Hiked child abuse penalties hailed

February 18, 2020
Yedda Marie Romualdez

TINGOG party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez yesterday said the passage on third and final reading of a proposed law seeking to impose stiffer penalties in child abuse and discrimination cases would help stop all forms of exploitation of children and serve justice to the victims.

Romualdez, who chairs the House Committee on the Welfare of Children, said the passage of House Bill (HB) No. 137 that will amend Republic Act 7610 or the “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act” will further promote the best interest of the children.

“By providing stiffer penalties for violations of anti-child abuse laws, we intend to put an end to the continued exploitation of children. By increasing the penalties for child abuse offenses, we ensure that justice is served for every child who has been abused, exploited or discriminated against,” said Romualdez who sponsored the measure in the plenary after her panel recommended its plenary approval.

On Monday, the House of Representatives with an overwhelming 228 votes approved House Bill (HB) No. 137, or the proposed “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.”

Romualdez said “the abuse, exploitation and discrimination of children are one of the most despicable realities of our time.”

“House Bill 137 addresses this issue head-on, with the objective of ensuring that every child grows and lives free from the threat of harm,” said Romualdez.

The House leadership under Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano transmitted the measure to the Senate.

Under HB No. 137, a penalty of 17 years and four months in prison will be slapped against those who are involved in the production of obscene publications and indecent shows.

If the child is below twelve years of age, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua in its maximum period.

A penalty of 20 years in prison will be meted out to any ascendant or guardian who will be found behind employing a child or a participant in any obscene play, scene, act, movie, or show.

Advocacy

Cayetano said that the House of Representatives through this measure affirmed its commitment to protect children from all types of abuse.

Consistent with his advocacy to promote children’s rights and uphold their welfare, he said Taguig has also been consistently hailed as one of the child-friendly cities in recognition of the city’s programs which aim to protect children as well as raising them to be productive and values-oriented individuals.

The City of Taguig has recently received its fourth seal of Child-Friendly Local governance this year.

H.B. No. 137 likewise raises the penalty for child labor practices from imprisonment of six (6) months to a minimum of one (1) year to six (6) years or a fine not less than one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) to three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00).

Section 12 of R.A. No. 10364 or the “Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012,” which provides for the penalties and sanctions for trafficked persons, shall now be imposed on the employment of trafficked children.

On the other hand, the discrimination against children from indigenous cultural communities shall now have a penalty of prision correctional in its medium period instead of arresto mayor in its maximum period. A fine of not less than fifty thousand pesos (P50,000) to no more than one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00), instead of five thousand pesos (P5,000) to ten thousand pesos (P10,000), shall also be imposed.

In addition, the offender shall undergo a re-education and reorientation program on the Indigenous Peoples culture of the Philippines to be conducted by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples or the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples Rights.

Under H.B. No. 137, the penalties for other acts of abuse, cruelty, or exploitation and other conditions prejudicial to the child’s development shall also be raised.

H.B. No. 137 is a consolidation of six bills with Representatives Geraldine Roman, Wilter “Sharky” Palma II, Michael Odylon Romero, Deputy Speaker Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales, Jr., Doy Leachon, Rufus Rodriguez, Jose Antonio “Kuya” Sy-Alvarado, Joy Myra Tambunting, Estrelita Suansing, Josephine Veronique Lacson-Noel, Eric Olivarez, Romualdez, Christopher De Venecia, Paz Radaza, Anna Marie Villaraza-Suarez, Naealla Bainto-Aguinaldo, Janice Salimbangon, and Manuel Cabochan III as authors.

In her explanatory note, Roman cited the need to update the law and the penalties imposed to ensure its relevance and the protection of the citizens.