VAWC - Anti Violence against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 (Republic Act 9262)

1.      What is VAWC?

Anti – Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 or otherwise known as VAWC, is a law passed in the Philippines for the protection of women and children from violence. This law establishes the parameters and guidelines, in keeping with the fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution and the Provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights instruments of which the Philippines is a party. (Section 2 of R.A. 9262)

 

2.      What are the acts of violence which are covered under R.A. 9262?

R.A. 9262 covers several acts of violence, which are:

(a) Sexual Violence – the acts which are sexual in nature;

(b) Psychological Violence – Acts or omissions causing or likely to cause mental or emotional suffering of the victim;

(c) Economic Abuse – Acts that make or attempt to make a woman financially dependent upon her abuser;

 

3.      What are the kinds of sexual violence that could be covered under this law?

Sexual violence are acts which are sexual in nature, committed against a woman or her child, and are not limited to:

a)      Rape, sexual harassment, acts of lasciviousness, treating a woman or her child as a sex object, making demeaning and sexually suggestive remarks, physically attacking the sexual parts of the victim’s body, forcing him or her to watch obscene publications and indecent shows or forcing the woman or her child to do indecent acts and/or make films thereof, forcing the wife and mistress/lover to live in the conjugal home or sleep together in the same room with the abuser.

b)      Acts causing or attempting to cause the victim to engage in any sexual activity by force, threat of force, physical or other harm or threat of physical or other harm or coercion.

c)      Prostituting the woman or child.

 

 

4.      What are the qualifications for an act or a series of acts to be considered as a crime of violence against women through physical harm?

The limiting qualifications for any act or series of acts to be considered as a crime of violence against women through physical harm are the following:

a)      It is committed against a woman or her child and the woman is the offender’s wife, former wife, or with whom he has or had a sexual or dating relationship or with whom he has a common child;

b)      It results in or is likely to result in physical harm or suffering.

(Dabalos v. RTC, Branch 59, Angeles City, G.R. No. 193960, 07 January 2013)

 

5.      What are the elements of the crime of violence against women through harassment?

The elements of the crime of violence against women through harassment are:

a)      The offender has or had a sexual or dating relationship with the offended woman;

b)      The offender, by himself or through another, commits an act or series of acts of harassment against the woman;

c)      The harassment alarms or causes substantial emotional or psychological distress to her.

(Ang v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 182835, 20 April 2010)

 

6.      Define dating relationship as used under R.A. 9262.

It is a situation wherein the parties live as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or are romantically involved over time and on a continuing basis during the course of the relationship. The dating relationship that the law contemplates can, therefore, exist even without a sexual intercourse taking place between those involved. A casual acquaintance or ordinary socialization between two individuals in a business or social context is not a dating relationship.

 

Rustan also claims that since the relationship between Irish and him was of the "on-and-off" variety (away-bati), their romance cannot be regarded as having developed "over time and on a continuing basis." But the two of them were romantically involved, as Rustan himself admits, from October to December of 2003. That would be time enough for nurturing a relationship of mutual trust and love.  An "away-bati" or a fight-and-kiss thing between two lovers is a common occurrence. Their taking place does not mean that the romantic relation between the two should be deemed broken up during periods of misunderstanding. Explaining what "away-bati" meant, Irish explained that at times, when she could not reply to Rustan’s messages, he would get angry at her. That was all. Indeed, she characterized their three-month romantic relation as continuous. (Ang v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 182835, 20 April 2010)

 

7.      Define sexual relations as used under R.A. 9262.

It refers to a single sexual act which may or may not result in the bearing of a common child.


8.      What are the kinds of psychological violence that could be covered under this law?

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 mental infidelity. It includes causing or allowing the victim to witness the physical, sexual or psychological abuse of a member of the family to which the victim belongs, or to witness pornography in any form or to witness abusive injury to pets or to unlawful or unwanted deprivation of the right to custody and/or visitation of common children.

 

9.      My husband had been cheating on me for over three years now with various women. Is there a way I can apply VAWC in filing a case against him?

The acts of your husband of cheating on you have caused you mental and emotional suffering. Such acts may be a ground for the filing of a VAWC case for “psychological violence”

 

10.  My boyfriend had been hurting me every time we fight and even threatens to kill me. Can I file a case against him for VAWC?

Yes. Physical violence against the woman as well as threatening to inflict physical harm on a woman for the purpose of controlling her actions or decisions is deemed as an act of violence against women.

 

11.  What are the kinds of economic abuse that could be covered under this law?

Economic abuse refer to acts that make or attempt to make a woman financially dependent which includes but is not limited to the following: 

a)      Withdrawal of financial support or preventing the victim from engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity, except in cases wherein the other spouse/partner objects on valid, serious and moral grounds as defined in Article 73 of the Family Code;

b)      Deprivation or threat of deprivation of financial resources and the right to the use and enjoyment of the conjugal, community or property owned in common;

c)      Destroying household property;

d)      Controlling the victim’s own money or properties or solely controlling the conjugal money or properties.

 

12.  My ex-husband has stopped giving me and our daughter, support since 2009. Can I file a case against him for VAWC?

Yes, you may file a case for VAWC against him as his act of withdrawing financial support. His act of refusing to give financial support to you or your daughter constitutes “Economic Abuse.”


13.  Who are the persons protected by R.A. 9262?

The following are the persons who are protected by R.A. 9262:

a)      Wife;

b)      Former wife;

c)      A woman with whom the offender has or had sexual relations with;

d)      A woman with whom the offender has a common child with;

e)      The legitimate or illegitimate child of the woman within or without the family abode.

 

14.  How would the crime of violence be committed against women and their children, as stated under R.A. 9262?

The crime of violence against women and their children is committed through any of the following acts: 

(a)   Causing physical harm to the woman or her child;

(b)   Threatening to cause the woman or her child physical harm;

(c) Attempting to cause the woman or her child physical harm;

(c)    Placing the woman or her child in fear of imminent physical harm; 

(d)   Attempting to compel or compelling the woman or her child to engage in conduct which the woman or her child has the right to desist from or desist from conduct which the woman or her child has the right to engage in, or attempting to restrict or restricting the woman's or her child's freedom of movement or conduct by force or threat of force, physical or other harm or threat of physical or other harm, or intimidation directed against the woman or child. This shall include, but not limited to, the following acts committed with the purpose or effect of controlling or restricting the woman's or her child's movement or conduct:

 

  1. Threatening to deprive or actually depriving the woman or her child of custody to her/his family;
  2. Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her children of financial support legally due her or her family, or deliberately providing the woman's children insufficient financial support;
  3. Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her child of a legal right;
  4. Preventing the woman in engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity or controlling the victim's own mon4ey or properties, or solely controlling the conjugal or common money, or properties;

(f) Inflicting or threatening to inflict physical harm on oneself for the purpose of controlling her actions or decisions;

(g) Causing or attempting to cause the woman or her child to engage in any sexual activity which does not constitute rape, by force or threat of force, physical harm, or through intimidation directed against the woman or her child or her/his immediate family;

(h) Engaging in purposeful, knowing, or reckless conduct, personally or through another, that alarms or causes substantial emotional or psychological distress to the woman or her child. This shall include, but not be limited to, the following acts:

 

    (1) Stalking or following the woman or her child in public or private places;
    (2) Peering in the window or lingering outside the residence of the woman or her child;
    (3) Entering or remaining in the dwelling or on the property of the woman or her child against her/his
         will;
    (4) Destroying the property and personal belongings or inflicting harm to animals or pets of the
         woman or her child; and
    (5) Engaging in any form of harassment or violence;

(i) Causing mental or emotional anguish, public ridicule or humiliation to the woman or her child, including, but not limited to, repeated verbal and emotional abuse, and denial of financial support or custody of minor children of access to the woman's child/children.

 

15.  I have been in an abusive relationship for quite some time. Can I file a case against him considering his abuse was irregular?

Yes, you can file a case against him. A woman who had a sexual or dating relationship with her assailant and whom the assailant has a common child may file a case against the latter for physical violence.

 

16.  I am a lesbian and I have been in an abusive relationship with another woman since 2009. Can I file a case against her, even though she is a woman?

Acts of violence covered by VAWC may be committed by any person with whom the victim has an intimate relationship with like the woman’s husband, ex-husband, live-in partner, ex-live-in partner, boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, etc.,

Thus the offense may be committed by a man or a woman with whom the victim has or had a sexual relationship with.

 

17.  Are only men prosecuted under VAWC?

No. R.A. 9262 states that “any person” with whom the victim had an intimate relationship with. Thus, ex-lovers of the victim, male or female, may be charged under the VAWC. So even women and transgenders may be charged for violation of the VAWC.

 

18.  I am a husband who had been mentally, verbally and emotionally abused by my wife. Can I file a case against my wife using VAWC?

No. VAWC has been primarily meant for the protection of women and children. It cannot be used by men to charge their wives or partners.

 

19.  I have 3 minor children with my husband. I wish to file a case against him. What would be the impact upon my children, esp. if he asks for custody?

As a victim of violence, you are entitled to the custody of your three children.

The woman victim of violence shall be entitled to the custody and support of her child/children. Children below seven (7) years old or older with mental or physical disabilities shall automatically be given to the mother, with right to support, unless the court finds compelling reasons to order otherwise. (Section 28 of the R.A. 9262).


20.  When can I file an action under R.A. 9262?

It would depend on the act or acts of violence committed. Some acts prescribe in twenty (20) years and some prescribe in ten (10) years.

 

21.  What is a protection order?

A protection order is an order issued under this act for the purpose of preventing further acts of violence against women or her child. And granting other relief as may be needed. The relief granted under a protection order serve the purpose of safeguarding the victim from further harm, minimizing any disruption in the victim’s daily life, and facilitating the opportunity and ability of the victim to independently regain control of her life. The provisions of the protection order shall be enforced by law enforcement agencies.


22.  What are the various kinds of protection orders?

The various kinds of protection orders are:

a)      Barangay protection order (BPO)

b)      Temporary Protection Order (TPO)

c)      Permanent Protection Order (PPO)

 

23.  Where can I apply for a protection order?

Application for a protection may be filed with the appropriate Regional Trial Court/Family Court or Municipal Court where the petitioner resides in case of Temporary Protection Order (TPO) and Permanent Protection Order (PPO), respectively.

Barangay Protection Order may be applied for in the Barangay where the applicant resides or in accordance with Section 409 of the Local Government Code of 1991.

 

24.  What are the reliefs I can ask in a protection order?

The protection order that may be issued under R.A. 9262 shall include any, some or all of the following reliefs:

a)      Prohibition of the respondent from threatening to commit or committing, personally or through another, any of the acts mention in Article 5 of R.A. 9262;

b)      Prohibition of the respondent from harassing, annoying, telephoning, contacting or otherwise communicating with the petitioner, directly or indirectly;

c)      Removal and exclusion of the respondent from the residence of the petitioner, regardless of ownership of the residence, either temporarily for the purpose of protecting the petitioner, or permanently where no property rights are violated, and if respondent must remove personal effects from the residence, the court shall direct a law enforcement agent to accompany the respondent has gathered his things and escort the respondent from the residence;

d)      Directing the respondent to stay away from the petitioner and designated family or household member at a distance specified by the court, and to stay away from the residence, school, place of employment, or any specified place frequented by the petitioner and any designated family or household member;

e)      Directing lawful possession and use by petitioner of an automobile and other essential personal effects, regardless of ownership, and directing the  appropriate law enforcement officer to accompany the petitioner to the residence of the parties to ensure that the petitioner is safely restored to the possession of the automobile and other essential personal effects, or to supervise the petitioner’s or respondent’s removal of personal belongings;

f)       Granting a temporary or permanent custody of a child/children to the petitioner;

g)      Directing the respondent to provide support to the woman and/or her child if entitled to legal support. Notwithstanding other laws to the contrary, the court shall order an appropriate percentage of the income or salary of the respondent to be withheld regularly by the respondent’s employer for the same to be automatically remitted directly to the woman. Failure to remit and/or withhold or any delay in the remittance of support to the woman and/or her child without justifiable cause shall render the respondent or his employer for indirect contempt of court;

h)      Prohibition of the respondent from any use or possession of any firearm or deadly weapon and order him to surrender the same to the court for appropriate disposition by the court, including revocation of license and disqualification to apply for any license to use or possess a firearm. If the offender is a law enforcement agent, the court shall order the offender to surrender his firearm and shall direct the appropriate authority to investigate on the offender and take appropriate action on matter;

i)        Restitution for actual damages caused by the violence inflicted, including, but not limited to, property damage, medical expenses, child care expenses and loss of income;

j)        Directing the DSWD or any appropriate agency to provide petitioner may need; and

k)      Provision of such forms of relief as the court deems necessary to protect and provide for the safety of the petitioner and any designated family or household member, provided petitioner and designated family or household member consists to such relief.

 

25.  I’ve been running in fear from my husband for 3 months because he threatened to kill me. What can I do?

If you have been threatened, you may apply for a Barangay Protection Order (BPO) from the barangay of your place of residence. The application must be in writing, signed and verified and it will be effective for fifteen days.

 

26.  Who may file a Petition for Protection Orders?

A petition for Protection Order may be filed by the following:

a)      The offended party;

b)      The parents or guardians of the offended party;

c)      The ascendants, descendants or collateral relatives within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity;

d)      Officers or social workers of the DSWD or social workers of local government units (LGUs);

e)      Police officers, preferably those in charge of women and children’s desks;

f)       Punong Barangay or Barangay Kagawad;

g)      Lawyer, counselor, therapist or healthcare provider of the petitioner;

h)      At least two (2) concerned responsible citizens of the city or municipality where the violence against women and their children occurred and who has personal knowledge of the offense committed.

 

27.  How can I apply for a protection order?

The application of the Protection Order must be in writing, signed and verified under oath by the applicant. A standard protection order application form, written in English with translation to the major languages, which is readily available, shall contain the following information:

a)      Names and addresses of the petitioner and the respondent;

b)      Description of relationships between the petitioner and respondent;

c)      Statement of the circumstances of abuse;

d)      Description of the reliefs requested by the petitioner;

e)      Request for counsel and reasons for such;

f)       Request for waiver of application fees until hearing;

g)      An attestation that there is no pending application for a protection order in another court.

 

28.  What are the differences between Barangay Protection Order, Temporary Protection Order or Permanent Protection Order?

Barangay Protection Orders (BPO) refer to the protection order issued by the Punong Barangay ordering the perpetrator to desist from committing acts under Section 5 (a) and (b) of R.A. 9262. BPO shall be effective for 15 days.

Temporary Protection Orders (TPO) refers to the protection order issued by the court on the date of the filing of the application after ex parte determination that such order should be issued. The court may grant in a TPO any, some or all of the reliefs mentioned in R.A. 9262 and shall be effective for thirty (30) days. The court shall order the immediate personal service of the TPO on the respondent by the court sheriff who may obtain the assistance of law enforcement agents for the service.

Permanent Protection Order (PPO) refers to the protection order issued by the court after notice and hearing. The court shall not deny the issuance of protection order on the basis of the lapse of time between the act of violence and the filing of the application. PPO shall be effective until revoked by the court upon application of the person in whose favor it was issued.

 

29.  Where can the protection order be enforced?

The Temporary Protection Order and the Permanent Protection Order are enforceable anywhere in the Philippines.

 

30.  I am a husband and it just came to my knowledge that a temporary protection order was issued against me. Can I challenge its validity considering that I didn’t even have a chance to defend myself?

You may oppose the temporary protection order.

When the TPO is issued ex parte, the court shall likewise order that notice be immediately given to the respondent directing him to file an opposition within five (5) days from service. Moreover, the court shall order that notice, copies of the petition and TPO be served immediately on the respondent by the court sheriffs. The TPOs are initially effective for thirty (30) days from service on the respondent. Where no TPO is issued ex parte, the court will nonetheless order the immediate issuance and service of the notice upon the respondent requiring him to file an opposition to the petition within five (5) days from service.

There need not be any fear that the judge may have no rational basis to issue an ex parte order. The victim is required not only to verify the allegations in the petition, but also to attach her witnesses' affidavits to the petition. The opposition to the petition which the respondent himself shall verify, must be accompanied by the affidavits of witnesses and shall show cause why a temporary or permanent protection order should not be issued. (Tua v. Mangrobang, G.R. No. 170701, 22 January 2014)

The respondent of a petition for protection order should be apprised of the charges imputed to him and afforded an opportunity to present his side. Thus, the fear of petitioner of being "stripped of family, property, guns, money, children, job, future employment and reputation, all in a matter of seconds, without an inkling of what happened" is a mere product of an overactive imagination. 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. "To be heard" does not only mean verbal arguments in court; one may be heard also through pleadings. Where opportunity to be heard, either through oral arguments or pleadings, is accorded, there is no denial of procedural due process. (Esperida v. Jurado, Jr., G.R. No. 172538, 25 April 2012)

 

31.  What is a “Battered Woman Syndrome”?

The Battered Woman Syndrome is a repeated and cyclical violence against a woman which results in the “immobilization of the latter’s ability to act decisively in her own interest and making her feel trapped in a relationship with no means of escape.” (People v. Genosa, G.R. No. 135981. 15 January 2004)

The Battered Woman Syndrome is now a defense which can be used by the victim-survivors who really are suffering from the said syndrome at the commission of a crime.

 

32.  As a Battered Woman, is there a chance I might lose custody of my children?

No, suffering from the Battered Woman Syndrome will not automatically disqualify you from having custody of your children unless the court some other compelling reasons not to award custody of the children to you.

 

33.  If custody of my children is not awarded to me, is there any chance that they might be given to my husband?

No. VAWC explicitly states that in no case shall the custody of the children will be given to the perpetrator of the battered woman syndrome