By Ben Rosario
With 164 affirmative and no negative votes, the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading Monday House Bill 9024 imposing stiffer penalties for child abuse, exploitation, and discrimination cases.
Authored by Rep. Michael L. Romero (1 PACMAN Partylist), HB 9024 will amend Republic Act 7610 (The Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act) and RA 9231 (The Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act).
The legislative proposal consolidates bills filed by Reps. Geraldine Roman (PDP-Laban, Bataan), Gus Tambunting (PDP-Laban, Paranaque City), and Manuel Luis T. Lopez (NP, Manila).
“This bill seeks to protect and rehabilitate children gravely threatened or endangered by circumstances which affect or will affect their survival and normal development over which they have no control,” said Romero.
Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Divina Grace Yu, chairperson of the House Committee on Welfare of Children, said enactment of the bill will help deter the exploitation and abuse of children by imposing stiffer penalties on violators.
Under the bill, a person found guilty of employing hiring, inducing or coercing a child to perform obscene exhibitions or pose and model in indecent publication faces a penalty of reclusion temporal (imprisonment of over 12 years).
Currently, the said crime carries a penalty of prision mayor (six to 12 years imprisonment).
If the offender is an ascendant, guardian or person entrusted to take care of the child victim, the prison term increases from prision mayor to reclusion temporal in its maximum period (minimum of 20 years).
Reclusion temporal in its minimum period also awaits persons found guilty of acts of neglect, abuse, cruelty, or exploitation of a child.
Any person who will keep in his or her company a child who is 12 years old or 10 years his /her junior inside a public or private place, hotel, motel, beer joint, cabaret or tourist resort may be imprisoned for 12 years, instead of six years under current laws.
• Prision mayor in its maximum period (12 years imprisonment) and P500,000 fine for a person, owner, manager or one entrusted with the operation of any public or public place of accommodation who will permit a person with a child to such place.
• Twelve years to life imprisonment for a person found guilty of coercing, intimidating or forcing a street child or any other child to beg as means of living, act as conduit in drug trafficking or pushing and conduct illegal activities.
• Minimum imprisonment of one year and maximum of six years and fine of not less than P300,000 for violation of anti-child labor practices;
• Fine of not more than P1 million or imprisonment of 12 years to 20 years for employment of a minor in hazardous work
• Prision correctional in its medium period (three years imprisonment) instead of six months, for discrimination of children of members of indigenous cultural communities.