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G.R. No.

151085

August 20, 2008

JOEMAR ORTEGA vs. PEOPLE


FACTS: At the time of commission of rape, the accused was only 13 years old, while the victim
AAA was 6, both minors. It was alleged that petitioner raped her three times on three different
occasions in 1996. The lower courts convicted him of rape with criminal and civil liability
imposed. The case was pending when Republic Act 9344 (R.A. No. 9344) or the Juvenile
Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, was enacted amending the age of criminal irresponsibility
being raised from 9 to 15 years old. Said law took effect on May 20, 2006. At the time of the
promulgation of judgment, the accused already reached the age of majority. The Office of the
Solicitor General (OSG) claimed that petitioner is not exempt from criminal liability because he
is not anymore a child as defined by R.A. No. 9344. The OSG further claimed that the
retroactive effect of said law is applicable only if the child-accused is still below 18 years old.
ISSUE: Whether or not the petitioner is exempt in the crime alleged by reason of minority
HELD: Yes, the petitioner is exempt from criminal liability. For one who acts by virtue of any of
the exempting circumstances, although he commits a crime, by the complete absence of any of
the conditions which constitute free will or voluntariness of the act, no criminal liability arises.
Hence, while there is a crime committed, no criminal liability attaches.
By virtue of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 (R.A. 9344), the age of criminal
irresponsibility has been raised from 9 to 15 years old. Petitioner was only 13 years old at the
time of the commission of the alleged rape. The first paragraph of Section 6 of R.A. No. 9344
clearly provides that, a child fifteen (15) years of age or under at the time of the commission of
the offense shall be exempt from criminal liability. However, the child shall be subjected to an
intervention program pursuant to Section 20 of this Act. The Court gives retroactive application
insofar as it favors the persons guilty of a felony. While the law exempts the petitioner from
criminal liability, however, he is not exempt from civil liability. For this reason, petitioner and/or
his parents are liable to pay AAA civil indemnity.