Video blogger convicted in first ruling under new Philippine sexual harassment law

Aie Balagtas See
Video blogger convicted in first ruling under new Philippine sexual harassment law Filipina activist and school administrator Mia Magdalena joins a protest rally denouncing martial law under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, in Baguio, Philippines, September 2018.

A Philippine court has found a video blogger guilty of online sexual harassment in the first ruling under a new law in the country where politicians often intimidate women online.

The Municipal Trial Court of La Trinidad, in northern Baguio city, fined Renan I. Padawi (also known as Jackfloyd Sawyer) nearly U.S. $3,000 for violating the Philippines’ Safe Spaces Act, which became law in 2019.

In ruling on the case, Judge May Adube-Cabuag found Padawi “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” for violating the Safe Spaces Act. The verdict was delivered on Feb. 1 but made public on Feb. 3.

The law penalizes wolf whistling, catcalling, misogynistic and homophobic slurs, unwanted sexual advances, and other forms of sexual harassment in public places, workplaces, and schools as well as in online spaces.

It is considered a progressive law in the Philippines, a highly paternalistic country where sexism and misogyny are considered enduring problems.

The Padawi case stemmed from a complaint filed by Mia Magdalena against the video blogger who is a supporter of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Padawi, 39, posted a video in July on Facebook mocking Magdalena with sexual innuendos after she took Marcos to task on social media and in public for his absence in Abra province after an earthquake at the time.

Magdalena saved the video clips of Padawi’s online comments, including one where he appeared to threaten her life. She filed the complaint in September. Padawi initially pleaded not guilty but then confessed on Feb. 1 to his crime.

Magdalena, who is also an outspoken political activist, told BenarNews that Padawi’s attacks had made her “feel unsafe in the real world” and that she had suffered bouts of anxiety because of them.

“When I decided to file my case against Renan Padawi (a.k.a. Jackfloyd Sawyer), I was told by some that it was trivial and that I should withdraw,” Magdalena said on Monday.

“They said that he had many fans and trolls who would support him. But I also knew that this was the first case of its kind in the community.”

Padawi did not immediately respond to media requests for comment.

Facebook is the leading online platform in the Philippines, with an estimated 74 million subscribers as of 2019. That also makes it the most favored platform to spread disinformation and initiate harassment campaigns.


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