Friday, August 06, 2010

Protection Order for abused husbands?

The Supreme Court has already ruled that the Protection Orders under RA 9262 cannot be used against a woman. The Court has in fact reprimanded or suspended several Family Court judges for issuing a TPO or a PPO against a woman (read, for example, SC Dismisses Makati Family Court Judge, Stenographer). Please read my previous posts:

What about the rights of an abused husband?

I have received e-mails from men who have detailed how their wives have hurt, harassed or threatened them. A husband who has been physically hurt or is being abused by his wife can file the appropriate case under the Revised Penal Code. The question is, while the criminal case is ongoing, can he ask the court to issue an order requiring the wife to stay away from him? This is legally doubtful.

But, in petitions involving legal separation, annulment of voidable marriage or declaration of nullity of marriage, it can be argued that the “Supreme Court Rule on Provisional Orders” A.M. No. 02-11-12-SC provides the legal basis for a husband to ask the court to issue an order requiring his wife, among other things, to stay away from him so as to prevent any further harm. Let me explain.

The said Rule enumerates the procedures that our Family Court judges must follow in deciding the issue of custody and amount of financial support in relation to petitions for legal separation, annulment of voidable marriage or declaration of nullity of marriage. Please take note that:

1. This Rule became effective in 2003 or before RA 9262 “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004” became effective in 2004; and

2. This Rule applies specifically to petitions for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage or for annulment of voidable marriage, or for legal separation.

RA 9262 has its own Implementing Rules and Regulations and Rule on Violence Against Women and Their Children A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC. The speakers (active and retired Family Court judges) in the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education seminars I am attending say that they also use the Rule on Provisional Orders as guideline in granting orders in RA 9262 cases whenever appropriate.

Interestingly, under Section 7 of the Supreme Court Rule on Provisional Orders, ANY PERSON involved in petitions for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriage or for annulment of voidable marriage, or for legal separation, can ask for the issuance of an Order of Protection. Since Section 7 of the Rule speaks of “any person” seeking the Order of Protection, it can be argued that the husband, whether as petitioner or respondent, can ask the court for such order if the wife harasses, intimidates or threatens him. The Rule states:
Section 7. The court may issue an Order of Protection requiring any person:

(a) to stay away from the home, school, business, or place of employment of the child, other parent or any other party, and to stay away from any other specific place designated by the court;

(b) to refrain from harassing, intimidating, or threatening such child or the other parent or any person to whom custody of the child is awarded;

(c) to refrain from acts of commission or omission that create an unreasonable risk to the. health, safety, or welfare of the child;

(d) to permit a parent, or a person entitled to visitation by a court order or a separation agreement, to visit the child at stated periods;

(e) to permit a designated party to enter the residence during a specified period of time in order to take personal belongings not contested in a proceeding pending with the Family Court;

(f) to comply with such other orders as are necessary for the protection of the child.
As I said, I have been attending the MCLE for the last two Saturdays. One of the speakers, a retired judge, said that she had issued an Order of Protection for a husband. She said, however, that husbands in general do not ask for such an order since no supposedly macho Filipino would want to admit that he is being physically abused by his wife.