DLSU fires faculty member after insinuating that Risa Hontiveros should be raped by Bilibid inmates

June 16, 2020 - 7:00 PM
Risa Hontiveros in March 2020
Sen. Risa Hontiveros speaking inside the GSIS Building in Pasay City in this photo uploaded on her official Facebook page on Mar. 5, 2020. (Photo from Senator Risa Hontiveros via Facebook)

De La Salle University will not be renewing the contract of a longtime faculty member after the Lasallian community called him out for insinuating in a now-deleted Facebook post that Sen. Risa Hontiveros should be sexually harassed by inmates of the New Bilibid Prison.

Claro Ganac, a part-time faculty member at DLSU’s Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business (RVRCOB), previously reshared a quote card posted by a news outlet that featured Hontiveros’ comments in response to the warning of the Lucban Municipal Police Station against rape.

“There is no dress code for rape. Or for sexual harassment. Instead of teaching women how to dress, we should teach men not to rape,” Hontiveros was quoted as saying.

The senator, who is the chair of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality, was reacting to a Facebook post of a local police station that previously blamed women’s clothing for rape crimes.

RELATED: Why clothes don’t matter in sex crimes: Tragic tales of victims surface online

Ganac shared the quote card featuring Hontiveros on Facebook and wrote, “EXCELLENT IDEA. I recommend that she teach the prisoners in Bilibid prison NOT to rape. Closed-door session.”

It has since been deleted but some members of the Lasallian community managed to take a screengrab of his post.

An online petition was launched Monday urging the Lasallian community to digitally sign if they wanted the school administration to “investigate” and “reprimand” the faculty member for his Facebook post.

Screengrab of DLSU online petition
Statement of an online petition addressed to the administration of De La Salle University. (Screengrab by Interaksyon)

“As an educator in the Lasallian community, he should be held responsible for his statements online to Sen. Risa Hontiveros. This statement, not only being misogynist in nature, goes against the Lasallian value of respecting all peoples,” part of the petition reads.

On Tuesday, the official student publication of DLSU, The LaSallian, reported that RVRCOB’s marketing and advertising department through RVRCOB college president Nathan Driz revealed that Ganac would no longer be teaching by the next trimester.

Marketing and Advertising department chair Mary Julie Balabar also said that Ganac’s contract will not be renewed by the department.

“Be rest assured that the Marketing and Advertising Department does not and will not tolerate any behavior that goes against the values and morals of the University, particularly from a professor,” she said in a statement.

Balabar added that Ganac has “apologized for his action” and mentioned “it was not his intention to insinuate harassment for Sen. Hontiveros nor promote the prevalent rape culture present today.”

The university’s “quick” response on the issue was then lauded by students and alumni.

A student who claimed to have signed the online petition retweeted The LaSallian’s report and wrote, “I’m proud to say I signed the petition. This is evidence of how voicing out works. So don’t tell (activists) that their efforts won’t work because it will.”

“Let this be reminder na ‘di porket prof ka, you will not be held accountable on your social media posts. Good job DLSU!” wrote another Twitter user.

“Good riddance to him. Props to La Salle for removing him agad. That’s how you do it,” another online user commented.

Conversations on rape culture 

The incident came amid the conversations on rape and women’s clothing as initiated by the Lucban Municipal Police Station when it warned women against wearing sexy clothes as it may supposedly cause them to get raped.

Frankie “Kakie” Pangilinan, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan‘s daughter, called out the post on dress code and commented that the police station should “stop teaching girls how to dress” and “teach people not to rape” instead.

RELATED: Why clothes don’t matter in sex crimes: Tragic tales of victims surface online

Her words caught the attention of broadcaster Ben Tulfo who responded against her comments and called her a “wannabe smart aleck.”

“Hija @kakiep83, a rapist or a juvenile sex offender’s desire to commit a crime will always be there. All they need is an opportunity, when to commit the crime,” part of his tweet reads.

Kakie immediately clapped back and schooled him over his outdated notion on women and rape, saying that rape culture “is a product” of such a thinking. 

Online users rallied with Kakie and eventually used the hashtag “#HijaAko” as they shared their own experiences of sexual harassment and raise awareness on the crimes.

A particular Facebook user’s alleged response to the Facebook page of Tulfo, “Bitag Live,” also went viral where she claimed that she was harassed by his brother when she was 19-years-old.

Hontiveros pointed out that rape culture should start on changing the perception of men about rape.  

“Instead of teaching women how to dress, we should teach men not to rape. Girls and women do not report sex crimes precisely because of the tendency to victim-blame. Let’s retire this thinking,” the senator said on Twitter.