It is undisputed that at the time of the commission of the sexual abuse, VVV was ten (10) years old. This calls for the application of R.A. No. 7610, or “The Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act,” which defines sexual abuse of children and prescribes the penalty therefor in Section 5 (b), Article III, to wit:
SEC. 5. Child Prostitution and Other Sexual Abuse. — Children, whether male or female, who for money, profit, or any other consideration or due to the coercion or influence of any adult, syndicate or group, indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be children exploited in prostitution and other sexual abuse.
The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua shall be imposed upon the following:
x x x x
(b) Those who commit the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse: Provided, That when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age, the perpetrators shall be prosecuted under Article 335, paragraph 3, for rape and Article 336 of Act No. 3815, as amended, the Revised Penal Code, for rape or lascivious conduct, as the case may be: Provided, That the penalty for lascivious conduct when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age shall be reclusion temporal in its medium period.
Paragraph (b) punishes sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct not only with a child exploited in prostitution, but also with a child subjected to other sexual abuses. It covers not only a situation where a child is abused for profit, but also where one — through coercion, intimidation or influence — engages in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child.
Corollarilly, Section 2 (h) of the rules and regulations of R.A. No. 7610 defines “Lascivious conduct” as:
[T]he intentional touching, either directly or through clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks, or the introduction of any object into the genitalia, anus or mouth of any person, whether of the same or opposite sex, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, bestiality, masturbation, lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a person.
In this case, the offended party was ten years old at the time of the commission of the offense. Pursuant to the above-quoted provision of law, Armando was aptly prosecuted under paragraph 2, Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. No. 8353, for Rape Through Sexual Assault. However, instead of applying the penalty prescribed therein, which is prision mayor, considering that VVV was below 12 years of age, and considering further that Armando’s act of inserting his finger in VVV’s private part undeniably amounted to lascivious conduct, the appropriate imposable penalty should be that provided in Section 5 (b), Article III of R.A. No. 7610, which is reclusion temporal in its medium period.
The Court is not unmindful to the fact that the accused who commits acts of lasciviousness under Article 366, in relation to Section 5 (b), Article III of R.A. No. 7610, suffers the more severe penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period than the one who commits Rape Through Sexual Assault, which is merely punishable by prision mayor. This is undeniably unfair to the child victim. To be sure, it was not the intention of the framers of R.A. No. 8353 to have disallowed the applicability of R.A. No. 7610 to sexual abuses committed to children. Despite the passage of R.A. No. 8353, R.A. No. 7610 is still good law, which must be applied when the victims are children or those “persons below eighteen (18) years of age or those over but are unable to fully take care of themselves or protect themselves from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition.”
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum term of the indeterminate penalty shall be that which could be properly imposed under the law, which is fifteen (15) years, six (6) months and twenty (20) days of reclusion temporal. On the other hand, the minimum term shall be within the range of the penalty next lower in degree, which is reclusion temporal in its minimum period, or twelve (12) years and one (1) day to fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months.
Hence, Armando should be meted the indeterminate sentence of twelve (12) years, ten (10) months and twenty-one (21) days of reclusion temporal, as minimum, to fifteen (15) years, six (6) months and twenty (20) days of reclusion temporal, as maximum.
As to Armando’s civil liabilities, the CA correctly awarded the following damages: civil indemnity of P50,000.00 and another P50,000.00 as moral damages for Rape under paragraph 1(d), Article 266-A; and civil indemnity of P30,000.00 and moral damages also of P30,000.00 for Rape under paragraph 2, Article 266-A. In line, however, with prevailing jurisprudence, we increase the award of exemplary damages from P25,000.00 and P15,000.00, for Rape under paragraph 1 (d), Article 266-A and Rape under paragraph 2, Article 266-A, respectively, to P30,000.00 for each count of rape.