Philippines

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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. 



People of the Philippines v. Bernabe Pareja Y Cruz Supreme Court of Philippines (2014)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

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.



People of the Philippines v. Antonio Mendoza Y Butones Supreme Court of Philippines (2005)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

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.



Teresita G. Narvasa v. Benjamin A. Sanchez, Jr. Supreme Court of Philippines (2010)

Sexual harassment

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.



Hercules P. Guzman v. National Labor Relations Commission, et al. Supreme Court of Philippines (2010)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual harassment

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.



Yolanda Floralde, et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al. Supreme Court of Philippines (2000)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

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.



People of the Philippines v. Anacito Dimanawa Supreme Court of Philippines (2010)

Custodial violence, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

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.



People of the Philippines v. Rodolfo de Jesus Y Mendoza Supreme Court of Philippines (2013)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

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.



Jesus C. Garcia v. The Honorable Ray Alan T. Drilon, et al. Supreme Court of Philippines (2013)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general

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.



Patricia Halagueña, et al. v. Philippine Airlines Incorporated Supreme Court of Philippines (2009)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, International 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.



People of the Philippines v. Edgar Jumawan Supreme Court of Philippines (2014)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

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.



People of the Philippines v. Marivic Genosa Supreme Court of Philippines (2004)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

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.



International Case Law

Karen Tayag Vertido v. The Philippines CEDAW Committee (2008)

Gender discrimination, Sexual violence and rape

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.



R.P.B. v. The Philippines CEDAW Committee (2014)

Gender discrimination, Sexual violence and rape

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.