Hontiveros pushes for tougher laws protecting women, children
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Saturday underscored the need to revise existing laws that seek to protect women and their children at the screening of “Un Silence si Bruyant” (Such a Resounding Silence), a French documentary about incest, at the SM Mall of Asia Cinema in Pasay City.
“Just before watching your documentary, there were already conversations among the colleagues here about updating the ‘Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Law,’ bills about children’s courts, about therapeutic centers, and such … And the work continues and will continue because we have this jewel of your documentary also now to share with other people and to move us in our work moving forward,” Hontiveros told renowned French actress and film director Emmanuelle Béart during the panel discussion after the screening.
The film is a directorial collaboration between Béart and Anastasia Mikova.
Béart is the “godmother” of the 26th French Film Festival, organized by the Embassy of France in the Philippines, which opened Nov. 25 and will run until Dec. 3.
Hontiveros told the audience that her heart has already been “bruised” by the ongoing hearings about the abuse of children by a cult in Socorro, Surigao del Norte.
“The children were forced into marriage, forced to engage in sexual activities, denied education, health services, and other opportunities for a life for themselves,” she said.
“Also, there have been hearings against the human trafficking hubs and centers that have converged around the Philippine offshore gaming operations or Pogos, victimizing women, and also younger women as well,” she added.
Upon learning about such a trafficking scheme from Hontiveros, Béart told the audience that she may consider filming another documentary discussing the issue.
‘Very personal’ visit
Béart, who was also a victim of incest, said she considers her visit to the Philippines very important and “very personal” because “I’ve been working on this movie for three years. I wrote it for one year, and then I had to find the witnesses for another year and make them comfortable talking to me. And then I had to shoot the movie. So it took me three years of my life.”
Meanwhile, Quezon City Rep. Ma. Victoria Co-Pilar wants to remove gender bias from the law, which provides heavier penalties for unfaithful wives compared to philandering husbands.
Co-Pilar filed House Bill No. 9538, which seeks to amend Articles 333, 334, and 344 of the Revised Penal Code on adultery and concubinage by renaming them as “sexual infidelity” and “maintaining a paramour” and removing the gender distinction in the crimes.
Under the draft measure, Co-Pilar proposed for the Revised Penal Code’s Article 333 to state: “Who are guilty of sexual infidelity-Sexual infidelity is committed by any married person who shall have sexual intercourse with a person not his or her spouse and the person who has carnal knowledge of him or her knowing him or her to be married, even if the marriage be subsequently declared void.”
HB 9538 would also replace the penal code’s Article 334 with: “Maintaining a paramour-Any married person who shall keep a paramour in the conjugal dwelling or shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with another person who is not the spouse or shall cohabit with a paramour in any other place, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum periods. The paramour shall suffer the penalty of destierro.”