PH lawmaker condemns US diplomat accused of 'illicit sex' with 16-year-old Filipina

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 06 2021 08:24 PM

Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas speaks during a press conference with the Makabayan Bloc at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on July 24, 2019.
Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas speaks during a press conference with the Makabayan Bloc at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on July 24, 2019. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

 Gabriela solon labels incident as 'rape'

MANILA — A lawmaker from the House of Representatives on Friday condemned the US diplomat accused of engaging in illicit sexual acts with a 16-year old Filipina he met online during his stint at the US Embassy in the Philippines. 

ABS-CBN News reported Thursday that Dean Cheves, 61, was indicted by federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia for "illicit sexual conduct" and "possessing child pornography."

He was a member of the US Foreign Service at the US Embassy in the Philippines serving from September 2020 until February 2021.

Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas said while the indictment was "welcome," the Philippine government should also extend assistance to the Filipina teen allegedly victimized by Cheves. 

"Women and other victims of rape who would want to seek justice through the judicial system must be given ample remedies under the law... The government must strictly abide by its responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, especially women and children," Brosas said in a statement.

According to Brosas, Cheves' alleged crime was a consequence of the "economic crisis" that makes Filipino families vulnerable to exploitation. 

"Young girls from the poorest and most neglected parts of the country are falling prey as many foreign sex offenders are invading the Philippines to exploit the dire state of families under this economic crisis," Brosas said.

The Gabriela solon added such crimes can be addressed by amending the country's Anti-Rape Law, which sets the "age of sexual consent" to just 12. 

This means that it is legal for an adult to have sex with a 12-year-old if he claims that the child agreed to it. But studies show that children this young still cannot fully discern the consequences of their actions. 

"This is why we have been pushing for the immediate passage of bills that prohibit any form of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children, as well as the long-overdue amendments to the Anti-Rape Law," Brosas said. 

Last December, the House of Representatives approved on final reading a bill amending the 23-year-old Anti-Rape Law, as well as the Revised Penal Code.

The proposed law sets the age of sexual consent to 16.

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