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THE Senate has approved on final reading Monday the bill that seeks to raise the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16 to further strengthen protection against statutory rape among young individuals.

With 22 approvals and one senator abstaining, Senate Bill No. 2332, otherwise known as “An Act Increasing the Age for Determining Statutory Rape and other Acts of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation to Protect Children” has been passed.

The bill amends the Revised Penal Code and Republic Act No. 7610 or the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.”

Senator Richard Gordon, sponsor of the bill, has once underscored that the new measure will consider suspects of any gender to exploit and sexually abuse victims, regardless if it is the usual man and woman intercourse or committed to a similar gender.

Thus, pursuant to the bill, men and women could both be subject to and charged for the criminal act or statutory rape.

The sexual orientation of the offender is of no importance as we find that perpetrators of sexual abuse against boys are given much lesser sentences than those found guilty of raping girls. The proposed law will address this issue by giving gender-neutral protection to children,” Gordon, who is also the chairman of the Senate justice and human rights and the Blue Ribbon committees, earlier explained.

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