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DECODE: Bastos troller ka ba? Read about this law

by Leila Salaverria

Recently updated on February 8, 2023 12:05 am

PEOPLE who like to spew hatred and misogynistic remarks online better watch what they say or post. 

They could learn a lesson from what happened to vlogger Renan Padawi, who was ordered to pay a P150,000 fine for his sexist remarks against a netizen who shared her sentiments online and asked about President Marcos’ whereabouts. 

According to reports, Padawi, who goes by the name “Jackfloyd Sawyer” on Facebook, pleaded guilty to committing “gender-based online sexual harassment” against La Trinidad resident Mia Magdalena Fokno. 

The Municipal Trial Court of La Trinidad town in Benguet ordered Padawi to pay Fokno a P100,000 fine and another P50,000 as civil liability. 

Bawal Bastos law in action 

The case is a successful prosecution of a violation under Republic Act 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act. It is also known as the “Bawal Bastos” law and was enacted in 2019. 

It defines gender-based sexual harassment in streets, public spaces, online, workplaces, and educational or training institutions. It also provides protection for individuals and prescribes penalties against offenders.  

Penalties range from fines to imprisonment.

Online harassment 

The Safe Spaces Act said the types of gender-based online sexual harassment include acts that use information and communications technology in terrorizing and intimidating victims.

These may be:

  • physical, psychological, and emotional threats 
  • unwanted sexual misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist remarks and comments online whether publicly or through direct and private messages
  • invasion of privacy through cyberstalking and incessant messaging
  • uploading and sharing any form of media with sexual content without the consent of the victim any unauthorized recording and sharing of any of the victim’s photos, videos, or any information online
  • impersonating identities of victims online or posting lies about victims to harm their reputation filing, false abuse reports to online platforms to silence victims. 

Complaints against those who commit these actions may be filed before the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group. 


As the vlogger found out, online harassment can carry with it hefty fines. Worse actions may also merit imprisonment. 

The Safe Spaces Act states that the gender-based online sexual harassment may be penalized with imprisonment of six months to six years or a fine of at least P100,000 but not more than P500,000, or both, depending on the court. 

If the perpetrator is a juridical person, its license or franchise will be automatically deemed revoked. 

An exemption to acts that could be penalized as gender-based sexual harassment are authorized written orders of the court for any peace officer to use online records or any copy thereof as evidence in any civil, criminal investigation or trial of the crime.

No to misogyny, homophobia 

The law also makes it illegal to commit gender-based sexual harassment in streets, public places, and privately owned places open to the public.

Gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment consist of unwanted and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person, regardless of the motive, committed in public spaces. 

Examples of these are:

  • catcalling 
  • wolf-whistling 
  • unwanted invitations
  • misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist slurs
  • persistent uninvited comments or gestures on a person’s appearance
  • relentless requests for personal details
  • statement of sexual comments and suggestions 
  • public masturbation or flashing of private parts
  • groping 
  • any advances, whether verbal or physical, that is unwanted and has threatened one’s sense of personal space and physical safety

Zero tolerance 

The law also requires restaurants, bars, cinemas, malls, buildings and other privately owned places open to the public to adopt a zero-tolerance policy against gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment.

This means assisting victims of sexual harassment by coordinating with police about such incidents, and providing a safe environment to encourage victims to report gender-based sexual harassment at the first instance.

Security guards in these places may be deputized to apprehend perpetrators caught in  the act and are required to immediately coordinate with local authorities.

The Land Transportation Office may also cancel the licenses of those who commit sexual harassment in public utility vehicles. 

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, on the other hand, may suspend or revoke the franchise of transportation operators who commit gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment act. They will also be considered negligent if their drivers commit gender-based harassment.


The punishment for gender-based sexual harassment in streets and public places are fines ranging from P1,000 to P100,000, as well as community service or imprisonment from six days to six months. 

Making schools and workplaces safe

The law also prohibits gender-based harassment in workplaces. Actions that fall under this include:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances or demands for sexual favors that could have a detrimental effect on the conditions of an individual’s employment or education, job performance or opportunities
  • Conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcome, unreasonable, and offensive to the recipient, whether done verbally, physically or through the use of technology
  • Conduct that is unwelcome and pervasive and creates an intimidating, hostile or humiliating environment for the recipient

Employers who fail to prevent or punish acts of gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace may face fines of ranging from P5,000 to P15,000. 

On the other hand, schools are required to designate an officer-in-charge to receive complaints regarding violations of the law, and to ensure that the victims are provided with a gender-sensitive environment that is both respectful to the victims’ needs and conducive to truth-telling.

Schools should also have grievance procedures so that those who are harassed could easily file complaints. Moreover, they should investigate and take action against instances of gender-based sexual harassment or sexual violence even if no complaint is filed, as long as they have knowledge about this.

Once the perpetrator is found guilty, the school has the right to expel or revoke his or her diploma. 

School heads who fail to implement their duties or act on instances of gender-based sexual harassment in schools may face fines ranging from P5,000 to P15,000. 



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