Wednesday, February 22, 2012

US vs. Divino, 12 Phil 175

Facts: The Court of First Instance convicted Feliciano Divino for the crime of lesions graves and was sentenced to two years and eleven months and suspension from public office. 

A girl named Alfonsa, about 13 years of age when the incident happened, was a servant for Feliciano Divino and his family. She is a member of the Bagobo tribe, and because of lack of proper nutrients in the tribe, her body was full of scars. Her feet were the focus in this case because it is said that Feliciano Divino burned her feet, in a very unorthodox and harmful way in a sense, by setting her feet on fire after applying petroleum to it and tying her down to the floor. He argued in the court that when Alfonsa came to their home, her body was full of scars and ulcers, and that the ulcer in her body was cured, through his efforts, except those on her feet. He tried many times to cure her feet but failed because the girl would always walk barefoot outside and that she would run whenever she was being cured because of the pain being inflicted in the process. On the day of the incident, Feliciano said to have tied her up so she won’t run during the process and then left her feet burning for about an hour and then afterwards locked her up. He argued that the ulcer was getting worse and smelled quite offensively. 

Issue: Whether Feliciano Divino can be acquitted because he argued that he acted in good faith and did not mean any harm to the girl, except to help her get cured. 

Held: Medical arguments were brought in the light of the decision and that a doctor clearly identified that the scars on Alfonsa’s feet were indeed because of burns and that the wounds became worse on account of Feliciano’s efforts to cure them. Certainly it was found certain that the acts of the guilty person do not seem to have been intended to cause an evil, but rather as a remedy. However, article 568 or the Penal Code clearly states that a person that undertakes medical assistance to another person is liable for any injuries resulting from such treatment, and the fact that he acted in good faith and according to the best of his ability does not relieve him from responsibility, although his ignorance may be considered as a mitigating circumstance. In lieu, the Court reversed the ruling of the Court of First Instance and sentence Divino to simple imprudence to the penalty of four months and suspension from office and right to suffrage and to pay the costs of both instances. 

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