/ 24 July 2021

MISS Universe 2018 Catriona Gray lent her voice to calls on Congress to pass a law raising the age of sexual consent.

Gray backed the appeal of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund on lawmakers to raise the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16.

Under the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, sexual intercourse is considered as statutory rape if the victim is under 12 years old. While the law criminalizes sex with minors under age 18, it only does so if consent is not present or if the act involves force, threat, or intimidation.

In a tweet on July 22, Gray expressed alarm on the country’s low age of sexual consent.

“Calling on Philippine Congress ‼…It’s MORE than alarming that the age of sexual consent in our country is still 12 YRS OLD. Not only is it one of the lowest in Asia and in the world, but it leaves young children in the PH vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Please act now,” Grey said.

On Wednesday, UNICEF said the age of consent in the Philippines is the lowest in Asia and the second lowest in the world.

It noted that most children who face sexual abuse experience other kinds of violence.

“As abuse and exploitation become entrenched, progress towards development and peace can stall — with consequences for entire societies,” it said.

Actress Anne Curtis also asked lawmakers to listen to their appeals especially during this time when children are more at risk.

“This is URGENT. I stand with UNICEF as they call on the Philippine Congress to IMMEDIATELY pass a law that increases the age of statutory rape to at least 16. Data from DSWD has shown that most victims of rape and child incest are between the age of 14 to below 18,” Curtis said.

Curtis, who is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, emphasized the importance of providing equal protection to children regardless of gender.

“It doesn’t matter if the child is a boy or a girl. The trauma these children suffer from is exactly THE SAME. They should have equal protection rights. With the opening of congress happening soon I believe this to be a grave matter,” she said.

In December 2020, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 7836, increasing the age of sexual consent to 16. The Senate, meanwhile, approved the counterpart bill at the joint panel level.

However, the bicameral committee has yet to reconcile both measures so that it could be signed into law by the President.