Councilors support bill increasing age for determining statutory rape

The City Council approved a resolution supporting Senate Bill No. 1575 or the act increasing the age for determining statutory rape to provide stronger protection for children.

Proponent Councilor Avegayle Ortiz-Omalza, the chair of the council’s Committee on Women, Children, and Family Relations, pushed for the resolution citing rampant reports on rape cases and teen prostitution.

Senators Risa Hontiveros and Sherwin Gatchalian, lobbying the Senate bill, pushed to increase the minimum age of consent from the current age of 12 years old to 18 years old for the determination of statutory rape.

The senators said this would address teen prostitution and would expand the scope of prohibited sexual relations with a minor to be classified as an act of rape under any circumstance.

During the council special session on Friday, Ortiz-Omalza supported the appeal to impose maximum penalties for sexual offenses against minors over 12 years of age.

The councilor mentioned that the Philippines is behind the average age to determine statutory rape worldwide.

Currently, the Revised Penal Code imposes maximum penalties for sexual offenses when the victim is under 12 years of age but adopts a less strict policy for sexual offenses against minors over 12 years of age.

In United States, the legal age of consent varies from 16 to 18 years old from state to state. The age of consent in Canada and Australia is 16 years old. Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan have also the same age of consent.

Based on the Senate bill, a comparative observation shows that the Philippines has one of the lowest ages established in determining statutory sexual abuses committed against children.

Last month, child rights groups — the Child Rights Network, UNICEF, ACT Children Alliance, and Council for the Welfare of the Children — visited the city to launch a campaign to increase the age to determine statutory rape.

Posted in Opinion