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Gabriela lauds female lawyer for suing NLRC official

MANILA, Philippines — Women’s group Gabriela yesterday lauded a female lawyer for suing a National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) official for alleged sexual harassment.

“(This could inspire other victims to) stand up and break the silence, even if it means confronting persons of higher positions within the workplace,” the group said in a statement.

NLRC 7th Division Commissioner Nendell Hanz Abella is facing charges before the Pasay City prosecutor’s office for violating the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009.

Abella allegedly took photos of the victim’s underskirt when she was boarding a plane bound for Cebu on Feb. 12.

“This incident throws an ironic and startling shade on the Philippines’ recent ratification of the International Labor Organization’s Convention 190 on Ending Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, considering that the identified perpetrator is no less than an official of the NLRC and the labor department,” Gabriela noted.

This incident should be a wake-up call for the Department of Labor and Employment to conduct an internal audit in relation to the country’s commitments to ILO C190, the group added.

“We cannot help but wonder how many more cases of sexual harassment in the world of work are left unreported and unresolved, considering the power dynamics in the workplace and lack of working internal mechanisms for redress within workplaces in the country,” the group said.

Gabriela pushed for measures that would fill the gaps in the country’s compliance with ILO C190.

There should be a mandatory setup of workplace desks to process rape and sexual harassment complaints, the group recommended.