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People , 28 complainant was conversing with his political leaders at the terrace of his house at Morong, Bataan, when petitioner appeared at the gate and shouted " putang ina mo Atty. Napakawalanghiya mo! At that time, Atty.
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We held that the offense committed was only slight slander. We explained why in this wise:. The issue is whether petitioner is guilty of slight or serious oral defamation. In resolving the issue, we are guided by a doctrine of ancient respectability that defamatory words will fall under one or the other, depending not only upon their sense, grammatical significance, and accepted ordinary meaning judging them separately, but also upon the special circumstances of the case, antecedents or relationship between the offended party and the offender, which might tend to prove the intention of the offender at the time.
Unquestionably, the words uttered were defamatory.
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Considering, however, the factual backdrop of the case, the oral defamation was only slight. The trial court, in arriving at its decision, considered that the defamation was deliberately done to destroy Atty. Escolango's reputation since the parties were political opponents.
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We do not agree. Somehow, the trial court failed to appreciate the fact that the parties were also neighbors; that petitioner was drunk at the time he uttered the defamatory words; and the fact that petitioner's anger was instigated by what Atty. Escolango did when petitioner's father died. In which case, the oral defamation was not of serious or insulting nature.
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In Reyes v. People [ Phil. In fact, more often, it is just an expletive that punctuates one's expression of profanity. We do not find it seriously insulting that after a previous incident involving his father, a drunk Rogelio Pader on seeing Atty. Escolango would utter words expressing anger. Obviously, the intention was to show his feelings of resentment and not necessarily to insult the latter. Being a candidate running for vice mayor, occasional gestures and words of disapproval or dislike of his person are not uncommon. In similar fashion, the trial court erred in awarding moral damages without proof of suffering.
Accordingly, petitioner may be convicted only of slight oral defamation defined and penalized under Article , Revised Penal Code, prescribing the penalty of arresto mayor or a fine not exceeding pesos. Similarly, in Cruz v. Court of Appeals , 30 petitioner and complainant, a Municipal Judge, were next door neighbors. Animosity grew between their two families because of some disputes.
Petitioner resented the practice of complainant of throwing garbage and animal excrement into her premises. There was also a boundary dispute between petitioner's mother and complainant, which was the subject of a civil suit for "Recovery of Possession, Ownership, Enforcement of Legal Easement and Abatement of Nuisance" filed by the mother before the Court of First Instance of Iloilo against complainant.
Additionally, petitioner's mother had previously instituted an administrative complaint against the complainant before the Supreme Court, but the same was dismissed. There was a pent-up feeling of being aggrieved, resentment, anger, and vexation on petitioner's part, culminating in her outburst against complainants. For having called the complainant judge "land grabber," "shameless" and "hypocrite," petitioner was charged and subsequently convicted by the Court of First Instance of three separate offenses of Grave Oral Defamation committed on 5, 6 and 8 August On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the verdicts of conviction.
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On review, however, we held that although the abusive remarks may ordinarily be considered as serious defamation, under the environmental circumstances of the case, there having been provocation on complainant's part, and the utterances complained of having been made in the heat of unrestrained anger and obfuscation, petitioner is liable only for the crime of Slight Oral Defamation.
Petitioner was sentenced to pay a fine of P Guided by the foregoing precedents, we find petitioner guilty only of slight oral defamation because of the attendant circumstances in the case at bar. Lest we be misconstrued, the Court does not condone the vilification or use of scurrilous language on the part of petitioner, but following the rule that all possible circumstances favorable to the accused must be taken in his favor, it is our considered view that the slander committed by petitioner can be characterized as slight slander following the doctrine that uttering defamatory words in the heat of anger, with some provocation on the part of the offended party, constitutes only a light felony.
In fact, to be denied approval of monetization of leave without valid justification, but as an offshoot of a political dissension may have been vexing for petitioner and may have been perceived by him as provocation that triggered him to blow his top and utter those disparaging words. In hindsight, to be denied monetization of leave credits must have stirred upon the petitioner a feeling akin to begging for money that he was legally entitled to.
This oppressive conduct on the part of complainant must have scarred petitioner's self-esteem, too, to appear as begging for money. But again, this is not an excuse to resort to intemperate language no matter how such embarrassment must have wreaked havoc on his ego.
The next issue that faces this Court is whether or not petitioner's act of poking a dirty finger at complainant constitutes grave slander by deed. Following the same principle as enunciated in our foregoing discussion of the first issue, we find petitioner guilty only of slight slander by deed in Criminal Case No. Slander by deed. If said act is not of a serious nature, the penalty shall be arresto menor or a fine not exceeding pesos.
Slander by deed is a crime against honor, which is committed by performing any act, which casts dishonor, discredit, or contempt upon another person. The elements are 1 that the offender performs any act not included in any other crime against honor, 2 that such act is performed in the presence of other person or persons, and 3 that such act casts dishonor, discredit or contempt upon the offended party.
Whether a certain slanderous act constitutes slander by deed of a serious nature or not, depends on the social standing of the offended party, the circumstances under which the act was committed, the occasion, etc. In Mari v. Court of Appeals , 33 complainant and petitioner were co-employees in the Department of Agriculture, with office at Digos, Davao del Sur, although complainant occupied a higher position.
On 6 December , petitioner borrowed from complainant the records of his file.
However, when he returned the same three days later, complainant noticed that several papers were missing which included official communications from the Civil Service Commission and Regional Office, Department of Agriculture, and a copy of the complaint by the Rural Bank of Digos against petitioner. Upon instruction of her superior officer, complainant sent a memorandum to petitioner asking him to explain why his file was returned with missing documents.
Instead of acknowledging receipt of the memorandum, petitioner confronted complainant and angrily shouted at her: " Putang ina, bullshit, bugo. With the intervention of the security guard, petitioner was prevailed upon to desist from further injuring complainant. We held:. Prescinding from the foregoing, it would serve the ends of justice better if the petitioner were sentenced to pay a fine instead of imprisonment.
The offense while considered serious slander by deed was done in the heat of anger and was in reaction to a perceived provocation. The penalty for serious slander by deed may be either imprisonment or a fine. We opt to impose a fine.
In Mari , the Court found petitioner guilty of serious slander by deed defined and penalized under Article of the Revised Penal Code, and sentenced him to pay a fine of P 1, The deed involved was the banging of a chair in front of complainant and choking her. In another case, Teodoro v. Court of Appeals , 35 the incident, which gave rise to this case, is narrated as follows:.
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Petitioner Amado B. Petitioner is the brother of the president of the corporation, Donato Teodoro, while complainant is the daughter of the chairman of the board of the corporation, Agustin Tanco. Records show that the incident complained of took place at the Board Room of the D. Mar Bay Construction Incorporated in the afternoon of August 17, It appears that there was a controversial document being insisted upon by the accused, as secretary, to be signed by the chairman.
The Board Treasurer, Carolina Tanco-Young questioned the propriety of having the document signed as there was, according to her, no such meeting that ever took place as to show a supposed resolution to have been deliberated upon. A verbal exchange of words and tirades took place between the accused Secretary and the Treasurer.
One word led to another up to the point where Carolina Tanco-Young, the treasurer, either by implication or expressed domineering words, alluded to the accused as a "falsifier" which blinded the accused-appellant to extreme anger and rage, thus leading him to slap Tanco-Young - the alleged name caller. In another case, the acts of pushing and slapping a woman in order to ridicule and shame her before other people constitute the felony of slander by deed defined and penalized under Article of the Revised Penal Code by arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period.
In the cases as above-cited, there was no provocation on the part of the complainants unlike the present case. Moreover, the "poking of the finger" in the case at bar was, palpably, of less serious magnitude compared to the banging of chair, the choking in Mari and the slapping of a face in Teodoro. Thus, we find that the poking of dirty finger in the case at bar, while it smacks of slander by deed, is of a lesser magnitude than the acts committed in the foregoing cases. Moreover, pointing a dirty finger ordinarily connotes the phrase "Fuck You," which is similar to the expression "Puta" or "Putang Ina mo," in local parlance.
Such expression was not held to be libelous in Reyes v. People, 38 where the Court said that: "This is a common enough expression in the dialect that is often employed, not really to slander but rather to express anger or displeasure. It is seldom, if ever, taken in its literal sense by the hearer, that is, as a reflection on the virtues of a mother. While it may have cast dishonor, discredit or contempt upon complainant, said act is not of a serious nature, thus, the penalty shall be arresto menor meaning, imprisonment from one day to 30 days or a fine not exceeding P We opt to impose a fine following Mari.
Yes, complainant was then a Vice-Mayor and a lady at that, which circumstances ordinarily demanded respect from petitioner. But, it was, likewise, her moral obligation springing from such position to act in a manner that is worthy of respect. In the case at bar, complainant's demeanor of refusing to sign the leave monetization of petitioner, an otherwise valid claim, because of a political discord smacks of a conduct unbecoming of a lady and a Vice-Mayor at that.
Moreover, it appears that she had, indeed, thrown a bottle of coke at petitioner, which actuation reveals that she, too, had gone down to petitioner's level. Holding an esteemed position is never a license to act capriciously with impunity. The fact that there was a squabble between petitioner and complainant, both high-ranking local public officials, that a verbal brawl ostensibly took place, speaks very poorly of their self-control and public relations.