The congressional bicameral conference committee has approved a measure raising the age of statutory rape from the current 12 years old to below 16 years old to protect young people from sexual exploitation and abuse, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri said Thursday, November 25.
The Senate and the House of Representatives held a bicameral conference committee meeting Wednesday on Senate Bill No. 2332 and House Bill No. 7836, amending the Revised Penal Code to raise the age for determining statutory rape, he said.
“No one should become a victim of rape or of sexual violence, more so our young and innocent children. So I have taken this issue as a personal advocacy—as a parent, as a Christian, and more importantly as a legislator”, said Zubiri said, who authored the Senate version of the bill.
“I’m very grateful to all my colleagues, particularly Sen. Sonny Angara, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, and Sen. Lito Lapid, for assisting me and trusting me to shepherd this bill through the Senate,” Zubiri, who has roots in Negros Occidental, said.
Zubiri also thanked Sen. Richard Gordon, Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights chair, for designating him to head the Senate bicameral panel.
Along with increasing the age of sexual consent, the bill also amends the language of the law to be gender-responsive and to reflect that rape is committed by a “person who shall have carnal knowledge of another person”, rather than the previous language that defines rape as being between a man and a woman, he said.
“We are really gunning for the passage of this bill into law before this Congress ends. A lot of groups and advocates like the UNICEF have been waiting for this, so I am very happy that we are at this stage, about to conclude a very important and relevant piece of legislation towards the protection of our children”, Zubiri added.*