Section 5 (b), Article III of RA 7610


After reviewing the Petition and its annexes, inclusive of the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision[1] dated June 21, 2016 and Resolution[2] dated October 11, 2016 in CA-G.R. CR No. 37490, the Court resolves to DENY the Petition and AFFIRM the Decision and Resolution of the CA because petitioner failed to sufficiently show that the CA committed any reversible error in the challenged Decision and Resolution as to warrant the exercise of this Court's discretionary appellate jurisdiction.

We sustain the Regional Trial Court's finding that petitioner is guilty of violation of Section 5(b) of Republic Act No. (RA) 7610. However, pursuant to the Court's ruling in Fianza v. People,[3] we deem it appropriate to correct the appellation of the crime with which petitioner was charged to Acts of Lasciviousness under Article 336 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 5 (b), Article III of RA 7610.

Section 5 (b), Article III of RA 7610 provides:
SEC. 5. Child Prostitution and Other Sexual Abuse. — Children, whether male or female, who for money, profit, or any other consideration or due to the coercion or influence of any adult, syndicate or group, indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be children exploited in prostitution and other sexual abuse.

The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua shall be imposed upon the following:

x x x x

(b) Those who commit the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse; Provided, That when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age, the perpetrators shall be prosecuted under Article 335, paragraph 3, for rape and Article 336 of Act No. 3815, as amended, the Revised Penal Code, for rape or lascivious conduct, as the case may be: Provided, That the penalty for lascivious conduct when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age shall be reclusion temporal in its medium period[.] (Emphasis supplied)
The elements of this offense are: (1) the accused commits the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct; (2) the said act is performed with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse; and (3) the child, whether male or female, is below 18 years of age.[4]

In the present case, the first and third elements - that petitioner committed lascivious acts against AAA, who, at the time of the incident, was only 11 years of age - are supported by the evidence on record.With respect to the second element, the Court's ruling in Quimvel v. People[5] finds application in this case. In Quimvel, the Court ruled that Section 5(b) punishes sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct committed on a child subjected to other sexual abuse, which covers not only a situation where a child is abused for profit but also one in which a child, through coercion, intimidation or influence, engages in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct.[6] Moreover, in Quimvel, the Court held that a violation of Section 5(b) occurs even though the accused committed sexual abuse against the victim only once, even without a prior sexual affront.[7] Here, the second element is also established based on the records — the victim AAA was 11 years old on the date of the incident, while petitioner, AAA's neighbor, exercised moral ascendancy over AAA and took advantage of her youth and immaturity.

Accordingly, consistent with the Court's rulings in Quimvel and People v. Santos,[8] which similarly involved charges for Acts of Lasciviousness under Section 5(b) of RA 7610, the minimum prison term shall be reduced to twelve (12) years and one (1) day, while the maximum term shall be adjusted to fifteen (15) years, six (6) months and twenty-one (21) days.

Finally, to conform with this Court's ruling in Quimvel, petitioner is further ordered to pay the victim, AAA, moral damages, exemplary damages, and fine in the amount of P15,000.00 each. All damages shall earn interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum, from the date of finality of this judgment.

SO ORDERED. REYES, JR., J., on official leave."

[1] Rollo, pp. 25-32. Penned by Associate Justice Japar B. Dimaampao, with Associate Justices Franchito N. Diamante and Carmelita Salandanan-Manahan concurring.
[2] Id. at 34-35.
[3] G.R. No. 218592, August 2, 2017.
[4] People v. Abello, 601 Phil. 373, 392 (2009), citing People v. Larin 357 Phil 987 997 (1998)
[5] G.R.No. 214497, April 18,2017.
[6] Id. at 9.
[7] Id. at 15.
[8] 753 Phil. 637(2015).