G.R. No. 173988, October 8, 2014
FELINA ROSALDES, Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
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Secondly, the petitioner contends that she did not deliberately inflict the physical injuries suffered by MichaelRyan to maltreat or malign him in a manner that would debase, demean or degrade his dignity. She characterizes her maltreatment as anact of discipline that she as a school teacher could reasonably do towards the development of the child. She insists that her act further came under the doctrine of in loco parentis.
The contention of the petitioner is utterly bereft of merit.
Although the petitioner, as a school teacher, could duly discipline Michael Ryan as her pupil, her infliction of the physical injuries on him was unnecessary, violent and excessive. The boy even fainted from the violence suffered at her hands.13 She could not justifiably claim that she acted only for the sake of disciplining him. Her physical maltreatment of him was precisely prohibited by no less than the Family Code, which has expressly banned the infliction of corporal punishmentby a school administrator, teacher or individual engaged in child care exercising special parental authority (i.e., in loco parentis), viz:
Article 233. The person exercising substitute parental authority shall have the same authority over the person of the child as the parents.
In no case shall the school administrator, teacher or individual engaged in child care exercising special parental authority inflict corporal punishment upon the child. (n)
Proof of the severe results of the petitioner’s physical maltreatment of Michael Ryan was provided by Dr. Teresita Castigador, the Medico-Legal Officer of the Dr. Ricardo Y. Ladrido Memorial Hospital in Iloilo who examined the victim at about 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon of February 13, 1996, barely three hours from the timethe boy had sustained his injuries. Her Medical Report stated as follows:
1. Petechiae and tenderness of both external ears 1x2 cm. and 1x1 cm.;
2. Lumbar pains and tenderness at area of L3-L4;
3. Contusions at left inner thigh 1x1 and 1x1 cm.;
4. Tenderness and painful on walking especially at the area of femoral head.
Reflecting her impressions of the physical injuries based on the testimonial explanations of Dr. Castigador, the trial judge observed in the decision of June 26, 2003:
A petechiae (wound no. 1), according to Dr. Castigador is a discoloration of the skin caused by the extravasation of blood beneath it. She opined that the petechiae and tenderness of the ears of the victim could have been caused by pinching. As to the lumbar pain and tenderness at the third and fourth level of the vertebrae (wound no. 2), the doctor testified that during her examination of the victim the latter felt pain when she put pressure on the said area. She stated that this could be caused by pressure or contact with a hard object. Wound No. 3 is located on the victim’sleft inner thigh. According to her this could not have been caused by ordinary pinching with pressure. Wound No. 4 is located on the upper part of the left thigh. Dr. Castigador testified that she noticed that the boy was limping as he walked.14
Section 3 of RepublicAct No. 7610 defines child abusethusly:
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(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.
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In the crime charged against the petitioner, therefore, the maltreatment may consist of an act by deeds or by words that debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being. The act need not be habitual. The CA concluded that the petitioner "went overboard in disciplining Michael Ryan, a helpless and weak 7-year old boy, when she pinched hard Michael Ryan on the left thigh and when she held him in the armpits and threw him on the floor[; and as] the boy fell down, his body hit the desk causing him to lose consciousness [but instead] of feeling a sense of remorse, the accused-appellant further held the boy up by his ears and pushed him down on the floor."15 On her part, the trial judge said that the physical pain experienced by the victim had been aggravated by an emotional trauma that caused him to stop going to school altogether out of fear of the petitioner, compelling his parents to transfer him to another school where he had to adjust again.16 Such established circumstances proved beyond reasonable doubt thatthe petitioner was guilty of child abuse by deeds that degraded and demeaned the intrinsic worth and dignity of Michael Ryan as a human being.
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