CASE BRIEF

CASE: Rustan Ang vs. CA and Irish Sagud (G.R. No. 182835 April 20, 2010)

Ponente: Abad, J.:S

FACTS:

Irish and Rustan were classmates at Wesleyan University in Aurora Province. Rustan courted Irish and they became on-and-off sweethearts. When Irish learned afterwards that Rustan had taken a live-in partner, whom he had gotten pregnant, Irish broke up with him.

Rustan, however, got in touch with Irish and tried to convince her to elope with him, saying that he did not love the woman he was about to marry. Irish rejected the proposal. Irish changed her cellphone number but Rustan somehow managed to get hold of it and sent her text messages.  Irish replied to his text messages but it was to ask him to leave her alone.

Irish, later on, received through multimedia message service (MMS) a picture of a naked woman with spread legs and with Irish’s face superimposed on the figure. The sender’s cellphone number, stated in the message, was one of the numbers that Rustan used. 

After she got the obscene picture, Irish got other text messages from Rustan. He boasted that it would be easy for him to create similarly scandalous pictures of her. And he threatened to spread the picture he sent through the internet. 

Irish filed a case of violation of R.A. No. 9262 against Rustan.

Rustan argued that he cannot be held liable under R.A. No. 9262. Section 3(a) of R.A. 9262 provides that violence against women includes an act or acts of a person against a woman with whom he has or had a sexual or dating relationship. Thus:

SEC. 3. Definition of Terms. As used in this Act,

(a) Violence against women and their children refers to any act or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman who is his wife, former wife, or against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the family abode, which result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

Further, Section 3(e) provides that a dating relationship includes a situation where the parties are romantically involved over time and on a continuing basis during the course of the relationship. Thus:

(e) Dating relationship refers to a situation wherein the parties live as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or are romantically involved over time and on a continuing basis during the course of the relationship. A casual acquaintance or ordinary socialization between two individuals in a business or social context is not a dating relationship. (Underscoring supplied.)

Hence, Rustan claims that, being romantically involved, implies that the offender and the offended woman have or had sexual relations. According to him, romance implies a sexual act. He cites Websters Comprehensive Dictionary Encyclopedia Edition which provides a colloquial or informal meaning to the word romance used as a verb, i.e., to make love; to make love to as in He romanced her.

Rustan also claims that since the relationship between Irish and him was of the on-and-off variety (away-bati), their romance cannot be regarded as having developed over time and on a continuing basis. 

ISSUES:

a)  Whether “dating relationship” exist even without sexual intercourse.

b) Whether the on and off relationship (away-bati) of Irish and Rustan can be considered as “dating relationship” as contemplated by law.

RULING:

a) The dating relationship that the law contemplates can exist even without a sexual intercourse taking place between those involved.

The law did not use in its provisions the colloquial verb romance that implies a sexual act. It did not say that the offender must have romanced the offended woman. Rather, it used the noun romance to describe a couples relationship, i.e., a love affair.

R.A. 9262 provides in Section 3 that violence against women x x x refers to any act or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman x x x with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship. Clearly, the law itself distinguishes a sexual relationship from a dating relationship. Indeed, Section 3(e) above defines dating relationship while Section 3(f) defines sexual relations. The latter refers to a single sexual act which may or may not result in the bearing of a common child. The dating relationship that the law contemplates can, therefore, exist even without a sexual intercourse taking place between those involved.

b) An away-bati or a fight-and-kiss thing between two lovers is a common occurrence. Their taking place does not mean that the romantic relation between the two should be deemed broken up during periods of misunderstanding. 


THINGS DECIDED:

a) The elements of the crime of violence against women through harassment under R.A. No. 9262 are:

1. The offender has or had a sexual or dating relationship with the offended woman;

2. The offender, by himself or through another, commits an act or series of acts of harassment against the woman; and

3. The harassment alarms or causes substantial emotional or psychological distress to her.

b) The dating relationship that the law contemplates can exist even without a sexual intercourse taking place between those involved.

c) An away-bati or a fight-and-kiss thing between two lovers is a common occurrence. Their taking place does not mean that the romantic relation between the two should be deemed broken up during periods of misunderstanding. 


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