The Philippine National Police said it has recorded 149 crimes against female students across the country in the last two months—majority of which involved rape, PNP chief Police General Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said in a statement.
“Our intention is not to cause panic, but we advise students to be cautious of their surroundings at all times,” Azurin said.
PNP data showed most of the crimes happened in the National Capital Region.
Cases of acts of lasciviousness and violations of the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 were also recorded.
“When their parents tell them not to trust strangers, the children must take this seriously,” Azurin said.
Azurin said the PNP is ensuring “consistent police presence” especially in crime-prone areas.
“There is also strong coordination between the Education Department and the PNP to work hand-in-hand in ensuring the safety of the children,” he said.
“Now that classes are returning to the in-person set-up, there is a greater challenge for the police officers to monitor closely the vicinity around learning institutions,” he added.
Last week, the Department of Education urged victims of alleged sexual harassment to come forward and file their complaints against seven teachers in Bacoor, Cavite.
DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa said this would strengthen the case, if there is any, against the accused teachers.
“The problem is that not many complainants have filed their affidavits, so we hope you could help us encourage alleged victims to come forward and file their affidavits to strengthen the case if there is any,” he said.
Poa said the investigation is ongoing and a fact-finding report is set to be submitted to the regional office for further determination of administrative proceedings.
He said if proven guilty, the seven teachers may face dismissal from service.
These allegations, originally posted on Facebook, were turned down for “violation of community standards.”
They eventually resurfaced on Twitter, with threads including supposed conversations where teachers invited learners to engage in sex.
Poa said Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte-Carpio has emphasized the need to intensify the presence of DepEd’s Child Protection Unit.
The child protection unit was set up in 2020 to ensure safe spaces for learners, as well as provide them a way to report abuses.
Earlier, Senator Risa Hontiveros sought an investigation into the reports, filing Senate Resolution 168 on Tuesday.
It urges the Senate committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality to conduct the probe with the end in view of “creating safe spaces for students that are conducive for their learning and making perpetrators accountable for the consequences of their actions, consistent with the provisions of the Safe Spaces Act.”
Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate panel, is the principal author of the Safe Spaces Act.
She cited the reported incidents of harassment and abuse involving teachers at the Bacoor National High School in Cavite, St. Theresa’s College in Quezon City, and the Philippine High School for the Arts in Los Baños, Laguna.
“I am sure incidents of violence, abuse, and harassment are not only happening in these schools. Often, victim-survivors do not report because their abusers are persons of authority. How many more of our students are suffering in silence? We can’t just let this go,” she said.