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[G.R. NO. 179477 : February 6, 2008]




Appellant Jimmy Tabio was charged with three (3) counts of rape in a single Information,1 the accusatory portion of which reads as follows:

That between June 13, 2002 and June 28, 2002 in [Aurora2] the said accused, did then and there, unlawfully, feloniously and willfully, have carnal knowledge of mentally retarded AAA3 by means of force and intimidation three times all committed while the victim was alone inside their house and during nighttime which was taken advantage of to facilitate the commission of the crime.


Appellant pleaded not guilty on arraignment before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baler, Aurora, Branch 96.4 Trial on the merits ensued. The victim, AAA testified that one night in June 2002, while she was alone in her home, appellant entered her house. He pressed a knife on AAA's breast, removed her clothing, fondled her breast, undressed himself, and mounted her as she was seated on a bed. He inserted his penis in her vagina and ejaculated. AAA was able to recognize the appellant as her house was lighted with a gas lamp. AAA further testified that the appellant on two succeeding occasions again entered her home and repeated the same acts on her.5

Other witnesses for the prosecution presented testimony concerning AAA's mental condition. A doctor6 who had trained with the National Center for Mental Health testified that he had examined AAA and concluded that while she was 23 years old at the time of the rape, she nonetheless had the mental age of a six-year old child.7 AAA's mother and grand aunt also testified on her mental retardation and the occurrences after she had reported the rape to them.8

Appellant testified in his own behalf, denying that he had raped AAA and offering as alibi that he was up in the mountain at the time of the rape.9 Appellant's wife10 and his brother-in-law, Jaime Bautista,11 tried to corroborate his alibi through their own testimony.

On 25 November 2003, the RTC handed down a decision finding appellant guilty and imposing the penalty of death on three (3) counts of qualified rape, defined in Article 266-A, paragraph 1 (d) and penalized under Article 266-B, paragraph 6 (10) of the Revised Penal Code. The RTC also ordered appellant to pay P75,000.00 as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages.12 The records of the case were thereafter forwarded to this Court on automatic review. On 7 June 2005, the Court issued a Resolution13 transferring the case to the Court of Appeals for appropriate action.14

The Court of Appeals15 affirmed with modification the decision of the trial court. The appellate court found appellant guilty of all three (3) counts for simple rape only and not qualified rape. It also reduced the civil indemnity to P50,000.00 and added an award of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages.16

The case is again before us for our final disposition. Appellant had assigned three (3) errors in his appeal initially passed upon by the Court of Appeals, to wit: whether the RTC erred in finding him guilty of qualified rape with the penalty of death in view of the prosecution's failure to allege a qualifying circumstance in the information; whether the RTC erred in finding him guilty of all three (3) counts of rape despite the alleged failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt; and whether the RTC erred in awarding P75,000.00 as civil indemnity.

The Court of Appeals properly resolved the first error in appellant's favor. The information should have warranted a judgment of guilt only for simple, not qualified rape. We quote with approval the appellate court when it said:

Under Article 266-B(10)17 of the Revised Penal Code, knowledge by the offender of the mental disability, emotional disorder, or physical handicap at the time of the commission of the rape is the qualifying circumstance that sanctions the imposition of the death penalty. Rule 11016 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure requires both qualifying and aggravating circumstances to be alleged with specificity in the information.16

In the case at bench, however, the information merely states that the appellant had carnal knowledge with a mentally retarded complainant. It does not state that appellant knew of the mental disability of the complainant at the time of the commission of the crime. It bears stressing that the rules now require that the qualifying circumstance that sanctions the imposition of the death penalty should be specifically stated in the information. Article 266-B (10) of the Revised Penal Code could not, thus, be applied and the supreme penalty of death could not be validly imposed.20

Rule 110 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure is clear and unequivocal that both qualifying and aggravating circumstances must be alleged with specificity in the information.

The Court also observes that there is duplicity21 of the offenses charged in the information, which is a ground for a motion to quash.22 Three (3) separate acts of rape were charged in one information only. But the failure of appellant to interpose an objection on this ground constitutes waiver.23

We turn to the second issue. While the Court affirms that appellant is guilty of simple rape, we nonetheless find that only the first rape was conclusively proven. The second and third rapes of which appellant was charged and found guilty, were not proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Our courts have been traditionally guided by three settled principles in the prosecution of the crime of rape: (1) an accusation for rape is easy to make, difficult to prove and even more difficult to disprove; (2) in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with utmost caution; and (3) the evidence of the prosecution must stand on its own merits and cannot draw strength from the weakness of the evidence of the defense.24 In a prosecution for rape, the complainant's candor is the single most important issue. If a complainant's testimony meets the test of credibility, the accused may be convicted on the sole basis thereof.25

We have thoroughly examined AAA's testimony and found nothing that would cast doubt on the credibility of her account of the first rape. We quote the pertinent portion of her testimony:

PROS. RONQUILLO:     to the witness

x x x

Q     Did you have any occasion to see Jimmy inside your house in June 2002?cralawred

A     Yes, Sir.

Q     What time was that?cralawred

A     Night time, Sir.

x x x

Q     You said that Jimmy went inside your house. What did he do there?cralawred

A     He fondled my breast, Sir.

Q     Did you have your clothes on when Jimmy Tabio went to your house?cralawred

A     Yes, sir.

x x x

Q     Don't be ashamed. You said that you have your clothes on. When Jimmy saw you what did he do with your clothes, if any?cralawred

A     He removed my dress, Sir.

x x x

Q     So you are now without clothes because you said Jimmy removed your clothes. What did he do after removing your clothes?cralawred

A     He placed himself on top of me.

COURT: to the witness

Q     Was he standing when Jimmy mounted on you?cralawred

A     I was sitting, Sir.

PROS. RONQUILLO:     to the witness

Q     When Jimmy placed himself on top of you was he dressed or nude?cralawred

A     He was naked, Sir.

Q     You said that he placed himself on top of you. What did Jimmy do while he was on top of you?cralawred

A     He pressed a knife on me.

Q     On what part of your body did he press the knife?cralawred

A     Here, Sir. (Witness indicated the upper part of her left breast)

Q     What else did Jimmy do aside from pressing the knife near your breast?cralawred

A     Jimmy was in our house, Sir.

Q     Do you know what penis is?cralawred

A     Yes, Sir.

Q     Do you know what Jimmy did with hs penis?cralawred

A     Yes, Sir.

Q     What did he do with his penis?cralawred

A     He placed his penis to my vagina.

Q     What did you feel when Jimmy did that?cralawred

A     I felt pain, Sir.

Q     After Jimmy inserted his penis in your vagina, what else did he do?cralawred

A     Nothing more, Sir.

Q     Did he move while he was on top of you?cralawred

A     Yes, Sir.

Q     Can you demonstrate his movement while he was on top of you?cralawred

A     (Witness indicated the movement by moving her body.)

x x x

PROS. RONQUILLO:     to the witness

Q     What else did you notice while the penis of Jimmy was in your vagina?cralawred

A     There was some kind of milk, Sir.

COURT:     to the witness

Q     Where?cralawred

A     In my vagina, Sir.

PROS. RONQUILLO: to the witness

Q     Why did you notice that? What did you do?cralawred

A     I watched my vagina, Sir.

Q     That is why you saw that thing which looks like milk?cralawred

A     Yes, Sir.

Q     Now, it was night time when Jimmy went into your house, is it not?cralawred

A     Yes, Sir.

Q     How were you able to see Jimmy while it was night time?cralawred

A     I have a light, Sir.

Q     What kind of light was that?cralawred

A     Gas l[a]mp, Sir.26 (Emphasis supplied.)

AAA never wavered in her assertion that appellant raped her. AAA's testimony is distinctively clear, frank and definite without any pretension or hint of a concocted story despite her low intelligence as can be gleaned from her answers in the direct examination. The fact of her mental retardation does not impair the credibility of her unequivocal testimony. AAA's mental deficiency lends greater credence to her testimony for someone as feeble-minded and guileless as her could not speak so tenaciously and explicitly on the details of the rape if she has not in fact suffered such crime at the hands of the appellant.27

Appellant's denials and alibi, which are merely self-serving evidence, cannot prevail over the positive, consistent and straightforward testimony of AAA. Alibi is an inherently weak defense because it is easy to fabricate and highly unreliable. To merit approbation, the accused must adduce clear and convincing evidence that he was in a place other than the situs criminis at the time the crime was committed, such that it was physically impossible for him to have been at the scene of the crime when it was committed.28 We have meticulously reviewed the records and found no justification to deviate from the findings of fact of the trial court that'

Accused's alibi that he was in the mountain gathering woods during the period when [AAA] was raped deserves no consideration. When the accused took the witness stand, he gave an evasive, confused and vague account of his whereabouts at the time the crime was committed as well as with respect to the distance of his whereabouts from the locus criminis. Accused's wife and his brother-in-law tried to corroborate his (accused's) testimony that he was in the mountain during the commission of rape but to no avail.

x x x

In the instant case, the distance of the place where the accused allegedly was is less than half a kilometer (200 meters) which could be negotiated in less than an hour. x x x29

However, as to the alleged second and third rape, we find that the prosecution failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt the elements of the offense e.g., carnal knowledge and force or intimidation. The only evidence presented to prove the two other charges were AAA's monosyllabic affirmative answers to two leading questions if appellant repeated during the second and third times he was in her house what he had done during the first time. We quote that only portion of AAA's testimony relating to the second and third alleged rapes, to wit:

PROS. RONQUILLO:     to the witness

Q     You said that Jimmy went to your house three times. What did he do during the second time?cralawred

A     He entered our house, Sir.

Q     Yes, he entered your house. Did he repeat what he did during the first time.

A     Yes, Sir.

Q     How about the third time? What did he do?cralawred

A     He has a knife, Sir.

Q     Yes. Did he repeat what he did during the first time?cralawred

A     Yes, Sir.30 (Emphasis supplied)cralawlibrary

AAA's testimony on these two later rapes was overly generalized and lacked many specific details on how they were committed. Her bare statement that appellant repeated what he had done to her the first time is inadequate to establish beyond reasonable doubt the alleged second and third rapes. Whether or not he raped her is the fact in issue which the court must determine31 based on the evidence offered. The prosecution must demonstrate in sufficient detail the manner by which the crime was perpetrated. Certainly, the testimony of AAA to the effect that the appellant repeated what he did in the first rape would not be enough to warrant the conclusion that the second and third rape had indeed been committed. Each and every charge of rape is a separate and distinct crime so that each of them should be proven beyond reasonable doubt. The quantum of evidence in criminal cases requires more than that.

In the case of People v. Garcia,32 wherein the appellant was charged with 183 counts of rape, we held that:

x x x Be that as it may, however, on the bases of the evidence adduced by the prosecution, appellant can be convicted only of the two rapes committed in November, [sic] 1990 and on July 21, 1994 as testified to by complainant, and for the eight counts of rape committed in May and June and on July 16, 1994 as admitted in appellants aforementioned letter of August 24, 1994. We cannot agree with the trial court that appellant is guilty of 183 counts of rape because, as correctly asserted by the defense, each and every charge of rape is a separate and distinct crime so that each of them should be proven beyond reasonable doubt. On that score alone, the indefinite testimonial evidence that complainant was raped every week is decidedly inadequate and grossly insufficient to establish the guilt of appellant therefor with the required quantum of evidence. So much of such indefinite imputations of rape, which are uncorroborated by any other evidence, fall within this category.33 (Emphasis supplied)cralawlibrary

We must uphold the primacy of the presumption of innocence in favor of the accused when the evidence at hand falls short of the quantum required to support conviction.

As to the civil liability of appellant, we affirm the reduction by the appellate court of the civil indemnity to P50,000.00 only, as well as the additional award of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages, but on rather different premises, considering our conclusion that he is only guilty of one, not three counts of rape.

The civil indemnity awarded to the victims of qualified rape shall not be less than seventy-five thousand pesos (P75,000.00),34 and P50,000.00 for simple rape.35 This civil indemnity is awarded for each and every count of rape, such that one found guilty of two counts of simple rape would be liable to pay P50,000.00 for each count, or P100,000.00 in all.

We note that the appellate court implicitly awarded P50,000.00 as civil indemnity for all three counts of simple rape. Such award would have been improper for a conviction for three counts of simple rape.36 Still, because appellant is guilty of one count of simple rape, P50,000.00 still emerges as the appropriate amount of civil indemnity.

In addition, the victim or heirs, as the case may be, can also recover moral damages pursuant to Article 2219 of the Civil Code. In rape cases, moral damages are awarded without need of proof other than the fact of rape because it is assumed that the victim has suffered moral injuries entitling her to such an award.37 In this respect, we agree with the appellate court in the award of P50,000.00 as moral damages. The appellate court's award of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages by way of public example is also proper.38

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01301 is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION. Appellant is found GUILTY of only ONE count of simple rape and ACQUITTED of the TWO other counts of qualified rape. Appellant is sentenced to suffer the penalty reclusion perpetua, and ordered to pay to the victim P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages.


Quisumbing, J., Chairperson, , Carpio, Carpio-Morales, Velasco, Jr., JJ., concur.


1 Record, pp. 1-2.

2 The complete address of the victim is withheld to protect her privacy. See People v. Cabalquinto, G.R. No. 167693, 19 September 2006, 502 SCRA 419,425-426.

3 The real name of the victim is withheld to protect her privacy.

4 Presided by Judge Corazon Soluren.

5 TSN, 17 December 2002, pp. 2-8.

6 Dr. Roman Balangue; TSN, 13 February 2003, pp. 3-8.

7 Id., at 10.

8 TSN, 17 December 2002, pp. 11-16; and TSN, 20 January 2003, pp. 3-7.

9 TSN 7 May 2003, pp. 2-6.

10 TSN 3 June 2003, pp. 2-6.

11 TSN 8 May 2003, pp. 2-5.

12 Records, p. 109.

13 Pursuant to the case of People v. Efren Mateo, G.R. NOS. 147678-87, 7 July 2004, 433 SCRA 640, 656.

14 CA rollo, p. 19-A.

15 Through the decision dated 23 January 2007 penned by Associate Justice Jose Sabio, Jr. and concurred in by Associate Justices Jose Reyes, Jr. and Myrna Dimaranan Vidal.

16 Rollo, p.21.

17 Art. 266-B. Penalties. x x x x

The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the following aggravating or qualifying circumstances: x x x

10) When the offender knew of the mental disability, emotional disorder and/or physical handicap of the offended party at the time of the commission of the crime. (Emphasis supplied)cralawlibrary

18 SEC. 8. Designation of the offense. The complaint or information shall state the designation of the offense given by the statute, aver the acts or omissions constituting the offense, and specify its qualifying and aggravating circumstances. If there is no designation of the offense, reference shall be made to the section or subsection of the statute punishing it.

SEC. 9. Cause of the accusation. The acts or omissions complaint of as constituting the offense and the qualifying and aggravating circumstances must be stated in ordinary and concise language and not necessarily in the language used in the statute but in terms sufficient to enable a person of common understanding to know what offense is being charged as well as its qualifying and aggravating circumstances and for the court to pronounce judgment.

19 People v. Limio, G.R. NOS. 148804-06, 27 May 2004, 429 SCRA 597, 615.

20 Rollo, pp. 8-9.

21 Rule 110, Sec. 13. Duplicity of the offense. A complaint or information must charge only one offense, except when the law prescribes a single punishment for various offenses.

22 Rule 117, Sec. 3. Grounds. The accused may move to quash the complaint or informationon any of the following grounds: x x x x

(f) That more than one offense is charged except when a single punishment for various offenses is prescribed by law; x x x x

23 Rule 117, Sec. 9. Failure to move to quash or to allege any ground therefor. The failure of the accused to assert any ground of a motion to quash before he pleads to the complaint or information, either because he did not file a motion to quash or failed to allege the same in said motion, shall be deemed a waiver of any objections except those based on the grounds provided for in paragraphs (a), (b), (g), and (i) of section 3 of this Rule.

24 People v. De Guzman y Pascual, 388 Phil. 943, 952-953 (2000, citing People v. Abad, 268 SCRA 246 (1997).

25 Id. at 954.

26 TSN, 17 December 2002, pp. 2-6.

27 See People v. Toralba, 414 Phil. 793, 800 (2001) citing People v. Ducta, G.R. No. 134608, 16 August 2000, 338 SCRA 272; People v. Lubong, 332 SCRA 672 (2000); People v. Cabingas, 329 SCRA 21 (2000); People v. Tipay, 329 SCRA 52 (2000) and People v. San Juan, G.R. No. 105556, 4 April 1997, 270 SCRA 693.

28 See People v. Ejandra, G.R. No. 134203, 27 May 2004, 429 SCRA 364, 379.

29 Records, p.107.

30 TSN, 17 December 2002, p.7.

31 Francisco, Ricardo; Evidence, 1996 ed., p. 348.

32 346 Phil. 475 (1997).

33 Id. at 497.

34 People v. Perez, 357 Phil. 17, 35 (1998); People v. Bernaldez, 355 Phil. 740, 758 (1998); People v. Victor, 354 Phil. 195, 209-210 (1998).

35 See People v. Mendoza, 432 Phil. 666, 684 (2002).

36 See People v. Cabalquinto, G.R. No. 167693, 19 September 2006, 502 SCRA 419, 435-436.

37 People v. Pagsanjan, 442 Phil. 667, 687 (2002).

38 People v. de los Santos, 439 Phil. 630, 641 (2002).

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