Rape is one of the most repulsive crimes and it has sometimes been used in times of war to demoralize or inflict additional suffering on the vanquished. There have been reports of mass rape or sexual abuse during World War II and the victims were called “comfort women”. In some African conflicts or wars, there have also been reports of rape of men intended to add insult to injury. The rape on children however, is the most grotesque of all because of the young age of the victims and their innocence. That is why, countries have promulgated the age of consent in criminal cases just like rape and that our country has just recently raised this age from 12 to 16. Meaning, if the victim is below 16, the sexual act will be considered rape even if the victim consented to the act. This is statutory rape. Before the approval of the law in 04 March 2022, the Philippines had one of the lowest age of consent. Before the enactment of the law, having sexual intercourse with a thirteen year old for example might not be considered rape if the victim gave consent to the act. Not anymore. But back in 2020, a case was decided by the Supreme Court with regard to a 12-year-old girl who had a sexual intercourse with a man almost 15 years her senior. (G.R. No. 235610. September 16, 2020)
Banggayan vs. People
Banggayan and the victim were caught by a witness having sexual intercourse. The incident was reported to the police and a case was filed against Banggayan for rape. In October of that year, the minor gave birth to a child and Banggayan is the father. The case went on and during the trial the minor submitted her affidavit of distance having decided not to pursue the case against Banggayan. The Regional Trial Court went on to convict the accused on the crime of rape despite his claim that the minor have her consent to the sexual intercourse and that they are also in a relationship. Banggayan appealed to the Court of Appeals but the RTC decision was upheld.
Banggayan is not guilty
The Supreme Court acquitted Banggayan. The prosecution failed to prove that the accused is guilty under the provisions of RA 7610 because none of the elements are present. Even if the case is to be tried under the revised penal code on Rape, the elements are not also present.
“If the victim who is 12 years old or less than 18 and is deemed to be a child “exploited in prostitution and other sexual abuse” because she agreed to indulge in sexual intercourse “for money, profit or any other consideration or due to coercion or influence of any adult, syndicate or group,” then the crime could not be rape under the RPC, because this no longer falls under the concept of statutory rape, and there was consent. That is why the offender will now be penalized under Section 5(b), R.A. No. 7610, and not under Article 335 of the RPC [now Article 266-A], But if the said victim does not give her consent to sexual intercourse in the sense that the sexual intercourse was committed through force, threat or intimidation, the crime Is rape under paragraph 1, Article 266-A of the RPC. However, if the same victim gave her consent to the sexual intercourse, and no money, profit, consideration, coercion or influence is involved, then there is no crime committed,”. In this case, the victim was not forced to have sex with the accused. In fact, the claim of the accused that they have a romantic relationship is supported by the fact that the victim gave birth to their second child even while the accused was in jail. The prosecution has not proved any circumstance that might have impaired the judgement or thinking of the victim so as not to enable her to give her consent regarding the sexual intercourse. This case was of course decided two years prior to the raising of the age of consent.