MANILA, Philippines—“Nobody’s crying for help. So how come somebody’s trying to help? Our country has a lot of problems bigger than this.”

This was Freddie Aguilar’s response to the criminal complaint filed against him by a lawyer who claimed he was scandalized by the news that the music icon was planning to marry a 16-year-old girl who is also 44 years his junior.

The complainant, Fernando Perito, took the online jeering that greeted Aguilar’s revelation to the next level by suing him for qualified seduction in the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday.

Perito, who said he had the obligation as a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to do what is right and prevent wrongs, was severe in denouncing Aguilar in a two-page complaint, calling him a “predator” from whom children should be “spared.”

In the lawyer’s view, the 60-year-old singer, an acclaimed artist in the local music industry since the 1970s, just “want(ed) to take advantage of the adulation of the child by pretending to be loving her and allegedly marrying her later.”

“The offender … has an authority and moral influence over the child because of his popularity,” he added.

Perito figured in the news last year when he asked the Senate impeachment court then trying Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona to cite the House prosecutors in contempt for presenting their evidence in the media. The complaint was set aside.

In 2011, he also asked the Supreme Court to disbar Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte after she punched a court sheriff. Last year, he sought the disbarment of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

In the complaint, the lawyer said he had seen photos of Aguilar and his teenage girlfriend on the Internet, which he found “lewd.” He also dismissed as “hogwash” Aguilar’s claim that they were already in a relationship when he learned that the girl, who looked tall and mature for her age, was still a minor.

The Revised Penal Code defines qualified seduction under Article 337 as “the seduction of a virgin over 12 years and under 18 years of age, committed by any person in public authority, priest, home-servant, domestic, guardian, teacher, or any person who, in any capacity, shall be entrusted with the education or custody of the woman seduced.”

Reached for comment, Aguilar reiterated that his five-month-old relationship with the girl had the “blessing” of her parents and that of his family.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, he said, had talked with the parents “and they also told the DSWD that they had given their consent and would even fight for (ipaglalaban) the relationship.”

“From what I understand, qualified seduction involves force (pamimilit) or deception (panloloko),” he said in Filipino. “I have never forced or deceived a child.”

“I don’t have any regrets. After more than a decade, I fell in love again. Is it really our fault that our age gap turned out to be that big?”

He said he thought the girl was already “in her 20s” when they first met and learned about her true age later when they were already dating.

Aguilar recalled that he was also hounded by intrigue when it was reported in the late 1990s that he was going out with a 17-year-old girl.

But unlike that earlier controversy, this one involving the 16-year-old apparently refused to die down, he noted.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer