SENATE MAJORITY Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri has filed a bill that seeks to raise the age of consent in statutory rape to 15 years.

Senate Bill 305 will change the 89-year-old Revised Penal Code as amended by the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, raising the age of consent from 12 years.

Under the law, statutory rape involves children below 12 years and does not require proof that force was used. This has encouraged sexual abuse of children, Mr. Zubiri said, adding that the country has the lowest age of consent in Asia.

One of five children below 18 years experience sexual violence, the lawmaker said, citing a 2016 study. “By raising the age to 15 years, I hope that we could put a dent on the number of children victimized.”

Senator Leila M. de Lima had filed a similar bill in the previous Congress that failed to make it out of the committee. — Charmaine A. Tadalan