To deter the exploitation of child abuse and further promote the best interest of the child, the House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, recently approved on Third and Final Reading House Bill No. 137 or an act imposing stiffer penalties for child abuse, exploitation, and discrimination and amending for the purpose Republic Act No. 7610, otherwise known as the “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.”
With 228 in the affirmative and zero in the negative, the House voted for the passage of H.B. No. 137. The said bill will also be transmitted to the Senate.
Under H.B. No. 137, any person who shall hire, employ, use, persuade, induce, or coerce a child to perform in obscene publications and indecent shows shall suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period, instead of prison mayor in its medium period, and reclusion temporal in its maximum period if the said person is an ascendant, guardian, or person entrusted in any capacity with the care of the child. If the child is below twelve (12) years of age, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua in its maximum period.
House Speaker Alan Peter 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, 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 of children from indigenous cultural communities shall now have a penalty of prison correctional in its medium period instead of arresto mayor in its maximum period. A fine of not less than fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) to no more than one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00), instead of five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) to ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00), 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, Yedda Marie 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, Cong. Roman cited the need to update the law and the penalties imposed therein to ensure its relevance and the protection of the citizens.