Women and Justice: Court: Supreme Court of the Philippines

Domestic Case Law

People of the Philippines v. Napoles y Bajas Supreme Court of the Philippines (2017)

Sexual violence and rape

The appellant was found guilty of raping his stepdaughter AAA six times by the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals. As a result, AAA gave birth to a baby in 2001. On appeal, the appellant argued that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, stating that (1) there was no sign that AAA was outraged and defended her honor with courage and (2) of the three instances of intercourse he admits to, such instances were consensual and between lovers. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for the following reasons: (1) victim’s failure to shout or offer tenacious resistance does not mean the victim was consenting, and victim’s physical resistance is not an element of proving rape, and (2) a romantic relationship does not negate rape. The required elements of rape under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code, (I) accused had carnal knowledge of the victim and (II) accomplished the act through force or intimidation, or when the victim was deprived of reason or unconscious, or under age 12, or demented. The court found that the prosecution proved all elements by providing: AAA’s credible testimony, the results of AAA's medical examination, the appellant's use of a knife and bolo to threaten physical violence, and his moral influence as stepfather over AAA. The court sentenced the appellant to reclusión perpetua and ordered him to pay P225,000 in moral damages, civil indemnity, and exemplary damages to AAA.​



People of the Philippines v. Divinagracia Supreme Court of the Philippines (2018)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was found guilty by the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals of raping his daughter AAA (who was eight at the time), and of acts of lasciviousness against his other daughter BBB (age nine at the time). On appeal, the appellant argued that his guilt was not established beyond reasonable doubt. He pointed to inconsistencies in witness testimonies about when his daughters told their aunt and others about the sexual abuse. The Supreme Court found that such inconsistencies are not related to the elements of the crime and do not diminish the credibility of the victim. Under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code, when the victim is under 12, the elements of rape are sexual congress with a woman by a man. Through the birth records, the age of the victim was clearly under 12, and through AAA’s testimony and physical examinations by the doctor, the element of sexual congress was met. The rule is that factual findings and evaluation of witnesses’ credibility made by the trial court should be respected unless it is shown that the trial court may have overlooked, misapprehended, or misapplied any fact or circumstance of weight and substance. The court refused to find AAA’s failure to tell others immediately as affecting her credibility. The court also reiterated that only the credible testimony of the offended party is necessary to establish the guilt of the accused. With respect to damages, the court overruled the lower courts, which had held that awarding damages would be a miscarriage of justice because the defendant-father was a compulsory heir to his daughters. It awarded BBB a total of P300,000 in civil indemnity, moral damages, and exemplary damages. The court awarded AAA P20,000 civil indemnity, P30,000 moral damages, and P20,000 exemplary damages because of the heinous nature of the crime. The court imposed sentences of reclus​ión perpetua (minimum of 30 years imprisonment) for the rape and 12 – 20 years imprisonment for the crime of lasciviousness.



Republic of the Philippines v. Manalo Supreme Court of the Philippines (2018)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

The respondent was married to a Japanese national. The couple filed for divorce in Japan. The respondent then petitioned to cancel the entry of marriage in the Civil Registry of San Juan, Metro Manila, as she was no longer married to her Japanese husband. The Regional Trial Court denied the petition ruling that the divorce obtained by the respondent in Japan cannot be recognized, due to Article 15 of the New Civil Code, which “does not afford Filipinos the right to file for a divorce, whether they are in the country or living abroad if they are married to Filipinos or to foreigners, or if they celebrated their marriage in the Philippines or in another country.” In addition, unless Filipinos are naturalized citizens of another country, Philippines law controls matters of family rights and duties, including marriages. The Court of Appeals overturned the Regional Trial Court decision, holding that Article 26 of the Family Code of the Philippines is applicable, even if it was the respondent who filed for divorce. Because the Japanese husband is now no longer married to the respondent, it would be unjust to still consider the respondent to be married to him. The Supreme Court partially affirmed the Court of Appeals decision. The Court noted that the burden was on the respondent to prove the divorce was validated by Japanese law as well as her former husband’s capacity to legally remarry. Thus, the case was remanded to the court of origin for further proceedings and for consideration of evidence presented regarding Japanese law on divorce.



People of the Philippines v. Rupal Supreme Court of the Philippines (2018)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was found guilty by the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals of raping a 13-year-old girl by dragging her to a nearby farm, raping her and later threatening her with retaliation if she did not stay silent. The appellant appealed, pointing to inconsistencies in the number of times the victim testified as being raped and arguing that the prosecution was not able to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction. According to the court, the victim making inconsistent statements about the number of times the appellant raped her did not harm her credibility, given the fear and distress the victim suffered, and the frequency is also not an element of the crime. The required elements of rape under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code are: (1) offender had carnal knowledge of a woman and (2) he accomplished such act through force or intimidation, or when she was deprived of reason or unconscious, or when she was under 12 years of age, or demented. The medical examination and victim’s credible testimony meets the first element. The element of force or intimidation is met by the fact that the appellant dragged her and pushed her to the ground to abuse her. The appellant also intimidated her after the act. Thus, the required elements of rape under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code are met. The appellant’s alibi or denials were weak and uncorroborated.