[Topics in this article: Supreme Court cases, Tanauan Batangas, Lipa Batangas, San Juan Batangas, San Juan de Bocboc, Philippine Penal Code]
From the annals of the Supreme Court of the Philippines1, we get a fascinating story of love, lust, sex and family intrigue in Batangas early during the American colonial period. The story was set initially in the then-town of Tanauan in 1903; and involved a young man from San Juan de Bocboc and a woman from Tanauan.
By the middle of September that year, one young man by the name of Juan Salud “began to make love to his second cousin Maria Ona Licarte, a young girl under 23 years of age.” He had apparently lived in the house of the young girl’s parents for some time. The two were unmarried; and young readers in particular are advised that 1903 was a far more puritanical era than the present day. Sexual relations between unmarried couples could be a reason for ostracization in society.
Licarte had apparently “allowed herself to seduced, and acceded to the repeated requests of the accused and permitted him to lie with her, which he did several times” because of Salud’s promises of marriage. The sexual relations continued when the young woman went away to study to become a teacher at a normal school2 in the then-town of Lipa.
The couple apparently “lived in sin” in a house in Lipa. After she graduated, the couple would transfer to the house of Salud’s parents in San Juan de Bocboc, where Licarte was presumably assigned to practice her profession of teaching. The intimacy continued until, inevitably, Licarte became pregnant and gave birth to a child who would be given the name Simplicio Ona.
Salud, however, refused to honor the promises of marriage that he made not only to Licarte but to her mother and one of her aunts as well. Thus, a complaint was filed with the Court of First Instance, which would favor the side of the complainants when judgment was handed down on 6 March 1907. Salud was sentenced to
“… the penalty of four months of arresto mayor3, to suffer the accessory penalties, to indemnify the injured party in the sum ₱2,000 to recognize his offspring, to pay the sum of ₱20 monthly, for the subsistence of his said son until he should attain his majority, to be paid to the mother of the child, and also to pay the costs.”
Salud elevated the case to the Supreme Court by way of an appeal. However, the higher court took the side of Licarte as well, the higher court noting that the earlier trial had “duly proven” that Salud was guilty of the crime of “estupro” or seducation as defined in Article 443 of the Penal Code4.
The higher court noted that Salud’s witnesses, incidentally his own mother and stepmother, were “disconnected and incongruous;” and that their testimonies were nullified by those of Licarte. The Supreme Court wrote:
“ The fact that the accused and the young woman seduced lived for months, or during a great many days, in the same house in Tanauan, San Juan de Bocboc and Lipa, gave opportunity for the intimacy that sprung up between them, the man causing the girl to believe that after some time they would be wedded; so much so that, in response to a remark made by the mother the girl replied that by reason of her love affairs with the accused, her future was assured; undoubtedly trusting to the deceitful promises given by the defendant, a distant relative of hers, it is easily understood how she consented to be seduced by her lover who, willfully failing to comply with the promise so persistently given has shown that he only made the same with the wicked purpose of committing an unlawful act.”
The higher court, nonetheless, found no aggravating or mitigating circumstances present in the case and ordered that “the penalty should be applied in its medium degree.” Thus, while affirming the judgment passed by the Court of First Instance, the Supreme Court also lowered the indemnity to ₱1,000 and the monthly subsidy to be paid to the mother to ₱15 per month.
Notes and references:1 The primary details of this article are taken from “The United States, et. al. v Juan Salud,” online at the LawPhil Project.
2 A normal school was a “historical term for an institution created to train high school graduates to be teachers by educating them in the norms of pedagogy and curriculum.” “Normal School,” Wikipedia.
3 “Arresto mayor” is short-term imprisonment in the Philippines of one month and one day to 6 months. “Duration and Effects of Penalties,” online at BatasNatin.com.
4 In 1907, the Penal Code used in the Philippines dated back to the Spanish colonial era, something that was called the “Codigo Penal.” “Revised Penal Code of the Philippines,” Wikipedia.