DISCLAIMER: This is not legal advice and is not an assessment of the facts of the case but only a statement of the issues that may arise.

Calvin Abueva is not in a good place right now. Between his indefinite suspension over the clothesline he threw on Terrence Jones and the reports of his breach of contract for playing for a different league, things have gotten worse for him in a matter of days. The Games and Amusement Board is now on his tail looking to revoke his license and most recently his wife baring details of their (how can I put it?) turbulent relationship.

After posting a series of cryptic Instagram stories on Calvin Abueva’s official Instagram profile, Sam Abueva took to Instagram live to tell-all about the alleged abuse she and her children have been experiencing at the hands of her husband, the suspended Phoenix forward. However, fans of the notorious basketball bad-boy were quick to jump to his defense and to dismiss the allegations as attention-seeking or mere character assassination, many egging her on to bring her concerns to a radio-television program where grievances of this nature are normally aired. Calvin himself, in his new Instagram profile, denies that any of her claims are true. While she claims that cases have already been filed, many seem to miss the seriousness of the allegations and the repercussions their “idol” may face. Using the Instagram stories and live videos as a jumping off point, let’s take a look at the issues that are connected to the claims of both sides.

VAWC

In many of Sam’s posts she makes mentions of “Violence Against Women and Children”. This is a reference to Republic Act 9262 which is the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children (VAWC) Act which is the most pertinent law in giving protection to women and their children especially in domestic abuse cases.

Under the law there are three main types of abuse that are punished:

  •  – Physical abuse
  •  – Psychological abuse
  •  – Economic abuse

Most of what she claims Calvin does to her and their children can be categorized as either physical or psychological abuse.

“Yung mga CCTV na ‘yun ang pananakit ni Calvin na hindi niyo masisikmura kung paano niya ako saktan at kung paano niya saktan ang mga anak namin,” she said. The Anti-VAWC Act punishes violence against women and their children (VAWC), with the first enumeration in the list of acts that constitute VAWC being “(a) Causing physical harm to the woman or her child;”.

Based on her statements she was not referring to plain physical injuries, claiming that the violence was severe enough for her to fear for her life stating, “Last year, 2018, January tumakas kami ng mga anak ko sa kanya kasi sobra na ‘yung threat na ginagawa niya sakin, sasaksakin na niya ako, babarilin na niya ako.” Calvin denies all of these allegations.

Depending on the degree of violence used, this type of abuse can be punished by a penalty as high as reclusion perpetua which lasts from 20 years and a day up to 40 years in prison. The lightest penalty for physical abuse of this kind would be arresto mayor which ranges from one month and a day to six months. No matter which end of the spectrum, that’s still some considerable jail time.

She also mentioned an instance when he forced himself onto her while she was pregnant, causing her to spot and risk losing her baby. This makes matters worse, because the law provides that if VAWC was done on a pregnant woman or in the presence of her children, the penalties to be applied shall be in their maximum. Simply put, it’s a harsher penalty and makes things worse for offenders.

Marital Rape

She recounted how that incident happened saying, “July 8 pinipilit niya akong galawin, dinudugo ako sabi ko hindi pwede kasi makukunan ako ayaw kong mawalan ng anak.” Her statements tell us that she was forced into sexual intercourse she did not want to engage in due to concerns for the safety of the unborn child, an allegation Calvin vehemently denied in his response video. 

Conservative Filipino thinking would have us believe that wives aren’t allowed to refuse the sexual advances of their husbands, but legally this cannot be further from the truth. In the case of People of the Philippines vs Edgar Jumawan, the Supreme Court upheld the idea that marriage is not a license to commit rape, even against the spouse. As Justice Reyes so eloquently stated, “Husbands do not have property rights over their wives’ bodies. Sexual intercourse, albeit within the realm of marriage, if not consensual, is rape,”

Nowhere in the Family Code, Revised Penal Code or special laws of the Philippines does it provide that wives are obligated to submit to the sexual advances of their husbands, or that the elements of rape do not apply when the offending party is the spouse of the offended.

Economic Abuse

One of the common issues raised when marital problems are aired in public is the concept of alimony or child support. It’s not uncommon to see onlookers label the wives as gold diggers especially when the husband is famous or has a glamorous career. But if relations have been strained, can the husband really just cut off support from his wife and children?

No. This is where the concept of economic abuse comes in. Economic abuse is another form of VAWC wherein the offender attempts to control or restrict the woman’s other child’s movement or conduct by depriving or threatening to deprive them of financial support legally due them or deliberately providing insufficient financial support.

Under the Family Code which governs the obligations of married people, spouses have an obligation to support the family, support meaning financial support. And when one spouse neglects his or her duty, the one who isn’t neglectful can seek relief from the court. Since spouses have a legal obligation and right to be supported by the other spouse and the children, threatening to or actually depriving the other of the required financial support in retaliation or as a means to convince the other spouse to not move away, is not allowed.

“But that’s unfair to the husband who now has to share half of his assets with the wife,” I hear you typing into the comments section.

The splitting of wealth we often hear about happens only after a legal process, either legal separation or annulment or divorce. Since we don’t have divorce here, we hear about this after legal separation. What happens is the property regime that the married couple used to have is liquidated and divided according to law. 

Under the Family Code the default property regime of married couples is called the absolute community of property wherein both husband and wife put all their property together and for one big pool of property called the community property. This means everything the husband owns plus everything the wife owns formed into one, including what they earn during the marriage. That includes salaries that they earned, houses and cars that they bought while they were married.

What happens when couples legally separate is that they gather up all the property contributed into the community pool and then divide them equally. But since celebrated cases that make the headlines often involve a person who earns significantly more than their spouse, that person is often seen as taking a huge loss. All of this can be prevented by executing a prenuptial agreement on property regime.

In as much as Calvin Abueva is a talented athlete, it benefits nobody, not him, his team, the league, his family or his fans to have allegations of this magnitude surface against him. The root of the problem not being that someone chose to air their dirty laundry in public, but that there was dirty laundry to air in the first place. For the sake of the well being of all the people involved, I hope and wish the allegations are not true, because it’s better to have a reputation take a beating rather than a person.