Re-electionist Senator Leila M. de Lima expressed elation over the recent signing into law of a measure raising the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16.
De Lima, co-author of the said bill in the Senate, said the signing of Republic Act (RA) No. 116481 on March 4 is a move that ensures the youth’s innocence will never be used against them.
“With the passage of the law increasing the age of consent to 16 years old, the State is sending an unequivocal message that the youth will be protected by all means and at all costs,” she said.
“Now, the State could better safeguard the innocence of the youth, prevent sexual predators from violating them, and further ensure that their best interests are protected and promoted,” she added.
Malacañang reportedly released last March 7 the signed RA No. 116481, an Act “providing for stronger protection against rape and sexual exploitation and abuse, increasing the age for determining the commission of statutory rape.”
Under the law, any adult who engages in sexual activity with a minor aged below 16 is automatically guilty of rape.
The said law exempts individuals having carnal knowledge with minors under 16 years from criminal liability as long as “the age difference between the parties is not more than three years.” The sexual act must also be non-abusive and non-exploitative.
De Lima, a staunch defender of children’s and women’s rights, also filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 745 on June 2021 urging the Congress to investigate the reported surge of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) during the COVID-19 pandemic to hold perpetrators accountable and address the aggravating factors and root causes of child abuse in the Philippines. (30)