On Tuesday, December 1, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 7836; this bill is seeking to raise the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16 years old. This will provide stronger protection against sexual abuse of children.
A total of 207 lawmakers approved the bill; three legislators voted against it; and no one abstained.
ICYDK, the Philippines' Anti-Rape Law, which was signed in 1997, states that sex is only considered as statutory rape if the victim is under 12 years old. This minimum age of consent is the lowest in Southeast Asia. Under this law, sex with a minor who's 18 years old and below is only considered a criminal act if "consent is not present or if the act involves force, threat, or intimidation."
If HB 7836 is passed into law, any adult who has sexual intercourse with a minor aged 16 and below will automatically be considered guilty of rape—with or without consent.
Tingog Representative Yedda Marie Romualdez, chairperson of the House committee on welfare of children and one of the principal authors of the bill, said, "I appeal to our colleagues in the Senate: let us pass this bill as a gift for and a commitment to the safety of our children. Definitely, no children should be left without sufficient protection especially from rape. Child rape is an ugly and painful reality that we must collectively confront and address immediately and decisively...But it is not enough that we are indignant. Our indignation must translate into action, and concrete measures to stop it."