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Stop Sexual Harassment! (Lyceum alumna accuses former college dean of harassment)

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The Lyceum of the Philippines University-Manila is under fire for allegedly mishandling a sexual harassment case filed against one of its former deans

An LPU graduate speaks up about the incident in a Facebook post to raise awareness on the issue and inspire others to do the same

MANILA, Philippines – A Facebook post narrating a woman’s experience of being sexual harassed by a dean at the Lyceum of the Philippines University-Manila (LPU) went viral on Sunday, February 6, 2017.

KV Rojas, an International Relations graduate of LPU, shared on Facebook how she was allegedly sexually harassed by Reynaldo Arcilla, former dean of the College of International Relations. She also criticized LPU for supposedly mishandling the case.

Her two-part post generated 2,300 reactions and 995 shares, as of posting.

In a statement, Sandra Recto, LPU Director of Communication and Public Affairs, stressed that the university "does not condone nor tolerate any form of sexual harassment and we continue to uphold the virtues of Dr Jose P. Laurel in seeking the truth and acting with fortitude in the service of God and country."

'Unreal'


“If you want to know the real reason behind the dean’s resignation, keep on reading,” Rojas said at the start of her post.

According to Rojas, Arcilla offered her a ride home on December 2, 2016, after they met to discuss her request for a recommendation letter. She obliged. This was when the alleged sexual harassment took place.

Rojas enumerated a number of instances when the dean verbally harassed her by asking if she was still a virgin or if she has a boyfriend. At one point, Arcilla allegedly told Rojas that she turned him on.

Rojas also claimed that the Arcilla touched her hands, elbows, and lips a couple of times. He also reportedly threatened her that he will not write a recommendation letter if she does not give him a kiss.

“Pagkatapos ng pangyayari, noong una, parang hindi totoo (After what happened, at first, it seemed unreal) – [that] the person I highly respected before could do such things,” Rojas said.


She decided to report the incident to university officials.

Apology?


On December 5, 2016, Rojas wrote a letter of complaint addressed to LPU’s HR director, Myrna Reyes. Responding to her letter, Rojas said that Reyes arranged a meeting between her and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr Conrado Iñigo Jr on December 16, to verify her report.

“They told me that there will be two possible scenarios for my case: first, the Dean will admit it and he will resign; second, the Dean will deny the allegation and there will be a hearing committee composed of 7 people from different sectors within the LPU,” Rojas said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Things started looking up for Rojas on January 4, when the HR director messaged her that she arranged a meeting with Arcilla so the latter could apologize.

On the day before the agreed meeting, however, the HR director called Rojas to postpone the meeting because Arcilla supposedly failed to see her text message. LPU echoed this in its statement.

"As said meeting did not materialize, we informed Ambassador Arcilla on January 13 that the complaint of Ms Rojas would be forthwith referred, for purposes of investigation, to the Committee on Decorum and Investigation," the statement added.

However, Rojas said that the HR director told her that Arcilla will be directly contacting her for a new appointment.

“[S]he let the dean [text] me. I find it very unbecoming for an HR to let the Dean just text me, someone who sexually harassed me,” Rojas said.

This incident was followed by a text message by Arcilla on January 12, apologizing for saying, "Pangit ka siguro noon (You were probably ugly before)." He did not mention the sexual harassment case she filed against him. Because of this, Rojas sought for advice from the Commission on Higher Education. She was told to write a follow-up letter addressed to the LPU president. The following day, she was informed by the HR director that LPU president Roberto Laurel asked Arcilla to resign.

His resignation letter, however, did not mention anything about the sexual harassment Rojas had raised before the LPU administration. When she told Reyes about this, the HR director allegedly said that they no longer “have control of or cannot force him to admit on the sexual harassment” case.

"Since Ambassador Arcilla is no longer considered a faculty member by reason of his resignation, the university, under the rules, is effectively divested of its administrative juristiction over the complaint," LPU explained in the statement.

Until his resignation, Arcilla served as dean of the College of International Relations in LPU from April 2006. He had also served as Philippine ambassador to Bangladesh, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Laos, and Thailand.

Raising awareness


Rojas sought refuge in social media to tell her story.

“Support from netizens gave me hope. I received messages and praises for speaking up. Most of those who messaged me said they experienced something similar but failed to speak up like how I did,” Rojas said in an interview with Rappler.

According to her, she spoke up to raise awareness on sexual harassment and for the school to recognize that it had mishandled her case.


Recently, the office of student affairs of the University of Santo Tomas drew flak after allegedly “victim-blaming” a student who got molested in a public utility vehicle.

About 58% of incidents of sexual harassment in the Philippines happen on the streets, major roads, and eskinitas (alleys). (READ: The many faces of sexual harassment in PH)

Sexual harassment is punishable under Republic Act No. 7877, or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act , and the provisions of the Revised Penal Code on Acts of Lasciviousness.

RA 7877 penalizes sexual harassment with imprisonment of 1 to 6 months, a fine of P10,000 to P20,000, or both. Those who commit acts of lasciviousness face imprisonment. –ccto

The school let this incident be closed immediately by letting the dean resigned. Where in, they should take responsibility of what the dean have done.

This petition will help raise the awareness about sexual harassment. This is also to remind the school of what responsibility is capable of them.

 



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