CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Xavier University (XU) welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court to suspend a former XU law professor following complaints of sexual harassment. The Catholic school terminated him from service when the controversy came to light in 2002.
“Xavier Ateneo welcomes this decision of the Supreme Court, as it is but an affirmation of the same decision reached by its Committee on Decorum on September 5, 2002, for the same acts complained of against Co-Untian, who was then a part-time member of the faculty of the College of Law,” the statement said.
The SC ruling, promulgated on April 10, 2019, stemmed from complaints from three of Untian’s law students at the time.
The students alleged that Untian made sexual advances to them in varying degrees, from forwarding text messages with “romantic undertones” to sending flowers, among other actions.
The committee, XU said, found Untian guilty of violating the school’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Guidelines, and resolved not to renew his contract.
Untian, it said, has not been a member of the XU faculty since the release of its resolution in September 2002.
Xavier University said that it “does not take lightly the issue of sexual harassment, particularly in an academic setting where students should feel safe and secure in studying their respective courses. Any form of sexual harassment has no place in a learning institution.”
The school said it stands by the SC decision of making the lawyer accountable for his actions.
XU also said: “We echo the words in the ruling penned by Associate Justice Jose C. Reyes, Jr.: ‘The Court explained that the essence of sexual harassment is not the violation of the victim’s sexuality but the abuse of power by the offender. In other words, what the law aims to punish is the undue exercise of power and authority manifested through sexually charged conduct or one filled with sexual undertones.’”
Pursuant to Republic Act 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, XU said it has strictly implemented rules and regulations for the purpose of prescribing the proper decorum for administrators, faculty, staff, formators, and students and for the resolution, settlement, and disposition of cases of sexual harassment.
XU said it is a declared policy of the university that sexual harassment is unacceptable behavior and a violation of Philippine laws and the school’s Code of Conduct.
Violations of this policy have resulted in disciplinary actions against the perpetrators, such as expulsion and termination, as in Untian’s case.
The school said it has put in place appropriate measures and interventions to resolve the case against Untian in 2002.
“We remain committed to strengthening our formation programs and protocols to ensure that all members of the [XU] family, especially our students, fully enjoy a conducive learning environment, free from fear, intimidation, and harassment,” it added.
Untian could not be reached for comment as of this writing. (davaotoday.com)