Gov't news editor sued by intern for sexual harassment

A NEWS editor is facing charges before the Office of the Ombudsman in Mindanao after he allegedly sexually abused a 19-year-old student-trainee in Cotabato City.

Charged with Acts of Lasciviousness and violation of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act is Noel Yuson Punzalan, a senior news editor of the News and Information Bureau, Philippine News Agency.

In a three-page resolution ordered February 20, the Ombudsman found probable cause to charge the accused based on the complaint filed by a student-trainee (name withheld), from the city.

The student-trainee said she was assigned as an on-the-job trainee at Mindanao Cross, a print media in the city, on January 18, 2016, under the supervision of a certain Carlos Bautista.

She said she met the accused when she attended a press conference on the Bangsamoro Basic Law at a convention hall in the city. It was when they started to have conversations on Facebook.

The accused allegedly messaged the complainant on May 31, inviting her to his room saying he needed to use his computer. There he edited some of his work and played music.

All of a sudden, Punzalan allegedly hugged the complainant and touched her left breast.

The complainant protested and confronted the accused, but the latter told her, “Palangga gud kita (You're my favorite).”

Terrified, the complainant thought of shouting for help but she hesitated because the accused is a big man. The accused had guns within reach.

Later, he attempted to hug the complainant again.

When the complainant was about to cry, the accused backed off on the excuse of having to get ink for his printer.

The accused, in his counter-affidavit, denied all the allegations of the complainant. He pointed out that it was the student-trainee who befriended him on Facebook.

The accused also denied of hitting the buttocks of the complainant when they were at the mosque. He said what they had was a teacher-student relationship.

But the Ombudsman is convinced that the actuations of the accused constitute lascivious or lewd conduct and that he should be held liable for the charges filed against him.

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