cdn mobile

EXPLAINER: What is unjust vexation?

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | January 24,2024 - 10:56 AM

CEBU CITY, Philippines — News of two college students posing with dirty fingers behind a team of police officers during the Fiesta Señor and Sinulog celebration made the rounds on the internet.

The two young adult males, both studying engineering at a university here, were apprehended, detained, and then charged with unjust vexation.

READ MORE: 2 college students jailed for selfie with dirty finger during Sinulog

But what is unjust vexation, and does raising the dirty finger count as one?

In Philippine law, unjust vexation, as defined by Article 287 of the Revised Penal Code, is ‘any human conduct that causes annoyance, irritation, torment, distress, or disturbance to the mind of another person.’

Anyone found guilty of unjust vexation may face arresto menor, or imprisonment from one to 30 days, and penalties ranging from P1,000 to not more than P40,000.


A Supreme Court (SC) ruling in the case of Melchor G. Maderazo, et al. vs People of the Philippines, dated 2006, also referred to unjust vexation as a ‘form of light coercion which is broad enough to include any human conduct which, although not productive of some physical or material harm, would unjustly annoy or irritate an innocent person.’

In it, the High Court pointed out that one of the grounds for convicting someone of unjust vexation is the presence of malice.

“However, in unjust vexation, being a felony by dolo, malice is an inherent element of the crime. Good faith is a good defense to a charge for unjust vexation because good faith negates malice,” the SC added.


The unjust vexation case in Melchor G. Maderazo, et al. vs People of the Philippines involved conducting an inventory and transporting of properties without authority.

Other examples of cases of unjust vexation, as compiled by Divina Law, included disconnecting electric, water, and telephone lines without authority; embracing, dragging, and kissing another person in front of a friend; and causing trouble at a religious event by putting up a barbed wire fence in front of a chapel.

The Dirty Finger

In the case of the two engineering students during Sinulog, they claimed to have no intentions of insulting the police officers when they took the selfies with their dirty fingers.

Instead, the images were meant for their friends whom they plan to meet later that time. They also apologized to the police.

But for the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), what the two college students did already counted as unjust vexation.

READ MORE: Unjust vexation raps filed vs students in ‘dirty finger’ selfie

“Ang katong ilang gihimo and previously pa adtong ilang paghimo sa act, there were already actions done by these students nga nakapa-vex or nakapa-insulto aning mga police nga involved. So katong ilang paghimo sa maong action, which is very inappropriate, will qualify in the filing of complaint for unjust vexation,” said Police Lt. Col. Gerard Ace Pelare, spokesperson of PRO-7.

(What they did and what they previously did in the act, there were already actions done by these students that vexed or insulted the policemen involved. So when they made that action, which is very inappropriate, that will qualify in the filing of complaint for unjust vexation.)

“It’s up to them how they’re going to explain it to the court. But as far as the police are concerned, we have arrested them legally and with enough sufficient legal basis,” he added.

On the other hand, the police warned the public to always observe good behavior and decorum in public spaces. They also reminded them not to insult any members of the law enforcement. / with reports from Emmariel Ares


Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

TAGS: Cebu, Cebu City, Cebu Daily News, cebu news, Sinulog

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.