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Exploitation of child labor, A273 Revised Penal Code

1. Concept

Exploitation of child labor – under the Revised Penal Code, refers to the crime of retaining a minor for service against the minor’s will under the pretext of reimbursing the offender of a debt incurred by an ascendant, guardian or person entrusted with the custody of a minor

a. Legal basis

Article 273. Exploitation of child labor. – The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods and a fine not exceeding 500 pesos shall be imposed upon anyone who, under the pretext of reimbursing himself of a debt incurred by an ascendant, guardian or person entrusted with the custody of a minor, shall, against the latter’s will, retain him in his service.

(Revised Penal Code)

2. Modes of commission

The following are the modes of committing the offense:

1) By retaining a minor for service against the minor’s will under the pretext of reimbursing himself of a debt incurred by an ascendant, guardian or person entrusted with the custody of a minor

a. Mode 1: Retaining a minor for service

Elements of the crime of slavery:

1) That the offender retains a minor in the offender’s service;

2) That it is under the pretext of reimbursing the offender of a debt incurred by an ascendant, guardian or person entrusted with the custody of a minor; and

3) That it is against the minor’s will. (REVISED PENAL CODE, Article 273)

1) Element 1: Retaining a minor for service

For the 1st element, the offender retains a minor in the offender’s service.

Retaining the minor in the service of the offender means that the minor will be working for the offender. Since the provision does not specify, the services that the minor may involve house work, personal service, or in the business or trade of the offender.

2) Element 2: Pretext

For the 2nd element, it is under the pretext of reimbursing the offender of a debt incurred by an ascendant, guardian or person entrusted with the custody of a minor.

Pretext – means “a purpose or motive alleged or an appearance assumed in order to cloak the real intention or state of affairs.” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

If pretext is employed, it necessarily means there is fraud.

For this offense, the pretext is that the minor will be performing services to the offender so that the debt incurred by the minor’s ascendant, guardian or person entrusted with the minor’s custody could be reimbursed. Because of this pretext. the minor is convinced to go along.

3) Element 3: Against the minor’s will

For the 3rd element, it is against the minor’s will.

That the arrangement is against the minor’s will may be express or implied. For example, it is express, if the minor actively refuses by saying “No” or “I don’t want to do it”. On the other hand, due to the age of the minor, the minor may also communicate such refusal in an implied manner or through behavior such as by not going with the offender, refusing to leave home, or by not cooperating.

If the minor freely consented, but there is still the pretext or fraud on the part of the offender, the offender may be held liable for another offense, such as estafa.

References

Title IX – Crimes Against Personal Liberty and Security, Act No. 3815, Revised Penal Code, as amended

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