26 April 2015

Anti-Stalking Bill Up in Phil. Congress

Anti-Stalking Bill
It’s about time that the Philippines recognize the harm that stalking can inflict and impose higher penalties for stalkers.

This was the main argument why a bill that declares stalking as a criminal offense and authored by Sorsogon 1st District Rep. Evelina Escudero was submitted to the House of Representatives recently.

House Bill 5064, or the proposed “Anti-Stalking Act of the Philippines” defines a stalker as: any person who repeatedly follows, harasses and commits disallowed contact against another person or family, with the reasonable belief that such acts places the person or his family under fear of death, physical injury, unlawful restraint, sexual assault, or other similar circumstances."

Escudero said stalking also includes prying into the privacy of another's residence; meddling with, or disturbing the private life or family relations of another; intriguing to cause another to be alienated from his friends; and vexing or humiliating another on account of his religious beliefs, lowly station in life, place of birth, physical defect, or other personal conditions.

"These legal rights are violated by stalking, which is an act described as harassing, bothering, frightening and otherwise interfering with the private lives of people," Escudero said.

Under the measure, any convicted person of the crime of stalking shall be punished by prison correctional or a fine of not more than PhP 500,000 or both at the discretion of the court.

If the victim is a woman or minor, the highest penalty shall be imposed. A victim of stalking has the right to ask for an injunction from the court, ordering the accused to refrain from the acts complained of as stalking.

Any person convicted of the crime of stalking shall be required to undergo medical, psychological or psychiatric examination and treatment, and enter and remain in a specific institution for that purpose when it is in the discretion of the court that ordered the conviction.