COTABATO Rep. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza is getting behind a lady professor who has accused the chief executive of a state university in Manila of sexual harassment.
“We absolutely support the victim. We laud her courage and determination in pursuing the appropriate legal actions in the interest of justice,” Talino-Mendoza said.
Talino-Mendoza made the statement shortly after the Civil Service Commission (CSC) formally charged the board of regents of the Technological University of the Philippines (TUP) with “indirect contempt” for refusing to enforce a prior order suspending its president, Godofredo Gallega.
Gallega had been formally charged with sexual harassment by an assistant professor working in the same university.
A constitutional body bestowed with quasi-judicial powers, the CSC previously directed TUP’s governing board to suspend Gallega for 90 days pending an investigation into the sexual harassment complaint lodged against him.
“The suspension of an official facing a sexual harassment complaint, pending an investigation, is not punitive but merely preventive in nature,” Talino-Mendoza said.
“The action is meant to avoid a situation wherein the official’s continued stay in his post might prejudice an investigation, or discourage potential witnesses, including those under his supervision,” she pointed out.
“Thus, preventive suspension is imperative to ensure an impartial, thorough and expeditious investigation, which would beneficial to both the complainant as well as the respondent,” Talino-Mendoza said.
TUP’s governing board has insisted on deferring Gallega’s suspension, citing a pending a judicial review of the CSC order. A petition to review the CSC’s Dec. 15, 2008 order to suspend Gallega is pending with the Court of Appeals.
However, the CSC has countered that in the absence of a court mandate temporarily restraining Gallega’s suspension, TUP’s governing board should proceed to remove him from his post for 90 days.
Talino-Mendoza has been pushing the CSC to ascertain whether all agencies have established a committee to promptly investigate, hear and decide all sexual harassment complaints, as prescribed by a manual approved by President Arroyo long ago.
The manual cited by Talino-Mendoza commands all public offices, including state universities and colleges as well as government-owned or-controlled corporations, to commission a panel that would provide redress to sexual harassment victims inside 30 days.
It also binds the head of a government office to act on a complaint within 15 days, or face charges of neglect of duty.
“We must stress the need for all agencies to comply fully with the policy against sexual harassment in the workplace, and end their complacency in dealing with complaints,” Talino-Mendoza said.