Granting of exemplary damages if aggravating circumstance is present

Under Article 2230 of the Civil Code, exemplary damages may be granted if at least one aggravating circumstance attended the commission of the crime, which circumstance need not be specifically alleged in the information. It did not matter that the aggravating circumstance is a qualifying or attendant circumstance like minority and relationship. As the Supreme Court has said in People v. Catubig:[1]
The term "aggravating circumstances" used by the Civil Code, the law not having specified otherwise, is to be understood in its broad or generic sense. The commission of an offense has a two-pronged effect, one on the public as it breaches the social order and the other upon the private victim as it causes personal sufferings, each of which is addressed by, respectively, the prescription of heavier punishment for the accused and by an award of additional damages to the victim. The increase of the penalty or a shift to a graver felony underscores the exacerbation of the offense by the attendance of aggravating circumstances, whether ordinary or qualifying, in its commission. Unlike the criminal liability which is basically a State concern, the award of damages, however, is likewise, if not primarily, intended for the offended party who suffers thereby. It would make little sense for an award of exemplary damages to be due the private offended party when the aggravating circumstance is ordinary but to be withheld when it is qualifying. Withal, the ordinary or qualifying nature of an aggravating circumstance is a distinction that should only be of consequence to the criminal, rather than to the civil, liability of the offender. In fine, relative to the civil aspect of the case, an aggravating circumstance, whether ordinary or qualifying, should entitle the offended party to an award of exemplary damages within the unbridled meaning of Article 2230 of the Civil Code.[2]
[1] G.R. No. 137842, August 23, 2001.

[2] Id. at 635.