DOJ highlights child protection in latest court conviction

29 July 2016

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II reminded parents of their important role in the upbringing and in the physical and psychological development of their children even as he issued a stern warning that the Department will ensure that abusive parents will be meted adequate penalties.

Aguirre issued the statement after the Tagum City, Davao del Norte Regional Trial Court - Branch 2 declared a mother of an eight-year-old child guilty for Violation of Section 10 (a) of Republic Act No. 7610 (Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act).

In a 10-page Decision, the court sentenced Sympathy Branzuela to suffer imprisonment of from four years, nine months and 11 days to seven years, four months and one day. She was likewise ordered to pay the victim a total of P50,000 in damages.

The case stemmed from the child's complaint that "she has suffered grave physical abuse in the hands of her parents, particularly from her mother Sympathy. She was regularly beaten up, once thrown out of the window and once placed inside a sack, which was hung over a smoking fire."

A barangay tanod narrated that in June, 2014, the victim's teacher approached him and asked why the child has been absent from school for a week. This prompted him to proceed to the victim's house where he discovered that the victim and her younger brother were locked and that the victim had injuries on her head and face.

A barangay kagawad who assisted in rescuing the child on the other hand described the victim's appearance as "pitiful." He said the victim had "wounds on her head, bruises on her back and pinch marks on her legs and stomach. The arms and legs were likewise swollen."

The doctor who examined her also testified that when the victim was brought to the Municipal Health Office, she was "limping," and that she "was in the state of hunger at that  time."

In its Decision, the court stated that "based on the facts established by the prosecution, xxx indubitably suffered acts of physical, emotional, mental and psychological abuse which are detrimental to the development of her self-worth and well-being as a person."

Aguirre lauded the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor - Davao del Norte for its efforts in ensuring that the accused be punished appropriately and that the victim be afforded adequate protection.

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