Karen Tayag Vertido, an employee of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines, was raped by a former President of the Chamber in 1996. The case remained at the trial court level for eight years before the Regional Court of Davao City acquitted the defendant in 2005. The Court scrutinized Vertido’s testimony with “extreme caution,” and challenged her credibility on the ground that “an accusation of rape can be made with facility.” The Court specifically declined to apply Filipino Supreme Court precedent cases establishing that failure to escape does not negate the existence of rape, stating that Vertido had ample opportunities to escape her attacker. In her complaint to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Vertido argued that the Court’s actions subjected her to revictimization and violated articles 2(c), 2(f), and 5(a) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and CEDAW General Recommendation 19, which obliges a State to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, and practices that constitute discrimination against women. The Committee held that the State Court erred in relying on gender-based myths and stereotypes about rape and rape victims in Vertido’s case, and stressed that there should be no assumption in law or practice that a woman gives her consent where she had not physically resisted unwanted sexual conduct. The Committee recommended that the State provide Vertido with appropriate compensation, review the definition of rape under existing law to ensure that lack of consent is a essential element of the crime of rape, remove any requirement that sexual violence be committed by violence or force, and require appropriate training for judges, lawyers, and law enforcement officers in understanding crimes of rape and other sexual offenses.
Women and Justice: Location
R.P.B., a Filipina national born in 1989 who is both deaf and mute, was raped by her 19-year-old neighbor in 2006. The case remained at the trial court level for five years before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City acquitted the defendant in 2011. Similar to a previous case from the Philippines heard by the CEDAW Committee in 2008, Karen Tayag Vetrido v. The Philippines, the Court again declined to apply Filipino Supreme Court precedent. Instead, the Court relied on gender-based myths and stereotypes about rape and rape victims, finding that the victim should have used every opportunity to escape or resist her attacker. In addition, State authorities did not provide any interpretation for R.P.B. In her complaint to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, R.P.B. argued that the Court’s actions violated article 1, and article 2(c), (d), and (f) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In addition to relying on gender based myths and stereotypes, R.P.B. also argued that the Court failed to provided her with accessibility, on an equal basis with other victims, to the court, as a woman who is also deaf and mute. The Committee held that the provision of sign language interpretation was essential to ensure R.P.B’s full and equal participation in the proceedings, in compliance with article 2(c) and 2(d) of the Convention. Further, the Committee held that the State party erred in relying on gender-based stereotyping, which resulted in sex and gender-based discrimination and disregard for the individual circumstances of the case, such as R.P.B’s disability and age. The Committee recommended that the State provide R.P.B. with the appropriate compensation and free-of-charge counseling, review the existing law and remove any requirement that sexual assault be committed by force or violence, guarantee the free and adequate assistance of interpreters, ensure that all criminal proceedings involving rape and other sexual offences are conducted in an impartial and fair manner, free from prejudices or stereotypical notions regarding the victim’s gender, age and disability, and provide adequate and regular training on the Convention, the Optional Protocol and the Committee’s general recommendations.
The appellant was convicted of statutory rape of his daughter. The appellant claimed the rape had not happened because the daughter was not home, and that she was not a credible witness. The Supreme Court agreed with the findings and conclusion of the trial and appeals courts that rape was committed by the appellant. The Supreme Court noted that the testimony of a child-victim is to be given full weight and credence. The Supreme Court noted that respect for elders is deeply rooted in Filipino children and recognized by law such that there is a presumption that the child testified truthfully. Moreover, the concurrence of the age of the victim and her relationship to the offender warranted upgrades to the sentencing penalty.
The appellant was found guilty of the crime of statutory rape of his daughter. On appeal, the appellant argued there was insufficient physical evidence of the rape. The Supreme Court noted that the results of the physical examination did not discount the possibility that the daughter was raped. The Supreme Court further noted that rape of a minor under 12 years of age is statutory rape. It explained that (a) in statutory rape, only the following two elements must be established: 1) carnal knowledge or sexual intercourse; and 2) that the woman is below 12 years of age and (b) both of those elements had been established.
The appellant was convicted of two counts of statutory rape. The appellant sought to overturn the conviction on the ground that the victim’s testimony was riddled with inconsistencies. The Supreme Court set forth the recognized rule that the “assessment of the credibility of witnesses is a domain best left to the trial court judge… and when his findings have been affirmed by the Court of Appeals, these are generally binding and conclusive upon this Court.” While there are recognized exceptions to this rule, the Supreme Court found no substantial reason to overturn the identical conclusions of the trial and appellate courts on the witnesses’ credibility and affirmed.
The appellant was convicted of rape of his daughter. The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, noting that the appellant failed to proffer a credible defense, instead merely denying the accusations. To the contrary, there is a recognized presumption of credibility when a daughter accuses her father. The conviction was upheld.
The respondent was found guilty of grave misconduct for sexually harassing his co-workers and was dismissed from Government service. The appeals court modified the ruling, finding him guilty of simple misconduct for which dismissal was not warranted. The Supreme Court reinstated the finding of grave misconduct, finding that the respondent’s actions were intentional, and since this was the third time he had been penalized for sexual harassment, dismissal was warranted.
The respondent, a law student, filed an administrative complaint for harassment against the petitioner, her professor, alleging that she was given a poor final grade because he wanted to go on a date with her. A school committee found that the petitioner improperly conducted school-related activities outside school premises, indicative of sexually motivated intentions, in violation of the respondent’s policy of providing its students with an environment free from sexual harassment. The NLRC affirmed, declaring a one year suspension from the University. The Supreme Court rejected the petitioner’s argument that his constitutional right to due process was violated, finding that in administrative proceedings, the essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard, to explain one’s side or to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of, and that the petitioner had been afforded that opportunity.
The respondent was found guilty of grave misconduct for sexually harassing his co-workers and was dismissed from Government service. He successfully appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the ruling. The Supreme Court reinstated the ruling, citing the well-established rule that findings of fact of an administrative agency must be respected even if they are not overwhelming and even if the appellate court would weigh evidence differently.
The plaintiff successfully sought a Temporary Protection Order against her husband under Republic Act No. 9626 Against Women and Their Children. The husband appealed, claiming the Act to be unconstitutional and the order therefore invalid because the Act favored women over men as victims of violence and abuse to whom the State extends its protection. The Supreme Court held that the Act was valid, highlighting the unequal power relationship between women and men; that women are more likely than men to be victims of violence; and the widespread gender bias and prejudice against women, which all make for real differences justifying the law.
Female flight attendants employed by Philippine Airlines alleged their collective bargaining agreement was discriminatory due to unequal grooming standards and a compulsory retirement requirement at fifty-five years of age for women but sixty years of age for men. At issue was whether the claim was a labor grievance such that the Regional Trial Court would lack jurisdiction to hear the claim. The Supreme Court held that the regional court had jurisdiction, because the action was not a grievance, but instead a civil action to annul a provision of the contract, and that the question for decision did not involve any determination of labor or union actions.
The appellant was convicted on two counts of marital rape. On appeal, the appellant argued that marital rape was not the equivalent of non-marital rape. This was the first documented case on marital rape to reach the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court rejected the appellant’s argument as essentially an attempt to revive old and now rejected standards that a husband could not be convicted of marital rape because of the “implied consent” of his wife. It found that under modern jurisprudence, the appellant’s argument would deny spouses equal protection under the constitution and that the elements and quantum of proof that support a moral certainty of guilt in rape cases should apply uniformly regardless of the legal relationship between the accused and his accuser.
Marivic Genosa admitted to killing her husband after a quarrel in their house and was sentenced to death in 1998. The Supreme Court of the Philippines heard an appeal of this decision under the pretense that Ms. Genosa was a victim of battered woman syndrome (BWS). The appeal posited that the consistent abuse Genosa faced at the hands of her husband had caused BWS which meant she was in a constantly threatened state and acted in self-defense when she killed him. The court ruled that as a victim of BWS, her husband’s cumulative provocation had broken down her self-control and made the murder an act of passion. The court repealed Ms. Genosa’s death sentence and released her in consideration of her six years spent in prison. This is a landmark case in acknowledging the deep psychological impact abusive relationships have on women. By setting a legal precedent to consider BWS as an extenuating and real circumstance, the Supreme Court promoted a stronger legal recognition of and protection for abused women.