education in the Philippines

Youth groups ask PRC: Revoke licenses of sexual predator-teachers

Michelle Abad

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Youth groups ask PRC: Revoke licenses of sexual predator-teachers

SAFER CAMPUSES. The Safer Campuses PH coalition troops to the Professional Regulation Commission to demand the revocation of licenses of teachers found to be sexual predators, on International Women's Day, March 8, 2024.

Enough Is Enough PH

In the letter, Safer Campuses PH describes the need to revoke professional licenses as teacher-predators have been seen to get away with abuse by simply resigning before a case prospers, and moving on to teach at another school

MANILA, Philippines – On International Women’s Day, Friday, March 8, youth groups trooped to the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) to demand the revocation of licenses of teachers who are found to be sexual predators.

Safer Campuses PH, a coalition of student organizations and councils convened with the same advocacy to make schools safe from sexual predators, dropped off a letter at the PRC addressed to chairperson Charito Zamora.

In the letter, they described the need to revoke professional licenses as teacher-predators have been seen to get away with abuse by simply resigning before a case prospers, and moving on to teach at another school.

“The celebration of International Women’s Day is marked by the grim reality of campus predators and enablers preying on vulnerable students. Despite legislation such as the Safe Spaces Act, students remain unsafe while unscrupulous individuals and institutions are yet to be made accountable for their crimes,” the coalition said in the letter.

Janae Vizcarra, Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark) Intra-Taft Coordinator, was one of the coalition’s representatives in dropping off the letter at the PRC building in Sampaloc, Manila.

She recalled how guards badgered the representatives about needing a rally permit to give speeches outside the building. The building on P. Paredes was one corner away from the main Women’s Day rally along Nicanor Reyes street. The main rally concluded just moments before the youth groups walked straight to PRC.

May nakasunod na guard sa amin hanggang office, kahit kausap na kami ng nagre-receive, doon lang siya nakabuntot sa ‘min, tapos nasasabihan kami, paulit-ulit, ‘Dapat kasi may permit kayo,'” Vizcarra told Rappler.

(A guard was following us until the office, even when we were talking to the person who would receive our letter, the guard just stayed at our tails. And he kept telling us repeatedly, “You should have a permit.”)

Spark secretary general Pat Racca said the group was still optimistic that the PRC would respond positively to their appeal.

Kasi sino ba’ng hindi kakampi sa mga biktima? Mga enabler lang naman, o ‘di kaya mga kapwa predator. Tingin ko naman hindi ganoon ang PRC,” she said. (Because who would not side with victims? Just enablers, or fellow predators. I believe PRC is not like that.)

Impunity in schools

In a statement on Friday, Enough Is Enough, a convening member organization of Safer Campuses PH, said that the group monitored 61 schools with campus predators, many of whom reportedly remain employed in the schools, or have transferred to different schools without facing administrative and criminal charges.

Racca of Spark said that in cases they have monitored, when victim-survivors are able to bring themselves to report the abuse, school administrations have reportedly told them that they cannot proceed with the cases because the accused teachers resigned.

Nagresign, intact ang benefits, intact ang lisensya, walang records sa crime na nangyari, kasi hindi naman umandar ‘yung kaso. Malalaman na lang na nasa eskwelahan na pala,” she said.

(They resigned, their benefits are intact, their licenses are intact, and there are no records of the crime that happened, because the case did not prosper. You only find out later that they are teaching in a new school.)

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While there is a provision in the Safe Spaces Act that requires schools to act proactively even with just reasonable knowledge of sexual harassment in their schools, Racca said that the reality on the ground is different.

Hindi naman nasa interes ng institusyon na may ganyang issue na mag-imbestiga, at bigyan ng hustisya ang biktima. Ang unang ise-safeguard ng institusyon ay ‘yung reputasyon niya,” she said.

(It is not in the institution’s interest to investigate these issues or give justice to the victims. The first thing they will safeguard is their reputation. (READ: This is how my school responded when my teacher harassed me)

The law also outlines that the penalties for schools that do not act on reported gender-based sexual harassment in their institutions is a fine ranging from P10,000 to P15,000.

“That’s like saying you can buy the right to harass students for a few thousand pesos,” said Racca.

Because reporting systems sometimes do not work in schools, students have taken take to social media to report their experiences.

This, despite the Safe Spaces Act being signed in 2019. Safer Campuses PH, in its letter to the PRC, also highlighted five major demands in amending the law:

  1. Mandate schools to provide psychological, legal, and financial support for victim-survivors
  2. Charge predators and enablers with criminal and administrative cases
  3. Revoke professional licenses and blacklist campus predators
  4. Establish a publicly available national registry of sex offenders
  5. Implement a non-retaliatory policy for students’ protection

In 2022, the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality began a probe into “constant reports of sexual harassment” allegedly committed by educators in various schools in the country. –

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Michelle Abad

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