By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri is proposing to raise the age of statutory rape to 15 years from the current 12 years old and below.
Zubiri filed last July 10 his Senate Bill No. 305, which seeks to amend the Revised Penal Code and increase the age for determining statutory rape to give children stronger protection.
In filing the measure, the Senate Majority Leader said the amendment to the 89-year-old law “is long overdue” as he noted in his bill that it prescribes the lowest age of consent for sexual acts among countries in Asia, while rest of the countries set an average age of 16 years old.
“[It] should be put at par with the expanding measures to protect children, our most valuable asset,” Zubiri said in a statement Wednesday.
He cited the 2016 National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children which found that one in every five children below 18 years experiences sexual violence. With this, he believes that sexual violence occurs to children from ages 12 to 15.
“By raising the age to 15 years, I hope that we could put a dent on the number of children victimized since ‘carnal knowledge’ of children aged 12 up to 15 years will now be considered statutory rape,” the Senate leader said.
Under the Revised Penal Code as amended by Republic Act 8353, or the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, statutory rape is committed when victim was 12 years old and below or is demented.
Victims need not prove that the assault was done against their will.
“Huwag na nating pahirapan ang mga batang biktima at ang kanilang mga magulang o guardians na makahanap ng hustisya,” Zubiri said.