• Parents of abuser liable under RA 9262 if there is conspiracy

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    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My live-in partner had a child from her former boyfriend. She was physically abused in her previous relationship, so she ended that relationship. At present, I am helping her raise her child. Her former boyfriend is supporting their child, because he has a stable job. The problem is, her former boyfriend verbally insults her every time she asks for support for their child.
    Her former boyfriend sends directly to his own parents the financial support meant for his child. But his parents often delay its release, deny that they have received the money, or deduct a certain amount from it. My live-in partner even heard from her former boyfriend’s parents that they were instructed by their son not to release the financial support for the child. My live-in partner would like to file a complaint for violation of Republic Act (RA) 9262 (Violence Against Women and their Children Act) against her former boyfriend and his parents. Is this possible?        
    Mr. Slice

    Dear Mr. Slice,
    Violence against women and their children is defined under Section 3 (a) of RA 9262 as referring to “any acts or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman who is his wife, former wife, or against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the family abode, which result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Xxx xxx xxx”.

    Generally, violence against women and their children is committed by a man against a woman or her child who is his wife, former wife or with whom he had a sexual or dating relationship or a common child. However, any person, like the parents of the former boyfriend of your live-in partner, can be charged for violation of RA 9262, especially if there is an allegation of conspiracy. In your case, the parents helped your partner’s ex-lover in committing the abusive conduct. This was the pronouncement of the Supreme Court in the case of Go-Tan vs Tan (G.R. No. 168852, September 30, 2008, ponente: former associate justice Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez), where the Supreme Court stated that:

    With more reason, therefore, the principle of conspiracy under Article 8 of the RPC (Revised Penal Code) may be applied suppletorily to R.A. No. 9262 because of the express provision of Section 47 that the RPC shall be supplementary to said law. Thus, general provisions of the RPC, which by their nature, are necessarily applicable, may be applied suppletorily.

    Thus, the principle of conspiracy may be applied to R.A. No. 9262. For once conspiracy or action in concert to achieve a criminal design is shown, the act of one is the act of all the conspirators, and the precise extent or modality of participation of each of them becomes secondary, since all the conspirators are principals.

    In the case of your live-in partner, she may file a case for Violation of Section 5 (e) (2) of RA 9262 against the father of her child for wilfully withholding the support due to their child. Every child is entitled to support from his or her father under the law, and such child should not be denied of the same for reasons that his or her parents are not getting along well. The same holds true with the child’s grandparents. They are bound to give the child the financial support that was entrusted to them to deliver. Otherwise, they may also be charged for violation of Section 5 (e) (2) of RA 9262, applying the principle of conspiracy as enunciated in the case of Go-Tan vs Tan.

    We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

    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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