MANILA, Philippines – Several Filipinos were surprised when former “Pinoy Big Brother” housemate Matt Evans was arrested over the weekend for allegedly hurting his live-in partner and her brother.
But some were even more shocked at the idea that one can post a measly bail after being accused of hurting a live-in partner.
In an interview on ABS-CBN’s morning show “Umagang Kay Ganda” on Tuesday, lawyer Lorna Kapunan explained why Evans managed to get out of jail for only P200.
“Pumapatak lang ‘yun sa penalty ng slight physical injury. Talagang P200 lang [ang bail noon],” said Kapunan, who mentioned two other degrees of physical violence – less serious and serious physical injuries.
“It depends on the degree of injury at ang number of days ng hospitalization. It normally ranges from one day to one week,” she added. “’Pag serious physical injury, it already affects your capability of going back to work, like kapag napilay ka.”
While the P200 bail is mandated by law, Kapunan said she finds the amount way too low.
“Ang ating Revised Penal Code ay panahon pa ng Espanyol. Hindi pa naa-amend ‘yan,” she said. “Ngayon ang P200 ay ilang kaha lang ng sigarilyo [ang mabibili]. Kulang pa nga, eh.”
Not just physical violence
The lawyer said the camp of Johnelline Hickins, Evans’ girlfriend, should not have limited the case to physical violence, citing Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act.
She noted that the measure does not only cover physical injury inflicted upon a woman or child, but also the emotional trauma it has caused.
Evans, who is known for playing Pedro Penduko on TV, is supposedly set to face violence against women and physical injuries charges.
“Ang mali rito, if I may say based on my little knowledge of the case, bakit tinatak doon sa slight physical injuries? Dapat under Republic Act 9262 ito,” she said. “Kasi 9262 is not dependent on the definition of violence as only to physical violence.”
According to Kapunan, Hickins’ camp should have pointed out that Evans’ girlfriend, who just gave birth to their child, also suffered from psychological violence.
“’Yung loss of respect,” she explained. “You just carried and bore his child tapos ito ang gagawin sa iyo.”
Kapunan made it clear that RA 9262 applies not only to married couples but also to live-in partners and even to those who are “in a courting relationship.”
“Maski nagliligawan pa lang, even if you don’t live together. It even applies to a same-sex relationship, provided they’re both female,” she said. “The victm must always be a female and/or a child.”
Kapunan described RA 9262 as “victim-friendly” as some women and children tend to be intimidated by the idea of getting a lawyer and going to court.
“You don’t even need a lawyer,” she said. “Kasi ang first stage diyan, you can run to the barangay and the barangay will issue you, without hearing, a barangay protection order.”
“Normally kasi battered ‘yung biktima, natatakot kung anong gagawin sa akin, pagbalik ko anong gagawin sa anak ko. Not only is the victim allowed to file a complaint – it can be the neighbor, it can be the kasambahay, it can be the driver, it can be anybody who has seen or heard the offense,” she said.
The lawyer then gave this message to women and children in the country: “’Yung RA 9262, para sa inyo ‘yan. Hindi niyo kailangan ng abogadong gaya ko. Kailangan niyo lang i-respeto ang sarili niyo.
“Hindi mahirap gawin ito. Andiyan ang barangay niyo. Ang barangay protection order ay ihihiwalay ang akusado sa biktima,” she ended.
RA 9262 imposes prison terms plus fines ranging from P100,000 to P300,000. Perpetrators are also required to undergo psychological counseling or psychiatric treatment.