Mothers can be offenders under VAWC law to protect their children – SC
MANILA, Philippines — Even a mother can be charged with Violence Against Women and Their Children (VAWC) in order to protect her children from her abusive ways.
This was the latest ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) in a decision made public Thursday.
In an 18-page decision, the high tribunal also acknowledged that a father could initiate a petition for protection on behalf of their child.
Written by Associate Justice Mario Lopez, the SC ruling said that while the legislative intent of the law is to protect women and children, it does not deny the right of the father to seek remedy under the VAWC provision.
This position of the SC was indicated in its ruling that granted the petition filed by Randy Michael Knutson, an American citizen who sought the reversal of the decision issued by the Taguig Regional Trial Court which refused to issue temporary protection and permanent protection orders on behalf of his daughter.
Knutson met his wife, Rosalina, in Singapore. They got married and had a daughter. They lived in the Philippines but eventually separated due to his wife’s extramarital affairs. The daughter lived with the mother.
READ: SC rules women in illicit relationships are also protected by VAWC law
Despite their separation, the petitioner provided financial support to his wife and daughter. However, the petitioner said his wife got hooked on casinos and would oftentimes leave her daughter under the care of strangers.
Worse, Rosalina allegedly incurred large debts from casino financiers prompting her to sell the house and lot, condominium unit, and vehicles that he provided for the family.
His wife ended up renting an apartment and entered into a romantic relationship with another man, according to court records. The petitioner discovered that his wife is maltreating their daughter by slapping her, pulling her hair, and hitting her head.
Knutson said Rosalina sent him their daughter’s naked pictures with a message that he would not see her body again.
Later, court records showed, the apartment’s owner terminated the lease agreement with Rosalina after marijuana plants were confiscated on the premises. This prompted Knutson to file a petition before the Taguig City court asking for temporary and permanent protection on behalf of their minor child.
The lower court dismissed the case on January 10, 2018, saying the law cannot be used against a mother who allegedly abused her own child.
The Taguig City court explained that the child’s mother cannot be an offender under the law and that remedies are not available to the father because he is not a “woman victim of violence.”
The consequent motion for reconsideration was also denied by the lower court, leading Knutson to elevate the case to the SC “in the interest of justice and public welfare.”
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In granting the petition of Knutson, the SC declared that contrary to the Taguig City court’s ruling, R.A. 9262 allows the father of the offended party to apply for protection orders.
“Section 9 (b) of RA 9262 explicitly allows ‘parents or guardians of the offended party’ to file a petition for protection of others… The statute categorically used the word ‘parents’ which pertains to the father and the mother of the woman or child victim,” said the SC.
“The law speaks in clear language and no explanation is required. There is no occasion for the Court to interpret but to only apply the law when it is not ambiguous,” it added.
The SC also said that Section 3 (a) of R.A. 9262 defines violence against women and their children as “any act or series of acts committed by any person 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 with whom he has a common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate…which result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse…
The said provision, according to the SC, used the gender-neutral word “person” as the offender, “which embraces any person of either sex.”
Since “the statute did not qualify on who between the parents of the victim may apply for protection orders…the courts must not distinguish.” it added.
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