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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Senate ratifies law raising age for determining statutory rape

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The Senate has ratified the Bicameral Conference Committee’s report on the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill No. 2332 and House Bill No. 7836, amending the Revised Penal Code to raise the age for determining statutory rape from twelve to below sixteen years old.

“I am very grateful to Sen. Richard Gordon, Chairman of the Committee on Justice, for entrusting me to co-chair the Senate bicam panel and see it through the bicam conference,” said Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri.

Zubiri, a re-electionist is the co-sponsor of the bill and co-chair of the Senate panel for the Bicameral Conference Committee. 

“Many thanks also to the members of the Senate bicam panel for their valuable inputs and support of this bill, Sen. Sonny Angara, Sen. Lito Lapid and Sen. Risa Hontiveros.”

“For the longest time, we have had the shameful distinction of being one of the countries with the lowest age of sexual consent in the world,” he said. 

At present, only Niger has a lower age of consent, at eleven years old.

“As a parent of three young kids, it’s really sad to think that the law does not protect against statutory rape,” said Zubiri.

“At thirteen, fourteen years old, they still do not have the capability to give Informed sexual consent,” he added. 

The bill specifies that rape occurs “when the offended party is under sixteen years of age or is demented.” This similarly affects the qualified seduction, simple seduction, child prostitution, and child trafficking clauses in the Revised Penal Code, raising the age of the victims from twelve to under sixteen. 

Apart from raising the age for statutory rape, the bill also amends the language of the law to be more gender-responsive, defining rape as an act committed by a person against another person, instead of the previous definition that specifies rape to be between a man and a woman.

The bill also includes a section mandating public and private educational institutions to provide staff development with “with plans and learning sessions on the scope of their duties and responsibilities in identifying, responding to and reporting rape and other sexual offenses.”

Along with this, the Department of Education is instructed to include in their school curriculum age-appropriate subjects concerning the rights of children in relation to the law.

“I believe that this provision will empower children against sexual advances and predators,” he said.“Our passage of this bill could be our greatest Christmas gift to all Filipino children, as they will grow and thrive in a safer environment with greater protection for them.”

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