools, including PHSA, St. Theresa’s College Quezon City, and Bacoor National High School.
“The students are finding their own ways to protect each other. Our children have been calling on all of us to do better. We did not listen to them – that’s why they made the hashtag #DoBetter trend on social media. Let’s listen to them this time,” Hontiveros said in a mix of English and Filipino. – Almira Coleen/Rappler.com
Almira Coleen is a Rappler intern. This article was done under the supervision of Rappler staff and her copy was vetted by editors.