Supreme Court of the Philippines

Husband appeals but gets graver sentence in maltreated househelp case

Lian Buan
Husband appeals but gets graver sentence in maltreated househelp case

STILL GUILTY. PAO chief Persida Acosta and Bonita Baran in a press conference announcing the Supreme Court's affirmation of the guilty verdict against the Marzan couple.

Screenshot from PAO Livestream

Reynold Marzan, originally found guilty of being an accomplice, is now found guilty of being a principal in the illegal detention of their househelp

Not only did spouses Reynold and Anna Liza Marzan lose their appeal to be acquitted, but Reynold got a graver sentence of up to 40 years in prison, after the Supreme Court modified his verdict and turned him into a principal in the serious illegal detention of their househelp Bonita Baran.

The Supreme Court Second Division increased Reynold’s sentence to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years in prison. Reynold was originally found guilty of just being an accomplice to his wife Anna Liza in maltreating and detaining Baran.

Reynaldo’s earlier sentence was only up to 14 years in prison, according to a lower court ruling in 2017 which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals in 2019.

Anna Liza was sentenced to reclusion perpetua.

The couple went to the Supreme Court to appeal for a reversal of verdict, but Reynold’s fate turned for the worse.

“Records show that whenever Anna Liza would lock up Bonita inside any of the rooms, Reynold would also lock the main door obviously to assure Bonita could not escape. Reynold’s action served to double lock up Bonita inside appellants’ residence against her will,” said the Supreme Court Second Division ruling dated February 10, 2021, released by the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) only recently.

PAO served as counsel to Baran in a sensational story that heightened calls for more protection of househelps. Baran was maltreated for years by the Marzans, “slapped, kicked, and punched.” Anna Liza even burned Baran’s face with a hot iron, resulting in the loss of vision in her right eye.

Not a bystander

The Marzans kept Baran locked in different rooms from 2009 until 2012, when her said loss of vision compelled the couple to let her go home.

“Clearly, Reynold was not an innocent bystander in the case. Not only did he know about Anna Liza’s repeated acts of detaining Bonita inside the rooms of their residence, he himself actively participated therein each time by also locking the main door of the house. This overt act was clearly in furtherance of conspiracy to detain Bonita against her will,” said the ruling.

The couple went to the Supreme Court disputing that Baran was detained, saying, “How could she be detained in the storage room and comfort room when there were no doors on these rooms?” That she allegedly suffered injuries was irrelevant, said the couple, because injuries were not an element of serious illegal detention.

Anna Liza died on June 22, 2020, while their appeal was pending. On account of her death, Anna Liza was cleared of her charges.

Reynold was ordered to pay Baran P225,000 total in damages and civil indemnity, which shall earn 6% interest per annum until fully paid. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.