MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a proposed measure that would impose stiffer penalties on child abuse, exploitation, and discrimination cases.
Lawmakers passed House Bill No. 137 that will amend Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.
According to the bill, fines and/or imprisonment will be imposed on any person who will hire, employ, use, persuade, induce, or coerce a child to perform in indecent shows or model in obscene publications or to sell or distribute the said materials.
Violators will face penalty from 14 years, eight months and one day up to 17 years and four months.
If the child involved is below 12 years of age, the penalty becomes 30 years and one day up to 40 years.
Accompanying a minor, 12 years or under or who is 10 years or more his junior in any public or private place (hotel, motel, beer joint, discotheque, cabaret, among others) shall suffer the penalty from 14 years, eight months and one day up to 17 years and four months.
Additionally, the violator shall also pay a fine of not less than P500,000.
However, this does not cover any person who is related to the child within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity or any bond recognized by law.
The bill also has provisions covering those who coerce a street child to beg or use begging as a means of living or use them as middlemen in drug trafficking and other illegal activities.
Those who will be caught shall be imprisoned from 12 years and one day up to 30 years, according to the bill.
On child labor, violators shall be penalized by imprisonment of one year and one day up to six years, and a fine of not less than P100,000 but not more than P400,000 or both at the discretion of the court.
Those who facilitate or employ children in hazardous work shall suffer a fine of not less than P200,000 but not more than P1,000,000 or imprisonment of not less than 12 years and one day up to 20 years or both imprisonment and fine at the discretion of the court.
The bill also has provisions on discrimination, covering particularly children of indigenous cultural communities.
The bill states that any person who discriminates against children of indigenous cultural communities shall suffer a penalty from two years, four months and one day up to four years and two months, and a fine of not less than P50,000 nor more than P100,000.
The offender will also undergo a reeducation and reorientation program on the indigenous peoples’ culture in the Philippines.