SC: Anti-VAWC Act Applies to Lesbian Relationships
May 17, 2023
The Supreme Court has reiterated its previous ruling that Republic Act 9262, or the Anti-Violence against Women and their Children (VAWC) Act, protects all women, including women in lesbian relationships.
In a 10-page Decision penned by Justice Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, the Supreme Court’s Third Division denied the Petition for Review on Certiorari filed by Sandra Jane Gagui Jacinto assailing the orders of Branch 73, Regional Trial Court (RTC), Antipolo City. The RTC’s orders denied Jacinto’s motion to quash the Information against her charging her for violating the Anti-VAWC Act.
The Information was filed against Jacinto in 2018, alleging that Jacinto attacked her live-in partner, Maria Eloisa Sarmiento Fouts, causing the latter physical injuries, in violation of Section 5(a) of the Anti-VAWC Act. Jacinto then moved to quash the Information on the ground that the charges do not constitute an offense because the Anti-VAWC Act does not apply to lesbian relationships.
The RTC denied Jacinto’s motion to quash and subsequent motion for reconsideration, prompting Jacinto to file before the Supreme Court a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
The Court, in denying Jacinto’s motion, reiterated its previous ruling in Garcia v. Drilon, where the Court held:
“VAWC may likewise be committed ‘against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship.’ Clearly, the use of the gender-neutral word ‘person’ who has or had a sexual or dating relationship with the woman encompasses even lesbian relationships.”
The Court also clarified that, contrary to Jacinto’s position, the foregoing pronouncement by the Court in Garcia v. Drilon is not a mere obiter dictum, as the discussion on the applicability of the Anti-VAWC Act to lesbian relationships was a resolution of the issue in Garcia of whether or not the Anti-VAWC Act was discriminatory for supposedly singling out husbands or fathers.
Such ruling in Garcia v. Drilon can thus be applied to Jacinto’s case, said the Court.
The Court also ruled that Jacinto’s recourse to the Supreme Court was improper as the denial of a motion to quash an Information is an interlocutory order and, hence, not appealable, nor can it be the subject of a petition for certiorari.
Rather, the proper remedy for Jacinto is to go to trial and appeal from the adverse judgment against her, should one be rendered by the RTC.
The Court added that even if the Court should take an exception and treat Jacinto’s petition as one filed under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, the petition must still be dismissed for disregarding the judicial hierarchy of courts.
FULL TEXT OF G.R. No. 250627 dated December 7, 2022 at: https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/250627-sandra-jane-gagui-jacinto-vs-maria-eloisa-sarmiento-fouts/
FULL TEXT OF the Concurring Opinion of Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh at: https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/250627-concurring-opinion-justice-maria-filomena-d-singh/
(Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)