By Macon Araneta i FilAm Star Correspondent

The recent reports of Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) freshmen forced to perform oral sex as punishment would be a test case for Republic Act 11053, the new Anti-Hazing Act of 2018, said Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

“In this case, the cadets involved may have the (dubious) distinction of being the first to be convicted under the new law,” said Lacson.

He stressed hazing is now considered a capital offense, with those found guilty facing life imprisonment without bail.

Lacson had sponsored the new law in the Senate after his Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs probed the fatal hazing of law student Horacio Castillo III.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the measure into law last June 29.

Lacson said those involved in hazing risk losing the prime of their lives under the strengthened anti-hazing law.

Under the new law, the definition of hazing has been expanded to include “physical or psychological suffering, harm or injury inflicted on a recruit, member, neophyte, or applicant” as a prerequisite for admission or for continued membership in an organization.

Banned under the law are “all forms of hazing” not only in fraternities, sororities or organizations in schools, but also those in communities and even businesses and uniformed service learning institutions.

Liabilities include:
penalty of reclusion temporal and PHP 1 million on the participating officer and members of the fraternity who were involved in the hazing reclusion perpetua and PHP 2 million on members who actually participated in hazing when under the influence of alcohol or drugs;

and on non-resident or alumni who participate in hazing
reclusion perpetua and PHP 3 million on those who participated in hazing that resulted in death, rape, sodomy, or mutilation

PHP 1 million on the school if it approved an initiation of a fraternity, sorority or organization where hazing occurred

prison correccional (six months to six years) on anyone who intimidates or threatens another for recruitment. This includes “persistent and repeated” proposals or invitations to those who refused to join at least twice.

PHP 1 million for former officers or alumni who try to hide or obstruct investigation

Raising age on consent
Philippine National Police (PNP)  Chief Director Gen. Oscar Albayalde said that it will not tolerate unscrupulous acts of police officers.

He issued the  remark following the arrest of PO1 Eduardo Valencia, a rookie cop assigned at the Manila Police District, for allegedly raping a 15 year-old girl.

“We already said that since the start of the administration, we will show no mercy (to) these cops who are involved in illegal activities. We will not tolerate those misdeeds. Let him prove that he is not guilty for the crime of rape to a relative of the suspects who were arrested,” Albayalde said.

Valencia was arrested after the girl’s relatives sought help from authorities.

National Capital Region Police Office Director Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar went straight to the MPD Sampaloc Police Station and admonished Valencia after he was presented to him.

Valencia allegedly raped the girl in exchange for the freedom of her parents who were arrested for illegal drug charges.

Pending the outcome of the initial investigation, he is facing administrative charges as well as rape and grave misconduct.

As this developed, Sen. Nancy Binay is convinced that the age of consent in the country should be raised to 16 years old from the present 12, after receiving reports of the alleged rape committed by Valencia.

In July, Binay filed Senate Bill No. 1895 which aims to make 16 years old the minimum age to determine statutory rape for children in the country, up from under 12 years specified in the Revised Penal Code.

According to Binay, the measure is still in the committee level adding that she will ask the legislative commitment of fellow senators to fast-track its passage.

She said the Philippines is one of those countries which has the lowest age of consent, which is presently set at 12 years old.

At present, she said the country’s anti-rape law says it will only be considered statutory rape if the child is below 12 years old or is mentally challenged.

“As parents, it is our commitment to protect our children from sexual predators,” Binay said.

“Some are using the low age of consent to evade higher penalties from their crimes against children,” she added.

“Those who have sexual relations or intercourse with a minor below 16 years old could be charged with statutory rape if the age of consent will be higher,” Binay said.

According to the National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children (NBS-VAC), released in 2016, one of five children below 18 have experienced being sexually violated.

Binay said that according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), up to seven in 10 women around the world experience physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime.

“Increasing the age of consent will provide greater protection to our children, and safeguard them from various forms of violence,” she added.

The legislator also said that under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, governments should protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse.

“It is also in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Goal number 5, which aims to eliminate all forms of violence against women and children, including trafficking, sexual, and other forms of exploitation,” Binay said.