My brother had a dispute with his neighbor. He always had a suspicion that his neighbor was flirting with his daughter, a minor. One day, he caught his neighbor having sex with her. He was not able to control himself and he beat his neighbor up.
The neighbor has threatened to file a criminal complaint against my brother for the injuries he sustained from the beating. We want to ask if my brother can legally justify what he did to his neighbor, considering that while my brother does not deny what he did to him, he maintains that he did it out of pure rage because of what his neighbor did to his daughter. Thank you in advance for your advice.
Considering the overall situation and reason behind your brother’s act of beating his neighbor up, it is possible that your brother may not be punished for what he did. In general, individuals committing violent acts against another person can be criminally liable. The law, however, provides certain exemptions to this under exceptional circumstances. Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines offers such an exemption that is applicable to your brother’s situation. This law states that:
“Art. 247. Death or physical injuries inflicted under exceptional circumstances.—Any legally married person who having surprised his spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person, shall kill any of them or both of them in the act or immediately thereafter, or shall inflict upon them any serious physical injury, shall suffer the penalty of destierro.
If he shall inflict upon them physical injuries of any other kind, he shall be exempt from punishment.
These rules shall be applicable, under the same circumstances, to parents with respect to their daughters under eighteen years of age, and their seducer, while the daughters are living with their parents.
Any person who shall promote or facilitate the prostitution of his wife or daughter, or shall otherwise has consented to the infidelity of the other spouse shall not be entitled to the benefits of this article.
As this law provides, parents who surprise their minor daughter in the act of sexual intercourse with another person and kill or injure their daughter and/or the seducer while in the act or immediately thereafter, are exempt from punishment. While this law initially applies to married persons who catch their spouse in the act of sexual intercourse, its applicability extends to parents with respect to their minor daughters who are living with them. The law also provides that this exemption applies only to parents who do not promote or facilitate the prostitution of their daughter. Thus, in order to avail this exemption, your brother must prove that all of the above circumstances provided by law are present in his situation.
It is opined that the reason for the exemption under this law is that the killing or injury was committed without sufficient intelligence since it was caused by overwhelming passion (Leonor D. Boado, Notes and Cases on the Revised Penal Code, 2008).
Furthermore, although there is no punishment of imprisonment in this case, the law provides that if the parent killed or inflicted serious physical injuries on the daughter and/or the seducer, the penalty of destierro shall be imposed upon the parent. In connection with this, it is important to note that jurisprudence ruled that destierro is not really a punishment because there is nothing to penalize. Rather, it is a protection to the accused against retaliation or vendetta by the injured party (People vs. Abarca, G.R. No. 74433, September 14, 1987).
Thus, if a criminal complaint is filed against your brother, he may interpose his defense that the injuries he inflicted where made under the exceptional circumstances discussed above. And as long as he can prove that the circumstances surrounding the incident conform with the elements of the above-discussed law, then he will be exempt from punishment.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com