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Infidelity equals ‘violence’—SC

The Supreme Court has ruled that husband’s infidelity or having extramarital affairs is considered “psychological violence” inflicted against his wife.

In a 19-page decision written by Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, the SC’s First Division denied the appeal of Jaime Araza seeking to reverse the December 17, 2018 decision of the Court of Appeals that affirmed the judgment rendered by the Las Pinas City Regional Trial Court, Branch 199 on October 30, 2017, finding him guilty of violating Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2014.

The high court upheld the conviction of Araza for having an affair and fathering three children with his mistress in violation of Section 5(i) of the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, and sentenced him to suffer a minimum of six months to a maximum of eight-year imprisonment.

Section 5 of RA 9262 enumerated what are constituted acts of violence against women and children. Specifically, Section 5 (i) refers to 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 of access to the woman’s child/children."

"The prosecution has established beyond reasonable doubt that Araza committed the crime of psychological violence, through his acts of marital infidelity, which caused mental or emotional suffering on the part of AAA [the wife]," the Supreme Court's first division said.

The husband is also ordered to pay a P100,000 fine and P25,000 as moral damages. He is also required to undergo mandatory psychological counseling or psychiatric treatment to address his abusive behavior.

Court records showed that the couple got married in 1989. In September 2007, the wife learned that her husband was having an extramarital affair and that he fathered three children with his mistress.

This prompted her to file a complaint against her husband and the mistress. The complaint was settled with the husband agreeing never to see the mistress again.

Two months later, however, Araza left his wife. With help from the National Bureau of Investigation, she learned that her husband returned to his mistress.

During the trial, the husband admitted that he left his wife because he could no longer take her behavior. He also admitted that he was aware of the sufferings because of his infidelity.

The wife stressed that what happened to her marriage took a toll on her health as she was often hospitalized, took anti-depressant and sleeping pills.

"Marital infidelity, which is a form of psychological violence, is the proximate cause of AAA's emotional anguish and mental suffering, to the point that even her health condition was adversely affected," the high tribunal stressed.

The Las Piñas Regional Trial Court found the husband guilty of psychological abuse in a decision dated Oct. 30, 2017. Then, on Dec. 17, 2018, the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's ruling.

Aggrieved, the husband appealed the CA decision before the Supreme Court.

However, the SC denied his petition for the failure "to show any reversible error" in the Court of Appeals decision.

Topics: Supreme Court , arital infidelity , violence , Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act , Jaime Araza
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