PCW on police officer arrested for beating partner: VAW in all forms should be addressed, police force must be protectors not perpetrators

The Philippine Commission on Women is deeply concerned and horrified seeing the extreme violence in the viral video showing a police officer maltreating his live-in partner, even to the extent of pointing a gun at her. We cannot even begin to imagine the immense pain she was subjected to, given those strong kicks and blows, coupled with curses.

The photo showing the woman’s battered face after the abuse is the image showing the grave problem of Violence Against Women in the country. Data from the Philippine National Police show that in 2022, 7,424 cases of violations of the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act or Republic Act 9262 were reported. In 2021, there were 8,430. But these are not mere numbers, these are women with rights, women with dreams, women with families, and women with lives that matter. 

Hence, the PCW reiterates that all forms of violence should not be inflicted on anyone. A woman, especially one’s partner, should be given respect, not jabs or strikes, and should be treated with love, not with manipulation or gaslighting. No one, regardless of their gender, stature in life, or circumstances, should be subjected to violence that can leave them physically and psychologically damaged, almost to the verge of death. 

We emphasize that VAW is a grave human rights violation and is considered a public crime, as penalized by our laws. VAW is a manifestation of the perpetrators’ flawed sense of entitlement over women, a show of supposed “superiority”, and a play of power dynamics. Hence, we must condemn VAW in all forms, captured in a video or not, whoever the perpetrators and the victims are. 

The catch in this specific case is that the beating was captured on video and that someone took the courage to film the evidence leading to the action from authorities. If this detestable act was done outside the house, even with the risk of being seen by others, imagine the level of violence that happens behind closed doors, free from onlookers, where victims cry on their own, hoping that the violence will stop and that someday, their partner will change (unfortunately, some fail to). 

Thus, the PCW encourages women and girls who fall victim to violence in intimate relationships to speak out and seek help. While we acknowledge that there are several factors that can hinder you as a victim to come forward, we do hope that you can find the courage to report to authorities because your physical, psychological, economic, and sexual well-being can be put in danger. There are help and hotlines available (including the 911 National Emergency Hotline, Aleng Pulis, etc.). Government agencies, especially those with mandates under existing anti-VAW laws, can provide assistance and services to victims, be it security, legal, psychosocial, etc. 

Having said that, the PCW also shares the sentiment of the citizens as to the perpetrator being part of the police force. We call on our partners at the Philippine National Police to ensure that a thorough investigation will be conducted and justice will be served. May the agency also continue to inculcate gender sensitivity in all police officers so that they will be protectors of women from violence, not the perpetrator of it. May all partners in this law enforcement agency live up to the pillars of service, honor, and justice. 

The PCW recognizes that ending VAW does not happen overnight and does not entail only a few people and agencies but the whole of the community.

But we hope that this case will serve as a wake-up call and as a realization as to the urgency to address the problem.

In order for VAW cases to decrease, the root cause of it must be addressed, focusing mainly on gender inequalities. VAW is a manifestation of a patriarchal, misogynistic, and sexist perspective: a view that women are weak, submissive, second-class, and therefore, can be subjected to violence while men, viewed as strong and macho, can assert dominance and power through abusing their partner. To add, there is victim blaming and shaming, the belief that VAW is “away mag-asawa lang” and should be a private matter, and the misconception that there are reasons or causes that can justify hitting a woman. These, and other gender stereotypes/norms and factors that perpetuate violence, must be dealt with, so we can eradicate the problem of VAW.

To add, the community also has a stake in this problem. If witnesses are able to help victims by reporting VAW to authorities, if service providers strengthen mechanisms and procedures for them, and if the public and private sectors work together to nip the problem in the bud, we can achieve a VAW-free Philippines.

Until the day these kinds of violence are already eradicated, the PCW will continue to push for the protection of women’s rights and promote actions toward a VAW-free Philippines.