SC upholds constitutionality of women and children’s actBy Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act of 2004, which was challenged by a husband who described it as a violation of his rights to due process and equal protection.
Voting 15-0, the court denied the petition for review on certiorari filed by Jesus Garcia against his wife and the Tacloban City Regional Trial Court, which issued a temporary protection order (TPO) against him.
On March 23, 2006, Garcia’s wife filed for herself and in behalf of her minor children a petition for the issuance of the TPO against her husband.
She claimed to be a victim of physical abuse, emotional, psychological and economic violence as a result of alleged marital infidelity on the part of her husband, with threats of deprivation of custody of her children and of financial support.
Finding reasonable ground to believe that an imminent danger of violence against the wife and her children exists or is about to recur, the RTC issued the next day a 30-day TPO, which was later extended.
During the pendency of the case at the RTC, Garcia filed before the Court of Appeals a petition for prohibition and temporary restraining order (TRO) questioning the constitutionality of RA 9262 for being discriminatory and being violative of the due process and equal protection clauses and the validity of the TPO for being an “unwanted product of an invalid law.”
The appellate court issued a 60-day TRO on the enforcement of the TPO in May 2006, but later dismissed Garcia’s petition in January the following year. Garcia appealed to the Supreme Court the appeals tribunal ruling that he failed to raise first the issue of the validity of RA 9262 at the RTC.
The Supreme Court, in a decision written by Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, said equal protection simply requires that all persons or things similarly situated should be treated alike, both as to rights conferred and responsibilities imposed.
“It guarantees equality, not identity of rights. The Constitution does not require that things which are different in fact be treated in law as though they were the same. The equal protection clause does not forbid discrimination as to things that are different.
“RA No. 9262 is based on a valid classification brought about by the unequal power relationship between men and women and the official statistics on violence against women and children showing that women are the usual and most likely victims of violence,” the Court said.
The justices said RA 9262 did not violate the equal protection clause by favoring women over men as victims of violence and abuse to whom the State extends its protection.
The Court added that RA 9262 is also not violative of the due process clause of the Constitution. “It is a constitutional commonplace that the ordinary requirements of procedural due process must yield to the necessities of protecting vital public interests, among which is protection of women and children from violence and threats to their personal safety and security.”