Annulment, Legal Separation, Child Support & Violence Against Women

Philippine Laws on Violence Against Women & Children

Republic Act No. RA 9262 , otherwise known as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Law (“VAWC”), defines violence against women and children as “any act or a series of acts against a woman who is his wife, former wife or against a woman with whom the person has or had sexual or dating relationship, or against her child, whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without family abode, which result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty”.

Physical Violence refers to acts that include bodily or physical harm.

On the other hand, sexual violence refers to an act which is sexual in nature, committed against a woman or her child. It includes, but is not limited to:
a. rape
b. sexual harassment,
c. acts of lasciviousness,
d. treating a woman or her child as a sex object
e. making demeaning and sexually suggestive remarks,
f. physically attacking the sexual parts of the victim’s body,
g. forcing her/him to watch obscene publications and indecent shows or
h. forcing the woman or her child to do indecent acts and/or make films thereof,
i. forcing the wife and mistress/lover to live in the conjugal home or sleep together in the same room with the abuser;
j. acts causing or attempting to cause the victim to engage in any sexual activity by force, threat of force, physical or other harm or threat of physical or other harm or coercion;
k. Prostituting the woman or child.

A novel concept in Philippine law is Psychological violence, which refers to acts or omissions causing or likely to cause mental or emotional suffering of the victim such as but not limited to:
a. intimidation
b. harassment,
c. stalking,
d. damage to property,
e. public ridicule or humiliation,
f. repeated verbal abuse and
g. mental infidelity.
h. It includes causing or allowing the victim to witness the physical, sexual or psychological abuse of a member of the family to which the victim belongs,
i. or to witness pornography in any form or
j. to witness abusive injury to pets or
k. to unlawful or unwanted deprivation of the right to custody and/or visitation of common children.

Another victory for women is the inclusion of economic abuse in the VAWC. Economic abuse refers to acts that make or attempt to make a woman financially dependent which includes, but is not limited to the following:
a. withdrawal of financial support or
b. preventing the victim from engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity;
c. deprivation or threat of deprivation of financial resources and the right to the use and enjoyment of the conjugal, community or property owned in common;
d. destroying household property;
e. controlling the victims’ own money or properties or solely controlling the conjugal money or properties.

Under VAWC, a Petition for Protection Order may be filed. A protection order is an order issued for the purpose of preventing further acts of violence against a woman or her child specified and granting other necessary relief. The protection orders that may be issued are the barangay protection order (BPO), temporary protection order (TPO) and permanent protection order (PPO).

The protection orders that may be issued shall include any, some or all of the following reliefs:

1. Prohibition of the respondent from threatening to commit or committing, personally or through another, any of the acts mentioned in VAWC;

2. Prohibition of the respondent from harassing, annoying, telephoning, contacting or otherwise communicating with the petitioner, directly or indirectly;

3. Removal and exclusion of the respondent from the residence of the petitioner, regardless of ownership of the residence, either temporarily for the purpose of protecting the petitioner, or permanently where no property rights are violated, and if respondent must remove personal effects from the residence, the court shall direct a law enforcement agent to accompany the respondent has gathered his things and escort respondent from the residence;

4. Directing the respondent to stay away from petitioner and designated family or household member at a distance specified by the court, and to stay away from the residence, school, place of employment, or any specified place frequented by the petitioner and any designated family or household member;

5. Directing lawful possession and use by petitioner of an automobile and other essential personal effects, regardless of ownership, and directing the appropriate law enforcement officer to accompany the petitioner to the residence of the parties to ensure that the petitioner is safely restored to the possession of the automobile and other essential personal effects, or to supervise the petitioner’s or respondent’s removal of personal belongingness;

6. Granting a temporary or permanent custody of a child/children to the petitioner;

7. Directing the respondent to provide support to the woman and/or her child if entitled to legal support. Notwithstanding other laws to the contrary, the court shall order an appropriate percentage of the income or salary of the respondent to be withheld regularly by the respondent’s employer for the same to be automatically remitted directly to the woman. Failure to remit and/or withhold or any delay in the remittance of support to the woman and/or her child without justifiable cause shall render the respondent or his employer liable for indirect contempt of court;

8. Prohibition of the respondent from any use or possession of any firearm or deadly weapon and order him to surrender the same to the court for appropriate disposition by the court, including revocation of license and disqualification to apply for any license to use or possess a firearm. If the offender is a law enforcement agent, the court shall order the offender to surrender his firearm and shall direct the appropriate authority to investigate on the offender and take appropriate action on matter;

9. Restitution for actual damages caused by the violence inflicted, including, but not limited to, property damage, medical expenses, childcare expenses and loss of income;

10. Directing the DSWD or any appropriate agency to provide petitioner may need; and

11. Provision of such other forms of relief as the court deems necessary to protect and provide for the safety of the petitioner and any designated family or household member, provided petitioner and any designated family or household member consents to such relief.

For more information, visit our website www.ndvlaw.com or call us at +632 4706126 or +632 4706130.

Nicolas & De Vega Law Offices is a Philippine law firm with family lawyers and attorneys who assist clients involving family matters in the Philippines.