Bill raising statutory rape age awaits Duterte nod
MANILA, Philippines—A bill seeking to raise the age by which statutory rape is determined is now only awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte to become law.
The bill is already up for Duterte’s signing after the Senate on Wednesday (Dec. 15) ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill No. 2332 and House Bill No. 7836.
Both bills seek to amend Republic Act No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act.
The proposal seeks to raise the age for determining statutory rape from the current 12 years old to 16 years old in a bid to provide more protection for young people against sexual exploitation and abuse.
The House ratified the bicameral commitee report on Tuesday (Dec. 14).
According to Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, co-chair of the Senate panel in the bicameral committee, lawmakers agreed to adopt the Senate’s “Romeo and Juliet” provision or “sweetheart clause.”
This would exempt consensual sexual activity between young couples “in love” from being criminalized.
“When the sexual act is consensual and when one of the parties is under 16 years of age, there would be no criminal liability when the age difference is three years and again consensual,” Zubiri said.
“However, we put another colatilla that the sexual act is non-abusive, non-exploitative,” he added.
The bicameral committee also introduced a new paragraph in the proposed law that will mandate the Department of Education to include in basic education curriculum appropriate subjects tackling the rights and protection of children in relation to the measure, according to Zubiri.
“I believe this provision will empower children against sexual advances and predators and help them avoid situations of statutory rape or other crimes of sexual violence against children,” the majority leader said.
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