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/