Groups push for increase in age for sexual consent

By: USJ-R Journalism Intern July 30,2018 - 10:11 PM

CHILDREN’S rights organizations are pushing for the increase in the minimum age for sexual consent from 12 to 16 years old.

This would mean that anybody who commits sexual acts with a minor below sixteen years old can be charged with statutory rape.

Atty. Cecille Latuno who led the drafting of the proposed bill— the R.A. 8353 or the Anti-Rape Law— said that the current minimum age of 12 years old is way below the international standard average of 16 years old.

Latuno said that this exposes children to more dangers and exploitation since a minor who was raped and whose age is above 12 years old will find it difficult to win a rape case in court.

Atty. Noemie Truya-Abarientos, the chairperson for the Children’s Legal Bureau (CBL) pointed out in a forum that the minimum age of 12 is inconsistent with the Family Code of the Philippines which states that 18 is the age of emancipation.

Furthermore, Abarientos added that the Anti-Rape Law does not protect the welfare of everyone.

The Revised Penal Code defines rape as an act done to a woman. We propose that rape be defined to include everyone,” said Latuno.

Latuno admits that lobbying for the bill can be extra challenging since congressmen and senators have other pressing priorities such as the shift to federalism and the annual budget.

“We started lobbying this bill in the 14th Congress and so far we have four drafted bills being reviewed at the Lower House,” said Latuno.

A similar bill has also been authored by Senator Risa Hontiveros which is being heard at the Committee on Women.

“We need to make a lot of noise so the legislative body will realize the importance of increasing the minimum age for sexual consent,” said Abarientos.

The public can contribute to the movement by signing an online petition on the raising of the minimum age for sexual consent.

Meanwhile, Jisel Opeña, the president of the Cebu City Parent-Teachers Association Federation said that 16 years old is still too young for sexual consent.

Opeña proposes that the minimum age be 18 years old to coincide with the age of emancipation.

Police Inspector Jeremie Shiela Gurtiza of the Police Regional Office 7, Women and Children Protection Desk, also agrees with Opeña.

“Ang gusto unta namo sa PNP (Philippine National Police) nga below 18 kay mao man na ang legal age,” said Gurtiza. /  Delta Dyrecka Letigio , USJ-R Journalism Intern

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