I live with my older sister together with her husband and their children. My sister and her husband often get into fights that recently started to become physical. I talked to my sister about this as I am concerned with her welfare and we are wondering how we can file a protection order from the barangay (village). Our neighbor told us that it is difficult to file a protection order from our barangay since our barangay chairman is often not available and village authorities are notoriously slow in acting on complaints in our community. What can we do about this, and can I file a request for protection order for my sister since she is usually at home to take care of her children? Please advise us on what we can do.
A protection order under Republic Act (RA) 9262, or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, is an order issued for the purpose of preventing further acts of violence against a woman or her child and for grant of necessary reliefs for the purpose of safeguarding the victim from further harm (Sec. 8). Such protection orders may be issued by the court or by the barangay. Protection orders issued by the latter are referred to as barangay protection orders (BPOs).
In applying for a BPO, the rules and regulations implementing RA 9262 require that application for its issuance shall be made in writing and signed by the victim/petitioner and in a language understood by her and attested before the punong barangay (village captain) who has jurisdiction over the application. (Sec. 14.a ) Such petition for the issuance of a BPO may be filed in the village where the victim/petitioner resides. (Sec. 15, Ibid)
With regard to your concern if you can apply for a protection order for your sister, it must be noted that that the law allows other persons aside from the victim/survivor to file for a protection order. These include, among others, the parents or guardians of the offended party and the relatives within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity. (Sec. 12. Id.) Thus, you may legally apply for a protection order for your sister.
About your concern in applying for a BPO when the punong barangay is not around, it is important to know that the law also allows processing of an application for a BPO even if the punong barangay is not available.
According to the rules implementing RA 9262, the application for a BPO shall be acted upon by any available barangay kagawad (village councilman) who shall attest that the village chief was unavailable at the time of the issuance of the BPO. (Sec. 14. b., Id) In relation to this concern, the law requires that the barangay immediately act on the application for a BPO. It is required that the punong barangay or kagawad issue the BPO on the same day the application immediately upon the conclusion of ex parte proceedings and that the determination on the application for a BPO is mandated to have priority over all proceedings in the village (Id).
This requirement for immediate action by the barangay is highlighted by a provision in RA 9262 which states that failure to act on an application for a protection order within the reglementary period without justifiable cause shall render the official administratively liable (Sec. 18, RA. 9262).
Considering the above-cited provisions of the law, it is clear that the barangay and its officers are mandated by the law to immediately assist victims of violators of RA 9262. This legal requirement for villages to swiftly act on applications for BPO is crucial considering that they are in the best position to provide first assistance and protection to the women and children in their barangay.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com