WITHDRAWAL OF FINANCIAL SUPPORT CONSTITUTES ECONOMIC ABUSE - DOJ

11 September 2009

Beware philandering men, this is for you.

The Department has recommended the indictment of a married man who impregnated a woman, partly gave financial support and then disowned to be father of a child.

In a resolution signed by Acting Justice Secretary Agnes VST Devanadera, criminal charges for violation of RA 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004) were recommended to be filed against Reynaldo Masalunga, a member of the Philippine Air Force (PAF). The respondent, if found guilty, could serve an imprisonment for prision correctional (6 months 1 day to six years)

“Respondent’s withdrawal of financial support to the complainant and his child constitute economic abuse,” the resolution stated. It said respondent’s contention that “he is not the biological father of the child, hence, he is not under obligation to support her (the child), is evidentiary in nature truth which can be passed upon only after a full-blown trial on the merits.”

The DOJ resolution was a result of a petition for review filed by the complainant after the Pasay City Pros.’ Office dismissed the complaint because it failed to establish that the respondent is in deed the biological father. She claims that respondent is the father of her daughter and as such, she stressed her daughter’s right for support. She recounts that respondent, who courted and made her believe that he was a widower, was introduced to her by a friend in 1990. After a short romantic liaison, she carried their love child, and on the fifth month of her pregnancy, respondent revealed the truth that he is married and had children.

After she gave birth, respondent gave her Php 200.00 every time he visits on his day-off for almost a year. When she stopped receiving support, she filed a complaint before the Air Force Provost Marshall after which the respondent executed a certification pledging to give Php 200.00 a month. For no apparent reason, the amount lasted for only six months. Not long after, the said office came out with the decision wherein it denied complainant’s claim for support which must have prompted the respondent to stop his obligation. Complainant appended to her complaint the birth certificate of her daughter and it is indicated therein that the latter’s father is one Reynaldo Masalunga, including similar entry to her baptismal certificate.

Respondent disowns the child. He insists she could not have been his daughter as he had sexual contact with her mother only once and that was when the latter invited him to her house and put something in his liquour. He claims he had no hand in the preparation of the birth and baptismal certificates. He explains he was threatened he would be discharged from the service and his benefits would be forfeited if he will not sign the certification, adding the complainant did not appeal the decision of the Air Force Inspectorate General Office.

However, the Department found merit in the appeal of the complainant. The evidence adduced by the complainant are sufficient to prove the child’s filiation. “The birth certificate alone is direct evidence that respondent is her father. The baptismal is one of the acceptable documentary evidence to prove filiation in accordance with the Rules of Court and jurisprudence. The certification wherein respondent pledged to give Php 200.oo a month to complainant, and the fact that he gave support to the child for almost a year after she was born, are circumstantial evidence that tend to prove he is indeed the child’s biological father”, the resolution ended.

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