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Slander by deed, A359 Revised Penal Code

Slander by deed is an act casting dishonor, discredit, or contempt upon another person.

1. Concept

Slander by deed – refers to “a crime against honor, which is committed by performing any act, which casts dishonor, discredit, or contempt upon another person.” (Villanueva v. People, G.R. No. 160351, April 10, 2006, Per Chico-Nazario, J.)

a. Legal basis

Art. 359. Slander by deed. – The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prisión correccional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000) to One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000) shall be imposed upon any person who shall perform any act not included and punished in this title, which shall cast dishonor, discredit or contempt upon another person. If said act is not of a serious nature. the penalty shall be arresto menor or a fine not exceeding Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000). (As amended by R.A. 10951)

(Revised Penal Code)

2. Modes of commission

The following are the modes of committing the offense:

2) Simple/ordinary slander by deed; or

1) Grave/serious slander by deed.

a. Mode 1: Simple Slander

Elements of the offense of simple slander:

1) That the offender performs any act not included in any other crime against honor;

2) That such act is performed in the presence of other person or persons; and

(3) That such act casts dishonor, discredit or contempt upon the offended party. (Villanueva v. People, supra.)

1) Element 1: Not another crime against honor

The act should not be a crime against honor.

The crimes against honor are as follows:

1) Libel (Article 353), including Cyberlibel;

2) Threatening to publish and offer to prevent such publication for a compensation (Article 356);

3) Prohibited publication of acts referred to in the course of official proceedings (Art. 357);

4) Slander (Art. 358);

5) Slander by deed (Art. 359);

6) Incriminating innocent person (Article 363);

7) Intriguing against honor (Art. 364);

For slander – whether ordinary or by deed – to apply, the act should not consist of either one of the above offenses.

2) Element 2: In the presence of others

The act should have been performed in the presence of another.

The reason being is that slander by deed is a crime against honor. It thus presupposes that the complainant was the subject of slander before other persons, excluding complainant and the accused.

Otherwise stated, there can be no harm against a person’s honor if the act was done privately, meaning only between the complainant and the accused.

3) Element 3: Casts dishonor, discredit, or contempt

The act complained of casts dishonor, discredit or contempt upon the offended party.

As a crime against honor, the act should be of such a nature that would tarnish the reputation of another, which may be in the form of dishonor, discredit, or contempt.

b. Mode 2: Grave Slander

Elements of the offense of grave slander:

1) That the offender performs any act not included in any other crime against honor;

2) That such act is performed in the presence of other person or persons;

3) That such act casts dishonor, discredit or contempt upon the offended party; and

4) That such act was of a serious nature. (See: CRIMINAL CODE, Article 359, cf. Villanueva v. People, supra.)

1) Element 1: Not another crime against honor

Seeearlier related discussion.

2) Element 2: In the presence of others

Seeearlier related discussion.

3) Element 3: Casts dishonor, discredit, or contempt

Seeearlier related discussion.

4) Element 4: Serious in nature

What differentiates the offense of grave slander is that the act must be serious in nature.

NB: As to what is something serious in nature is decided on a case-to-case basis. See cases below.

3. Things to note

The following are some additional things to note about this offense.

a. Swearing

In Mari v. Court of Appeals, complainant and petitioner were co-employees in the Department of Agriculture, with office at Digos, Davao del Sur, although complainant occupied a higher position. On 6 December 1991, petitioner borrowed from complainant the records of his 201 file. However, when he returned the same three days later, complainant noticed that several papers were missing which included official communications from the Civil Service Commission and Regional Office, Department of Agriculture, and a copy of the complaint by the Rural Bank of Digos against petitioner. Upon instruction of her superior officer, complainant sent a memorandum to petitioner asking him to explain why his 201 file was returned with missing documents. Instead of acknowledging receipt of the memorandum, petitioner confronted complainant and angrily shouted at her: “Putang ina, bullshit, bugo.” He banged a chair in front of complainant and choked her. With the intervention of the security guard, petitioner was prevailed upon to desist from further injuring complainant… [Accused liable for slander by deed.] (Villanueva v. People, supra., citing Mari v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 127694, May 31, 2000)

Teodoro v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 103174. July 11, 1996, Per Mendoza, J.:

• Petitioner [A.B.] Teodoro was vice-president and corporate secretary of the DBT-Marbay Construction, Inc., while complainant, [C.] Tanco-Young, was treasurer of the same corporation. Petitioner is the brother of the president of the corporation, [D.] Teodoro, while complainant is the daughter of the chairman of the board of the corporation, [A.] Tanco. x x x

• Records show that the incident complained of took place at the Board Room of the D.B.T. Mar Bay Construction Incorporated in the afternoon of August 17, 1984. Present at the meeting were [A.] Tanco, Chairman of the Board; the President, [D.] Teodoro; the accused, [A.] Teodoro, as Corporate Secretary; the complainant, [Ca.] Tanco-Young who is the Treasurer; and one Oscar Benares.

•  It appears that there was a controversial document being insisted upon by the accused, as secretary, to be signed by the chairman. The Board Treasurer, [C.] Tanco-Young questioned the propriety of having the document signed as there was, according to her, no such meeting that ever took place as to show a supposed resolution to have been deliberated upon. A verbal exchange of words and tirades took place between the accused Secretary and the Treasurer. One word led to another up to the point where Carolina Tanco-Young, the treasurer, either by implication or expressed domineering words, alluded to the accused as a “falsifier” which blinded the accused-appellant to extreme anger and rage, thus leading him to slap Tanco-Young — the alleged name caller.

• [Accused was liable for slander by deed.]

Cariaga v. Sapigao, G.R. No. 223844, June 28, 2017, Per Perlas-Bernabe, J.:

•[T]here is no probable cause to indict respondents of the crimes of Slander by Deed and False Certification. As aptly found by the [Prosecutor], there was no improper motive on the part of respondents in making the blotter entries as they were made in good faith; in the performance of their official duties as barangay officials; and without any intention to malign, dishonor, or defame Cariaga. Moreover, the statements contained in the blotter entries were confirmed by disinterested parties who likewise witnessed the incidents recorded therein. On the other hand, Cariaga’s insistence that the blotter entries were completely false essentially rests on mere self-serving assertions that deserve no weight in law. Thus, respondents cannot be said to have committed the crime of Slander by Deed.

b. Pushing and slapping

[T]he acts of pushing and slapping a woman in order to ridicule and shame her before other people constitute the felony of slander by deed. (Villanueva v. People, supra., citing People v. Delfin, En Banc, G.R. Nos. L-15230 and L-15979-81, July 31, 1961)

c. Pointing a dirty finger

[P]ointing a dirty finger ordinarily connotes the phrase “Fuck You,” which is similar to the expression “Puta” or “Putang Ina mo,” in local parlance. Such expression was not held to be libelous in Reyes v. People, where the Court said that: “This is a common enough expression in the dialect that is often employed, not really to slander but rather to express anger or displeasure. It is seldom, if ever, taken in its literal sense by the hearer, that is, as a reflection on the virtues of a mother.” (Villanueva v. People, supra., citing Reyes v. People, En Banc, G.R. Nos. L-21528 and L-21529)

Villanueva v. People, G.R. No. 160351, April 10, 2006, Per Chico-Nazario, J.:

• [The] issue that faces this Court is whether or not petitioner’s act of poking a dirty finger at complainant constitutes grave slander by deed.

• Following [Reyes v. People], and in light of the fact that there was a perceived provocation coming from complainant, petitioner’s act of pointing a dirty finger at complainant constitutes simple slander by deed, it appearing from the factual milieu of the case that the act complained of was employed by petitioner “to express anger or displeasure” at complainant for procrastinating the approval of his leave monetization. While it may have cast dishonor, discredit or contempt upon complainant, said act is not of a serious nature…

4. Distinguish from other offenses

This offense is distinguished from other offenses or crimes below.

a. Slander by deed vs Slander

FactorsSlander by DeedSlander or oral defamation
Offended PartyAny personAny person
OffenderAny personAny person
Overt ActsDefamation via conduct or behaviorDefamation via spoken words

Thus, slander by deed is defamation via conduct or behavior. On the other hand, slander is defamation via spoken words.

For more information, see: Slander (Oral Defamation)

b. Slander by deed vs Libel

FactorsSlander by DeedLibel
Offended PartyAny personAny person
OffenderAny personAny person
Overt ActsDefamation via conduct or behaviorDefamation via printed means, including electronic means thru Cyberlibel

Thus, slander by deed is defamation via conduct or behavior. On the other hand, libel is defamation via printed words.

Whether a certain slanderous act constitutes slander by deed of a serious nature or not, depends on the social standing of the offended party, the circumstances under which the act was committed, the occasion, etc. It is libel committed by actions rather than words. The most common examples are slapping someone or spitting on his/her face in front of the public market, in full view of a crowd, thus casting dishonor, discredit, and contempt upon the person of another. (Villanueva v. People, supra.)

For more information, see: Libel

5. Complex Crime

There is no complex crime of serious slander by deed with less serious physical injuries and damages.

[I]f two felonies would otherwise have been covered by the conceptual definition of a complex crime under Article 48, but the Code imposes a single definite penalty therefor, it cannot also be punished as a complex crime, much less as separate offenses, but with only the single penalty prescribed by law. Thus, even where a single act results in two less grave felonies of serious physical injuries and serious slander by deed, the offense will not be punished as a delito compuesto under Article 48 but as less serious physical injuries with ignominy under the second paragraph of Article 265. The serious slander by deed is integrated into and produces a graver offense, and the former is no longer separately punished. (People v. Malinao, En Banc, G.R. No. 128148, February 16, 2004)

People v. Lasala, En Banc, G.R. No. L-12141, January 30, 1962, Per Bautista Angelo, J.:

• Before his arraignment, the accused filed a motion to quash on the ground that the act he has committed, if any, is not the complex crime of serious slander by deed defined in Article 359 of the Revised Penal Code and of less serious physical injuries but the single offense defined in paragraph 2 of Article 265 for the reason that said act has happened in the same place, on the same occasion, and had been impelled by the same intent. So he prayed that the information be quashed or amended by eliminating the charge of serious slander by deed…

• Article 265, paragraph 2, of the Revised Penal Code provides:

Whenever less serious physical injuries shall have been inflicted with the manifest intent to insult or offend the injured person, or under circumstances adding ignominy to the offense, in addition to the penalty of arresto mayor

• An analysis of the provisions of the article above-quoted reveals that whenever an act has been committed which inflicts upon a person less serious physical injuries with the manifest intent to insult or offend him or under circumstances adding to the offense, the offender should be prosecuted under that article and, if convicted, should be sentenced to the penalty therein prescribed. This specific provision should be considered as an exception to the rule contained in Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code relative to complex crimes. Of course, we cannot deny that Article 359 considers as slander by deed any act “which shall cast dishonor, discredit, or contempt upon another person”, and if said act results in the infliction of physical injuries it may also be covered by any of the articles compromised in Chapter Two, Title Eight, of the Revised Penal Code, relative to physical injuries, but if such eventuality happens the act cannot come under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code which considers as complex a single act that constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies for the simple reason that in this particular case that act is specifically covered by paragraph 2 of Article 265 already abovementioned. In this respect, we agree with the following comment of the lower court: “The Court is of the opinion that the crime committed is less serious physical injuries with the manifest intent to insult and offend the complaining witness and the same acts cannot constitute the complex crime of slander by deed with less serious physical injuries, because such complex crime only exists in cases where the Code has no specific provision penalizing the same with specific penalty.”

• The acts alleged in the information as constituting the crime of slander by deed with the infliction of physical injuries on the body of the offended party fit well into Article 265, paragraph 2, of the Revised Penal Code, for it is there alleged that the assault upon said offended party was committed in the cockpit where at the time there were many people present. In other words, it may be said that the act was committed with the manifest intent to insult or offend the offended party, or under circumstances adding ignominy to the offense, it appearing that said offended party was then the incumbent municipal mayor of the place. The lower court, therefore, was justified in ordering the amendment of the information.

References

• Title XIII – Crimes Against Honor, Act No. 3815, Revised Penal Code

/Updated: June 23, 2023

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