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Balaba files draft Safe Space Ordinance

IN the regular session Monday, presided over by Vice Mayor Bebot Rodriguez, Councilor Joyleen Mercedes L. Balaba filed the proposed ordinance that would localize the application of Republic Act No. 11313, otherwise known as the Safe Spaces Act or the Bawal Bastos Law, which defines gender based sexual harassments in public spaces, online, workplaces, educational or training institutions, and prescribing penalties therefor.

Councilor Joyleen Mercedes "Girlie" L. Balaba

Balaba recalled having delivered a special report on the matter last February 2021, calling for the creation of a technical working group (TWG) to draft the proposal. She said the TWG had already finished the draft, and she apologized that it was not submitted before the term of the 19th City Council ended.

“(Only) after a series of meetings with the members of the City Inter Agency Council Against Trafficking (CIACAT), the City Council for the Protection of Children (CCPC) and GAD offices recently with the City Interior Local Government (CILG), which is constantly reminding us of the need for it, had I learned that there was not an ordinance passed and approved. So, my sincerest apologies sa atong katawhan sa dakbayan,” the lady councilor enunciated.

RA 11313 penalizes those who commit “any unwanted and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person” in public transport vehicles, public spaces, and online spaces, among others. The Safe Spaces Act was signed into law on April 17, 2019, and made public by Senator Risa Hontiveros, who principally authored and sponsored the measure in the Senate.  

Under the law, prohibited actions include catcalling, wolf-whistling, unwanted invitations, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, and sexist slurs, persistent uninvited comments or gestures on a person’s appearance, sexual comments and suggestions, public masturbation or flashing of private parts, groping, or any advances, whether verbal or physical, that are unwanted and threaten one’s sense of personal space and physical safety. The law also penalizes online sexual harassment, including sexual slurs in private messages.

As requested, the proposed ordinance was referred to the Committee on Laws and Rules, chaired by Councilor Edgar S. Cabanlas, for appropriate action.


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