House approves bill raising age for statutory rape from 12 to 16

Published December 1, 2020, 8:16 PM

by Ben Rosario

The bill that raises the age of statutory rape victims from 12 to 16 was approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives, with 207 voting in the affirmative and three against.

House Bill 7836, a consolidation of 10 bills, was approved on second reading during the observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women last Wednesday.

Reps. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla (PDP-Laban, Zambales) and Yedda Marie Romualdez (Tingog Siniringan Partylist), chairperson of the House Committee on Revision of Laws and on Welfare of Children, applauded their colleagues for the bill’s passage.

Aside from Deloso-Montalla and Romualdez, other authors of the measure include Deputy Speakers Deogracias Victor Savellano (NP, Ilocos Norte) and Roberto Puno (NUP, Antipolo City); and Reps. Manny Lopez (PDP-Laban, Manila), Carlos Isagani Zarate and Eufemia Cullamat (Bayan Muna), Aleta Suarez (Lakas-CMD, Quezon), Jose Francisco Benitez (PDP-Laban, Negros Occidental), and Luisa Lloren Cuaresma (NPC, Nueva Vizcaya).

“By establishing the crime of statutory rape to be any sexual activity with a child, of either sex, under the age of 16 – the law makes certain the punishment of those who commit such crime, without unnecessarily furthering the emotional and physical trauma of the child that may be brought about by a lengthy court proceeding or the need for any further physiological or material evidence,” said Romualdez.

Aside from these, the bill also “seeks to educate and empower the home, the school, and the community to put safeguards that will prevent any such crimes from happening in the future” and “gives no distinction to the sexual orientation of the offender or the victim.”

Under the bill, rape is committed by any person against another person by:

  1. Inserting or causing the insertion of a person’s penis into another person’s inner or outer vaginal labia, anal orifice, or mouth;
  2. Inserting or causing the insertion of a finger, instrument, or object, into another person’s inner or outer vaginal labia or anal orifice;
  3. Placing or causing the placement of a person’s penis between, or rubbing or causing the rubbing thereof on, the breasts of another person; or
  4. Causing a person or persons to perform any of the above-mentioned acts even if the offender does not participate therein, under any of the following circumstances:

a.       By force, threat, intimidation, deception, coercion;

b.      By abuse of authority or moral ascendancy;

c.       By employment of means to deprive him or her of reason or render him or her unconscious;

d.      By other fraudulent machinations; or

e.       When the victim is incapable of giving consent by reason of his or her physical, mental, or psychological disability or condition.

Under the bill the age factor of the victim in a statutory rape case is increased from the current 12 years old to 16 years old at the time the crime was committed, whether or not there was consent on the part of the minor.

The bill also provides that “consensual, non-abusive, and non-exploitative sexual activity with a minor below 16 years old may not be considered statutory rape when the alleged offender is 15 years old and the age difference between the parties does not exceed four years.

Exemption is also granted if the offender is 14 years old and the age difference between the parties does not exceed 3 years old and in the case of a 13-year-old offender if the age difference does not exceed two years.

Grooming is included as a means of committing rape. The act of grooming is defined as a predatory act or pattern of acts aimed at establishing a relationship with a minor so they can manipulate, exploit, and abuse them.

The bill also provides that presumption of lack of consent is presumed, thus, absence or lack of physical overt act of resistance to the commission of rape shall not be deemed as consent.

Penalty for statutory rape is life imprisonment.

Convicted persons will not qualify for the benefits of good conduct time allowance (GCTA) when the victim is under 18 years old and the offender is a parent, ascendant, stepparent, or guardian.

GCTA is also denied to convicted persons if the victim is under the custody of law enforcement authorities or penal institution or if the rape was committed in full view of the spouse, parent, or children of the victim.