Law expert: "Child abuse is malum in se"

There has been a lot of debate regarding the nature of the crime of child abuse. Some say it is malum in se (wrongful by nature); others say it is malum prohibitum (wrongful simply because a law says so). In the fully-quoted discussion below, celebrity author, lecturer and criminal law expert Judge Marlo Campanilla shares his view on the matter.

[QUOTE STARTS HERE.] In People vs. Caballo, G.R. No. 198732, June 10, 2013; Malto vs. People, G.R. No. 164733, September 21, 2007, the Supreme Court considered sexual abuse under RA No. 7610 as malum prohibitum simply because is it punishable under special law. However, Patulot vs. People, G.R. No. 235071, January 7, 2019 and People vs. Mabunot, G.R. No. 204659, September 19, 2016, the Supreme Court considered child abuse under RA No. 7610 as malum in se. Accordingly, when the acts complained of are inherently immoral, they are deemed mala in se, even if they are punished by a special law. Physical abuse of a child under RA No. 7610 is inherently wrong; hence, criminal intent on the part of the offender must be clearly established with the other elements of the crime.

It is submitted that the correct principle is Patulot case and Mabunot case, and not the Caballo case and Malto case. The Supreme Court itself in Ysidoro v. People, G.R. No. 192330, November 14, 2012 explained that a common misconception is that all mala in se crimes are found in the Revised Penal Code, while all mala prohibita crimes are provided by special penal laws. The better approach to distinguish between mala in se and mala prohibita crimes is the determination of the inherent immorality of the penalized act. If the punishable act or omission is immoral in itself, then it is a crime mala in se; on the contrary, if it is not immoral in itself, but there is a statute prohibiting its commission by reasons of public policy, then it is mala prohibita. There may be mala in se crimes under special laws, such as plunder under R.A. No. 7080. Similarly, there may be mala prohibita crimes defined in the Revised Penal Code, such as technical malversation. [QUOTE ENDS HERE.]

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SOURCE: Child abuse is malum in se. MARLO CAMPANILLA. TUESDAY, AUGUST 13, 2019.