Jaime Araza vs. People of the Philippines (G.R. No. 247429, 08 September 2020)
AAA and Jaime Araza (Araza) were married on 05 October 1989. Their marriage went smoothly until Araza went to Zamboanga in February 2007 for their networking business. AAA received information that Araza was having extramarital affairs with a certain Tessie Luy Fabillar in Zamboanga, and was then confirmed by her on 03 September 2007 when AAA personally went to Zamboanga.
AAA instituted a complaint against Araza and Fabillar for Concubinage, however this was amicably settled upon the execution of an agreement that Araza and Fabillar will never see each other again. Contrarily, After which, Araza once again started living with AAA, however only for a short period of time.
On 22 November 2007, Araza left AAA, and the latter later found out that Araza was once again living with his mistress Fabillar. AAA would then receive messages from Fabillar requesting from her financial aid for Araza as he was sick, with threats of killing Araza. In this line, AAA then went to Pampanga to look for her husband with the aid of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). These factual circumstances caused her depression and anxiety, and eventually led for AAA to fall ill and her confinement in the hospital. She became medically dependent to cope with the severe emotional and psychological turmoil brought about by Araza’s marital infidelity.
After NBI’s investigation, it was found that Araza voluntarily left their abode and has been living with Fabillar in Zamboanga under the pretense of husband and wife. Further, three (3) children were born out of their cohabitation.
In Araza’s defense, he denied having an affair with Fabillar who was merely acting as his guide in his recruiting activities in Zamboanga.
AAA then filed a complaint against Araza for violation of Section 5 (i) of R.A. No. 9262. The Regional Trial Court ruled in favor of AAA and found that all elements of Violation of Section 5 (i) of R.A. No. 9262 were attendant in this case. The prosecution was able to establish that Araza was the perpetrator of the mental and emotional anguish suffered by AAA as evidence by the following:
- When Araza left their conjugal abode and chose to live with his mistress;
- Araza reneged his promise to stop seeing his mistress; and
- Testimony of the expert witness that the depressed mood and occasional difficulty in sleeping are secondary to the relational distress with Araza as she was wanting to be with him.
Before the Court of Appeals, Araza’s appeal and motion for reconsideration were denied. The Court ruled that R.A. No. 9262 does not criminalize acts such as the marital infidelity per se, but the psychological violence causing mental or emotional suffering on their wife.
Upon reaching the Supreme Court, it found Araza guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Violation of Section 5(i) of Republic Act No. 9262 and sentenced him to imprisonment of 6 months and 1 day, as minimum, to 8 years and 1 day, as maximum. Likewise, Araza is ordered to pay fine (P100,000.00) and moral damages (P25,000.00). Elements of Violation of Section 5 (i) of R.A. No. 9262 were sufficiently alleged in the Information.
- The offended party AAA, is the wife of offender Araza;
- AAA sustained emotional anguish and mental suffering;
- such anguish and suffering were inflicted by Araza when he had an extramarital affair with Fabillar and had three illegitimate children with her.
The prosecution established Araza’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt by proving that he committed psychological violence upon AAA by committing marital fidelity. Marital infidelity, which is a form of psychological violence, is the proximate cause of AAA’s emotional anguish and mental suffering, to the point that even her health condition was adversely affected. The following circumstances were reiterated in the High Court’s decision.
- By the testimony of the expert witness, the sole act of leaving a spouse can already qualify as psychological or emotional abuse as there was no understanding of what had actually happened, likewise from 2007 until 2013, AAA was actually making an effort to actually find Araza and was worried as to the current situation of the latter.
- AAA received several information as to Araza’s affair and eventually confirmed this by herself. Despite the settlement of the case for concubinage, Araza repeated his affair with Fabillar. Due to these, AAA became depressed and was even hospitalized.
- Although Araza denied of his marital infidelity against AAA, he admitted that he left AAA to live with Fabillar. He was also fully aware of the emotional and psychological suffering of AAA because of his decision to leave.
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