Breaking a solemn promise
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - January 2, 2019 - 12:00am

Seduction is a crime punishable by our Revised Penal Code (Article 338). It is having carnal knowledge with a woman of chaste life and good reputation, over 12 and below 18 years of age, by means of deceit usually in the form of an unfulfilled promise of marriage. But is it necessary that the promise of marriage be made immediately before the carnal act. Supposing the carnal act happened long after such promise has been made, will it still constitute seduction? This is explained and answered in this case.

This is the case of Lorenzo or “Enzo” who has been courting Jessica, a 17 years old young and pretty girl. For two months Enzo’s efforts have been unsuccessful but due to his persistent struggle and through promise of marriage, his efforts were reciprocated and they became sweethearts. From then on they had the usual “lovers’ quarrel” until they reach the verge of separation because Jessica got tired of Enzo’s indecent proposals time and again during his visits. But every time Jessica intimated to Enzo her determination to sever their relationship because of his importunities, Enzo renewed his protestations of love, so their lovers’ quarrel was patched up.

Almost a year later, Enzo went to the house of Jessica when her parents were away. Availing himself of the opportunity, with a renewal of his promise to make her his wife, Enzo finally succeeded in having sexual intercourse with Jessica. Thereafter, Jessica already yielded without restraint to Enzo’s desires, believing that she was already lost for having granted him that first favor. So their platonic love became a carnal union.

Five months later, Jessica noticed that she was already pregnant so she asked Enzo if he was ready to fulfill his promise. At the beginning Enzo said yes as shown by his letters to Jessica. But in the end, he told her he was not ready because he was engaged to another girl. But for two weeks more, Enzo and Jessica lived together in Enzo’s house. In view of such unbearable situation, Jessica’s parents, Myla and Jeff, already intervened and reported the matter to the town’s police chief, who sent for Enzo. On being confronted, Enzo renewed to the police chief his promise to marry Jessica. Eventually however, Enzo refused to fulfill his promise on the pretext that neither his confessor nor his parents approved of such marriage. He also reasoned out that he never loved Jessica and that he was a Catholic with a girl who already gave birth to a baby boy.

So Enzo was charged with the crime of seduction and Jessica testified for the prosecution reiterating the facts above set forth and submitting Enzo’s letters. Enzo on the other hand contended that even if he promised marriage to Jessica, such promise was made nearly one year before they had the first carnal intercourse and he never reiterated said promise anymore. So he contended that it cannot be said that Jessica consented on the faith of such promise.

But the trial court and the Supreme Court said that Enzo is wrong. The circumstance that the promise of marriage has not been reiterated and that the carnal act has been performed 11 months after such promise had been made, does not detract from the existence of the offense. The promise need not be made or renewed at the time of the commission of the offense, it being sufficient that there has been such previous promise in consideration of which the seduction was accomplished. In this case the conduct of Jessica and Enzo, and the other circumstances of the case as a whole, show that Jessica’s consent was secured through said promise. The statute making seduction a crime is not to punish illicit intercourse but to punish the seducer who, by means of a promise of marriage destroys the chastity of an unmarried female of previous chaste character and who thus draws her aside from the path of virtue and rectitude and then fails and refuses to fulfill his promise, a character despicable in the eyes of every decent and honorable man. So Enzo is really guilty of seduction and should be imprisoned for four months of arresto mayor and to indemnify Jessica the corresponding damages as well as to acknowledge and support her child (People vs. Iman, G.R. 42660, September 12, 1935).

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