AN ACT PROVIDING FOR STRONGER DETERRENCE AND SPECIAL PROTECTION AGAINST CHILD ABUSE, EXPLOITATION AND DISCRIMINATION, PROVIDING PENALTIES FOR ITS VIOLATION AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
Title, Policy, Principles and Definitions of Terms
Section 1. Title. – This Act shall be known as the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.”
Sec. 2. Declaration of State Policy and Principles. – It is hereby declared to be the policy of the State to provide special protection to children from all firms of abuse, neglect, cruelty exploitation and discrimination and other conditions, prejudicial their development; provide sanctions for their commission and carry out a program for prevention and deterrence of and crisis intervention in situations of child abuse, exploitation and discrimination. The State shall intervene on behalf of the child when the parent, guardian, teacher or person having care or custody of the child fails or is unable to protect the child against abuse, exploitation and discrimination or when such acts against the child are committed by the said parent, guardian, teacher or person having care and custody of the same.
It shall be the policy of the State to protect and rehabilitate children gravely threatened or endangered by circumstances which affect or will affect their survival and normal development and over which they have no control.
The best interests of children shall be the paramount consideration in all actions concerning them, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities, and legislative bodies, consistent with the principle of First Call for Children as enunciated in the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. Every effort shall be exerted to promote the welfare of children and enhance their opportunities for a useful and happy life.
Sec. 3. Definition of Terms. –
(a) “Children” refers to person below eighteen (18) years of age or those over but are unable to fully take care of themselves or protect themselves from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition;
(b) “Child abuse” refers to the maltreatment, whether habitual or not, of the child which includes any of the following:
(1) Psychological and physical abuse, neglect, cruelty, sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment;
(2) Any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being;
(3) Unreasonable deprivation of his basic needs for survival, such as food and shelter; or
(4) Failure to immediately give medical treatment to an injured child resulting in serious impairment of his growth and development or in his permanent incapacity or death.
(c) “Circumstances which gravely threaten or endanger the survival and normal development of children” include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) Being in a community where there is armed conflict or being affected by armed conflict-related activities;
(2) Working under conditions hazardous to life, safety and normal which unduly interfere with their normal development;
(3) Living in or fending for themselves in the streets of urban or rural areas without the care of parents or a guardian or basic services needed for a good quality of life;
(4) Being a member of a indigenous cultural community and/or living under conditions of extreme poverty or in an area which is underdeveloped and/or lacks or has inadequate access to basic services needed for a good quality of life;
(5) Being a victim of a man-made or natural disaster or calamity; or
(6) Circumstances analogous to those above-stated which endanger the life, safety or normal development of children.
(d) “Comprehensive program against child abuse, exploitation and discrimination” refers to the coordinated program of services and facilities to protected children against:
(1) Child Prostitution and other sexual abuse;
(2) Child trafficking;
(3) Obscene publications and indecent shows;
(4) Other acts of abuses; and
(5) Circumstances which threaten or endanger the survival and normal development of children.
Program on Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination
Sec. 4. Formulation of the Program. – There shall be a comprehensive program to be formulated, by the Department of Justice and the Department of Social Welfare and Development in coordination with other government agencies and private sector concerned, within one (1) year from the effectivity of this Act, to protect children against child prostitution and other sexual abuse; child trafficking, obscene publications and indecent shows; other acts of abuse; and circumstances which endanger child survival and normal development.
Child Prostitution and Other Sexual Abuse
Sec. 5. Child Prostitution and Other Sexual Abuse. – Children, whether male or female, who for money, profit, or any other consideration or due to the coercion or influence of any adult, syndicate or group, indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be children exploited in prostitution and other sexual abuse.
The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua shall be imposed upon the following:
(a) Those who engage in or promote, facilitate or induce child prostitution which include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) Acting as a procurer of a child prostitute;
(2) Inducing a person to be a client of a child prostitute by means of written or oral advertisements or other similar means;
(3) Taking advantage of influence or relationship to procure a child as prostitute;
(4) Threatening or using violence towards a child to engage him as a prostitute; or
(5) Giving monetary consideration goods or other pecuniary benefit to a child with intent to engage such child in prostitution.
(b) Those who commit the act of sexual intercourse of lascivious conduct with a child exploited in prostitution or subject to other sexual abuse; Provided, That when the victims is under twelve (12) years of age, the perpetrators shall be prosecuted under Article 335, paragraph 3, for rape and Article 336 of Act No. 3815, as amended, the Revised Penal Code, for rape or lascivious conduct, as the case may be: Provided, That the penalty for lascivious conduct when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age shall be reclusion temporal in its medium period; and
(c) Those who derive profit or advantage therefrom, whether as manager or owner of the establishment where the prostitution takes place, or of the sauna, disco, bar, resort, place of entertainment or establishment serving as a cover or which engages in prostitution in addition to the activity for which the license has been issued to said establishment.
Sec. 6. Attempt To Commit Child Prostitution. – There is an attempt to commit child prostitution under Section 5, paragraph (a) hereof when any person who, not being a relative of a child, is found alone with the said child inside the room or cubicle of a house, an inn, hotel, motel, pension house, apartelle or other similar establishments, vessel, vehicle or any other hidden or secluded area under circumstances which would lead a reasonable person to believe that the child is about to be exploited in prostitution and other sexual abuse.
There is also an attempt to commit child prostitution, under paragraph (b) of Section 5 hereof when any person is receiving services from a child in a sauna parlor or bath, massage clinic, health club and other similar establishments. A penalty lower by two (2) degrees than that prescribed for the consummated felony under Section 5 hereof shall be imposed upon the principals of the attempt to commit the crime of child prostitution under this Act, or, in the proper case, under the Revised Penal Code.
Sec. 7. Child Trafficking. – Any person who shall engage in trading and dealing with children including, but not limited to, the act of buying and selling of a child for money, or for any other consideration, or barter, shall suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua. The penalty shall be imposed in its maximum period when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age.
Sec. 8. Attempt to Commit Child Trafficking. – There is an attempt to commit child trafficking under Section 7 of this Act:
(a) When a child travels alone to a foreign country without valid reason therefor and without clearance issued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development or written permit or justification from the child’s parents or legal guardian;
(c) When a person, agency, establishment or child-caring institution recruits women or couples to bear children for the purpose of child trafficking; or
(d) When a doctor, hospital or clinic official or employee, nurse, midwife, local civil registrar or any other person simulates birth for the purpose of child trafficking; or
(e) When a person engages in the act of finding children among low-income families, hospitals, clinics, nurseries, day-care centers, or other child-during institutions who can be offered for the purpose of child trafficking.
A penalty lower two (2) degrees than that prescribed for the consummated felony under Section 7 hereof shall be imposed upon the principals of the attempt to commit child trafficking under this Act.
Obscene Publications and Indecent Shows
Sec. 9. Obscene Publications and Indecent Shows. – Any person who shall hire, employ, use, persuade, induce or coerce a child to perform in obscene exhibitions and indecent shows, whether live or in video, or model in obscene publications or pornographic materials or to sell or distribute the said materials shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its medium period.
If the child used as a performer, subject or seller/distributor is below twelve (12) years of age, the penalty shall be imposed in its maximum period.
Any ascendant, guardian, or person entrusted in any capacity with the care of a 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 shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its medium period.
Other Acts of Abuse
Sec. 10. Other Acts of Neglect, Abuse, Cruelty or Exploitation and Other Conditions Prejudicial to the Child’s Development. –
(a) Any person who shall commit any other acts of child abuse, cruelty or exploitation or to be responsible for other conditions prejudicial to the child’s development including those covered by Article 59 of Presidential Decree No. 603, as amended, but not covered by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period.
(b) Any person who shall keep or have in his company a minor, twelve (12) years or under or who in ten (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 shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period and a fine of not less than Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00): Provided, That this provision shall not apply to any person who is related within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity or any bond recognized by law, local custom and tradition or acts in the performance of a social, moral or legal duty.
(c) Any person who shall induce, deliver or offer a minor to any one prohibited by this Act to keep or have in his company a minor as provided in the preceding paragraph shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its medium period and a fine of not less than Forty thousand pesos (P40,000.00); Provided, however, That should the perpetrator be an ascendant, stepparent or guardian of the minor, the penalty to be imposed shall be prision mayor in its maximum period, a fine of not less than Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00), and the loss of parental authority over the minor.
(d) Any person, owner, manager or one entrusted with the operation of any public or private place of accommodation, whether for occupancy, food, drink or otherwise, including residential places, who allows any person to take along with him to such place or places any minor herein described shall be imposed a penalty of prision mayor in its medium period and a fine of not less than Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00), and the loss of the license to operate such a place or establishment.
(e) Any person who shall use, coerce, force or intimidate a street child or any other child to:
(1) Beg or use begging as a means of living;
(2) Act as conduit or middlemen in drug trafficking or pushing; or
(3) Conduct any illegal activities, shall suffer the penalty of prision correccional in its medium period to reclusion perpetua.
For purposes of this Act, the penalty for the commission of acts punishable under Articles 248, 249, 262, paragraph 2, and 263, paragraph 1 of Act No. 3815, as amended, the Revised Penal Code, for the crimes of murder, homicide, other intentional mutilation, and serious physical injuries, respectively, shall be reclusion perpetua when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age. The penalty for the commission of acts punishable under Articles 337, 339, 340 and 341 of Act No. 3815, as amended, the Revised Penal Code, for the crimes of qualified seduction, acts of lasciviousness with the consent of the offended party, corruption of minors, and white slave trade, respectively, shall be one (1) degree higher than that imposed by law when the victim is under twelve (12) years age.
The victim of the acts committed under this section shall be entrusted to the care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Sanctions for Establishments or Enterprises
Sec. 11. Sanctions of Establishments or Enterprises which Promote, Facilitate, or Conduct Activities Constituting Child Prostitution and Other Sexual Abuse, Child Trafficking, Obscene Publications and Indecent Shows, and Other Acts of Abuse. – All establishments and enterprises which promote or facilitate child prostitution and other sexual abuse, child trafficking, obscene publications and indecent shows, and other acts of abuse shall be immediately closed and their authority or license to operate cancelled, without prejudice to the owner or manager thereof being prosecuted under this Act and/or the Revised Penal Code, as amended, or special laws. A sign with the words “off limits” shall be conspicuously displayed outside the establishments or enterprises by the Department of Social Welfare and Development for such period which shall not be less than one (1) year, as the Department may determine. The unauthorized removal of such sign shall be punishable by prision correccional.
An establishment shall be deemed to promote or facilitate child prostitution and other sexual abuse, child trafficking, obscene publications and indecent shows, and other acts of abuse if the acts constituting the same occur in the premises of said establishment under this Act or in violation of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. An enterprise such as a sauna, travel agency, or recruitment agency which; promotes the aforementioned acts as part of a tour for foreign tourists; exhibits children in a lewd or indecent show; provides child masseurs for adults of the same or opposite sex and said services include any lascivious conduct with the customers; or solicits children or activities constituting the aforementioned acts shall be deemed to have committed the acts penalized herein.
Sec. 12. Employment of Children. – Children below fifteen (15) years of age may be employed except:
(1) 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: Provided, however, That his employment neither endangers his life, safety and health and morals, nor impairs his normal development: Provided, further, That the parent or legal guardian shall provide the said minor child with the prescribed primary and/or secondary education; or
(2) When a child’s employment or participation in public & entertainment or information through cinema, theater, radio or television is essential: Provided, The employment contract concluded by the child’s parent or guardian, with the express agreement of the child concerned, if possible, and the approval of the Department of Labor and Employment: Provided, That the following requirements in all instances are strictly complied with:
(a) The employer shall ensure the protection, health, safety and morals of the child;
(b) the employer shall institute measures to prevent the child’s exploitation or discrimination taking into account the system and level of remuneration, and the duration and arrangement of working time; and
(c) The employer shall formulate and implement, subject to the approval and supervision of competent authorities, a continuing program for training and skill acquisition of the child.
In the above exceptional cases where any such child may be employed, the employer shall first secure, before engaging such child, a work permit from the Department of Labor and Employment which shall ensure observance of the above requirement.
The Department of Labor and Employment shall promulgate rules and regulations necessary for the effective implementation of this Section.
Sec. 13. Non-formal Education for Working Children. – The Department of Education, Culture and Sports shall promulgate a course design under its non-formal education program aimed at promoting the intellectual, moral and vocational efficiency of working children who have not undergone or finished elementary or secondary education. Such course design shall integrate the learning process deemed most effective under given circumstances.
Sec. 14. Prohibition on the Employment of Children in Certain Advertisements. – No person shall employ child models in all commercials or advertisements promoting alcoholic beverages, intoxicating drinks, tobacco and its byproducts and violence.
Sec. 15. Duty of Employer. – Every employer shall comply with the duties provided for in Articles 108 and 109 of Presidential Decree No. 603.
Sec. 16. Penalties. – Any person who shall violate any provision of this Article shall suffer the penalty of a fine of not less than One thousand pesos (P1,000) but not more than Ten thousand pesos (P10,000) or imprisonment of not less than three (3) months but not more than three (3) years, or both at the discretion of the court: Provided, That, in case of repeated violations of the provisions of this Article, the offender’s license to operate shall be revoked.
Children of Indigenous Cultural Communities
Sec. 17. Survival, Protection and Development. – In addition to the rights guaranteed to children under this Act and other existing laws, children of indigenous cultural communities shall be entitled to protection, survival and development consistent with the customs and traditions of their respective communities.
Sec. 18. System of and Access to Education. – The Department of Education, Culture and Sports shall develop and institute an alternative system of education for children of indigenous cultural communities which culture-specific and relevant to the needs of and the existing situation in their communities. The Department of Education, Culture and Sports shall also accredit and support non-formal but functional indigenous educational programs conducted by non-government organizations in said communities.
Sec. 19. Health and Nutrition. – The delivery of basic social services in health and nutrition to children of indigenous cultural communities shall be given priority by all government agencies concerned. Hospitals and other health institution shall ensure that children of indigenous cultural communities are given equal attention. In the provision of health and nutrition services to children of indigenous cultural communities, indigenous health practices shall be respected and recognized.
Sec. 20. Discrimination. – Children of indigenous cultural communities shall not be subjected to any and all forms of discrimination.
Any person who discriminate against children of indigenous cultural communities shall suffer a penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period and a fine of not less than Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) more than Ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00).
Sec. 21. Participation. – Indigenous cultural communities, through their duly-designated or appointed representatives shall be involved in planning, decision-making implementation, and evaluation of all government programs affecting children of indigenous cultural communities. Indigenous institution shall also be recognized and respected.
Children in Situations of Armed Conflict
Sec. 22. Children as Zones of Peace. – Children are hereby declared as Zones of Peace. It shall be the responsibility of the State and all other sectors concerned to resolve armed conflicts in order to promote the goal of children as zones of peace. To attain this objective, the following policies shall be observed.
(a) Children shall not be the object of attack and shall be entitled to special respect. They shall be protected from any form of threat, assault, torture or other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment;
(b) Children shall not be recruited to become members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines of its civilian units or other armed groups, nor be allowed to take part in the fighting, or used as guides, couriers, or spies;
(c) Delivery of basic social services such as education, primary health and emergency relief services shall be kept unhampered;
(d) The safety and protection of those who provide services including those involved in fact-finding missions from both government and non-government institutions shall be ensured. They shall not be subjected to undue harassment in the performance of their work;
(e) Public infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and rural health units shall not be utilized for military purposes such as command posts, barracks, detachments, and supply depots; and
(f) All appropriate steps shall be taken to facilitate the reunion of families temporarily separated due to armed conflict.
Sec. 23. Evacuation of Children During Armed Conflict. – Children shall be given priority during evacuation as a result of armed conflict. Existing community organizations shall be tapped to look after the safety and well-being of children during evacuation operations. Measures shall be taken to ensure that children evacuated are accompanied by persons responsible for their safety and well-being.
Sec. 24. Family Life and Temporary Shelter. – Whenever possible, members of the same family shall be housed in the same premises and given separate accommodation from other evacuees and provided with facilities to lead a normal family life. In places of temporary shelter, expectant and nursing mothers and children shall be given additional food in proportion to their physiological needs. Whenever feasible, children shall be given opportunities for physical exercise, sports and outdoor games.
Sec. 25. Rights of Children Arrested for Reasons Related to Armed Conflict. – Any child who has been arrested for reasons related to armed conflict, either as combatant, courier, guide or spy is entitled to the following rights;
(a) Separate detention from adults except where families are accommodated as family units;
(b) Immediate free legal assistance;
(c) Immediate notice of such arrest to the parents or guardians of the child; and
(d) Release of the child on recognizance within twenty-four (24) hours to the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development or any responsible member of the community as determined by the court.
If after hearing the evidence in the proper proceedings the court should find that the aforesaid child committed the acts charged against him, the court shall determine the imposable penalty, including any civil liability chargeable against him. However, instead of pronouncing judgment of conviction, the court shall suspend all further proceedings and shall commit such child to the custody or care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development or to any training institution operated by the Government, or duly-licensed agencies or any other responsible person, until he has had reached eighteen (18) years of age or, for a shorter period as the court may deem proper, after considering the reports and recommendations of the Department of Social Welfare and Development or the agency or responsible individual under whose care he has been committed.
The aforesaid child shall subject to visitation and supervision by a representative of the Department of Social Welfare and Development or any duly-licensed agency or such other officer as the court may designate subject to such conditions as it may prescribe.
The aforesaid child whose sentence is suspended can appeal from the order of the court in the same manner as appeals in criminal cases.
Sec. 26. Monitoring and Reporting of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict. – The chairman of the barangay affected by the armed conflict shall submit the names of children residing in said barangay to the municipal social welfare and development officer within twenty-four (24) hours from the occurrence of the armed conflict.
Sec. 27. Who May File a Complaint. – Complaints on cases of unlawful acts committed against the children as enumerated herein may be filed by the following:
(a) Offended party;
(b) Parents or guardians;
(c) Ascendant or collateral relative within the third degree of consanguinity;
(d) Officer, social worker or representative of a licensed child-caring institution;
(e) Officer or social worker of the Department of Social Welfare and Development;
(f) Barangay chairman; or
(g) At least three (3) concerned responsible citizens where the violation occurred.
Sec. 28. Protective Custody of the Child. – The offended party shall be immediately placed under the protective custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development pursuant to Executive Order No. 56, series of 1986. In the regular performance of this function, the officer of the Department of Social Welfare and Development shall be free from any administrative, civil or criminal liability. Custody proceedings shall be in accordance with the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 603.
Sec. 29. Confidentiality. – At the instance of the offended party, his name may be withheld from the public until the court acquires jurisdiction over the case.
It shall be unlawful for any editor, publisher, and reporter or columnist in case of printed materials, announcer or producer in case of television and radio broadcasting, producer and director of the film in case of the movie industry, to cause undue and sensationalized publicity of any case of violation of this Act which results in the moral degradation and suffering of the offended party.
Sec. 30. Special Court Proceedings. – Cases involving violations of this Act shall be heard in the chambers of the judge of the Regional Trial Court duly designated as Juvenile and Domestic Court.
Any provision of existing law to the contrary notwithstanding and with the exception of habeas corpus, election cases, and cases involving detention prisoners and persons covered by Republic Act No. 4908, all courts shall give preference to the hearing or disposition of cases involving violations of this Act.
Common Penal Provisions
Sec. 31. Common Penal Provisions. –
(a) The penalty provided under this Act shall be imposed in its maximum period if the offender has been previously convicted under this Act;
(b) When the offender is a corporation, partnership or association, the officer or employee thereof who is responsible for the violation of this Act shall suffer the penalty imposed in its maximum period;
(c) The penalty provided herein shall be imposed in its maximum period when the perpetrator is an ascendant, parent guardian, stepparent or collateral relative within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity, or a manager or owner of an establishment which has no license to operate or its license has expired or has been revoked;
(d) When the offender is a foreigner, he shall be deported immediately after service of sentence and forever barred from entry to the country;
(e) The penalty provided for in this Act shall be imposed in its maximum period if the offender is a public officer or employee: Provided, however, That if the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or reclusion temporal, then the penalty of perpetual or temporary absolute disqualification shall also be imposed: Provided, finally, That if the penalty imposed is prision correccional or arresto mayor, the penalty of suspension shall also be imposed; and
(f) A fine to be determined by the court shall be imposed and administered as a cash fund by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and disbursed for the rehabilitation of each child victim, or any immediate member of his family if the latter is the perpetrator of the offense.
Sec. 32. Rules and Regulations. – Unless otherwise provided in this Act, the Department of Justice, in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, shall promulgate rules and regulations of the effective implementation of this Act.
Such rules and regulations shall take effect upon their publication in two (2) national newspapers of general circulation.
Sec. 33. Appropriations. – The amount necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act is hereby authorized to be appropriated in the General Appropriations Act of the year following its enactment into law and thereafter.
Sec. 34. Separability Clause. – If any provision of this Act is declared invalid or unconstitutional, the remaining provisions not affected thereby shall continue in full force and effect.
Sec. 35. Repealing Clause. – All laws, decrees, or rules inconsistent with the provisions of this Acts are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.
Sec. 36. Effectivity Clause. – This Act shall take effect upon completion of its publication in at least two (2) national newspapers of general circulation.