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Children are children are children. This is the basic premise of the why the law exempts
children under or oer fifteen !"#$ years of a%e or those who are above fifteen !"#$ years of a%e but
below ei%hteen !"&$ who did not act with discernment from criminal responsibility !'ec (. RA
)*++$. The basis of exemption from criminal liability is the complete absence of intelligence and
freedom of action of the offender which is an essential element of a felony either by dolus or by
culpa !Art ",- .ara%raph * of the R.C in connection with Art * of the R.C$. /orrowin% from the
words of 0ustice Albert himself1
The second element of dolus is intelligence; without this power, necessary to determine the
morality of human acts to distinguish a licit from an illicit act, no crime can exist, and
because ... the infant 3 (has) no intelligence, the law exempts (him) from criminal liability
Therefore- in differentiatin% adult offenders from child offenders is that the former are assumed to
be intelligent and fully discerning bein%s due to their a%e whereas the latter are not.
/ut statistics spea2 for themseles. Crimes inolin% minors rose by "&3 in ,44&- 5ust two years
after the enactment of R.A. )*++. In the same year- cases of dru% use rose by ,&36 from ""*
78EVARRA- s. A9M:;:VAR !")&)6 7.R. <#,#($
reported cases in 2007 to 145 in ,44&
. Thin%s hae not %otten any better. Accordin% to Council for
=elfare of Childern !C=C$- CIC9 were hi%hest in >CR !&-&4<$- followed by Central Visayas !"-(*"$
and =estern Visayas !"-44,$. !00=C- ,44)$. .realent Types of Crimes ? +-,+( CIC9 in ,4"4 were
mostly property@related crimes !.>.- ,4"4$ with theft bein% the hi%hest !"-(*" cases$ and robbery
was the *rd hi%hest !*&4 cases$.
The >ature of 0uenile :ffenders
!! " ha#e inserted this part because of the all too possible rebuttal from the affirmati#e side that most
children in conflict with the law ($"$%) are those who ha#e attained a low level of education and
the solution therefore, is not a lowering of the age of crim. &esponsibility, but a strengthening of
social efforts on the part of the go#ernment to actually guide children to leading a lawful life !!
'ccording to $($, ma)ority of $"%$*s are+ 1. ,ale, -. .a#e a low educational attainment, 3. /elong
to large, low earning families, and 0. $harged with property related crimes.
To rebut this argument from the affirmati#e side, " thin1 it is important to gi#e an o#er#iew
of how criminal )urisprudence differentiate discernment, intelligence, and intent for
these are the three go#erning factors on why children are exempted from punishment
2tep - is to show that there is no relation between educational attainment and the
intelligence and discernment considered by criminal law, as proven by the long
line of cases decided by Philippines courts.
Intelli%ence is the power necessary to determine the morality of human acts to distin%uish a licit from
an illicit act- as opposed to discernment which is the mental capacity to understand the difference
between ri%ht and wron%. Discernment is also different from intent- which is1
(a) design; a determination to do a certain things; an aim; the purpose of the mind,
including such 1nowledge as is essential to such intent;. . .; the design resol#e,
or determination with which a person acts.3 (04 $52 "ntent p. 1163.)
7rom the foregoing, it is clear that the terms 8intent8 and 8discernment8 con#ey two distinct thoughts.
(hile both are products of the mental processes within a person, the former refers to the desired of
one3s act while the latter relates to the moral significance that person ascribes to the said act. .ence
a person may not intend to shoot another but may be aware of the conse9uences of his negligent
act which may cause in)ury to the same person in negligently handling an air rifle. "t is not connect,
therefore, to argue, as petitioner does, that since a minor abo#e nine years of age but below fifteen
acted with discernment, then he intended such act to be done. .e may negligently shoot his friend,
hus did not intend to shoot him, and at the same time recogni:e the undesirable result of his
Auismindo- Tarra. .hilippines ;aily InBuirer6 C0uenile Crimes up by "&3 @@ .>.D. February "4- ,44).
In .eople . ;oBuena !(& .hil #&4. ")*)$ the court defined discernment as a personEs ? or
particularly- a childEs ? mental capacity to understand the difference between right and wrong.
The court further held in .eople . >aarro !FCAF#" :.7. +4(,G that discernment also includes the
mental capacity of a minor to fully appreciate the consequences of his lawful act
How then does the court determine if the 5uenile offender has in fact committed a felonious act with
discernment The affirmatie side wants us to beliee that the ability to tell which is ri%ht from
which is wron% is imparted unto the tender minds of the youth by educational institutions. /ut such is
not the case in .hilippines 0urisprudence- for while it is indeed true that education plays so important
a role in the lies of you- it is but in loco parentis or in place of the parent. .arents hae the
natural right and duty to raisin% their children6 such is enshrined in the Constitution and our Ciil
More importantly- the .hilippine courts- in determinin% discernment- do not resort to determinin% the
educational attainment of the youthful offender. ;iscernment is proen by1
". Eidence of physical appearance-
,. Attitude or deportment not only before and durin% the commission of the act- and
*. Attitude also after and durin% the trial.
Thus in .eople . ;oBuena- the "* year old petition was conicted for homicide for stabbin% a
playmate after a %ame of olleyball turned sour- the 'upreme Court affirmed the CFI of
.an%asinanEs decision on the %rounds that the behaior of the accused before- after- and durin% the
commission of the crime show that he had acted with discernment in that he- in order to exact
reen%e on the person of the decease for .8>CHI>7 him in the face- tried to loo2 for a stone which
he intended to use a%ainst the deceased but upon failin% to find such- he as2ed his cousin for a
I>IFE. And when the cousin refused to %ie him the 2nife- he snatched it from the latterEs poc2et.
The fact that he was in Intermediate school was not the crux for the sustainment of the coniction6 it
sered as but an additional and supplementary ar%ument to stren%then the courtEs coniction.
9i2ewise- in >iel 9lae . people of the .hilippines- the minor was conicted of rape. In sustainin%
the lower courtEs coniction- the supreme court held1
"n the present case, the petitioner, with methodical fashion, dragged the resisting #ictim
behind the pile of hollow bloc1s near the #acant house to insure that passersby would not be
able to disco#er his dastardly acts. (hen he was disco#ered by Teofisto /ucud who
shouted at him, the petitioner hastily fled from the scene to escape arrest. ;pon the
prodding of his father and her mother, he hid in his grandmother*s house to a#oid being
arrested by policemen and remained thereat until barangay tanods arri#ed and too1 him into
The fact that petitioner was an outstandin% student in his school was but an apropos to
stren%then the %rounds for coniction. In Madali . .eople the coniction of the accused minors for
rape was li2ewise sustained because of the fact that
.adilla- Ambrosio. p. *<#- "))& Ed. Criminal 9aw
9lae . .eople of the .hilippines- ,44(. 7.R. "((4+4
Madali . .eople !,44)$ !7.R. no. "&4*&4$
&odel, together with his cohorts, warned 5o#encio not to re#eal their hideous act to anyone;
otherwise, they would 1ill him. &odel 1new, therefore, that 1illing ''' was a condemnable
act and should be 1ept in secrecy. .e fully appreciated the conse9uences of his unlawful
9i2ewise- in 7ueara . Hon. Almodoar- the court held that minors may be conicted of a
Buasi@offense- so lon% as they act with discernment and were ne%li%ent.