Lapid seeks amendment to Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004

Published February 3, 2021, 6:56 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid has filed a bill which seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) 9262, also known as Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004.

Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid (MANILA BULLETIN FILE)

The amendment proposes to provide solid and clearer protection for persons over 18 years of age but who are suffering from disability, illness, condition or incapacity.        

Lapid explained that the amendment must be made to ensure that the lofty goals and purposes of the said law are still being achieved notwithstanding the passage of time.      

One such provision that needs updating in order to effect a clearer and less ambiguous language is Section 3(H) regarding the definition of “Children.”         

The word “children” in the current law refers to those below eighteen (18) years of age or older but are incapable of taking care of themselves. The phrase “incapable of taking care of themselves” is open to interpretation that may be exploited to the detriment of the victim.       

 ‘’Worth noting is the Supreme Court decision on People vs Abello in March 25, 2009. In the said case, despite the 21-year old victim’s polio illness and her difficulty in walking (which was uncontroverted), her inclusion into the definition of a ‘child’ was not upheld. This was only because of the prosecution’s failure to present any evidence of a medical evaluation from a qualified physician or psychiatrist attesting to her incapacity to fully take care of or protect herself,’’ Lapid said.       

The Court based the requirement of medical evaluation on the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 7610 or Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.         

 To further emphasize the absurdity, the victim here had polio and difficulty in walking yet her incapacity to take care of herself was not appreciated by the court.

This is all rooted in the ambiguity and openness to interpretation of the definition which in turn, necessitated an IRR requirement which obliges exploited and abused children, despite proven illness, to still under go medical evaluation.       

To remove the ambiguity, this bill intends to clarify the definition by specifying that persons over 18 years of age but who are suffering from a mental or physical disability, illness, condition or incapacity are included. A non-exclusive enumeration is presented in this amendment follows:
– Autism 
– Down syndrome 
– Congenital birth defects 
– Polio 
– Intellectual disabilities 
– Deafness 
– Blindness and other visual impairment 
– Deaf-blindness 
– Learning disabilities 
– Speech or language impairment 
– Orthopedic impairment 
– Cerebral palsy 
– Any disease included in the rare disease registry established under RA 10747, otherwise known as the “Rare Disease Act of the Philippines” 
– Any other similar medically-recognized disease or condition that results in incapacity or disability.
Persons who are designated as “persons with disability” under Republic Act 7277 also known as “Magna Carta for Persons with Disability,” are also automatically included in this category.

Thus, if a victim has any of these disabilities or diseases, no further medical evaluation is necessary.