KASAMA Vol. 11 No. 2 / AprilMayJune 1997 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network
Anti-Rape Bill Shelved Again
Womens Legal Bureau, Inc.
11 Matimtiman Street,
Teachers Village, Diliman,
June 11, 1997
After having passed a third reading in the Senate and the House of Representatives last year, both bills were given to the bicameral conference committee [BCC] because of the substantial differences between the two versions. The BCC was supposed to reconcile the differences and come out with a final bill for the approval of both houses of Congress. The bill stayed with the BCC for several months without any action because they could not agree on many points.
On May 29, 1997, SIBOL came out with a paid print ad calling on the members of the BCC and the Congress to act on the anti-rape bill. Immediately thereafter the bicameral conferees reconvened and on June 2 they were able to come up with a reconciled version of the bill. The following day, President Ramos announced that the bill would be signed into law on June 6.
However, when the bill was sent back to the House of Representatives for final voting, some members of the lower house objected to the bill. The House of Representatives ended the session without taking a vote. Meanwhile, the Senate ratified the same version of the bill. Thus, the anti-rape bill was not signed into law on the scheduled date.
Apparently, there are blocs in the lower house which do not favor the provision on the effect of pardon in case the offender is a legal husband. They feel that this explicitly punishes marital rape and they are vary much opposed to this.
Although the latest version of the anti-rape bill was watered down by the Congress, we would have wanted the same to be passed into law. After five years of struggle to have a progressive anti-rape law passed, we feel there were gains, albeit minimal, in the bicameral version.
For one thing, in the bicameral version, rape through the insertion of the penis into another person's mouth or anal orifice or of any instrument or object into the genital or anal orifice, which they termed as sexual assault, was included under the definition of rape although the penalty provided is lower than rape through penile penetration. We wanted these acts to be clearly defined as rape and punished with the same gravity as rape by penile penetration.
The bicameral version also reclassified rape from a crime against chastity to a crime against person. Grave abuse of authority was also included as a mode of committing rape. Protective measures were not included in the bicameral bill, and we strongly think it should to facilitate the filing of rape charges by women.
The failure of the lower house to pass the same bill is indicative of the kind of legislature we have traditional, elitist and sexist. Our legislators are merely serving their own interests and no other. In all these years, theyve never really understood the reason for the women's advocacy for a progressive anti-rape law a law that was supposed to respond to women's needs in general and not to some selected few in the Congress.
At this point we are not certain whether the bill will be sent back to the BCC for revisions to address the objections of the lower house or will be killed (by non-ratification or inaction) at the lower house. It is possible that we will go back to square one if the bill is not passed this year. Elections for the Congress will be in May 1998 and the campaign period unofficially starts this year.>
We are pleased that you have been keeping a close watch over the progress of the anti-rape bill.
MONIQUE AURORA M. CALIP, Legal & Policy Advocacy Program, Womens Legal Bureau, Inc.,
Phone: 921-38-93 & 921-80-53 / Fax: (632) 921-43-89 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org