Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the country’s basic education institutions to enforce their child protection program to combat all forms of violence and abuse against learners, including sexual harassment.
Gatchalian made this call as the Department of Education (DepEd) probes six teachers who allegedly made sexual advances on learners at the Bacoor National High School in Cavite. A social media post on the learners’ experiences went viral on August 28. According to DepEd spokesman Michael Poa, the teachers under investigation have not been given teaching loads since then.
“Mariin nating kinokondena ang ganitong uri ng pang-aabuso at karahasan sa ating mga mag-aaral. Ang mga paaralan ay dapat nagsisilbing ligtas na espasyo. Walang lugar sa ating mga paaralan ang pang-aabuso at karahasan at hindi dapat natin ito pinapalagpas,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
Gatchalian cited the role of DepEd’s Child Protection Unit (CPU), which is mandated to formulate policies concerning the right of basic education learners to protection from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation, and maltreatment. The CPU is also mandated to establish and maintain a monitoring and reporting mechanism for all child protection-related concerns.
In enforcing child protection programs, the senator said that schools should mobilize their Child Protection Committees (CPC), which were created under Department Order No. 40 s. 2012 or the Child Protection Policy. Aside from creating child protection policies, CPCs are also tasked to identify learners who may be experiencing abuse and exploitation, and to report cases involving child abuse.
Based on the results of the National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children in the Philippines (2016), about 17.1% of children aged 13 to below 18 experienced any form of sexual violence, 5.3% of which happened in schools.