HIGHLIGHTS OF THE ACTIVITY
Republic Act No. 11313, otherwise known as the Safe Spaces Act, is enacted to prevent gender-based sexual harassment in public spaces, workplaces, schools, and online platforms. It aims to create a culture of respect and inclusivity while holding perpetrators accountable and providing support to victims. Signed on April 17, 2019, the law seeks to foster safe environments for all individuals, irrespective of gender identity or orientation. In line with the Aranguren Integrated School-High School Department’s Gender and Development Training program, CPAG conducted lectures and workshops not only for RA No. 11313 but also for RA No. 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, on July 18, 2023, at the Aranguren Integrated School-High School Department, Aranguren, Capas, Tarlac.
Dr. Edwin T. Caoleng, Dr. Roswald G. Fermin, Dr. Patricia Ann D. Estrada, and Ms. Izelle C. Francisco were among the pool of experts of CPAG who contributed their expertise and shared their knowledge and insights about RA 11313 and RA 6713. The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards' first speaker, Dr. Caoleng, elaborated on the idea that "public office is a public trust," as stated in Article XI, Section 1 of the Philippine Constitution and as the declaration of policy of the RA 6713. It emphasizes the duty, loyalty, and integrity of public employees, elevating the benefit of the people above personal interests, and promoting ethical conduct and transparency in the government. The next topic he covered was the eight norms of conduct that must be adhered to by public officials and employees. They must put the people's interests first, behave with professionalism, fairness, and sincerity, maintain political neutrality, be accessible to the public, exhibit nationalism and patriotism, preserve democratic principles, and lead modest lifestyles.
Continuing the discussion of RA 6713, Dr. Fermin talked about the prohibited acts and transactions specified in the law. He went over a number of activities and transactions that government workers and officials must avoid. Among them is to forgo asking for or receiving gifts, favors, or loans from individuals or organizations with whom they have business dealings. The sharing of confidential data for personal benefit, influence peddling, and nepotism are all strictly prohibited. Public employees are prohibited from working outside the office or running any enterprises that compete with their official responsibilities, and they must refrain from abusing their position for their own gain. It's also forbidden to break the civil service regulations, gamble, or abuse the rights to use government vehicles. These regulations are in place to promote transparency and accountability in the public sector and to stop power abuse and conflicts of interest.
Moreover, Dr. Estrada and Ms. Francisco have a joint discussion regarding the Safe Spaces Act, or RA 11313. Their discussion revolves around the law, which is designed to stop gender-based sexual harassment in public places, both real and virtual. The Act, effective April 17, 2019, aims to create safe places where people can participate without fear of harassment or violence. It covers various places, like workplaces, schools, streets, parks, and the internet, and defines gender-based sexual harassment. Additionally, RA 11313 sets channels for confidential reporting of occurrences to entice victims to come forward. If found guilty of gender-based sexual harassment, offenders risk fines, community service requirements, and perhaps jail. The law also places a strong emphasis on education and awareness, incorporating initiatives in workplaces and educational institutions to encourage gender sensitivity and stop harassment. In the end, RA 11313 is an important step toward achieving gender equality, dignity, and safety. It aims to build a society where everyone can engage in public life with confidence and without fear of harassment.
Overall, the extension activity was fun, fruitful and interesting for all the participants, with all the lectures, videos, and workshop activities provided. It was evident on their faces, as they were participative and always open to share their insights and experiences. The participants have also been reminded that promoting safe spaces for everyone and upholding ethical conduct in government service are vital pillars of a progressive and harmonious society. By nurturing trust, inclusivity, transparency, and sustainable development, these values strengthen the fabric of the nation and empower it to navigate the challenges of our ever-changing world.
The completed extension activity generally supports the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 4: Quality Education and SFG 5: Gender Equality, especially with the aim of eradicating all forms of violence against women and girls in both public and private domains and for all to gain knowledge and skills for sustainable development, encompassing education, sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, peace culture, global citizenship, and cultural appreciation.