The House panels on the welfare of children and revision of laws approved Thursday a bill aiming to raise the age of sexual consent in the Philippines to 16 years old.
The bill consolidated the ten versions of the proposed measure, which were pending at the committee level.
Currently, the minimum age of consent in the Philippines is 12 years old. Sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 12 is defined as rape under Chapter 3, Article 266 of the Anti-Rape Law of 1997.
If the proposed bill was signed as a law, any adult who would engage in sexual activity with a child below 16 years old would be guilty of rape. This is regardless of whether the minor gave his or her consent.
According to Tingog Sinirangan Representative Yedda Romualdez, chairperson of the House Committee on the welfare of children, the age of 12 years old as the minimum age for sexual consent in the Philippines was “simply unacceptable.”
“By strengthening the protection of children, the proposed legislation puts firmly the safety and welfare of children as a foremost concern – not only of the family – but that of the entire community. I am happy to note that the proposed substitute bill also seeks to educate and empower the home, the school, and the community to put safeguards that will prevent any such crimes from happening in the future,” said Romualdez.
Bill raising age of consent in Philippines to 16
“Prosecution can only go as far as to eradicate the crime – but ensuring that children grow up to their fullest potential requires utmost attention and affirmative action on our part,” she added.
The proposed bill states that consensual, non-abusive, and non-exploitative sexual activity with a minor below 16 years old would not be considered statutory rape in the following conditions are met:
- The parties are 14 years old or above, and the age difference does not exceed 4 years
- Where the sexual activity involves a minor below 14, the age difference does not exceed 3 years
Meanwhile, someone could still claim statutory rape if he or she is above 16 years old and has physical, mental, or psychological disability or condition that renders him or her inability to understand consent or the consequences of any sexual activity fully.
The approved bill on raising the age of consent in the Philippines also added that subsequent marriage would not extinguish criminal action for rape nor the penalty imposed as opposed to what the Anti-Rape Law of 1997 provided.