/ 14 April 2022

SENATOR Sherwin  Gatchalian on Wednesday stressed the need for child rights education now that the age of sexual consent in the Philippines has been raised from 12 to 16.

Republic Act 11648, which was signed in March, states that those who engage in sexual activities with children below 16 can be charged with statutory rape.

Under the law, which Gatchalian co-authored and co-sponsored, any person can be considered a rape victim.

A “Romeo and Juliet clause” is included in the law, which states that there shall be no criminal liability on a person engaging in sex with a person below 16 years old if the age difference is not more than three years.

The sexual act, however, has to be consensual, non-abusive and non-exploitative and the exception does not apply to victims under 13.

The Department of Education is also mandated to include an age-appropriate subject concerning the rights and protection of children in relation to the new law.

Public and private educational institutions shall also ensure that their curriculum for staff development will cover duties and responsibilities in identifying, responding to, and reporting rape and other sexual offenses.

Gatchalian said that this should prompt the education department to strengthen both child rights education and comprehensive sexuality education, which the agency seeks to implement in compliance with Republic Act 10354 or Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.

“Bahagi ng papel ng mga paaralan ang pagtuturo tungkol sa karapatan ng mga kabataan at pangangalaga sa kanilang mga kalusugan, kaya naman dapat nating paigtingin ang kakayahan ng mga paaralan, lalo na ng mga guro at mga kawani, upang magabayan ang ating mga mag-aaral,” said Gatchalian.