Following impassioned and intellectual discussions on the bill, the Senate has approved on second reading Senate Bill No. 2332, which amends the Revised Penal Code to raise the age for determining statutory rape from 12 to 16 years old.
“As the father of three young kids, this is really important bill to me,” said Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, one of the original authors of the bill.
Zubiri said he knows that many other parents and groups are waiting for the approval of the bill.
Sponsored by Sen. Richard Gordon and authored by Zubiri with Sen. Risa Hontiveros, the bill sparked lengthy debates, and required the body to vote on more than one provision, including a bid to raise the proposed age from 16 to 17.
Zubiri said senators eventually voted to keep it to the age of 16.
Apart from increasing the age of sexual consent, the bill also amends the language of the law to be gender responsive.
It also seeks to reflect that rape is committed by a person who shall have carnal knowledge against any person, rather than the previous definition that rape is between a man and a woman only.
The bill is a long-awaited legislative move, as the country currently has one of the lowest ages for determining statutory rape across the world, second only to Niger, at 11 years old.
“This is a landmark bill that will protect so many children, and we’re very hopeful that the bill will sail swiftly from here on out. We were able to hash out the finer details of it in the plenary, and we’re looking forward to its passage,” Zubiri said.