Dear Atty. Duran-Schulze,
Can I sue or file a complaint if someone harasses and tells me via Facebook chat that my child has an Anxiety Disorder, and further instigates that I am a slut? This person threatened me to keep my child away from her child; that my child should not be friends with her child because of the said “disorder” she claims.
Based on the facts you have provided us, you can file a criminal complaint for unjust vexation which is considered a form of light coercion punishable under Article 287 of the Revised Penal Code, before the proper Office of the City Prosecutor where the elements of the crime is committed:
“Art. 287. Light coercions. — Any person who, by means of violence, shall seize anything belonging to his debtor for the purpose of applying the same to the payment of the debt, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum period and a fine equivalent to the value of the thing, but in no case less than 75 pesos.”
In Melchor G. Maderazo, et al. vs. People of the Philippines (G.R. No. 165065, Sept. 26, 2006), the crime of unjust vexation is defined as any human conduct which, although not productive of some physical or material harm, could unjustifiable annoy or vex an innocent person.
The paramount question to be considered is whether the offender’s act causes annoyance, irritation, torment, distress or disturbance to the mind of the person to whom it is directed.
In filing a criminal complaint against the person who sent you the alleged malicious message, you must show as evidence that the actions of the other person caused you annoyance, irritation, distress or disturbance.
Separately, the imputation of you being a “slut” may fall under the criminal case of libel or online libel as defined below:
“Art. 353. Definition of libel. — A libel is public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.” (Revised penal Code)
(4) Libel. — The unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future” (REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10175)