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POSITION PAPER

I. Introduction
The Philippines is no stranger to these 3 words. It is real, it is
happening, it is claiming lives. It remains to be one of the most persistent
and alarming issues that the Philippines have faced.
VAW is linked with the unequal power relationship between women and
men, resulting from society's misinformed views on gender and sexuality,
according to the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW). Men are
traditionally labelled as leaders and providers, while women are seen as
nurturers and supporters. "This perception leads to men gaining more power
over women," PCW stressed, adding that "VAW is a form of men’s expression
of controlling women to retain power."
This will shed light into VAWC and a position as to whether or not the
Law on Violence Against Women and Children violates the Constitutional
provisions regarding the right of every citizen to due process of law and the
equal protection clause.

II. Counter Argument


Amidst the more controversial and politically charged news of the day,
there has been a steady increase of media coverage on cases involving
celebrities involved in a special category of cases, more commonly known as
“AntiVAWC” cases or cases of violence against women and children. Anti-
VAWC cases are governed by Republic Act No. 9262 (“RA 9262”).

III. Argument
This paper will shed light into VAWC and a position as to whether or not
the Law on Violence Against Women and Children violates the constitutional
provisions regarding the right of every citizen to due process of law and the
equal protection clause.
VAWC or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of
2004 or Republic Act No. 9262 took effect on March 27, 2004. Referred to as
the “Anti-VAWC Act”, it is the result of a decade of advocacy of victim-
survivors, women’s human rights advocates and organizations, women
legislators, government agencies and the National Commission on the Role
of Filipino Women1 6 . The passage of this law marks the state’s compliance
with its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination
Against Women (CEDAW) which the Philippines ratified in 1981, and the
Optional Protocol on the CEDAW, which was ratified by the Philippine Senate
in 2003.
The broad definition of VAW in the law was patterned after the
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, as referring to
“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 a
sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or
against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the
family abode, which result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual,
psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse including threats of such
acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of
liberty.” It covers all forms of violence, such as physical, sexual,
psychological, and economic. Economic abuse includes deprivation of
support of the lawful wife and minor children, which is a common problem in
the Philippines.
The law is gender-specific, protecting the rights of women only and
their children. Only women may file actions under the Anti-VAWC Act, while
the offenders may either be men or women with whom the victims are or
were in lesbian relationships, because the definition includes past or present
sexual or dating relationships.
Following the Framework for model legislation on domestic violence by
the UN Special Rapporteur on VAW, the Anti-VAWC Act has:

(1) Complaints mechanism and duties of police officers, in:

Sec.29. Duties of prosecutors and court personnel to inform the


woman of her rights, remedies, procedure, and privileges for
indigent litigants.

Sec.30. Duties of Barangay (village) Officials and Law Enforcers:


They must respond immediately to a call for help by entering the
dwelling if necessary whether or not a protection order has been
issued and ensure the safety of the victim; confiscate deadly
weapon; transport the victim to a save place of their choice or to
a clinic or hospital; assist victim in taking personal belongings
from the house; ensure enforcement of protection orders issued
by the village official or by the courts.

Sec.31. Duties of health care providers

Sec.32. Duties of other government agencies and local


government units, such as education and information campaign
on VAW and the law

(2) Ex parte Protection Orders


An ex parte Temporary Protection Order (“TPO”) shall be issued
by the Judge within twenty-four (24) hours from the filing of the
verified application upon a finding that there is reasonable
ground to believe that an imminent danger to the woman exists
or is about to recur

R.A. 9262 does not violate the guaranty of Equal Protection Clause
In the case of Garcia vs. Drilon, G.R. No. 179267, June 25, 2013 the
Supreme Court has affirmed the constitutionality of the country’s Anti-
Violence Against Women and Their Children Act, as it threw out a petition
labelling it as a “husband-bashing” and “hate men” law.
Interestingly, equal protection simply requires that all persons or
things similarly situated should be treated alike, both as to rights conferred
and responsibilities imposed. R.A. 9262 is based on a valid classification as
shall hereinafter be discussed and, as such, did not violate the equal
protection clause by favouring women over men as victims of violence and
abuse to whom the State extends its protection.
There is likewise no merit to the contention that R.A. 9262 singles out
the husband or father as the culprit. As defined above, VAWC may likewise
be committed “against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual
or dating relationship.” Clearly, the use of the gender-neutral word “person”
who has or had a sexual or dating relationship with the woman encompasses
even lesbian relationships.
Moreover, R.A. 9262 is based on a valid classification as such, did not
violate the equal protection clause by favouring women over men as victims
of violence and abuse to whom the State extends its protection. The unequal
power relationship between women and men; the fact that women are more
likely than men to be victims of violence; and the widespread gender bias
and prejudice against women all make for real differences justifying the
classification under the law. As Justice McIntyre succinctly states, “the
accommodation of differences is the essence of true equality.”
It further stated that the law was enacted “to address the
discrimination brought about by biases and prejudices against women.”
“Petitioner’s contention, therefore, that RA 9262 is discriminatory and that it
is an ‘anti-male,’ ‘husband-bashing,’ and ‘hate men’ law deserves scant
consideration,” the decision read.

RA 9262 is not violative of the Due Process Clause


In the same case, it was held that Anti-VAWC Act or RA 9262 is not
violative of the due process clause of the Constitution. The essence of due
process is in the reasonable opportunity to be heard and submit any
evidence one may have in support of one’s defense. The grant of the TPO ex
parte cannot be impugned as violative of the right to due process.
Consequently, Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno espouses that the equal
protection clause can no longer be interpreted as only a guarantee of formal
equality but of substantive equality. "It ought to be construed in consonance
with social justice as ‘the heart’ particularly of the 1987 Constitution—a
transformative covenant in which the Filipino people agreed to enshrine
asymmetrical equality to uplift disadvantaged groups and build a genuinely
egalitarian democracy." This means that the weak, including women in
relation to men, can be treated with a measure of bias that they may cease
to be weak.
Unfazed with the ruling of Chief Justice Puno which goes on: "The
Expanded Equal Protection Clause, anchored on the human rights rationale,
is designed as a weapon against the indignity of discrimination so that in the
patently unequal Philippine society, each person may be restored to his or
her rightful position as a person with equal moral status."
It is hoped that the ruling of the Supreme Court in this case would lay
to rest the issues that continue to be used to erode the effectiveness of the
law, and will give us the jurisprudence that women need as a weapon for
ending gender inequality and eliminating violence against women.

IV. Conclusion
The enactment of the Anti-VAWC Act is an important step in the
struggle to end VAW. However, it is only the first step. The struggle continues
as advocates against VAW are now faced with an equally difficult task of
making sure that the letters of the law are given life, so that the protection
given to women victims and survivors of VAW cease to be empty words and
instead be the actual freedom and power to finally live their lives in peace.
The country’s battle against VAWC should be fought not just by
women, but by everyone. Aside from stronger implementation of laws,
penalties, and recovery programs, advocates emphasize the need for better
prevention. Both women and men, young and old, must be educated about
human rights, women's and gender issues, and the roles they play in ending
discrimination. The more informed women are, the more empowered they
will be. And an empowered society has no room for violence.
Finally, who can speak for women, many of whom are too satisfied
and/or oppressed to make their views known? Certainly not men, and
certainly not the "authorities" - judges, legislators, lawyers, doctors,
psychiatrists, writers, sociologists - regardless of their sex. This does not
mean that every issue is "up for grabs" with the "degree" of equality decided
by the loudest or most prestigious. The power of an individual to give up the
right to equal treatment under the law is non-delegable.