G.R. No. 208623, July 23, 2014
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. VIRGILIO ANTONIO Y RIVERA, Accused-Appellant.
R E S O L U T I O N
Criminal Case No. 10244
That on or about and sometime in the year 2001, in the Municipality of Alcala, Cagayan and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, VI[R]GILIO ANTONIO, with lewd design and by the use of force, threat, and intimidation, did [then] and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual intercourse with the offended party, [AAA], a minor 14 years of age5 against her will.
That in the commission of the offense[,] the aggravating circumstance of uninh[a]bited place was present.
Contrary [to law].6
Criminal Case No. 10245
That on or about August 26, 2003, in the Municipality of Alcala, Province of Cagayan[,] within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, VIRGILIO ANTONIO, being then the guardian of the private complainant [AAA], a minor 14 years of age[,] who was then under his care and custody[,] with lewd design and by the use of force, threat and intimidation, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously have sexual intercourse with the offended party, [AAA], a minor 14 years of [age] against her will.
Contrary to law.7
In March of 2001, eleven[-]year old [AAA] began living with [accused-appellant’s] family in Maraburab, Alcala, Cagayan Province after her parents had separated. [Accused-appellant] and his wife, Rose, are [AAA’s] godparents[,] who treated her as one of their own children x x x.
Sometime in April 2001, [accused-appellant], who maintains a farm in the highlands of Cagayan, asked [AAA] to help him harvest palay there. Alone together, [accused-appellant] and [AAA], started for the farm very early that April morning. After an hour’s walk, they reached the place and immediately began to harvest palay x x x.
Just before lunch time, [accused-appellant] led [AAA] to a bamboo grove within the farm. Once there, he threatened to kill her if she told anyone regarding what he was about to do. [Accused-appellant] lost no time in making [AAA] lie down. After which, he took off her shorts and underwear. Although very much alarmed, he likewise removed his own shorts and underwear. [AAA] could not do anything as she was afraid because they were alone x x x.
With both their private parts now uncovered, [accused-appellant] inserted his penis into [AAA’s] vagina. She felt pain course through her genitals. Helpless, [AAA] could only cry and mutter “aray”. After awhile, she felt liquid emitting from [accused-appellant’s] penis. Satiated, [accused-appellant] threatened [AAA] with death once again if she reveals to anyone that he had abused her. They went home later that afternoon. Fearful of [accused-appellant’s] threat, [AAA] did not dare to reveal to anyone regarding her ordeal and went on to stay with [accused-appellant] and his family x x x.
On the evening of August 26, 2003, Rose Antonio, together with her two children with [accused-appellant], went to the town proper of Alcala to celebrate its fiesta. [AAA] and [accused-appellant] were left alone in the house on that night. She went to bed around eight in the evening. However, around 10PM, she was awakened by the weight of [accused-appellant] bearing down on her body. [Accused-appellant] was wearing a shirt and nothing else. She realized to her horror that her shorts and underwear had already been removed. [Accused-appellant] soon began to insert his penis into her vagina. He made a push-pull movement for awhile. [AAA] was not able to shout a single word inside the room which had no light on x x x.
[In] the morning of August 27, 2003, May Dumalay, [accused-appellant’s] niece, confronted [AAA] regarding her suspicions that something happened between her and [accused-appellant]. [AAA] finally admitted that [accused-appellant] had raped her. May Dumalay then told [accused-appellant’s] wife, Rose Antonio what [AAA] related to her. In turn, Rose Antonio told [AAA’s] father regarding the unfortunate developments. When her father and the barangay captain of Maraburab confronted [AAA], she told all the incidents of sexual abuse committed by [accused-appellant] x x x.
On August 28, 2003, Barangay Captain Rey De Luna of Maraburab accompanied [AAA] to the local office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). After being interviewed, [AAA] was brought to the police station in Alcala[,] Cagayan x x x. Eventually, she was examined by the Medico-legal Officer of Alcala, Dr. Rafael Sumabat x x x. His findings on [AAA] were: 1) On examination[,] abdomen is soft, palpable mass noted. External genitalia and thighs are normal. No evidence of trauma; 2) On examination of genitalia, there are old lacerations of hymen at 3-6-9 o’clock respectively; 3) Vagina admits one finger easily and presence of whitish secretions inside vagina. Pregnancy test negative x x x.10
ACCORDINGLY, accused VIRGILIO ANTONIO y Rivera is hereby found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of Rape for two (2) counts, in Criminal Case Nos. 10244 and 10245 defined and penalized under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act 7659 and further amended by Republic Act No. 8353; and Article 266 (A) No. 1 in relation to Article 266 (B) No. 1 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 8353 and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua in each case; to pay [AAA] the amount of ONE HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND ([P]150,000[.00]) PESOS as civil indemnity, ONE HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND ([P]150,000.00) PESOS as moral damages and FIFTY THOUSAND ([P]50,000.00) PESOS as exemplary damages.
The preventive imprisonment of the accused shall be credited in full in his favor if he abided in writing by the rules imposed upon convicted prisoners.
No pronouncement as to costs.
In Our review of the penalty imposed on [accused-appellant], We have noted that the trial court considered the qualifying aggravating circumstance of relationship, since [accused-appellant] is supposedly the guardian of [AAA].
In People v. Flores, the Supreme Court held that the guardian must be a person who has legal relationship with his ward. The court adhered to the theory that a guardian must be one who has been legally appointed.
In this case, however, We note with great significance that the fact of being a guardian was not alleged in the Informations as a qualifying aggravating circumstance. Instead, there was merely a stipulation during the pre-trial hearing that accused-appellant was the “godfather” of [AAA], without showing that accused-appellant was legally constituted in law as the “guardian” of [AAA]. On the other hand, the fact of minority of [AAA] has been proven by her birth certificate and confirmed by her physical appearance.
Consequently, on the first count of rape, We find the existence of the aggravating circumstances of minority of [AAA] and commission of the sexual abuse in an uninhabited place. On the second count of rape, We find the fact of minority of [AAA] as the sole aggravating circumstance. Both crimes are penalized by Reclusion Perpetua. However, We shall reduce the award of civil indemnity from P75,000.00 to P50,000.00 and moral damages from P75,000.00 to P50,000.00, for each count of rape since accused-appellant is only guilty of simple rape. On the other hand, the award of exemplary damages in the amount of P25,000.00 should be increased to P30,000.00, for each count of rape in line with the recent jurisprudence, to set an example for public good.18 (Citations omitted)
Q: What was that incident that happened while you and your ninong were in the mountain? A: We went in the bamboo groves, sir. Q: And when you reached the bamboo groves, what happened there[,] madam witness? COURT: Make it of record that the witness started crying. A: My ninong threatened me, sir. Q: How did he threaten you? A: He told me that he will kill me if I will report the matter to anybody, sir. Q: After he uttered those threatening words to you, what happened next if there was any? A: He laid me down, sir. Q: After that[,] what happened next when he laid you down? A: After he laid me down, he removed my short pants and my underwear and after that[,] he removed his pants and brief, sir. Q: When he was removing his pants and brief, why did you not ran (sic) away? A: Because I was afraid because nobody was there[.] [W]e do (sic) not have any companion, sir. Q: After removing his pants and brief, what happened next? A: He inserted his private part into my vagina, sir. Q: What was your position when he inserted his penis in your vagina[?] A: I was lying down, sir.22
Q: You said that you were left behind in the house of your uncle the night of August 26, 2003[.] [W]hat time[,] if you can still recall[,] when you went to bed to sleep? A: 8:00 o’clock, sir. Q: How about your ninong Virgilio Antonio[?] [W]here was he when you went to sleep[,] madam witness? A: He also went to sleep, sir. Q: Do you recall if your sleep was interrupted? A: Yes, sir. Q: What time [was that] when you were awaken? (sic) A: About 10:00 o’clock in the evening, sir. Q: Why, what happened during that night? A: When I woke up, I noticed that my ninong was on top of me, sir. Q: Can you describe his appearance when he was on top of you? A: He moved in a push and pull position. Q: Was he with his pants at that time? A: He has (sic) his t-shirt but he was naked down. Q: What were you wearing when you slept that night? A: T-shirt and underwear, sir. Q: What about your clothing[?] [W]hat happened with your clothing? A: When I woke up[,] I [no longer had] my short[s] and panty. Q: When you noticed that you were already naked, did you not shout? A: I shouted, sir. Q: What did you utter when you shouted? A: I did not shout, sir. Q: Aside from noticing that you were naked down, what did you notice? A: He inserted his penis in my vagina, sir. Q: How long did he insert his penis in your vagina? A: I cannot remember because I was sleeping at that time, sir. Q: Can you describe his body movement when he inserted his penis in your vagina? A: He was doing the push and pull movement[,] sir.23
Discrepancies referring only to minor details and collateral matters—not to the central fact of the crime—do not affect the veracity or detract from the essential credibility of witnesses’ declarations, as long as these are coherent and intrinsically believable on the whole. For a discrepancy or inconsistency in the testimony of a witness to serve as a basis for acquittal, it must establish beyond doubt the innocence of the appellant for the crime charged. It cannot be overemphasized that the credibility of a rape victim is not diminished, let alone impaired, by minor inconsistencies in her testimony.27 (Citations omitted)
1Rollo, pp. 14-15.
2 Penned by Associate Justice Manuel M. Barrios, with Associate Justices Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando and Normandie B. Pizarro, concurring; CA rollo, pp. 110-121.
3 Issued by Judge Lyliha L. Abella-Aquino; id. at 14-25.
4 The real name of the victim, her personal circumstances and other information which tend to establish or compromise her identity, as well as those of her immediate family or household members, shall not be disclosed to protect her privacy and fictitious initials shall, instead, be used, in accordance with People v. Cabalquinto (533 Phil. 703 ), and A.M. No. 04-11-09-SC dated September 19, 2006.
5 According to AAA’s birth certificate and the parties’ stipulation, she was born on May 28, 1989, thus, she was 11 years old and not 14 when the alleged first rape incident took place in April of 2001; CA rollo, p. 17.
6 Id. at 14.
7 Id. at 15.
9 Id. at 16.
10 Id. at 86-88.
11 Id. at 55.
12 Id. at 14-25.
13 Id. at 24-25.
14 Please see Brief for the Accused-Appellant; id. at 56-59.
15 Please see Brief for the Plaintiff-Appellee, id. at 93, 98.
16 Id. at 110-121.
17 597 Phil. 459 (2009).
18 CA rollo, pp. 119-120.
19 People of the Philippines v. Hermenigildo Delen y Esco Billa, G.R. No. 194446, April 21, 2014, citing People v. Leonardo, G.R. No. 181036, July 6, 2010, 624 SCRA 166, 193.
20People v. Valdez, 466 Phil. 116, 129 (2004), citing People v. Colisao, 423 Phil. 229, 238 (2001).
21 Id. at 129-130, citing People v. Flores, 423 Phil. 687, 698-699 (2001).
22 CA rollo, pp. 116-117.
23 Id. at 117-118.
24People of the Philippines v. Hermenigildo Delen y Esco Billa, supra note 19, citing People v. Oden, 471 Phil. 638, 667 (2004).
26 G.R. No. 178321, October 5, 2011, 658 SCRA 654.
27 Id. at 671.
28 CA rollo, p. 15.
30People v. Flores, G.R. No. 188315, August 25, 2010, 629 SCRA 478, 493.
31 AAA was 11 and not 14 years old when the first rape incident occurred. However, the case does not fall under Article 266-A(1)(d) of the Revised Penal Code punishing rape perpetrated against victims who are under 12 years of age, because the information filed in court alleged that AAA was 14 years old. To the accused-appellant pertains the inviolable right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him (Please see People v. Arcillas, G.R. No. 181491, July 30, 2012, 677 SCRA 624, 637).
32 People v. De Leon, 608 Phil. 701, 723 (2009), citing Palaganas v. People, 533 Phil. 169, 194 (2006).
33People v. Cruz, G.R. No. 201728, July 17, 2013, 701 SCRA 548, 559-560.