House passes bill imposing stiffer penalties vs child abuse
MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives gave its nod to a bill increasing the punishment for child abuse in the country.
On Monday, February 17, an overwhelming 228 lawmakers voted yes to House Bill (HB) No. 137, which would amend parts of Republic Act (RA) No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act.
No lawmaker opposed the measure or abstained from the vote.
The Senate version of this bill, however, remains pending at the committee level. The measure would have to get the approval of senators on 2nd and 3rd readings before it can be transmitted to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature.
The National Baseline Study on Violence against Children launched in 2016 showed 60% of physical violence and 38% of psychological violence suffered by Filipino children happen in their homes.
What are the main provisions? If passed into law, the bill would impose stiffer penalties for the following unlawful acts done against children:
- 12 to 20 years for production of obscene publications and shows committed against a child 12 years old and above, life imprisonment if committed against a child below 12 years old
- Imprisonment for 20 years for a guardian who would allow the child to participate in an obscene act
- 12 to 20 years in prison for other acts of abuse, cruelty, or exploitation and other conditions "prejudicial to the child's development"
- 12 to 20 years in prison and a fine between P50,000 and P500,000 for a person who would keep in his company a minor under 12 years old, or is 10 years or more his junior in any public or private place – provided the perpetrator is not related to the child within the 4th degree of consanguinity
- 6 to 12 years in prison and a minimum fine of P400,000 for inducing or offering a minor to be someone's companion. The punishment is raised to 12 to 20 years in prison if the perpetrator is an ascendant, stepparent, or guardian of the minor. Parents would also lose custody and be fined at least P500,000 if found guilty.
- 6 to 12 years in prison, a fine of at least P500,000, and the loss of license to operate for the owner of an establishment that allows adults to bring a minor to the facility
- 12 to 20 years in prison for coercing a child to beg on the streets, act as middlemen for drug trafficking, and conduct other illegal activities
- A year to 6 years in prison and a fine between P100,000 and P400,000 for child labor practices
- A fine between P200,000 and P1 million, 12 to 20 years in prison, or both for forcing children to engage in hazardous work
- Specific penalties listed under RA No. 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 would cover employment of trafficked children
- 6 months to 6 years in prison and a fine between P50,000 and P100,000 for discrimination of children in indigenous cultural communities
Who are the authors? HB No. 137 was authored by the following lawmakers:
- Naealla Bainto, Bahay
- Manuel Cabochan III, Magdalo
- Chirstopher de Venecia, Pangasinan 4th District
- Aurelio Gonzales Jr, Pampanga 3rd District
- Salvador Leachon, Oriental Mindoro 1st District
- Josephine Lacson Noel, Malabon City
- Eric Olivarez, Parañaque City 1st District
- Wilter Wee Palma II, Zamboanga Sibugay 1st District
- Paz Radaza, Lapu-Lapu City
- Rufus Rodriguez, Cagayan de Oro 2nd District
- Geraldine Roman, Bataan 1st District
- Michael Romero, 1-Pacman
- Yedda Marie Romualdez, Tingog Sinirangan
- Janice Salimbangon, Cebu 4th District
- Estrellita Suansing, Nueva Ecija 1st District
- Jose Sy-Alvarado, Bulacan 1st District
- Anna Marie Villaraza Suarez, Alona
- Joy Myra Tambunting, Parañaque City 2nd District