Psychological violence

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison - The Philippine Star

This case is about psychological violence against a woman, which is punishable under Republic Act 9262 (Section 5(i) in relation to Section 6(f)). Explained and described in this case is how this crime is committed. What kind of injury or harm is sustained by the victim for the perpetrator to be held liable? This is answered in this case of Alma and Cardo.

Alma and Cardo have been married for 17 years. During the early years of their marriage they lived happily and harmoniously, resulting in the birth of two children, a girl and a boy. Eventually, however, their union turned sour because Cardo had an extramarital affair with another woman. Alma learned about it when she overheard Cardo telling his cousin Diego that he had been giving P1,000 weekly allowance for the child begotten with a certain “Rita” and that he had also paid P37,000 for the operation of another woman, “Nita.”

When Alma confronted Cardo about having an affair and siring a child with Rita, the latter denied the accusation, which led to a heated argument between the two. Alma became hysterical and called her brother Romy to bring her out of their house. Since that fateful night, she and Cardo never lived under the same roof again and had a series of fights between them, which left her emotionally wounded. She even received a letter from Cardo telling her that he is already out of his mind and does not know what he might do to her. Fearing for her life and that of her children, Alma immediately reported to the police and filed a complaint against Cardo for violation of RA 9262, where she reiterated what happened to her.

For his defense, Cardo admitted that his marriage with Alma had its blissful moments but turned sour because of the unfounded rumor that he had illicit relationship with another woman, which he vehemently denied. He said that he was forced to leave their conjugal home and lived with a friend. Their eldest child even had a nervous breakdown when Alma filed this case, forcing Alma to file an affidavit of desistance withdrawing the case.

The Regional Trial Court, however, still found Cardo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense charged and imposed upon him a penalty of imprisonment from six months and one day minimum to six years and one day maximum. The RTC rejected Cardo’s defense and believed the version of Alma and her witness. This ruling was sustained by the Court of Appeals (CA). Were the RTC and the CA correct?

Yes, said the Supreme Court (SC). Section 5(i) of R.A. 9262 penalizes some forms of psychological violence that are inflicted on victims who are women and children. “Psychological violence refers to acts or omissions causing or likely to cause mental or emotional suffering of the victim such as but not limited to intimidation, harassment, stalking, damage to property, public ridicule or humiliation, repeated verbal abuse and marital infidelity (Section 3©).” To establish psychological violence as an element of the crime, it is necessary to show proof of commission of any of the acts enumerated in Section 5 (i) or similar such acts. And to establish mental or emotional anguish, it is necessary to present the testimony of the victim, as such experience is personal to the victim.

The RTC and the CA found this element present in this case as supported by Alma’s testimony and demeanor in open court. This testimony was corroborated by Alma’s brother who was present when she confronted Cardo. All the elements of the crime are deemed present in this case; thus the presumption of innocence is overcome.

However, in addition to imprisonment and fine, Cardo should also undergo psychological counselling or psychiatric treatment as set in Section 6 of RA 9262. So the decisions of the RTC and the CA are hereby affirmed with the modification that Cardo should also undergo psychological counselling or psychiatric treatment and report to the court his compliance therewith (XXX vs. People, G.R. No. 243049, Oct. 5, 2020).

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Email: js0711192@gmail.com

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