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Randy Michael Knutson, acting on behalf of minor Rhuby Sibal Knutson vs. Hon. Elisa R. Sarmiento-Flores, in her capacity as Acting Presiding Judge of Branch 69, Regional Trial Court, Taguig City, and Rosalina Sibal Knutson
G.R. No. 239215 | 12 July 2022


Randy Michael Knutson (Randy), an American Citizen, met Rosalina Siba Knutson (Rosalina) in Singapore. They got married and had a daughter named Rhuby. The family lived in the Philippines. Randy and Rosalina became estranged after he discovered her extra-marital affairs, but Randy supported Rosalina and Rhuby.

Rosalina got hooked in casinos and incurred large debts from casino financiers prompting her to sell the house and lot, condominium unit, and vehicles that Randy provided for the family. Rosalina rented an apartment and got herself a boyfriend. Randy advised Rosalina to be discreet in her illicit affairs because it is not good for Rhuby to see her mother with another man.

Randy discovered later that Rosalina hurt Rhuby by pulling her hair, slapping her face and knocking her head. One time, Rosalina pointed a knife at Rhuby and threatened to kill her. Rosalina even texted Randy about her plan to kill their daughter and commit suicide. Randy reported the matter to the police station but the authorities explained that they cannot assist him in domestic abuse.

The neighbors of Rosalina complained about noisy parties and pot sessions in her apartment. The lessor even terminated the lease after marijuana plants were confiscated in the premises.

On December 7, 2017, Randy, on behalf of minor Rhuby, filed against Rosalina a petition under RA No. 9262 for the issuance of Temporary and Permanent Protection Orders before the RTC. Randy averred that Rosalina placed Rhuby in a harmful environment deleterious to her physical, emotional, moral, and psychological development.

RTC Ruling: Dismissed the petition, explaining that protection and custody orders in RA No. 9262 cannot be issued against a mother who allegedly abused her own child. It ratiocinated that the child’s mother cannot be considered as an offender under the law. Moreover, the remedies are not available to the father because he is not a “woman victim of violence”.

Randy moved for a reconsideration but it was denied.


1. Whether the father can avail of the remedies under RA No. 9262 on behalf of his minor child against the mother’s violent and abusive acts.
2. Whether RA No. 9262 covers a situation where the mother committed violent and abusive acts against her own child.


1. RA No. 9262 allows the father of the offended party to apply for protection and custody orders.

In Garcia vs. Drilon, Section 9(b) of RA No. 9262 explicitly allows “parents or guardians of the offended party” to file a petition for protection orders. The statute categorically used the word “parents” which pertains to the father and the mother of the woman or child victim. Absolute Sentencia Expositore Non Indiget. The law speaks in clear language and no explanation is required. There is no occasion for the Court to interpret but only to apply the law when it is not ambiguous. Similarly, the statute did not qualify on who between the parents of the victim may apply for protection orders. Ubi lex non distinguit, nee nos distinguere debemus. When the law does not distinguish, the courts must not distinguish.

In any event, A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC states that the Rules of Court shall apply in a suppletory manner to petitions for protection orders. 33 Under Section 5, Rule 3 of Rules of Court, “[a} minor or a person alleged to be incompetent, may sue or be sued with the assistance of his father, mother, guardian, or if he has none, a guardian ad !item.” In this case, the title of the petition for issuance of a protection order is unequivocal, to wit: “RANDY MICHAEL KNUTSON acting on behalf of minor RHUBYSIBAL KNUTSON, Petitioner, -versus- ROSALINA SIBAL KNUTSON, Respondent.“ There is no question that the offended party is Rhuby, a minor child, who allegedly experienced violence and abuse. Thus, Randy may assist Rhuby in filing the petition as the parent of the offended party.

2. RA No. 9262 covers a situation where the mother committed violent and abusive acts against her own child.

Section 3 (a) of RA 9262 defines violence against women and their children as:

“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.”

The law criminalizes acts of violence against women and their children perpetrated by women’s intimate partners, i.e., husband; former husband; or any person who has or had sexual or dating relationship with the woman, or with whom the woman has a common child. However, the Court in Garcia emphasized that the law does not single out the husband or father as the culprit. The statute used the gender-neutral word “person” as the offender which embraces any person of either sex.

The offender may also include other persons who conspired to commit the violence, thus: 

As defined above, VAWC may likewise be committed “against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship.” Clearly, the use of the gender-neutral word “person” who has or had a sexual or dating relationship with the woman encompasses even lesbian relationships. Moreover, while the law provides that the offender be related or connected to the victim by marriage, former marriage, or a sexual or dating relationship, it does not preclude the application of the principle of conspiracy under the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Thus, in the case of Go-Tan v. Spouses Tan [588 Phil. 532 (2008)], the parents-in-law of Sharica Mari L. Go-Tan, the victim, were held to be proper respondents in the case filed by the latter upon the allegation that they and their son (Go-Tan’s husband) had community of design and purpose in tormenting her by giving her insufficient financial support; harassing and pressuring her to be ejected from the family home; and in repeatedly abusing her verbally, emotionally, mentally and physically.

Differently stated, the fact that a social legislation affords special protection to a particular sector does not automatically suggest that its members are excluded from violating such law.

Logically, a mother who maltreated her child resulting in physical, sexual, or psychological violence defined and penalized under RA No. 9262 is not absolved from criminal liability notwithstanding that the measure is intended to protect both women and their children. In this case, however, the RTC dismissed Randy’s petition for protection orders on behalf of his minor daughter on the ground that the mother cannot be considered as an offender under the law. To restate, the policy of RA No. 9262 is to guarantee full respect for human rights. Towards this end, the State shall exert efforts to address violence committed against children in keeping with the fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and other international human rights instruments of which the Philippines is a party.

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