The Supreme Court has upheld the conviction for violation of Republic Act No. 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004 (Anti-VAWC Act) of a man who cohabited with another woman and impregnated the same while his wife was working abroad.
In a Decision dated March 1, 2023, the Court’s First Division, through Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando, denied the petition for review on certiorari of XXX and affirmed the January 31, 2019 Decision and the October 18, 2019 Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA).
The CA rulings affirmed the conviction of XXX by a Regional Trial Court (RTC) which found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 5(i) of the Anti-VAWC Act which states that the crime of violence against women and their children is committed by “causing mental or emotional anguish, public ridicule or humiliation to the woman or her child, including, but not limited to, repeated verbal and emotional abuse, and denial of financial support or custody of minor children or access to the woman’s child/children.”
Emphasizing that marital infidelity is one of the forms of psychological violence, the High Court agreed with the CA and the RTC and ruled that all the elements to establish a violation of Sec. 5(i) were present. These elements are: 1) the offended party is a woman and/or her child or children; 2) the woman is either the wife or former wife of the offender; 3) the offender causes on the woman and/or child mental or emotional anguish; and 4) the anguish is caused through acts of public ridicule or humiliation, repeated verbal and emotional abuse, denial of financial support or custody of minor children or access to the children or similar to such acts or omissions.
Court records show that petitioner XXX and AAA were married on December 29, 2006 and had a daughter, BBB. AAA later went for Singapore in 2008 to work there. In May 2015, AAA found XXX was in a romantic relationship with another woman, CCC. Worst, she later discovered that the other woman was pregnant with her husband’s child.
AAA later learned that petitioner XXX brought the other woman CCC to their hometown prompting the latter to return to the country. Learning that her husband and his mistress started to cohabit, AAA sought the assistance of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in getting her daughter BBB from her mother-in-law.
The petitioner XXX was charged with violation of Sec. 5(i) of RA 9262 before the RTC in January 2016. The RTC found XXX guilty of inflicting psychological violence against his wife and daughter through emotion and psychological abandonment.
Aggrieved, petitioner XXX appealed before the CA and imputed the following errors, among others to the RTC: such as failing to consider that it was his wife who alienated their child from petitioner and for failing to consider that it was him who took custody of the child when she was still seven-months old until October 2015.
The CA found no merit in the petition. It held that contrary to petitioner’s allegation, the Information charged him not only with deprivation of financial support to the child, but also the act of abandoning his family, which may be considered as having been subsumed in the phrase “similar acts or omissions” mentioned under Sec. 5(i) of RA 9262.
The CA held that contrary to petitioner’s claims, the Information charged him not only with deprivation of financial support to the child, but also the act of abandoning her and her mother, which may be considered as having been subsumed in the phrase “similar acts or omissions” mentioned under Sect. 5(i) of RA 9262. The CA added that while the prosecution was not able to establish that petitioner denied them financial support, the prosecution was able to clearly show that petitioner abandoned them, and such abandonment caused them mental or emotional anguish.” A Motion for Reconsideration was filed by the petitioner but the same was denied by the CA. The petitioner then brought his case to the High Court.
The Supreme Court held that there are several forms of abuse, the most visible form of which is physical violence. The others are sexual violence, psychological violence, and economic abuse.
The Court ruled that the prosecution in this case was able to satisfactorily establish petitioner’s marital infidelity, petitioner’s cohabitation with CCC who even bore him a child, and his abandonment of AAA.
"BBB’s psychological trauma was evident when she wept in open court upon being asked to narrate petitioner’s infidelity. In particular, BBB explained that she was deeply hurt because her father had another family and loved another woman other than her mother, BBB,” the Court said, highlighting that the child was only nine years old when she took the witness stand in 2015.
FULL TEXT OF G.R. No. 250219 at https://sc.judciary.gov.ph/250219- xxx-vs-people-of-the-philippines/
When the status of the employment is in dispute, the employer bears the burden to prove that the person whose service it pays for is an independent contractor rather than a regular employee with or without fixed terms.
Thus ruled the Supreme Court’s Second Division, in a Decision penned by Senior Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, granting the petition of Chrisden Cabrera Ditiangkin, Hendrix Masamayor Molines, Harvey Mosquito Juanio, Joselito Castro Verde, and Brian Anthony Cubacub Nabong (“petitioners”). The Petition challenged the rulings of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and the Court of Appeals which found that there was no employer-employee relationship between the petitioners and Lazada E-Services Philippines, Inc. (“Lazada”).
The Court ordered Lazada to reinstate the petitioners to their former positions as Lazada riders, with full backwages computed from the time of dismissal up to the time of actual reinstatement. The case was also ordered remanded to the Labor Arbiter for the computation of the total monetary benefits due the petitioners.
In 2016, the petitioners were hired by Lazada as riders primarily tasked to pick up items from sellers and deliver them to Lazada’s warehouse with P1,200 each per day as service fee, for one year. These were embodied in a contract titled “Independent Contractor Agreement” (“Contract”).
In 2017, the petitioners found they were removed from their usual routes and would no longer be given any schedules. This prompted them to file a complaint against Lazada before the NLRC for illegal dismissal.
The Labor Arbiter dismissed their complaint on the ground that the petitioners were not regular employees of Lazada. This was upheld by the NLRC and the Court of Appeals.
In ruling in favor of the petitioners, the Supreme Court found that Lazada failed to discharge its burden of proving that the former were independent contractors rather than regular employees.
The High Court applied a two-tiered test to determine whether an employer-employee relationship existed between Lazada and the petitioners: the four-fold test and the economic-dependence test.
Under the four-fold test, four factors must be proven: (a) the employer’s selection and engagement of the employee; (b) the payment of wages; (c) the power to dismiss; and (d) the power to control the employee’s conduct, the most important factor.
When the control test is insufficient, the economic realities of the employment are considered to get a comprehensive assessment of the classification of the worker and determine if the employee is dependent on the employer for his continued employment in that line of business.
In the case of the petitioners, the Court found that all four factors in the four-fold test were present.
First, petitioners were directly employed by Lazada as evidenced by the Contracts they signed.
Second, as indicated in the Contract, they received their salaries from Lazada which paid each of them the amount of P1,200.00 for each day of service.
Third, Lazada had the power to dismiss the petitioners. In their contract, Lazada could immediately terminate the agreement if there was a breach of material provisions of the Contract.
Finally, Lazada had control over the means and methods of the performance of the work of the petitioners, as reflected in the way they carried out their work. Lazada required the accomplishment of a route sheet which kept track of the arrival, departure, and unloading time of the items. The petitioners also risked a penalty of P500.00 if an item was lost, on top of its actual value. They were also required to submit trip tickets and incident reports to Lazada.
In addition, the Court held that the services performed by the petitioners were integral to Lazada’s business, with the delivery of items clearly integrated in the services offered by Lazada. The Court also found that the petitioners were dependent on Lazada for their continued employment in this line of business since they were hired by Lazada directly after being previously engaged by a third-party contractor to provide services for Lazada. This, held the Court, shows that the petitioners were economically dependent on Lazada for their livelihood.
As to the provision in the Contract which expressly states that there is no employer-employee relationship, the Court ruled that “protection of the law afforded to labor precedes over the nomenclature and stipulations of the Contract…Thus, it is patently erroneous for the labor tribunals to reject an employer-employee relationship simply because the Contract stipulates that this relationship does not exist.”
FULL TEXT OF G.R. No. 246892 dated September 21, 2022 at https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/32478/
The Supreme Court has ruled that photos and messages obtained by private individuals from a Facebook messenger account are admissible as evidence in court.
In a 31-page decision penned by Justice Jhosep Y. Lopez, the Court sustained the conviction of the petitioner, Christian C. Cadajas, for violation of RA 9775, or the Anti-Child Pornography Act, rejecting the petitioner’s claim that the chat thread presented as evidence against him should be excluded since the same was obtained in violation of his right to privacy.
In 2016, petitioner, then 24 years old, started a romantic relationship with AAA, a 14-year old girl. AAA, using the cellphone of her mother, BBB, would converse with petitioner on Facebook Messenger. In one of their conversations, petitioner coaxed AAA to send photos of her private parts, to which AAA relented. BBB later discovered this conversation when AAA forgot to log out her Facebook account on her mother’s phone, prompting AAA to delete the messages on her account. BBB, however, forced AAA to open petitioner’s Facebook messenger account to get a copy of their conversation.
The Court held that because the Bill of Rights under the Constitution, which includes the right to privacy, was intended to protect citizens from government intrusions, the right to privacy and its consequent effects on the rules on admissibility of evidence cannot be invoked against private individuals.
In the case of petitioner, the Facebook Messenger chat thread was not obtained through the efforts of police officers or any State agent, but by AAA, a private individual who had access to the photos and conversations in the chat thread.
Neither can AAA be said to have violated the petitioner’s privacy, ruled the Court, since by giving AAA the password to his Facebook Messenger account, the petitioner lost a reasonable expectation of privacy over the contents of his account. Thus, even if AAA was only forced by her mother to obtain the photos and messages, there is still no violation of the petitioner’s privacy, since by allowing another person access to his account, the petitioner made its contents available not only to AAA, but to other persons AAA might show the account to, whether she be forced or not to do so.
The Court also held that the restrictions under the Data Privacy Act (DPA) are not applicable to petitioner since the DPA allows the processing of personal information where it relates to the determination of criminal liability of a data subject.
The Court also ruled that the crime of child pornography, while defined and penalized under a special law, should be classified as mala in se, or acts which are inherently immoral and thus require proof of criminal intent by the accused, as opposed to mala prohibita, or those acts which are prohibited only because the law says so, making the intent of the accused irrelevant. The Court held that consistent with legislative deliberations on the Anti-Child Pornography Act, it is clear that the illegal acts under the law are not mere prohibitions but serious, depraved acts. Thus, in cases of child pornography, the criminal intent of the accused must be proved. In the case of petitioner, it was established that he had intent to induce AAA, a minor, to exhibit AAA’s private parts, since it was petitioner’s prodding that led AAA to take and share the intimate photos.
FULL TEXT of G.R. No. 247348 at: https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/27967/
Following the enactment of RA 11642, or the Domestic Administrative Adoption and Alternative Child Care Act, the Supreme Court has issued guidelines on the implications of the law on the Rule on Adoption.
In an En Banc Resolution, the Court adopted the recommendations of the Committee on Family Courts and Juvenile Concerns, led by then Senior Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, as follows:
FULL TEXT of A.M. No. 02-6-02-SC dated April 19, 2022 at:https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/28076/