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G.R. No. 200597, February 19, 2014 - EMILIO RAGA Y CASIKAT, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

G.R. No. 200597, February 19, 2014 - EMILIO RAGA Y CASIKAT, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 200597, February 19, 2014

EMILIO RAGA Y CASIKAT, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

D E C I S I O N

VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, assailing the October 3, 2011 Decision2 and February 9, 2012 Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals in CA–G.R. CR No. 33447 which affirmed the May 24, 2010 Decision4 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 94 in Criminal Case Nos. 04–130269 and 04–130270 convicting petitioner Emilio Raga y Casikat of two counts of rape by sexual assault under Article 266–A, paragraph 25 of the Revised Penal Code. He was sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of twelve (12) years of prision mayor as minimum to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal as maximum for each count in accordance with Section 5(b) of Republic Act No. 76106 (RA 7610). He was likewise ordered to pay P50,000 as actual damages, P50,000 as moral damages and P25,000 as exemplary damages plus costs of suit.

On September 2, 2004, the following Informations were filed against petitioner:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Criminal Case No. 04–130269:

That on or about the month of May 2004, in Quezon City[,] Philippines, the above–named accused, being then the father of said [AAA],7 a minor nine (9) years of age, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously commit acts of sexual abuse upon the person of said [AAA], by then and there undressing her and forcibly trying to insert his penis inside her vagina, and when he failed, he instead inserted his finger inside her vagina, against her will and without her consent, to the damage and prejudice of the said offended party in violation of the said law.

CONTRARY TO LAW.8cralawlawlibrary

Criminal Case No. 04–130270:

That on or about the year 2000, in Quezon City[,] Philippines, the above–named accused, being then the father of said [AAA], a minor five (5) years of age, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously commit acts of sexual abuse upon the person of said [AAA], by then and there undressing her and forcibly trying to insert his penis inside her vagina, and when he failed, he instead inserted his finger inside her vagina, against her will and without her consent, to the damage and prejudice of the said offended party in violation of the said law.

CONTRARY TO LAW.9ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Upon arraignment, petitioner pleaded not guilty to the crimes charged. Trial on the merits thereafter ensued. During the hearing, the prosecution and the defense stipulated that PCI Ruby Grace D. Sabino–Diangson was the one who physically examined AAA after the alleged sexual abuse and that the results of her examination are contained in Official Medico–Legal Report No. 0089–05–14–04. It was also stipulated that PCI Sabino–Diangson has no personal knowledge of the commission of the crime against AAA.

The other witnesses presented by the prosecution were AAA, PO2 Lucita B. Apurillo, and Marita Francisco, whose combined testimonies established the following facts:

Complainant AAA is the daughter of petitioner and BBB. They live in Payatas, Quezon City together with AAA’s two younger siblings. Petitioner was a painter while BBB was a bit player in movies.

One night, sometime in the year 2000, while AAA’s mother, BBB, was out of the house and while AAA and her other siblings were sleeping, AAA, who was then five years old, was suddenly awakened when petitioner removed her clothes and tried to insert his penis into her vagina. When petitioner was unsuccessful in inserting his penis into AAA’s vagina, he inserted his finger instead. He did that several times while holding his penis. A white substance later came out of his penis.

AAA told BBB what petitioner did to her, but BBB did nothing.

One night in May 2004, AAA, who was then already nine years old, was sleeping in the room while her siblings were sleeping with their father in the living room. AAA was suddenly awakened when her father carried her from the room to the living room. Petitioner then let AAA watch bold movies but AAA turned away. Petitioner, who was half–naked waist down, thereafter removed AAA’s clothes. He then laid on top of AAA and tried to insert his penis into her vagina. As he was unsuccessful in inserting his penis into her vagina, he inserted his finger instead. Because AAA was afraid of petitioner who used to whip her, she did not do anything.

According to AAA, petitioner raped her several times but she could only remember two dates: one during the year 2000 and the other in May 2004. She testified that she was born on December 16, 1994 which fact was duly substantiated by her birth certificate. She likewise identified petitioner during the March 7, 2006 hearing.

Petitioner, for his part, raised the defenses of denial and alibi. He testified that he was a stay–in worker in his place of work in the year 2000. He also testified that on May 13, 2004, he saw AAA watching an X–rated movie. He then reprimanded her and hit her buttocks with a slipper to discipline her. On the same day, upon waking up, he saw his wife and AAA talking to a group of women from Bantay Bata. He claimed that that was the last time that he saw AAA. He claimed that he was surprised upon learning of the complaints for rape filed against him by AAA but upon learning of the charges, he voluntarily surrendered.

On May 24, 2010, the RTC rendered a decision finding petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes charged. The fallo of the RTC Decision reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

1. In Criminal Case No. 04–130269:

Finding accused Emilio Raga a.k.a. “Bebot” GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape by sexual assault under Article 266–A paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code and he is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of TWELVE (12) YEARS OF PRISION MAYOR AS MINIMUM TO TWENTY (20) YEARS OF RECLUSION TEMPORAL AS MAXIMUM in accordance with Section 5(b) of Republic Act No. 7610, otherwise known as the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination; and

2. In Criminal Case No. 04–130270:

Finding accused Emilio Raga a.k.a. “Bebot” GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape by sexual assault under Article 266–A paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code and he is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of TWELVE (12) YEARS OF PRISION MAYOR AS MINIMUM TO TWENTY (20) YEARS OF RECLUSION TEMPORAL AS MAXIMUM in accordance with Section 5(b) of Republic Act No. 7610, otherwise known as the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination.

Accused Emilio Raga is likewise ordered to pay FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) as actual damages, FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) as moral damages, TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P25,000.00) as exemplary damages plus costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.10ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
The RTC ruled that the elements of statutory rape were established beyond reasonable doubt by the evidence of the prosecution. The RTC gave credence to AAA’s narration of the details of her ordeal in the hands of her own father. It found her testimony as categorical and straightforward and far more credible than the negative assertions interposed by petitioner.

Petitioner appealed his conviction to the appellate court. The Court of Appeals, however, sustained the conviction of petitioner and affirmed in toto the decision of the RTC.

Hence this petition raising a sole issue:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHETHER THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE TRIAL COURT’S DECISION DESPITE THE PROSECUTION’S FAILURE TO PROVE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT THE PETITIONER’S GUILT FOR THE CRIMES CHARGED.11ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Petitioner submits that AAA’s testimony as to circumstances surrounding the alleged rape was marred with inconsistencies and contrary to human experience. He claims that AAA has no recollection of the year when the incident took place. Petitioner also contends that the information filed against him was too vague since it stated that one incident happened “on or about the year 2000” but AAA cannot even remember when the rape happened. He also argues as incredulous that in both instances of the alleged rape, AAA did not shout for help or make a loud sound to awaken her siblings considering that they were just sleeping nearby. Petitioner likewise argues that the nonchalance of his wife when AAA told her about the alleged rape only suggests that no rape took place.

We uphold petitioner’s conviction.

Time and again, we have held that when the decision hinges on the credibility of witnesses and their respective testimonies, the trial court’s observations and conclusions deserve great respect and are often accorded finality, unless there appears in the record some fact or circumstance of weight which the lower court may have overlooked, misunderstood or misappreciated and which, if properly considered, would alter the result of the case. The trial judge enjoys the advantage of observing the witness’s deportment and manner of testifying, her “furtive glance, blush of conscious 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’s honesty and sincerity. The trial judge, therefore, can better determine if such witnesses were telling the truth, being in the ideal position to weigh conflicting testimonies. 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 said findings are sustained by the Court of Appeals.12

From our own careful examination of the records, we are convinced that there is no reason to disturb the assessment and determination of AAA’s credibility by the trial court as affirmed by the Court of Appeals. The straightforward, candid and intrepid revelation in coming forward to avenge the immoral defilement upon her person is more convincing and plausible compared to the weak and uncorroborated defense of petitioner. Despite the minor inconsistencies in her testimony, her general statements remained consistent throughout the trial as she recounted the sordid details of her tormenting experience in the hands of her own father.

Nonetheless, while this Court also upholds petitioner’s conviction, we modify the penalty imposed on petitioner, particularly the maximum term. In the case at bar, the circumstances of minority and relationship were alleged and duly proven during trial. Under Article 266–B of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for rape by sexual assault is reclusion temporal when any of the aggravating or qualifying circumstances is mentioned in said Article is present. Thus applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum term of the indeterminate penalty shall be that which could be properly imposed under the Revised Penal Code. Other than the circumstances of minority and relationship that raised the penalty to reclusion temporal, no other aggravating circumstance was alleged and proven. Thus, the penalty imposed shall be imposed in its medium period or, from fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months.13 The minimum of the indeterminate sentence should be within the range of the penalty next lower in degree than that prescribed by the Code which is prision mayor or six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years. Therefore, the trial court correctly set the minimum of the indeterminate sentence to twelve (12) years. As to the maximum period, however, the trial court set it to 20 years of reclusion temporal which is beyond the limit of seventeen (17) years and four (4) months. Thus, we deem as proper the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment ranging from twelve (12) years of prision mayor, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum, for each count of sexual assault.

This Court likewise modifies petitioner’s civil liability. In line with recent jurisprudence, petitioner is ordered to pay AAA civil indemnity of P30,000, moral damages of P30,000 and exemplary damages of P30,000 for each count of sexual assault.14

WHEREFORE, the October 3, 2011 Decision and February 9, 2012 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA–G.R. CR No. 33447 is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATIONS. Petitioner Emilio Raga y Casikat is hereby found GUILTY of Rape Through Sexual Assault in Criminal Case Nos. 04–130269 and 04–130270. He is hereby sentenced, in each case, to suffer the indeterminate penalty ranging from twelve (12) years of prision mayor, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum, and ordered to pay his victim AAA civil indemnity of P30,000, moral damages of P30,000 and exemplary damages of P30,000 with interest thereon at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum reckoned from the finality of this Decision until fully paid.

With costs against the petitioner. ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

SO ORDERED.

Sereno, C.J., Chairperson,  Leonardo–De Castro, Bersamin, and Reyes, JJ., concur.

Endnotes:


1Rollo, pp. 9–29.

2 Id. at 32–41. Penned by Associate Justice Edwin D. Sorongon with Associate Justices Ramon M. Bato, Jr. and Romeo F. Barza concurring.

3 Id. at 43–44.

4 Id. at 65–73. Penned by Presiding Judge Roslyn M. Rabara–Tria.

5 ART. 266–A. Rape; When and How Committed.–Rape is committed:

x x x

2) By any person who, under any of the circumstances mentioned in paragraph 1 hereof, shall commit an act of sexual assault by inserting his penis into another person’s mouth or anal orifice, or any instrument or object, into the genital or anal orifice of another person.

6 Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.

7 The victim’s real name and personal circumstances and those of the victim’s immediate family or household members are withheld per People v. Cabalquinto, 533 Phil. 703, 709 (2006).

8Rollo, p. 11.

9 Id. at 11–12.

10 Id. at 72–73.

11 Id. at 17.

12People v. Espino , Jr., 577 Phil. 546, 562–563 (2008), citing People v. Belga, 402 Phil. 734, 742–743 (2001) and People v. Cabugatan, 544 Phil. 468, 479 (2007).

13People v. Subesa , G.R. No. 193660, November 16, 2011, 660 SCRA 390, 404, citing People v. Bonaagua, G.R. No. 188897, June 6, 2011, 650 SCRA 620, 640–641.

14People v. Subesa , id. at 405.
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