Sanchez vs. People

G.R. No. 179090, June 5, 2009


Appellant was charged with the crime of Other Acts of Child Abuse in an Information[6] 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],[7] 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.

The appellant argues that the injuries inflicted by him were minor in nature that it is not prejudicial to the child-victim’s development and therefore P.D. No. 603 is not applicable and he should be charged under the Revised Penal Code for slight physical injuries.


Whether or not P.D. 603 as amended is applicable to the case at hand.


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.

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. 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 child’s development. Contrary to petitioner’s 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 child’s 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 child’s 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.

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.