My sister is being physically abused by her husband. On one occasion, I personally saw that she was beaten by her husband because the latter accused her of having an affair with a certain male neighbor. I immediately reported the matter to barangay (village) officials, and asked for their assistance in order to stop my brother-in-law from hitting my sister, but the officials refused to intervene, claiming that it was just a matter between the spouses.
What are the responsibilities of those barangay officials to victims of abuses like my sister?
Can I file any complaint against them for their refusal to help my sister?
The duties of barangay officials as well as the law enforcers are provided under Section 30 of Republic Act (RA) 9262, which are the following:
(a) Respond immediately to a call for help or request for assistance or protection of the victim whether a protection order has been issued and ensure the safety of the victim/s;
(b) Confiscate any deadly weapon in the possession of the perpetrator or within plain view;
(c) Transport or escort the victim/s to a safe place of his/their choice or to a clinic or hospital;
(d) Assist the victim/s in removing personal belongings from the house;
(e) Assist the barangay officials and other government officers and employees who respond to a call for help;
(f) Ensure the enforcement of the protection orders issued by the punong barangay (village head) or the courts;
(g) Arrest the suspected perpetrator without a warrant when any of the acts of violence defined by this act is occurring, or when he/she has personal knowledge that any act of abuse has just been committed, and there is imminent danger to the life or limb of the victim as defined in this act; and
(h) Immediately report the call for assessment or assistance of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Social Welfare department of local government units or LGUs or accredited non-government organizations or NGOs.
Any barangay official or law enforcer who fails to report the incident shall be liable for a fine not exceeding Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) or whenever applicable criminal, civil or administrative liability.
In your case, the barangay officials who refused to heed your call for help to stop your brother-in-law from inflicting physical harm to your sister may be held liable whether it be for administrative, civil or criminal.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org