Controversial
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison () - April 24, 2008 - 12:00am

Any person who shall intentionally mutilate another by depriving him, either totally or partially, of some essential organ of reproduction shall be guilty of mutilation, a crime punishable under Article 262 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Does bilateral vasectomy constitute a crime of mutilation? This is the interesting and controversial question resolved in this case of Rolly (not his true name).

Rolly used to be a charge of the Heart of Mary Villa, a duly licensed orphanage run by the Good Shepherd Sisters. At two years and nine months, the Superior of the Villa consented to place Rolly under the legal guardianship of the spouses Andres and Dolores who together with their four daughters grew fond of the boy every time they visited the orphanage especially because they had no boy in the family. Hence on June 19, 1986, the Regional Trial Court appointed the spouses as co-guardians over the person and property of Rolly.

As Rolly was growing up, the spouses and their children noticed but could not explain his delayed developmental milestones since they did not know his pre-natal history about the attempt to abort him. When he was 11 he was found to be suffering from a mild mental deficiency after a neurological and psychological evaluation. So he was enrolled in an educational institution for special children.

At age 24, Rolly underwent bilateral vasectomy. At that age he was diagnosed to be mentally retarded with a mind comparable to a seven-eight year old child. Since his adoptive mother Dolores was already old and was also diagnosed as incapable of giving consent to such procedure, only Andy gave his written consent as required by the doctor who performed the operation.

When the eldest daughter learned about what happened to Rolly, a complaint for mutilation among others was filed before the City Prosecutor against the doctor, Andy and one of his daughters who assisted in bringing Rolly to the doctor.

After investigation, the investigating assistant city prosecutor ruled that the operation on Rolly did not amount to the crime of mutilation under Article 262 of the RPC as it did not in any way deprive Rolly of his reproductive organ which is still very much part of his physical self. The prosecutor ratiocinated that while the operation rendered him unable to procreate, it is reversible and therefore cannot be the permanent damage contemplated under the law. Was the prosecutor correct?

The Supreme Court said yes. The elements of mutilation under the first paragraph of Article 262 of the RPC are: (1) that there is a castration, that is mutilation of organs necessary for generation; and (2) that the mutilation is caused purposely and deliberately, that is, to deprive the offended party of some essential organ for reproduction.

The Spanish text of the law, which should govern, uses the word “castrare” inadequately translated into English as “castrate”. Castrar as defined in the Royal Academic Dictionary is the destruction of the organs of generation or conception. It consists of the amputation of whatever organ is necessary for generation.

In the male sterilization procedure of vasectomy, the tubular passage called the vas deferens, through which the sperm (cells) are transported from the testicle to the urethra where they combine with the seminal fluid to form the ejaculant, is divided and the cut ends merely tied. That part which is cut, the vas deferens, is merely a passageway that is part of the duct system of the male reproductive organs. The vas deferens is not an organ, i.e. a highly organized unit of structure, having a defined function in a multi-cellular organism and consisting of a range of tissues.

Even assuming that the tubular passage can be considered an organ, the cutting of the vas deferens does not divest or deny a man of any essential organ of reproduction for the simple reason that it does not entail the taking away of a part or portion of the male reproductive system. Such being the case the bilateral vasectomy done on Rolly could not have amounted to the crime of mutilation as defined and penalized under Article 262, par.1 of the RPC (Aguirre vs. DOJ et. al. G.R. 170723, March 3, 2008).

What is still controversial here is that the operation somehow renders a man unable to procreate. While it is not a permanent damage because it is reversible, can such operation be not considered as “partially” depriving a man of some essential element of reproduction?

Note: Books containing compilation of my articles on Labor Law and Criminal Law (Vols. I and II) are now available. Call tel. 7249445.

E-mail at: jcson@pldtdsl.net

ANDRES AND DOLORES ANDY AS ROLLY CITY PROSECUTOR GOOD SHEPHERD SISTERS MUTILATION ROLLY
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