CASE: People of the Philippines vs. Vicente Vañas (G.R. No. 225511  March 20, 2019)

PONENCIA: Del Castillo, J.:

CASE BRIEF 2019-0101

FACTS:

Vicente was charged and convicted for violation of Section 5(b) of RA 7610. The Information read as follows:

“That on June 15, 2009, at about 6:00 o’clock in the morning, xx x Province of Albay, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, who is an adult, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously and, taking advantage of the tender age of BBB, a 16 year-old child, commit the act of sexual intercourse with the child, which act debases and demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of the said child as a human being and prejudicial to her development. The act of the commission of child abuse is attended by the qualifying/aggravating circumstances of minority of herein victim and relationship, herein accused being the live-in partner of the mother of the victim.
ACTS CONTRARY TO LAW.”

When arraigned, Vicente pleaded “not guilty”.

ISSUE:

Whether the allegations in the Information are sufficient to constitute the offense.

RULING:

The Information shows the insufficiency of the allegations as to constitute the offense of violation of Section 5 of RA 7610.

Section 5 (b) of R.A. No. 7610, otherwise known as the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discriminatory Act, provides:

Section 5. Child Prostitution and Other Sexual Abuse. – Children, whether male or female, who for money, profit, or any other consideration or due to the coercion or influence of any adult, syndicate or group, indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be children exploited in prostitution and other sexual abuse.

The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua shall be imposed upon the following:

(a) xxxxx

(b) Those who commit the act of sexual intercourse of lascivious conduct with a child exploited in prostitution or subject to other sexual abuse; Provided, That when the victims is under twelve (12) years of age, the perpetrators shall be prosecuted under Article 335, paragraph 3, for rape and Article 336 of Act No. 3815, as amended, the Revised Penal Code, for rape or lascivious conduct, as the case may be: Provided, That the penalty for lascivious conduct when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age shall be reclusion temporal in its medium period;

Xxx”

The elements of this offense are: (1) the accused commits the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct; (2) the said act is performed with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse; and (3) the child, whether male or female, is below 18 years of age.

An examination of the Information shows the insufficiency of the allegations therein as to constitute the offense of violation of Section 5 of RA 7610 as it does not contain all the elements that constitute the same. To be more precise, there was a complete and utter failure to allege in the Information that the sexual intercourse was “performed with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse”. “A child is deemed exploited or subjected to other sexual abuse, when the child indulges in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct (a) for money, profit, or any other consideration, or (b) under the coercion or influence of any adult, syndicate or group.”

To be sure, the exact phrase “exploited in prostitution or subjected to other abuse” need not be mentioned in the Information. Moreover, “the use of derivatives or synonyms or allegations of basic facts constituting the offense charged is sufficient.”  However, this established legal precept is not satisfied in this case since the Information failed to describe in intelligible terms with such particularity as to apprise the Vicente, with reasonable certainty, the offense charged. The Information did not contain words of similar or identical meaning to describe the offense allegedly violated.

Thus, Vicente cannot be convicted for violation of Section 5(b) of RA 7610 since not all the elements of this offense were clearly alleged in the Information. To convict him of an offense not properly alleged in the Information would violate his constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. An Information that “does not contain all the elements constituting the crime charged cannot serve as a means by which said constitutional requirement is satisfied.


THINGS DECIDED:

a)The elements of Section 5(b) of RA 7610) are:
(1) the accused commits the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct;
(2) the said act is performed with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse; and
(3) the child, whether male or female, is below 18 years of age.

b) “A child is deemed exploited or subjected to other sexual abuse, when the child indulges in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct (a) for money, profit, or any other consideration, or (b) under the coercion or influence of any adult, syndicate or group.”

c) To convict an accused of an offense not properly alleged in the Information would violate his constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.

‘Stand by things decided’ ~ Stare Decisis

Read Full Text: People Vs. Vañas


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