The 2004 Anti-Violence Against Women and Children or Republic Act No. 9262 seeks to address the prevalence of violence against women and their children [VAWC] committed by their intimate partners. They may be criminally liable for acts of violence, which may be physical, sexual and psychological and economic abuse [acts that makes a woman financially dependent upon her abuser]. The law even acknowledges women who retaliated against their partner or who commit violence as a form of self-defense and free of criminal and civil liability under the defense of battered-women syndrome [Section 26]. To prevent any further act of abuse or to protect the woman or child victim, anyone can file and get a protection order before the barangay or Regional Trial Court to prevent the abuser to contact or see or come near the victim.
Normally, only men can be liable under the law. But, women can also be liable in a lesbian or woman-to-woman relationship. Other than this relationship, can a woman be liable for violence against woman and children under R.A. 9262? Can a man complain or sue his woman and seek protection order against the mother of their child? The Supreme Court in its en banc [decided by 15 members of the Supreme Court] decision in the case of Kuntson v. Judge Flores, G.R. No. 239215 dated 12 July 2022 answered the issue of whether R.A. 9262 allows a father to apply for protection and custody orders against the mother who is alleged to have committed violence against their child?
In the said case, American Randy Knutson met Rosalina Sibal in 2005 in Singapore. They got married and had a daughter, Rhuby. In 2011, the family lived in the Philippines. The two became estranged due to Rosalina’s extra-marital affairs. Randy supported Rosalina and Rhuby. But, Rosalina got hooked to gambling in casinos leaving the child to the care of strangers. Worse, she incurred large debts from casino financiers prompting her to sell the house and lot, condominium unit, and vehicles that Randy provided for the family. Rosalina then rented an apartment and got herself a boyfriend. Randy discovered that Rosalina maltreated Rhuby by pulling her hair, slapping her face and knocking her head. One time, Rosalina pointed a knife at Rhuby and threatened to kill her. Randy reported the matter to the police station but the authorities explained that they cannot assist him in domestic issues. Randy, on behalf of his minor child, filed against Rosalina a petition under RA No. 9262 for the issuance of Temporary and Permanent Protection Orders. But, the Taguig City Regional Trial Court Branch 69 dismissed the petition explaining that that protection and custody orders in RA 9262 cannot be issued against a mother who allegedly abused her own child. The child’s mother cannot be an offender under the law. The remedies are not available to the father because he is not a woman victim of violence. The law defines the offender and a child’s mother is not included as one of the offenders.
This could lead to no other conclusion that a child’s mother cannot be considered as an offender under RA No. 9262.
On direct appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that there is no merit to the contention that RA No. 9262 singles out the husband or father as the culprit. The use of the gender-neutral word “person” who [has] or had a sexual or dating relationship with the woman encompasses even lesbian relationships. It is thus clear that the foregoing provision does not apply to a situation where it was the mother herself who had committed violent and abusive acts against her own child. It is not proper to conclude that the law denies a father of these remedies solely because of his gender or he is not a “woman victim of violence.” Section 9 (b)2 of R.A. 9262 explicitly allows “parents or guardians of the offended party” to file a petition for protection orders. The law speaks in clear language and no explanation is required. Thus, Randy may assist Rhuby in filing the petition for protection order as the parent of the offended party. RA No. 9262 covers a situation where the mother committed violent and abusive acts against her own child. In sum, the Court refuses to be an instrument of injustice and public mischief perpetrated against vulnerable sectors of the society such as children victims of violence. The Court will not shirk its bounden duty to interpret the law in keeping with the cardinal principle that in enacting a statute, the legislature intended right and justice to prevail.