House bill increases age of consent in rape cases from 12 to 16
MANILA, Philippines – A bill adjusting the age of consent in rape cases from the current 12 to 16 has been filed in the House of Representatives in a bid to shield minors from sexual violence.
Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, chairperson of the House committee on the welfare of children, said her House Bill (HB) No. 4160, filed last Aug. 27, imposes life imprisonment for statutory rape against minors who are under 16 years old, regardless of the sexual orientation of the offenders or the victims.
“If this measure is passed into law, any adult who has sexual intercourse with a minor below 16 years old is guilty of rape. Even if the minor has given his or her consent to the sexual act, it is still rape,” Romualdez said in a statement Thursday.
In common law jurisdictions, statutory rape is non-forcible sexual activity wherein one of the individuals is below the age of consent or the age required to legally consent to the act.
Current laws provide that sexual intercourse with children below 12 years old is tantamount to rape while sexual activity with a person below 18 years of age may constitute child abuse and exploitation.
Romualdez pointed out that these are not compliant with the international average as evidenced by a 2015 report released by the United Nations International Children’s Fund East Asia and Pacific Region.
The same study has revealed that the age of sexual consent in the Philippine is the lowest in the Southeast Asian region, she added.
Minors who are below 16 years old could still be considered without power to resist to give their genuine and fully informed consent to any sexual activity, said Romualdez.
In HB No. 4160, the crime of statutory rape is committed by an adult who shall commit any of the following acts against a minor under 16 years of age:
- Inserting a person’s penis into another person’s inner or outer vaginal labia, mouth or anal orifice
- Inserting any instrument or object, including a finger, into another person’s inner or outer vaginal labia, or anal orifice;
• Causing the insertion of a person’s penis into the inner or outer vaginal labia, mouth, or oral orifice of another person through force, threat, intimidation, verbal pressure, persuasion, coercion, administration of alcohol, drugs resulting to the deprivation of reason, or fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority;
• When the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and
• Causing two or more persons to engage in sexual acts, or their performance of any of the abovementioned acts through force, threat, intimidation, verbal pressure, persuasion, coercion, administration of alcohol, drugs resulting to the deprivation of reason, or fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority, even if the perpetrator does not participate.
The subsequent marriage between the offended party and the offender will also not automatically extinguish the criminal action or the penalty imposed, according to the bill.
It also redefined the crimes of qualified seduction, simple seduction, forcible abduction, and consented abduction in relation to minors as victims.
Qualified seduction, under the bill, is now defined as “seduction of a minor 16 years and under 18 years of age, committed by any person in public authority, priest or religious engaged in legitimate religious vocation or calling, domestic, guardian, teacher or any person who, in any capacity, shall be entrusted with the education or custody of the minor seduced.”
Simple seduction is “seduction of a minor of good reputation 16 years but under 18 years of age, committed by means of deceit,” which is punishable by arresto mayor.
Forcible abduction is “abduction of any person against his or her will and with lewd designs,” which is punishable by reclusion temporal.
Consented abduction is “abduction of a minor 16 years and under 18 years of age, carried out with his or her consent and with lewd designs,” which shall be punished by the penalty of prison correccional in its minimum and medium periods.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri filed in July Senate Bill (SB) No. 305 increasing age of consent in statutory rape to 15.
Sen. Leila de Lima’s version in the 17th Congress, SB No. 1949, increases the age of consent to 18 but it failed to secure committee-level approval. /gsg
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