/ 16 May 2023

THE COMMITTEE on Welfare of Children at the House of Representatives on Monday approved the consolidation of four measures seeking the imposition of stiffer penalties on violators of Republic Act 7160, as amended, otherwise known as the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.

The panel headed by BHW Party-list Rep. Angelica Natasha Co decided to consolidate House Bill 226 or a measure that seeks to impose stiffer penalties for child abuse, exploitation and discrimination; House Bills 2747 and 5934, which aim to amend Section 5 of RA 7610 by imposing heavier penalties to ensure the protection of children from sexual abuse; and House Bill 5140 which will amend Section 16 of RA 7610, as amended, by imposing both imprisonment and fine for every instance that a child is engaged in employment other than in instances provided by law.

“It is about time we look into the existing laws that need refinement, updating or amendment to deter the commission of offenses prejudicial to the welfare of children,” Co said during the hearing.

“We must send a strong message that violence against children is underneath odious and that there is a grave penalty imposed under the law that punishes it,” she added.

The lawmaker cited Child Protection data showing 3,139 cases of violence against children reported from January 1, 2023 to April 30, 2023.

Of this figure, 2,276 were cases of sexual abuse or assault, 311 were cases of physical abuse or assault, 199 cases of neglect, six online child sexual abuse cases, one extortion, and four cases of child trafficking.

Co reaffirmed the committee’s commitment to protect children from abuse, exploitation, trafficking and violence.