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SC: Anti-VAWC law protects women in illicit relationships too

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SC: Anti-VAWC law protects women in illicit relationships too
"Kaya hinihikayat natin ang ating mga kababayan na pagkatiwalaan ang inyong PNP sa isyung ito. Alalahanin natin na walang mang-aabuso, kung walang magpapa-abuso," PNP chief Guillermo Eleazar said.
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MANILA, Philippines — Provisions of the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children law apply to women in illicit relationships, including mistresses and paramours, and their children too, the Supreme Court upheld.

This comes after a petitioner — a man who had been issued a permanent protection order to prevent further violence against his longtime live-in partner, a woman, and their children — argued that Republic Act 9262 or Anti-VAWC Act of 2004 did not apply to the respondent woman, as they were in an extramarital relationship.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the Court’s Second Division upheld a Permanent Protection Order issued under the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act, over what he said were "contentions that sought to straitjacket the text and spirit of the law."

"The illicitness of a relationship a woman engages in does not diminish her dignity in any way. She will be protected just the same by the law that values her and her children’s dignity and guarantees full respect for their human rights," the Supreme Court said.

What did the petitioner say?

The petitioner, a 47-year-old man, admitted to being married when he met the respondent woman. He argued that although the law’s protection extends to a woman he has a sexual or dating relationship with, this should be interpreted to mean as a relationship without any legal impediment to marry each other.

Taken any other way, the petitioner argued that "the law would effectively tolerate adulterous relationships."

The petitioner also contended that since their children were 18 years old by the time the Permanent Protection Order was issued, this prevents the application of RA 9262, which defines “children” as those below 18 years old, or older but incapable of taking care of themselves.

SC: Law makes no distinction on age, relationship circumstances

The Court called this a mistaken notion, pointing to the rule on statutory construction that when the law does not make any distinction, neither should the courts, calling this an "[interpretation of] a provision of [the law] as to make it powerless and futile.”

It also said that the law “protects women and their children from various forms of violence and abuse committed within a setting of an intimate relationship."

Citing Estacio v. Estacio, a similar case of violence against women and their children, the High Court said that neither RA 9262 nor the Rule on Violence Against Women and Their Children distinguishes the age at which children are included in protection orders.

RELATED: Over 4,200 cases of violence vs women, children reported during COVID-19 lockdown

Violence against women and children is defined in the law as being committed by "any person against a woman who is his wife, former wife, or against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the family abode."

The Philippine National Police has noted an uptick in cases of violence against women and children since the enhanced community quarantine was implemented on March 17, which forced families to stay at home. 

SUPREME COURT

VAWC

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