Tulfo-Santiago brawl: Punishment for physical injuries

Purple S. Romero
Jail time, fines and damages for causing injury to someone vary under the law

Source: Youtube user Spamsafe

MANILA, Philippines – Swollen left eye, a gash on the right one and bruises. These are arguably marks of physical violence that columnist Ramon Tulfo bore after he figured in a fight with showbiz couple Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto on Sunday, May 6, at a Manila airport. Tulfo has filed a case of physical injury and grave coercion against the couple on Monday, May 7. 

Under the law, however, bearing these injuries is not the only basis in ascertaining the penalty for the alleged offender.

“As a general rule, it depends on the degree of injury and length of treatment,” lawyer Pablito Sanidad from the Free Legal Assistance Group said. 

He added that the impact of the injuries on the victim’s capacity to work will spell the difference in how much time the offender will spend in jail or the fine and damages he will pay. 

In case of a guilty verdict, jail time may span days or years, fines may be as small as P50, civil damages can go up to thousands of pesos.

Under Articles 262 to 266 of the Revised Penal Code, physical injuries are classified into the following: slight physical injuries and maltreatment, less serious physical injuries and serious physical injuries.

Types of injuries

The offender can be charged for slight physical injuries if the complainant was ill-treated but did not sustain injuries or had injuries that require medical attendance and caused him to leave work for one to 9 days.

The punishment for this is one to 30 days imprisonment, based on Article 266 of the penal code. The fine is not more than P50 if the victim has no injuries or P200 if he has them.

If the victim could not report for work for 10 days or more, the offender can be charged for less serious physical injuries and imprisoned from one to 6 months. A fine of not more than P500 may be imposed.

Meanwhile, charges of serious physical injuries can be filed when the victim:

  • became insane, imbecile, impotent, blind (punishment is jail time of 6 to 12 years);
  • lost the ability to speak, hear, smell, or have lost an eye, a hand, a foot, an arm, a leg, or the capacity to use them and when the victim is already unable to work (imprisonment is 2 years to 6 years);
  • became deformed, lost other parts of his body or their use and is incapacitated to work for more than 90 days (6 months to 4 years imprisonment); 
  • is incapacitated to work for more than 30 days (6 months to 2 years imprisonment).


The punishment varies again if the victim is related to the offender, which is, however, not applicable to the Tulfo-Santiago case.

On Sunday, May 6, a brawl happened between Tulfo and Santiago’s camp at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.

Based on reports, Santiago’s wife, Claudine, was scolding and cursing a Cebu Pacific Air ground stewardess over some missing baggages from their Boracay-Manila flight.

After noticing that Tulfo was taking footage of the exchange using his cellphone, Santiago confronted him about it. The two engaged in a scuffle. A video taken by an onlooker showed Santiago, Barretto and their pals throwing punches at the columnist.

Santiago, however, claimed it was Tulfo who started the commotion. He said Tulfo punched him after he approached him to ask about the cellphone video. He also said he was only defending himself and his wife, whom Tulfo allegedly kicked twice in the leg.


It is uncertain whether or not Santiago’s and Barretto’s actions can be considered self-defense.

Dean Amado Valdez of the University of the East College of law said that in case of physical injuries, the offender can be acquitted of the charges if he did them on self-defense.

Sanidad, however, said that self-defense can just be a mitigating circumstance and not necessarily a ground for acquittal if the “degree of defense is not commensurate to aggression” (e.g. the offender leaves his victim paralyzed for kicking him).

Court of Appeals Justice Gabriel Ingles said pieces of evidence that can be presented to support physical injury charges inlcude medical certificate, certification from employer that complainant was unable to work because of what happened to him, and testimony from witnesses.  

A complainant may seek civil damages, such as hospital fees or the salary he lost because he was unable to work due to the injuries. – Rappler.com

Click on the links below to read about the Ramon Tulfo – Raymart Santiago airport scuffle. 

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