Published 20 June 2022, The Daily Tribune

Most people have a certain misconception that Republic Act (RA) 9262, or the Anti-Violence Against Woman and their Children Act of 2004 (VAWC), is confined to penalizing physical abuse or sexual abuse and the infamous provision on the Battered Woman Syndrome.

Unknown to many, one of the salient features of VAWC is the provision on economic abuse. Section 3(D) of VAWC defines economic abuse as follows:

D. “Economic abuse” refers to acts that make or attempt to make a woman financially dependent which includes, but is not limited to the following:

  1. withdrawal of financial support or preventing the victim from engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity, except in cases wherein the other spouse/partner objects on valid, serious and moral grounds as defined in Article 73 of the Family Code;
  2. deprivation or threat of deprivation of financial resources and the right to the use and enjoyment of the conjugal, community or property owned in common;
  3. destroying household property;
  4. controlling the victims’ own money or properties or solely controlling the conjugal money or properties.

In the fairly recent case of Edward Cumigad v. AAA (G.R. No. 219715) promulgated last 6 December 2021, the Supreme Court clarified that economic abuse is not only the absolute refusal to provide financial support, but also the act of deliberately providing the woman’s children insufficient financial support.

In other words, one can still be guilty of economic abuse even if he already provides financial support if the amount given is not sufficient to meet the needs of the woman and her child, considering the resources and means of the one obliged to give support.

More importantly, the offender can still be guilty of economic abuse even though he is not related to the victim by marriage or former marriage, as he could be someone who has or had a sexual or dating relationship only or has a common child with the victim.

As a remedy, victims of economic abuse may file a petition for protection order. Among the reliefs that a court may grant is provision for spousal and child support, which shall be deducted from the offender’s salary or income.

R.A. 9262 did not provide an exact amount the employer should withhold from the offender’s income or salary. The amount of support is never fixed but variable, depending on the changing needs of the child, and the resources of the person obliged to give support.

In the said case of Cumigad, the Court rejected his claim that his allowances should not form part of financial support. Section 8(g) of VAWC requires the offender’s employer to deduct an appropriate percentage of the income or salary of the offender. The use of the word “or” means the courts may choose between the offender’s salary and income from which child support should be taken.

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