The Philippine Senate has recently approved a bill that raises the age of consent in the country from 12 to 16-years-old. Senate Bill (SB) No. 2332 was passed after its final reading on 27 September 2021 and could finally become law.
The bill would consider adults to be committing statutory rape if they have sexual contact with children who are 16-years-old or under. Being one of the countries with the lowest age of consent, the Philippines has not been a safe place for children. They were at risks of online sexual exploitation, statutory rape, child labour, and more.
With such a bill being implemented, children can be protected from predators. Since 2018, Terre des Hommes Netherlands in the Philippines has been one of the main supporters of this bill, along with Plan International, ECPAT, and more through the Girl’s Advocacy Alliance programme that recently ended in 2020.
Terre de Hommes Netherlands provided its support through partner organisations. Through the Children's Legal Bureau, inputs to congressional meetings and submission of position papers to the House of Representatives was successfully done. Terre des Hommes field office in the Samar region also organised a forum on increase the age for cases of statutory rape in Tacloban City. As a member of the Child Rights Network, Terre des Hommes Netherlands also provided technical inputs in the position statement regarding this issue and have also signed the CRN’s online signature campaign on the End Child Rape Bill to further raise awareness.
“We are one with our partners and other child rights advocates in welcoming this huge legislative move towards protecting more children from sexual abuse and exploitation. For so long, the Philippines having the lowest age of consent in Asia has contributed to further exposing Filipino boys and girls to sexual predators. We also welcome the intent to make the proposed measure more gender responsive. We continue to monitor the developments from the Bicameral Committee and hope that an even better version comes out.” said Eva Maria Cayanan, Country Manager of Terre des Hommes Netherlands in the Philippines.
The approval of this bill was a big step for protecting child rights in the Philippines. However, Terre des Hommes will continue to provide support and advocate for this bill to be finally passed into law. The organisation will continue to implement projects in the best interest of Filipino children, in close collaboration with local government units and local civil society organisations.