REP. LAWRENCE “LAW” H. FORTUN
Agusan del Norte 1st District
Member for the Minority, Committee on Revision of Laws
Principal Author & TWG Chair, HB 7836 An Act Providing for Stronger Protection Against Rape and Acts of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
A lawyer by profession | Mobile number 09177292437
HOUSE AWAITS SENATE APPROVAL OF ANTI-RAPE LAW OVERHAUL
The appeal of the family of the late Christine Dacera to review the country’s anti-rape law is long overdue. Our current 24-year-old Anti-Rape Law is significantly deficient and not responsive to present realities and developments. It is a rape law that puts unjust burden on the victims it ought to afford justice to and excludes from the definition of rape certain acts of sexual perversion that are actually tantamount to rape considering the devastation they cause to the victim.
We already passed in the House of Representatives on Third and Final Reading House Bill No. 7836 providing for stronger protection against rape and sexual abuse and increasing the age for determining statutory rape. This bill is a product of extensive and inclusive consultations with stakeholders, advocates and the concerned government agencies. We now call on the Senate to tackle and approve the measure.
Aside from increasing the age of sexual consent to 16 years of age, our bill also broadens the definition of rape to cover acts of perversion for sexual gratification not covered under the present Anti-Rape Law. It also now includes a person causing another to perform acts of rape even if he or she does not directly participate therein. Rape, under our measure, may be committed not only against a female, but also against a male or a member of the LGBTQIA plus community.
The appeal of the Dacera family to include use of drugs in the determination of probable cause is covered by our version. We included the “employment of means to deprive the victim of reason or render him or her unconscious.” This provision covers introduction of drugs, alcohol and any other toxic substances as a means to perpetrate rape.
The bill also contains a provision that removes the burden of proving lack of consent from the victim. The provision states that in cases of rape, “lack of consent is presumed” and “the absence or lack of physical overt act of resistance” to rape “shall not be construed as consent.”
Another new introduction is the concept of grooming as a means to perpetrate rape or sexual abuse or exploitation. The bill refers to grooming as a predatory conduct or pattern of acts of establishing a relationship, trust or emotional connection with a minor for the purpose of perpetrating rape and sexual abuse.
The bill also expands the list of persons who may file complaints for rape and prohibits amicable settlements and affidavits of desistance.
The bill also ensures the protection of the privacy and identity of the victims and the confidentiality of rape proceedings to embolden victims to seek justice.
The Senate for its part has 9 pending bills about and related to rape. It is our hope the Senate will adopt HB 7836 as their working document and then incorporate key provisions of the 9 Senate bills they have.
The Anti-Rape Law needs immediate overhaul. We appeal to the Senate to tackle and approve the measure in the next few weeks so that the same may be transmitted to the President before the end of the current regular session. (END)