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OJIT GARINGARAO, vs. PPL G.R. No.

192760
July 20, 2011
The Case

Before the Court is a petition for review1 assailing the 26 November 2009 Decision2 and 22 June 2010
Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 31354. The Court of Appeals affirmed with
modifications the decision of the Regional Trial Court of San Carlos City, Pangasinan, Branch 56 (trial
court), finding Jojit Garingarao (Garingarao) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of acts of
lasciviousness in relation to Republic Act No. 7610 (RA 7610).4
The Antecedent Facts

The facts of the case, as can be gleaned from the decision of the Court of Appeals, are as follows:

On 28 October 2003, AAA5 was brought to the Virgen Milagrosa Medical Center by her father BBB and
mother CCC due to fever and abdominal pain. Dr. George Morante (Dr. Morante), the attending
physician, recommended that AAA be confined at the hospital for further observation. AAA was
admitted at the hospital and confined at a private room where she and her parents stayed for the night.

On 29 October 2003, BBB left the hospital to go to Lingayen, Pangasinan to process his daughters
Medicare papers. He arrived at Lingayen at around 8:00 a.m. and left the place an hour later. CCC also
left the hospital that same morning to attend to their store at Urbiztondo, Pangasinan, leaving AAA
alone in her room.

When BBB returned to the hospital, AAA told him that she wanted to go home. Dr. Morante advised
against it but due to AAAs insistence, he allowed AAA to be discharged from the hospital with
instructions that she should continue her medications. When AAA and her parents arrived at their house
around 11:30 a.m., AAA cried and told her parents that Garingarao sexually abused her. They all went
back to the hospital and reported the incident to Dr. Morante. They inquired from the nurses station
and learned that Garingarao was the nurse on duty on that day.

On 20 January 2004, the City Prosecutor filed an Information against Garingarao for acts of
lasciviousness in relation to RA 7610, as follows:
That on or about the 29th day of October 2003, at Virgen Milagrosa University Hospital, San Carlos City,
Pangasinan, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd
designs, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously touched the breast of AAA, 16 years of
age, touched her genitalia, and inserted his finger into her vagina, to the damage and prejudice of said
AAA who suffered psychological and emotional disturbance, anxiety, sleeplessness and humiliation.

Contrary to Article 336 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to RA 7610.6

During the trial, AAA testified that on 29 October 2003, between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., Garingarao,
who was wearing a white uniform, entered her room and asked if she already took her medicines and if
she was still experiencing pains. AAA replied that her stomach was no longer painful. Garingarao then
lifted AAAs bra and touched her left breast. Embarrassed, AAA asked Garingarao what he was doing.
Garingarao replied that he was just examining her. Garingarao then left the room and returned 15 to 30
minutes later with a stethoscope. Garingarao told AAA that he would examine her again. Garingarao
lifted AAAs shirt, pressed the stethoscope to her stomach and touched her two nipples. Garingarao
then lifted AAAs pajama and underwear and pressed the lower part of her abdomen. Garingarao then
slid his finger inside AAAs private part. AAA instinctively crossed her legs and again asked Garingarao
what he was doing. She asked him to stop and informed him she had her monthly period. Garingarao
ignored AAA and continued to insert his finger inside her private part. Garingarao only stopped when he
saw that AAA really had her monthly period. He went inside the bathroom of the private room, washed
his hands, applied alcohol and left. When BBB arrived at the hospital, AAA insisted on going home. She
only narrated the incident to her parents when they got home and they went back to the hospital to
report the incident to Dr. Morante.

Dr. Morante testified on AAAs confinement to and discharge from the hospital.

The prosecution presented the following documents before the trial court:

(a) AAAs birth certificate to establish that she was 16 years old at the time of the incident;

(b) AAAs medical records establishing her confinement to and discharge from Virgen Milagrosa Medical
Center;

(c) the schedule of duties of the nurses at the hospital showing that Garingarao was on duty from 12:00
a.m. to 8:00 a.m. on 29 October 2003;

(d) a certificate from the Department of Education Division Office showing that BBB was present at the
office from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. on 29 October 2003;

(e) AAAs Medical Payment Notice;

(f) the incident report filed by AAAs parents with the police; and

(g) a letter from the hospital administrator requiring Garingarao to explain why no administrative action
should be filed against him in view of the incident.

For the defense, Garingarao gave a different version of the incident. Garingarao alleged that on 29
October 2003, he and his nursing aide Edmundo Tamayo (Tamayo) went inside AAAs room to
administer her medicines and check her vital signs. BBB then accused them of not administering the
medicines properly and on time. Garingarao told BBB that they should not be told how to administer the
medicines because they knew what they were doing and that they would be accountable should
anything happen to AAA. A heated argument ensued between BBB and Garingarao. BBB told Garingarao
he was an arrogant nurse. Garingarao replied that if BBB had any complaint, he could report the matter
to the hospital. Garingarao denied that he inserted his finger into AAAs private part and that he fondled
her breasts. Garingarao alleged that the filing of the case was motivated by the argument he had with
BBB.

Tamayo testified that he was with Garingarao when they went to AAAs room between 7:00 a.m. and
8:00 a.m. of 29 October 2003. He alleged that BBB was present and he accused Garingarao of not
administering the medications properly. Tamayo alleged that Garingarao and BBB had an argument.
Tamayo stated that he would always accompany Garingarao whenever the latter would visit the rooms
of the patients.
The Decision of the Trial Court

In its Decision7 dated 5 November 2007, the trial court found Garingarao guilty as charged. The trial
court gave credence to the testimony of AAA over Garingaraos denial. The trial court ruled that
Garingarao was positively identified by AAA as the person who entered her room, touched her breasts
and inserted his finger into her private part. The trial court also found that the prosecution was able to
establish that BBB and CCC were not in the room when Garingarao went inside.
The trial court found as baseless Garingaraos defense that the case was only motivated by the
argument he had with BBB. The trial court ruled that it was illogical for BBB to convince his daughter to
fabricate a story of sexual abuse just to get even at Garingarao over a heated argument.

The dispositive portion of the trial courts Decision reads:


WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding the accused Jojit Garingarao
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of acts of lasciviousness in relation to Republic Act 7610,
and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment ranging from 12 years to 1 day of Reclusion
Temporal as minimum to 14 years and 8 months of Reclusion Temporal as maximum.

The accused is ordered to pay to the minor victim [AAA] P20,000.00 as moral damages and P10,000.00
as fine.

SO ORDERED.8

Garingarao appealed from the trial courts Decision.


The Decision of the Court of Appeals

In its 26 November 2009 Decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts decision with
modifications.

The Court of Appeals ruled that while Garingarao was charged for acts of lasciviousness in relation to RA
7610, he should be convicted under RA 7610 because AAA was 16 years old when the crime was
committed. The Court of Appeals ruled that under Section 5(b) of RA 7610, the offender shall be charged
with rape or lascivious conduct under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) only if the victim is below 12 years
old; otherwise, the provisions of RA 7610 shall prevail.

The Court of Appeals ruled that based on the evidence on record and the testimony of AAA, the decision
of the trial court has to be affirmed. The Court of Appeals ruled that under Section 2(h) of the Rules and
Regulations on the Reporting and Investigation of Child Abuse Cases, the introduction of any object into
the genitalia of the offended party as well as the intentional touching of her breasts when done with the
intent to sexually gratify the offender qualify as a lascivious act. AAAs testimony established that
Garingarao committed the lascivious acts.

The Court of Appeals found no reason for AAA or her family to fabricate the charges against Garingarao.
The Court of Appeals ruled that Garingaraos claim that the case was filed so that BBB could get even
with him because of the argument they had was too shallow to be given consideration. The Court of
Appeals likewise rejected Garingaraos defense of denial which could not prevail over the positive
testimony of AAA.

The Court of Appeals modified the penalty imposed by the trial court. The Court of Appeals ruled that
the duration of reclusion temporal in its maximum period should be 17 years, 4 months and 1 day to 20
years and not 14 years and 8 months as imposed by the trial court. The Court of Appeals also raised the
award of moral damages and fine, which was deemed as civil indemnity, to conform with recent
jurisprudence.

The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision dated November 5, 2007 of the Regional Trial Court
of San Carlos City, Pangasinan in Criminal Case No. SCC-4167 is hereby AFFIRMED with the following
MODIFICATIONS:

1. The penalty imposed on the accused-appellant is 14 years and 8 months of reclusion temporal
as minimum to 20 years of reclusion temporal as maximum[;]
2. The award of moral damages is raised from P20,000.00 to P50,000.00; and
3. The award of indemnity is raised from P10,000.00 to P50,000.00.

SO ORDERED.9


Garingarao filed a motion for reconsideration. In its 22 June 2010 Resolution, the Court of Appeals
denied the motion.

Hence, the petition before this Court.

The Issue

The only issue in this case is whether the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in affirming with
modifications the trial courts decision.

The Ruling of this Court

The petition has no merit.

Garingarao alleges that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial courts decision finding him
guilty of acts of lasciviousness in relation to RA 7610. Garingarao insists that it was physically impossible
for him to commit the acts charged against him because there were many patients and hospital
employees around. He alleges that AAAs room was well lighted and that he had an assistant when the
incident allegedly occurred. Garingarao further alleges that, assuming the charges were correct, there
was only one incident when he allegedly touched AAA and as such, he should have been convicted only
of acts of lasciviousness and not of violation of RA 7610.

We do not agree.




Credibility of Witnesses

The Court has ruled that in case of acts of lasciviousness, the lone testimony of the offended party, if
credible, is sufficient to establish the guilt of the accused.10 In this case, both the trial court and the
Court of Appeals found the testimony of AAA credible over Garingaraos defense of denial and alibi. It is
a settled rule that denial is a weak defense as against the positive identification by the victim.11 Both
denial and alibi are inherently weak defenses and constitute self-serving negative evidence which
cannot be accorded greater evidentiary weight than the positive declaration by a credible witness.12
Garingaraos defense of denial and alibi must fail over the positive and straightforward testimony of
AAA on the incident. Further, like the trial court and the Court of Appeals, we find incredible
Garingaraos defense that the case was an offshoot of a heated argument he had with AAAs father over
the manner Garingarao was giving AAAs medications. It is hard to believe that AAAs parents would
expose her to a public trial if the charges were not true.13 In addition, the prosecution was able to
establish that, contrary to Garingaraos allegation, both BBB and CCC were not in AAAs room at the
time of the incident.

Violation of RA 7610

Section 5, Article III of RA 7610 provides:

Section 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) x x x

(b) Those who commit the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child exploited in
prostitution or subject to other sexual abuse; Provided, That when the victim 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) yeas of age shall
be reclusion temporal in its medium period, x x x

(c) x x x

The elements of sexual abuse under Section 5, Article III of RA 7610 are the following:

1. The accused commits the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct;
2. The said act is performed with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual
abuse; and
3. The child, whether male or female, is below 18 years of age.14

Under Section 32, Article XIII of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 7610, lascivious conduct
is defined as follows:

[T]he intentional touching, either directly or through clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner
thigh, or buttocks, or the introduction of any object into the genitalia, anus or mouth, of any person,
whether of the same or opposite sex, with the intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or
gratify the sexual desire of any person, bestiality, masturbation, lascivious exhibition of the genitals or
pubic area of a person.15

In this case, the prosecution established that Garingarao touched AAAs breasts and inserted his finger
into her private part for his sexual gratification. Garingarao used his influence as a nurse by pretending
that his actions were part of the physical examination he was doing. Garingarao persisted on what he
was doing despite AAAs objections. AAA twice asked Garingarao what he was doing and he answered
that he was just examining her.

The Court has ruled that a child is deemed subject to other sexual abuse when the child is the victim of
lascivious conduct under the coercion or influence of any adult.16 In lascivious conduct under the
coercion or influence of any adult, there must be some form of compulsion equivalent to intimidation
which subdues the free exercise of the offended partys free will.17 In this case, Garingarao coerced AAA
into submitting to his lascivious acts by pretending that he was examining her.

Garingarao insists that, assuming that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were true, he should
not be convicted of violation of RA 7610 because the incident happened only once. Garingarao alleges
that the single incident would not suffice to hold him liable under RA 7610.

Garingaraos argument has no legal basis.

The Court has already ruled that it is inconsequential that sexual abuse under RA 7610 occurred only
once.18 Section 3(b) of RA 7610 provides that the abuse may be habitual or not.19 Hence, the fact that
the offense occurred only once is enough to hold Garingarao liable for acts of lasciviousness under RA
7610.


Indemnity and Moral Damages

In view of recent jurisprudence, we deem it proper to reduce the amount of indemnity to P20,00020
and moral damages awarded by the Court of Appeals to P15,000.21 We also impose on Garingarao a
fine of P15,000.22

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the 26 November 2009 Decision and 22 June 2010
Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 31354 with MODIFICATIONS. The Court finds Jojit
Garingarao GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of acts of lasciviousness in relation to Republic Act No.
7610. He is sentenced to suffer the penalty of 14 years and 8 months of reclusion temporal as minimum
to 20 years of reclusion temporal as maximum and ordered to pay AAA P20,000 as civil indemnity,
P15,000 as moral damages and a fine of P15,000.

SO ORDERED.

LEONILO SANCHEZ alias NILO,- versus PPL & CA G.R. No. 179090
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil
Procedure seeking the reversal of the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision dated February 20, 2007 which
affirmed the Decision dated July 30, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tagbilaran City, Bohol,
convicting appellant Leonilo Sanchez alias Nilo (appellant) of the crime of Other Acts of Child Abuse
punishable under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7610 in relation to Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 603, with a
modification of the penalty imposed.

The Facts

Appellant was charged with the crime of Other Acts of Child Abuse in an Information dated
August 29, 2001 which reads:

The undersigned, Second Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, hereby accuses Leonilo Sanchez alias
Nilo of Lajog, Clarin, Bohol of the crime of Other Acts of Child Abuse, committed as follows:

That on or about the 2nd day of September, 2000 in the municipality of Clarin, province of
Bohol, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, acting as a Family Court, the
above-named accused, with intent to abuse, exploit and/or to inflict other conditions prejudicial to the
child's development, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously abuse physically one [VVV],
a sixteen (16) year old minor, by hitting her thrice in the upper part of her legs, and which acts are
prejudicial to the child-victim's development which acts are not covered by the Revised Penal Code, as
amended, but the same are covered by Art. 59, par. 8 of P.D. No. 603 as amended; to the damage and
prejudice of the offended party in the amount to be proved during the trial.

Acts committed contrary to the provisions of Section 10(a) in relation to Sections 3(a) and 3(b)
No. 1 of Rep. Act No. 7610 and Sec. 59(8) of PD 603, amended.


Upon arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty. Trial on the merits ensued. In the course of the
trial, two varying versions emerged.

Version of the Prosecution

Private complainant VVV was born on March 24, 1984 in Mentalongon, Dalaguete, Cebu to FFF
and MMM.

On September 24, 1997, VVV's father, FFF, started leasing a portion of the fishpond owned by
Escolastico Ronquillo (Escolastico), located at Lajog, Clarin, Bohol. FFF and his family occupied the house
beside the fishpond which was left by the former tenant.

On September 2, 2000 at around 7:00 in the morning, while VVV was cutting grass in their yard,
appellant arrived looking for FFF who was then at another fishpond owned by Nilda Parilla located in
Boacao, Clarin, Bohol. VVV knew appellant because he is the husband of Bienvenida Ronquillo
(Bienvenida), one of the heirs of Escolastico. She noticed that appellant had a sanggot (sickle) tucked in
his waist.

Appellant then went to VVVs house and inquired from VVVs younger brother, BBB, the
whereabouts of the latters father. BBB did not answer but his mother, MMM, told appellant that FFF
was not around. Right then and there, appellant told them to leave the place and started destroying the
house with the use of his sickle. As a result, appellant destroyed the roof, the wall and the windows of
the house. MMM got angry and told appellant that he could not just drive them away since the contract
for the use of the fishpond was not yet terminated. VVV was then sent by MMM to fetch a barangay
tanod. She did as ordered but barangay tanod Nicolas Patayon refused to oblige because he did not
want to interfere in the problem concerning the fishpond. On her way back to their house, VVV saw
appellant coming from his shop with a gallon of gasoline, headed to their house. Appellant warned VVV
to better pack up her familys things because he would burn their house.

Upon reaching their house, VVV saw her brother, BBB, get a piece of wood from the back of
their house to defend themselves and their house from appellant. However, appellant approached BBB,
grabbed the piece of wood from the latter and started beating him with it. At the sight, VVV
approached appellant and pushed him. Irked by what she did, appellant turned to her and struck her
with the piece of wood three (3) times, twice on the left thigh and once below her right buttocks. As a
result, the wood broke into several pieces. VVV picked up some of the broken pieces and threw them
back at appellant. MMM restrained BBB, telling him not to fight back. After which, appellant left,
bringing with him the gallon of gasoline.

FFF arrived at about 10:00 in the morning of that day. When he learned about what had
happened, FFF brought his daughter to the Clarin Health Center for medical attention and treatment.
Dr. Vicente Manalo (Dr. Manalo) attended to VVV and issued her a medical certificate dated September
2, 2000, stating that VVV sustained the following:

CONTUSION WITH HEMATOMA PROXIMAL
LATERAL PORTION OF THIGH, RIGHT
TIME TO HEAL: 3-4 DAYS, BARRING COMPLICATIONS

From the health center, FFF and VVV went to the Clarin Police Station where they had the
incident blottered. Thereafter, FFF requested Eliezer Inferido to take pictures of the injuries sustained
by VVV.

Version of the Defense

Appellant and his wife, Bienvenida, developed and operated the fishpond from 1982 to 1987.
Sometime in 1997, FFF occupied the fishpond and the nipa hut beside the same, by virtue of a
Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) entered into by FFF with the Heirs of Escolastico, as represented by
Segundino Ronquillo. After the MOA expired in 1998, appellant and his wife, Bienvenida, decided to
discontinue the lease because they did not understand the management and accounting of FFF. They
made several demands on him to return possession of the fishpond but FFF refused, asking for a written
termination of the contract from all the heirs of Escolastico. To solve the problem, appellant and
Bienvenida engaged the services of FFF as caretaker of the fishpond, providing him with fingerlings,
fertilizers and all necessary expenses.

This notwithstanding, FFF still failed to make an accounting. Thus, on September 2, 2000, at
around 7:00 in the morning, after pasturing his cattle, appellant dropped by the house of FFF to ask him
to make a detailed accounting because he and his wife were not satisfied with the harvest in August of
2000. MMM, however, retorted, saying that they would no longer make any accounting, as Benny
Ronquillo, brother of appellants wife, would finance the next cropping. Displeased with MMM's
statement, appellant got angry and demanded that they leave the fishpond. FFF's family resented this
demand and a commotion ensued. BBB got a piece of wood and struck appellant but the latter was able
to parry the blow. Appellant got hold of the piece of wood which actually broke. Intending not to hurt
anybody, appellant threw the same behind him. Suddenly from behind, VVV appeared, got hold of the
said piece of wood and hit appellant once at the back of his shoulder. Appellant testified that the blow
was not strong enough to injure him.

Appellant claimed that he was surprised that a criminal case was filed by VVV against him for
allegedly beating her. Appellant denied that he beat VVV, saying that the instant case was fabricated
and was being used as a means to extort money from him. Moreover, appellant asseverated that
Ronald Lauren (Ronald) witnessed the incident.

Ronald testified that he saw BBB strike appellant with a piece of wood but appellant was able to
parry the blow; that appellant threw away the piece of wood; that when appellant threw the piece of
wood, there was no one there at the time; and that appellant left the place immediately.

The RTC's Ruling

On July 30, 2003, the RTC found that at the arraignment, appellant, through former counsel
Atty. Theodore Cabahug (Atty. Cabahug), admitted that he hit VVV, although unintentionally. Thus,
appellant had the burden of proving that, at the time VVV was hit, appellant was performing a lawful
act. The RTC ruled that the evidence did not favor appellant because his demand for FFF's family to
vacate the fishpond, coupled with threats and punctuated with actual use of force, exceeded the limits
allowed by law. The RTC also held that the injuries sustained by VVV were distinguishable, indicating
that the blow was forceful, and that the force used was strong. Thus, the RTC disposed in this wise:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court finds LEONILO SANCHEZ y Aranas guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of violating paragraph (a), Section 10 of Republic Act No. 7610, and applying in his
favor the Indeterminate Sentence Law, this Court imposes on him the indeterminate sentence of an
imprisonment of Six (6) years of prision [correccional] as minimum to seven (7) years and four (4)
months of prision mayor as maximum, with costs against him. The Court orders him to pay [VVV] the
sum of TEN THOUSAND PESOS (P10,000.00) for civil indemnity and the sum of TEN THOUSAND PESOS
(P10,000.00) for damages; the awards for civil indemnity and damages are without subsidiary penalties
in case of insolvency.

IN ACCORDANCE with letter (f) of Section 31 of Republic Act No. 7610, the Court exercising its
discretion also imposes on Leonilo Sanchez y Aranas the penalty of a fine of Two Thousand Pesos
(P2,000.00) without subsidiary penalty in case of insolvency.

SO ORDERED.


Appellant filed a Motion for Reconsideration contending that appellant never admitted that he
hit VVV. The RTC, however, denied the motion in its Order dated August 8, 2003 for being pro forma.
Aggrieved, appellant appealed to the CA.

The CA's Ruling

On February 20, 2007, the CA held that the record of the proceedings taken during appellant's
arraignment before the RTC belied appellant's contention that his defense was one of absolute denial.
The CA pointed to a manifestation of appellant's counsel, Atty. Cabahug, in open court that appellant
was putting up an affirmative defense because the act of hitting VVV was unintentional. Furthermore,
the defense of absolute denial interposed by appellant cannot prevail over the positive and categorical
statements of VVV and her witnesses, giving full credence to the factual findings of the RTC. The CA also
ruled that the Information filed against appellant was not defective inasmuch as the allegations therein
were explicit. In sum, the CA held that the prosecution had fully established the elements of the offense
charged, i.e., Other Acts of Child Abuse under R.A. No. 7610 and P.D. No. 603. However, the CA opined
that the RTC erred in applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law because R.A. No. 7610 is a special law.
Lastly, the CA deleted the award of civil indemnity and damages for utter lack of basis. The fallo of the
CA decision reads:

WHEREFORE, all the foregoing considered, the appealed Judgment dated July 30, 2003 of the
Regional Trial Court of Bohol, Branch 1, Tagbilaran City in Criminal Case No. 11110 finding accused-
appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Other Acts of Child Abuse under Republic Act No. 7610 and
Presidential Decree No. 603 is hereby UPHELD with MODIFICATION as to the penalty imposed. Accused-
appellant is sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of six (6) years and one (1) day as minimum to
eight (8) years as maximum of prision mayor. The fine imposed is retained.

The Order dated August 8, 2003 denying appellant's motion for reconsideration is hereby
AFFIRMED.

The award of civil indemnity and damages in the assailed Decision is deleted.

With costs.

SO ORDERED.


Appellant filed a Motion for Reconsideration which the CA denied in its Resolution dated July
11, 2007.

Hence, this Petition claiming that the CA erred:

1. IN SUSTAINING THE CONVICTION OF THE ACCUSED DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE STATE TO
PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT[;]

2. IN SUSTAINING THE RULING OF THE TRIAL COURT THAT IT HAD JURISDICTION [OVER] THE CASE
DESPITE A DEFECTIVE INFORMATION WHICH ALLEGED THAT THE ACTS COMPLAINED OF IS (sic) NOT
COVERED BY THE REVISED PENAL CODE, AS AMENDED[; AND]

3. IN SUSTAINING THE CONVICTION OF THE ACCUSED OF THE CRIME CHARGED (VIOLATION OF
SECTION 10(a) OF R.A. NO. 7610) NOTWITHSTANDING THAT THE ACT COMPLAINED OF IS OBVIOUSLY
COVERED BY THE REVISED PENAL CODE (Act No. 3815) AS SLIGHT PHYSICAL INJURY.
Appellant posits that his conviction is not supported by proof beyond reasonable doubt; that the
RTC erred when it shifted the burden of proof to appellant; that the RTC and CA erred in ruling that
appellant interposed an affirmative defense when, all throughout his testimony before the RTC, he
denied having inflicted any injury on VVV; and that appellant and his counsel did not sign any written
stipulation for appellant to be bound thereby, hence, the burden of proof still rests in the prosecution.
Moreover, appellant claims that VVV and her family had ill motive to implicate him because of the
pressure he exerted against them to give up the fishpond. Appellant pointed out that VVV, in her
testimony, made material inconsistencies as to who got the piece of wood at the back of their house.
Appellant also claims that he had no motive or intention of harming anyone, otherwise, he would have
done so earlier that day; that if BBB was also beaten, he should have submitted himself for medical
treatment and examination; and that the Information charging appellant was substantially and
jurisdictionally defective as the acts complained of were covered by the provisions of the Revised Penal
Code. Appellant submits that, if duly proven, the acts complained of are clearly constitutive of Slight
Physical Injuries punishable under Article 266 of the Revised Penal Code.

Appellant, likewise, posits that the instant case is not one for child abuse, since VVV was neither
punished in a cruel and unusual manner nor deliberately subjected to excessive indignities or
humiliation. The act was not cruel since the injury was merely slight per medical findings; the location of
the injury was on the thigh which is not unusual; and VVV was not beaten in front of many people as to
humiliate her. Lastly, no evidence was submitted by the prosecution, such as a testimony of a child
psychologist, or even of VVV's teacher who could have observed changes in the victim's behavior, as to
prove that the injury was prejudicial to the victim's development. Appellant alleges that the charge was
obviously made as one for child abuse, instead of slight physical injuries, in order to subject him to a
much heavier penalty. Appellant prays for acquittal based on reasonable doubt and, in the alternative, if
found guilty, he should be convicted only of the crime of slight physical injuries under the Revised Penal
Code.
On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) asseverates that the instant Petition
is fatally defective because it raises purely factual issues contrary to the mandatory provisions of Rule 45
of the Rules of Court; that the Transcript of Stenographic Notes (TSN) taken during appellant's
arraignment on November 6, 2001 clearly shows that appellant, through Atty. Cabahug, raised an
affirmative defense, hence, appellant cannot now change his theory; that the prosecution established
the fact that appellant committed the acts complained of by virtue of the direct, positive and categorical
testimonies of VVV, corroborated by MMM and duly supported by the medical examination conducted
by Dr. Manalo and the entry in the police blotter; that VVV's and MMM's statements are consistent with
their allegations in their respective complaint-affidavits; and that appellant failed to present any reason
or ground to set aside the decisions of the RTC and the CA. Furthermore, the OSG argues that there is no
ambiguity in the Information as the allegations are clear and explicit to constitute the essential elements
of the offense of child abuse, to wit: (a) minority of the victim; (b) acts complained of are prejudicial to
the development of the child-victim; and (c) the said acts are covered by the pertinent provisions of R.A.
No. 7610 and P.D. No. 603. The OSG submits that appellant cannot now feign ignorance of the offense
under which he was specifically charged, and to which he voluntarily entered a plea of not guilty when
arraigned.
However, the OSG opines that the CA erred in modifying the indeterminate sentence imposed
by the RTC. The offense of Other Acts of Child Abuse as defined and punished under Section 10(a) of
R.A. No. 7610, a special law, carries the penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period which is a
penalty defined in the Revised Penal Code. The OSG states that the RTC correctly applied the first part of
Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, sentencing appellant to an indeterminate sentence of six
(6) years of prision correccional, as minimum, to seven (7) years and four (4) months of prision mayor, as
maximum, the minimum term thereof being within the range of the penalty next lower in degree to the
prescribed penalty, as there were no attendant mitigating and/or aggravating circumstances. Thus, the
OSG prays that the instant petition be denied and the assailed CA Decision be modified as
aforementioned but affirmed in all other respects.

Our Ruling
The instant Petition is bereft of merit.

Under Subsection (b), Section 3 of R.A. No. 7610, child abuse refers to the maltreatment of a
child, whether habitual or not, 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.
In this case, the applicable laws are Article 59 of P.D. No. 603 and Section 10(a) of R.A. No.
7610. Section 10(a) of R.A. No. 7610 provides:
SECTION 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 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.

In this connection, our ruling in Araneta v. People is instructive:

As gleaned from the foregoing, the provision punishes not only those enumerated under Article
59 of Presidential Decree No. 603, but also four distinct acts, i.e., (a) child abuse, (b) child cruelty, (c)
child exploitation and (d) being responsible for conditions prejudicial to the childs development. The
Rules and Regulations of the questioned statute distinctly and separately defined child abuse, cruelty
and exploitation just to show that these three acts are different from one another and from the act
prejudicial to the childs development. Contrary to petitioners assertion, an accused can be prosecuted
and be convicted under Section 10(a), Article VI of Republic Act No. 7610 if he commits any of the four
acts therein. The prosecution need not prove that the acts of child abuse, child cruelty and child
exploitation have resulted in the prejudice of the child because an act prejudicial to the development of
the child is different from the former acts.
Moreover, it is a rule in statutory construction that the word or is a disjunctive term signifying
dissociation and independence of one thing from other things enumerated. It should, as a rule, be
construed in the sense which it ordinarily implies. Hence, the use of or in Section 10(a) of Republic Act
No. 7610 before the phrase be responsible for other conditions prejudicial to the childs development
supposes that there are four punishable acts therein. First, the act of child abuse; second, child cruelty;
third, child exploitation; and fourth, being responsible for conditions prejudicial to the childs
development. The fourth penalized act cannot be interpreted, as petitioner suggests, as a qualifying
condition for the three other acts, because an analysis of the entire context of the questioned provision
does not warrant such construal.
Appellant contends that, after proof, the act should not be considered as child abuse but merely
as slight physical injuries defined and punishable under Article 266 of the Revised Penal Code. Appellant
conveniently forgets that when the incident happened, VVV was a child entitled to the protection
extended by R.A. No. 7610, as mandated by the Constitution. As defined in the law, child abuse includes
physical abuse of the child, whether the same is habitual or not. The act of appellant falls squarely
within this definition. We, therefore, cannot accept appellant's contention.
In the same manner, we reject appellant's claim that the Information filed against him was
defective. In Resty Jumaquio v. Hon. Joselito C. Villarosa, we held that what controls is not the title of
the information or the designation of the offense but the actual facts recited therein. Without doubt,
the averments in the Information clearly make out the offense of child abuse under Section 10(a) of R.A.
No. 7610. The following were alleged: (1) the minority of VVV; (2) the acts constituting physical abuse,
committed by appellant against VVV; and (3) said acts are clearly punishable under R.A. No. 7610 in
relation to P.D. No. 603. Indeed, as argued by the OSG, the commission of the offense is clearly recited
in the Information, and appellant cannot now feign ignorance of this.
Appellant could only proffer the defense of denial. Notably, the RTC found VVV and MMM to be
credible witnesses, whose testimonies deserve full credence. It bears stressing that full weight and
respect are usually accorded by the appellate court to the findings of the trial court on the credibility of
witnesses, since the trial judge had the opportunity to observe the demeanor of the witnesses. Equally
noteworthy is the fact that the CA did not disturb the RTC's appreciation of the witnesses credibility.
Thus, we apply the cardinal rule that factual findings of the trial court, its calibration of the testimonies
of the witnesses, and its conclusions anchored on such findings, are accorded respect, if not conclusive
effect, especially when affirmed by the CA. The exception is when it is established that the trial court
ignored, overlooked, misconstrued, or misinterpreted cogent facts and circumstances which, if
considered, will change the outcome of the case. We have reviewed the records of the RTC and the CA
and we find no reason to deviate from the findings of both courts and their uniform conclusion that
appellant is indeed guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of Other Acts of Child Abuse.
However, the penalty imposed upon appellant by the CA deserves review. The imposable
penalty under Section 10(a), Article VI of Republic Act No. 7610 is prision mayor in its minimum period.
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the RTC imposed upon appellant the penalty of six (6) years
of prision correccional, as minimum, to seven (7) years and four (4) months of prision mayor, as
maximum. The CA modified this by imposing upon appellant the indeterminate penalty of six (6) years
and one (1) day, as minimum, to eight (8) years, as maximum, of prision mayor, postulating that since
R.A. No. 7610 is a special law, the RTC should have imposed on appellant an indeterminate sentence,
"the maximum term of which shall not exceed the maximum fixed by said law and the minimum shall
not be less than the minimum term prescribed by the same. On the other hand, the OSG contends that
the RTC appropriately applied the Indeterminate Sentence Law, citing our ruling in People v. Simon.

We agree with the OSG.

Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended, provides:

SECTION 1. Hereafter, in imposing a prison sentence for an offense punished by the Revised
Penal Code, or its amendments, the court shall sentence the accused to an indeterminate sentence the
maximum term of which shall be that which, in view of the attending circumstances, could be properly
imposed under the rules of the said Code, and the minimum of which shall be within the range of the
penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Code for the offense; and if the offense is punished by any
other law, the court shall sentence the accused to an indeterminate sentence, the maximum term of
which shall not exceed the maximum fixed by said law and the minimum shall not be less than the
minimum term prescribed by the same.
To repeat, the penalty for Other Acts of Child Abuse is prision mayor in its minimum period. This
penalty is derived from, and defined in, the Revised Penal Code. Although R.A. No. 7610 is a special law,
the rules in the Revised Penal Code for graduating penalties by degrees or determining the proper
period should be applied. Thus, where the special law adopted penalties from the Revised Penal Code,
the Indeterminate Sentence Law will apply just as it would in felonies. In People v. Simon, the Court
applied the first clause of Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law to cases of illegal drugs. In Cadua
v. Court of Appeals, the Court applied the same principle to cases involving illegal possession of
firearms. In those instances, the offenses were also penalized under special laws. Finally, in Dulla v.
Court of Appeals, a case involving sexual abuse of a child as penalized under Section 5(b), Article III of
R.A. No. 7610, the Court likewise applied the same first clause of the Indeterminate Sentence Law. This
case should be no exception.
In the absence of any modifying circumstances, and because it is favorable to appellant, we find
the penalty of four (4) years, nine (9) months and eleven (11) days of prision correccional, as minimum,
to six (6) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum, proper.

As a final word, we reiterate our view in Araneta, to wit:

Republic Act No. 7610 is a measure geared towards the implementation of a national
comprehensive program for the survival of the most vulnerable members of the population, the Filipino
children, in keeping with the Constitutional mandate under Article XV, Section 3, paragraph 2, that The
State shall defend the right of the children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special
protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to
their development. This piece of legislation supplies the inadequacies of existing laws treating crimes
committed against children, namely, the Revised Penal Code and Presidential Decree No. 603 or the
Child and Youth Welfare Code. As a statute that provides for a mechanism for strong deterrence against
the commission of child abuse and exploitation, the law has stiffer penalties for their commission, and a
means by which child traffickers could easily be prosecuted and penalized.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The Court of Appeals Decision dated February 20, 2007 in
CA-G.R. CR No. 27817 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that appellant Leonilo Sanchez is hereby
sentenced to four (4) years, nine (9) months and eleven (11) days of prision correccional, as minimum,
to six (6) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum. Costs against appellant
SO ORDERED.


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, VS. PERALTA, ABAD AND EDUARDO DAHILIG y AGARAN G.R. No. 187083
JUNE 13, 2011
This is an appeal from the October 29, 2008 Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA G.R. CR-
H.C. No. 01488, which modified the July 19, 2005 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 159, Pasig
City (RTC), in Criminal Case No. 121472-H, by finding the accused guilty of child abuse, defined and
penalized in Sec. 5(b) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7610, instead of the crime of rape.
The Information, dated August 6, 2001, indicting the accused for rape reads:

Criminal Case No. 121472-H
The undersigned 2nd Assistant Provincial Prosecutor accuses EDUARDO DAHILIG Y AGARAN, of
the crime of Rape (Violation of Article 266-A par. 1 in relation to Article 266-B, 1st par. of the Revised
Penal Code, as amended by RA 8353 and in further relation to Section 5(a) of RA 8369), committed as
follows:
That on or about the 17th day of December 2000, in the municipality of San Juan, Metro Manila,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused, by means of
force and intimidation, and taking advantage of night time and in the dwelling of complainant, did, then
and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge with one AAA, sixteen (16) year
old minor at the time of the commission of the offense, against her will and consent.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
[Underscoring supplied]

During the trial, the prosecution presented AAA, the private complainant; and Police Senior Inspector
Bonnie Y. Chua, the medico-legal officer, as its witnesses. The defense, on the other hand, presented
the accused himself, Eduardo Dahilig (accused), as its sole witness.

Accused and AAA were both employed as house helpers by a certain Karen Gomez. AAA was only
sixteen (16) years old at the time of the commission of the act, having been born on August 17, 1984.
Their respective versions of the incident, as expected, were diametrically opposed.

Version of the Prosecution

On December 17, 2000, at around 4:00 oclock in the morning, AAA was lying in bed with her
fellow helper, Roxanne. As it was hot and humid that morning, AAA moved to the floor. While on the
floor, she felt someone touching her. At that instant, she found out it was the accused. She tried to
resist his advances, but he succeeded in pinning her down with his weight and he told her not to move.
She shouted for help from Roxanne but to no avail because the latter was sound asleep. Eventually, the
accused was able to remove her shirt, shorts and undergarments and afterwards was able to get on top
of her. Then, he forced his penis into her vagina which caused her pain. After he was done with her, he
returned to his quarters on the third floor.

The following day, AAA angrily confronted the accused and asked him why he did such an act against
her. He reacted by getting all his belongings and immediately left their employers house. AAA then
informed her employer what the accused did to her. Their employer immediately assisted her in filing a
case against him. This caused the arrest of the accused and, at this point, he offered to marry her. His
offer, however, was rejected because AAA was determined to seek justice for the ordeal she suffered in
his hands.

A few days after the incident, AAA was medically examined. The medico-legal examination disclosed
that there was a healing laceration in her hymen although no spermatozoa was found. It was also stated
in the medico-legal report that AAA could have lost her virginity on or about December 17, 2000.


Version of the Accused

Accused denied having raped AAA. According to him, the sexual congress that transpired
between them was consensual as she was then his girlfriend. He related that he came to know AAA
sometime in July 2000 and after a month of courtship, they became sweethearts. In fact, on November
10, 2000, at around 9:00 oclock in the evening, she went up to the floor where he was sleeping and had
sex with him. Afterwards, she returned to her room which was located on the second floor. It was also in
the same month that his former girlfriend, Roxanne, arrived and demanded that he choose between her
and AAA.

On the day of the incident, he was very tired and decided to lie down on the floor where AAA and
Roxanne were sleeping. AAA noticed him and moved beside him. At around 4:00 oclock in the morning,
they made love. He noticed during that time Roxanne was awake because her eyes were open. When
their employer arrived at around 5:00 oclock in the morning, she asked him to go upstairs to his room.

At around 8:00 oclock of that same morning, the accused was fetched by her sister to attend a birthday
party. When he returned at around 5:00 oclock in the afternoon, AAA and Roxanne were quarrelling
about their love making. The latter threatened to report the incident to their employer. He tried to ease
the tension between the two but both refused to be pacified. In fact, Roxanne threatened to stab both
of them. This prompted him to flee by taking his personal belongings and leaving their employers
premises. AAA wanted to join him but he told her that he would just return for her.
Accused went to Bulacan and stayed there for two (2) months. He then proceeded to Ilocos
where he requested his grandfather and mother to fetch AAA because he wanted to marry her. She,
however, refused to go with the two insisting that he personally fetch her.
Three weeks later, the accused returned to Manila together with his mother and grandfather to
fetch AAA but again they failed. Instead, their employer sought the help of the police who invited him to
the station to discuss the intended marriage. He was given two weeks to settle this matter. AAA said
that she needed to call her parents first. In the meantime, he was allowed to go home to Ilocos.
Subsequently, he received a call from their employer, telling him that her parents had already arrived in
Manila. He could not, however, go to Manila because he had no money for transportation.
Sometime thereafter, he received a subpoena from the Office of the Prosecutor informing him
that he had been charged with the crime of rape against AAA. For lack of funds, he was also not able to
attend the hearings at the prosecutors office either. Finally, after several months, he was arrested by
virtue of a warrant of arrest issued against him.

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

In convicting the accused, the RTC reasoned out that, in its observation, AAA never wavered in her
assertion that the accused sexually molested her against her will. According to the trial court, her
narration bore the earmarks of truth and was consistent throughout. As to his sweetheart defense,
the accused failed to prove it by clear and convincing evidence. What he laid before the court for its
consideration was a mere self-serving claim of their relationship. It fell short of the rule that a
sweetheart defense cannot be given credence in the absence of corroborative proof like love notes,
mementos, and pictures, to name a few. Bolstering AAAs story was the medico-legal finding that there
was a deep-healing laceration which was consistent with the charge that she had been raped. Thus, the
dispositive portion of the RTC decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds the accused EDUARDO DAHILIG Y
AGARAN GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of Rape (Violation of Article 266-A par. 1 in rel.
to Article 266-B, 1st par. of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by RA 8353 and in further relation to
Section 5(a) of R.A. No. 8369) and the accused is hereby sentenced to suffer imprisonment of reclusion
perpetua.
Accused EDUARDO DAHILIG Y AGARAN is hereby adjudged to pay AAA the amount of FIFTY
THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00), as moral damages and FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00), as civil
indemnity.
SO ORDERED. [Underscoring supplied]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On appeal, the CA affirmed the findings of fact of the RTC but clarified that the crime charged
should have been Child Abuse as defined and penalized in Sec. 5 (b) of R.A. No. 7610, otherwise
known as the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.
Its conclusion was based on the fact that the complainant was a minor, being 16 years of age at the time
of the commission of the offense and, as such, was a child subject of sexual abuse. R.A. No. 7610 defines
children as persons below eighteen years of age or those unable to fully take care of themselves or
protect themselves from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation, or discrimination because of her age.
Considering that AAA was 16 years old at the time of the commission of the crime, having been born on
August 17, 1984 and the accused had admitted having sexual intercourse with her, all the elements of
child abuse were present. Thus, the decretal portion of the CA decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the DECISION DATED JULY 19, 2005 is MODIFIED, finding EDUARDO DAHILIG Y
AGARAN guilty of child abuse as defined and penalized by Sec. 5, (b), Republic Act No. 7610, and,
accordingly, sentencing him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 11 years of prision mayor, as
minimum, to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal, as maximum; and to pay to AAA
P50,000.00 as moral damages and P50,000.00 as civil indemnity.
The total period of the preventive detention of the accused shall be credited to him provided he
has satisfied the conditions imposed in Art. 29, Revised Penal Code, as amended.
SO ORDERED. [Underscoring supplied]

In this forum, both the prosecution and the accused opted not to file any supplemental briefs
and manifested that they were adopting their arguments in their respective briefs filed before the CA.
In his Appellants Brief, the accused presented the following:

ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS
I
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE INCREDIBLE TESTIMONIES OF THE
PROSECUTIONS WITNESSES.
II
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF RAPE WHEN THE LATTERS
GUILT WAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
In advocacy of his position, the accused argues that the testimony of AAA was beclouded with
inconsistencies and implausibility. He goes on to say that it was highly improbable for their co-worker,
Roxanne, not to have been awakened despite AAAs shouts. He further argues that if the sex was not
consensual, he would not have bothered removing her clothes considering that during the alleged time
of commission, as recounted by AAA, she was shouting and struggling. With respect to the medico-
legals finding on forcible intercourse, it was not conclusive because he precisely admitted having
consensual sex with her.

The accused insists that he and AAA were sweethearts and the sexual congress that took place between
them on the evening of December 17, 2000 was but the result of their love for one another. Roxannes
threat to stab him with a knife and to report the love making that transpired the previous night, was
actually the result of jealousy since she was his ex-girlfriend. This forced him to leave his employers
house. He further averred that the filing of the case was but an afterthought by AAA on her mistaken
belief that he had abandoned her.

The Court finds no merit in the appeal.

Well-settled the rule that the assessment of the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies is best
undertaken by a trial court, whose findings are binding and conclusive on appellate courts. Matters
affecting credibility are best left to the trial court because of its unique opportunity to observe the
elusive and incommunicable evidence of that witness deportment on the stand while testifying, an
opportunity denied to the appellate courts which usually rely on the cold pages of the silent records of
the case.

In this case, the trial court observed that AAA never wavered in her assertion that she was molested by
the accused. It even further wrote that her narrations palpably bear the earmarks of truth and are in
accord with the material points involved.

There is no dispute that the accused had sexual intercourse with AAA, a fact which he clearly
acknowledged. Contrary to his claim, however, the act was not consensual as proven by the convincing
testimony of AAA who replied as follows:

Q: Lets start from the beginning Miss witness. You said that you went down to the floor from the
bed?
A: Yes, maam.

Q: Was there anybody in the floor when you went down?
A: None.

Q: When you went down and there was no person there in the floor, what did you do?
A: I continued sleeping on the floor.

Q: Were you awakened by anything while you were sleeping on the floor?
A: Yes maam.

Q: What awakened you?
A: I felt that somebody was lying beside me on the floor.

Q: What was this person doing, if any?
A: Pinaghihipuan po ako.

xxx xxx xxx



Q: What did you do when you were awakened when you felt that somebody was touching your
breast, your face, and your legs?
A: I struggled.

xxx xxx xxx

Q: When you were undressed, what did the accused do?
A: He kissed me on the face and on my lips.

Q: And while he was doing that, what were you doing?
A: I was resisting him maam.

Q: What happened after that?
A: He inserted his penis in my vagina.

Q: While he was inserting his organ in your vagina, what were you doing?
A: I was pleading to him and begging him not continue.

Q: What was the position of your hands at that time
A: When he was inserting his organ to my vagina, he was holding my both hands very tightly.

Moreover, the accused argues that AAA should not be believed because her narration of facts was
inconsistent and highly improbable. The points he has raised, however, have no controlling significance
and do not seriously affect the findings of the courts below.

The fact that Roxanne was not awakened by the cries for help of AAA does not negate her
categorical and consistent assertion that the accused forcibly defiled her. It is not unnatural that some
persons are simply deep sleepers who cannot easily be awakened even by loud noises.

The sweetheart defense proffered by the accused likewise deserves scant consideration. For the said
theory to prosper, the existence of the supposed relationship must be proven by convincing substantial
evidence. Failure to adduce such evidence renders his claim to be self-serving and of no probative value.
For the satisfaction of the Court, there should be a corroboration by their common friends or, if none, a
substantiation by tokens of such a relationship such as love letters, gifts, pictures and the like.

Clearly, the accused sexually abused AAA.

The question now is what crime has been committed? Is it Rape (Violation of Article 266-A par. 1 in
relation to Article 266-B, 1st par. of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. No. 8353), or is it
Child Abuse, defined and penalized by Sec. 5, (b), R.A. No. 7610?

As elucidated by the RTC and the CA in their respective decisions, all the elements of both crimes are
present in this case. The case of People v. Abay, however, is enlightening and instructional on this issue.
It was stated in that case that if the victim is 12 years or older, the offender should be
charged with either sexual abuse under Section 5(b) of R.A. No. 7610 or rape under Article
266-A (except paragraph 1[d]) of the Revised Penal Code. However, the offender cannot be
accused of both crimes for the same act because his right against double jeopardy will be
prejudiced. A person cannot be subjected twice to criminal liability for a single criminal act.
Specifically, Abay reads:

Under Section 5(b), Article III of RA 7610 in relation to RA 8353, if the victim of sexual abuse is
below 12 years of age, the offender should not be prosecuted for sexual abuse but for
statutory rape under Article 266-A(1)(d) of the Revised Penal Code and penalized with
reclusion perpetua. On the other hand, if the victim is 12 years or older, the offender should
be charged with either sexual abuse under Section 5(b) of RA 7610 or rape under Article 266-
A (except paragraph 1[d]) of the Revised Penal Code. However, the offender cannot be
accused of both crimes for the same act because his right against double jeopardy will be
prejudiced. A person cannot be subjected twice to criminal liability for a single criminal act.
Likewise, rape cannot be complexed with a violation of Section 5(b) of RA 7610. Under
Section 48 of the Revised Penal Code (on complex crimes), a felony under the Revised Penal
Code (such as rape) cannot be complexed with an offense penalized by a special law.

In this case, the victim was more than 12 years old when the crime was committed against
her. The Information against appellant stated that AAA was 13 years old at the time of the
incident. Therefore, appellant may be prosecuted either for violation of Section 5(b) of RA
7610 or rape under Article 266-A (except paragraph 1[d]) of the Revised Penal Code. While
the Information may have alleged the elements of both crimes, the prosecutions evidence
only established that appellant sexually violated the person of AAA through force and
intimidation by threatening her with a bladed instrument and forcing her to submit to his
bestial designs. Thus, rape was established.

Accordingly, the accused can indeed be charged with either Rape or Child Abuse and be
convicted therefor. Considering, however, that the information correctly charged the
accused with rape in violation of Article 266-A par. 1 in relation to Article 266-B, 1st par. of
the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. No. 8353, and that he was convicted therefor,
the CA should have merely affirmed the conviction.

For said reason, the Court sets aside the October 29, 2008 CA decision and reinstates the July
19, 2005 RTC Decision. In line with prevailing jurisprudence, however, the accused should
also be made to pay the victim exemplary damages in the amount of 30,000.00.

WHEREFORE, the October 29, 2008 Decision of the Court of Appeals is SET ASIDE and the July
19, 2005 Decision of the Regional Trial Court is REINSTATED with MODIFICATION in that the
accused is also ordered to pay AAA the amount of 30,000.00 as exemplary damages.

SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION

MICHAEL JOHN Z. MALT vs. PPL G.R. No. 164733
September 21, 2007

Whereas, mankind owes to the child the best it has to give. (Final preambular clause of the Declaration
of the Rights of the Child)
This is a petition for review of the decision dated July 30, 2004 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in
CA-G.R. CR No. 25925 affirming with modification the decision of Branch 109 of the Regional Trial Court
of Pasay City in Criminal Case No. 00-0691 which found petitioner Michael John Z. Malto guilty for
violation of paragraph 3, Section 5(a), Article III of RA 7610, as amended.

Petitioner was originally charged in an information which read:

The undersigned Assistant City Prosecutor accuses MICHAEL JOHN Z. MALTO of VIOLATION OF SECTION
5(b), ARTICLE III, REPUBLIC ACT 7610, AS AMENDED, committed as follows:

That on or about and sometime during the month of November 1997 up to 1998, in Pasay City, Metro
Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
Michael John. Z. Malto, a professor, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously induce
and/or seduce his student at Assumption College, complainant, AAA, a minor of 17 years old, to indulge
in sexual intercourse for several times with him as in fact said accused had carnal knowledge.

Contrary to law.


This was subsequently amended as follows:

The undersigned Assistant City Prosecutor accuses MICHAEL JOHN Z. MALTO of VIOLATION OF SECTION
5(a), ARTICLE III, REPUBLIC ACT 7610, AS AMENDED, committed as follows:

That on or about and sometime during the month of November 1997 up to 1998, in Pasay City, Metro
Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
Michael John. Z. Malto, a professor, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take
advantage and exert influence, relationship and moral ascendancy and induce and/or seduce his student
at Assumption College, complainant, AAA, a minor of 17 years old, to indulge in sexual intercourse and
lascivious conduct for several times with him as in fact said accused has carnal knowledge.

Contrary to law.

Petitioner did not make a plea when arraigned; hence, the trial court entered for him a plea of not
guilty. After the mandatory pre-trial, trial on the merits proceeded.

The prosecution established the following:

At the time of the incident, private complainant AAA was 17 years old. She was a college student at the
Assumption College in San Lorenzo Village, Makati City. Petitioner, then 28, was her professor in her
Philosophy II class in the first semester of the school year 1997 to 1998.

On July 18, 1997, AAA was having lunch with her friends when petitioner joined their group. He told
them to address him simply as Mike. He hand ed them his organizer and asked them to list down their
names and contact numbers.

On October 3, 1997, while AAA and her friends were discussing the movie Kama Sutra, petitioner butted
in and bragged that it was nothing compared to his collection of xxx-rated films. To the shock of AAAs
group, he lectured on and demonstrated sexual acts he had already experienced. He then invited the
group to view his collection.

On October 10, 1997, petitioner reiterated his invitation to AAA and her friends to watch his collection
of pornographic films. Afraid of offending petitioner, AAA and two of her friends went with him. They
rode in his car and he brought them to the Anito Lodge on Harrison St. in Pasay City. They checked in at
a calesa room. Petitioner was disappointed when he found out there was neither a video cassette
player (on which he could play his video tapes) nor an x-rated show on the closed-circuit television. He
suggested that they just cuddle up together. AAA and her friends ignored him but he pulled each of
them towards him to lie with him in bed. They resisted until he relented.

AAA and her friends regretted having accepted petitioners invitation. For fear of embarrassment in case
their classmates got wind of what happened, they agreed to keep things a secret. Meanwhile, petitioner
apologized for his actuations.

Thereafter, petitioner started to show AAA amorous attention. He called her on the phone and paged
her romantic messages at least thrice a day. When semestral break came, his calls and messages
became more frequent. Their conversation always started innocently but he had a way of veering the
subject to sex. Young, naive and coming from a broken family, AAA was soon overwhelmed by
petitioners persistence and slowly got attracted to him. He was the first person to court her. Soon, they
had a mutual understanding and became sweethearts.

When AAA secured her class card in Philosophy II at the start of the second semester, petitioner told her
that he gave her a final grade of 3. She protested, stating that her mid-term grade was 1.2. He gave
her a grade of 1.5 when she promised not to disclose his intimate messages to her to anyone. He also
cautioned her not to tell anyone about their affair as it could jeopardize his job.

On November 19, 1997, at around 11:00 a.m., AAA agreed to have lunch with petitioner outside the
premises of the college. Since she was not feeling well at that time, he asked her to lie down in the
backseat of his car. She was surprised when he brought her to Queensland Lodge on Harrison St. in
Pasay City. Once inside the motel room, he kissed her at the back and neck, touched her breasts and
placed his hand inside her blouse. She resisted his advances but he was too strong for her. He stopped
only when she got angry at him.

On November 26, 1997, petitioner asked AAA to come with him so that they could talk in private. He
again brought her to Queensland Lodge. As soon as they were inside the room, he took off his shirt, lay
down in bed and told her, halika na, dito na tayo mag-usap. She refused but he dragged her towards
the bed, kissed her lips, neck and breasts and unsnapped her brassiere. She struggled to stop him but he
overpowered her. He went on top of her, lowered her pants and touched her private part. He tried to
penetrate her but she pushed him away forcefully and she sat up in bed. He hugged her tightly saying,
Sige na, AAA, pumayag ka na, I wont hurt you. She refused and said, Mike, ayoko. He angrily stood
up saying, Fine, hindi na tayo mag-uusap. Dont come to the faculty room anymore. You know I need
this and if you will not give in or give it to me, let us end this. She replied, Mike, hindi pa ako ready and
it was you who said it will be after my debut on December 3, 1997. He insisted that there was no
difference between having sex then and after her debut. He told her, kung hindi ko makukuha ngayon,
tapusin na natin ngayon. Pressured and afraid of his threat to end their relationship, she hesitantly
replied Fine. On hearing this, he quickly undressed while commenting ibibigay mo rin pala,
pinahirapan mo pa ako and laughed. They had sexual intercourse.

In July 1999, AAA ended her relationship with petitioner. She learned that he was either intimately
involved with or was sexually harassing his students in Assumption College and in other colleges where
he taught. In particular, he was dismissed from the De La Salle University-Aguinaldo for having sexual
relations with a student and sexually harassing three other students. His employment was also
terminated by Assumption College for sexually harassing two of his students. It was then that AAA
realized that she was actually abused by petitioner. Depressed and distressed, she confided all that
happened between her and petitioner to her mother, BBB.

On learning what her daughter underwent in the hands of petitioner, BBB filed an administrative
complaint in Assumption College against him. She also lodged a complaint in the Office of the City
Prosecutor of Pasay City which led to the filing of Criminal Case No. 00-0691.

In his defense, petitioner proffered denial and alibi. He claimed that the alleged incidents on October 3,
1997 and October 10, 1997 did not happen. He spent October 3, 1997 with his colleagues Joseph
Hipolito and AJ Lagaso while he was busy checking papers and computing grades on October 10, 1997.
The last time he saw AAA during the first semester was when she submitted her final paper on October
18, 1997.

On November 19, 1997, between 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., he sorted out conflicts of class schedules for
the second semester at the Assumption College. On November 26, 1997, he was at St. Scholasticas
College (where he was also teaching) preparing a faculty concert slated on December 12, 1997. At lunch
time, he attended the birthday treat of a colleague, Evelyn Bancoro.

On November 29, 1997, he attended AAAs 18th birthday party. That was the last time he saw
her.

According to petitioner, AAA became his sweetheart when she was already 19 years old and
after he was dismissed from Assumption College. On December 27 and 28, 1998, they spent time
together, shared their worries, problems and dreams and kissed each other. On January 3, 1999, he
brought her to Queensland Lodge where they had sexual intercourse for the first time. It was repeated
for at least 20 times from January 1999 until they broke up in July 1999, some of which were done at
either his or her house when no one was around.

The trial court found the evidence for the prosecution sufficient to sustain petitioners conviction. On
March 7, 2001, it rendered a decision finding petitioner guilty. The dispositive portion read:

In view of the foregoing, the Court finds the accused Michael John Malto y Zarsadias guilty
beyond reasonable doubt for violation of Article III, Section 5(a)[,] paragraph 3 of RA 7610[,] as amended
and hereby sentences him to reclusion temporal in its medium period or an imprisonment of seventeen
(17) years, four (4) months and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and to pay civil indemnity in the amount
of Php 75,000.00 and moral and exemplary damages of Php 50,000.00 to minor complainant with
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.
Petitioner questioned the trial courts decision in the CA. In a decision dated July 30, 2004, the
appellate court affirmed his conviction even if it found that his acts were not covered by paragraph (a)
but by paragraph (b) of Section 5, Article III of RA 7610. It further observed that the trial court failed to
fix the minimum term of indeterminate sentence imposed on him. It also ruled that the trial court erred
in awarding P75,000 civil indemnity in favor of AAA as it was proper only in a conviction for rape
committed under the circumstances under which the death penalty was authorized by law. Hence, the
CA modified the decision of the trial court as follows:

WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision of conviction is AFFIRMED, with the MODIFICATION that (1)
appellant MICHAEL JOHN MALTO y ZARSADIAS is hereby sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of Eight
(8) Years and One (1) Day of prision mayor as minimum, to Seventeen (17) Years, Four (4) Months and
One (1) Day of reclusion temporal as maximum; and (2) the sum of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity is
DELETED.

Hence, this petition.

Petitioner contends that the CA erred in sustaining his conviction although it found that he did not rape
AAA. For him, he should have been acquitted since there was no rape. He also claims that he and AAA
were sweethearts and their sexual intercourse was consensual.

Petitioner is wrong.


THE OFFENSE STATED IN THE INFORMATION WAS WRONGLY DESIGNATED


In all criminal prosecutions, the accused is entitled to be informed of the nature and cause of the
accusation against him. Pursuant thereto, the complaint or information against him should be sufficient
in form and substance. A complaint or information is sufficient if it states the name of the accused; the
designation of the offense by the statute; the acts or omissions complained of as constituting the
offense; the name of the offended party; the approximate date of the commission of the offense and
the place where the offense was committed.

The complaint or information shall state the designation of the offense given by the statute, aver the
acts or omissions constituting the offense and specify its qualifying and aggravating circumstances. If
there is no designation of the offense, reference shall be made to the section or subsection of the
statute punishing it. The acts or omissions constituting the offense and the qualifying and aggravating
circumstances must be stated in ordinary and concise language and not necessarily in the language used
in the statute but in terms sufficient to enable a person of common understanding to know what
offense is being charged as well as its qualifying and aggravating circumstances and for the court to
pronounce judgment.

The designation of the offense in the information against petitioner was changed from violation of
Section 5(b), Article III of RA 7610 to violation of Section 5(a), Article III thereof. Paragraphs (a) and
(b) of Section 5, Article III of RA 7610 provide:

Section 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 a 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 or lascivious conduct with a child exploited in
prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse: Provided, That when the victim 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

xxx xxx xxx (emphasis supplied)

The elements of paragraph (a) are:
1. the accused engages in, promotes, facilitates or induces child prostitution;
2. the act is done through, but not limited to, the following means:
a. acting as a procurer of a child prostitute;

b. inducing a person to be a client of a child prostitute by means of written or oral advertisements
or other similar means;

c. taking advantage of influence or relationship to procure a child as a prostitute;

d. threatening or using violence towards a child to engage him as a prostitute or

e. giving monetary consideration, goods or other pecuniary benefit to a child with intent to engage
such child in prostitution;

3. the child is exploited or intended to be exploited in prostitution and
4. the child, whether male or female, is below 18 years of age.

On the other hand, the elements of paragraph (b) are:
1. the accused commits the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct;
2. the act is performed with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse and
3. the child, whether male or female, is below 18 years of age.

Paragraph (a) essentially punishes acts pertaining to or connected with child prostitution. It
contemplates sexual abuse of a child exploited in prostitution. In other words, under paragraph (a), the
child is abused primarily for profit.

On the other hand, paragraph (b) punishes sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct not only with a child
exploited in prostitution but also with a child subjected to other sexual abuse. It covers not only a
situation where a child is abused for profit but also one in which a child, through coercion, intimidation
or influence, engages in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct.

The information against petitioner did not allege anything pertaining to or connected with child
prostitution. It did not aver that AAA was abused for profit. What it charged was that petitioner had
carnal knowledge or committed sexual intercourse and lascivious conduct with AAA; AAA was induced
and/or seduced by petitioner who was her professor to indulge in sexual intercourse and lascivious
conduct and AAA was a 17-year old minor. These allegations support a charge for violation of
paragraph (b), not paragraph (a), of Section 5, Article III, RA 7610.


THE REAL NATURE OF THE OFFENSE IS DETERMINED BY FACTS ALLEGED IN THE INFORMATION, NOT BY
THE DESIGNATION
The designation in the information of the specific statute violated is imperative to avoid surprise
on the accused and to afford him the opportunity to prepare his defense accordingly. However, the
failure to designate the offense by statute, or to mention the specific provision penalizing the act, or an
erroneous specification of the law violated does not vitiate the information if the facts alleged clearly
recite the facts constituting the crime charged. What controls is not the title of the information or the
designation of the offense but the actual facts recited in the information. In other words, it is the recital
of facts of the commission of the offense, not the nomenclature of the offense, that determines the
crime being charged in the information.

The facts stated in the amended information against petitioner correctly made out a charge for violation
of Section 5(b), Article III, RA 7610. Thus, even if the trial and appellate courts followed the wrong
designation of the offense, petitioner could be convicted of the offense on the basis of the facts recited
in the information and duly proven during trial.

PETITIONER VIOLATED SECTION 5(B), ARTICLE III OF RA 7610, AS AMENDED

The first element of Section 5(b), Article III of RA 7610 pertains to the act or acts committed by the
accused. The second element refers to the state or condition of the offended party. The third element
corresponds to the minority or age of the offended party.

The first element was present in this case. Petitioner committed lascivious conduct against and had
sexual intercourse with AAA in the following instances: (1) on November 19, 1997, when he kissed her at
the back and neck, touched her breasts and placed his hand inside her blouse to gratify his lust; (2) on
November 26, 1997, when, with lewd designs, he dragged her towards the bed of the motel room and
forcibly kissed her on the lips, neck and breasts and (3) when he exerted moral influence on her and
pressured her until she surrendered herself to him on November 26, 1997. His acts were covered by the
definitions of sexual abuse and lascivious conduct under Section 2(g) and (h) of the Rules and
Regulations on the Reporting and Investigation of Child Abuse Cases promulgated to implement the
provisions of RA 7610, particularly on child abuse:


(g) Sexual abuse includes the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of a
child to engage in, or assist another person to engage in, sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct or the
molestation, prostitution, or incest with children;

(h) Lascivious conduct means the intentional touching, either directly or through clothing, of the
genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks, or the introduction of any object into the
genitalia, anus or mouth, of any person, whether of the same or opposite sex, with an intent to abuse,
humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, bestiality, masturbation,
lascivious exhibition of the genitals or public area of a person. (emphasis supplied)

The second element was likewise present here. The following pronouncement in People v. Larin is
significant:

A child is deemed exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse, when the child indulges
in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct (a) for money, profit, or any other consideration; or (b) under
the coercion or influence of any adult, syndicate or group. (emphasis supplied)

On November 19, 1997, due to the influence of petitioner, AAA indulged in lascivious acts with or
allowed him to commit lascivious acts on her. This was repeated on November 26, 1997 on which date
AAA also indulged in sexual intercourse with petitioner as a result of the latters influence and moral
ascendancy. Thus, she was deemed to be a child subjected to other sexual abuse as the concept is
defined in the opening paragraph of Section 5, Article III of RA 7610 and in Larin.

The third element of the offense was also satisfied. Section 3 (a), Article I of RA 7610 provides:

SECTION 3. Definition of Terms.

(a) Children refers *to+ persons 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; (emphasis supplied)


On November 19, 2007 and November 26, 2007, AAA was a child as she was below 18 years of age. She
was therefore within the protective mantle of the law.

Since all three elements of the crime were present, the conviction of petitioner was proper.


VIOLATION OF SECTION 5(B), ARTICLE III OF RA 7610 AND RAPE ARE SEPARATE AND DISTINCT
CRIMES

Petitioner was charged and convicted for violation of Section 5(b), Article III of RA 7610, not rape. The
offense for which he was convicted is punished by a special law while rape is a felony under the Revised
Penal Code. They have different elements. The two are separate and distinct crimes. Thus, petitioner
can be held liable for violation of Section 5(b), Article III of RA 7610 despite a finding that he did not
commit rape.


CONSENT OF THE CHILD IS IMMATERIAL IN CRIMINAL CASES INVOLVING VIOLATION OF SECTION 5,
ARTICLE III OF RA 7610


Petitioner claims that AAA welcomed his kisses and touches and consented to have sexual intercourse
with him. They engaged in these acts out of mutual love and affection. But may the sweetheart theory
be invoked in cases of child prostitution and other sexual abuse prosecuted under Section 5, Article III of
RA 7610? No.

The sweetheart theory applies in acts of lasciviousness and rape, felonies committed against or without
the consent of the victim. It operates on the theory that the sexual act was consensual. It requires proof
that the accused and the victim were lovers and that she consented to the sexual relations.

For purposes of sexual intercourse and lascivious conduct in child abuse cases under RA 7610, the
sweetheart defense is unacceptable. A child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse
cannot validly give consent to sexual intercourse with another person.

The language of the law is clear: it seeks to punish

[t]hose who commit the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child exploited in
prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse.


Unlike rape, therefore, consent is immaterial in cases involving violation of Section 5, Article
III of RA 7610. The mere act of having sexual intercourse or committing lascivious conduct
with a child who is exploited in prostitution or subjected to sexual abuse constitutes the
offense. It is a malum prohibitum, an evil that is proscribed.

A child cannot give consent to a contract under our civil laws. This is on the rationale that she can easily
be the victim of fraud as she is not capable of fully understanding or knowing the nature or import of
her actions. The State, as parens patriae, is under the obligation to minimize the risk of harm to those
who, because of their minority, are as yet unable to take care of themselves fully. Those of tender years
deserve its protection.

The harm which results from a childs bad decision in a sexual encounter may be infinitely more
damaging to her than a bad business deal. Thus, the law should protect her from the harmful
consequences of her attempts at adult sexual behavior. For this reason, a child should not be deemed
to have validly consented to adult sexual activity and to surrender herself in the act of ultimate physical
intimacy under a law which seeks to afford her special protection against abuse, exploitation and
discrimination. (Otherwise, sexual predators like petitioner will be justified, or even unwittingly tempted
by the law, to view her as fair game and vulnerable prey.) In other words, a child is presumed by law to
be incapable of giving rational consent to any lascivious act or sexual intercourse.

This must be so if we are to be true to the constitutionally enshrined State policy to promote the
physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being of the youth. This is consistent with the
declared policy of the State
[T]o provide special protection to children from all forms of abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation and
discrimination, and other conditions prejudicial to 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. (emphasis supplied)

as well as to
intervene on behalf of the child when the parents, 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. (emphasis supplied)

This is also in harmony with the foremost consideration of the childs best interests in all actions
concerning him or her.
The best interest 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 principles of First Call for Children as enunciated
in the United Nations Convention on 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. (emphasis supplie

PETITIONER MAY ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF THE INDETERMINATE SENTENCE LAW

The penalty prescribed for violation of the provisions of Section 5, Article III of RA 7610 is reclusion
temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua. In the absence of any mitigating or aggravating
circumstance, the proper imposable penalty is reclusion temporal in its maximum period, the medium
of the penalty prescribed by the law. Notwithstanding that RA 7610 is a special law, petitioner may
enjoy the benefits of the Indeterminate Sentence Law. Since the penalty provided in RA 7610 is taken
from the range of penalties in the Revised Penal Code, it is covered by the first clause of Section 1 of
the Indeterminate Sentence Law. Thus, he is entitled to a maximum term which should be within the
range of the proper imposable penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period (ranging from 17
years, 4 months and 1 day to 20 years) and a minimum term to be taken within the range of the
penalty next lower to that prescribed by the law: prision mayor in its medium period to reclusion
temporal in its minimum period (ranging from 8 years and 1 day to 14 years and 8 months).


THE AWARD OF DAMAGES SHOULD BE MODIFIED


The trial court awarded AAA P75,000 as civil indemnity, P50,000 as moral and exemplary damages. The
CA deleted the award for civil indemnity. It correctly reasoned that the award was proper only in a
conviction for rape committed under the circumstances under which the death penalty is authorized by
law. Consistent, however, with the objective of RA 7610 to afford children special protection against
abuse, exploitation and discrimination and with the principle that every person who contrary to law,
willfully or negligently causes damage to another shall indemnify the latter for the same, civil indemnity
to the child is proper in a case involving violation of Section 5(b), Article III of RA 7610. Every person
criminally liable is civilly liable. The rule is that, in crimes and quasi-delicts, the defendant shall be liable
for all damages which are the natural and probable consequences of the act or omission complained of.
Thus, P50,000 civil indemnity ex delicto shall be awarded in cases of violation of Section 5(b), Article III
of RA 7610.

Moreover, the CA erred in affirming the grant of P50,000 as moral and exemplary damages. The rule is
that, in every case, trial courts must specify the award of each item of damages and make a finding
thereon in the body of the decision. Thus, moral damages and exemplary damages should be separate
items of award.

AAA testified that she was emotionally devastated and lost touch of her inner self as a result of what
petitioner did to her. Because of the mental anxiety and wounded feelings caused by petitioner to her,
she had several sessions with the dean for student affairs and the guidance counselor of Assumption
College as well as with a psychiatrist. This was corroborated by her mother and the dean of student
affairs of Assumption College. Thus, she is entitled to moral damages of P50,000. However, in the
absence of an aggravating circumstance, the grant of exemplary damages is unwarranted.

Accordingly, the petition is hereby DENIED. Petitioner Michael John Z. Malto is hereby found guilty of
violating Section 5(b), Article III of RA 7610, as amended, for which he is sentenced to 14 years and 8
months of reclusion temporal as minimum to 20 years of reclusion temporal as maximum. He is further
ordered to pay AAA P50,000 as civil indemnity and P50,000 for moral damages.

Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

GONZALO A. ARANETA, VS. PPL G.R. No. 174205
June 27, 2008
This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assails the Decision of
the Court of Appeals dated 15 February 2005, which affirmed the Decision of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Dumaguete City, Branch 41, finding petitioner Gonzalo Araneta y Alabastro guilty of violating
Section 10(a), Article VI of Republic Act No. 7610, otherwise known as the Special Protection of
Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, as amended.

On 12 October 1999, petitioner was charged before the RTC with violation of Section 10(a), Article VI of
Republic Act No. 7610, allegedly committed as follows:

That on April 10, 1998, at about 11:00 oclock in the morning, at Barangay Poblacion, District III, Dauin,
Negros Oriental, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said Gonzalo
Araneta y Alabastro, with intent to abuse, harass and degrade 17-year-old offended party AAA , and
gratify the sexual desire of said accused, the latter, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously, by means of force and intimidation, hold and embrace said AAA, after trespassing with
violence into the room of the dwelling occupied by said offended party, all against the latters will and
consent.


When arraigned on 15 November 1999, petitioner pleaded not guilty. Thereafter, trial ensued.

At the trial, the prosecution presented the following witnesses: (1) the victim herself, AAA, who testified
on matters that occurred prior, during and after her abuse; (2) BBB, AAAs 12-year-old sister, whose
testimony corroborated that of the victim; (3) CCC, AAAs mother who testified on the fact that the
victim was a minor during the alleged commission of the crime.

As culled from the combined testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, the prosecution was able to
establish that at the time of the commission of the crime, AAA was 17 years old, having been born on 28
March 1981, in Batohon Daco, Dauin, Negros Oriental. Because she was then studying at Dauin
Municipal High School located at Poblacion, District III, Dauin, AAA left her birthplace to live near her
school. She stayed at the house of a certain DDD as a boarder.

At around 10:00 oclock in the morning of 10 April 1998, while AAA and her two younger sisters, BBB
and EEE were sitting on a bench at the waiting shed located near her boarding house, petitioner
approached her. Petitioner, who had been incessantly courting AAA from the time she was still 13 years
old, again expressed his feelings for her and asked her to accept his love and even insisted that she must
accept him because he had a job. She did not like what she heard from petitioner and tried to hit him
with a broom but the latter was able to dodge the strike. She and her two sisters dashed to the
boarding house which was five meters away and went inside the room. When they were about to close
the door, the petitioner, who was following them, forced himself inside. The three tried to bar
petitioner from entering the room by pushing the door to his direction. Their efforts, however, proved
futile as petitioner was able to enter. There petitioner embraced AAA, who struggled to extricate
herself from his hold. AAA then shouted for help. Meanwhile, petitioner continued hugging her and
tried to threaten her with these words: Ug dili ko nimo sugton, patyon tike. Akong ipakita nimo unsa
ko ka buang (If you will not accept my love I will kill you. I will show you how bad I can be). BBB, tried
to pull petitioner away from her sister AAA, but to no avail. Andrew Tubilag, who was also residing in
the same house, arrived and pulled petitioner away from AAA. AAA closed the door of the room and
there she cried. She then went to the police station to report the incident.

The petitioner, on the other hand, denied the charge. He alone took the stand. Petitioner narrated that
he met AAA and her younger sisters at the waiting shed, but he denied having embraced or kissed the
victim. He said he only spoke to her and told her that he loved her. Although he admitted that he
followed AAA and her sisters when they went to the boarding house, it was because AAA beckoned him
to follow her. When he was inside the room, he again told her of his feelings but he was merely told by
her to wait until she finished her studies. He further said that he had been courting and visiting AAA
since she was 12 or 13 years old.

On 27 February 2001, the RTC rendered a decision totally disregarding petitioners bare denials and
flimsy assertions. In convicting petitioner of the crime charged, it held that petitioners act of forcibly
embracing the victim against her will wrought injury on the latters honor and constituted child abuse as
defined under Section 10(a), Article VI of Republic Act No. 7610. It further ruminated that if the
mentioned statute considers as child abuse a mans mere keeping or having in his company a minor,
twelve years or under or ten years or more his junior, in any public place, all the more would the
unwanted embrace of a minor fall under the purview of child abuse.

The decretal portion of the RTC decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Gonzalo Araneta y Alabastro guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
Violation of Section 10(a) of Republic Act No. 7610 and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of
prision mayor in its minimum period, to pay the offended party Php50,000.00 as moral damages without
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs.


Dissatisfied with the ruling of the RTC, petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals. Petitioner
claimed that the RTC gravely erred in convicting him of child abuse despite failure of the prosecution to
establish the elements necessary to constitute the crime charged. Section 10(a) provide: Any person
who shall commit any other acts of abuse, cruelty or exploitation or be responsible for other conditions
prejudicial to the childs development including those covered by Article 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; and Section 3(b)(2) defines child abuse in this manner:
Any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a
child as a human being. From these provisions, petitioner concludes that an act or word can only be
punishable if such be prejudicial to the childs development so as to debase, degrade or demean the
intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being. In other words, petitioner was of the opinion
that an accused can only be successfully convicted of child abuse under Section 10(a) if it is proved that
the victims development had been prejudiced. Thus, according to petitioner, absent proof of such
prejudice, which is an essential element in the crime charged, petitioner cannot be found guilty of child
abuse under the subject provision.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), on the other hand, believes that the questioned acts of
petitioner fall within the definition of child abuse. According to the OSG, when paragraph (a) of Section
10 of Republic Act No. 7610 states: Any person who shall commit any other acts of child abuse, cruelty
or exploitation or be responsible for other condition prejudicial to the childs development x x x, it
contemplates two classes of other acts of child abuse, i.e., (1) other acts of child abuse, cruelty, and
exploitation; and (2) other conditions prejudicial to the childs development. It argues that unlike the
second kind of child abuse, the first class does not require that the act be prejudicial to the childs
development.

In a decision dated 15 February 2005, the Court of Appeals concurred in the opinion of the OSG. It
affirmed in toto the decision of the RTC, viz:

WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DENIED and accordingly, the assailed Decision is AFFIRMED in toto.


Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration dated 14 March 2005, which was denied by the Court of
Appeals in its 10 August 2006 Resolution.

Hence, the instant petition.

The petition is devoid of merit.

Republic Act No. 7610 is a measure geared towards the implementation of a national comprehensive
program for the survival of the most vulnerable members of the population, the Filipino children, in
keeping with the Constitutional mandate under Article XV, Section 3, paragraph 2, that The State shall
defend the right of the children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special protection
from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their
development. This piece of legislation supplies the inadequacies of existing laws treating crimes
committed against children, namely, the Revised Penal Code and Presidential Decree No. 603 or the
Child and Youth Welfare Code. As a statute that provides for a mechanism for strong deterrence
against the commission of child abuse and exploitation, the law has stiffer penalties for their
commission, and a means by which child traffickers could easily be prosecuted and penalized. Also, the
definition of child abuse is expanded to encompass not only those specific acts of child abuse under
existing laws but includes also other acts of neglect, abuse, cruelty or exploitation and other conditions
prejudicial to the childs development.

Article VI of the statute enumerates the other acts of abuse. Paragraph (a) of Section 10 thereof
states:

Article VI
OTHER ACTS OF ABUSE

SEC. 10. Other Acts of Neglect, Abuse, Cruelty or Exploitation and Other Conditions Prejudicial to the
Childs Development.

(a) Any person who shall commit any other acts of abuse, cruelty or exploitation or be responsible for
other conditions prejudicial to the childs development including those covered by Article 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. (Emphasis supplied.)


As gleaned from the foregoing, the provision punishes not only those enumerated under Article 59 of
Presidential Decree No. 603, but also four distinct acts, i.e., (a) child abuse, (b) child cruelty, (c) child
exploitation and (d) being responsible for conditions prejudicial to the childs development. The Rules
and Regulations of the questioned statute distinctly and separately defined child abuse, cruelty and
exploitation just to show that these three acts are different from one another and from the act
prejudicial to the childs development. Contrary to petitioners assertion, an accused can be prosecuted
and be convicted under Section 10(a), Article VI of Republic Act No. 7610 if he commits any of the four
acts therein. The prosecution need not prove that the acts of child abuse, child cruelty and child
exploitation have resulted in the prejudice of the child because an act prejudicial to the development of
the child is different from the former acts.

Moreover, it is a rule in statutory construction that the word or is a disjunctive term signifying
dissociation and independence of one thing from other things enumerated. It should, as a rule, be
construed in the sense which it ordinarily implies. Hence, the use of or in Section 10(a) of Republic Act
No. 7610 before the phrase be responsible for other conditions prejudicial to the childs development
supposes that there are four punishable acts therein. First, the act of child abuse; second, child cruelty;
third, child exploitation; and fourth, being responsible for conditions prejudicial to the childs
development. The fourth penalized act cannot be interpreted, as petitioner suggests, as a qualifying
condition for the three other acts, because an analysis of the entire context of the questioned provision
does not warrant such construal.

The subject statute defines children as persons below eighteen (18) years of age; or those over that age
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. It is undisputed
that the victim, under said law, was still a child during the incident.

Subsection (b), Section 3, Article I of Republic Act No. 7610, states:

(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.


The evidence of the prosecution proved that petitioner, despite the victims protestation,
relentlessly followed the latter from the waiting shed to her boarding house and even to the
room where she stayed. He forcibly embraced her and threatened to kill her if she would not
accept his love for her. Indeed, such devious act must have shattered her self-esteem and
womanhood and virtually debased, degraded or demeaned her intrinsic worth and dignity. As a
young and helpless lass at that time, being away from her parents, the victim must have felt
desecrated and sexually transgressed, especially considering the fact that the incident took
place before the very eyes of her two younger, innocent sisters. Petitioner who was old enough
to be the victims grandfather, did not only traumatize and gravely threaten the normal
development of such innocent girl; he was also betraying the trust that young girls place in the
adult members of the community who are expected to guide and nurture the well-being of
these fragile members of the society. Undoubtedly, such insensible act of petitioner
constitutes child abuse. As the RTC aptly observed:

It bears stressing that the mere keeping or having in a mans companion a minor, twelve (12)
years or under or who is ten (10) years or more his junior in any public or private place already
constitutes child abuse under Section 10(b) of the same Act. Under such rationale, an unwanted
embrace on a minor would all the more constitute child abuse.


This factual findings of the RTC, which were affirmed by the Court of Appeals are entitled to
respect and are not to be disturbed on appeal, unless some facts or circumstances of weight
and substance, having been overlooked or misinterpreted, might materially affect the
disposition of the case. The assessment by the trial court of the credibility of a witness is
entitled to great weight. It is even conclusive and binding, if not tainted with arbitrariness or
oversight of some fact or circumstance of weight and influence. In the case under
consideration, we find that the trial court did not overlook, misapprehend, or misapply any fact
of value for us to overturn the said findings.

The RTC imposed upon petitioner the penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period. The
penalty is in order, pursuant to Section 10(a), Article VI of Republic Act No. 7610.

As to the award of damages, the victim is entitled to moral damages, having suffered undue
embarrassment when petitioner forcibly hugged her and threatened to kill her if she would not
accept petitioners love. There is no hard-and-fast rule in the determination of what would be a
fair amount of moral damages, since each case must be governed by its own peculiar facts. The
yardstick should be that it is not palpably and scandalously excessive. The Court finds that the
award of moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00 is reasonable under the facts obtaining in
this case.

WHEREFORE, the 15 February 2005 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 25168,
which affirmed in toto the Decision of the Dumaguete City Regional Trial Court, Branch 41 in
Criminal Case No. 14246 finding Gonzalo A. Araneta guilty of violating Section 10(a), Article VI
of Republic Act No. 7610 and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its
minimum period and awarding to the victim moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00 as
moral damages, is AFFIRMED in toto. No costs.

SO ORDERED.


CLEMENT JOHN FERDINAND M. G.R. No. 147913
NAVARRETE, VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
January 31, 2007
This petition for review on certiorari assails the September 29, 2000 decision and May 4, 2001
resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 20531 which affirmed the January 16, 1997
decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 171, Valenzuela, Metro Manila in Criminal Case No.
5302-V-96.

Petitioner Clement John Ferdinand M. Navarrete was charged with the crime of statutory rape of BBB
under the following information:

That on or about October 30, 1995 in Valenzuela, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there [willfully], unlawfully and feloniously
have sexual intercourse with one [BBB], age[d] 5 years old.

CONTRARY TO LAW.


On arraignment, petitioner pleaded not guilty.

The facts show that BBB, who was at that time five years old, and petitioner were neighbors, their
houses being adjacent to each other. On October 30, 1995, at around past 9:00 in the evening, BBB
went to petitioners house to watch television, which was something she often did. Only petitioner and
BBB were there that night. BBB testified that it was on this occasion that petitioner sexually abused
her, placed his penis *in her+ vagina twice, poked her vagina with a stick with cotton and boxed her
on the right side of her eye. Then, petitioner brought her to the comfort room and pointed a knife to
her throat. Afterwards, she and petitioner watched a pornographic movie together.

AAA, BBBs mother, testified that around 10:30 p.m., BBB went out of petitioners house. While
trembling and crying, BBB embraced her mother and told her that Kuya Ferdie sinundot ako.

The next day, on October 31, 1995, Dr. Noel Minay, medico-legal officer of the National Bureau of
Investigation, examined BBB. He found that her maidenhead was short, intact and had a narrow opening
at 0.3 cm. in diameter. He concluded that these findings precluded complete penetration by an
average-sized Filipino male organ in full erection.

Testifying in his own behalf, petitioner denied the accusation against him and claimed that AAA merely
concocted the charge against him. He alleged that she had ill feelings against his mother who she
thought had something to do with the separation of her (AAAs) son from the Philippine Postal
Corporation. He also posited that she resented the Navarretes refusal to allow her to place a jumper
on their electrical connection.

In a decision dated January 16, 1997, the RTC absolved petitioner of statutory rape as there was no clear
and positive proof of the entry of petitioners penis into the labia of the victims vagina. However, it
convicted petitioner for acts of lasciviousness under Article 336 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) in
relation to Section 5(b), Article III of RA 7610 (Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse,
Exploitation and Discrimination Act):

WHEREFORE, [petitioner] Clement John Ferdinand Navarrete is sentenced to suffer an indeterminate
imprisonment of TWELVE (12) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of RECLUSION TEMPORAL, as minimum to
[SIXTEEN] (16) YEARS of RECLUSION TEMPORAL, as maximum with the accessory penalties prescribed by
the law and to pay the costs.

The accused is hereby ordered to indemnify the victim the amount of P20,000.00 as moral damages and
the amount of P10,000.00 pursuant to Section 31 of the [Act].


On appeal, the CA affirmed the decision of the RTC. Thus, this petition.

Petitioner asserts that he cannot be convicted of acts of lasciviousness in relation to Section 5(b), Article
III of RA 7610, a crime not specifically alleged in the information which charged him with statutory rape.
Otherwise, his constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him
would be violated. He likewise contends that his guilt for the said offense was not proven beyond
reasonable doubt.
There is no merit in the petition.

The Constitution mandates that the accused, in all criminal prosecutions, shall enjoy the right to be
informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. From this fundamental precept
proceeds the rule that the accused may be convicted only of the crime with which he is charged.

An exception to this rule is the rule on variance in Section 4, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court:

Judgment in case of variance between allegation and proof. When there is variance between the
offense charged in the complaint or information, and that proved, and the offense as charged is
included in or necessarily includes the offense proved, the accused shall be convicted of the offense
proved which is included in the offense charged, or of the offense charged which is included in that
which is proved.

Petitioner was found guilty of violating Article 336 of the RPC in relation to Section 5(b), Article III of RA
7610:

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:

xxx xxx xxx


(b) Those who commit the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child exploited in
prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse: Provided, That when the victim 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, [or] the [RPC], 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.
Under this provision, when the victim is under 12 years old, the accused shall be prosecuted
under either Article 335 (for rape) or Article 336 (for acts of lasciviousness) of the RPC. Accordingly,
although an accused is charged in the information with the crime of statutory rape (i.e., carnal
knowledge of a woman under twelve years of age ), the offender can be convicted of the lesser crime of
acts of lasciviousness, which is included in rape.
The case of People v. Bon is squarely in point. In that case, the accused was charged with the
rape of a six-year old girl. The Court ruled that rape was not proved beyond reasonable doubt. We,
however, held that the accused was liable for the crime of acts of lasciviousness, as defined and
penalized under Article 336 of the RPC in relation to RA 7610 since all the elements of this offense
were established. Petitioner cannot therefore successfully argue that his constitutionally protected right
to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him was violated when he was found
guilty under Section 5 of RA 7610.

Petitioner next contends that his guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt. We disagree.

In Amployo v. People, we declared that pursuant to Section 5 (b) of RA 7610, before an accused can be
convicted of child abuse through lascivious conduct on a minor below 12 years of age, the requisites for
acts of lasciviousness under Article 336 of the RPC must be met in addition to the requisites for sexual
abuse under Section 5 of RA 7610.

The elements of the crime of acts of lasciviousness under Article 336 of the RPC are the following:
(1) The offender commits any act of lasciviousness or lewdness;
(2) It is done under any of the following circumstances:
a. By using force or intimidation; or
b. When the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; or
c. When the offended party is under 12 years of age; and
(3) The offended party is another person of either sex. (emphasis supplied)
The general rule is that the factual findings of the trial court deserve a high degree of respect and will
not be disturbed on appeal in the absence of any clear showing that it overlooked, misapprehended or
misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight and substance which can alter the result of the case.
We uphold the findings of fact of the RTC, as affirmed by the CA.

The RTC and CA did not find evidence of the entrance of petitioners penis into the labia of the victims
female organ. Nevertheless, BBBs testimony established that petitioner committed lascivious acts on
her:

BY ATTY. PRINCIPE: (to witness)

Q: [BBB], do you know accused Ferdinand Navarette?
A: Yes, sir.

Q: Also named Clement John Ferdinand Navarette?
A: Yes, sir.

Q: Why do you know Clement John Ferdinand Navarette?
A: Because he is the one who did something to me.

Q: What do you mean by umano?
A. He placed his penis into my vagina. (pekpek)


Q: How many times?
A: Two times, sir.

Q: Then he placed his penis to your vagina, what did you feel?
A: I felt pain, sir.

xxx xxx xxx

Q: What else happened after Ferdinand Navarette put his penis twice on your vagina which you told
the Court you felt pain?
A: He locked me inside the [comfort room] and he took a knife.

Q: Now, when you were inside the Comfort Room and you told the Court that he got a knife, what
happened next, if any?
A: He stabbed me.

Q: Where?
A: (Witness pointing the throat.)

Q: And when you said sinaksak on your throat you mean accused only pointed [to] your throat?

xxx xxx xxx

COURT:

[All right], witness may answer.

(Witness pointing to her throat.)


Q: And what is the meaning that she wants to convey?

ATTY. TENEZA:

Witness holding her throat.

ATTY. PRINCIPE:

Pointing. Very clear.

Q: When you pointed your throat, what do you want to convey [with] the word stab?

ATTY. PRINCIPE:

A. Sinaksak. That is, Your Honor. Because this is her interpretation of pointing the knife.

xxx xxx xxx

ATTY. PRINCIPE:

After the accused locked you in the [comfort room] with the knife, according to you, what happened
next, if any?

xxx xxx xxx


Witness:

A: Then I went [out] of the [comfort room] when I heard my mother calling me.

ATTY. PRINCIPE: (to the witness)

Q: And where was your mother at that time?
A : She was outside and waiting for my Kuya [XXX].

Q: When you were called by your mother, according to you, did you approach your mother when
hearing that she was calling you?

ATTY. TENEZA:

It was already answered, Your Honor.

ATTY. PRINCIPE :

No.

COURT:

Witness may answer.

ATTY. PRINCIPE: (to the witness)

Q: And what did you tell your mother, if any?
A: I embraced her.

Q: After embracing your mother, did you tell [her] something if any?
A: She [asked] me [why] I was still watching T.V. when the people of the house were already
sleeping.

Q: What was your reply to your mama?
A: Because I used to watch T.V. [in] that place.

Q: Did you report to your mother what Ferdinand Navarette did to you?
A: Yes, sir.


Q: How did you tell your mother?
A. I told my mama Binastos ako ni Ferdie.

Q: How did you relate that you were binastos ni Ferdie?
A: I told my mama: Mama, Ferdie [placed] his penis on my vagina and then he placed a stick with
cotton on my vagina and then he boxed me, on my right side of my eye.

Q: How many times were you boxed by Ferdie, the accused?
A: Two (2) times, sir.


The foregoing shows that all the elements of acts of lasciviousness were proved. That BBB was less than
twelve years old at the time of the commission of the offense was not disputed. The prosecution
established that petitioner intentionally placed his penis in BBBs vagina but without any indication
that he was able to penetrate her:

Victim [BBB] testified that the accused placed his penis into my vagina and *placed+ a stick with
cotton *in+ my vagina but the *specific+ part of her vagina where the penis was placed was not
indicated.

xxx xxx xxx

The Court cannot [assume] without doing violence to the precious jural yardstick but the prosecution
must prove and present clear, positive and conclusive evidence of the act complained of particularly
that the penis of the accused gained entrance [in] the labia majora of the organ of the victim. Not even
in the medical findings and testimony of the NBI Medico-Legal Officer Dr. Noel Minay who conducted
physical/genital examinations on the victim could [we] find support to justify an inference that there
was entrance of the male organ of the accused within the labia of pudendum.


Both lower courts also found that petitioner poked victims vagina with a stick with cotton and watched
a pornographic movie with her. These acts are undoubtedly acts of lasciviousness or lewdness.

The elements of sexual abuse under Section 5 (b) of RA 7610 that must be proven in addition to the
elements of acts of lasciviousness are as follows:
1. The accused commits the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct.
2. The said act is performed with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual
abuse.
3. The child, whether male or female, is below 18 years of age. (Emphasis supplied)

Lascivious conduct is defined under Section 2 (h) of the rules and regulations of RA 7610 as:

[T]he intentional touching, either directly or through clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner
thigh, or buttocks, or the introduction of any object into the genitalia, anus or mouth, of any person,
whether of the same or opposite sex, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or
gratify the sexual desire of any person, bestiality, masturbation, lascivious exhibition of the genitals or
pubic area of a person.

The aforestated acts of petitioner undeniably amounted to lascivious conduct under this law.

Petitioner insists that Section 5 (b) of RA 7610 refers only to those who commit the act of sexual
intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child exploited in prostitution and argues that this does not
apply in this case since the victim is not a child exploited in prostitution.

Petitioners argument is untenable. In People v. Larin (and reiterated in several subsequent cases), we
emphasized that the law covers not only a situation in which a child is abused for profit but also one in
which a child, through coercion or intimidation, engages in any lascivious conduct. The very title of
Section 5, Article III (Child Prostitution and Other Sexual Abuse) of RA 7610 shows that it applies not only
to a child subjected to prostitution but also to a child subjected to other sexual abuse. A child is deemed
subjected to other sexual abuse when he or she indulges in lascivious conduct under the coercion or
influence of any adult. Here, BBB was sexually abused because she was coerced or intimidated by
petitioner (who poked her neck with a knife) to indulge in lascivious conduct.

Hence, the prosecution was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that petitioner committed acts of
sexual abuse against BBB. The RTC found BBBs testimony to be clear, candid, and straightforward. Her
testimony was worthy of belief since she was young and had no ill-motive to falsely testify and impute a
serious crime against the accused. In cases of acts of lasciviousness, the lone testimony of the offended
party, if credible, is sufficient to establish the guilt of the accused.

Moreover, courts are inclined to lend credence to the testimony of children of tender years. The
revelation of an innocent child whose chastity has been abused deserves full credit, as her willingness to
undergo the trouble and the humiliation of a public trial is an eloquent testament to the truth of her
complaint. In so testifying, she could have only been impelled to tell the truth.

The trial courts evaluation of the testimonies of witnesses is given great respect by the appellate court
in the absence of proof that it was arrived at arbitrarily or that the trial court overlooked material facts.
The rationale behind this rule is that the credibility of a witness can best be determined by the trial court
since it has the direct opportunity to observe the candor and demeanor of the witnesses at the witness
stand and detect if they are telling the truth or not. We will not interfere with the trial courts
assessment of the credibility of witnesses.

In the face of the serious accusation against him, petitioner could only interpose denial as defense.
Denial is an inherently weak defense and cannot prevail over the positive and categorical identification
provided by the complainant. Denial, if unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence, is a self-
serving assertion that deserves no weight in law. As between the positive declaration of the prosecution
witness and the negative statement of the accused, the former deserves more credence. The lower
courts also correctly disbelieved the corroborating testimonies of petitioners aunt and sister.

Petitioner asserts that the RTC should not have given evidentiary weight to the inconsistent and
contradictory testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. He urges this Court to apply the Latin maxim
falsus in unus, falsus in omnibus (false in part, false in everything).

We disagree. We have stated that:

*T+he maxim or rule falsus in *unus+, falsus in omnibus does not lay down a categorical test of
credibility. It is not a positive rule of law or of universal application. It should not be applied to portions
of the testimony corroborated by other evidence, particularly where the false portions could be
innocent mistakes. Moreover, the rule is not mandatory but merely sanctions a disregard of the
testimony of a witness if the circumstances so warrant. To completely disregard all the testimony of a
witness on this ground, his testimony must have been false as to a material point, and the witness must
have a conscious and deliberate intention to falsify a material point.
Furthermore, it should be borne in mind that even the most candid witness oftentimes makes
mistakes and confused statements. Instead of eroding the effectiveness of the evidence, such
imperfections and discrepancies in the testimony can in fact be considered as signs of veracity. Aside
from the fact that it is very difficult to give a mechanical and accurate account of a traumatic and
horrifying experience, the victim here was a mere five-year old girl when she was put on the witness
stand. We should not expect a five-year old child to explain with exact precision the nature of the acts
done to her, given her naivet and still undeveloped vocabulary and command of language. Despite this
limitation, however, the victim never wavered in her claim that petitioner molested her.
In sum, we find petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of acts of lasciviousness under Article
336 of the RPC in relation to Section 5 (b), Article III of RA 7610.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The September 29, 2000 decision of the Court of Appeals
affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela, Branch 171, in Criminal Case No. 5302-V-
96 finding petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of acts of lasciviousness and sentencing him to
suffer imprisonment of twelve years and one day of reclusion temporal, as minimum, to sixteen years of
reclusion temporal, as maximum, as well as to pay P20,000 moral damages and P10,000 fine is
AFFIRMED.

Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 156013 July 25, 2006
ROBERTO P. DE GUZMAN, vs. HERNANDO B. PEREZ, in his capacity as Secretary of Justice, and SHIRLEY F.
ABERDE, respondents.
May a parent who fails or refuses to do his part in providing his child the education his station in
life and financial condition permit, be charged for neglect of child under Article 59(4)1 of PD 603?2
In this petition for certiorari,3 petitioner Roberto P. de Guzman assails the January 3, 2002 resolution of
public respondent, then Justice Secretary Hernando B. Perez, dismissing de Guzmans petition for review
of the City Prosecutor of Lipa Citys resolution in I.S. No. 2000-2111. Likewise questioned is public
respondents September 24, 2002 resolution denying reconsideration.
Petitioner and private respondent Shirley F. Aberde became sweethearts while studying law in the
University of Sto. Tomas. Their studies were interrupted when private respondent became pregnant.
She gave birth to petitioners child, Robby Aberde de Guzman, on October 2, 1987.
Private respondent and petitioner never got married. In 1991, petitioner married another woman with
whom he begot two children.
Petitioner sent money for Robbys schooling only twice the first in 1992 and the second in 1993. In
1994, when Robby fell seriously ill, petitioner gave private respondent P7,000 to help defray the cost of
the childs hospitalization and medical expenses. Other than these instances, petitioner never provided
any other financial support for his son.
In 1994, in order to make ends meet and to provide for Robbys needs, private respondent accepted a
job as a factory worker in Taiwan where she worked for two years. It was only because of her short stint
overseas that she was able to support Robby and send him to school. However, she reached the point
where she had just about spent all her savings to provide for her and Robbys needs. The childs
continued education thus became uncertain.
On the other hand, petitioner managed the de Guzman family corporations. He apparently did well as
he led a luxurious lifestyle. He owned at least five luxury cars, lived in a palatial home in the exclusive
enclave of Ayala Heights Subdivision, Quezon City, built a bigger and more extravagant house in the
same private community, and sent his children (by his wife) to expensive schools in Metro Manila. He
also regularly traveled abroad with his family. Despite his fabulous wealth, however, petitioner failed to
provide support to Robby.
In a letter dated February 21, 2000, private respondent demanded support for Robby who was entering
high school that coming schoolyear (June 2000). She explained that, given her financial problems, it was
extremely difficult for her to send him to a good school.
Petitioner ignored private respondents demand. The latter was thus forced to rely on the charity of her
relatives so that she could enroll her son in De La Salle high school in Lipa City.
On June 15, 2000, private respondent filed a criminal complaint4 for abandonment and neglect of child
under Article 59(2) and (4) of PD 603 with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Lipa City. It was docketed
as I.S. No. 2000-2111.
In his counter-affidavit,5 petitioner averred that he never abandoned nor intended to abandon Robby
whom he readily acknowledged as his son. He claimed that he discharged his responsibilities as a father
and said that he paid P7,000 for his sons hospitalization and medical needs. He also shouldered the
expenses of Robbys birth and sent money to help out when Robby was sick or was in need of money.
Claiming financial incapacity, he insisted that the acts attributed to him did not constitute abandonment
or neglect.
Petitioner pointed out that private respondent was the financially capable parent while he had no fixed
job and merely depended on the charity of his father. He asserted that the five luxury cars belonged not
to him but to Balintawak Cloverleaf Market Corporation. He denied ownership of the big house in Ayala
Heights Subdivision, Quezon City. He lived there with his family only by tolerance of his father. He also
disclaimed ownership of the newly constructed house and again pointed to his father as the owner.
Even the schooling of his two children (by his wife) was shouldered by his father.
On August 1, 2000, private respondent submitted her reply-affidavit.6 To prove petitioners financial
capacity to support Robbys education, she attached a notarized copy of the General Information Sheet
(GIS) of the RNCD Development Corporation. It showed that petitioner owned P750,000 worth of paid-
up corporate shares.
In his rejoinder-affidavit,7 petitioner maintained that his equity in the RNCD Development Corporation
belonged in reality to his father. The shares were placed in his name only because he had no means to
invest in the corporation. He could not use, withdraw, assign or alienate his shares. Moreover, the
corporation was virtually dormant and petitioner did not receive any compensation as its secretary.
On August 15, 2000, the City Prosecutor of Lipa City issued his resolution8 dismissing the complaint for
abandonment but finding probable cause to charge petitioner with neglect of child punishable under
Article 59(4) of PD 603 in relation to Section 10(a)9 of RA 7610.10
On August 25, 2000, an information was filed before Branch 85 of the Regional Trial Court of Lipa City
for the crime of neglecting a minor child. It was docketed as Criminal Case No. 0431-00.
Before petitioner could be arraigned, however, he filed a petition for review of the City Prosecutors
resolution with the Secretary of Justice.
On January 3, 2002, public respondent dismissed the petition for review and affirmed the City
Prosecutors resolution.11 He found that petitioners ostentatious and luxurious lifestyle constituted
circumstantial evidence of his ample financial resources and high station in life. Petitioner did not deny
allegations that he failed to send a single centavo for the education of his son. All the elements of the
offense were therefore sufficiently established. Petitioners claim that everything he had belonged to his
father was a defense which should properly be raised only during trial.12
Petitioner sought reconsideration but the same was denied.13 Hence, this petition.
Petitioner contends that public respondent acted with grave abuse of discretion in sustaining the City
Prosecutors resolution. He insists that there is no probable cause to justify his prosecution for neglect
of a minor child. First, he is financially incapable to give support. One can only be charged with neglect if
he has the means but refuses to give it. Second, Robby is not a neglected child. He has been given, albeit
by private respondent who is the financially capable parent, the requisite education he is entitled to.
The petition is without merit.
The rule is that judicial review of the resolution of the Secretary of Justice is limited to a determination
of whether it is tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.14
Courts are without power to substitute their judgment for that of the executive branch.15 They may
only look into the question of whether such exercise has been made in grave abuse of discretion.16
Grave abuse of discretion is such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment which amounts to an
excess or lack of jurisdiction.17 Where it is not shown that the findings complained of are wholly devoid
of evidentiary support or that they are patently erroneous as to constitute serious abuse of discretion,
the findings must be sustained.18
The assailed resolutions of public respondent were supported by evidence on record and grounded in
law. They were not issued in a capricious, whimsical or arbitrary manner. There is therefore no reason to
countermand them.
Petitioner is charged with neglect of child punishable under Article 59(4) of PD 603 which provides that:
Art. 59. Crimes. Criminal liability shall attach to any parent who:
xxx xxx xxx
(4) Neglects the child by not giving him the education which the familys station in life and financial
conditions permit.
xxx xxx xxx
The crime has the following elements:
(1) the offender is a parent;
(2) he or she neglects his or her own child;
(3) the neglect consists in not giving education to the child and
(4) the offenders station in life and financial condition permit him to give an appropriate education to
the child.
Here, petitioner acknowledged Robby as his son. He has not denied that he never contributed for his
education except in two instances (1992 and 1993). He admitted that the boys education was being
financed by private respondent and her relatives. He stated under oath that the last time he sent
material support to his son was in 1994 when he gave P7,000 for the latters hospitalization and medical
expenses.
There is a prima facie showing from the evidence that petitioner is in fact financially capable of
supporting Robbys education. The notarized GIS of the RNCD Development Corporation indicates that
petitioner owns P750,000 worth of paid-up shares in the company.
Petitioners assertion that the GIS is not evidence of his financial capability (since the shares are
allegedly owned by his father) is of no moment. The claimis factual and evidentiary, and therefore a
defense which should be interposed during the trial.

The argument that criminal liability for neglect of child under Article 59(4) of PD 603 attaches only if
both parents are guilty of neglecting the childs education does not hold water.
The law is clear. The crime may be committed by any parent. Liability for the crime does not depend on
whether the other parent is also guilty of neglect. The law intends to punish the neglect of any parent,
which neglect corresponds to the failure to give the child the education which the familys station in life
and financial condition permit. The irresponsible parent cannot exculpate himself from the
consequences of his neglect by invoking the other parents faithful compliance with his or her own
parental duties.
Petitioners position goes against the intent of the law. To allow the neglectful parent to shield himself
from criminal liability defeats the prescription that in all questions regarding the care, custody,
education and property of the child, his welfare shall be the paramount consideration.19
However, while petitioner can be indicted for violation of Article 59(4) of PD 603, the charge against him
cannot be made in relation to Section 10(a) of RA 7610 which provides:
SEC. 10. Other Acts of Neglect, Abuse, Cruelty or Exploitation and Other Conditions Prejudicial to the
Childs Development.
(a) Any person who shall commit any other acts of child abuse, cruelty or exploitation or be responsible
for other conditions prejudicial to the childs development including those covered by Article 59 of PD
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. (emphasis supplied)
xxx xxx xxx
The law expressly penalizes any person who commits other acts of neglect, child abuse, cruelty or
exploitation or be responsible for other conditions prejudicial to the childs development including those
covered by Article 59 of PD 603 "but not covered by the Revised Penal Code."
The "neglect of child" punished under Article 59(4) of PD 603 is also a crime (known as "indifference of
parents") penalized under the second paragraph of Article 277 of the Revised Penal Code.20 Hence, it is
excluded from the coverage of RA 7610.
We make no determination of petitioners guilt or innocence of the crime charged. The presumption of
innocence in his favor still stands. What has been ascertained is simply the existence of probable cause
for petitioners indictment for the charge against him, that is, whether there is sufficient ground to
engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and that petitioner is probably guilty
thereof, and should thus be held for trial. Petitioners guilt should still be proven beyond reasonable
doubt in Criminal Case No. 0431-00.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.