Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed elation over the House of Representatives’ approval on third and final reading of the measure increasing the age of sexual consent from 12 years old to 16 years old.
De Lima, who has repeatedly pushed for this piece of legislation at the Senate, said the passage of the said bill at the Lower House “might as well be this year’s Christmas miracle that we all need.”
“It was the light in this dark epoch to remind us that despite the efforts of the evil to drown out our voices, the law can still be used as a weapon to protect and uphold rights,” she said.
“This development sends a strong message across – we will always stand behind the children in whose hands the future of this nation rests. Their innocence should never again be used against them. Tungkulin nating protektahan at manindigan para sa kapakanan ng ating kabataan,” she added.
Last Dec. 1, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill (HB) No. 7836 seeking to provide children with stronger protection against rape by raising the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16 years old.
A total of 207 lawmakers voted for HB 7836, which amends Republic Act (RA) 3815 or the Revised Penal Code, and RA 7610 or the “Special Protection of Children Against abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.” Only three voted against it.
A total of nine Senate bills were filed to raise the age of statutory rape at the Senate.
In the versions that she filed both in the 17th Congress and 18th Congress, logged as Senate Bills (SB) No. 1949 and 622, respectively, De Lima underscored the importance of safeguarding the innocence of the youth and preventing sexual predators from taking advantage of children.
“The importance thus of pushing for this piece of legislation to be passed into law is so overarching – it will be protecting the youth from sexual predators, and also from the consequences of early sexual activities,” she said.
“The current age of sexual consent in the country is a poison that can no longer be allowed to kill the spark of hope in the innocent eyes of the youth. Kabilang ang kabataan sa mga pinaka-bulnerableng sektor ng lipunan. Anumang polisiya na makasasama at maaabuso para sila ay lalong mapagsamantalahan ay dapat nang wakasan,” she added.
Under De Lima’s SBs No. 1949 and 622, she has sought to increase the age of sexual consent from the current 12 to 18 years old, noting that that the Philippines is one of the countries with the lowest age of consent in the entire world, which is pegged between 16 and 18 years old. (30)