RAISING THE AGE OF STATUTORY RAPE. The congressional bicameral conference committee on Wednesday (Nov. 24, 2021) approves a measure raising the age of statutory rape from the current 12 years old to 16 years old to protect young people from sexual exploitation and abuse. Zambales Rep. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla (left) presided over the meeting as head of the House contingent. (Photo courtesy of House Press and Public Affairs Bureau)
MANILA – The congressional bicameral conference committee on Wednesday approved a measure raising the age of statutory rape from the current 12 years old to 16 years old to protect young people from sexual exploitation and abuse.
The panel, composed of the House of Representatives and the Senate contingents, approved the report reconciling the disagreeing provisions of House Bill 7836 and Senate Bill 2332, providing for the stronger protection against rape, as well as sexual exploitation and abuse.
Zambales Rep. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla, head of the House contingent, expressed delight that the discussion between both the House and the Senate transpired smoothly and efficiently.
She noted that the bicam committee adopted the Senate version of the so-called “Romeo and Juliet” clause, stating that there would be no criminal liability on the part of the perpetrator if the age difference between the victim and the perpetrator is not more than three years, and the act in question is proven to be consensual.
Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, one of the principal authors of the bill, said the establishment of a minimum age of sexual consent is the most important and critical criteria in protecting minors from sexual violence since the present Anti-Rape Law establishes the age of sexual consent at twelve years.
“This means any sexual intercourse with a minor who has not reached the age of twelve is automatically regarded as rape, regardless of whether they say or appeared to have voluntarily engaged in the sexual act. However, the moment that child reaches the exact age of twelve, the law assumes that the child is mature enough to give consent to another person for any sexual activity,” Romualdez said.
If the bill is passed into law, Romualdez said any adult who has sexual intercourse with a minor below 16 years old will be guilty of rape even if the minor has given his or her consent to the sexual act.
“By establishing the crime of statutory rape to be any sexual activity with a child, of either sex, under the age of 16 - the law makes certain the punishment of those who commit such crime, without unnecessarily furthering the emotional and physical trauma of the child that may be brought about by a lengthy court proceeding or the need for any further physiological or material evidence,” Romualdez said.
Statutory rape is non-forcible sexual activity in which one of the individuals is below the age of consent or the age required to legally consent to the behavior.
Current Philippine laws provide that sexual intercourse with children below 12 years old is illegal and tantamount to rape. (PNA)