Criminal Law,  Legally Yours

Rosaldes v. People

Criminal Law. Definition of child abuse under RA 7610.
Felina Rosaldes v. People of the Philippines
G.R. No. 173988, October 8, 2014
Bersamin, J.:

FACTS:
The petitioner Felina Rosaldes, a public schoolteacher, was charged and found guilty of child abuse punished under RA 7610.

It appears from the records that seven-year-old Michael Ryan Gonzales, then a Grade 1 pupil, was hurriedly entering his classroom when he accidentally bumped the knew of his teacher, herein petitioner, who was then asleep on a bamboo sofa. Petitioner asked Michael to apologize, the latter, however, proceeded instead to his seat. Petitioner then pinched Michael on his thigh, held him up by his armpits and pushed him to the floor causing him to hit a desk and, consequently, losing his consciousness. Petitioner proceeded to pick Michael by his ears and repeatedly slammed him down on the floor.

Petitioner contends that she did not deliberately inflict the physical injuries suffered by Michael to maltreat or malign him in a manner that would debase, demean or degrade his dignity and avers that her maltreatment is only an act of discipline that she as a schoolteacher could reasonably do towards the development of the child.

ISSUE:
Is petitioner guilty of the crime of child abuse punishable under RA 7610

HELD:
YES, petitioner Rosaldes is guilty of a violation of RA 7610. Although the petitioner, as a schoolteacher, could duly discipline Michael Ryan as her pupil, her infliction of the physical injuries on him was unnecessary, violent and excessive. The boy even fainted from the violence suffered at her hands.

Section 3 of Republic Act No. 7610 defines child abuse:
x x x x
(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.
x x x x

In the crime charged against the petitioner, therefore, the maltreatment may consist of an act by deeds or by words that debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being. The act need not be habitual. The physical pain experienced by the victim had been aggravated by an emotional trauma that caused him to stop going to school altogether out of fear of the petitioner, compelling his parents to transfer him to another school where he had to adjust again. Such established circumstances proved beyond reasonable doubt that the petitioner was guilty of child abuse by deeds that degraded and demeaned the intrinsic worth and dignity of Michael Ryan as a human being.

Hence, petitioner Rosaldes is guilty of the crime of child abuse punished under RA 7610.

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