Sunday, July 28, 2013

Other acts of child abuse, cruelty and exploitation under Republic Act (RA) No. 7610

One may be surprised that Republic Act (RA) No. 7610, also known as “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act,” was approved into law as early as June 17, 1992.

Under this law, the State creates sanctions to deter violations against children such as trafficking, child prostitution and other forms of sexual abuse, and discrimination against children from indigenous communities. RA 7610 allows children to enjoy their rights protected from any abuse or prejudice which may threaten their development.

Section 10 of this law provides -

“(a) Any person who shall commit any other acts of child abuse, cruelty or exploitation or to be responsible for other conditions prejudicial to the child's development shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period. (Six years and one day)

The penalty for the crimes of murder, homicide, other intentional mutilation, and serious physical injuries, respectively, shall be reclusion perpetua when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age. (Thirty years)”

Two notable cases are:

Jumaquio vs. Villarosa (GR No. 165924, [2009])

The case originates from an incident that happened on August 2, 2003, when petitioner Resty Jumaquio allegedly threatened and assaulted two young men, then ages 13 and 17.  

On account of that altercation, two separate Informations were filed with the RTC of San Jose City, for two distinct offenses of child abuse—Criminal Case No.  SJC-78-04 for child abuse committed through the use of threatening words, and Criminal Case No. SJC-79-04 for child abuse through the infliction of physical injuries. Both were upheld by the Supreme Court.  

In the first information, petitioner is charged with child abuse by uttering debasing, demeaning and degrading words to the minor.  

In the second, he is charged with child abuse by inflicting physical injuries that debase, demean and degrade the dignity of the children as human beings.

Sanchez vs. People of the Philippines (G.R. No. 179090, [2009])

Appellant contended 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.

But according to the Supreme Court, appellant conveniently forgot 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 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 child’s development.

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.

It must be noted that in both cases, it was clearly established that the accused inflicted abuses against the victims, including the manner by which said abuses were inflicted or committed.

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