We looked at the positions and track records of Senatorial candidates on the following policy issues concerning children’s rights.
Retaining the Minimum Age of Criminal Liability – One of President Duterte’s priority measures is to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility in the Philippines below 15 years of age. This measure met intense opposition from advocates and children’s right groups.
Republic Act 11642 or Domestic Administrative Adoption and Alternative Child Care Act – This act facilitates a faster and cheaper process of adoption in the country. Adoptive parents would have a much easier time going through adoption since it will be transferred from the courts to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
RA 11648 or Increasing the Age to Determine Statutory Rape Act – This act raises the age of sexual consent from 12 years old to below 16 years old. The landmark law, signed on 4 March 2022, fulfills children’s right to protection as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to which the Philippines is a signatory.
Special Protections Against Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Bill (SB 2209 and HB 10703) – This measure, once passed, will address the egregious crime of online child sexual exploitation and abuse of children (OCSEA). The measure expands the legal mantle of protection for children by giving law enforcement agencies more power to investigate and gather evidence against perpetrators of OCSEA, among others.
RA 11650 or Inclusive Education for Learners with Disabilities Act – The law requires all schools in the country to provide “free and appropriate public early and basic education and support and related services” for learners with disabilities. It also aims to establish a learning facility called the “Inclusive Learning Centers of Learners with Disabilities” or ILRCs for the students’ general education system.
Expanded Anti-Trafficking Bill (SB 2449 and HB 10658) – This measure strengthens trafficking preventive measures through the establishment of a human trafficking preventive education program through school and community-based programs for children and youth. Additional duties will also be imposed on internet intermediaries such as, but not limited to, the duty to compile and maintain a comprehensive list of child trafficking of any form of sexual exploitation of children-related URLs, and the updating of that list by maintaining memberships in organizations that maintain a comprehensive list of child abuse image content URL list and image hashes, among others.