MANILA - Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri has filed a bill which seeks to raise to 15 the age of sexual consent from the current 12.
Under Philippine law, the age of sexual consent is 12. A statutory rape case may be filed against a person who performed sexual acts with an individual aged 12 and below, regardless of whether it was consensual or not.
In filing the bill, Zubiri argued that an amendment to the 89-year-old Revised Penal Code, which defines statutory rape, "is long overdue" as this "should be put at par with the expanding measures to protect children, our most valuable asset."
“Huwag na nating pahirapan ang mga batang biktima at ang kanilang mga magulang o guardians na makahanap ng hustisya,” Zubiri said in a statement.
(Let us not make it hard for child rape victims and their parents or guardians to find justice.)
Zubiri said he based his proposal on the 2016 National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children which found that one in every five children below 18 years experience sexual violence.
“By raising the age to 15 years, I hope that we could put a dent on the number of children victimized since 'carnal knowledge' of children aged 12 up to 15 years will now be considered statutory rape,” Zubiri said.
“Naniniwala ako na maraming sexual violence ang nagaganap sa mga batang 12 taon hanggang 15 taong gulang. Ngunit hindi maparusahan ang maysala dahil sinasabi ng maysala na pumayag ang bata, kahit sa totoo ay sapilitan ang naganap."
(I believe many victims of sexual violence are aged 12 to 15, but their abusers go unpunished because they claim the victims gave their consent.)
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, an advocate of women and children’s rights, had earlier filed a bill which seeks to seeks to raise the age of sexual consent to 18 years old from the current 12.