The Dimatulac Files – Sexual harassment and the Azkals

Atty. Dimatulac, of counsel, at the little-known firm of Dimatulac and Calaboso personally took quasi-cognizance of a “feeler” sent by a prominent law firm. He was asked if he would undertake, on a secret subcontract, to defend the famous Filipino soccer team called the Azkals in a sexual harassment suit.

As usual, Atty. D preferred to play golf instead, so he desisted from serious legal research and asked his favorite junior partner Y to do the deed.

Y, when he was studying for the bar, had been given as a study aid a theoretical MCQ that he thought applied to the case. He subsequently informed Atty. Dimatulac that the sexual harassment suit ought to be dismissed for “failure to state a cause of action.”

Atty. D’s reaction: “Unjust vexation” lang?

Was Y right? You be the judge.

– – – – – – – – –

Hint: Here is the MCQ that Y used.

X, a handsome priest heard the confession of Z, a pretty and “modern liberated” woman aged 22, with a blemished reputation in high society, who owned up to having an affair with a married man because she was “curious” about sex. X gave Z absolution and penance, and then also asked Z to meet him for “counseling” at a local restaurant. Z, out of respect for the priest and because he was handsome, agreed. At the restaurant, X advised Z that she should consider having sex with him as a means of her religious betterment. X reasoned that Z’s original “sin” was due to her curiosity, and it was morally better for her to satisfy her curiosity with a man of God rather than a married man.

Z was at a loss with the advice given by X, but she initially kept her thoughts to herself. Later, she complained to the local bishop regarding the conduct of X.

What crime or crimes did X commit? [Choose those that apply]

  1. Acts of lasciviousness because X had lewd designs.
  2. Unjust vexation under Art. 287.
  3. Sexual harassment under RA 7887.
  4. Intriguing against honor.
  5. Grave scandal.
  6. Expounding immoral doctrines.
  7. Grave threat.
  8. Light threat.
  9. Grave coercion.

Correct answer: (2). Unjust vexation in Art. 287 of the RPC is anything that annoys or irritates another without justification. Pp. v Motita, CA case.

As to incorrect answers:

  • The answer in (1) is incorrect because acts of lasciviousness involve “intentional touching” of private parts, and with lewd designs. Pp v Jalosjos, 2001.
  • It cannot be sexual harassment because this offense can only be committed by a person with authority or ascendancy over a victim at work or in an educational environment (RA 7877, 1995). There is no showing that Z is an employee or subordinate of X, nor is she a student where X has some authority over her.
  • It is not intriguing against honor because such a crime requires the offender to have as a principal purpose to blemish the honor or reputation of a person. Art. 364.
  • It is not grave scandal under Art. 200 because this offense requires the conduct to be within public knowledge or view. Even if the conversation was in a restaurant, there must be an effect on witnesses to the commission of the crime. US v Catajay. (But is there a crime called “light scandal”?  Apparently not, since there is no mention of a lesser scandal in the RPC; see Art. 200.)
  • It is not expounding an immoral doctrine because such a crime must be made “publicly.” Art. 201. The advice of X was given privately albeit in a public place.
  • It is not grave threat under Art. 282 because the threat must involve the infliction of a wrong amounting to a crime.
  • It is not light threat under Art. 283 or Art. 285 because the threat in light threat must be one that is a harm but not a crime and that appears to be within the power of the offender to inflict on the person, honor or property of the victim (Art. 282); nor is it under “other light threats” under Art. 285 as (a) there is no weapon used by the offender; (b) the act was not made in the heat of anger, where the harm threatened is “some harm not constituting a crime;” and (c) X did not orally threaten to do Z any harm not constituting a felony.
  • It is not grave coercion under Art. 286 where an essential element of the crime is the use of violence, threats, or intimidation to prevent Z from doing something not prohibited by law, or to compel her to do something against her will, whether it be right or wrong. There is no showing that X intended to compel Z to have sex with him against her will. Note: It is submitted that “threats” in Art. 286 should be defined as in Art. 282 as one involving the potential to inflict some harm upon the victim’s person, honor, or property.

– – – – – – –

Y also relied on the following summary notes on sexual harassment as a crime under RA 7877.

Rules:

  • offender is a person with authority or ascendancy over another in work or education
  • employer or supervisor of offender is solidarily liable for damages if he is aware of the offender’s crime
  • committed by request for sexual favor as condition for promotion or passing grade, or when the request (if not quid pro quo) results in a hostile environment
  • does not cover isolated instances of sexual comments or physical conduct w/o quid pro quo, or if the conduct of the accused was not unwanted.
  • gravamen of the offense is abuse of power. PAAUC v NLRC and Cortez, 2000.
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