Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal, with penalties ranging from 12 to 40 years’ imprisonment with pardon or parole possible only after 30 years’ imprisonment. Conviction can also result in a lifetime ban from political office. Penalties for forcible sexual assault range from six to 12 years’ imprisonment. As of October the PNP received 1,583 cases of rape of women. National statistics on prosecutions, convictions, and punishments were unavailable, but BuCor reported that it held 8,976 prisoners convicted of rape, 378 of whom it admitted this year as of October.
There continued to be reports of rape and sexual abuse of women in police or protective custody. Women from marginalized groups, such as suspected prostitutes, drug users, and indigent individuals arrested for minor crimes, were more likely to be raped. From January to June, the DSWD provided shelter, counseling, and health services to 66 female victims of rape.
Domestic violence against women remained a serious and widespread problem. The law criminalizes physical, sexual, and psychological harm or abuse to women and children committed by their spouses, partners, or parents. As of October the PNP reported 26,819 cases of domestic violence against women and children: More than 6,300 cases were filed in court or before the prosecutor’s office, while approximately 14,200 cases were settled out of court or the victim/complainant refused to file a case. Statistics were unavailable on prosecutions, convictions, and punishments for cases filed by the PNP during the year.
The DSWD extended assistance to 244 victims of physical abuse and maltreatment as of June, a statistic that likely significantly underreported the level of violence against women. A local women’s support group noted that in smaller localities, perpetrators of abuse sometimes used personal relationships with local authorities to avoid prosecution. On other occasions, police told women who sought to file complaints to pay special fees before they would register the complaints.
The PNP and DSWD both maintained help desks to assist victims of violence against women and encourage reporting. With the assistance of NGOs, the CHR, and the Philippine Commission on Women, law enforcement officers continued to receive gender-sensitivity training to deal with victims of sexual crimes and domestic violence. The PNP maintained a central women and children’s unit with 1,833 desks throughout the country to deal with abuse cases.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, and violations are punishable by imprisonment of not less than one month and not more than six months, and/or a fine of not less than 10,000 pesos ($223) and not more than 20,000 pesos ($446). Sexual harassment remained widespread and under-reported, including in the workplace due to victims’ fear of losing their jobs. For example, women in the retail industry worked on three- to six-month contracts and were often reluctant to report sexual harassment for fear their contracts would not be renewed. In July, the chief of police of Famy town in Laguna was relieved over complaints of sexual harassment from a female officer and a civilian employee. The case was still under investigation as of November.
On September 3, the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan convicted Senior Superintendent Cesario Darantinao, former director of the PNP in Davao del Sur, in connection with a sexual harassment case filed by a female subordinate five years ago. Darantinao was ordered to pay the complainant 20,000 pesos ($446).
Reproductive Rights: The constitution upholds the basic right of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children; to manage their reproductive health; and to have the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence.
The maternal mortality rate reportedly was 120 per 100,000 live births, and skilled attendants participated in 62 percent of births. The UN Development Program (UNDP) attributed the high rate of maternal deaths to inadequate access to integrated reproductive health services by women. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) reported that poverty, remote locations, and a lack of education exacerbated delays in seeking potentially life-saving maternal medical care. Midwives at times had little formal training. Medical personnel also routinely mistreated and denied proper care to women who sought assistance for complications from unsafe abortions.
Provision of health care services is the responsibility of local governments, and restrictions on the provision of birth control supplies at government-run health facilities in some localities reduced the availability of family planning resources for the poor, although modern forms of contraception were available on the market in most areas. During the year local NGOs also reported the government was not committed to providing education and information on modern methods of contraception.
In April the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women published a report from a 2012 investigation that found the government accountable for tolerating the city of Manila’s Executive Orders (EO) 003 and 030. EO 003 discourages the use of artificial methods of contraception, while EO 030 imposes a funding ban on modern contraceptives. The failure to clarify the legal status of the executive orders resulted in uncertainty and confusion on their validity among local health-care providers and community women who continued to suffer the effects of these local laws.
As amended by a Supreme Court ruling in April 2014, the 2012 Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act (RH Law) allows health practitioners to deny reproductive health services based on personal or religious beliefs in nonemergency situations, requires spousal consent for women in nonlife-threatening situations to obtain reproductive health care, and does not require private health-care facilities to provide access to family planning methods. Many NGOs, including the Center for Reproductive Rights, argued that the reproductive health law has yet to be fully implemented. However, after struggling for over a decade to pass a reproductive health law, several NGOs viewed the new law, even in its amended form, as providing a legal basis to expand sex education and access to contraception in the Philippines, even though full implementation will likely take several years.
On June 17, in response to a case filed against the Department of Health (DOH) for allegedly failing to abide by the RH Law’s implementing guidelines, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order preventing the DOH from procuring, selling, distributing, dispensing or administering, advertising, and promoting specific hormonal contraceptives. The same decision also prevents the Food and Drug Administration from granting any pending application for registration and/or recertification of reproductive products and supplies including contraceptive drugs and devises.
Discrimination: In law, but not always in practice, women have most of the rights and protections accorded to men. The law accords women the same property rights as men. In Muslim and indigenous communities, however, property ownership law or tradition grants men more property rights than women.
No law mandates nondiscrimination based on gender in hiring, although the law does prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of sex. Nonetheless, women continued to face such discrimination on the job as well as in hiring (see section 7.d.).
Generally, the law does not provide for divorce, although legal annulments are possible and courts generally recognized foreign divorces if one of the parties was a foreigner. These options, however, are costly, complex, and not readily available to the poor. Muslims have the right to divorce under Muslim family law. Informal separation is common, but brings with it potential legal problems.