President Rodrigo Duterte (MNS photo)

MANILA, Mar 7 (Mabuhay) –President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law the bill defining the crime of statutory rape and raising the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16 years old.

The Senate and House of Representatives ratified in December the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed Act Increasing the Age for Determining Statutory Rape and other Acts of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation to Protect Children.

The newly signed Republic Act 11648 seeks to amend RA 3815 or the Revised Penal Code, RA 8353 or the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, and RA 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act.

Under RA 11648, there will be no criminal liability on the part of a person having carnal knowledge of another person under 16 when the age difference between the parties is not more than three years and the sexual act in question is proven to be “consensual, non-abusive, and non-exploitative.”

It also indicated that children, whether male or female, are deemed to be exploited in prostitution and other sexual abuse if they indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct for money, profit, or any other consideration or due to coercion or influence of any adult, syndicate, or group.

The Congress also inserted a new paragraph that will mandate the Department of Education to include in the basic education curriculum appropriate subjects concerning the rights and protection of children in relation to this Act.

Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon, who sponsored Senate Bill 2332, previously said that the Congress, through the said measure, has a role in preventing and responding to child sexual abuse in the country.

He then said that the right of the child to freedom from sexual abuse must be upheld. (MNS)

READ NEXT: Mask-free in Level 1 open areas possible if cases drop further