G.R. No. 191362, October 09, 2013
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. MARCIANO CIAL Y LORENA, Accused-Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
That on or about the month of December, 2002, at Barangay Balubad, Municipality of Atimonan, Province of Quezon, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd design, by means of force and intimidation, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of “AAA”,4 a minor, 13 years old, against her will.During his arraignment on June 29, 2004, appellant pleaded not guilty.5 After pre-trial, trial on the merits ensued.
That the commission of the rape was attended by the qualifying circumstances of minority, the victim being less than 18 years old, and relationship, the accused being the common-law husband of complainant’s mother.
Contrary to law.chanrob1esvirtualawlibrary
“AAA” is one of the six (6) children born to “BBB” and “CCC.” After “CCC” died, “BBB” cohabited with appellant Marciano Cial (also known as “Onot”). Appellant and “BBB” have two (2) children.Version of the Defense
In 2002, “AAA”, then thirteen (13) years old, was a Grade I pupil and was residing with her family and appellant in x x x Quezon Province. “AAA” calls appellant “Papa.”
Sometime in December 2002, appellant called “AAA” and told her to go to the bedroom inside their house. Once inside, appellant took off “AAA’s” shorts and panty and spread her legs. Appellant pulled his pants down to his thighs and inserted his penis into the little girl’s vagina. “AAA” felt intense pain but she did not try to struggle because appellant had a bolo on his waist. After satiating his lust, appellant threatened to kill “AAA” and her family if she reported the incident to anyone. At that time, “AAA’s” maternal grandmother was in the house but was unaware that “AAA” was being ravished.
x x x
Unable to endure the torment, “AAA” confided her ordeal to her mother. But “AAA’s” mother did not believe her. “AAA” ran away from home and went to her maternal uncle’s house. There, she disclosed her harrowing experience to her mother’s siblings. Her uncle appeared to be angered by appellant’s wrong doing. But nonetheless, her uncle allowed appellant to bring her home when appellant fetched her.
For fear that she might be raped again, “AAA” ran away and went to the house of her aunt. Her aunt helped her file the complaint against her stepfather.
On March 19, 2003, “AAA” was brought to Doña Marta Memorial District Hospital in Atimonan, Quezon where she was physically examined by Dr. Arnulfo Imperial. Dr. Imperial issued a Medico-Legal Report which essentially states that:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary1) she was negative to pubic hair; there was a negative physical injury at the pubic area, with normal external genitalia;According to Dr. Imperial, the negative result for pubic hair as indicated in his report means that the victim has not yet fully developed her secondary characteristics which usually manifests during puberty. Dr. Imperial explained that the easy insertion of one finger into her vagina means that the child was no longer a virgin and that it would be difficult to insert even the tip of the little finger into the private part of a virgin as she would have suffered pain. On the absence of spermatozoa on the victim’s genitals, Dr. Imperial explained that a sperm has a life span of three (3) days. The lapse of almost four months from the time of the rape would naturally yield negative results for spermatozoa.
2) the hymen has an old laceration on the 12 o’clock and 5 o’clock positions, introitus admits one examining finger with ease; and
3) spermatozoa determination result was negative for examination of spermatozoa.chanrob1esvirtualawlibrary
On April 7, 2003, “AAA” and her aunt sought the assistance of the Crisis Center for Women at Gumaca, Quezon. “AAA” was admitted to the said center and still continued to reside therein at the time of her testimony.7
WHEREFORE, accused Marciano Cial is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and he is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and the complainant “AAA” is awarded moral and exemplary damages in the amount of Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos.Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Costs against the accused.
FOR THESE REASONS, the decision dated November 26, 2007 of the RTC is AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS:chanroblesvirtualawlibraryThe CA found that the elements of rape have been duly established. “AAA’s” testimony proved that appellant had carnal knowledge of her against her will and without her consent. The examining doctor corroborated “AAA’s” narration by testifying that the hymenal lacerations could have been possibly caused by an erect penis. The CA disregarded appellant’s contention that he could not have raped “AAA” in the presence of “AAA’s” grandmother as “lust is no respecter of time and place.”11 Moreover, the appellate court found that the prosecution satisfactorily established “AAA’s” minority as well as the qualifying circumstance of relationship, appellant being the common-law husband of “AAA’s” mother.
1. MARCIANO CIAL y LORENA is sentenced to reclusion perpetua conformably with R.A. No. 9346, without eligibility for parole; and
2. He is ordered to indemnify AAA (a) P75,000.00 as civil indemnity; (b) P75,000.00 as moral damages; and (c) P30,000.00 as exemplary damages.
Appellant argues that if he indeed raped “AAA” in the manner that she narrated, it would be improbable for “AAA’s” maternal grandmother not to have noticed the same. Appellant also claims that it was illogical for “AAA’s” uncle to allow “AAA” to return home after learning about the alleged rape incident. Appellant also insists that the examining physician was unsure as to what actually caused “AAA’s” hymenal lacerations.
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING THE CIRCUMSTANCES CLEARLY POINTING TO THE INNOCENCE OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF RAPE.12
Time and again, we have held that when it comes to the issue of credibility of the victim or the prosecution witnesses, the findings of the trial courts carry great weight and respect and, generally, the appellate courts will not overturn the said findings unless the trial court overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight and substance which will alter the assailed decision or affect the result of the case. This is so because trial courts are in the best position to ascertain and measure the sincerity and spontaneity of witnesses through their actual observation of the witnesses’ manner of testifying, her ‘furtive glance, blush of unconscious shame, hesitation, flippant or sneering tone, calmness, sigh, or the scant or full realization of an oath’ – all of which are useful aids for an accurate determination of a witness’ honesty and sincerity. Trial judges, therefore, can better determine if such witnesses are telling the truth, being in the ideal position to weigh conflicting testimonies. Again, unless certain facts of substance and value were overlooked which, if considered, might affect the result of the case, its assessment must be respected, for it had the opportunity to observe the conduct and demeanor of the witnesses while testifying and detect if they were lying. The rule finds an even more stringent application where the said findings are sustained by the Court of Appeals. (Citations omitted.)13Besides, it would not be amiss to point out that “AAA” was only 13 years of age when she testified in court.14
Testimonies of child-victims are normally given full weight and credit, since when a girl, particularly if she is a minor, says that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape has in fact been committed. When the offended party is of tender age and immature, courts are inclined to give credit to her account of what transpired, considering not only her relative vulnerability but also the shame to which she would be exposed if the matter to which she testified is not true. Youth and immaturity are generally badges of truth and sincerity. Considering her tender age, AAA could not have invented a horrible story. x x x15We are not persuaded by appellant’s argument that if he indeed raped “AAA” inside their house, then “AAA’s” maternal grandmother would have noticed the same. It is settled jurisprudence that rape can be committed even in places where people congregate. As held by the CA, “lust is no respecter of time and place.”16 Thus, the presence of “AAA’s” grandmother would not negate the commission of the rape; neither would it prove appellant’s innocence.
Clearly, the prosecution failed to prove the minority of “AAA”.
Q. Do you remember how old were you during that time? A. I do not know, ma’am. Q. Do you know your birthday? A. I do not know, ma’am.20
Meanwhile, appellant claimed that he is married to “AAA’s” mother:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Q. And who is Onot? A. He is my step father, ma’am. Q. What do you mean step father, what is his relation to your mother? A. He is the husband of my mother, ma’am. x x x Q. When did this Onot become the husband of your mother? A. I could no longer remember, ma’am. Q. Were you still small or big when he [became] the husband of your mother? A. I was still small when he [became] the husband of my mother, ma’am. Q. And how do you call this Onot? A. Papa, ma’am. Q. Is this Onot whom you called Papa inside this room now? A. Yes, ma’am. (Witness pointed [to] the bald man who when asked his name responded that he is Mar[c]iano Cial). Q. Do you know that person? A. Yes, ma’am. Q. Why do you know him? A. Because he is the husband of my mother, ma’am.21
Even the RTC interchangeably referred to appellant as the common-law husband of “AAA’s” mother23 as well as the step-father of “AAA”.24 Moreover, the RTC failed to cite any basis for its reference to appellant as such. In fact, the RTC Decision is bereft of any discussion as to how it reached its conclusion that appellant is the common-law husband of “AAA’s” mother or that “AAA” is his step-daughter.
Q. You [identified] yourself Mr. Witness as married. You are married to the mother of “AAA”? A. Yes, Your Honor. x x x Q. So, you mean to say that you are the step father of “AAA”? A. Yes, sir.22
x x x Also, given that Marciano and AAA’s mother were not legally married, the qualifying circumstance that the accused is the common-law husband of the victim’s mother may be properly appreciated.25The terms “common-law husband” and “step-father” have different legal connotations. For appellant to be a step-father to “AAA,” he must be legally married to “AAA’s” mother.26cralawlibrary
1 CA rollo, pp. 104-111; penned by Associate Justice Mario V. Lopez and concurred in by Associate Justices Rebecca De Guia-Salvador and Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr.cranad
2 Records, pp. 193-199; penned by Judge Hector B. Almeyda.cranad
3 Id. at 2.cranad
4 “The real names of the victim and of the members of her immediate family are withheld pursuant to Republic Act No. 7610 (Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act) and Republic Act No. 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004).” People v. Teodoro, G.R. No. 175876, February 20, 2013.cranad
5 Records, p. 11.cranad
6 CA rollo, pp. 68-96.cranad
7 Id. at 75-78.cranad
8 Records, p. 195.cranad
9 Id. at 199.cranad
10 CA rollo, p. 110.cranad
11 Id. at 109.cranad
12 Id. at 47.cranad
13People v. Amistoso, G.R. No. 201447, January 9, 2013, 688 SCRA 376, 387-388.cranad
14 TSN, March 28, 2006, p. 2.cranad
15People v. Piosang, G.R. No. 200329, June 5, 2013.cranad
16 CA rollo, p. 109.cranad
17 TSN, November 9, 2004, p. 6.cranad
18 Records, p. 128.cranad
19 Id. at 122.cranad
20 TSN, March 28, 2006, p. 12.cranad
21 Id. at 3-4.cranad
22 TSN, February 27, 2007, p. 5.cranad
23 Records, p. 193.cranad
24 Id. at 199.cranad
25 CA rollo, p. 107.cranad
26People v. Salazar, G.R. No. 181900, October 20, 2010, 634 SCRA, 307, 324.cranad
27 REVISED PENAL CODE, Art. 266-B.