G.R. No. 195224, June 15, 2016
VIRGINIA JABALDE Y JAMANDRON, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the Decision2 dated August 12, 2010 and the Resolution3 dated January 4, 2011 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 00424, which affirmed with modification the Judgment4 promulgated on May 31, 2006 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bayawan City, Negros Oriental, Branch 63, in Criminal Case No. 210, finding Virginia Jabalde y Jamandron (Jabalde) guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violation of Section 10(a), Article VI, of Republic Act (R.A) No. 7610, otherwise known as the "Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, Discrimination Act."
That on December 13, 2000 at 9:00 o'clock in the morning, more or less, in Barangay Cawitan, Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental, and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, [Jabalde], with cruelty and with intent to abuse, maltreat and injure one LIN J. BITOON, 8 years of age, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously slap and strike said Lin J. Bitoon, hitting said Lin J. Bitoon on the latter's nape; and immediately thereafter[,] [c]hoke the said offended party, causing the latter to sustain the following injuries: Abrasions: Two (2), linear 1 cm in length at the base of the right mandibular area; One (1), linear 1 inch at the right lateral neck; Two (2), linear 1 cm in length at the anterior neck; and Four (4), minute circular at the left lateral neck, which acts of sa[i]d accused caused the said offended part[y] not only physical but also emotional harm prejudicial to his development.The witnesses presented by the prosecution were: Lin J. Bito-on (Lin), the minor victim; Dr. Rosita Muñoz (Dr. Muñoz), the physician who examined Lin; Ray Ann Samson (Ray Ann), the classmate of Lin who witnessed the incident; and Aileen Bito-on (Aileen), the mother of Lin.7chanrobleslaw
CONTRARY to the aforesaid.6chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
WHEREFORE, the prosecution having proved the guilt of [Jabalde] beyond reasonable doubt of violation of paragraph (a), Section 10, Article VI of R.A. 7610, as amended, [Jabalde] is Convicted. Appreciating in her favor the mitigating circumstance of passion and obluscation, and applying the provisions of the indeterminate sentence law, [Jabalde] is hereby sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment ranging from six (6) months and one (1) day of prision correccional in its minimum period, as minimum to six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor in its minimum period, as maximumNaturally dissatisfied with the trial court's decision, Jabalde appealed to the CA.
The bond posted for her temporary liberty is hereby ordered release.
WHEREFORE, the 31 May 2006 Decision, of the [RTC], Branch 63, Bayawan City, Negros Oriental, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that [Jabalde] is hereby sentenced to suffer 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.Jabalde filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied by the CA on January 4, 2011.21
- Whether or not acts complained of are covered by the Revised Penal Code (RPC) or R.A. No. 7610.
- Whether or not under the facts established, the lower court erred in appreciating the acts of Jabalde as constitutive of violation of Section 10(a), Article VI of R.A. No. 7610.
[Jabalde] postulates that other acts of child abuse falling under Section 10 (a), Art. II, R.A. 7610 is limited to acts not punishable under the [RPC]. As the law is being defined in this section:Here, Jabalde questions the applicability of R.A. No. 7610 on the factual circumstances of the case and is correct in claiming that the instant petition raises pure question of law28 and not question of fact29 as being argued by the OSG. In Cucueco v. CA,30 the Court discussed the distinction between questions of law and questions of fact, to wit:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary"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 [RPC], as amended, shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period[."]
Needless to say, acts which are covered under the [RPC] will be dealt with under the provisions of the [RPC] and definitely, out of the context of R.A. 7610, particularly Section 10 (a). In the case of [Jabalde], the act of inflicting injuries, however minute they were, is punishable under the [RPC] particularly Article 266 (1) which defines slight physical injuries. The act of [Jabalde] in slapping, striking and choking [Lin], causing abrasions on the different parts of his neck is absolutely covered within the realm of Article 266 (1). 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, shall be punished with arresto menor.27 (Citations omitted)
The distinction between questions of law and questions of fact has long been settled. There is a "question of law" when the doubt or difference arises as to what the law is on certain state of facts, and which does not call for an examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the parties-litigants. On the other hand, there is a "question of fact" when the doubt or controversy arises as to the truth or falsity of the alleged facts. Simply put, when there is no dispute as to fact, the question of whether or not the conclusion drawn therefrom is correct, is a question of law."The Court has consistently ruled that a question of law exists when there is a doubt or controversy as to what the law is on a certain state of facts. On the other hand, there is a question of fact when the doubt or difference arises as to the truth or the alleged falsehood of the alleged facts. For a question to be one of law, it must involve no examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the litigants or any of them."32chanrobleslaw
Simple as it may seem, determining the true nature and extent of the distinction is sometimes complicated. In a case involving a "question of law," the resolution of the issue must rest solely on what the law provides on the given set of circumstances. Once it is clear that the issue invites a review of the evidence presented, the question posed is one of fact. If the query requires a re-evaluation of the credibility of witnesses, or the existence or relevance of surrounding circumstances and their relation to each other, the issue in that query is factual.
x x x The test of whether a question is one of law or of fact is not the appellation given to such question by the party raising the same; rather, it is whether the appellate court can determine the issue raised without reviewing or evaluating the evidence, in which case, it is a question of law; otherwise, it is a question of fact.31 (Citations omitted and emphasis ours)
The [OSG] in his comment is correct in saying that the issues that could be raised in a petition for review are purely questions of law. Guided by this principle, [Jabalde] comes to this Court to raise a question of law. [Jabalde] has been arguing when she availed of his right to appeal that the acts of the [OSG] does not fall within the definition of R.A. 7610 and should not be convicted on the basis of the said law. This is not a new matter that [Jabalde] raised.34chanroblesvirtuallawlibraryThe law under which Jabalde was charged, tried and found guilty of violating is Section 10(a), Article VI, of R.A. No. 7610, which states:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
SEC. 10. Other Acts of Neglect, Abuse, Cruelty or Exploitation and Other Conditions Prejudicial to the Child's Development.Child abuse, the crime charged, is defined by Section 3(b) of R.A. No. 7610, as follows:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary(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 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. (Emphasis ours)
SEC. 3. Definition of terms. -In the recent case of Bongalon v. People,35 the Court expounded the definition of "child abuse" being referred to in R.A. No. 7610. In that case, therein petitioner was similarly charged, tried, and convicted by the lower courts with violation of Section 10(a), Article VI of R.A. No. 7610. The Court held that only when the laying of hands is shown beyond reasonable doubt to be intended by the accused to debase, degrade or demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of the child as a human being should it be punished as child abuse, otherwise, it is punished under the RPC, to wit:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
x x x x
(b) "Child Abuse" refers to the maltreatment, whether habitual or not, of the child which includes any of the following:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary(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.
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 slapped 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.36 (Emphasis ours and italics in the original)Jabalde was accused of slapping and striking Lin, hitting the latter on his nape, and immediately thereafter, choking the said offended party causing the latter to sustain injuries.37 However, the records of the case do not show that Jabalde intended to debase, degrade or demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of Lin as a human being.
[T]he abrasions could have been caused by a hard object but mildly inflicted. She also testified that the linear abrasions were signs of fingernail marks. She did not notice other injuries on the body of the victim except those on his neck. Moreover, the abrasions were greenish in color, signifying that they were still fresh.42 (Emphasis ours)It would be unforeseeable that Jabalde acted with cruelty when prosecution's witness herself testified that the abrasions suffered by Lin were just "mildly inflicted." If Jabalde indeed intended to abuse, maltreat and injure Lin, she would have easily hurt the 7-year-old boy with heavy blows.
ART. 266. Slight physical injuries and maltreatment - The crime of slight physical injuries shall be punished:As found out by Dr. Muñoz, Lin only sustained abrasions namely: two linear abrasions of 1 cm in length at the base of the right mandibular area; one linear abrasion of 1 inch in length at the right lateral neck; two linear abrasions of 1 cm in length at the back of the neck; and four minute circular abrasions at the left lateral neck.43 When there is no evidence of actual incapacity of the offended parly for labor or of the required medical attendance; or when there is no proof as to the period of the offended party's incapacity for labor or of the required medical attendance, the offense is only slight physical injuries.44chanrobleslaw
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryx x x x
2. By arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 20 pesos and censure when the offender has caused physical injuries which do not prevent the offended party from engaging in his habitual work nor require medical assistance.
x x x x
In order to be found guilty of the felonious acts under Articles 262 to 266 of the [RPC], the employment of physical injuries must be coupled with dolus malus. As an act that is mala in se, the existence of malicious intent is fundamental, since injury arises from the mental state of the wrongdoer — iniuria ex affectu facientis consistat. If there is no criminal intent, the accused cannot be found guilty of an intentional felony. Thus, in case of physical injuries under the [RPC], there must be a specific animus iniuriandi or malicious intention to do wrong against the physical integrity or well-being of a person, so as to incapacitate and deprive the victim of certain bodily functions. Without proof beyond reasonable doubt of the required animus iniuriandi, the overt act of inflicting physical injuries per se merely satisfies the elements of freedom and intelligence in an intentional felony. The commission of the act does not, in itself, make a man guilty unless his intentions are.48chanroblesvirtuallawlibraryIn the case at bar, the positive testimonies of the minor victim Lin that Jabalde slapped him on his neck and choked him,49 and that of Ray Ann that she saw Jabalde struck Lin on his neck, squeezed it and then shouted, "Better that you are able to free yourself because if not I should have killed you,"50 deserve more credit than Jabalde's own statement that she merely held Lin still because the latter kept on jumping.51 The laying of the hands and the utterance of words threatening the life of Lin established the fact that Jabalde, indeed, intended to cause or inflict physical injuries on, much less kill, Lin.
1Rollo, pp. 11-22.
2 Penned by Associate Justice Ramon A. Cruz, with Associate Justices Pampio A. Abarintos and Myra V. Garcia-Fernandez concurring; id. at 26-38.
3 Id. at 42-43.
4 Issued by Judge Orlando C. Velasco; id. at 44-50.
5 Id. at 26-27.
6 Id. at 27.
8 Id. at 27-28.
9 Id. at 28.
12 Id. at 29.
14 Id. at 30.
15 Id. at 29-30.
16 Id. at 30.
17 Id. at 44-50.
18 Id. at 49.
19 Id. at 26-38.
20 Id. at 36.
21 Id. at 42-43.
22 Art. 266. Slight physical injuries and maltreatment. - The crime of slight physical injuries shall be punished:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary(1) By arresto menor when the offender has inflicted physical injuries which shall incapacitate the offended party from labor from one to nine days, or shall require medical attendance during the same period.
23Rollo, pp. 19-20.
24 Id. at 82-87.
25cralawred 649 Phil. 729 (2010).
26 619 Phil. 235 (2009).
27Rollo, pp. 19-20.
28 Id. at 106.
29 Id. at 83.
30 484 Phil. 254 (2004).
31 Id. at 264-265.
32Tamondong v. CA, 486 Phil. 729, 739 (2004).
33Rollo, pp. 105-108.
34 Id. at 106.
35 707 Phil. 11 (2013).
36 Id. at 20-21.
37Rollo, p. 27.
38Black's Law Dictionary 430 (8th ed. 2004).
39 Id. at 456.
40Webster's Third New International Dictionary 599 (1986).
41Rollo, p. 29.
42 Id. at 28.
44Li v. People, 471 Phil. 128, 150 (2004); People v. Arranchado, et al., 109 Phil. 410, 414 (1960).
45 680 Phil. 527 (2012).
46 Id. at 564.
47 Id. at 564-565.
48 Id. at 589-590.
49Rollo, pp. 27-28.
50 Id. at 28.
51 Id. at 29-30.
52 REVISED PENAL CODE, Article 27.
53 ART. 13. Mitigating circumstances. - The following are mitigating circumstances:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryx x x x
6. That of having acted upon an impulse so powerful as naturally to have produced passion or obfuscation.
54Bongalon v. People, supra note 35, at 21-22.
55People v. Lobino, 375 Phil. 1065, 1074 (1999).
56People v. Gonzalez, Jr., 411 Phil. 893, 924 (2001).
57 REVISED PENAL CODE, Article 64(2).
58 Act No. 4103, as amended by Act No. 4225 and Republic Act No. 4203, Section 2.