Bill gets tougher against child abuse

A MEASURE that seeks to impose stiffer penalties for child abuse, exploitation, and discrimination was approved on third and final reading in the House of Representatives.

House Bill 9024 got unanimous 164 votes.

The proposed law seeks to amend several sections of Republic Act (RA) No. 7610, as amended by Republic Act No. 9231, also known as the “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination.”

Under the measure, any person who would hire, employ, use, persuade, induce or coerce a child to perform in obscene exhibitions and indecent shows, whether live or on video, pose or model in obscene publications or pornographic materials or sell or distribute the said materials would face reclusion temporal in its medium period from the current prision mayor.

The bill stressed that if the child used as a performer, subject or seller/distributor is below 12 years of age, the penalty would be reclusion perpetua (up to 40 years imprisonment).

Likewise, the bill seeks the penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period (up to 20 years imprisonment) against “any ascendant, guardian, or person entrusted in any capacity with the care of the child who shall cause and/or allow such child to be employed or to participate in an obscene play, scene, act, movie or show or in any other acts covered by this section.”

Moreover, the penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period (from 14 years 8 months and 1 day to 17 years and 4 months) and a fine of not less than P500,000 would be slapped against any person who would “keep or have in his company a minor, 12 years or under or who is 10 years or more his junior, in any public or private place, hotel, motel, beer joint discotheque, cabaret, pension house, sauna or massage parlor, beach and/or other tourist resort or similar places.”

The penalty of imprisonment of one year and one day to six years or a fine from P100,000 to P400,00, or both, would be imposed on any employer who violates Section 12, 12-A, and Section 14 of the Act.

Section 12 of RA 7610 states that “children below 15 years of age may not be employed except when a child works directly under the sole responsibility of his parents or legal guardian and where only members of the employer’s family are employed.”

Section 12-A provides that the employer shall ensure the protection, health, safety, and morals of the child, while Section 14 states that “No person shall employ child models in all commercials or advertisements promoting alcoholic beverages, intoxicating drinks, tobacco, and its byproducts and violence.”

The principal authors of the bill are Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman and 1Pacman Rep. Michael Romero.