• Battered woman entitled to custody of children

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    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I have been married for seven years and blessed with two kids. I found out that my husband was having an illicit relationship with a married woman. From then on, he began to beat me, uttering insulting words against me every time we talked about this matter. I can no longer endure such kind of treatment, so I applied for a protection order in our barangay (village). A village protection order was issued prohibiting my husband from inflicting further physical injuries on me. My husband complied with the order for about two months; however, on the third month, he insisted on going back to our house claiming that he has the right to live there, because it was his earnings that were spent for its construction.

    When my husband refused to heed the protection order, did he violate any law? What if I decide to sue him for violation of Republic Act 9262, will the court award me custody of my children even if I do not have a job?
    Filipinas

    Dear Filipinas,
    Yes, your husband may be made liable under Section 21 of Republic Act (RA) 9262 for his inability to completely follow the Barangay Protection Order (BPO). Under this provision of law, “a complaint for a violation of a BPO issued under this Act must be filed directly with any municipal trial court, metropolitan trial court or municipal circuit trial court that has territorial jurisdiction over the barangay that issued the BPO. Violation of a BPO shall be punishable by imprisonment of thirty (30) days without prejudice to any other criminal or civil action that the offended party may file for any of the acts committed. A judgment of violation of a BPO may be appealed according to the Rules of Court. During trial and upon judgment, the trial court may motu proprio issue a protection order as it deems necessary without need of an application.

    Violation of any provision of a TPO or PPO issued under this Act shall constitute contempt of court punishable under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, without prejudice to any other criminal or civil action that the offended party may file for any of the acts committed.”

    As to your question regarding the custody of your children, this is answered by Section 28 of the same law, which states, “The woman victim of violence shall be entitled to the custody and support of her child/children. Children below seven (7) years old or older but with mental or physical disabilities shall automatically be given to the mother, with right to support, unless the court finds compelling reasons to order otherwise. A victim who is suffering from battered woman syndrome shall not be disqualified from having custody of her children. In no case shall custody of minor children be given to the perpetrator of a woman who is suffering from battered woman syndrome.”

    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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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