President Rodrigo Duterte signed a law raising the minimum age of sexual consent from 12 years old to 16 years old, a move that reverses the Philippines’ distinction of having the lowest age of sexual consent in Asia.
Malacañang released today a copy of Republic Act 11648, which Duterte signed on March 4, amending the Revised Penal Code to read as follows:
“The seduction of a minor, sixteen and over but under eighteen years of age, committed by any person in public authority… or any person who, in any capacity, shall be entrusted with the education or custody of the minor seduced shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods.”
Under the law, this means minors below 16 years of age cannot give their consent to sex — and any adult who has sex with a minor 15 years old and below would be automatically guilty of rape.
The law exempts consensual sexual activity between young couples who are both 16 years old and below with an age difference of not more than three years. The exemption does not apply to victims 13 years old and below.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, primary author of the law, welcomed the passage of the measure and said, “Panalo tayo! (We won!)”
“It has been my greatest honor to be one of the authors of this law,” Hontiveros wrote on Twitter. “To more laws to protect our children!”
PANALO TAYO! ✊🏼💜— risa hontiveros (@risahontiveros) March 7, 2022
Batas na ang Raising the Age of Sexual Consent Act!
From 12 years old… 16 years old na. We did it!
It is has been my greatest honor to be one of the authors of this law. To more laws to protect our children! #R1saPa ! 💜✊🏼 pic.twitter.com/u5o30B38xw
“Our current law allows adults to have sex with children who are as young as 12 years old,” Hontiveros said in September. “Our children would be made to testify in court, recall traumatic events, just to prove the crime of rape. The pain of remembering alone has scarred many Filipino kids.”
The senator argued that raising the age of sexual consent has been made more urgent after pandemic gave rise to cases of violence against women and children. Citing data from the Philippine Commission on Women, there were 13,923 reported cases of violence against women and children from March 15 to Nov. 13 in 2020. Of those cases, 4,747 were children.