sexual harassment in PH

Sexually harassed student ‘traumatized further’ as teachers sue for cyber libel

Michelle Abad

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Sexually harassed student ‘traumatized further’ as teachers sue for cyber libel

SPEAKING OUT. Robert, not his real names, speaks at a press conference with other sexual harassment survivors accompanied by their lawyer Aaron Pedrosa and gender equality advocates at the Commission on Human Rights headquarters in Quezon City, to narrate the sexual abuse and harassment experienced at the hands of their teachers at the Bacoor National High School, on September 7, 2022.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

An alumnus of Bacoor National High School misses school for a day as he is detained for cyber libel cases filed by teachers

CAVITE, Philippines – An alumnus of Bacoor National High School (BNHS) who came forward about his and others’ experiences of sexual harassment in school said he was “traumatized further” after four of his former teachers sued him for cyber libel.

Four teachers sued 22-year-old Robert, not his real name, for posting online screenshots of their allegedly inappropriate chats with students. Robert was arrested on Friday, April 5, for four counts of cyber libel, one from each of the teachers who filed.

Mas nagdagdagan ‘yung trauma na meron ako (I feel further traumatized),” Robert told Rappler through questions we sent to his friends who visited him Wednesday, April 10, while he was detained at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Imus, Cavite.

A copy of one of the warrants Rappler acquired showed that a certain Nelson Feranil, described as a BNHS teacher, filed a complaint after Robert posted a screenshot of Feranil’s alleged chat with another student in August 2022. The prosecution said Robert had the malicious intent of “besmirching the honor, integrity and reputation of Feranil.”

Even though this particular charge was filed before the Bacoor City Regional Trial Court Branch 110 in July 2023, Robert said he only learned about the case when he was arrested last week.

Gathering bail

Robert’s mother, Lucia (not her real name), only found out that her son was detained while she was at work. Both mother and son were confused about why they received a warrant first and not a subpoena.

At the time, believing Robert had only one count of cyber libel, Lucia prepared P10,000 in bail for when the court opened again on Monday, April 8. That’s when they both found out that there were four counts, which meant quadrupling the bail needed.

Mabigat talaga kasi single mom ako (It’s heavy on my pockets because I’m a single mom),” said Lucia told Rappler outside the CIDG on Wednesday, adding that Robert had four other siblings.

Lucia could loan the total amount for bail, while student rights groups like Enough is Enough (EIE) also helped raise funds for Robert’s legal needs.

As April 9 and 10 were holidays, Robert expects to go free on Thursday, April 11, once he posts bail.

Now a first-year college student, Robert missed school on Monday. His mother is hoping he makes it to his class on Thursday.

Parang 11 am yata ang klase niya eh. So pipilitin naming makalabas siya (I think his class is at 11 am. So we’ll try our best to get him out),” said Lucia.

Mixed emotions

Robert experienced inappropriate touching and other boundary-crossing advances from a teacher when he was in Grade 9 in BNHS.

In 2022, Robert was a whistleblower not only for himself but for other students who experienced sexual harassment, leading him to post the screenshots that implicated the teachers.

He only experienced harassment from one of the four teachers who sued him.

Sexually harassed student ‘traumatized further’ as teachers sue for cyber libel

Nagalit [ako] (I got angry),” Robert said through his friends, reflecting on how the teachers sued him after he was victimized.

Mas ino-oppress kasi nila ‘yung mga victims sa ginagawa nila. Kaya mas maraming natatakot ng mga sexual abuse victims dahil sa ginagawa nila,” he added.

(They are further oppressing the victims because of what they’re doing. That’s why more sexual abuse victims are feeling afraid, because of what they’re doing.)

When Robert first opened up about his abuse, Lucia also worried that she had failed as a parent. “Hindi ko rin alam kung nagkulang ba ako as a nanay (I also don’t know if I had shortcomings as a mother),” she said.

Lucia knew what her son was going through when he spoke out for the survivors. She gave him advice but understood that he was old enough to think critically about his actions. While she supported his advocacy, she also worried about how he was going about it.

Oo [suportado ako], pero at the same time, may takot, siyempre. Kasi hindi mo alam ‘yung binabangga mo. Hindi lang para sa kanya, sa mga kapatid niya din… Kung ako, ipaglalaban ko rin. Pero hindi through social media, through the court,” she said.

(I supported him, but I was afraid at the same time, of course. Because you don’t know who you’re up against. I was scared not just for him but also his siblings. If it were me, I would have fought for it too. But not through social media, through the court.)

Rather than anger, Lucia said it was sadness she felt following the arrest of her son.

Ang ano ko na lang ngayon is mailabas ‘yung anak ko. Parang ‘yung galit hindi ko na maramdaman eh. ‘Yung lungkot sa justice system natin, sa batas,” she said.

(My priority is to get my son out. I no longer feel anger. It’s more of sadness at our justice system and law.)

Once Robert is released on bail, they plan to focus on the next legal steps.

EIE, an organization of school-based sexual harassment survivors and their supporters, slammed Robert’s incarceration.

“Alias Robert’s case marks a grave threat to all victim-survivors and the collective effort against campus predators. It sends out a message that victim-survivors who come forward with their truth will be punished and suppressed,” they said in a Wednesday statement.

In September 2022, in the wake of the surfacing reports from BNHS, the Department of Education said administrative charges were filed against five BNHS teachers accused of sexually abusing students.–

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!
Clothing, Apparel, Person


Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers the rights of women and children, migrant Filipinos, and labor.