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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 127650. August 25, 2000.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. RICARDO TOQUERO, Accused-Appellant.

D E C I S I O N


PARDO, J.:


The case is an appeal from the decision 1 of the Regional Trial Court, Pangasinan, Branch 49, Urdaneta, convicting accused-appellant Ricardo Toquero y Jacobo alias "Antonio" of rape and sentencing him to reclusion perpetua and to pay one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) in damages.

On August 11, 1995, 4th Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Emiliano M. Matro of Pangasinan filed with the Regional Trial Court, Pangasinan, Branch 49, Urdaneta, an information 2 charging the accused with rape, committed as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"That on or about the 19th day of October, 1994, in the morning, in the municipality of Urdaneta, province of Pangasinan, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a handgun, and with the use of force, threat and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of minor Sonia M. de Vera against her will.

Contrary to Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code."cralaw virtua1aw library

At the arraignment on November 15, 1995, Accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to the crime charged. 3 Trial ensued.

The facts may be related as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

At the time of the rape, Sonia De Vera was 14 years old and a second year high school student at Antonio P. Villar Memorial School in Sto. Tomas, Pangasinan. On the other hand, the accused, married with two (2) children, is a long-time neighbor and friend of Sonia’s family.

At around 7:00 a.m. of October 19, 1994, Sonia was in school sweeping the floor in front of her classroom. Moments later, she saw the accused at the school gate calling for her. He told Sonia that her mother met an accident and was rushed to Carmen, Rosales, Pangasinan. Sonia wanted to go home first to change her school uniform, but the accused told her that her sisters were already in Carmen. So, together with the accused, she boarded a waiting tricycle and proceeded to Carmen, Rosales, Pangasinan.

Upon reaching Carmen, Sonia stopped the tricycle and asked the accused where her mother was. He alighted from the tricycle, talked to a man and then told her that her mother was in serious condition and had to be transferred to Urdaneta. And so they headed for that municipality.

In Urdaneta, Accused brought Sonia to a building which she saw for the first time, that turned out to be Liz Hotel. After signing something and paying thereafter, the accused led Sonia to a room on the first floor. Once inside, she asked the accused where her mother was, but he instead poked a 6-inch gun at Sonia and threatened to kill her if she would shout. Accused then pushed Sonia to the bed, removed his clothes and ordered her to undress. When Sonia refused to heed him, Accused forcibly undressed her. She struggled against the bestiality of the accused but he was too strong and was holding a gun while forcing himself upon her. After satisfying his lust, Accused ordered Sonia to wash and put on her clothes. He repeated his threats to her life should she reveal what happened. After about four hours inside the room, Sonia and the accused left and boarded the same tricycle that brought them there. Accused got off at the Urdaneta town proper and instructed the tricycle driver to bring Sonia to her house in Bgy. San Antonio Sto. Tomas, Pangasinan. Sonia revealed her sexual ordeal to her parents two (2) weeks after the incident 4

The accused invoked the defense of alibi. He claimed that from 7:00 a.m. till 4:00 p. m. of October 19, 1994, he was at his farm in Bgy. San Antonio, Sto. Tomas, Pangasinan harvesting palay, together with Milong Toquero, Luving Toquero, Rocky Jacobo, Romulo Quiming, Felipe Lalata and Enso Bautista. He vehemently denied raping Sonia. His family and Sonia were good neighbors, Accused could not find any reason why Sonia would accuse him of raping her. 5

The trial court discredited the accused’s alibi and gave credence to Sonia’s story of rape. Thus, on October 19, 1996, the trial court rendered a decision, the decretal portion of which reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"WHEREFORE, the Court finds that the prosecution has sufficiently proved the guilt of the accused, Ricardo Toquero, beyond reasonable doubt, and correspondingly sentences him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and to indemnify the complainant, Sonia de Vera, for damages she suffered in the amount of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) and to pay the costs.

The bail bond posted for the provisional liberty of the accused is hereby ordered cancelled.

IT IS SO ORDERED." 6

In this appeal, Accused-appellant assails the trial court’s ruling: (1) having giving credence to the testimony of Sonia, and (2) disregarding his defense of alibi.

We sustain accused-appellant’s conviction.

Assessing the credibility of witnesses is a function best discharged by the trial court. 7 In assessing Sonia’s testimony, the trial court declared that "her naturalness and candor as a victim of sexual abuse in this case is credible." 8 Our own review of Sonia’s testimony reveals that she remained consistent and unshaken in recounting how she was forced into sexual submission by Accused-Appellant.

It should be noted too, that both Sonia and accused-appellant testified as to the good relationship between their families prior to the rape charge. 9 This dispels any notion that she had a motive other than to bring her rapist to justice and vindicate her honor. For it is hardly persuasive that a young barrio lass like Sonia, virtually innocent of mundane ways and means would, for no reason at all, conjure a charge of defilement, undergo a medical examination of her private parts, and willingly bring disgrace to her family unless she is triggered by a righteous desire to seek justice for the wrong committed against her. 10 The testimony of rape victims who are young and immature deserves full credence specially if they are without any motive to testify falsely against the accused appellant. 11

Thus, Accused-appellant’s defense of alibi must fail. Alibi can not prevail over the positive testimony of the victim with no improper motive to testify falsely against him. 12

Furthermore, for alibi to prosper as a defense, the accused-appellant must move not only that he was not at the scene of the crime, he must also prove the physical impossibility of being there. 13 Accused-appellant’s farm, where he claimed he stayed the whole day of October 19, 1996, is only around three (3) kilometers away 14 from Sonia’s school where she was before accused deceived her into going with him to Urdaneta, Pangasinan. Such short distance does not foreclose the possibility of accused-appellant’s presence at Sonia’s school and his subsequent departure for Urdaneta, Pangasinan to force his bestiality on her.

The fact that the defense presented two (2) teachers in Sonia’s school to prove that she attended classes on that fateful day and three (3) other witnesses who testified on accused-appellant’s presence on his farm at the time of the rape does not necessarily destroy Sonia’s lone testimony.

Criminals are convicted, not on the number of witnesses against them, but on the credibility of even one witness who is able to convince the court of the guilt beyond a shadow of doubt. 15 And once found credible, the rape victim’s lone testimony is sufficient to sustain a conviction. 16

Thus, we find no reason to disagree with the trial court’s assessment on the credibility of Sonia’s testimony. 17

While the trial court correctly meted on the accused-appellant the penalty of reclusion perpetua, it failed, however, to specify what kind of damages the amount of P100,000.00 is answerable for. In rape cases, P50,000.00 is awarded as moral damages without need of proof of mental and physical suffering. 18 In addition, P50,000.00 is awarded to the complainant as civil indemnity ex-delicto. 19

WHEREFORE, the assailed decision of the Regional Trial Court, Pangasinan, Branch 49, Urdaneta, convicting accused-appellant Ricardo Toquero y Jacobo of rape is hereby AFFIRMED, in toto. With costs.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Kapunan and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur

Endnotes:



1. Records, pp. 225-234, penned by Presiding Judge Iluminado C. Meneses.

2. Records, pp. 1-2.

3. Records, p.53.

4. TSN, January 10, 1996, pp. 3-21.

5. TSN, Sept. 11, 1996, pp. 3-8.

6. Rollo, pp. 30-39.

7. People v. Balora, G.R. No. 124976, May 31, 2000.

8. RTC Decision, p. 6 Rollo, p. 37.

9. TSN, January 10, 1996, pp. 5-6; TSN, September 11, 1996, pp. 3-4.

10. People v. Lustre, G.R. No. 134562, April 6, 2000; People v. Abalde, G.R. No. 123113, March 31, 2000.

11. People v. Pambid, G.R. No. 124453, March 15, 2000; People v. Austria, G.R. No. 123539, June 27, 2000; People v. Cula, G.R. No. 133146, March 28, 2000.

12. People v. Hofileña, G.R. No. 134722, June 22, 2000; People v. Nava, Jr., G.R. Nos. 130509-12, June 19, 2000; People v. Sapinoso, G.R. No. 122540, March 22, 2000.

13. People v. de Leon, G.R. Nos. 124338-41, May 12, 2000.

14. TSN, September 11, 1996, p. 10.

15. People v. Avillana, G.R No. 119621, May 12, 2000, citing People v. Benito, 303 SCRA 468 [1997] and Bautista v. Court of Appeals, 288 SCRA 171 [1998].

16. People v. Penaso, February 23, 2000; People v. Dedace, G.R No. 132551, March 22, 2000; People v. De Guzman, G.R. No. 124368, June 8, 2000.

17. People v. Alcartado, G.R. Nos. 132379-82, June 29, 2000; People v. Razonable, G.R. Nos. 128085-87, April 12,2000; People v.Garchitorena, G.R.No. 131357, April 12, 2000.

18. People v. Arillas, G. R Nos. 130593, June 19, 2000.

19. People v. Dreu, G.R No. 126282, June 20, 2000; People v. Berana, 311 SCRA 664, 679 [1999], citing People v. Prades, 293 SCRA 411 [1998].

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