MANILA, Philippines — Marital infidelity is a form of psychological violence punishable under the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004 (Republic Act No. 9262).
The Supreme Court said this in a ruling affirming the conviction of a husband who cohabitated with another woman while his wife was working abroad.
Court records show that the husband and his wife got married on Dec. 29, 2006, and had a daughter. Two years later, the wife went to Singapore to work.
In 2015, she found out that her husband was in a relationship with another woman. The woman was already pregnant with her husband’s child.
She learned that her husband brought the woman to their hometown while their child was given to her mother-in-law, prompting her to return from abroad.
The wife sought the help of the Department of Social Welfare and Development to get her daughter back. She also filed a case at a regional trial court against her husband.
The court found the husband guilty of inflicting psychological violence against his wife and daughter. He was meted with a penalty of up to six years and one day of imprisonment and a fine of P100,000 fine. He was also required to undergo psychological counseling.
The husband took the case to the Court of Appeals. He argued that it was his wife who abandoned him and their daughter. But the appeals court dismissed his appeal for lack of merit and even modified the prison penalty from six years and one day in prison to eight years and one day.
He filed a motion for reconsideration, which was also dismissed. So he took the case to the Supreme Court.
But the SC agreed with the ruling of both the regional trial court and the Court of Appeals, saying that evidence clearly established that the husband’s acts had caused his wife and child “mental or emotional anguish through acts of public ridicule or humiliation, repeated verbal and emotional abuse, denial of financial support or custody of minor children.”
“[The daughter’s] psychological trauma was evident when she wept in open court upon being asked to narrate the petitioner’s infidelity. In particular, [the daughter] explained that she was deeply hurt because her father had another family and loved another woman other than her mother,” the SC ruling said, highlighting that the child was only nine years old when she took the witness stand in 2015.
The Supreme Court said that under the law, there are several forms of abuse, the most visible form of which is physical violence. The others are sexual violence, psychological violence, and economic abuse.