G.R. No. 208469, August 13, 2014
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. SAMUEL “TIW-TIW” SANICO, Accused-Appellant.
R E S O L U T I O N
In Criminal Case No. 12021 for Acts of Lasciviousness
That at more or less 1:00 P.M. of April 19, 2006 at XXX City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd design, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously commit acts of lasciviousness upon the person of AAA,8 a twelve (12) year [old] minor, by touching her breast against her will, to the damage and prejudice of the latter in such amount as may be proven in Court.
CONTRARY TO LAW: (Article 336 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended in relation to R.A. [No.] 7610)9 (Citation omitted)
In Criminal Case No. 12022 for Rape
That sometime in the year 2005 at XXX City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by means of force, threat or intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge with one AAA, a twelve (12) year old minor, against her will.
CONTRARY TO LAW: (Article 266-A, par. (1)(a), in relation to Article 266-B, par. 6(10) of R.A. [No.] 8353 in relation to R[.]A[.] [No.] 7610)10 (Citation omitted)
WHEREFORE, the prosecution having established the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt in the offenses as charge[d], in criminal case no. 12022 for rape[,] he is sentenced to reclusion perpetua, to pay [AAA][,] through her father[,] the sum of Fifty Thousand Pesos ([P]50,000.00) as civil indemnity and another Fifty Thousand Pesos ([P]50,000.00) as moral damages. In criminal case no 12021 for acts of lasciviousness, he is sentenced to suffer imprisonment of 4 years, 2 months and 1 day to 6 years. He is further ordered to pay [AAA] the sum of Twenty Five Thousand Pesos ([P]25,000.00) as moral damages and another Twenty Five Thousand Pesos ([P]25,000.00) as exemplary damages.
He shall serve his sentence at Davao Prison and Penal Farms, Panabo City, Davao del Norte. In the service of his sentence[,] he shall be credited with the full time benefit of his preventive imprisonment provided he agrees in writing to abide by the same disciplinary rules imposed upon convicted prisoners[,] otherwise[,] if he does not[,] he shall be entitled with only four-fifths (4/5) of his preventive imprisonment pursuant to Article 29 as amended of the [RPC].
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is hereby DISMISSED. The October 13, 2009 Omnibus Judgment of the [RTC] of Butuan City, Branch 1, is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION as follows:cralawlawlibrary
1) In Criminal Case No. 12021, [the accused-appellant] is sentenced to 8 years and 1 day of prision mayor as minimum to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal as maximum. The moral and exemplary damages of [P]25,000.00 each awarded by the court a quo are reduce[d] to [P]15,000.00 each. He is further ordered to pay civil indemnity of [P]20,000.00 and a fine of [P]15,000.00. 2) In Criminal Case No. 12022, being in accordance with the law and the evidence, [the accused-appellant] is sentenced to reclusion perpetua. In addition to the awards of civil indemnity of [P]50,000.00 and moral damages of [P]50,000.00, [the accused-appellant] is further ordered to pay AAA exemplary damages in the amount of [P]30,000.00. 3) [The accused-appellant] is further ordered to pay interest at the rate of twelve percent (12%) per annum on all the damages awarded in this case from date of finality of this judgment until fully paid.
[A]n assiduous review of the arguments [the accused-appellant] proffered reveals that what was questioned by him was his conviction for the crime of rape only. In fact, in his appellant’s brief, he emphasized that he is liable only for the charge of acts of lasciviousness after having admitted that he merely touched the breast of AAA and asked the latter to remove her short pants for him to see her private part. Apparently, [the] accused-appellant no longer assailed his conviction [for] the crime of acts of lasciviousness.
This notwithstanding, we are constrained to review the entire records of the case pursuant to the settled rule that when an accused appeals from the sentence of the trial court, he waives his constitutional safeguard against double jeopardy and throws the whole case open to the review of the appellate court, which is then called upon to render such judgment as the law and justice dictate, whether favorable or unfavorable to them, and whether they are assigned as errors or not. x x x
x x x x
While we sustain [the] accused-appellant’s conviction of acts of lasciviousness, yet, we nonetheless modify the penalty imposed and the damages awarded by the court a quo. x x x [W]e find that the court a quo erroneously imposed the penalty [for] the crime of acts of lasciviousness under Article 336 of the RPC in relation to RA 7610. It is important to note that [the] accused-appellant was charged [with] acts of lasciviousness under Article 336 of the RPC in relation to RA 7610 which defines sexual abuse of children and prescribes the penalty therefore under Article III, Section 5 thereof. Certainly, [the] accused-appellant was sufficiently informed of the accusation against him and he can thus be convicted of the crime of acts of lasciviousness under RA 7610 based on the evidence presented against him. Article III, Section 5, of RA 7610 reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrarySection 5. Child Prostitution and Other Sexual Abuse -Children, whether male or female, who for money or profit, or any other consideration or due to the coercion or influence of any adult, syndicate or group, indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be children exploited in prostitution and other sexual abuse.
The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua shall be imposed upon the following:(a) x x xParagraph (b) punishes sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct not only with a child exploited in prostitution, but also with a child subjected to other sexual abuses. It covers not only a situation where a child is abused for profit, but also where one – through coercion, intimidation or influence – engages in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child.
(b) Those who commit the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child exploited in prostitution or subject to other sexual abuse; Provided, That when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age, the perpetrators shall be prosecuted under Article 335, paragraph 3 for rape and Article 336 of Act No. 3815, as amended, the Revised Penal Code, for rape or lascivious conduct, as the case may be; Provided, That the penalty for lascivious conduct when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age shall be reclusion temporal in its medium period, x x x.
x x x x
The elements of sexual abuse under Section 5, Article III of RA 7610 are the following:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary[T]here is no doubt that [the] accused-appellant is guilty of acts of lasciviousness under Section 5(b), Article XIII of RA 7610 after having admitted the lascivious conduct he made with AAA. It is undisputed that AAA was still 12 years old when the crime happened and as admitted by [the] accused-appellant himself, he was touching AAA because AAA was looking for money inside his pocket and he told AAA to remove her short pants for him to see her private part. x x x.
- The accused commits the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
- The said act is performed with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse; andChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
- The child, whether male or female, is below 18 years of age.
It is important to note however that a child is deemed subjected to other sexual abuse when the child indulges in lascivious conduct under the coercion or influence of any adult. x x x
x x x x
Undoubtedly, [the] accused-appellant’s acts were covered by the definitions of sexual abuse and lascivious conduct under Section 2(g) and (h) of the Rules and Regulations on the Reporting and Investigation of Child Abuse Cases promulgated to implement the provisions of RA 7610, particularly on child abuse:(g) “Sexual abuse” includes the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of a child to engage in, or assist another person to engage in, sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct or the molestation, prostitution, or incest with children;chanroblesvirtuallawlibraryIndubitably, AAA was deemed to be [a] “child subjected to other sexual abuse” as defined above. Accordingly, the imposable penalty should be the penalty prescribed under RA 7610 and not the penalty under Article 336 of the RPC as imposed by the court a quo. In People v. Leonardo, the Supreme Court ruled that the penalty to be imposed for violation of Section 5, Article III of RA 7610 is as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
(h) “Lascivious conduct” means the intentional touching, either directly or through clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks, or the introduction of any object into the genitalia, anus or mouth, of any person, whether of the same or opposite sex, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, bestiality, masturbation, lascivious exhibition of the genitals or [pubic] area of a person. x x xFor acts of lasciviousness performed on a child under Section 5(b), Article III of Republic Act No. 7610, the penalty prescribed is reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua. Notwithstanding that Republic Act No. 7610 is a special law, the [accused-] appellant may enjoy the benefits of the Indeterminate Sentence Law.
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the [accused-]appellant shall be entitled to a minimum term to be taken within the range of the penalty next lower to that prescribed by Republic Act No. 7610. The penalty next lower in degree is prision mayor medium to reclusion temporal minimum, the range of which is from 8 years and 1 day to 14 years and 8 months. On the other hand, the maximum term of the penalty should be taken from the penalty prescribed under Section 5(b), Article III of Republic Act No. 7610, which is reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua, the range of which is from 14 years, 8 months and 1 day to reclusion perpetua. The minimum, medium and maximum term of the same is as follows: minimum – 14 years, 8 months and 1 day to 17 years and 4 months; medium – 17 years, 4 months and 1 day to 20 years; and maximum – reclusion perpetua.
Thus, in this case, we imposed on [the] accused-appellant the indeterminate sentence of 8 years and 1 day of prision mayor as minimum to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal as maximum.
Corollarily, in view of recent jurisprudence, we deem it proper to reduce the amount of moral and exemplary damages awarded by the court a quo from [P]25,000.00 each to [P]15,000.00 each. [The] accused-appellant is however ordered to pay civil indemnity of [P]20,000.00 and a fine of [P]15,000.00.39 (Citations omitted)
Indubitably, it is unimaginable for a young girl like AAA to concoct a tale of defloration, drag herself and the rest of her family to a lifetime of shame, and make them the object of gossip among their neighbors and friends if the accusation was indeed untrue. x x x.
x x x x
The contention of [the] accused-appellant that the rape allegedly committed on April 19, 2006 was highly implausible because of the absence of fresh lacerations and spermatozoa in AAA’s vagina is untenable. It should be emphasized that [the] accused-appellant was charged [with] rape that occurred sometime in 2005 and not on April 19, 2006. The fact that only old healed lacerations were found does not negate rape. x x x:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryx x x In People v. Espinoza, it was held that healed lacerations do not negate rape. In fact, lacerations, whether healed or fresh, are the best physical evidence of forcible defloration. x x x.chanrobleslaw
Moreover, in the present case, Dr. Orais clarified to the court that even if the alleged sexual assault took place in the year 2005 or a year after AAA was examined, the old healed lacerations could still be found.
x x x x
[T]he absence of spermatozoa does not disprove rape, In fact, in People v. Perez, it was held that:cralawlawlibrary
x x x The absence of spermatozoa is not a negation of rape. The presence or absence of spermatozoa is immaterial since it is penetration, not ejaculation, which constitutes the crime of rape. x x x.
x x x x
As to the award of damages, x x x the victim shall likewise be entitled to exemplary damages in the amount of Thirty Thousand Pesos ([P]30,000.00) as justified under Article 2229 of the Civil Code to set a public example and serve as a deterrent against the elders who abuse and corrupt the youth.41 (Citations omitted)
We are aware that the Information specifically charged petitioner with Acts of Lasciviousness under the RPC, without stating therein that it was in relation to R.A. No. 7610. However, the failure to designate the offense by statute or to mention the specific provision penalizing the act, or an erroneous specification of the law violated, does not vitiate the information if the facts alleged therein clearly recite the facts constituting the crime charged. The character of the crime is not determined by the caption or preamble of the information nor by the specification of the provision of law alleged to have been violated, but by the recital of the ultimate facts and circumstances in the complaint or information.
In the instant case, the body of the Information contains an averment of the acts alleged to have been committed by petitioner and unmistakably describes acts punishable under Section 5(b), Article III of R.A. No. 7610.45 (Citation omitted)
Nor can we widen the scope of our appellate jurisdiction on the basis of the fact that the trial court heard two (2) distinct and separate cases simultaneously. Such procedure [referring to the conduct of a joint trial] adopted by the trial court cannot and did not result in the merger of the two (2) offenses. In fact, a cursory reading of the assailed decision of the court a quo reveals with pristine clarity that each case was separately determined by the trial judge, as each should be separately reviewed on appeal. x x x.47
It is a fundamental rule that the trial court’s factual findings, especially its assessment of the credibility of witnesses, are accorded great weight and respect and binding upon this Court, particularly when affirmed by the Court of Appeals. This Court has repeatedly recognized that the trial court is in the best position to assess the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies because of its unique position of having observed that elusive and incommunicable evidence of the witnesses’ deportment on the stand while testifying, which opportunity is denied to the appellate courts. Only the trial judge can observe the furtive glance, blush of conscious shame, hesitation, flippant or sneering tone, calmness, sigh, or the scant or full realization of an oath. These are significant factors in evaluating the sincerity of witnesses, in the process of unearthing the truth. The appellate courts will generally not disturb such findings unless it plainly overlooked certain facts of substance and value that, if considered, might affect the result of the case.
* Acting Working Chairperson per Special Order No. 1741 dated July 31, 2014 vice Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro.
** Acting Member per Special Order No. 1738 dated July 31, 2014 vice Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro.
1 See Notice of Appeal, rollo, pp. 32-34.
2 Penned by Associate Justice Jhosep Y. Lopez, with Associate Justices Edgardo T. Lloren and Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, concurring; CA rollo, pp. 66-94.
3 Issued by Judge Eduardo S. Casals; id. at 30-41.
4 Article 266-A. Rape: When and How Committed. – Rape is committed:cralawlawlibrary
1) By a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:a) Through force, threat, or intimidation;x x x x
b) When the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious;
c) By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority; and
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.
5 AN ACT EXPANDING THE DEFINITION OF THE CRIME OF RAPE, RECLASSIFYING THE SAME AS A CRIME AGAINST PERSONS, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE ACT NO. 3815, AS AMENDED, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE REVISED PENAL CODE AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
6 Article 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 prision correccional.
7 AN ACT PROVIDING FOR STRONGER DETERRENCE AND SPECIAL PROTECTION AGAINST CHILD ABUSE, EXPLOITATION AND DISCRIMINATION, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
8 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.
9 CA rollo, p. 67.
10 Id. at 67-68.
11 Id. at 68, 71.
12 Id. at 31.
13 Id. at 68, 74.
14 Id. at 68.
16 Id. at 68-70.
17 Id. at 70.
18 Id. at 70-71.
19 Id. at 72-74.
20 Id. at 74.
22 Id. at 74-75.
23 Id. at 76-77.
24 Id. at 30-41.
25People v. Losano, 369 Phil. 966, 978 (1999).
26People v. Pagpaguitan, 373 Phil. 856, 870 (1999).
27 CA rollo, pp. 38-40.
28 Id. at 40-41.
29 See Appellant’s Brief, id. at 17-29.
30People v. Buendia, 432 Phil. 471, 487 (2002).
31 CA rollo, p. 25.
32 Id. at 26.
33 See Brief for the Plaintiff-Appellee, id. at 46-63.
34People v. Cantomayor, 441 Phil. 840, 847 (2002).
35 CA rollo, pp. 58-60.
36 Id. at 60.
37 Id. at 66-94.
38 Id. at 90-93.
39 Id. at 79-84.
40Villareal v. People, G.R. No. 151258, February 1, 2012, 664 SCRA 519, 598.
41 CA rollo, pp. 88-92.
42 See the OSG’s Manifestation, rollo, pp. 38-41, and the Appellant’s Manifestation, rollo, pp. 51-53.
43 CA rollo, p. 67.
44 G.R. No. 186441, March 3, 2010, 614 SCRA 225.
45 Id. at 242.
46 406 Phil. 947 (2001).
47 Id. at 956.
48 See People v. Jose, G.R. No. 200053, October 23, 2013, 708 SCRA 608.
49 G.R. No. 194446, April 21, 2014.
50 Supra note 44, at 234, citing People v. Candaza, 524 Phil. 589, 605-606 (2006).
51People v. Valdez, 466 Phil. 116, 129 (2004).
52 CA rollo, pp. 68-70.
53 Id. at 25.
54People v. Cruz, G.R. No. 201728, July 17, 2013, 701 SCRA 548, 559-560.