Three wanted individuals were arrested in Barangay Punta Baja, Rizal, in southern Palawan on June 5, for violating the Safe Spaces Act.

The arrested individuals have been identified as Jesebel Vidal Palarca, a 40-year-old teacher; Janice Grandia Vidal, a 37-year-old businesswoman; and Ilene Tolentino Mahilum, 28.

Their capture was made possible by virtue of a warrant issued by Judge Evelyn Cañete, the acting presiding judge of the 6th Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) in the Fourth Judicial Region of Quezon, Palawan.

The warrant, dated April 24, 2023, cited the individuals for violating Section 12, Article II of Republic Act No. 11313, or the Safe Spaces Act. The Criminal Case No. 3351R was filed against them, with a recommended bail bond amounting to P24,000 each.

The Safe Spaces Act addresses and prevents gender-based sexual harassment in public spaces, online platforms, and educational institutions.

Section 12 of the law specifically focuses on the prohibition of any form of gender-based sexual harassment in educational institutions. It emphasizes the responsibility of these institutions to provide a safe and conducive learning environment for all students, free from any form of harassment.

Under this section, it is declared unlawful for any person, whether a student, teacher, or any other individual present in an educational institution, to commit acts of gender-based sexual harassment. These acts include, but are not limited to, unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and any other physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.

The provision further emphasizes that gender-based sexual harassment is not limited to physical contact but also includes acts committed through electronic, digital, or online platforms. This recognition addresses the growing concern of harassment occurring in virtual spaces and the importance of preventing such behavior.

After the successful arrest operation, Palarca, Vidal, and Mahilum were taken into custody by the Rizal MPS for documentation and further legal proceedings.

The apprehension was carried out by personnel of the Rizal Municipal Police Station (MPS) in coordination with the Provincial Intelligence Unit (PIU) Palawan.

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