By KATRINA LEGARDA
People are shocked when they find out that at the age of 12 years old, a child can consent to sex. That was the law in 1935 (the Revised Penal Code) and that is still the law under the Rape Law of 1997. But what is “consent”? Frequently, if the victim did not actively resist by shouting for help, fighting back or running away, many investigators assume that she willingly participated.
There is a very important bill filed in Congress by the new Congresswoman Nikki Prieto-Teodoro. It is House Bill No. 683 and is presently entitled "An Act Modifying the Definition of the Crime of Rape Involving Minor Children," and its proposed short title is "The Anti-Child Exploitation Law of 2007."
2007 has come and gone – and the bill flounders in the Committee on the Revision of Rules, held up by the Honorable Pablo P. Garcia, KAMPI – Cebu.
Why am I so interested? Why should any of you be interested?
Because the bill seeks to raise the statutory age of rape to sixteen (16) years old.
People are shocked when they find out that at the age of 12 years old, a child can consent to sex. That was the law in 1935 (the Revised Penal Code) and that is still the law under the Rape Law of 1997.
But what is "consent"?
Frequently, if the victim did not actively resist by shouting for help, fighting back or running away, many investigators assume that she willingly participated. As adults, however, we know deep in our hearts and in our conscience that for us to agree to sex, or to commit an act of corruption, or to marry we must:
* Understand what is proposed
* Know the societal standards for what is proposed
* Be aware of the consequences
* Realize that agreements or disagreements will be respected equally
* A voluntary decision is made, and
* We are mentally competent.
Tell me how a child below 18 years old, let alone a child of 12 years old, can really know what sex is?
Just recently, news reports came out that today, in the 21st century, our children in Filipino schools do not receive any sex education. How many young men and women are having sex without knowing its consequences?
Well, look at the surveys – thousands of teenagers between 15 and 19 years old are having babies every year: "I didn’t know I could get pregnant; it was the first time; there was no penetration; I thought I was safe… (Put in other reasons you must have heard)."
We are probably the only country in the world that keeps the age of consent for sex at 12 years old.
I do not understand why Congressman Garcia is resisting this bill. I do not understand why he refuses to listen to reason – apparently dismissing the bill, saying that the Philippines doesn’t have to follow what the rest of the civilized world is doing.
Hellow? We are a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 34 specifically provides that a child has the right against sexual exploitation and abuse. Nothing can be more abusive or exploitative than the defense of a man who has had sex with a child: I paid her; she is my girlfriend; we are sweethearts; she wanted it. Look at the child living in your house now, or the child you know and tell me – can you imagine her (or him) having sex with a man older than you? It makes me sick.
So, just for you to know, so perhaps you can act, the only changes this bill seeks are:
1. Raising the age of consent to sex to 16 years old. This means that if a person has sex with a child below 16 years old, he/she commits the crime of statutory rape.
2. "No rape is committed if the man who shall have carnal knowledge with a woman under 16 years of age is himself below 18 years of age…"
3. "No rape is committed if the man is a Muslim who shall have carnal knowledge with a Muslim woman with whom he has contracted a valid marriage under the (Shari’a Law)."
If you care about the Filipino child, and you want to do something other than rail against the corruption of those we elected and the "unelectable", call the members of the committee (their names are listed below).
Call your congressman. Call the Speaker. Call the Senators – there is no counterpart bill there…. Calling Jamby Madrigal! Pia Cayetano! Hellow!
1. Garcia, Pablo P. (1-CEBU-KAMPI)
2. Gonzalez, Raul Jr. T. (LAKAS-CMD)
3. Aggabao, Giorgidi B. (NPC)
4. Barzaga, Elpidio Jr. F. (KAMPI)
5. Tupas, Niel Jr. C. (LP-UGAYON)
Member for the Majority
6. Cajes, Roberto C. (LAKAS-CMD)
7. Ablan, Roque Jr. R. (LAKAS-CMD)
8. Suarez, Danilo E. (KAMPI)
9. Santiago, Joseph A. (NPC)
10. Chungalao, Solomon R. (LP)
11. Romualdez, Ferdinand Martin G. (KAMPI)
12. Diaz, Antonio M. (KAMPI)
13. Amante, Edelmiro A. (KAMPI)
14. Bagatsing, Amado S. (KAMPI)
15. Cagas, Marc Douglas IV C. (LAKAS-CMD)
16. Jala, Adam Relson L. (LAKAS-CMD)
Member for the Minority
17. Rodriguez, Rufus B. (PMP-UNO)
18. Largoza -Maza, Liza T. (PL - GABRIELA)
19. Chipeco, Justin 'Timmy' SB. (NP)