Concealment or abandonment of legitimate child, A347 Revised Penal Code


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Concealment or abandonment of child for purposes of losing civil status – refers to the act of leaving newly-born children or infants in front of various places such as hospitals or religious institutions, resulting on the children being foundlings whose family and lineage is unknown.

1. Concept

Concealment or abandonment of child for purposes of losing civil status – refers to the act of leaving newly-born children or infants in front of various places such as hospitals or religious institutions, resulting on the children being foundlings whose family and lineage is unknown.

a. Legal basis

Revised Penal Code provides:

Art. 347… [Par. 2] The same penalties shall be imposed upon any person who shall conceal or abandon any legitimate child with intent to cause such child to lose its civil status.
[Par. 3] Any physician or surgeon or public officer who, in violation of the duties of his profession or office shall cooperate in the execution of any of the crimes mentioned in the two (2) next preceding paragraphs, shall suffer the penalties therein prescribed and also the penalty of temporary special disqualification. (As amended by R.A. 10951)

(NB: If the article has been amended by legislation or has been the subject of a Supreme Court decision which may have impacted how it is interpreted, do let us know so we can consider for the next update of this article. You may send it via: Feedback.)

2. Modes of commission

The following are the modes of committing the offense:

1) Concealing or abandoning legitimate child; or

2) Physician, surgeon, or public officer cooperating in such concealment or abandonment.


a. Mode 1: Abandonment

Elements of the offense:

1) The offender conceals or abandons a legitimate child; and

2) It is done with intent to cause said child to lose its civil status. (REVISED PENAL CODE, Article 347)

1) Element 1: Abandonment

To better understand this article, it is best to understand the underlying context. What is sought to be prevented or punished by the law is the pervasive act of abandoning newly born infants and infants at the doors of hospitals and religious institutions. When this happens, the family and lineage of the children are unknown. Thus, the loss of civil status herein is in terms of their rights related to family, succession, inheritance, and analogous thereto, which require blood/family relationships.

This has been thoroughly discussed in the seminal case of U.S. v. Capillo, which tackled the article’s predecessor, the old Spanish Penal Code. In this case, a father who sold his new-born child to another and promising not to reclaim it was charged with abandonment.

The United States v. Capillo, En Banc, G.R. No. L-9279, March 15, 1915, Per Carson, J.:

[The following is a discussion on the old and repealed Article 468 of the (Spanish) Penal Code which was the precursor of the current Article 347 of the Revised Penal Code.]

• The contentions of the parties on this appeal turn upon the meaning which should be given to the word “expusiere” as found in the original Spanish version.

• The verb “exponer” is given various meaning in “El Diccionario de la Lengua Castellana por la Real Academia Española,” 12th edition. Among others “arriesgar, aventurar, poner una cosa en contingencia de perderse” (to risk, to adventure, to put a thing in danger of being lost); and also “dejar a un niño recien nacido a la puerta de una iglesia o casa o en otro paraje publico, por no tener con que criarlo sus padres o porque no se sepa quienes son” (to leave a recently born baby at the door of a church, or a house or other public place, the parents not having means to support it, or the paents being unknown).

• Having in mind the qualifying phrase which provides that the offense is committed when the child is exposed “con animo de hacerle perder su estado civil” (with intent to expose it to lose its civil status), the word must be held to have been used by the authors of the code in the sense of to “abandon,” in some such manner as is indicated in the last of the above cited meaning given the word in the “Diccionario”; that being the clear, definite and well understood signification of the word when used by the Spanish authors of the code with relation to infants or children, as it manifestly is in this article.

• The practice of abandoning new-born infants and very young children at the door of hospitals, churches and other religious institutions was formerly so well known in Spain that, as will be seen from the definition above cited from the dictionary of the “Real Academia,” it gave rise to the use of the verb “exponer” (to expose) in a peculiar and special sense with reference to this practice, when the grammatical object of the verb is an infant or small child. We are well satisfied that it is in this sense that the word is used in the article of the code under consideration, and that in this connection it may and should be construed in both Spanish and English by its substantial equivalent to “abandon.”

• We are confirmed in our conclusion that true meaning of word “expusiere” (shall expose) in this article of the code involves the idea of abandonment by an examination of the commentaries of the learned Spanish law writers upon the corresponding article in the Spanish Criminal Code.

• Thus Groizard says (5 Groizard, 460): “the exposition which is caused by abandoning a new-born child in place where it cannot be easily assisted, intending that it should perish and save the honor of the mother, is a crime against life. The exposition of a child and the abandonment thereof in a place where it may not be in danger may be a crime against the safety of persons. Only that which has for its purpose the deprivation of the new-born child’s civil status is what constitutes the present crime. In other that it may be so, it necessary therefore that the acts committed by the guilty party plainly show his intent. The fact that one abandons, in the midst of a lonely forest, an unfortunate child that needs all kinds of assistance during the first moments of coming into the world cannot be admitted as intent to destroy its civil status, but as an attempt against its life. On the contrary, he who places at the door of a charitable person, a new-born child which is in condition to stand the first in clemencies of the weather, is supposed to do it in order that it may be taken up and protected, and therefore the legal presumption must be that he does not act with any other purpose than to cause the loss of any trace as to the filiation of the child.”


• It is manifest from the information itself, and from the argument of counsel on the demurrer, that the real object sought to be attained by the prosecution is to penalize, under the provisions of article 468 of the code, the conduct of the father in turning over his new-born child to the Chinaman and his wife, with a promise not to reclaim it, taking from the Chinaman for so doing money by way of loan or otherwise. But it is very clear that it was not the intention of the authors of the coded to penalize such conduct by the provisions of the article relied upon by the prosecution.

•It is urged that the transaction set forth in the information was in truth and effect a heartless sale of his own flesh and blood by the accused for one hundred and odd pesos, and that he should not be permitted to go unpunished. It is not necessary for us to consider and decide, at this time, under what circumstances, if any, a father, left with a motherless child, may turn it over to others with or without an agreement to reclaim it, or whether, in the event that he does turn the child over to others, be would ever be permitted to receive money or other consideration from those who adopt the child. Our ruling at this time is merely that the offense defined and penalized in article 468 of the Penal Code is not the unlawful sale of a child by its father, and that such conduct cannot properly be penalized under its provisions. If the accused has been guilty of conduct constituting an offense of this kind, in violation of the laws of the Philippine Islands, he should be charged with and tried for the offense actually committed, so that the penalty to be imposed upon conviction may be adjudged by the courts in accord with the provisions of the statute defining and penalizing the crime of which he is found guilty.

2) Element 2: Loss of civil status

Since loss of civil status is the result of the abandonment, it presupposes that the child referred herein is born alive.

The United States v. Capillo, En Banc, G.R. No. L-9279, March 15, 1915, Per Carson, J.:

• And Viada says (vol. 3, p. 270): “Finally, the same penalty is imposed upon anyone who [conceals] or exposes a legitimate child with the intention of making him lose his civil status. It must be remembered that by the word child must be understood a fully developed and living being, as the child born not capable of living has no status, nor can he transmit any rights whatever. It is, therefore, an essential condition of this crime, that crime, that the child who has been exposed or concealed shall have been born alive, and therefore, the clandestine burial of a child who was born dead is not included within the provisions of the last paragraph of this article, although it may be included within the provisions of article 349 of this Code. It must be noted, furthermore, that the exposition or concealment must be of a legitimate child and done with the intention of making him lose his civil status, that is, his inherent rights as a legitimate child; and therefore, were he illegitimate, or, were the intentions of the one who concealed or exposed the child different, the act may constitute a crime against liberty and security, but certainly not an attempt against the civil status of the child.”

b. Mode 2: Physician, surgeon, public officer

Elements of the offense:

1) The offender is a physician, surgeon, or public officer; and

2) They cooperate in the concealment or abandonment of a legitimate child to lose its civil status. (REVISED PENAL CODE, Paragraph 3, Article 347)

1) Element 1: Physician, surgeon, public officer

The offenders are specifically identified, namely: physician, surgeon, or public officer.

As with simulation of birth, nothing in the law that requires that the physician or surgeon be the attending the mother who have birth. Accordingly, it is possible to hold any physician or surgeon liable if they cooperate or participate in the substitution of a child for another.

The same reasoning applies to the public officer, i.e., no specification as to what Government office or agency that the said officer may belong. As with the physician or surgeon, any public officer may be held liable for cooperating in the substitution of a child for another.

For more information, see: Simulation of birth

2) Element 2: Cooperates in abandonment

The offenders cooperate in the concealment or abandonment of a legitimate child to lose its civil status. In doing so, the offenders here are principals by direct cooperation (see: Article 17[3], RPC).


Title XII – Crimes Against the Civil Status of Persons, Act No. 3815, Revised Penal Code

/Updated: May 20, 2023

Disclaimer: All information is for educational and general information only. These should not be taken as professional legal advice or opinion. Please consult a competent lawyer to address your specific concerns. Any statements or opinions of the author are solely his own and do not reflect that of any organization he may be connected.

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