/ 28 September 2021

THE SENATE on Monday passed a measure seeking to raise the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16 years old in a bid to protect young people from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse.

With 22 affirmative votes, no negative vote and one abstention, senators approved on third and final reading Senate Bill 2332, or An Act Increasing the Age for Determining Statutory Rape and other Acts of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation to Protect Children.

The bill seeks to amend Republic Act 3815, or the Revised Penal Code, and RA 7610, also known as the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.

Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, underscored the need for an urgent response to child sexual abuse and exploitation in the country.

“Rape is a very violent crime, especially when performed against a minor. It is important that we amend the old law which clearly states that it applies to certain individuals, for women, for example, and not for men or for gay personalities,” he said in his sponsorship speech.

“That’s why we’re having a legislative reform on rape, especially for the protection of our girls and boys, and others with different sexual preference from sexual violence,” he added.

Gordon said they strongly support the increase of age of sexual consent as “thousands of children are robbed of their youth.”

“Keeping 12 as the age of consent endangers children and makes them more vulnerable to sexual abuse. Congress must uphold the right of every child to freedom from sexual exploitation,” he explained.

Under the bill, both men and women could be charged with statutory rape.

Gordon said that the Philippines has the lowest age of sexual consent in Asia and one of the lowest in the world.

In a 2015 National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children, one in every five children in the Philippines in the age group of 13 to 17 said they experienced sexual violence while one in 25 suffered from forced consummated sex during childhood.

Earlier, United Nations Philippines called on Congress to prioritize the measure increasing the age for determining the commission of statutory rape to below 16 years old from 12 years old.