Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure seeking to raise the age of sexual consent from the current 12 to 18 years old in a bid to protect young people from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse.
De Lima, a known human rights advocate here and abroad, filed Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1949 which seeks to increase the age of consent in order to provide a stronger protection of children, particularly against the crime of rape.
“It is vital to delineate childhood from adulthood, and to take a second look at the choices we allow our children, despite the scarcity of their experience and wisdom to independently take,” she said.
“In increasing the age of consent to 18 years old, the State is sending a message – loud and clear – the youth will be protected by all means and at all costs,” she added.
Under the present law, notably Republic Act (RA) No. 8353, also known as the “1997 Anti-Rape Law,” rape is committed against a victim who is under 12 years old or is demented.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the country’s age of sexual consent is however alarming because it is by standards in many countries to be one of the lowest in the world and the lowest in the region.
“It is imperative that we look into the realities that surround the Filipino youth,” the former justice secretary said, pointing out that in the Philippines, a 12-year-old has only reached his or her 6th grade who has barely gone through puberty.
She noted a 12-year-old hardly knows about sexual intercourse due to the lack of sex education, including being prohibited from availing condoms and other contraception until reaching age of majority or she has conceived or suffered a miscarriage.
“Allowing our children at the tender age of 12 years old to decide on their own whether the time is proper to engage in sexual intercourse would be like abandoning them blindfold in a tunnel of mazes,” she said.
“In putting the age of consent on the same level as that of the age of majority, the State would safeguard the innocence of the youth, prevent sexual predators from deflowering our children, and finally put premium on the virtue of the hope of this nation,” she added.
Based on the latest records of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Davao City has the highest number of rape cases among major cities in the country, registering a 42 rape cases during the 2nd quarter of this year.
In the same official records, 41 rape cases were registered in Quezon City, followed by 32 in Manila City, 24 in Cagayan de Oro City, and 21 in Zamboanga City during the same quarter of 2018.