/ 25 November 2021

THE HOUSE of Representatives and the Senate contingents on Wednesday approved the bicameral conference committee report on the disagreeing provisions of House Bill 7836 and Senate Bill 2332, providing for the stronger protection against rape, sexual exploitation and abuse.

The bicam panel adopted a provision of the House version which increases the age for determining the commission of statutory rape from 12 to below 16 years old.

Zambales 2nd District Rep. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla, head of the House contingent, said that discussions were smooth.

She noted that the bicam committee adopted the Senate version of the so-called “Romeo and Juliet” clause, stating that there would be no criminal liability on the part of the perpetrator if the age difference between the victim and the perpetrator is not more than three years, and the act in question is proven to be consensual.

Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas hailed the approval of the bill, describing it as a historical advance in the crusade for women’s and children’s rights.

“This is one big leap for Filipino children’s rights, as the Philippines will no longer be the country with the lowest age of statutory rape in Asia. Finally, the decades-old loophole in the law will be addressed, and we are one step away from adhering to our commitments to international conventions on women and children’s rights,” said Brosas.

“This development perfectly fits our celebration of Children’s month this November and our commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women tomorrow. We laud women and children’s rights advocates who tirelessly pushed for the advance of this very important measure! Mabuhay kayong lahat,” she added.