Which is more miserable, to be imprisoned forever, or to be blind for the rest of your life?
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 77 sentenced to reclusion perpetua a woman who abused her maid horribly that caused her blindness.
With the long duration of reclusion perpetua, Anna Liza Catahan is like facing the remaining years of her life in prison, while her husband, Reynaldo Marzan, will get 8-14 years in prison for serious illegal detention case against their maid, Bonita Baran.
The case became controversial five years ago because of the maltreatment that Baran received from her employers. She was only 17 years old when she started working for the couple at Quezon City in 2007. She experienced hell for five agonizing years, burned with flat iron, whacked by figurine dumbbells, pierced by scissors, forced to eat cockroaches, and the worst is both of her eyes were pierced; causing blindness.
The suspects gave themselves to authorities that time, and were even invited at the Senate for a hearing, where they insisted that all of the injuries were self-inflicted by Baran.
Based from PAO (Public Attorney’s Office) Forensic Laboratory, more than 200 bruises and wounds were discovered from Baran at that time.
Baran wasn’t able to call for help or escape the cruelty because the house was always double-locked.
She was escorted by her employers at a bus station, with a TV set as a gift, on her way home to Virac, Catanduanes in 2012. But she was already blind. It was only then that Baran was able to tell the police, and the PAO handled the case.
In 2013, Baran’s employers offered her Php500,000 compensation, and said they will plead guilty to a lesser offense. Bonita Baran told the Philippine Daily Inquirer: “No amount of money will be enough to compensate for my blindness. I want justice. I will never agree to a settlement.”
Baran is now under the Witness Protection Program. Despite being blind, she’s not losing hope that one of her eyes will be able to see again one day. But the doctors told her that both eyes are already blind and chances are very low.
Baran was also considered as a heroine by her fellow housemaids. Because of her case, the “Kasambahay Law” was created and implemented; not just to give more protection to housemaids, but for them to receive benefits as well.
Watch the video report by ABS-CBN via Youtube for more details:
In the Philippines, it is one of two sentences (the other being life imprisonment) designed to replace the death penalty and is in legal parlance near-synonymous with life imprisonment. However, there are several important distinctions between the two terms:
- Reclusión perpetua is prescribed on crimes punishable by the Revised Penal Code, while life imprisonment is imposed on offenses punishable by Special Laws.
- Reclusión perpetua carries the accessory penalty in which, as defined by Philippine Law, guilty parties suffer lifetime barring from holding political office. Life imprisonment does not carry this penalty.
- Unlike life imprisonment, the length of a sentence for reclusión perpetua is indivisible penalty fixed at 40 years and cannot be altered during sentencing.
- Reclusión perpetua does not allow pardon or parole until after the first 30 years of the sentence have been served; after 40 years without pardon or parole, the sentence ends. Life imprisonment does not have any definite extent or duration of imprisonment, and prisoners serving life imprisonment can have parole at any time.