By William Casis | FilAm Star Correspondent

Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros said she was baffled when Malacañang suddenly came up with a copy of the Bawal Bastos law after then OIC Justice Sec. Menardo Guevarra confirmed last May that it became law last April 19.

The said law was  signed by President Rodrigo Duterte dated April 17.

“Either this is another case of incompetence on the part of the Duterte government or this is an attempt to rob women and the LGBT community of our historic victory, whitewash the President’s unparalleled sexism and misogyny and claim the law as their own achievement leading to the 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA),” stressed Hontiveros.

“We will not allow ourselves and our hard-fought victory to be used to deodorize state-sanctioned misogyny and gender-based harassment,” she added.

The passage of the Bawal Bastos Law, she noted,  is the victory of women, LGBTs, advocates and legislator-champions.

She hopes  this can be a warning to all sexists, misogynists, gender bigots and sexual harassers.

She assured they will  no longer tolerate the bastos culture in our country.

Whether gender-based harassment is done to women public servants or to ordinary citizens, she expects the full implementation of the law. “Bawal na si Boy Bastos.”

She also said this will serve as a reminder to the President that no one is above the law, not least a law which he himself signed.

Furthermore, she challenged  the President to follow to the letter the very law he signed and set an example not only as a law-abiding citizen but as a leader who respects everyone.

For her part, another opposition senator, Leila de lima commended  the enactment of Republic Act (RA) No. 11313, or the “Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act,” imposing stiffer penalties against gender-based sexual harassment occurring in public spaces and on-line.

“I hope that this new law will be implemented strictly and properly and will not exempt from compliance our public officials, especially Duterte who is infamous for his sexist jokes and misogynist remarks. He should respect his own signature under a presidential seal affixed in that law.” De Lima said.

Senate Bill No. 1558, now RA 11313, was principally authored and sponsored by Hontiveros, with Senators Grace Poe, Joel Villanueva, and De Lima among its co-authors.

The new law is popularly referred to as Bawal Bastos Act.

The new law places cursing, cat-calling, wolf-whistling, leering, taunting, misogynistic and sexist slurs, persistent telling of sexual jokes and use of sexual names, among others, as gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment.

The specified acts may be punishable from community service of 12 hours up to arresto menor or 11 to 30 days imprisonment for the third offense.

Other unlawful acts, such as making offensive body gestures at someone, exposing private parts for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator and stalking, to name some, may receive graver punishment of imprisonment of up to a month and one day and up to six months under the law.

De Lima said that although these penalties may not be sufficient to deter committed misogynists like Duterte, at the least they might think twice before violating the law.

The lady Senator from Bicol maintained that everyone, regardless of gender, deserve to be respected and feel safe in public spaces.