BERNALDO DOCDOC y AUDITOR appeals the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XVIII, finding him guilty of rape and sentencing him to suffer, inter alia, the penalty of reclusion perpetua.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
The Information charged him thus:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"That on or about the 5th day of December, 1997, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously and by means of force and violence, have carnal knowledge with MARILOU ALBIT Y QUEREZ, by then and there suddenly embracing her, lying her on the sofa, kissing her on the lips, neck and breast, putting (sic) down her panty and kissing her vagina, spreading her legs, covering her mouth with his hand and thereafter inserting his penis into her vagina and succeeded in having carnal knowledge of (sic) her, against her will and consent.
"Contrary to law." 1
After the accused pled not guilty, trial ensued.
The facts: 2 The crime scene is the ground floor of a two-story house located at #1107 P. Guevarra Street, Sta. Cruz, Manila. The complainant, nineteen-year old MARILOU "Malou" ALBIT, was originally from Bohol. She came to Manila in September, 1997 and stayed in the house of her sister Baby and her brother-in-law RICARDO "Ricky" ROSATASI as their househelp. Accused BERNALDO DOCDOC worked in the same company as Ricky. They have known each other for two (2) years prior to that fateful incident.
On December 5, 1997, at about 7:30 p.m., Ricky was in his house watching a basketball game on TV when the accused arrived. He invited the accused to join him. The accused suggested that it would be better if they had some liquor while watching TV. The accused left and, after a few minutes, returned with a bottle of Tanduay Rhum which they consumed while watching TV. When the game ended at about 10:00 p.m., the accused decided to leave. Ricky awakened Malou and asked her to open the door for the accused and lock it behind him. Malou did as she was told. The accused went downstairs, with Malou in tow. Ricky continued to watch TV. 3
Before the accused and Malou reached the front door, the accused asked if he could buy cold water from the adjoining store in the first floor. Malou acceded and opened the door leading to the store. The accused followed her inside, turned off the light and approached her. Malou asked the accused why he turned off the light but the accused did not reply. Instead, he held her hands behind her back and covered her mouth with his other hand. He embraced and kissed her, putting his tongue in her mouth. This lasted for about ten (10) minutes. The accused then pushed her down on the sofa, with both her hands pinned behind her back. As the sofa was short, Malou’s head and feet were dangling as she lay there. The accused then went on top of her and kissed her mouth and neck for about five (5) minutes. Using his mouth, he raised her shirt and bra and started kissing and caressing her breasts for about four (4) minutes. With his left hand, the accused pulled Malou’s pajama pants and underwear down to her thighs. The accused then reversed his position such that his face was on top of Malou’s private part and his organ was on top of Malou’s face. The accused kissed her private part for about five (5) minutes after which he turned around again and resumed his original position on top of Malou. He then placed his knees between her legs and forced them apart. He inserted his organ into hers and did the pumping motion for about twenty (20) minutes. Malou felt severe pain and struggled to free herself but her strength was no match to that of the accused. Neither could she shout as the accused covered her mouth with his left hand during the whole time they were in the room, even when the accused reversed his position on top of her. The sexual assault lasted for about thirty (30) minutes. After the accused satisfied his lust, he warned Malou that he would kill her should she tell Ricky about the incident. She cried due to intense pain and shock. 4
Meanwhile, Ricky noticed that Malou had not returned. Neither did he hear the opening and closing of the front door downstairs. He called out to Malou thrice but got no response. Puzzled, he proceeded downstairs and looked around the house. He tried to open the door of the store but found it locked. He got the key and opened it. When he turned on the light, he saw Malou seated on the sofa, crying, with her pajama pants down to her thighs. The accused was standing beside the sofa, panting, with his pants unzipped. When Ricky asked what happened, the accused replied that he was unable to restrain his emotions. When he turned to Malou, she denied that the accused was her boyfriend and claimed that the accused raped her. Ricky then called up a friend in their office, Francis, and asked for his advice. Francis suggested that they call the police authorities. After an hour, the policemen arrived and arrested the accused. Ricky and Malou followed at the police station where they gave their statements. Malou was also brought to the NBI for examination. 5 DR. VALENTIN BERNALES, the NBI medico-legal officer who examined Malou, found two (2) superficial lacerations on her hymen. 6
The 29-year old accused, BERNALDO DOCDOC, admitted having carnal knowledge with Malou but insisted that it was consensual. He first met Malou in Ricky’s house in September, 1997. Ricky told him about Malou’s arrival from the province and the accused requested that he be introduced to her. The following day, Ricky accompanied him to his house where he met Malou and her mother. He instantly developed an interest in Malou as she seemed kind. Towards the last week of September, he again saw her at the drugstore where he winked at her and she smiled at him.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
On December 4, 1997, at about 7:30 p.m., he again saw Malou, with her sister Baby and Ricky at the Central Market in Manila. They invited him to watch a movie with them. He accepted their invitation. Inside the theater, he sat beside Malou and courted her. Malou promised that she would answer his proposal the next day. They held each other’s arm inside the moviehouse. 7
The following day, December 5, 1997, at about 7:30 p.m., he went to Ricky’s house to see Malou as she promised to accept his proposal that day. Malou opened the door for him. Minutes later, Ricky arrived and saw them at the kitchen on the ground floor. Ricky inquired about the purpose of his visit. He asked Ricky if he could court Malou but got no reply. Instead, Ricky proceeded to the second floor. When they were left alone, Malou told him that she accepts his proposal and that he shall be her first boyfriend. He kissed Malou and they embraced each other. Malou then invited him to go upstairs.
When they reached the second floor, they saw Ricky seated on the sofa watching television. Ricky invited him to join him. After a while, Ricky requested him to buy liquor. He did as he was told. When they finished drinking at about 10:00 p.m., he told Ricky that he was leaving and requested him to wake up Malou so she could open the door for him. Ricky agreed. When Ricky awakened Malou, Baby got mad for Ricky could have easily let the accused out himself instead of waking up Malou. Ricky, however, replied that he was too drunk to do it. 8
The accused proceeded downstairs, followed by Malou. When they reached the front door, he pointed to a door at the side and asked Malou what it was. When she said it was a room, he asked her to go inside with him. She acceded. 9
Once inside, they sat on a small sofa and hugged each other. It did not end there. The accused then pulled Malou’s pajama pants and underwear down to her knees and raised her shirt and bra. He licked her breast and private part for about five (5) minutes. Malou then asked if he would be true to her should she give herself to him. In response, he promised to marry her. The accused was only able to partially insert his organ into hers as she pleaded with him to stop for she was afraid she would get pregnant. He withdrew and ejaculated outside her. Some of his semen fell on her lower abdomen, some spilled on her pajama pants and others on the floor. He pulled up Malou’s pajama pants and underwear and they sat on the sofa. Thus, he did not employ any force or intimidation during his sexual congress with Malou as their act was completely consensual. Malou never shouted for help. 10
They were seated on the sofa when Ricky came into the room and asked them what happened. Malou replied: "Nakuha ako." When Ricky confronted him, the accused assured Ricky that he would marry Malou. Ricky warned that Malou’s parents would kill her if they learned what happened. Ricky then called up their officemate, Francis, to ask for advice. Francis suggested that Ricky put the accused behind bars as he already had a live-in partner. Ricky followed his advice and requested Francis to call the police authorities. 11
JESSICA DOCDOC, the sister of the accused, was presented to corroborate his story. She was an appraiser at the Max Trading Company where the accused and Ricky also worked. She and the accused also lived and slept in said office which was only a few blocks away from Ricky’s house. On December 4, 1997, at about 7:30 p.m., she was at the ground floor of their office. The accused was outside, sitting on a concrete fence when Baby, Malou and Ricky passed by. After a while, she saw the three leave with the accused. She went up to the office and turned in for the night. It was already 10:00 p.m. when the accused returned. When she asked him where he had been, the accused said he watched a movie with the three. 12
After the accused was charged with rape, Jessica called up their mother in the province and informed her about it. On December 18, 1997, Jessica, her mother and her uncle talked to Malou’s family about the case. Malou’s mother demanded P400,000.00 in exchange for their dropping the rape charge. When they said that they didn’t have that much money, Malou’s mother reduced her demand to P200,000.00. They still could not afford the amount. The negotiations failed as Malou’s mother did not agree to further reduce her demand. 13
After trial, the lower court rendered the impugned Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"WHEREFORE, this Court finds the accused, Bernardo Docdoc y Auditor, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and he is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua with all the accessory penalties provided by law and to pay the costs. On the civil liability of the accused, he is further ordered to pay the private complainant, Marilou Albit, moral and nominal damages in the respective sums (of) P200,000.00 and P50,000.00 with interest thereon at the legal rate from the date of filing of this action until fully paid.
"SO ORDERED." 14
In his Brief, the appellant insists that the trial court erred in giving credence to Malou’s testimony and in not acquitting him based on the presumption of innocence in his favor.
We acquit the appellant.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
In People v. Medel, 15 we stressed that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"It is our ruling case law that the testimony of the offended party in crimes against chastity should not be received with precipitate credulity for the charge can be easily concocted. We exercise the greatest degree of care and caution before giving full faith and credit to the testimony of complainant. We have not hesitated to reverse judgments of conviction when there are strong indications pointing to the possibility that the rape charges are false. Nor have we sustained convictions when the complainant’s conduct towards her alleged offender runs counter to human nature or appears uncharacteristic of a victim of such an abominable act."cralaw virtua1aw library
In rape cases, an accused may be convicted solely on the testimony of the complaining witness provided her testimony is credible, natural, convincing and consistent with human nature. 16 Hence, the complainant’s credibility becomes the single most important issue. In the case at bar, Malou’s account of the rape incident does not inspire credence as it does not jibe with the ordinary course of things.
First There was nothing in the records to suggest that Malou tried to put up even the least resistance to appellant’s advances. Her brother-in-law Ricky was at the second floor of the house, merely 1.5 meters above the room where she was allegedly molested. It was so close that Ricky became suspicious when he did not hear the opening and closing of the front door downstairs. We find incredible Malou’s claim that she tried to shout a couple of times but the appellant’s hand covered her mouth during the entire period she was raped. This allegation does not inspire belief as it goes against her detailed narration of the alleged rape incident. Malou claimed that after turning off the light, the appellant approached her. From that moment on, she already sensed a danger to her honor. The appellant then held her hands behind her back and covered her mouth. Then he kissed her for about ten (10) minutes, putting his tongue into her mouth. At this point, we note that the appellant had removed his hand over Malou’s mouth. She could have easily bitten the appellant’s tongue, shouted or otherwise made noise to attract attention. Malou then recounted that the appellant laid her down on the sofa and went on top of her. He kissed her mouth and neck for about five (5) minutes. At this point, she had another opportunity to shout for help. Then, using his mouth, the appellant allegedly raised her shirt and bra. While kissing and caressing her breast for about four (4) minutes, he pulled down her pajama pants and underwear. The appellant then reversed his position on top of Malou, assumed the "69" position and kissed her organ. Thereafter, he returned to his original position and inserted his organ into hers. Malou would now have this Court believe that during all this time, the appellant’s hand covered her mouth, preventing her from shouting for help. However, based on Malou’s account, it would take superb acrobatic skill for the appellant to have carried out such an elaborate sexual act on an unwilling victim, without removing his hand over her mouth. Malou’s claim simply goes against human experience.
Second. Malou gave a detailed account of the rape incident and was able to clock the precise minutes of every alleged act of molestation by the appellant. We find it unnatural for an unwilling victim, whose mind would have been focused on how to extricate herself from the clutches of her attacker, to recall every elaborate sex act with such precision.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Third. There is an absence of physical evidence to corroborate Malou’s claim of resistance. Verily, the law does not impose on the rape victim the burden of proving resistance where force was used on her. However, in the case at bar, where Malou’s narration of the rape incident is open to doubt and does not jibe with human experience, physical evidence of bruises or scratches on her face or arms which were allegedly pinned behind her back would have spoken louder than words. 17 Said evidence is lacking here.
We agree with the appellant’s observation that Malou is no longer a child of tender years. She was nineteen (19) years old, on the threshold of womanhood, at the time of the alleged rape. Feeble resistance or the absence of a struggle or outcry may be overlooked if the victim were a minor. 18 In the case at bar, a more vigorous resistance to the assault on her honor is to be expected, particularly since the appellant is unarmed at the time of the alleged assault. Moreover, physical resistance need not be proved only when threats and intimidation were employed and the victim submitted to the sex act because of fear. 19 None of these circumstances were satisfactorily shown to be attendant in the case at bar.
Fourth. The doctrine that no barrio lass would allow herself to be subjected to the humiliation of a trial if her charge is a sham does not hold true in the case at bar. For one, we note that rural girls who come to Manila for the first time, usually to work as househelp, are very gullible and prone to be easily seduced by men they meet in the city. Malou clearly appears to be one of them. Her heart was easily won over by the appellant, the first man who showed a romantic interest in her. That fateful night, she willingly submitted to the appellant’s sexual advances after she made the appellant promise that he shall be true to her. However, as per the appellant’s account, when he was about to consummate the sex act, Malou entertained second thoughts and asked him to desist as she was afraid of getting pregnant. Hence, the appellant was unable to fully insert his organ into hers, contrary to Malou’s claim that the appellant did the pumping motion for about twenty (20) minutes. The appellant’s claim is supported by the medico-legal finding that Malou suffered mere superficial lacerations in her hymen. 20
Finally, it is not difficult to discern why Malou would turn around and cry rape after voluntarily giving in to a moment of passion. Malou panicked when Ricky caught her and the appellant in an uncompromising position; more so when Ricky commented that Malou’s parents would kill her once they learn about her act of indiscretion. At that point, the only way Malou could save face was to claim that the appellant forced himself on her. To add another sting to her pride is the revelation that the appellant, who moments earlier promised to be true to her, already had a live-in partner. Given this scenario, it is not improbable that Malou was impelled by improper motive to fabricate a tale of defloration against the Appellant
In sum, we find that Malou’s testimony failed to meet the test of credibility. The appellant cannot be convicted on the basis thereof.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Decision convicting the appellant BERNALDO DOCDOC y AUDITOR of the crime of rape is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The appellant is ACQUITTED and his immediate release is ordered unless he is held for some other crime. The Director of the Bureau of Prisons shall, within five (5) days from receipt hereof, report to this Court his compliance herewith.
SO ORDERED.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Davide, Jr., C.J.
, Kapunan, Pardo and Ynares-Santiago, JJ.
1. Original Records, p. 1.
2. As culled from the testimonies of prosecution witnesses Marilou Albit and Ricardo Rosatasi.
3. March 6, 1998 TSN, pp. 3-10.
4. February 25, 1998 TSN, pp. 6-17; March 6, 1998 TSN, pp. 41, 44-46.
5. March 6, 1998 TSN, pp. 10-11, 13-21; February 25 TSN, pp. 22-24.
6. February 27, 1998 TSN, pp. 3 & 8.
7. April 3, 1998 TSN, pp. 3-12.
8. Id., pp. 13-20.
9. Id., pp. 20-21.
10. Id., pp. 21-24, 27-28.
11. Id., pp. 24-27.
12. May 7, 1998 TSN, pp. 3-10.
13. Id., pp. 7-10.
14. Rollo, at pp. 46-47.
15. 286 SCRA 567, 582 (1998).
16. People Ignacio, 294 SCRA 542 (1998); People v. Estrera, 285 SCRA 372 (1998); People v. Gallo, 284 SCRA 590 (1998); People v. Pasayan, 261 SCRA 558 (1996).
17. People v. Estrera, supra; People v. Obar, Jr., supra.
18. People v. Clopino, 290 SCRA 432 (1998); People v. Salazar, 258 SCRA 55 (1996); People v. Alimon, 257 SCRA 658 (1996).
19. People v. Bartolome 296 SCRA 615 (1998).
20. Testimony of Dr. Valentin Bernales, NBI medico-legal officer, February 27, 1998 TSN, pp. 3 & 8.