Crimes Against Persons In The Philippines | Revised Penal Code
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Contents

Introduction

The enumerated offenses under Title Eight of the Revised Penal Code are categorized under three chapters, to wit: destruction of life, physical injuries and rape.  These are crimes against persons in the Philippines, among others. For the purpose of this article, the succeeding sections will tackle on the first two which covers sub-topics as:

  1. Destruction of life
    1. Parricide, murder, homicide
    2. Infanticide and abortion
    3. Duel
  2. Physical Injuries
    1. Mutilation
    2. Slight, Less Serious and Serious physical injuries

These crimes can be regarded as the most injurious to one’s very person such that these offenses regard so lowly of one’s worth as a human being. One who harbors such great an ill unto another to the point of deliberately causing bodily harm or threat or even contemplating on the thought of killing another is an offense so grave deserving of harsh punishment. The offender in these crimes obviously intends to willfully inflict physical injury into his victim, or worse take away one’s life.

It is necessary to understand the nature and presence of the elements of the crime to be able to distinguish properly what crime was committed and in order to determine which accompanying penalty is to be meted upon the offender.

Sometimes it is also crucial to determine if there is a relationship between the offender and the victim, and if such exists, what type of relationship it is.  For certain type of crimes against persons, it is also helpful to distinguish whether it is intentional or otherwise.

Albeit varying circumstances surrounding an incident of a crime falling under this title, it is certain that the offender has the propensity to cause injury.  Motive will matter however there are extraordinary situations where it may serve the purpose of a defense.

The succeeding sections intend to elaborate on these aspects of crime.  Bearing in mind that by its very nature, crimes against persons are regarded as the most serious ones.

What do you mean by Destruction of Life contemplated under the Revised Penal Code?

The rights offended in this title of the Revised Penal Code is enshrined in no less than the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Section 1, Article III of the Bill of Rights states that:

“No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied equal protection of law.”

To deprive one’s life deliberately is tantamount to destruction.  To destruct means to annihilate, eliminate, eradicate, obliterate beyond repair.  In fact, in the hierarchy of rights, right to life prevails over all others.

Such sanctity regarded to life is that superior in that the right to life does not simply means to live, but to do so with dignity and comfort.  If such conditions to right to life is given that utmost protection and guaranty by the State, what gravity of consequence would it entail for someone who takes away this life?

What is Parricide?

As provided for in Article 246 of the Revised Penal Code,

“Parricide. – Any person who shall kill his father, mother, or child, whether legitimate or illegitimate, or any of his ascendants, or descendants, or his spouse, shall be guilty of parricide and shall be punished by the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death.” (As amended by R.A. No. 7659)

Parricide is a crime premised on relationship. What kind of relationship is contemplated in the crime of parricide?

First, it must be legitimate relationship, except in the case of parent and child

Second, the said relationship must be in the direct line, those in the collateral line such as brother or sister are excluded

Third, the relationship must be by blood, in case of ascendants or descendants and with the exception in the case of spouses

How is the crime of Parricide committed?

In the book of Justice Luis B. Reyes, for the crime of parricide to be committed, the following elements must be present:

  1. That the person is killed
  2. That the deceased is killed by the accused
  3. That the deceased is the father, mother, or child, whether legitimate or illegitimate, or a legitimate other ascendant or other descendant, or the legitimate spouse of the accused

Who are the offended parties in the crime of Parricide?

As it was mentioned in the previous section that relationship is the basis for the crime of parricide to arise, please refer to the table below for the outline of the offended parties or victims and their corresponding relationship to the offender.

To what extent is an Illegitimate Filiation considered in order that a perpetrator may be held liable for Parricide?

According to Article 246 of the Revised Penal Code, Any person who shall kill his father, mother, or child, whether legitimate or illegitimate… shall be guilty of parricide…”

It is stated in the book of Justice Luis B. Reyes, that if the deceased is either the father, mother, or child, of the accused, proof of legitimacy is not required. Thus, an illegitimate son who kills his biological father is liable for the crime of parricide.

Article 165 of the Family Code[1]Article 165, Family Code states that “Children conceived and born outside a valid marriage are illegitimate, unless otherwise provided in this Code.”  An illegitimate child is also at times called non-marital child.  Justice Luis B. Reyes provided a simpler definition and coverage of the term illegitimate” as embracing all children born out of wedlock and includes adulterine, incestuous and sacrilegious children.

If one of the co-conspirators is the husband or the wife, who is the inducer, what will be the crime committed by the direct perpetrator who is not related to the deceased spouse, assuming the killing was attendant with treachery?

The direct perpetrator shall be liable as principal by direct participation for the crime of murder qualified by aggravating circumstance of treachery while the inducer husband or wife shall be liable for parricide as principal by inducement.

This is an application of the foregoing section which implicates the spouse as principally liable for killing his wife or husband in the crime of parricide.  In conspiracy, it has been said that the act of one is the act of all. But in this scenario, conspiracy will not lie. Hence, both the spouse inducer and the direct perpetrator are held liable for the act of killing the victim but in two separate charges and information determined by the existence or absence of relationship to the victim.

Will the aggravating circumstance of Treachery be appreciated against the inducer spouse?

The aggravating circumstance of treachery cannot be appreciated against the inducer spouse for two reasons: first, it is only a qualifying circumstance under the crime of murder and second, the relationship in the crime of parricide is personal to the husband or wife inducer and cannot be transferred to a third person or stranger, for that matter.

What is Death in Exceptional Cases?

As contemplated in Article 247 of the RPC, death in exceptional cases are those that results from the killing by any legally married person or to parents with respect to their daughters under eighteen years of age, while the daughters are living with their parents, who having surprised his spouse or his daughter in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person or immediately thereafter.

How does this happen?

Under the law, death under exceptional cases happens when the following elements concur:

  1. A legally married person or parent surprises his spouse or daughter (the latter must be under 18 of age and are living with their parents) in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person;
  2. He/she kills any or both of them in the act or immediately thereafter; and
  3. He/she has not promoted or facilitated the prostitution of his/her husband/wife or daughter, or that he/she has not consented to the infidelity of the other spouse.

When will this be considered as an Absolutory Cause?

It is an absolutory cause if only less serious or slight physical injuries were inflicted, there will be no criminal liability. As the 2nd paragraph of Article 247 of the RPC states that if any physical injuries of any other kind are inflicted, the act shall exempt from punishment.

What is the crime committed by the spouse who kills other half under the circumstances mentioned in Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code?

The subject article does not actually exact penalty or does not define and penalize a felony. What it provides is for the imposition of the penalty of destierro rather than the ordinary penalty for parricide or homicide provided in for in Articles 246 and 249, respectively.

Wherein, destierro only prohibits the convicted person from entering court-designated places or a specified radius of those places. It is a mere banishment and, as held in a case, is intended more for the protection of the accused from retaliation of the family members of the deceased than a punishment.

In addition, since Article 247 of the RPC does not charge a distinct crime, the accused charged with killing his wife’s paramour, cannot enter into a conditional plea of guilty and be sentenced immediately to destierro. The court must receive evidence on the circumstances surrounding the killing.

Must the spouse actually witness the actual sexual intercourse before this provision will apply?

Generally, yes, actual sexual intercourse with another person must be actually witness by the spouse. Otherwise, Article 247 is not applicable. In several cases decided by the Supreme Court, the phrase “in the act of committing sexual intercourse” does not include merely sleeping on the same bed. Neither does that phrase include a situation where the accused surprised his wife after the act, as when he saw her already rising up and the man buttoning his drawers.

But it is enough that the circumstances show reasonably that the carnal act is being committed or has just been committed. As contemplated in the case of People vs. Gonzales, for a husband to be justified, it is not necessary that he sees the carnal act being committed by his wife with his own eyes. It is enough that the surprises them under such circumstances as to show reasonably that the carnal act are being committed or have just been committed.

Discuss the conflicting jurisprudence on this matter

In several cases decided by the Supreme Court (SC) including the controversial case of People vs. Gonzales, the majority of SC Justices decreed that actual sexual intercourse must be present in order to claim the benefits of Article 247 of RPC.

However, Justice Laurel in his dissenting opinion in the above-stated case, asked: “Must the offended husband look on in the meantime and wait until the very physical act of coition takes place? This interpretation is far from being rational and certainly does violence to the reason and purpose of the law.” Meantime, it is enough that the spouse surprises them under such circumstances as to show reasonably that the carnal act is being committed or has just been committed.

How can a killing be regarded as Murder?

It is a public knowledge that killing a person is one of the most abhorrent crimes, however, it is to be noted that not all killings can be considered as a crime of murder.  Murder is defined and penalized under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code as the unlawful killing of a person, which is not parricide or infanticide, attended by circumstances such as treachery or evident premeditation. The presence of any one of the circumstances enumerated in Article 248 of the Code is sufficient to qualify a killing as murder.

Further, murder requires the following elements: (1) that a person was killed; (2) that the accused killed him or her; (3) that the killing was attended by any of the qualifying circumstances mentioned in Article 248; and (4) that the killing is not parricide or infanticide.[2]The Revised Criminal Code Book II, Luis B. Reyes

What are the circumstances that must be present in order for the killing to be classified as Murder?

The presence of any of the circumstances provided in Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as amended by Republic Act No. 7659 (RA 7659), shall cause the act of killing as a crime of murder, which read:

Art. 248. Murder. – Any person who, not falling within the provisions of Article 246 shall kill another, shall be guilty of murder and shall be punished by reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death, if committed with any of the following attendant circumstances:

  1. With treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, with the aid of armed men, or employing means to weaken the defense or of means or persons to insure or afford impunity. 
  1. In consideration of a price, reward, or promise. 
  1. By means of inundation, fire, poison, explosion, shipwreck, stranding of a vessel, derailment or assault upon a street car or locomotive, fall of an airship, by means of motor vehicles, or with the use of any other means involving great waste and ruin. 
  1. On occasion of any of the calamities enumerated in the preceding paragraph, or of an earthquake, eruption of a volcano, destructive cyclone, epidemic or other public calamity. 
  1. With evident premeditation. 
  1. With cruelty, by deliberately and inhumanly augmenting the suffering of the victim, or outraging or scoffing at his person or corpse.

If abuse of superior strength and treachery are attendant in the killing of an individual, can you appreciate one as qualifying circumstance and the other as a generic aggravating circumstance?

As a rule in the application of the circumstance which qualify the killing to murder, when the other circumstances are absorbed or included in one qualifying circumstance, they can no longer be appreciated as a generic aggravating circumstance.[3]The Revised Criminal Code Book II, Luis B. Reyes

In this case, the qualifying circumstance of murder is either abuse of superior strength or treachery.  Thus, if treachery is the one alleged in the information as a qualifying circumstance for a charge of murder, the abuse of superior strength can no longer be appreciated as a generic aggravating circumstance since the latter is necessarily included in the former.

Does the theory of absorption apply in this case, meaning, one circumstance will necessarily be absorbed by the other, hence, not to be appreciated separately and independently?

In People vs. Sespeñe, et al. [102 Phil. 199], the same case was decided of which the Court held that the aggravating circumstances of superior strength and aid of armed men, as well as night time which also concurred in the commission of the offense, are included in the qualifying circumstance of treachery and cannot be appreciated separately from the latter circumstance. Hence, applying the same, treachery absorbed abuse of superior strength as a qualifying circumstance thereby causing the latter to be not appreciated separately and independently.

If one is a principal by induction and the other is by direct participation, when the latter kills another in a treacherous manner, will treachery be appreciated against the principal by induction?

The treachery will be appreciated against the principal by induction provided that he has knowledge of the employment of such treacherous manner.  As for the principal by direct participation, the treachery will qualify his criminal liability for the charge of murder being the executor.

While for the principal by induction, by having the knowledge of the employment of treachery, conspiracy is then established.  Thus, as a rule of “the act of one is the act of all” in conspiracy, the latter shall be held liable as co-principal for the same crime committed.

Will the recent pandemic qualify as a situation under par. 4 of Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code? How?

 One of the attending circumstances which cause the act of killing as a crime of murder in Article 248 of RPC paragraph 4, is on occasion of any of the calamities enumerated in the preceding paragraph, or of an earthquake, eruption of a volcano, destructive cyclone, epidemic or other public calamity.

The issue lies herein is whether COVID-19 pandemic which falls under this provision should be appreciated to qualify the crime to murder.   In this case for such to be appreciated, it should be showing the the offender has took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic in the commission of the crime.

How will you consider the killing as a mere crime of Homicide?

Under the law, homicide is defined as the unlawful killing of any person, which is neither parricide, murder, nor infanticide.  Further, homicide requires the following elements:

(1) that a person was killed;

(2) that the accused killed him or her;

(3) that the accused had the intention to kill, which is presumed; and

(4) That the killing was not attended by any of the qualifying circumstances of murder, or by that of parricide or infanticide.

In the event that the victim was not killed, the accused shall be charge with a crime of either attempted or frustrated homicide. Thus, the determination of intent to kill is material in its commission. On the other hand, when the victim was killed, even if there is no intent to kill, the crime of homicide is consummated as intent to kill is conclusively presumed when death resulted.

Distinguish Parricide, Murder, and Homicide

In the crime of parricide, its distinguishing factor among others is the relationship of the offender with the victim being the essential element of the crime.  While for murder, the Code specifically provides the attending circumstances which the presence for any of such qualify the unlawful killing as murder if not being parricide or infanticide.

Lastly, for the crime of homicide, a catch all principle may be applied in setting it apart from the others.  In that sense, any unlawful killing which is neither parricide, murder nor infanticide, the offender is to be implicated for the crime of homicide.

What penalties should the court impose in cases of Frustrated Parricide, Murder, and Homicide?

There are different penalties imposed on Frustrated or Attempted Parricide, Murder and Homicide.

Penalties imposable under Art. 250

According to Art. 250 of the Revised Penal Code, The Court may impose a penalty lower by one degree than the imposed under Art. 50.

Art. 50 provides that the penalty next lower in degree than that prescribed by law for the consummated felony shall be imposed upon the principal in a frustrated felony.

Hence, the court may impose a penalty two degrees lower for frustrated parricide, murder or homicide, in view of the facts of the case. This provision is permissive, not mandatory.

While in cases of attempted parricide, murder or homicide then the Court may impose a penalty three degrees lower.

In the Philippines, there are many instances of riots and rumbles occurring in different public places such as the streets, school premises, local bars etc. and as result of that commotion someone gets injured and may be killed. Most of us only see such disturbances as riots but not as an affray.

According to the case People v. Julianda, Jr., 422 Phil. 28, 51 (2001), A tumultuous affray takes place when a quarrel occurs between several persons and they engage in a confused and tumultuous affray, in the course of which some person is killed or wounded and the principal or perpetrator thereof cannot be ascertained.

How is the offense of Death by Tumultuous Affray committed?

According to Revised Penal Code, Article 251 Death Caused in tumultuous affray. – When, while several persons, not composing groups organized for the common purpose of assaulting and attacking each other reciprocally, quarrel and assault each other in a confused and tumultuous manner, and in the course of the affray someone is killed, and it cannot be ascertained who actually killed the deceased, but the person or persons who inflicted serious physical injuries can be identified, such person or persons shall be punished by prision mayor.

If it cannot be determined who inflicted the serious physical injuries on the deceased, the penalty of prision correctional in its medium and maximum periods shall be imposed upon all those who shall have used violence against the person of the victim.

What is tumultuous affray?

As defined in the case of People v. Julianda, it means a commotion in a tumultuous and confused manner, to such an extent that it would not be possible to identify who the killer is if death results, or who inflicted the serious physical injuries, but the author or authors who used violence are known. Tumultuous affray exists when at least four persons took part therein.[4]BAR 1997, 2010

The following elements must be present:

1] There should be several or at least 4 persons

According to the Revised Penal Code [RPC], Book II by Reyes, The word “several” (in the phrase “when, while several persons”) in Art. 251 means more than that two but not very many. The word “tumultuous” as used in Art. 153 of the RPC means that the disturbance is caused by more than three persons who are armed or are provided with means of violence.

2] That they did not compose groups organized for the common purpose of assaulting and attacking each other reciprocally otherwise, they may be held liable as co-conspirators

Note. There is no crime of death in a tumultuous affray if the fight or rumble is between two (2) well-known groups. (People vs. Corpus, 102 SCRA 674). Example of which is 2 well known Fraternity groups who engaged in a rumble for the purpose of hurting the other to see who is superior.

3] That these several persons quarreled and assaulted one another in a confused and tumultuous manner

4] Someone was killed in the course of the affray

In the fourth element, the person killed in the course of the fight need not be included or participant in the affray.

5] That it cannot be ascertained who actually killed the deceased

If the one who inflicted the mortal wound is known, the crime is not homicide in tumultuous affray. It is a case of homicide under Art. 249 against the one who inflicted the fatal wound.

 6] That the person or persons who inflicted serious physical injuries or who used violence can be identified.

Who are liable for the death caused in the tumultuous affray?

  1. The person or persons who inflicted the serious physical injuries are liable pursuant to Art. 251, par 1 of the Revised Penal Code.
  2. If the person who inflicted the serious physical injuries on the deceased, all the persons who used violence upon the person of the victim are liable, but with lesser liability. (Art. 251, par. 2)

Illustration:

In a free-for-all fight in a night club, A, B, C and D and had a confrontation with another three persons X, Y and Z. During the rumble X was mortally wounded, but it did not appear who inflicted the wounds. There was a confusion in the fight. The four accused A, B, C and D did not help one another in attacking the said wounded person.

In this case the accused A, B, C and D being participants were guilty of death caused in a tumultuous affray, and as the person who inflicted the wounds could not be identified, they were all liable under the 2nd paragraph of Art. 251, because they all used violence.  Although A, B, C and D on one hand and the three persons, on the other, seem to form two groups, such is not the case because there was no solid evidence that such groups are formed for the purpose or intention of using violence.

How is the offense of Physical Injuries Inflicted in a Tumultuous Affray committed?

According to the Revised Penal Code Art. 252. Physical injuries inflicted in a Tumultuous affray- When in a tumultuous affray as referred to in the preceding article, only serious physical injuries are inflicted upon the participants thereof and the person responsible therefore cannot be identified, all those who appear to have used violence upon the person of the offended party shall suffer the penalty next lower in degree than that provided for the physical injuries so inflicted.

When the physical injuries inflicted are of a less serious nature and the person responsible therefor cannot be identified, all those who appear to have used any violence upon the person of the offended party shall be punished by arresto mayor from five to fifteen days.

The following elements must be present:

  1. There is a tumultuous affray as referred to in the preceding article;
  2. A participant or some participants thereof suffer serious physical injuries or physical injuries of a less serious nature only;

Unlike the victim in Art. 251, The victim in this article who sustained physical injuries must be a participant in the affray.

Are slight physical injuries included in this article?

There is no clear provision for slight physical injuries in a tumultuous affray. The second paragraph mentions physical injuries of a less serious nature. It seems that they refer to less serious physical injuries.

  1. Person responsible thereof cannot be identified; and
  2. All those who appear to have used violence upon the person of the offended party are known.

This article will not apply when a person is killed.

Illustration:

During an election rally, a free-for-all fight erupted when an unidentified person threw a bottle and suddenly hit a person. As a result of the tumultuous affray, It was found that Macoy sustained bruises and three superficial wounds.

Leoncio, Peng, Francis and Ernie were proven to be participants in the “rumble”, each using a wooden placard and plastic chair against Macoy, but it could not be ascertained who among them inflicted the serious physical injuries. Who shall be held criminally liable for the injuries sustained by Macoy?

In this case, Leoncio, Peng, Francis and Ernie being participants in the tumultuous affray and having been proven to have inflicted serious physical injuries, or at least, employed violence upon Macoy, are criminally liable for the injuries sustained by Macoy.

And because it cannot be ascertained who among them inflicted the injuries on Macoy, there being a free-for-all fight or tumultuous affray. Leoncio, Peng, Francis and Ernie are all liable for the crime of Physical Injuries Inflicted in a Tumultuous Affray.

Taking one’s own life

In an article of the Inquirer, The Philippines suicidal rates continue to spike even amid the pandemic. According to the data of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said from 2,810 deaths by intentional self-harm in 2019, the number spiked to nearly double or 4,420 in 2020.

Suicide is the biggest mistake a human may make and a crime that should never be committed. Our churches views that taking one’s life and of its own is a mortal sin. However, some still resort in committing suicide due to depression and other mental health issues.

What is the felony of Giving Assistance to Suicide?

According to the Revised Penal Code Art. 253. Giving Assistance to Suicide – Any person who shall assist another to commit suicide shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor, if such person lends his assistance to another to the extent of doing the killing himself, he shall suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal. However, if the suicide is not consummated, the penalty of arresto mayor in its medium and maximum periods shall be imposed.

Acts punishable as giving assistance to suicide.

  1. By assisting another to commit suicide, whether the suicide is consummated or not.
  2. By lending his assistance to another to commit suicide to the extent of doing the killing himself.

This means that the person who is giving assistance to suicide, that is, only furnishing or providing the “means” to the person committing suicide. If the perpetrator who lends his assistance in the performance of the act to do the killing himself, and the suicide is not consummated, the penalty of arresto mayor in its medium and maximum periods mentioned in the second sentence of Art. 253 should not be imposed.

The penalty one or two degrees lower than that provided for consummated suicide, where the assistance of the offender consists in performing acts to do the killing himself, should be imposed, depending upon whether it is frustrated or it is attempted suicide.

Does the person who commit suicide will incur any criminal liability?

The answer is No, A person who attempts to commit suicide is not criminally liable, because society has always considered a person who attempts to kill himself as an unfortunate being, a wretched person more deserving of pity rather than of penalty.[5]Reyes, 2021

Assistance to suicide is different from mercy killing

Euthanasia- commonly known for mercy killing, is the practice of painlessly putting to death a person suffering from some incurable disease or sickness to relieve from pain and suffering. Euthanasia is not lending assistance to suicide. The person killed does not want to die. A doctor who resorts to euthanasia of his patient may be liable for murder.[6]Art. 248, RPC

Illustration:

A and B are law school students, after hearing the bar exam scores A failed and tried to intoxicate himself, A wanted to commit suicide after feeling aggrieved and pitiful that he wasted his life in preparation for the said exam. A desperately then asked B to help him end his life.

B however tried to persuade him that there is still hope and A can still retake the exam, A shouted at B that he is his friend and will help him no matter what the circumstances, B carelessly then suggested to drink the bottle of “pesticide” since it is less painful and the fastest way. A took the bottle of pesticide from B and later on died in the process. What is the criminal liability of B?

B is liable for giving assistance to suicide. Pursuant to Art.253 Any person who shall assist another to commit suicide whether consummated or not shall be liable. B in this case carelessly suggested and provided the means for A to commit suicide. A however in this case does not incur any criminal liability.

An attempt on, or a conspiracy against, the life of the Chief Executive, etc., is punishable by death.

According to the RPC Book II by Justice Reyes Any person who shall attempt on, or conspire against, the life of the Chief Executive of the Republic of the Philippines, that of any member of his family, or against the life of any member of his cabinet or that of any member of the latter’s family, shall suffer the penalty of death.[7]Presidential Decree No. 1110-A which took effect on March 29, 1977 Although, death cannot be imposed anymore as a punishment.

What is the crime of Discharge of Firearms?

According to Article 254 of the Revised Penal Code, Discharge of Firearms. -Any person who shall shoot at another with any firearm shall suffer the penalty of prision correctional in its minimum and medium periods, unless the facts of the case are such that the act can be held to constitute frustrated or attempted parricide, murder, homicide, or any other crime for which a higher penalty is prescribed by any of the articles of this code.

Elements:

1] That the offender discharges a firearm against or at another person.

The act constituting the offence is shooting at another with any firearm, without any intent to kill him. If the person is not discharged at a person, there is no crime of discharge of firearm.

2] That the offender has no intention to kill that person.

How is this different from attempted homicide?

In Article 254, There is no intention to kill the person. If the discharge of the firearm at the offended party is coupled with intent to kill him, the felony should be classified as frustrated or attempted parricide, murder or homicide, and not merely illegal discharge of firearm. This is so because Art. 254 states, unless the facts of the case are such that the act can be held to constitute frustrated or attempted parricide, murder or homicide.

How is this different from Alarm and Scandal?

It is different in the manner of how the firearm is discharged, the discharge towards the house of the victim is not a discharge of firearm. A discharge of firearm at the house of the victim, not knowing in what part of the house the people were, is only punishable of alarms and scandals under Art. 155 of the RPC. It is an element in Art. 254 that in the discharge of the firearm it is against or at another person.

Discharge of Firearms, Attempted Homicide, and Alarms and Scandals | How do they differ?

At a first glance, the three (3) crimes seem to be relatively similar. It involves a person, trying to injure someone. Some can insinuate that common to them is the use of firearms. That is partly correct. But with strict scrutiny, these crimes are way different from one another. From the manner, it was committed, to the arms used, and to whom the injury was inflicted.

The most glaring difference among these crimes is the intention. Only in Attempted Homicide, it is relevant that there is an intent to kill. In Discharge of Firearms and Alarms and Scandals, there is none.

This is clearly stated in the provisions in the RPC. If you will look at Article 249 of the RPC, one of the elements of Homicide is the intent to kill. It will be frustrated or attempted if, despite that intention, the ultimate goal to kill a person did not materialize. On the other hand, under articles 155 and 254, the crimes of Discharge of Firearms and Alarms and Scandals will be consummated by merely firing a firearm.

Another main difference is the type of weapon used. In Attempted Homicide, it is not expressly stated that it should be a firearm. The accused can use other deadly weapons such as bolo, steel club, knife, etc. In Discharge of Firearms and Alarms and Scandals, the weapon should only be a firearm or a gun.

To visually appreciate the differences among these crimes and to further understand them, let us compare them through their intentions, the weapons used, how they can be committed, and the injured or affected party.

Infanticide and Abortion

Infanticide as defined by the RPC is the killing of any child less than three days old, whether the killer is the parent, grandparent, any relative of the child, or a stranger. Upon the plain reading of article 255 wherein the crime of Infanticide can be found, it is notable that it does not have a penalty on its own.

The penalties for parricide or murder shall be applied as the case may be. However, there are some exceptions to this.  When the crime was committed by the mother of the child for the reason of concealing her dishonor, shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its medium and maximum period. On the other hand, if it is committed by the maternal grandparents, for the same reason, the penalty will be reclusion temporal.

Do take note that the reason to conceal dishonor is not an element of the crime. The elements are only:

  1. A child was killed
  2. The deceased child was aged not more than three days
  3. The child must be killed by the accused

Concealing dishonor will only act as a mitigating circumstance exclusively for the mother and the maternal grandparents. However, for the mother to invoke the said mitigating circumstance, she should first show that she is of good reputation.

In the case of People vs. Jaca and Rasalan, the Supreme Court Ruled that Proceso Rasala, sister-in-law of Severa Jaca, was found guilty of Infanticide and was penalized with the penalty ascribed to murder. This is despite the reason that he has done it is to protect the honor of their family.

A stranger, in this case, can also be liable for the crime of Infanticide. Provided that the stranger will cooperate with the mother or the maternal grandparents in killing the child. The stranger shall be criminally liable for Infanticide and shall suffer the penalty prescribed in murder.

Now we go to Abortion. RPC enumerates four (4) types to commit the crime of abortion:

  1. Intentional Abortion
  2. Unintentional Abortion
  3. Abortion practiced by the woman herself or her parents
  4. Abortion practiced by a Physician or Midwife

We will discuss each thoroughly, but first, what is Abortion?

Abortion is the willful killing of the fetus in the uterus or the violent expulsion of the fetus from the maternal womb which results in the death of the fetus. Hence, if the fetus is alive, despite the employment of violence, then the crime of Abortion is not consummated.

Then we should also determine what is considered a Fetus? Fetus, as a reference to this crime, should be less than six months before sustaining life. However, if the fetus dies because of violence or the administration of drugs, then for the sake of Abortion, it shall be considered a fetus even if the fetus is full term.

Intentional Abortion

Art. 256. Intentional Abortion – Any person who shall intentionally cause an abortion shall suffer:

  1. The penalty of reclusion temporal if he shall use any violence upon the person of the pregnant woman.
  2. The penalty of prision mayor, is if, without using violence, he shall act without the consent of the woman.
  3. The penalty of prision correctional in its medium and maximum periods, if the woman shall have consented.

What we should remember here is that there are three ways to consummate the crime. With violence, the administration of a drug or beverage upon the pregnant woman without her consent, and the administration of a drug or beverage with the woman’s consent. The other thing to remember is that the abortion should be intended, and the accused in this crime is a third person and not the pregnant woman per se.

Unintentional Abortion

Art. 257. Unintentional Abortion – The penalty of prision correcional in its minimum and medium periods shall be imposed upon any person who shall cause an abortion by violence, but unintentional.

In Unintentional Abortion, it can only be consummated through the use of violence which is intentionally exerted. Herein, abortion is only incidental to the violence of a third person.

So, there is no abortion in a case where W suffers an abortion because M, pointed a gun at her, and threatened to kill her if she will not give her purse and handbag.

Do take note that there is also an Unintentional Abortion through Imprudence.

In the case of People vs. Jose, Romeo Jose, while driving a truck, bumped a calesa where Caridad Palacio was onboarded. During that incident, Caridad was then six months pregnant. Unfortunately, because of the said incident, Caridad was forced to have an abortion. The Court held Romeo Jose guilty of the crime of Unintentional Abortion through Imprudence.

Can the crime of Unintentional Abortion be complexed?

Indeed, the crime can be complexed with homicide or parricide as the case may be.

M heavily boxed W, who is pregnant, suffered hemorrhage which resulted in the premature delivery of her baby. Unfortunately, W later died.  In this case, M is guilty of the complex crime of Homicide with Unintentional Abortion. Using the same case, if M is W’s husband, then, the crime will now be Parricide with Unintentional Abortion.

Abortion is practiced by the Woman herself or by her parent

Art. 258. Abortion practiced by the woman herself or by her parent – The penalty of prision correcional in its medium and maximum periods shall be imposed upon a woman who shall practice abortion upon herself or shall consent that any other person should do so.

Any woman to commit this offense to conceal her dishonor shall suffer the penalty of prision correcional in its minimum and medium periods.

If the crime can be committed by the parents of the pregnant woman or either of them, and they act with the consent of said woman for the purpose of concealing her dishonor, the offender shall suffer the penalty of prision correcional its medium and maximum periods.

Take note that the RPC list down three different forms the crime can be consummated:

  1. By the pregnant woman herself or any other person with the consent of the former.
  2. By the pregnant woman herself to conceal dishonor.
  3. By the parents, either or both of them, to conceal dishonor provided that the pregnant woman gave her consent.

In the first form, the pregnant woman herself is liable of 258. On the other hand, the third person is not liable under 258, but 256. The same principle shall apply in the third form if the reason of the pregnant woman’s parent is not to conceal dishonor.

The text of the article itself clearly expresses that if the purpose is to conceal dishonor, it will only be mitigating on the part of the pregnant woman and not on her parents.

Abortion practiced by a Physician or Midwife

Art. 259. Abortion practiced by a physician or midwife and dispensing of abortives – The penalties provided in Article 256 shall be imposed in its maximum period, respectively upon any physician or midwife who, taking advantage of their scientific knowledge or skill, shall cause an abortion or assist in causing the same. 

Any pharmacist who, without proper prescription from a physician, shall dispense any abortive shall suffer aresto mayor and a fine not exceeding One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00)

At the onset, we can assume that this crime is a qualifying crime because it raised the penalties stipulated in article 256 in its maximum period. The reason for such, as stated in the book of Luis B. Reyes, “Physicians and Midwives who cause or assist in causing abortion are more severely punished because they incur a heavier guilt in making use of their knowledge for the destruction of human life, where it should be used only for its preservation.”

For the criminal liability of the pharmacist, we must remember that what is being penalized is the mere act of dispensing any abortive without a proper prescription. The pharmacist does not need to know that it would be used for abortion. Likewise, it is immaterial whether or not such abortive will be used. However, if so, then it will not fall under this crime. The pharmacist will now be liable as an accomplice to committing abortion.

Difference between Infanticide and the forms of Abortion

One might argue that these crimes are almost the same. They all involved the killing of a baby, whether or not for a reason to conceal dishonor. There is the attendant of a third party, and it seems to always involve the consent of the pregnant woman.

Physical Injuries

The crimes of Physical Injuries can be found in Chapter Two, Title Eight of the RPC. There are five crimes under Physical Injuries namely:

  1. Mutilation (Art.262)
  2. Serious Physical Injuries (Art.263)
  3. Administering Injurious substance or beverages (Art.264)
  4. Less Serious Physical Injuries (Art.265)
  5. Slight Physical Injuries and Maltreatment (Art.266)

Mutilation

The term mutilation means the lopping or the clipping off of some part of the body. The RPC identifies two kinds of mutilation;

  1. By intentionally mutilating another by depriving him, either totally or partially, of some essential organs for reproduction.
  2. By intentionally making other mutilation, that is, by lopping or clipping off any part of the body of the offended party, other than the essential organ for reproduction, to deprive him of that part of the body.

The first kind of mutilation is similar to castration, however, in this case, it is done purposely. Do note that what the law punishes here is the intentional deprivation of the man of his testes, hence, not destroying life per se, but the capability to transmit it.

This should not be interchanged with vasectomy because it is the process of clinically depriving the man of his capacity to reproduce. The difference lies in the purpose. In mutilation, it is done, again purposely and intentionally.  On the other hand, vasectomy is more of the whim of the man himself.

Mutilation is not exclusive to the genital, this can also be done to other parts of the body such as ears, arms, or legs. This is directly stated in the second type of mutilation. Mayhem will also fall under mutilation. It involves violently depriving a person of his body parts. Take note that the keyword is violent.

Serious, Less Serious, and Slight Physical Injuries

When it comes to the crimes of Physical Injuries, we often hear Serious, Less Serious, and Slight Physical Injuries. Often, we might think that this involves causing physical harm to another person such as but not limited to punching, kicking, or stabbing. But how do we look at it from a legal perspective? How do we apply and appreciate these crimes? Well, let us all find out.

Article 263 of the RPC states that the crime of Serious Physical Injuries can be committed by any person who shall wound, beat, or assault another. To further expound this general definition, the RPC also provided that there are Serious Physical Injuries when as a result, the injured person:

  1. Becomes insane, imbecile, impotent, or blind.
  2. Loses the use of speech, ability to hear or smell, loses an eye, a hand, arm, foot, or leg; loses the use of any such member, or becomes incapacitated for the work in which he was previously habitually engaged.
  3. Becomes deformed, loses any other member of his body, loses the use thereof, or becomes ill or incapacitated for the work in which he was previously habitually engaged for more than 90 days.
  4. Becomes incapacitated for labor for more than 30 days, but not to exceed 90 days.

Strangely, administering injurious substances also falls under this category.

Do take note also that intention to kill is absent in this crime. Because if there is, then the crime committed will be attempted or frustrated homicide, murder, parricide, or as the case may be.

Also, this can be consummated through imprudence or simple imprudence, or negligence.

Now we know the basics of the crime, we will go and discuss each the paragraphs on how it can be committed.

Injured person becomes insane, imbecile, impotent, or blind

In Black’s Law dictionary, insane is when a person has an unsound mind; deranged, disordered, or diseased in mind or mad. While imbecile is more or less advanced decay and feebleness of the intellectual faculties; that weakness of mind which, without depriving the person entirely of the use of his reason.

Impotence, in Medical Jurisprudence—Inability on the part of the male organ of copulation to perform its proper function. Impotence applies only to disorders affecting the function of the organ of copulation.[8]Dennis, System of Surgery; Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, Rawle’s Third Revision, Vol. II, p. 1514

Blindness in this topic refers to both eyes. If blindness is only in one eye, then it will be under the second paragraph of committing Serious Physical Injuries.

Loss of speech or power to hear or smell, an eye, hand, foot, arm, leg; or the use of such member or becomes incapacitated for work

What is important to remember here is that the loss of hearing must be in both ears, otherwise, it will be under the third paragraph. As we have mentioned earlier, the blindness of an eye is considered in this topic.

For the loss of a hand, foot, arm, or any body part, it should be a principal part of the body, hence, finger or toes is not included. Also, this should be permanent so as to incapacitate the person to work permanently. If that will not be the scenario, then it might be a crime under the third or fourth paragraph of this article as the case may be.

It is important to remember here as well that the person should have actual work, where he or she is habitually engaged during the commission of the crime. This criterion shall also be applicable to the next succeeding paragraphs.

Deformity, loss of any other member of the body, becomes ill or incapacitated to work for more than 90 days

Deformity in general is the loss of shape or structure of a particular thing. Deformity as defined in RPC is when it caused physical ugliness, permanent and definite in nature, and it must be conspicuous and visible. Hence, loss of body parts, aside from the principal parts such as eye, hand, arm, or leg, will constitute deformity.

When it comes to the incapacity to work, this paragraph explicitly provides a period when a person can recover. Likewise, illness is also included here. We can say that there is an illness when a person failed to immediately recover from the wound inflicted.

Incapacitated for labor for more than 30 days but less than 90 days

This is a bit self-explanatory. We apply the provision in the second and third paragraphs of this article but for a shortened period. Just take note that in this case, the word used is “labor” meaning any work and not necessarily the labor that we discussed in the preceding paragraphs. Do note that nowhere in this article requires any medical assistance.

Administering Injurious Substance 

The crime can be committed by any person who inflicted serious physical injury to another, by knowingly administering to that person an injurious substance; can be a beverage, or by taking advantage of the person’s weakness of mind.

Remember that intent to kill is not present here, and the injurious substance must be administered or injected into the body of the person. A mere throwing or splashing of the said substance will not consummate the crime. This crime is really strange because it also involves the act of taking advantage of a person’s body through weakness of mind in case of witchcraft, philters, magnetism, and other similar activities.

Less Serious Physical Injuries

The crime contemplated here is any physical injuries, not described or included in the preceding paragraph, that shall incapacitate the person for labor for ten days or more, but not to exceed thirty days, or needs medical assistance covering the same period.

The said crime can be qualified if it was committed with/by;

  1. A manifest intent to insult or offend the injured person.
  2. Any circumstances adding ignominy to the offense.
  3. The offender’s parents, ascendants, guardians, curators, or teachers.
  4. Persons of rank or in authority provided that the crime is not direct assault.

In this crime, it is expressly stated that medical attendance or incapacity is required for it to be consummated. Therefore, if A was injured, and got hospitalized for three days, after his discharge from the hospital, A still needs to rest for fifteen days, hence he is incapacitated, and there is a crime of Less Serious Physical Injury. Remember that these two are indispensable requirements of the said crime.

Slight Physical Injuries

The key elements of the crime are:

  1. Physical injuries incapacitated the offended party for labor from one to nine days or requires medical assistance for the same period.
  2. Physical injuries which did not prevent the offended party nor require medical assistance for the same period.
  3. Ill-treatment of another by deed without causing any injury.

When there is no actual evidence of the injury, it will be automatically be considered a Slight Physical Injury.

Rape

Under Republic Act No. 8353, the crime of rape has been transferred from Crimes against Chastity to Crimes against Persons. it provides, therefore, that:

Rape as a Crime Against Persons. – The crime of rape shall hereafter be classified as a Crime Against Persons under Title Eight of Act No. 3815, as amended, otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code. Accordingly, there shall be incorporated into Title Eight of the same Code a new chapter to be known as Chapter Three on Rape, to read as follows:

“x x x . . .

“Article 266-A. Rape: When And How Committed. – Rape is committed:

“1) By a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:

“a) Through force, threat, or intimidation;

“b) When the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious;

“c) By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority; and

“d) When the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age or is demented, even though none of the circumstances mentioned above be present.

“2) By any person who, under any of the circumstances mentioned in paragraph 1 hereof, shall commit an act of sexual assault by inserting his penis into another person’s mouth or anal orifice, or any instrument or object, into the genital or anal orifice of another person.

Relevant Jurisprudence

People vs. Tibon

In the said jurisprudence,[9]G.R. No. 188320, June 29, 2010 Tibon was accused of parricide for killing his two children who were both more or less three years old. His defense was he was not in the right mind when the crime happened. He claimed that he was informed by his siblings that he killed his children causing him to jump off the window.[10]Ibid.

The Court ruled that the accused is guilty of Parricide. The Court state that the appeal admits that parricide has indeed been committed. The defense, however, banks on Tibon’s insanity to exempt him from punishment.[11]Ibid.

The defense has unsatisfactorily shown that Tibon was insane when he stabbed his two young sons. The aforementioned circumstances are not easily available to an accused as a successful defense.[12]Ibid.

Insanity is the exception rather than the rule in the human condition. Anyone who pleads the exempting circumstance of insanity bears the burden of proving it with clear and convincing evidence. It is in the nature of confession and avoidance.[13]Ibid.

An accused invoking insanity admits to have committed the crime but claims that he or she is not guilty because of insanity. The testimony or proof of an accused’s insanity must, however, relate to the time immediately preceding or coetaneous with the commission of the offense with which he is charged.[14]Ibid.

The change in Tibon’s behavior was triggered by jealousy. He acted out of jealous rage at the thought of his wife having an affair overseas. Uncontrolled jealousy and anger are not equivalent to insanity. Nor is being despondent, as Tibon said he was when interviewed by the police.[15]Ibid.

There is a vast difference between a genuinely insane person and one who has worked himself up into such a frenzy of anger that he fails to use reason or good judgment in what he does.[16]Ibid.

The Court reiterated jurisprudence which has established that only when there is a complete deprivation of intelligence at the time of the commission of the crime should the exempting circumstance of insanity be considered.[17]Ibid.

Wacoy and Quibac vs. People of the Philippines

In this case,[18]G.R. No. 213792, June 22, 2015 Wacoy and Quibac was charged of conspiring, confederating and mutually aiding each other, with intent to kill, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault, maul and kick the stomach of one ELNER ARO y LARUAN, thereby inflicting upon him blunt traumatic injuries which directly caused his death thereafter.[19]Ibid.

Based on the witness of the prosecution, he saw his cousin, Elner Aro (Aro), already sprawled on the ground. While in that position, he saw Wacoy kick Aro’s stomach twice, after which, Wacoy picked up a rock to throw at Aro but was restrained from doing so. As Aro stood up, Quibac punched him on the stomach, causing him to collapse and cry in pain.[20]Ibid.

The defense on the other hand states that, petitioners, Wacoy and Quibac, averred that while playing pool, they saw Aro drunk and lying down. Suddenly, Aro became unruly and kicked the leg of the pool table, causing Wacoy to shout and pick up a stone to throw at Aro but Quibac pacified him.[21]Ibid.

They also claimed that Aro almost hit Wacoy with a 2×3 piece of wood if not for Quibac’ s intervention. Wacoy ran but Aro chased him and then tripped and fell to the ground. Quiniquin Carias (Kinikin), Aro’s companion, followed Wacoy to the waiting shed nearby, cornered and kicked the latter, and the two engaged in a fist fight. Quibac came over to pacify the two and told Wacoy to go home.[22]Ibid.

The Court ruled that in the instant case, there was no tumultuous affray between groups of persons in the course of which Aro died. On the contrary, the evidence clearly established that there were only two (2) persons, Wacoy and Quibac, who picked on one defenseless individual, Aro, and attacked him repeatedly, taking turns in inflicting punches and kicks on the poor victim.[23]Ibid.

There was no confusion and tumultuous quarrel or affray, nor was there a reciprocal aggression in that fateful incident. Since Wacoy and Quibac were even identified as the ones who assaulted Aro, the latter’s death cannot be said to have been caused in a tumultuous affray.[24]Ibid.

Therefore, the CA correctly held that Wacoy and Quibac’ s act of mauling Aro was the proximate cause of the latter’s death; and as such, they must be held criminally liable therefore, specifically for the crime of Homicide.[25]Ibid.

Final thoughts

The very evil sought to be corrected by the RPC in Crimes Against Persons is the destruction or damage to life. It can be observed that our laws give serous importance to this matter because of the weight of the offense they imputed in the crimes against persons. In the crime of abortion, the law even protects the life of the unborn.

References

References
1 Article 165, Family Code
2 The Revised Criminal Code Book II, Luis B. Reyes
3 The Revised Criminal Code Book II, Luis B. Reyes
4 BAR 1997, 2010
5 Reyes, 2021
6 Art. 248, RPC
7 Presidential Decree No. 1110-A which took effect on March 29, 1977
8 Dennis, System of Surgery; Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, Rawle’s Third Revision, Vol. II, p. 1514
9 G.R. No. 188320, June 29, 2010
10 Ibid.
11 Ibid.
12 Ibid.
13 Ibid.
14 Ibid.
15 Ibid.
16 Ibid.
17 Ibid.
18 G.R. No. 213792, June 22, 2015
19 Ibid.
20 Ibid.
21 Ibid.
22 Ibid.
23 Ibid.
24 Ibid.
25 Ibid.
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