On May 11, 2002, in the City of Legazpi, the Prosecution showed that, JAYSON DELA CRUZ, a twelve-year-old Grade VI pupil of MABA Institute, Legazpi City and Roldan, his older brother, both minors, joined the evening procession for the Santo Niño at Oro Site in Legazpi City.
The procession passed in front of BONGALON’S HOUSE wherein MARY ANN ROSE, also a minor, petitioner’s daughter, threw stones at Jayson and called him “sissy”.
The petitioner confronted Jayson and Roldan and called them names like “strangers” and “animals” and struck Jayson at the back with his hand, and slapped Jayson on the face and uttering derogatory remarks to the latter’s family to wit: “Mga hayop kamo, para dayo kamo digdi, Iharap mo dito ama mo” (You all animals, you are all strangers here. Bring your father here).
The petitioner went to the brothers’ house and challenged Rolando dela Cruz, Jayson’s father, to a fight, but Rolando did not come out of the house to take on the petitioner.
Rolando brought Jayson to the Legazpi City Police Station and reported the incident. After which, Jayson underwent medical treatment at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital and the doctors issued two medical certificates attesting that Jayson suffered the following contusions, to wit: (1) contusion .5 x 2.5 scapular area, left; and (2) +1×1 cm. contusion left zygomatic area and contusion .5 x 2.33 cm. scapular area, left.
The petitioner denied the allegations. He explained that he only talked with Jayson and Roldan after Mary Ann Rose and Cherrylyn, his minor daughters, had told him about Jayson and Roldan’s throwing stones at them and about Jayson’s burning Cherrylyn’s hair. He denied shouting invectives at and challenging Rolando to a fight, insisting that he only told Rolando to restrain his sons from harming his daughters. In which confirmed by Mary Ann Rose testimony. She described him as a loving and protective father.
RTC found and declared GEORGE BONGALON guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Violation of Republic Act No. 7610 and hereby ordered to undergo imprisonment of six (6) years and one (1) day to eight (8) years of prision mayor in its minimum period.
Bongalon appealed to Court of Appeals which was AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. He is sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as minimum term, to six (6) years, eight (8) months and 1 day of prision mayor as the maximum term. Further, accused-appellant is ordered to pay the victim, Jayson de la Cruz the additional amount of P5,000 as moral damages.
- Whether or not the accused is guilty of child abuse as defined in R.A. 7610.
- What crime is committed by the accused?
On the first issue.
SC affirmed the factual findings of fact by the RTC and the CA to the effect that the petitioner struck Jayson at the back with his hand and slapped Jayson on the face. However, SC disagreed that his acts constituted child abuse and did not establish beyond reasonable doubt that his laying of hands on Jayson had been intended to debase the “intrinsic worth and dignity” of Jayson as a human being, or that he had thereby intended to humiliate or embarrass Jayson. It is an indicative of his fatherly concern for the personal safety of his own minor daughters who had just suffered harm at the hands of Jayson and Roldan. Thus, with the loss of his self-control, he lacked that specific intent to debase, degrade or demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being that was so essential in the crime of child abuse.
Child abuse is defined by Section 3 (b) of Republic Act No. 7610, as follows: Section 3. Definition of terms.― x x x x (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. x x x x
On the second issue.
SC SET ASIDE the decision of the Court of Appeals; and ENTER a new judgment:
The petitioner was guilty beyond reasonable doubt for slight physical injuries under Article 266 (1) of the Revised Penal Code.—considering that Jayson’s physical injury required five to seven days of medical attention with a penalty of Arresto Menor- One (1) day to thirty (30) days of imprisonment. However, with his having acted under the belief that Jayson and Roldan had thrown stones at his two minor daughters, and that Jayson had burned Cherrlyn’s hair, the petitioner lost his reason and self-control, thereby diminishing the exercise of his will power. Therefore, the petitioner was entitled to the mitigating circumstance of passion- Article 13 (6) of the Revised Penal Code. Therefore, petitioner shall suffer a straight penalty of 10 days of arresto menor.
Article 266. Slight physical injuries and maltreatment.―The crime of slight physical injuries shall be punished: 1. By arresto menor when the offender has inflicted physical injuries which shall incapacitate the offended party for labor from one to nine days, or shall require medical attendance during the same period.
Penalty: Arresto Menor- One (1) day to thirty (30) days of imprisonment
Article 13. Mitigating Circumstances of the Revised Penal Code: (6) that of having acted upon an impulse so powerful as naturally to have produced passion or obfuscation