The Philippines has raised the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16, after President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Republic Act. No. 11648 into law on Friday, Mar. 4.
Amending the Revised Penal Code, Republic Act No. 8353 or the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, and the Republic Act. No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act, the new law is aimed at “providing stronger protection against rape and sexual exploitation and abuse, increasing the age for determining the commission of statutory rape.”
“The seduction of a minor, sixteen and over but under eighteen years of age, committed by any person in public authority, priest, home-servant, domestic, guardian, teacher, 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,” RA 11648 states.
“The penalty next higher in degree shall be imposed upon any person who shall seduce his sister or descendant, whether or not she be a virgin or over eighteen years of age.”
“The seduction of a minor, sixteen and over but under eighteen years of age, committed by means of deceit, shall by punished by arresto mayor,” the new law also reads.
No criminal liability will be imposed to those engaging in sexual activity under 16 years old, with an age difference of not more than three years, but the sexual act must be deemed “consensual, non-abusive, and non-exploitative.” If the victim is below 13 years old, such exception will not apply.
RA 11648 will take effect 15 days after publication in the Official Gazette of the Philippines or a newspaper of general circulation in the country.
In 2021, Reuters reported that the Philippines had “the lowest minimum age of sexual consent in Southeast Asia and one of the lowest in the world.”
Senator Risa Hontiveros, its principal author, celebrated the PH’s recent move on Twitter. “Panalo tayo! It has been my greatest honor to be one of the authors of this law. To more laws to protect our children!” she wrote.