Smooth passage of new statutory rape bill seen

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    SENATE majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri yesterday said majority of senators have asked to be named co-sponsors or co-authors of his proposed bill seeking to raise the age of statutory rape from 12 to 16 years old, which ensures the easy approval of the measure still pending with the Senate committee on justice.

    In a radio interview with dzBB, Zubiri said: “I want to thank my colleagues in the Senate because I have not heard any negative comments [on the proposed bill] from almost all of them. They all want to be co-sponsors or co-authors of the proposed bill and this is the most decent thing we can do for our country. I think the proposed measure will be easily passed. Our plan is to pass it before we take a break [on October 17]. But this will depend on Sen. Richard Gordon, he is the chairman of the committee on justice.”

    Under Zubiri’s proposed bill, adult males aged 21 years old and above will be charged with rape if he has sexual intercourse with a 16-year old girl and below even with the consent of the minor girl.

    The present law put the age of statutory rape at 12 years old and below.

    Rape being a non-bailable offense, Zubiri said sexual offenders face reclusion perpetua or a lifetime in jail.

    Zubiri, however, said there is a “Romeo and Juliet” provision in the proposed measure which states that a minor boy will be free from criminal liability when he engages in sexual intercourse with the consent of a minor girl.

    “There is a Romeo and Juliet provision in the law that if both are teenagers [or minors], that should not be a problem. The problem is if the 16-year old or below will have sex with an adult who is 21 years old above,” he said.

    Zubiri said his measure seeks to reduce the prevalence of teenage pregnancies in the country, which he said numbers to around 500 a day, and to protect young girls from falling prey to people whom he called as “sexual predators.”

    Based on data provided by the Population Commission, Zubiri said 80 percent of teenagers who get pregnant have adults as their partners.

    “The reason why I want to have this kind of law is so that adults will know that they will be meted life imprisonment once they do something against these minors. I pity the parents and the youth who fall prey to these sexual predators,” he said.