Saturday, January 11, 2014

With the loss of his self-control, he lacked that specific intent to debase, degrade or demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being that was so essential in the crime of child abuse. -

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"x x x.

Although we affirm the factual findings of fact by the RTC and the CA to the effect that the petitioner struck Jayson at the back with his hand and slaped Jayson on the face, we disagree with their holding that his acts constituted child abuse within the purview of the above-quoted provisions. The records did not establish beyond reasonable doubt that his laying of hands on Jayson had been intended to debase the “intrinsic worth and dignity” of Jayson as a human being, or that he had thereby intended to humiliate or embarrass Jayson. The records showed the laying of hands on Jayson to have been done at the spur of the moment and in anger, indicative  of his being then overwhelmed by his fatherly concern for the personal safety of his own minor daughters who had just suffered harm at the hands of Jayson and Roldan. With the loss of his self-control, he lacked that specific intent to debase, degrade or demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being that was so essential in the crime of child abuse.
It is not trite to remind that under the well-recognized doctrine of pro reo every doubt is resolved in favor of the petitioner as the accused. Thus, the Court should consider all possible circumstances in his favor.18 
What crime, then, did the petitioner commit? 

Considering that Jayson’s physical injury required five to seven days of medical attention,19 the petitioner was liable for slight physical injuries under Article 266 (1) of the Revised Penal Code, to wit: 
Article 266. Slight physical injuries and maltreatment. — The crime of slight physical injuries shall be punished: 
1. By arresto menor when the offender has inflicted physical injuries which shall incapacitate the offended party for labor from one to nine days, or shall require medical attendance during the same period. 
x x x x

The penalty for slight physical injuries is arresto menor, which ranges from one day to 30 days of imprisonment.20 

 In imposing the correct penalty, however, we have to consider the mitigating circumstance of passion or obfuscation under Article 13 (6) of the Revised Penal Code,21 because the petitioner lost his reason and self-control, thereby diminishing the exercise of his will power.22 Passion or obfuscation may lawfully arise from causes existing only in the honest belief of the accused.23 It is relevant to mention, too, that in passion or obfuscation, the offender suffers a diminution of intelligence and intent. With his having acted under the belief that Jayson and Roldan had thrown stones at his two minor daughters, and that Jayson had burned Cherrlyn’s hair, the petitioner was entitled to the mitigating circumstance of passion. Arresto menor is prescribed in its minimum period (i.e., one day to 10 days) in the absence of any aggravating circumstance that offset the mitigating circumstance of passion. Accordingly, with the Indeterminate Sentence Law being inapplicable due to the penalty imposed not exceeding one year, the petitioner shall suffer a straight penalty of 10 days of arresto menor. 

The award of moral damages to Jayson is appropriate. Such damages are granted in criminal cases resulting in physical injuries.25 The amount of P5,000.00 fixed by the lower courts as moral damages is consistent with the current jurisprudence.26 

x x x."