Man gets life term over nude photos of minor
MANILA, Philippines — Sex offenders cannot invoke their right to privacy to evade criminal liability.
The Supreme Court established this legal principle when it sentenced a 24-year-old man to life imprisonment for coercing a girl 10 years his junior to send her nude photos to him.
In a ruling intended to protect minors from sexual predators, the high tribunal also ruled that the pictures and messages obtained by private individuals from social media platforms may be used as evidence against them in court proceedings.
Voting 9-3, the justices rejected the argument of petitioner Christian Cadajas that he should not be prosecuted for child pornography since he was allegedly in a relationship with the 14-year-old victim when he committed the criminal offense.
“[Cadajas], being the one with mental maturity, should have known that it was not just legally, but inherently, wrong for [the victim], a minor, to show her private parts, particularly, through a mobile device,” the court declared.
“While there may be instances of expressions of love in a virtual space, the same would usually be predicated by endearing words and not just advances of lust, as in this case,” it said.
Besides, the tribunal added, if Cadajas really “loved” the victim as he had claimed, “he should have protected her dignity, being a minor.”
“(T)he circumstances of this case showed the intent of petitioner to abuse [the victim] and engage in acts of child pornography by inducing the latter to exhibit her private parts to him,” the court said.
The decision, which was penned by Associate Justice Jhosep Lopez, was promulgated on Nov. 16, 2021, but was made public only on Friday.
It affirmed the guilty verdict meted out on Cadajas by the Valenzuela City Regional Trial Court in August 2017, which the Court of Appeals subsequently adopted twice with modification in September 2018 and May 2019.
In upholding the lower court’s decision, the high tribunal clarified that the right to privacy as stipulated under Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution was only aimed at preventing the government from intruding into the privacy of an individual.
However, the constitutional provision was “not applicable between and amongst private individuals” as raised by Cadajas in his petition, it said.
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