Senate Committees approve proposal to increase statutory rape age to 16

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 1, 2020   •   825

The Senate Committees have approved the proposal to increase the statutory rape age to 16.

The Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality approved the proposed measure on Thursday (October 10). Aside from the increase in the statutory rape age, the age for sexual consent was also raised from 12 to 16.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, one of the authors of the bill, said it is time to amend the law especially due to the increase of sexual violence cases among children.

“As legislators, we need to ensure that our children are protected and that we set measures that will mitigate if not totally eradicate these alarming cases and statistics on sexual violence against children and teenage pregnancies,” Zubiri said.

The Philippines currently has the age of sexual consent at 12 which is the lowest in Asia and among the lowest in the world. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Senate OKs Philippines’ ratification of Arms trade treaty

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2022

The Senate on Wednesday approved a resolution concurring in the Philippines’ ratification of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

Voting 16-0-6, senators passed the resolution, which stipulates the chamber’s agreement to President Rodrigo Duterte’s ratification of the treaty, which seeks to eradicate the illicit weapons trade.

Senate President Pro Tempore Recto, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Senators Ronald Dela Rosa, Christopher “Bong” Go, Grace Poe and Francis Tolentino abstained on the resolution.

The 1987 Constitution requires the vote of at least two-thirds of all members of the Senate for treaties and international agreements to be valid and effective.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said the ATT establishes common international standards for regulating international trade of conventional arms, and in effect addressing the illegal trade in conventional arms and preventing their diversion into the wrong hands.

The agreement was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on April 2, 2013, with over 100 state parties at present.

The Philippines signed the treaty in 2013, the first country in Southeast Asia to do so, Pimentel noted.

Under the ATT, state parties are obligated to take measures to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands.

States involved in export, transit, shipment and importation must cooperate and share information to mitigate risk of diversion and take appropriate measures to enforce national laws and regulations implementing the provision of ATT, Pimentel said.

Countries must also develop export and import control systems for the trade in conventional arms.

The treaty prohibits the transfer of arms, ammunitions, parts and components that would violate obligations under the UN Charter; the obligations of state parties under relevant international agreements; and if the items would be used in the commission of crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, attacks against civilian, or war crimes.

The ATT covers all conventional arms such as battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircrafts, warships, missiles and missile launchers, as well as small arms and light weapons, including ammunition, parts and components.

Senate on total closure from January 10 to 16 – Sotto

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines ­– The Senate will be closed for a week amid rising COVID-19 infections among its employees, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Friday.

Citing a report from the Senate Medical Team, Sotto said there are now 46 active COVID positive cases in the upper chamber while 175 employees are under quarantine due to exposure and manifestation of symptoms.

Sotto said these employees are awaiting the result of their COVID-19 swab test.

He also mentioned that five staff of the Medical Bureau are under quarantine, which depleted their workforce and find it hard to attend to the needs of the infected employees.

“Medical has sent a Memo recommending 7 days of total closure of the Senate from January 10 (Monday) to  January 16 (Sunday),” he told reporters.

“They will conduct thorough disinfection and this will lessen contact among employees to prevent or slow down virus transmission,” he added.

Sotto said total closure means no one will be allowed to enter the Senate premises except for those involved in the disinfection process to be conducted on January 8 and January 15.

The House of Representatives earlier announced it has extended the lockdown in its offices until January 16, also due to increasing COVID-19 cases.


Defense chief Lorenzana tests positive for COVID-19 anew

Robie de Guzman   •   November 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed on Wednesday that he has again contracted COVID-19.

In a message to reporters, Lorenzana said he was informed of his test result earlier in the day but he has not manifested any symptoms.

He said he is fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

“This morning I got the result of my swab test yesterday afternoon after the Senate hearing. I am asymptomatic,” he said.

“Yes, I am fully vaxxed. I’ll observe myself for several days after that I’ll have another swab,” he added.

The Defense chief first tested positive for COVID-19 in April and recovered.

Lorenzana took a swab test after undergoing screening for COVID-19 on Tuesday when he physically attended a Senate hearing for his department’s budget for 2022.

With this development, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said they might suspend the budget deliberations on Thursday to give way for the testing of exposed Senate staff.

Lorenzana had interactions with several senators during the session. Among those who was exposed to him were Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino.

Senators and staff who had contact with Lorenzana have been asked to undergo quarantine and get tested after five days.


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