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Filipino men who cheat on their wives and cause them anguish may now face jail time

By Tanya Lara Published Oct 28, 2020 3:41 am Updated Oct 28, 2020 3:39 pm

The bizarre case of a cheating husband who abandoned his wife, pretended to be a hostage while living with his mistress, had three illegitimate children with her and, when his wife sued him, lost the case three times.

Now, he may be thrown in prison.

The Supreme Court decision on Jaime Araza y Jarupay vs. People of the Philippines, penned by Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta and released on Oct. 21, is upholding the Lower Court’s ruling.

Jaime Araza may face six months to eight years in prison for cheating on his wife and causing her emotional anguish. This was the decision of the Court of Appeals in 2019, which in turned affirmed Las Piñas RTC’s 2017 guilty verdict that Araza violated Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004.

We hear about cheating husbands all the time. We also hear this: ‘Natural lang yan sa mga lalaki.’ Whether that’s true or not, the Supreme Court says it’s still a crime—in fact, it’s an act of violence against women.

The Supreme Court also fined Araza P100,000 and P25,000 in moral damages.

Taking details from the previous courts’ rulings, the Supreme Court said in its decision that in September 2007, Araza “willfully, unlawfully and feloniously committed acts of marital infidelity” with a mistress and, having three illegitimate children with her, caused his wife (named “AAA” in court documents) emotional anguish and mental suffering.

In a country where there is no divorce, this story is all too familiar. Cheating husbands and partners are not limited to any one economic class in Philippine society—we hear about them all the time. Then we hear this too: “Natural lang yan sa mga lalaki.”  

Whether that’s true or not, the Supreme Court says it’s still a crime—in fact, it’s an act of violence against women and their children.

The Supreme Court decision on Jaime Araza y Jarupay vs. People of the Philippines was penned by Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta. 

During the RTC trial, the prosecution laid out the details. The Arazas were married on Oct. 5, 1989 at Malate Church. The wife had no issues in the beginning, describing her husband as “hardworking, loving and faithful.”

An OFW until 1993, Araza went to Zamboanga City in February 2007 for their networking business. After his trip she noticed that he “would act depressed and would cry,” and appear absent-minded but would not tell her what was wrong.

One day she received a text message from “a certain Edna and Mary Ann” who told her that her husband was having an affair with their best friend.

AAA went to Zamboanga in September 2007, and confirmed that her husband was indeed living with another woman.

She filed a complaint against her husband and mistress at the Philippine National Police (PNP). The case was settled after husband and mistress committed “to never see each other again.”

Everyone deserves a second chance, right?

Well, only two months later, her husband left without a word and AAA sought the help of the NBI to look for him. According to court documents, she was surprised to find out that he had returned to live with his mistress again.

The cheating husband lost at the Las Piñas RTC in 2017, the Court of Appeals in 2019, and the Supreme Court on Oct. 21, 2020. For his wife, this has been a 13-year emotional and legal battle.

She then received text messages supposedly from her husband’s mistress using different mobile numbers, saying her husband was sick and he needed money for medicines. Later, she received another message, this time saying the mistress would kill her husband.

In 2013, AAA went to a law firm to issue a letter to the mistress and demand the release of her husband.

“She was emotionally depressed and anxious of her husband’s condition. She believed his liberty was restrained by the mistress,” and at one point she was confined in a hospital.

AAA went to Zamboanga again in May 2014 and sought the help of local police to find her husband. Thinking he was held against his will, she also distributed photos of him and offered a reward to anyone who knew of his whereabouts,.

In June, she filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus in Manila and deputized the NBI to conduct an investigation.

The NBI found out that Araza and his mistress were living together as husband and wife, and that their cohabitation bore three children.

“The truth caused AAA emotional and psychological suffering. She was suffering from insomnia and asthma…At present she is taking antidepressant and sleeping pills to cope with her severe emotional and psychological turmoil brought about by Araza’s marital infidelity and having children with his mistress.”

Are men really more likely to cheat than women?

AAA told the court she had spent a large amount of money to search for her husband, which included the filing of several cases (the petition for habeas corpus was dismissed after he was found living with his mistress on his own volition).

A witness for the prosecution, who belonged to the same networking company as the Arazas, testified that he often saw Araza and his mistress together in Zamboanga but kept the information to himself for fear of causing trouble in the married couple’s relationship.

An expert witness for the prosecution, a doctor to whom the wife was referred by the Women’s Desk at PGH, confirmed AAA’s depression and sleeping difficulty.

The defense had only one witness: Araza.

He told the court that their marriage was going smoothly until AAA started earning money and then her behavior changed.

He denied having an affair and having children with his mistress, that when he met her she was merely “acting as his guide in his recruiting activities in Zamboanga,” he said.

He revealed that he left his wife because he could “no longer stand her attitude towards him.”

The Supreme Court said in its decision that the husband ‘willfully, unlawfully and feloniously committed acts of marital infidelity’ with a mistress and, having three illegitimate children, caused his wife emotional anguish and mental suffering.

On Oct. 30, 2017, the RTC found that all elements of the crime of violence against women under Section 5i of RA No. 9262 were satisfied.

Meaning, Araza and AAA were married; he was the perpetrator of the mental anguish suffered by his wife; he left their conjugal home and lived with his mistress and reneged on his promise to stop seeing her.

“On the other hand, Araza only offered the defense of denial.”

The Court of Appeals denied his appeal and motion for reconsideration on May 10, 2019. The Supreme Court affirmed that decision on Oct. 21, 2020.

Deputy Speaker and CIBAC Partylist Rep. Eddie Villanueva, who heads a Christian ministry, said yesterday, “This decision of the Supreme Court is not only pro-women but definitely a big win for the Filipino family.”

Will the Supreme Court decision prevent Filipino men from cheating on their wives?

(Read the 20-page Supreme Court decision here.)