This is the Supreme Court’s (SC) stern warning to philandering husbands:
A husband’s acts of marital infidelity which caused mental or emotional suffering on the part of his wife will land him in jail for a maximum period of eight years and one day.
In a decision written by Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, the SC ruled:
“The prosecution has established beyond reasonable doubt that Pablo (not his real name) committed the crime of psychological violence, through his acts of marital infidelity, which caused mental or emotional suffering on the part of Juana” (also not her real name).
“This Court deems it proper to impose on petitioner (Pablo), the indeterminate penalty of six (6) months and one (1) day of prision correcional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum.”
The SC affirmed the Court of Appeals (CA) ruling which upheld the decision of the Las Pinas City regional trial court (RTC). The SC decision was made public last week.
Pablo was adjudged by the SC to have violated Section 5 (i) of Republic Act No. 9262, the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004.
Section 5 (i) penalizes some forms of psychological violence that are inflicted on victims who are women and children through the following acts: “causing mental or emotional anguish, public ridicule or humiliation to the woman or her child, including, but not limited to, repeated verbal and emotional abuse, and denial of financial support or custody of minor children or access to the woman’s child/children.”
Court records showed that Pablo and Juana were married in 1989 in Manila. Pablo quit his overseas job and decided to help his wife in her networking business.
Pablo went to Zamboanga City in 2007 to help her wife, who testified that thereafter she noticed changes in her husband’s behavior.
Later Juana’s friends send text messages informing her that her husband has an extramarital affair. She went to Zamboanga City to verify and found that her husband was living with his mistress.
Juana then filed a case before the Philippine National Police (PNP) but she withdrew the complaint after her husband promised not to see his mistress anymore.
However, Pablo left their conjugal home anew and later the wife found that he was back to his mistress.
Later, Juana testified that she had been receiving text messages from her husband’s mistress to the effect that he was sick and needed money for medicines.
A text message from the mistress threatening to kill her husband prompted Juana to seek legal assistance in 2013.
The lawyer sent a letter to the mistress to her known address, but when the there was no reply, Juana decided to go to Zamboanga City in 2014 to look for her husband. She got sick while searching for Pablo and was hospitalized.
When she could not find her husband, she filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus with the CA which directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look for Pablo.
The NBI found Pablo, but he testified that he left their conjugal home on his own volition. It was also found that Pablo has three children with his mistress. The CA dismissed the habeas corpus petition.
Juana then filed a case before the RTC. During the trial, Juana testified that she had been suffering from insomnia and asthma and had been taking anti-depressant and sleeping pills to cope with her severe emotional and psychological turmoil.
She also testified that she had spent a huge sum of money in locating her husband and for her medical needs. The RTC ruled in her favor.
Pablo elevated the issue before the CA which denied his appeal. He then filed a petition before the SC.
The SC denied Pablo’s petition for lack of merit with a ruling that “the elements of elements of violation of Section 5(i) of R.A. No. 9262 were sufficiently alleged in the Information.”
It said the information (criminal charge sheet) “contains the recital of facts necessary to constitute the crime charged – the offended party is the wife, the wife sustained emotional anguish and mental suffering and that such anguish and mental suffering were inflicted by (the husband) when he had an extramarital affair… and had three illegitimate children with her.”
It also said that “the prosecution has established Pablo’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt by proving that he committed psychological violence upon his wife by committing marital infidelity. Juana’s testimony was strong and credible. She was able to confirm that Pablo was living with another woman….”
Finally, the SC said:
“This Court will not disturb the findings of the RTC and as affirmed by the CA, as regards Juana’s credibility as a witness. The RTC is in a better position to observe her candor and behavior on the witness stand. Its assessment is respected unless certain facts of substance I and value were overlooked which, if considered, might affect the result of the case.
“Pablo can only offer the defense of denial. The defense of denial is inherently weak and cannot prevail over the positive and credible testimonies of the prosecution witnesses that the accused committed the crime. Denial, being a self-serving negative defense, cannot be given greater weight than the declaration of credible witnesses who testify on affirmative matters.”
Aside from the prison term, Pablo was ordered to pay a fine of P100,000 and P25,000 in moral damages, and to undergo a mandatory psychological counseling or psychiatric treatment.