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A YEAR AFTER R.A. NO. 9262
By: Rowena Villena Guanzon, LLB, MPA*
A year after the effectivity of Republic Act No. 9262 otherwise known as the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004, the wheels of justice grind too slowly for many women. While the intent of the law is to give women and their children immediate relief through Temporary Protection Orders (TPOs), the TPOs can be deliberately ignored by respondents, and some judges do not issue TPOs notwithstanding Article 4 which provides that the law shall be liberally construed to ensure the safety and protection of women and their children. Many other issues hound the courts, and a year after may be a good time for the Supreme Court to review the judicial practice on Republic Act No. 9262, not only to identify problems and issues for reform, but also to ensure that judges have undergone seminars on the law as well as gender sensitivity trainings. Many women complain that the judicial process is too slow especially when the remedy includes support for the wife and children. In one of the
____________________________________________________________ * Atty. Rowena V. Guanzon is the Co-Project Leader of the Gender Justice Awards. As former Consultant to Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, she helped draft R.A. No. 9262. She is a
the focus of this law is the civil action for a Temporary and Permanent Protection Order because it can provide 2 . the respondent filed a Petition for Certiorari. Republic Act No. the petitioner did not receive a single centavo of support which was ordered in the TPO. After more than 200 days. first cases to be filed under this law. which is to give women and their children immediate relief. and a Barangay Protection Order (BPO). The Court of Appeals issued a Temporary Restraining Order notwithstanding the argument of the counsel for the petitioner that a TPO cannot be appealed much less be issued against a TPO. the Court of Appeals finally dismissed the Petition for Certiorari. College of Law (1984) and has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University (1995). a criminal action. 9262 is catching a lot of attention because no other law comes closer to our homes. She is a Founding Member of Gender Watch Coalition.graduate of the U. The law provides for the relief of a Temporary and Permanent Protection Order. not because under the Rule on Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children a TPO cannot be appealed but because it found no justiciable controversy since the TPO was not extended by the new presiding judge. After the TPO was issued.P. Although the criminal action is an option for the complainant. otherwise it will defeat the intent and spirit of the law.
A TPO can also order the respondent to leave the conjugal home regardless of ownership temporarily. and grant temporary custody and support of minor children to the woman. and give the woman an opportunity to have some control over her life. A Temporary and Permanent Protection Order is the favored remedy compared to criminal actions because it is faster. give one vehicle to the woman regardless of ownership. which is issued ex parte and effective for 15 days.immediate relief to protect the woman and her children. a TPO which includes support can be issued ex parte on the same day that the petition is filed. and the court can grant custody of minor children to the woman. but if the courts cannot enforce their protection orders. barangay officials can give immediate response to the victims’ cry for help. and pay support to his lawful wife and his legitimate and illegitimate minor children. order the respondent to stay away from her to prevent further violence. Such is the promise of the law. 3 . including an automatic remittance of the respondent’s salary to the petitioner. the TPO may just be but a brief and empty victory for victims. Unlike an action for support which can take months for support pendent elite to be granted. The BPO is provided also as a remedy for those who do not want to bring the respondent to court. Through the BPO. or permanently where there is no issue of ownership.
the Supreme Court emphasizes the urgency of a TPO. Under this Rule. advising her of availability of free legal aid. 4) the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure applies as far as practicable. and as incident in a civil action.A. which may be issued ex parte on the same day of filing of the petition.To guide the judges and lawyers. 2) it is liberally construed to promote its objectives pursuant to the principles of restorative justice. 3) the clerk of court has a duty to assist petitioner in filing up the form for petition for protection order. 9262 as a separate petition without claiming damages. the Supreme Court adopted the Rule on Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children which took effect on November 15. 10) it provides for prohibited 4 . 9) a TPO cannot be appealed on certiorari. which under the law shall be continuously extended or renewed until final judgment. 2004. 6) the hearing shall be conducted within one day if possible. mandamus or prohibition against interlocutory order issued by the court. and the court shall decide within 30 days after termination of hearing on the merits. 7) live-link testimony to eyewitnesses or victims shall be available. 8) history of abusive conduct of respondent is admissible. as incident in criminal action. The salient features of the Rule are: 1) it applies to protection orders under R. no petition for certiorari. 5) hearings shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the dignity of women and their children and respect for their privacy. if relevant.
9262. the lack of urgency on the part of many judges which stems from their lack of gender sensitivity and understanding of the problem of violence against women. specifically. Among these issues are whether or not a TPO must be renewed or extended while hearings are going on. women’s rights lawyers raise many issues. No. or reopening of trial. the law stands as it is. but until such time that it is brought to the Supreme Court. thereby violating the right of men to equal protection of the law.pleadings to prevent delay. 5 . protecting women and children only. and whether or not a TPO or a denial of a TPO may be appealed on Certiorari. When the Rule was adopted. whether or not the law is unconstitutional because it protects women only. motion for new trial. But even with the Rule. and legal issues. or for reconsideration of a ( temporary) protection order. the problem of weak implementation of TPOs. Foremost of the legal issues is the constitutionality issue raised in at least two pending cases. whether or not a TPO should include that the respondent file a bond to keep the peace. litigants and their lawyers gave a sigh of relief because there were many judges who were tentative about their steps. among them. intervention. and petition for relief from judgment.A. which are: motion to dismiss except lack of jurisdiction. This issue is the crux of the resistance against R.
Under his leadership. Davide. Although R. No. Without a keen understanding of the situation of abused women and their children. No other Chief Justice has been as vocal about his desire for the courts to be a vehicle for ending violence against women. a judge can only apply the law in its technical sense. for it is with this law more than others that the gender sensitivity of judges will be tested and their gender bias subjected to public scrutiny. lacking in the understanding of violence against women and why women and their children need urgent and full protection of the law. the judge will have no appreciation of the rationale and spirit of the law. Jr. gender mainstreaming is now a byword in the Judiciary. 9262 was passed only after a decade of advocacy by women legislators and women’s rights advocates and is certainly long overdue. the Supreme Court has a continuing gender sensitivity training program for judges. 6 .A. and without throwing away all gender stereotyping of roles of women and men. and can even ignore the provision on liberality of construction in favor of ensuring the safety and protection of the petitioner. Under Chief Justice Hilario G.The Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004 is a challenge for the judiciary. although its benefits may not be seen in the short term. it could not have come at a better time for the judiciary. In that unfortunate situation.
7 . 9262 can only work if we have gender sensitive judges and gender-responsive courts. Republic Act No.The Chief Justice has hit the mark.
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