Petitioner was charged with child abuse, an act in violation of Section 10(a) of RA 7610, for allegedly committing acts of physical abuse and/or maltreatment by striking Jayson Dela Cruz (12 year old) with his palm hitting the latter at his back and by slapping said minor hitting his left cheek and uttering derogatory remarks to the latter’s family, which acts of the accused are prejudicial to the child’s development and which demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of the said child as a human being.
Petitioner denied having physically abused or maltreated Jayson. He explained that he only talked with Jayson and Roldan after his minor daughters, Mary Ann Rose and Cherrylyn, had told him about Jayson and Roldan’s throwing stones at them and about Jayson’s burning Cherrylyn’s hair. He denied shouting invectives at and challenging Rolando to a fight, insisting that he only told Rolando to restrain his sons from harming his daughters. RTC and CA found and declared petitioner guilty of child abuse.
Whether petitioner was guilty of the crime charged.
The law under which the petitioner was charged, tried and found guilty of violating is Section 10 (a), Article VI of Republic Act No. 7610, which relevantly states:
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.
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Child abuse, the crime charged, is defined by Section 3 (b) of Republic Act No. 7610, as follows:
Section 3. Definition of terms. –
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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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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.
What crime, then, did the petitioner commit? Considering that Jayson’s physical injury required 5-7 days of medical attention, the petitioner was liable for slight physical injuries under Article 266 (1) of the Revised Penal Code.
WHEREFORE, we SET ASIDE the decision of the CA; and ENTER a new judgment finding P GUlLTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of SLIGHT PHYSICAL INJURIES under paragraph 1, Article 266, of the Revised Penal Code.