The Child Rights Network (CRN) on Monday, Sept. 27, lauded the Senate for passing the Senate Bill 2332 or the “Increasing the Age of Statutory Rape” Bill, more popularly known as the “End Child Rape” Bill on third and final reading.
“A development that’s one for the books; a high point in child rights legislation,” CRN said.
Voting 22-0-1, with one abstention, the Senate passed SB 2332 on the third and final reading on Monday.
“Child rights advocates all over the Philippines are beyond elated with this development. Despite the grim situation we are facing amid the ravaging pandemic, we see a shining beacon of hope with the passage of the End Child Rape Bill. This truly monumental move expands the Philippines’ legal mantle of protection for children. This is a historical moment that we will fondly look back on for decades to come,” CRN Convenor Romeo Dongeto said.
“We offer our profound appreciation to all our senators who made it possible for SB 2332 to pass just in the nick of time, despite Congress having a lot in its hands right now – from passing the national budget to ensuring an effective pandemic response,” Dongeto stressed.
The “End Child Rape” Bill amends pertinent provisions of Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code and the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, which sets the age to determine the crime of statutory rape — or crime involving sexual contact with a child below the age of 12.
In the anticipated law, the age will be raised to below 16 years, which is currently the global standard.
“It took years for advocates to push for the bill in the legislative mill successfully. It took herculean efforts of campaigning for groups and experts to push Congress to prioritize ending child rape, an issue that for decades was generally overlooked or was even ignored at some point,” Dongeto said.
He also noted that public advocacy played a crucial role during the whole process.
Over the past few months, CRN along with several groups of medical professionals, public personalities, and legislators worked non-stop to campaign for the “End Child Rape” Bill.
An online petition supporting the bill already raised over 314,000 signatures as of writing.
“With the passage of the End Child Rape Bill, the future where no child is forced to undergo the harrowing experience of testifying in court how they were raped is no longer a distant dream, but now on the verge of becoming reality,” Dongeto continued.
“The End Child Rape Bill is a gift that keeps on giving – as it not only makes it easier for child rape victims to access justice but at the same time nurtures a safer environment where children have stronger protection against sexual violence,” he added.
CRN called on Congress to immediately convene the bicameral conference committee for the bill and have the landmark legislation up for the President’s signature as law before the start of the filing of candidacy for the national polls.
“With the passage of the End Child Rape Bill, Congress has proven that it treats the interest and the welfare of Filipino children with great importance and that one of the best approaches in legislation is to put children at the heart of the law.”