As expected, the largely conservative Filipinos believe the affair to be improper, considering the 44-year age difference between the couple, while a few—mostly the machos in our society—dismiss such comments as merely “inggit” (envy) on the part of those who are against it. But when asked whether they would allow their 16-year old daughters to get into such kind of affair, most of the machos do not have a clear reply.
I am sure many have read about the details of the couple’s love story, therefore I will go straight to what I have read and heard in discussions as to what Philippine jurisprudence says regarding the matter. I do not claim expertise on the subject because I am not a lawyer, but I believe that in my capacity as a journalist, I can help raise awareness through the research that I have done so far so that people like Ka Freddie, as the singer is fondly called, or anyone who thinks it is alright to have a love affair with a minor, could consider first what jurisprudence has to say before they decide whether or not to embark on such kind of a relationship.
People who believe in the couple’s right to be happy cannot, I repeat, simply ignore the negative comments and label them as pure envy given the legal implications of the act. The more they close their eyes to the pros and cons of the issue, the more likely they leave themselves, their relatives and friends, or other people who respect their opinions ignorant of the law which, sadly, excuses no one, even those who are in the boondocks or in the most isolated parts of the country.
Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the “Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act,” provides:
Sec. 2. Declaration of State Policy and Principles. – It is hereby declared to be the policy of the State to provide special protection to children from all firms of abuse, neglect, cruelty exploitation and discrimination and other conditions, prejudicial their development; provide sanctions for their commission and carry out a program for prevention and deterrence of and crisis intervention in situations of child abuse, exploitation and discrimination. The State shall intervene on behalf of the child when the parent, guardian, teacher or person having care or custody of the child fails or is unable to protect the child against abuse, exploitation and discrimination or when such acts against the child are committed by the said parent, guardian, teacher or person having care and custody of the same.1awphi1@alf
By definition under the law, Jovie Albao, who is turning 17 on November 29, is still a child. The law defines “sexual abuse” as including “the employment, use,persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of a child to engage in, or assist another person to engage in, sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct or the molestation, prostitution, or incest with children.”
According to lawyer Catalino Generillo, to fall within the purview of Section 5(b) of R.A. No. 7610, sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a minor who is not exploited in prostitution, “persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of the child must be present.”
“If persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion is proven, court will sentence him to reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua,” he added.
Perhaps the precedence—and the most mentioned—jurisprudence that can be used in filing a complaint against Mr. Aguilar is the Supreme Court decision convicting a former Philosophy professor of Assumption College in Makati City who was found guilty of child abuse for seducing his 17-year old student in 1997.
Here are the facts of the case, as published in Case Digests2007, of Michael John Z. Malto vs. People of the Philippines (G.R. No. 164733, September 21, 2007), whereby the high court imposed the penalty of 14 years and 8 months to 20 years against Michael John Z. Malto who was also ordered to pay the child P50,000 as civil indemnity and another P50,000.00 for moral damages, to wit:
The “sweetheart theory” cannot be invoked for purposes of sexual intercourse and lascivious conduct in child abuse cases under RA 7610. Consent is immaterial because the mere act of having sexual intercourse or committing lascivious conduct with a child who is subjected to sexual abuse constitutes the offense. Moreover, a child is presumed by law to be incapable of giving rational consent to any lascivious act or sexual intercourse.
Sometime during the month of November 1997 to 1998, Malto seduced his student, AAA, a minor, to indulge in sexual intercourse several times with him. Prior to the incident, petitioner and AAA had a “mutual understanding” and became sweethearts. Pressured and afraid of the petitioner’s threat to end their relationship, AAA succumbed and both had sexual intercourse.
Upon discovery of what AAA underwent, BBB, AAA’s mother lodged a complaint in the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasay City which led to the filing of Criminal Case No. 00-0691.
The petitioner did not make a plea when arraigned. Hence, the trial court entered for him a plea of “not guilty.” The trial court found the evidence for the prosecution sufficient to sustain petitioner’s conviction. The trail court rendered a decision finding petitioner guilty and sentenced him to reclusion temporal and to pay an indemnity of Php. 75,000 and damages of Php. 50,000.
Petitioner questioned the trial court’s decision in the CA. The CA modified the decision of the trial court. The appellate court affirmed his conviction and ruled that the trial court erred in awarding Php. 75,000 civil indemnity in favor of AAA as it was proper only in a conviction for rape committed under the circumstances under which the death penalty was authorized by law.
Whether the CA erred in sustaining petitioner’s conviction on the grounds that there was no rape committed since their sexual intercourse was consensual by reason of their “sweetheart” relationship.
No. The “sweetheart theory” cannot be invoked for purposes of sexual intercourse and lascivious conduct in child abuse cases under RA 7610. Consent is immaterial because the mere act of having sexual intercourse or committing lascivious conduct with a child who is subjected to sexual abuse constitutes the offense. Moreover, a child is presumed by law to be incapable of giving rational consent to any lascivious act or sexual intercourse.
In an interview, Mr. Aguilar said, “Hindi ko alam kung may nilalabag akong batas. Kung meron man, ewan ko kung masasakop ng batas ang puso ko. Kasi nung Batas Militar din, ipinagbabawal ng batas ang mga kinakanta ko, pero kinakanta ko parin. Pwede nga akong mamatay nung mga panahon na ‘yon eh, pero hindi nasakop ng Batas Militar ang puso ko eh.” (I do not know if I am violating any law. If indeed I am, I do not know if this law could dictate upon my heart, because even when martial law prevented me from singing my songs, I continued to sing. I could have died then, but martial law was not able to encroach upon my heart).
Who may file a case against Mr. Aguilar? Section 10 of R.A. 7610 provides that complaints on cases of unlawful acts committed against the children as enumerated in the law may be filed by the following:(a) Offended party;(b) Parents or guardians; (c) Ascendant or collateral relative within the third degree of consanguinity;(d) Officer, social worker or representative of a licensed child-caring institution; (e) Officer or social worker of the Department of Social Welfare and Development; (f) Barangay chairman; or (g) At least three (3) concerned responsible citizens where the violation occurred.
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