Catcalling is STUPID, also ILLEGAL

Catcalling is experienced by men and women every day on different streets of the Philippines. The ultimate question is why. Why do these people have to catcall? Is there satisfaction in doing this? Do they honestly think that a woman would be attracted to or fall in love with them if they catcall her?

Questions above, of course, show how STUPID catcall-ers are but this blog is not a venue to properly answer these questions. What can be properly discussed here, nevertheless, is the LEGALITY of catcalling. The short explanation is it is ILLEGAL and the law PUNISHES catcalling.

In 2019, Republic Act No. (RA) 11313, known as the Safe Spaces Act, became law in the Philippines; it punishes misogynistic acts, sexist slurs, wolf-whistling, catcalling, intrusive gazing, cursing, and persistent telling of sexual jokes in public or online. Punishments include imprisonment or fines depending on the seriousness of the crime.Under RA 11313, it is declared as a policy that equality, security and safety should be enjoyed by both men and women not only in their private spaces but also on the streets, public spaces, online, workplaces and educational and training institutions.

Under said law, "catcalling" is defined as referring to unwanted remarks directed towards a person, commonly done in the form of wolf-whistling and misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, and sexist slurs. Such act of catcalling, among others, is NOT ALLOWED in public places (and other places).

Public spaces refer to streets and alleys, public parks, schools, buildings, malls, bars, restaurants, transportation terminals, public markets, spaces used as evacuation centers, government offices, public utility vehicles as well as private vehicles covered by app-based transport network services and other recreational spaces such as, but not limited to, cinema halls, theaters and spas.

Stalking is also NOT ALLOWED. Stalking refers to conduct directed at a person involving the repeated visual or physical proximity, non-consensual communication, or a combination thereof that cause or will likely cause a person to fear for one’s own safety or the safety of others, or to suffer emotional distress.

IS THERE PUNISHMENT? The answer is yes. For acts such as cursing, wolf-whistling, catcalling, leering and intrusive gazing, taunting, pursing, unwanted invitations, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, and sexist slurs, persistent unwanted comments on one’s appearance, relentless requests for one’s personal details such as name, contact and social media details or destination, the use of words, gestures or actions that ridicule on the basis of sex, gender or sexual orientation, identity and/or expression including sexist, homophobic, and transphobic statements and slurs, the persistent telling of sexual jokes, use of sexual names, comments and demands, and any statement that has made an invasion on a person’s personal space or threatens the person’s sense of personal safety, the law imposes the following PENALTIES:
  1. The first offense shall be punished by a fine of One thousand pesos (₱1,000.00) and community service of twelve (12) hours inclusive of attendance to a Gender Sensitivity Seminar to be conducted by the PNP in coordination with the LGU and the PCW;
  2. The second offense shall be punished by arresto menor (6 to 10 days) or a fine of Three thousand pesos (₱3,000.00); and
  3. The third offense shall be punished by arresto menor (11 to 30 days) and a fine of Ten thousand pesos (₱10,000.00).
Section 15 of the law raises the penalty to one next higher in degree in the following cases:
  1. If the act takes place in a common carrier or PUV, including, but not limited to, jeepneys, taxis, tricycles, or app-based transport network vehicle services, where the perpetrator is the driver of the vehicle and the offended party is a passenger;
  2. If the offended party is a minor, a senior citizen, or a person with disability (PWD), or a breastfeeding mother nursing her child;
  3. If the offended party is diagnosed with a mental problem tending to impair consent;
  4. If the perpetrator is a member of the uniformed services, such as the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the act was perpetrated while the perpetrator was in uniform; and
  5. If the act takes place in the premises of a government agency offering frontline services to the public and the perpetrator is a government employee.
RESPONSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHMENTS. To make sure these acts are punished, the law orders that the management of restaurants, cinemas, malls, bars, and other privately-owned places open to the public adopt a "zero-tolerance policy." They are to help the victim by coordinating with local police "immediately after" the sexual harassment and make CCTV footage available when ordered by the court.

RESPONSIBILITY OF LTO, LTFRB. It will be the Land Transportation Office and Land Transportation Franchise Regulatory Board that will penalize drivers of public utility vehicles. The punishment includes canceling the license of the driver and suspending or revoking the franchise of the transportation operator.

RESPONSIBILITY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS. LGUs are to pass an ordinance localizing the national law within 60 days of the law's effectivity. LGUs shall bear the "primary responsibility" of enforcing the law. The Department of Interior and Local Government is supposed to make sure LGUs comply.