Calling kids 'gago,' 'walang utak' = CHILD ABUSE?

Law expert and celebrity author Marlo Campanilla wrote the following on his Facebook page. For more, please visit:


Degrading the dignity of the child – Child abuse includes commission of acts or uttering words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being (Section 3) such as uttering statements "putang in mong bata ka namumuro ka na sa akin at susunugin ko yong pamilya mo." (Jumaquio vs. Villarosa, G.R. No. 165924, January 19, 2009)

In Bongalon v. People, G.R. No. 169533, March 20, 2013, accused saw the victim and his companions hurting his minor daughters. Angered, accused struck minor-victim at the back with his hand and slapped his face. Since the accused committed the act at the spur of the moment, they are perpetrated without intent to degrade the dignity of the victim. Without such intent, the crime committed is not child abuse under R.A. No. 7610 but merely slight physical injuries.

The Bongalon principle is only applicable if the accused assaulted a child in the heat of anger or as spontaneous reaction to his misbehavior. In Jabalde v. People, G.R. No. 195224, June 15, 2016, the accused was informed that her daughter's head was punctured, and whom she thought was already dead. The accused slapped, struck, and choked a minor as a result of the former's emotional rage. Absence of any intention to debase, degrade or demean the dignity of the child victim, the accused's act was merely slight physical injuries.In Escolano vs. People, G.R. No. 226991, December 10, 2018, complainants, who are minors, threw ketchup sachets against the daughter of the accused. But it was the accused, who was hit by the sachets twice. Accused exclaimed, "Putang ina ninyo, gago kayo, wala kayong pinag-aralan, wala kayong utak, subukan ninyong bumaba dito, pakakawalan ko ang aso ko, pakakagat ko kayo sa aso ko."

Uttering “putang ina” to the minors in the heat of anger is not child abuse. The expression "putang ina mo" is a common enough utterance in the dialect that is often employed, not really to slander but rather to express anger or displeasure. In fact, more often, it is just an expletive that punctuates one’s expression of profanity.

Threatening to release her dog to chase and bite the minors made in the heat of anger is not child abuse. Accused merely intended that they stop their rude behavior. Absence of any intention to degrade the dignity of minors, accused is only liable for other light threats.