President Rodrigo Duterte. Screengrab from PCOO / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a measure raising the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16.

Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11648 on March 4, but a copy of the law was made available to members of the media on Monday.

The new law, which amended Republic Act No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act, increases the age for determining the commission of statutory rape in a bid to provide stronger protection for children againt sexual abuse and exploitation.

The new law exempts minors engaging in consensual sexual activity from criminal liability as long as their age difference is not more than three years.

The sexual act must also be non-abusive and non-exploitative.

The exemption, however, would not apply if the victim is under 13 years old.

The House of Representatives ratified the bicameral committee report last Dec. 14, 2021

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