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January 26, 1989 | Paras, J.
Minority - Intent & discernment difference

DOCTRINE: Discernment is the capacity to understand the rightness or wrongness of the consequences
of ones negligent act. Intent is the determination to do something.
CASE SUMMARY: John Philip and his friends were playing target shooting. However, Teodoro was shot
in the collarbone, which cause his death. The case was initially dismissed, but the parents appealed to the
Ministry of Justice. The petitioner argued that intent and discernment are the same, hence the case
should again be dismissed. However, the SC held that intent is different from discernment. The latter is
an element of dolo, while discernment is embraced in intelligence, an element of both culpa and dolo.

John Philip Guevarra, then 11 years old, was playing with his best friend Teodoro Almine and three
other children in their backyard. They were target shooting bottle caps (tansans) using the air rifle
they borrowed from their neighbor. Unfortunately, Teodoro was hit on his left collarbone, which
caused his death.
The fiscal exculpated John Philip due to his age and the incident appeared to be an accident.
However, the parents of the deceased appealed to the Ministry of Justice, which ordered the filing
of a case against John Philip for homicide through reckless imprudence. The petitioner moved
to quash the motion by arguing that discernment connotes intent.

ISSUE: WON John Philip, an 11 year old boy, may be charged with the crime of homicide thru reckless
imprudence? YES

Petitioner argues that discernment connotes intent. However, the SC held that the argument is
untenable. If that is the case, then no minor between the age of 9 and 15 may be convicted of a
quasi-offense under Art. 165 of RPC.
Intent, which is the 3rd element of dolo, has been defined as (a) design; a determination to do a
certain things; an aim; the purpose of the mind, including such knowledge as is essential to
such intent;. . .; the design resolve, or determination with which a person acts.
Discernment is defined as that constitutes an exception to the exemption from criminal liability of
a minor under fifteen years of age but over nine, who commits an act prohibited by law, is his
mental capacity to understand the difference between right and wrong.
A person may not intend to shoot another but may be aware of the consequences of his negligent
act, which may cause injury to the same person in negligently handling an air rifle.
Intelligence as another element of dolo actually embraces the concept of discernment.
In culpa, intent is absent, but intelligence remains as an essential element.
For a minor above 9, but below 15 years of age to be criminally liable, he must discern the
rightness or wrongness of the effects of his negligent act.

DISPOSITION: Petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit and the TRO effective 17 Sept. 1986 is LIFTED.
Let this case be REMANDED to the lower court for trial on the merits.

Almodovar is a judge of the trial court.