SC affirms court’s power to protect women
Issuing a judicial protection order in favor of women and their children is a “matter of urgency” in certain cases, but it does not deny an accused party’s right to due process or legal remedies, the Supreme Court said on Friday.
Ruling on an unspecified, 16-year-old case, the high court affirmed that a court may issue a temporary protection order (TPO) ex parte, or without the participation of a party in interest, because the TPO will still have to be validated anyway.
Senior Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, who wrote the decision, affirmed that a regional trial court (RTC) may issue a TPO, which is limited to 30 days, and later upgrade it to an indefinite permanent protection order (PPO), if the circumstances of the case so require.
“The court is authorized to issue ex parte a TPO after raffle but before notice and hearing when the life, limb, or property of the victim is in jeopardy and there is reasonable ground to believe that the order is necessary to protect the victim from the immediate and imminent danger of [violence against women and children] or to prevent such violence, which is about to recur,” the ruling read.
The high tribunal also assured accused parties that there’s no need to fear that a judge may have no rational basis to issue a TPO or a PPO since the supposed victim is still required to substantiate the allegation.
Still, the respondents in any violence against women and children case should still be informed of the charges imputed against them and given the chance to present their side and defend themselves, the tribunal said.
“The essence of due process is to be found in the reasonable opportunity to be heard and submit any evidence one may have in support of one’s defense,” the Supreme Court held.
The high court’s ruling stemmed from a petition for certiorari of “Jason” [not his real name] who questioned an RTC’s ex-parte issuance of a TPO in favor of “Emily” [not her real name] and her children in 2007.
Emily claimed that Jason often threatened her that he could hire someone to kill her.
“[Emily] feared that with their children, as her co-petitioners, [Jason] might be angered ‘and there is no telling what kind of traumatizing acts he will inflict upon them,’” the Supreme Court said.
The TPO prohibited Jason from committing or threatening to commit against Emily and the children physical harm, harassment, and restraint on their personal liberty.
He was also ordered to stay 200 meters away from Emily, her designated family and household members, her residence, and their children’s school.
While a TPO is only effective for 30 days, a PPO is effective until the court revokes it.
Two years later, the RTC upgraded the TPO to a PPO, prompting Jason to question the validity of Republic Act No. 9262, or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children, which took effect in 2004.
In denying Jason’s plea for certiorari, Leonen cited the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in “Garcia vs Drilon,” which also questioned RA 9262 because it supposedly violated principles of equal protection and due process.