KASAMA Vol. 12 No. 3 / July-August-September 1998 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

Three women - a nurse, a medical technologist, and a medico-legal officer - working in the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed criminal complaints in March 1998 of sexual harassment against their boss, the Chief of the NBI's Medico-Legal Division. The Women's Legal Bureau Inc. issued this statement about the cases:

'Crime does not pay' But not in the NBI

When three women - all personnel of the Medico-Legal Division - made complaints of sexual harassment against the Chief of the Division, the NBI did three things. First, it promoted the harasser. Second, it did nothing. Third, it ordered the transfer of two of the complainants to the provinces.

As the country's top law enforcement agency, the action, and lack of it, taken by the NBI on a crime committed within its premises and among its personnel is a great irony. It is supposed to enforce the law, but it has failed to comply with it. It has no rules on sexual harassment. It has no Committee on Decorum and Investigation, a body which every agency, government or non-government, must create to investigate cases of sexual harassment. But despite these, it could have done something to address the sexual harassment when it was reported. But it did nothing. By its inaction, it is as much liable for the crime.

How can women and children trust this agency? If its chief medico-legal officer can get away with sexually harassing his subordinates, how can abused women and children seeking medico-legal examination at the NBI expect to be protected from similar forms of abuse from the doctors examining them? How can abused women and children expect sensitivity from an office that does not respect its women?

With the Chief Medico-Legal Officer setting an example to all his colleagues and subordinates, we have a culture within the Medico-Legal Division where disrespect for women and children abounds and abuses against them are normalized. The three women complainants have related that sexually abused women brought to the Medico-Legal Division are abused again in many ways.

What can we expect from the NBI?

* * * To date, the respondent has been temporarily relieved from his post as Chief of the Medico-Legal Division but is detailed to the Office of the Deputy Director for Technical Services as the Executive Officer, which is in fact equivalent to a promotion.

WOMAN, It is your RIGHT to be free from violence.
Stop violence against Women!

Poster: Women's Legal Bureau Inc., 1 Matimtiman Street, Teachers Village, Diliman, Quezon City 1101, Philippines.
Tel: (632) 921 3893 / 921 8053 - Fax: (632) 921 4389