Bzzzzz: Cebu City official asked for a kiss and they cry 'sexual harassment'

ENGR. Lorenzo Basamot, former barangay captain of Kamputhaw, Cebu City and now records and archives chief of City Hall's Department of General Services, is fighting back the complaint of sexual harassment against him by suing back for libel the three women employees who sued him.

Basamot denied that he committed sexual harassment against the three women.

What exactly did he do? The facts are sparse in the news media reports: Basamot allegedly "forced himself on" the women during a tree-planting activity last October 5 in Barangay Taptap. The women filed their complaint November 26 and Basamot returned fire with his complain November 27.

Basamot, the news reports said, denied he touched any of the women but admitted that he asked one of them to kiss him ("on the cheek") when she asked him to buy her a cake as it was her birthday. He said he didn't "deal" with any of the other two women.

Basic requirements

Were the Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 (Republic Act #7877) met:

[1] Was the act committed in an environment related to work, education or training? If the tree-planting was an activity of City Hall to which the women were bound to join, it was work-related.

[2] Did Basamot have "authority, influence or moral ascendancy" over the women? The facts in the news story didn't say.

[3] Did he demand for sexual favor? Or did his verbal or physical behavior indicate sexual advances?

She said no; he stopped

Basamot said that when one woman from he had asked a kiss said "no," he stopped.

Would that take down the criminal intent in sexual harassment? Or did the mere request already constitute an offense?

The charge of libel

If the women's complaint against him was based on pure fiction and they sued out of spite or on the prodding of an enemy of Basamot, the libel could be justified.

But suing just to hit back at the women or to tell the public the charge is not true may compound the hurt done.

Which side can prove its claim? If any of the women has witnesses or video of the attack, that wouldn't just throw out his libel complaint. He could lose his job or even go to jail.

What's Mabatid's role?

Cebu City Councilor Prisca Nina Mabatid Tuesday (November 6) used a privileged speech in the City Council not to push a legislative measure but purportedly to protect her name. Two politicians, former councilor Pastor Alcover Jr. and former barangay captain Ramil Ayuman, she alleged, had been spreading the claim that she pushed the three women to withdraw their complaint against Basamot.

Meaning, Mabatid is allegedly trying to "fix" the case and get off the hook Basamot, her ally who helped her land #2 in the councilors race in Cebu City north.

Alcover and Ayuman saw it as incongruous for the chairperson of the committee on women and children to protect an alleged sex offender. That wouldn't be illegal unless she would use illegal means to have the case dropped since Basamot is still presumed innocent. "Just awkward," said a City Hall watcher.

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