The local court found Kalayaan Mayor Roberto Del Mundo guilty of gender-based online sexual harassment charges filed against him by the former administrative aide of the municipal government.
In a 22 page decision dated November 28, Municipal Trial Court in the Cities Branch 2 Judge Rohima Sarra said although Del Mundo attempted to assert his innocence by claiming that the charges filed against him was politically motivated, the court upholds the general rule that “acts punished under a especial law are mulum prohibitum” or the act is simply wrong because it is punishable by law.
The decision also said that Del Mundo clearly violated Republic Act 11313, or the Safe Spaces Act or Bawal Bastos Law.
“The evidence of the prosecution has established that the accused Del Mundo has sent chat messages to the complainant, which contained sexist remarks that caused her mental, emotional and psychological distress,” the court ruled.
“Ultimately, this messages brought her intense fear and anxiety, and likewise put a strain on her relationship with her husband, causing frequent fights due to [her husband’s] failure to protect her as his wife,” the ruling stated further.
In 2021, the victim and another Kalayaan local government employee sought assistance from the local National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in relation to the mayor’s online sexual harassment committed between February until March 2020.
The victim told Palawan News in 2021 that Del Mundo was constantly sending her sexist remarks via various social messaging accounts.
“Simula po noon ay nagme-message na po siya sa messenger gamit ang messenger account na ‘Bert Del Mundo’ at ‘Roland Mendoza’ at nangangamusta, nire-reply-an ko naman po sya na nasa maayos na kalagayan lang po ako. Kasunod noon ay nag message na po siya na kung may kailangan daw po ako ay magsabi lang ako, sinagot ko naman po sya ng ‘opo sir’. Hanggang sa nagpatuloy lang po ang kanyang pangangamusta,” the victim said.
Del Mundo faces a sentence of “2 years, 4 months, and 1 day as minimum to 3 years and 6 months as maximum.”
Asked to comment on the court’s decision, Kalayaan town spokesperson Ariel Carlos said, “We cannot say anything yet because we have not received a copy”.
Del Mundo is currently under one-month suspension after the Office of the Ombudsman found him and nine other town officials liable for “simple misconduct” in relation to a grave abuse of authority and misconduct complaint filed against them in 2018.