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Battered wives, children given ample protection under VAWC law

15 November 2018

Consulate officials join the delegation from Integrated Bar of the Philippines Cebu City chapter and OFWs for the “Idulog Mo kay Atorni 7” forum at the Consulate on Nov 11.

By Vir B. Lumicao

Victims of domestic violence in the Philippines, specifically women and their children, can seek protection from an abusive husband or partner under Republic Act 9262 or the Violence against Women and Children Act.

RA9262, which became law in 2004, offers protection in a wide range of cases that fall within the definition of “violence against women and their children”, said lawyer Mark Anthony Gaviola, who discussed the legislation in the “Idulog Mo kay Atorni 7” forum at the Consulate on Nov 11.

The forum was organized by the PCG and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Cebu City chapter as a legal outreach to members of the Filipino community in Hong Kong, particularly migrant workers.

Gaviola said the law, more popularly called VAWC, protects women and minor children under their care against physical, sexual, economic and psychological violence from their husbands, or any other party, including fellow women.

He said this is possible in cases of gender to gender or same-sex relationships in which a woman partner, or former partner, assaults the other and/or her children.

Victims of violence under the VAWC can seek relief through a barangay protection order valid for 15 days; a temporary protection order valid for 30 days; and a court protection order, which is permanent.

Gaviola said victims can sue for damages and file criminal cases for violation of the VAWC law. The offender may be imprisoned or made to pay PhP100, 000 to PhP 300,000 in damages.

A tricky side of the issue is protection for battered husbands because VAWC is intended only to protect women and children, Gaviola said.

However, the Supreme Court cleared the issue some years back when it ruled that remedies for battered men cannot be sought under VAWC but in the Revised Penal Code and other criminal laws, Gaviola said.

 “Kung ikaw ang lalaki, dapat maniguro ka rin, may babae rin kasing nag-aabuso ng VAWC. May cases kami na na-encounter na ang nagluluko ay ang babae at bago nakabalik ang asawa ay nag-file na ng protection order yung babae,” Gaviola said.

A victim, her parent or guardian, child or grandchild, relatives, local officials, police DSWD social workers;, lawyers; barangay councilors, therapists, health care providers or any two people from the community who know personally what happened can file for protection order.

Anyone who files for a protection order under VAWC must be personally present for the hearings, said Gaviola. However, an overseas Filipino worker can ask another woman she has designated as her children’s guardian to apply for a protection order on her own.

The 14 lawyers led by Cebu City IBP president Jose Glenn Capanas held consultations on Nov 10 and 11 with OFWs who have marital issues, family abandonment and lack of support by husbands, and property disputes, among other problems.

The one-and-a-half-hour forum capped the two-day mission, held simultaneously at the Consulate and at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office.

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