Congress asked to raise age of sexual consent to 16

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The National Youth Commission (NYC) has urged Congress to prioritize a measure that would raise the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16 years.

NYC commissioner Perci Cendaña said the recent incident involving Msgr. Arnel Lagarejos, a priest who allegedly tried to bring a 13-year old girl to a motel in Marikina, raises the complex problem of child prostitution in the country.

“If only our laws recognize teen prostitution as rape, that monsignor who allegedly abused that 13-year-old girl would be charged with rape and most probably he would not be out on bail today,” Cendaña said.

“Teenage prostitution is an ugly and painful reality that we have to collectively face and address immediately and decisively. Our indignation must translate to actions and measures to stop it,” he added.

The NYC official noted that under the present law, the age of consent in the country is only 12 years old. With this, the priest cannot be charged with statutory rape but only with child prostitution and sexual abuse, which has lower penalties.

“Raising this age would make having sexual intercourse or having sexual relations with a minor an act of rape, under any circumstance,” Cendaña said.

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