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The House has approved a bill that will raise the legal age of rape to 16 years old.

The House of Representatives ratified the bicameral conference committee report on a bill that would raise the legal age of statutory rape from 12 to 16 years old, protecting young people from sexual exploitation and abuse.

The chamber passed the final version, which reconciles the conflicting provisions of Senate Bill No. 2332 and House Bill No. 7836, during the plenary session.

The “close-in connection” or “sweetheart clause,” which recognizes the genuine relationship between two minors, was highlighted by Zambales Rep. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla, chair of the House Committee on Revision of Laws.

This section provides that if the age difference between the victim and the offender is less than three years and the act in issue is found to be consensual, the perpetrator will not be held criminally liable.

“In light of the global norm on statutory rape age,” Montalla added, “we determined that the age of statutory rape be set to under 16 years of age in the report.” “We also aligned the age of consent in other offenses within the criminal code, as well as other anti-child abuse and exploitation statutes like R.A. No. 7610,” said the bill’s author.

She said the bill’s passage is long overdue because the statistics “scream loudly and clearly” that rape is still a widespread crime in the country.

“What we know are reported cases,” she said, “but the true statistics may be higher because there are many unreported and unaccounted cases of rape and other forms of sexual abuse and exploitation.”

She noted that after the bicam report is ratified, the bill would be sent to Malacanang for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.

“We will always fight to ensure that our children are given the best protection possible under our laws and within the confines of our democratic society,” she said.

Tingog’s political party Since the current Anti-Rape Law sets the age of sexual consent at twelve years, Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, one of the bill’s main architects, believes that establishing a minimum age of sexual consent is the most significant and critical criteria in protecting kids from sexual assault.

“This means that any sexual act with a minor under the age of twelve is immediately treated as rape, regardless of whether the youngster claims or appears to have actively engaged in the sexual act.” However, once a child reaches the age of twelve, the law presumes that the child is old enough to consent to any sexual conduct with another person,” Romualdez explained.

If the bill passes, any adult who has sexual intercourse with a kid under the age of 16 will be charged with rape, even if the minor has given his or her agreement to the sexual act, according to Romualdez.

“By defining statutory rape as any sexual activity with a child under the age of 16 of either sex,” Romualdez explained, “the law ensures the punishment of those who commit such crimes without unnecessarily increasing the emotional and physical trauma of the child that may be caused by a lengthy court proceeding or the need for any additional physiological or material evidence.”

Non-forcible sexual conduct in which one of the parties is under the age of consent or the age required to legally consent to the behavior is known as statutory rape.

Sexual intercourse with minors under the age of 12 is forbidden in the Philippines and is considered rape.

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