We take issue at the recent law enacted by government amending the Revised Penal Code provisions penalizing vagrancy. Not only does Republic Act No. 10158 contradict The Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act No. 9710) but it has continued to criminalize prostitution and has now decriminalized the pimping of prostitutes as well as the act of obtaining the prostitutes’ “services”.
So, who will now save sex slaves? Who will save girls abducted for, or forced into, prostitution if the government itself does not recognize that they are victims in the first place?
The old Revised Penal Code provision reads as follows:
“Art. 202. Vagrants and prostitutes; penalty. — The following are vagrants:
1. Any person having no apparent means of subsistence, who has the physical ability to work and who neglects to apply himself or herself to some lawful calling;
2. Any person found loitering about public or semi-public buildings or places or trampling or wandering about the country or the streets without visible means of support;
3. Any idle or dissolute person who ledges in houses of ill fame; ruffians or pimps and those who habitually associate with prostitutes;
4. Any person who, not being included in the provisions of other articles of this Code, shall be found loitering in any inhabited or uninhabited place belonging to another without any lawful or justifiable purpose;
For the purposes of this article, women who, for money or profit, habitually indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be prostitutes.
Any person found guilty of any of the offenses covered by this articles shall be punished by arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos, and in case of recidivism, by arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correccional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from 200 to 2,000 pesos, or both, in the discretion of the court.”
R.A. 10158 has amended the above provision to read as follows:
“Article 202. Prostitutes; Penalty. – For the purposes of this article, women who, for money or profit, habitually indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be prostitutes.
Any person found guilty of any of the offenses covered by this article shall be punished by arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos, and in case of recidivism, by arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correctional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from 200 to 2,000 pesos, or both, in the discretion of the court.”
We understand the deletion of “pimps and those who habitually associate with prostitutes” under Art 202 (3) of the old provision since they are already covered by the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. But why is prostitution still penalized?
And if we were to nitpick, why are boys and men not included as prostitutes? Is the government unaware that there are male prostitutes? Why do they seem to consider male prostitution as legal while criminalizing female prostitution?
This new law is an affront to women, and common sense. Especially since the government enacted and signed into law The Magna Carta of Women in 2009 where it specifically recognized that prostitution is an act of violence against women from which women should be protected and saved.
Were all women lawmakers absent all those days when R.A. 10158 was being debated? And how did they simultaneously lose their voices at the impending passing and signing and implementation of R.A. 10158? Why are our lawmakers still ignorant of the worldwide efforts against human trafficking and sexual slavery?
Prostitutes are victims under the Magna Carta of Women
In Section 4(k) of the Magna Carta of Women, Violence Against Women is defined as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. It shall be understood to encompass, but not limited to, the following:
(1) Physical, sexual, psychological, and economic violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence, and violence related to exploitation;
(2) Physical, sexual, and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women, and prostitution; and
(3) Physical, sexual, and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.” [emphasis supplied]
In Section 30 of the Magna Carta, Women in Especially Difficult Circumstances (WEDC) are defined as “victims and survivors of sexual and physical abuse, illegal recruitment, prostitution, trafficking, armed conflict, women in detention, victims and survivors of rape and incest, and such other related circumstances which have incapacitated them functionally. Local government units are therefore mandated to deliver the necessary services and interventions to WEDC under their respective jurisdictions. [emphasis supplied]
Section 9 of the Magna Carta declares that “[t]he State shall ensure that all women shall be protected from all forms of violence as provided for in existing laws. Agencies of government shall give priority to the defense and protection of women against gender-based offenses and help women attain justice and healing” and provides measures against their offenders.
While the Magna Carta of Women aims to save and protect prostitutes, the new amendment seeks to punish them.
Prostitutes are victims under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003
As early as 2003, with the passage of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, prostitutes were already recognized as victims -
(a) Trafficking in Persons - refers to the recruitment, transportation, transfer or harboring, or receipt of persons with or without the victim's consent or knowledge, … for the purpose of exploitation which includes at a minimum, the exploitation or the prostitution of others ... (Section 3) [Emphasis supplied]
Accordingly, illegal traffickers are punished under Section 10 of the Act and any “person who buys or engages the services of trafficked persons for prostitution” are also punished under Section 11.
If prostitutes are victims under the Magna Carta of Women and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, why on earth are they criminals now under Republic Act No. 10158?
Republic Act No. 10158 is a joke and should rightfully be overlooked.
 An Act Decriminalizing Vagrancy, Amending For This Purpose Article 202 Of Act No. 3815, As Amended, Otherwise Known As The Revised Penal Code, March 27, 2012.
 August 14, 2009.
 Republic Act No. 9208, “An Act To Institute Policies To Eliminate Trafficking In Persons Especially Women And Children, Establishing The Necessary Institutional Mechanisms For The Protection And Support Of Trafficked Persons, Providing Penalties For Its Violations, And For Other”. May 26, 2003