G.R. No. 202122, January 15, 2014
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. BERNABE PAREJA Y CRUZ, Accused–Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
LEONARDO–DE CASTRO, J.:
Criminal Case No. 04–1556–CFM
That on or about and sometime in the month of February, 2004, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above–named accused, Bernabe Pareja y Cruz, being the common law spouse of the minor victim’s mother, through force, threats and intimidation, did then and there wil[l]fully, unlawfully and feloniously commit an act of sexual assault upon the person of [AAA3 ], a minor 13 years of age, by then and there mashing her breast and inserting his finger inside her vagina against her will.4
Criminal Case No. 04–1557–CFM
That on or about and sometime in the month of December, 2003, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above–named accused, Bernabe Pareja y Cruz, being the stepfather of [AAA], a minor 13 years of age, through force, threats and intimidation, did then and there wil[l]fully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of said minor against her will.5
Criminal Case No. 04–1558–CFM
That on or about the 27th day of March, 2004, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above–named accused, BERNABE PAREJA Y CRUZ, being the common law spouse of minor victim’s mother by means of force, threats and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously commence the commission of the crime of Rape against the person of minor, [AAA], a 13 years old minor by then and there crawling towards her direction where she was sleeping, putting off her skirt, but did not perform all the acts of execution which would have produce[d] the crime of rape for the reason other than his own spontaneous desistance, that is the timely arrival of minor victim’s mother who confronted the accused, and which acts of child abuse debased, degraded and demeaned the intrinsic worth and dignity of said minor complainant as a human being.6
AAA was thirteen (13) years of age when the alleged acts of lasciviousness and sexual abuse took place on three (3) different dates, particularly [in December 2003], February 2004, and March 27, 2004.
AAA’s parents separated when she was [only eight years old9 ]. At the time of the commission of the aforementioned crimes, AAA was living with her mother and with herein accused–appellant Bernabe Pareja who, by then, was cohabiting with her mother, together with three (3) of their children, aged twelve (12), eleven (11) and nine (9), in x x x, Pasay City.
The first incident took place [i]n December 2003 [the December 2003 incident]. AAA’s mother was not in the house and was with her relatives in Laguna. Taking advantage of the situation, [Pareja], while AAA was asleep, placed himself on top of [her]. Then, [Pareja], who was already naked, begun to undress AAA. [Pareja] then started to suck the breasts of [AAA]. Not satisfied, [Pareja] likewise inserted his penis into AAA’s anus. Because of the excruciating pain that she felt, AAA immediately stood up and rushed outside of their house.
Despite such traumatic experience, AAA never told anyone about the [December 2003] incident for fear that [Pareja] might kill her. [Pareja] threatened to kill AAA in the event that she would expose the incident to anyone.
AAA further narrated that the [December 2003] incident had happened more than once. According to AAA, [i]n February 2004 [the February 2004 incident], she had again been molested by [Pareja]. Under the same circumstances as the [December 2003 incident], with her mother not around while she and her half–siblings were asleep, [Pareja] again laid on top of her and started to suck her breasts. But this time, [Pareja] caressed [her] and held her vagina and inserted his finger [i]n it.
With regard to the last incident, on March 27, 2004 [the March 2004 incident], it was AAA’s mother who saw [Pareja] in the act of lifting the skirt of her daughter AAA while the latter was asleep. Outraged, AAA’s mother immediately brought AAA to the barangay officers to report the said incident. AAA then narrated to the barangay officials that she had been sexually abused by [Pareja] x x x many times x x x.
Subsequently, AAA, together with her mother, proceeded to the Child Protection Unit of the Philippine General Hospital for a medical and genital examination. On March 29, 2004, Dr. Tan issued Provisional Medico–Legal Report Number 2004–03–0091. Her medico–legal report stated the following conclusion:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryHymen: Tanner Stage 3, hymenal remnant from 5–7 o’clock area, Type of hymen: CrescenticAfter the results of the medico–legal report confirmed that AAA was indeed raped, AAA’s mother then filed a complaint for rape before the Pasay City Police Station.
x x x
Genital findings show Clear Evidence of Blunt Force or Penetrating Trauma.
To exculpate himself from liability, [Pareja] offered both denial and ill motive of AAA against him as his defense. He denied raping [AAA] but admitted that he knew her as she is the daughter of his live–in partner and that they all stay in the same house.
Contrary to AAA’s allegations, [Pareja] averred that it would have been impossible that the alleged incidents happened. To justify the same, [Pareja] described the layout of their house and argued that there was no way that the alleged sexual abuses could have happened.
According to [Pareja], the house was made of wood, only about four (4) meters wide by ten (10) meters, and was so small that they all have to sit to be able to fit inside the house. Further, the vicinity where their house is located was thickly populated with houses constructed side by side. Allegedly, AAA also had no choice but to sleep beside her siblings.
All taken into account, [Pareja] asseverated that it was hard to imagine how he could possibly still go about with his plan without AAA’s siblings nor their neighbors noticing the same.
Verily, [Pareja] was adamant and claimed innocence as to the imputations hurled against him by AAA. He contended that AAA filed these charges against him only as an act of revenge because AAA was mad at [him] for being the reason behind her parents’ separation.10
WHEREFORE, the herein accused Bernabe Pareja y Cruz is hereby acquitted from the charge of attempted rape in Crim. Case No. 04–1558, for want of evidence.
In Crim. Case No. 04–1556, the said accused is CONVICTED with Acts of Lasciviousness and he is meted out the penalty of imprisonment, ranging from 2 years, 4 months and 1 day as minimum to 4 years and 2 months of prision [correccional] as maximum.
In Crim. Case No. 04–1557, the said accused is CONVICTED as charged with rape, and he is meted the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
The accused shall be credited in full for the period of his preventive imprisonment.
The accused is ordered to indemnify the offended party [AAA], the sum of P50,000.00, without subsidiary imprisonment, in case of insolvency.12
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, the instant appeal is hereby DENIED and, consequently, DISMISSED. The appealed Decisions rendered by Branch 113 of the Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region in Pasay City on January 16, 2009 in Criminal Cases Nos. 04–1556 to 04–1557 are hereby AFFIRMED in toto.14ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
THE TRIAL COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN CONVICTING [PAREJA] OF THE CRIMES CHARGED NOTWITHSTANDING THAT HIS GUILT HAS NOT BEEN PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.II
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING [PAREJA] BASED SOLELY ON THE PROSECUTION WITNESS’ TESTIMONY.16
The private complainant’s actuations after the incident negate the possibility that she was raped.18
First, the Court gives the highest respect to the RTC’s evaluation of the testimony of the witnesses, considering its unique position in directly observing the demeanor of a witness on the stand. From its vantage point, the trial court is in the best position to determine the truthfulness of witnesses.
Second, absent any substantial reason which would justify the reversal of the RTC’s assessments and conclusions, the reviewing court is generally bound by the lower court’s findings, particularly when no significant facts and circumstances, affecting the outcome of the case, are shown to have been overlooked or disregarded.
And third, the rule is even more stringently applied if the CA concurred with the RTC. (Citations omitted.)
Rape is a painful experience which is oftentimes not remembered in detail. For such an offense is not analogous to a person’s achievement or accomplishment as to be worth recalling or reliving; rather, it is something which causes deep psychological wounds and casts a stigma upon the victim, scarring her psyche for life and which her conscious and subconscious mind would opt to forget. Thus, a rape victim cannot be expected to mechanically keep and then give an accurate account of the traumatic and horrifying experience she had undergone. (Citation omitted.)chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
The peculiar designation of time in the Information clearly violates Sec. 11, Rule 110, of the Rules Court which requires that the time of the commission of the offense must be alleged as near to the actual date as the information or complaint will permit. More importantly, it runs afoul of the constitutionally protected right of the accused to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. The Information is not sufficiently explicit and certain as to time to inform accused–appellant of the date on which the criminal act is alleged to have been committed.
The phrase “on or about the year 1992” encompasses not only the twelve (12 ) months of 1992 but includes the years prior and subsequent to 1992, e.g., 1991 and 1993, for which accused–appellant has to virtually account for his whereabouts. Hence, the failure of the prosecution to allege with particularity the date of the commission of the offense and, worse, its failure to prove during the trial the date of the commission of the offense as alleged in the Information, deprived accused–appellant of his right to intelligently prepare for his defense and convincingly refute the charges against him. At most, accused–appellant could only establish his place of residence in the year indicated in the Information and not for the particular time he supposedly committed the rape.
x x x
Indeed, the failure of the prosecution to prove its allegation in the Information that accused–appellant raped complainant in 1992 manifestly shows that the date of the commission of the offense as alleged was based merely on speculation and conjecture, and a conviction anchored mainly thereon cannot satisfy the quantum of evidence required for a pronouncement of guilt, that is, proof beyond reasonable doubt that the crime was committed on the date and place indicated in the Information.29 (Citation omitted.)
Moreover, there are discernible defects in the complaining witness’ testimony that militates heavily against its being accorded the full credit it was given by the trial court. Considered independently, the defects might not suffice to overturn the trial court’s judgment of conviction, but assessed and weighed in its totality, and in relation to the testimonies of other witnesses, as logic and fairness dictate, they exert a powerful compulsion towards reversal of the assailed judgment.31 (Emphasis supplied.)
Furthermore, settled is the rule that the testimony of a single witness may be sufficient to produce a conviction, if the same appears to be trustworthy and reliable. If credible and convincing, that alone would be sufficient to convict the accused. No law or rule requires the corroboration of the testimony of a single witness in a rape case.32 (Citations omitted.)
In People v. Ignacio, we took judicial notice of the interesting fact that among poor couples with big families living in small quarters, copulation does not seem to be a problem despite the presence of other persons around them. Considering the cramped space and meager room for privacy, couples perhaps have gotten used to quick and less disturbing modes of sexual congresses which elude the attention of family members; otherwise, under the circumstances, it would be almost impossible to copulate with them around even when asleep. It is also not impossible nor incredible for the family members to be in deep slumber and not be awakened while the sexual assault is being committed. One may also suppose that growing children sleep more soundly than grown–ups and are not easily awakened by adult exertions and suspirations in the night. There is no merit in appellant’s contention that there can be no rape in a room where other people are present. There is no rule that rape can be committed only in seclusion. We have repeatedly declared that “lust is no respecter of time and place,” and rape can be committed in even the unlikeliest of places. (Citations omitted.)
The failure of complainant to disclose her defilement without loss of time to persons close to her or to report the matter to the authorities does not perforce warrant the conclusion that she was not sexually molested and that her charges against the accused are all baseless, untrue and fabricated. Delay in prosecuting the offense is not an indication of a fabricated charge. Many victims of rape never complain or file criminal charges against the rapists. They prefer to bear the ignominy and pain, rather than reveal their shame to the world or risk the offenders’ making good their threats to kill or hurt their victims. (Citation omitted.)
[A] medical certificate is not necessary to prove the commission of rape, as even a medical examination of the victim is not indispensable in a prosecution for rape. Expert testimony is merely corroborative in character and not essential to conviction. x x x.
This Court has held time and again that testimonies of rape victims who are young and immature deserve full credence, considering that no young woman, especially of tender age, would concoct a story of defloration, allow an examination of her private parts, and thereafter pervert herself by being subject to a public trial, if she was not motivated solely by the desire to obtain justice for the wrong committed against her. Youth and immaturity are generally badges of truth. It is highly improbable that a girl of tender years, one not yet exposed to the ways of the world, would impute to any man a crime so serious as rape if what she claims is not true. (Citations omitted.)
Article 266–A. Rape, When and How Committed. – Rape is committed –
1) By a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances: a) Through force, threat or intimidation; b) When the offended party is deprived of reason or is otherwise unconscious, c) By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority; d) When the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age or is demented, even though none of the circumstances mentioned above be present; 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.
(1) In the first mode, the offender is always a man, while in the second, the offender may be a man or a woman; (2) In the first mode, the offended party is always a woman, while in the second, the offended party may be a man or a woman; (3) In the first mode, rape is committed through penile penetration of the vagina, while the second is committed by inserting the penis into another person’s mouth or anal orifice, or any instrument or object into the genital or anal orifice of another person; and (4) The penalty for rape under the first mode is higher than that under the second.
SEC. 4. Judgment in case of variance between allegation and proof. – When there is a variance between the offense charged in the complaint or information and that proved, and the offense as charged is included in or necessarily includes the offense proved, the accused shall be convicted of the offense proved which is included in the offense charged, or of the offense charged which is included in the offense proved.
SEC. 5. When an offense includes or is included in another. – An offense charged necessarily includes the offense proved when some of the essential elements or ingredients of the former, as alleged in the complaint or information, constitute the latter. And an offense charged is necessarily included in the offense proved, when the essential ingredients of the former constitute or form part of those constituting the latter.
Art. 336. Acts of lasciviousness. — Any person who shall commit any act of lasciviousness upon other persons of either sex, under any of the circumstances mentioned in the preceding article, shall be punished by prisión correccional.Clearly, the above–mentioned elements are present in the December 2003 incident, and were sufficiently established during trial. Thus, even though the crime charged against Pareja was for rape through carnal knowledge, he can be convicted of the crime of acts of lasciviousness without violating any of his constitutional rights because said crime is included in the crime of rape.54The elements of the above crime are as follows:
(1) That the offender commits any act of lasciviousness or lewdness; (2) That it is done under any of the following circumstances: a. By using force or intimidation; or b. When the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; or c. When the offended party is under 12 years of age; and (3) That the offended party is another person of either sex.53 (Citation omitted.)
Evidently, no woman, least of all a child, would concoct a story of defloration, allow examination of her private parts and subject herself to public trial or ridicule if she has not, in truth, been a victim of rape and impelled to seek justice for the wrong done to her being. It is settled jurisprudence that testimonies of child–victims are given full weight and credit, since when a woman or a girl–child says that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape was indeed committed.
1Rollo, pp. 2–15; penned by Associate Justice Isaias P. Dicdican with Associate Justices Jane Aurora C. Lantion and Rodil V. Zalameda, concurring.
2 CA rollo, pp. 17–27.
3 Under Republic Act No. 9262 also known as “Anti–Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004” and its implementing rules, the real name of the victim and those of her immediate family members are withheld and fictitious initials are instead used to protect the victim’s privacy.
4 CA rollo, p. 10.
5 Id. at 11.
6 Id. at 53.
7 Records, p. 20.
8 Id. at 37–38.
9 TSN, November 4, 2004, p. 3.
10Rollo, pp. 4–7.
11 CA rollo, pp. 52–62.
12 Id. at 62.
13 Id. at 28.
14Rollo, pp. 14–15.
15 Id. at 16–18.
16 CA rollo, pp. 45–46.
17Rollo, pp. 31–35.
18 Id. at 31.
19 CA rollo, pp. 48–49.
20 G.R. No. 197815, February 8, 2012, 665 SCRA 639, 643.
21People v. Manalili, G.R. No. 191253, August 28, 2013.
22People v. Rubio, G.R. No. 195239, March 7, 2012, 667 SCRA 753, 762.
23 G.R. No. 178406, April 6, 2011, 647 SCRA 374, 388.
24People v. Zafra, G.R. No. 197363, June 26, 2013.
26People v. Cantomayor, 441 Phil. 840, 847 (2002).
27People v. Escultor, 473 Phil. 717, 727 (2004).
28 377 Phil. 904 (1999).
29 Id. at 911–915.
30 Id. at 915.
31 Id. at 912.
32People v. Manalili, supra note 21.
33 CA rollo, p. 46.
34People v. Mangitngit, 533 Phil. 837, 854 (2006).
35 342 Phil. 499, 506–507 (1997).
36 CA rollo, p. 47.
37Rollo, pp. 31–32.
38People v. Pacheco, G.R. No. 187742, April 20, 2010, 618 SCRA 606, 615.
39People v. Saludo, supra note 23 at 394.
40 G.R. No. 182690, May 30, 2011, 649 SCRA 395, 412.
41 CA rollo, p. 48.
42 G.R. No. 200792, November 14, 2012, 685 SCRA 660, 673.
43 G.R. No. 182924, December 24, 2008, 575 SCRA 653, 671.
44People v. Abulon, 557 Phil. 428, 452–453 (2007).
45 Id. at 453–454.
46People v. Soria, G.R. No. 179031, November 14, 2012, 685 SCRA 483, 497.
47People v. Abulon, supra note 44 at 454.
48People v. Soria, supra note 46 at 497.
49 Supra note 44 at 454.
50Rollo, p. 13.
51People v. Abulon, supra note 44 at 455.
53People v. Dominguez, Jr., G.R. No. 180914, November 24, 2010, 636 SCRA 134, 158.
54Perez v. Court of Appeals, 431 Phil. 786, 797 (2002).
55 Code of Professional Responsibility, Rule 6.01.
56 Records, pp. 142–143.
57 TSN, May 27, 2008, p. 6.
58People v. Zafra, supra note 24.
59People v. Mangitngit, supra note 34 at 852.
60 358 Phil. 664, 674 (1998).
61 Republic Act No. 4103, as amended.
62 Id., Section 1.
63 Revised Penal Code, Articles 25 and 27.
64 Id., Article 64(1).
65 Republic Act No. 4103, as amended, Section 1.
66 Revised Penal Code, Article 77.
67People v. Garcia, G.R. No. 200529, September 19, 2012, 681 SCRA 465, 480–481.
68Sombilon, Jr. v. People, G.R. No. 175528, September 30, 2009, 601 SCRA 405, 421.