By Hannah Torregoza

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday pushed for the passage of a measure that would raise the age of sexual consent from the current 12 years to 18 years old.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Senator Risa Hontiveros / Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Senator Risa Hontiveros / Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

Hontiveros, chair of the Senate committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, said Senate Bill No. 163, or the “Raising the Age of Sexual Consent” Act, primarily seeks to ensure that the age of sexual consent would conform with the current legal age as recognized in the country.

If passed into law, all sexual acts with minors will be treated as statutory rape, according to the senator.

“Our age of sexual consent is the lowest threshold in the world,” Hontiveros stressed.

“The Convention on the Rights of the Child is explicit that State Parties should protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse. The Philippines as a state party is bound by this requirement. Our current policies make this heinous crime permissible.

When justice is sought out, our current law bars it from being served. Little can be done because the law stands in the way,” the lawmaker explained.

Citing a study released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Hontiveros said there were 4,605 cases of rape in 2018 alone, which was “a horrific reality we create and are compelled to confront.”

She said that, based on the United Nations (UN) report, only one out of 10 cases of abuse was reported, so the number of cases could be more overwhelming and appalling than the current statistics reveal.

“A rapidly increasing number of heinous crimes has been made permissible by the law we fail to amend and strengthen,” Hontiveros pointed out.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) earlier reported that 804 cases of child rape and 141 cases of child exploitation were filed in 2018.

Hontiveros noted that adults accused of raping minors above the age of 12 years old cannot presently be charged with statutory rape.

“For every hour that we do not pass this bill, another child’s future is put on the line,” she said.

“If we can repair this law, we can repair the road of millions of children’s lives in the future,” Hontiveros said.