Under Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9262, otherwise known as the “Anti-Violence against Women and their Children Act of 2004”, the crime of violence against women and their children is committed through any of the following acts:
Causing physical harm to the woman or her child;
Threatening to cause the woman or her child physical harm;
Attempting to cause the woman or her child physical harm;
Placing the woman or her child in fear of imminent physical harm;
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 to 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:
Threatening to deprive or actually depriving the woman or her child of custody to her/his family;
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;
Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her child of a legal right;
Preventing the woman from engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business, or activity or controlling the victim’s own money or properties, or solely controlling the conjugal or common money, or properties;
Inflicting or threatening to inflict physical harm on oneself for the purpose of controlling her actions or decisions;
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;
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:
Stalking or following the woman or her child in public or private places;
Peering in the window or lingering outside the residence of the woman or her child;
Entering or remaining in the dwelling or on the property of the woman or her child against her/his will;
Destroying the property and personal belongings or inflicting harm to animals or pets of the woman or her child; and
Engaging in any form of harassment or violence;
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.
If any of the above acts constitutes repeated physical violence or grossly abusive conduct as contemplated under Article 55 of the Family Code of the Philippines, then such act shall also be a ground for legal separation.
The perpetrator of the crime of violence against women and their children shall, in addition to imprisonment, be liable to (a) pay a fine in the amount of not less than one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) but not more than three hundred thousand pesos (300,000.00); (b) undergo mandatory psychological counseling or psychiatric treatment and shall report compliance to the court. Also, any victim of said violence shall be entitled to actual, compensatory, moral, and exemplary damages.
True, absolute divorce is not allowed in the Philippines owing to the sanctity and inviolability of marriage as a social institution. Marriage is the foundation of the Filipino family. No less than the 1987 Philippine Constitution recognizes the sanctity of family life and declares it a matter of state policy to protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. Hence, even divorce decrees obtained by Filipino citizens abroad are not binding and recognized in our jurisdiction.
HOWEVER, the rule is not absolute as it admits three exceptions, namely:
Divorce between two foreign citizens, if valid in their national laws even if the marriage was celebrated in the Philippines;
Divorce between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner as, under Article 26(2) of the Family Code of the Philippines, where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the foreigner spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under Philippine law; and
Divorce between a Filipino citizen and a former Filipino citizen, where both parties were Filipino citizens at the time of the celebration of the marriage, but one of them subsequently becomes naturalized as a foreign citizen and the latter obtains a valid divorce decree abroad capacitating him or her to remarry; in such a case, the Filipino spouse shall likewise have capacity to remarry under Philippine law (see Republic vs. Orbecido III ).
Note that the divorce decree must be obtained abroad by the foreigner spouse or by the former Filipino citizen spouse, and NOT in any case by the Filipino spouse. Likewise, there must be a showing that the divorce decree gave the foreigner spouse legal capacity to remarry because in some jurisdictions, remarriage may be limited or prohibited (Bayot vs. Bayot ).
For Filipino citizens, on the other hand, who seek to dissolve their marriage for purposes of remarriage, Philippine law grants them three remedies in proper cases, to wit:
File a Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage, in case of void marriages;
File a Petition for Declaration of Presumptive Death, in case the present spouse has well-founded belief that his or her spouse who has disappeared for four consecutive years, or two years where there was danger of death, is dead.
A MARRIAGE CEREMONYwhich takes place with the APPEARANCE of the contracting parties BEFORE THE SOLEMNIZING OFFICER and their PERSONAL DECLARATION that they take each other as husband and wife IN THE PRESENCE of NOT LESS THAN TWO WITNESSES of LEGAL AGE.
The TOTAL ABSENCE of any of the ESSENTIAL or FORMAL requisites shall render the marriage VOID AB INITIO EXCEPT as stated in Article 35(2), supra, which provides that marriages contracted with either or both of the contracting parties believing in good faith that the Solemnizing Officer had the legal authority to perform marriages shall be valid.
A DEFECT in any of the ESSENTIAL requisites shall render the marriage VOIDABLE as provided in Article 45, supra.
An IRREGULARITY in the FORMAL requisites shall NOT AFFECT the validity of the marriage BUT the party or parties responsible for the irregularity shall be civilly, criminally, and administratively liable (Article 4, supra).