In the US, it’s called statutory rape. In the Philippines, it’s called seduction. Both refer to the same thing — having sexual relations with a minor, with or without the minor’s consent. All the discussion, online and off, about the topic has, of course, been triggered by the romance of singer Freddie Aguilar, 60, with a 16-year-old girl.
From a legal standpoint, lawyer Mel Sta. Maria got it right — Aguilar’s actions may have legal consequences based on the Article 338 of the Revised Penal Code and under Section 10 (b) of Republic Act No. 7610, otherwise known as the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act”.
First, the Revised Penal Code:
Art. 338. Simple seduction. — The seduction of a woman who is single or a widow of good reputation, over twelve but under eighteen years of age, committed by means of deceit, shall be punished by arresto mayor.
“Deceit” has a very wide definition. Fraud is only one kind of deceit. Taking advantage of a young person through pambobola, enticing a poor person with promises of wealth or a life of comfort, making misrepresentations about one’s true intentions are examples of deceit.
Is there deception in the relationship of Freddie Aguilar with his 16-year-old girlfriend? We don’t know. Even the girl probably doesn’t know. And that’s just the first problem.