Consent is very essential so that any act or contract entered into by any person may be considered legal or binding. A person 18 years or older may now enter into contracts, agreements, or give away or waive his or her rights because it is presumed that a person of that age has sufficient knowledge about his or her rights. But still, there are persons who might be 18 years old or older but still cannot give valid consent, just like those who are insane or demented. The State comes in and gives these persons the protection they need by considering contracts entered into by these persons as invalid especially if these contracts do not redound to the benefit of the minor or the insane or demented. This same protection is being given in criminal cases such as rape. Before the amendment of the Revise Penal Code, a person is under 12 years of age is incapable of giving consent to a sexual intercourse and that the said act will be considered rape even if the victim consented to it or the sexual act was not obtained through force, violence, or intimidation. The law comes in to protect the innocent and considers the sexual act as rape, hence “statutory” because it is the statute that declares it as rape. Due to the rising incidence of sexual abuse on children, our Congress passed a bill raising the age of consent from 12 to 16.
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 11648, March 04, 2022
The new law was signed on 04 March 2022 by former President Rodrigo Duterte. The amendment provides: “When the offended party is under sixteen (16) years of age or is demented, even though none of the circumstances mentioned above be present: Provided, That there shall be no criminal liability on the part of a person having carnal knowledge of another person sixteen (16) years of age when the age difference between the parties is not more than three (3) years, and the sexual act in question is proven to be consensual, non-abusive, and non-exploitative: Provided, further, That if the victim is under thirteen (13) years of age, this exception shall not apply.” This means even in the instance where the victim is already 15 years, sexual intercourse with her will still considered rape even if she consented to it. There is a new provision in the amendment. If the victim is between 13 and 16 years old and the age difference is not more than three years, there will be no criminal liability if the sexual act was “consensual, non-abusive, and non-exploitative”. This means that even if the offender is 18 years old and the victim is still 15 years old and the sexual intercourse was consensual, then the offender may no longer be held liable under the law. The burden of proving that the act was consensual falls on the defendant because the law says “is proved to be consensual…”
The new law also updated the Revised Penal Code and prohibits “Any person who shall keep or have in his company a minor sixteen (16) years of age or under or who is ten (10) years or more his junior in any public or private place, hotel, motel, beer joint, discotheque, cabaret, pension house, sauna or massage parlor, beach, and/or other tourist or similar places.”
It is very alarming that reports have indicated that the number of children subjected to sexual abuse is rising. We should all be alarmed by this. Children should be afforded our care and protection and our society will be a failure if we do not protect the most vulnerable members of our society.