SC Affirms Conviction of Psychologically Abusive Husband

The Supreme Court has affirmed the conviction for violation of RA 9262, or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, of a man who had evicted his wife and their children from their house and cohabitated with his mistress.

The Court upheld the Decision of the Court of Appeals, (CA) which in turn affirmed the Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Iba, Zambales, Branch 71, finding petitioner guilty of Section 5(i) of RA 9262.

The Court, however, imposed a higher penalty on the petitioner. It sentenced him to suffer an indeterminate penalty of six months and one day of prison correccional as minimum, to eight years and one day of prison mayor as maximum. He was also ordered to pay a P100,000 fine.

Furthermore, it directed the petitioner to undergo mandatory psychological counseling or psychiatric treatment and to report his compliance therewith to the court of origin within 15 days after the completion of such counseling or treatment.

The Court ruled that the CA committed no reversible error in affirming the conviction of petitioner. It held that psychological violence under RA 9262 was duly established.

The petitioner’s wife claimed that in their 23 years of marriage, the petitioner had a habit of getting drunk and womanizing. In October  2010, she and the petitioner had a fight and evicted her and their children. The eldest of the children convinced his three sisters to return to the house to compel the petitioner to support them, leaving the fifth sibling with their mother. The three, through text messages, reported to their mother that petitioner was always drunk and brought home one night a woman, whom the petitioner introduced to them as their aunt. Petitioner’s wife later learned that the woman was already living with petitioner and their children.

The Court ruled that “a judicious study of the case reveals that all the elements of the crime charged were duly established.”

The elements of violation of Section 5(i) of RA 9262 are: 1) the offended party is a woman and/or her child or children; 2) the woman is either the wife or former wife of the offender, or is a woman with whom the offender has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or is a woman with whom such offender has a common child. As for the woman’s child or children, they may be legitimate or illegitimate, or living within or without the family abode; 3) the offender causes on the woman and/or

child mental or emotional anguish; and 4) the anguish is caused through acts of public ridicule or humiliation, repeated verbal and emotional abuse, denial of financial support or custody of minor children or access to the children or similar such acts or omissions.

The Court held that the first and second elements of the offense were uncontested. The offended party is a woman and her child or children. The victim is the wife of petitioner with whom he has five children. One of their children testified in court about the infidelity of her father and how his mistress lived with them in her parents’ conjugal home.

As to the third and fourth elements, it was duly established that petitioner committed psychological violence through marital  infidelity and public ridicule or humiliation, which caused mental anguish and emotional suffering upon his wife.

The Court dismissed the defense of denial and alibi of the petitioner who had also contended that the RTC and CA Decisions were based on hearsay evidence. He said that his wife could not have suffered psychological violence since she did not have personal knowledge of his alleged marital infidelity and that she only came to know of such through their daughter.

The Court, however said that while hearsay is considered inadmissible evidence under Section 36, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, “the rule does not apply to independently relevant statements.” It stressed that while the legitimate wife indeed did not have personal knowledge of petitioner’s infidelity, her statement “may be considered an independently relevant statement.” It added that her statements were duly corroborated by other evidence that are not hearsay.

“It is fundamental that the defense of denial is inherently weak and cannot prevail over the positive and categorical testimony of the prosecution witnesses. In this case, other than bare denials, herein petitioner did not proffer any convincing defense to disprove the testimony of his wife and his daughter about his marital infidelity. As such, there is no cogent reason to set aside the findings of the RTC, as concurred in by the CA, that indeed, petitioner committed marital infidelity against his wife,” the Court said.

The RTC imposed an indeterminate penalty of four years, two months and one day of prison correccional as minimum to eight years  and one day of prison mayor as maximum.

On appeal, the CA affirmed RTC ruling. The CA concurred with RTC that all the elements of the offense charged were duly established by the prosecution and that there is no doubt that petitioner inflicted psychological violence upon his wife when he evicted her and their children from their conjugal home and when he maintained an extramarital affair with a woman in their conjugal home where they lived as a couple.

(G.R. No. 241390, XXX,* v. People, January 13, 2021)