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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 131812. August 22, 2002.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. MANUEL YLANAN, Accused-Appellant.

D E C I S I O N


QUISUMBING, J.:


On appeal is the decision 1 dated April 15, 1997, of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 14, in Criminal Case No. CBU-41810, finding accused-appellant Manuel Ylanan guilty of rape and sentencing him to reclusion perpetua.cralaw : red

On August 14, 1996, a complaint was filed by Rosemarie Monopolio 2 accusing appellant of rape. The complaint reads:chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

That on or about the 13th day of August, 1996, at about 3:00 A.M., more or less, in the City of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, entered the room of the undersigned, and by means of force and intimidation, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously did lie and succeeded in having carnal knowledge of said Rosemarie Monopolio.

CONTRARY TO LAW. 3

On arraignment, assisted by counsel, appellant pleaded not guilty.

During trial, the prosecution presented complaining witness ROSEMARIE MONOPOLIO, a 15-year-old maiden from Zamboanga. She testified that she had worked for about a week as an all-around helper in the kitchenette of appellant Manuel Ylanan located at Mabolo Street, Cebu City. On August 13, 1996, at around 3:00 A.M., she said she was raped by appellant. While in the makeshift room in the kitchenette where she and her sister slept, according to her, she was awakened when appellant entered room and clamped his hand on her mouth, then placed a pillow against her face. She slapped appellant and pleaded for him to stop his advances. However, appellant persisted and succeeded to mount her from behind. He locked her arms and neck in a "full nelson hold," rendering her immobile and unable to resist. While mounting her, appellant threatened to kill her. He then inserted his penis inside her vagina. Rosemarie reported the rape to her aunt Leticia Agustin, 4 who came to the kitchenette that morning. This was around 9:00 A.M. Together, they reported the incident to the barangay and to the Mabolo police station. Rosemarie was then brought to the Cebu City Hospital where she was medically examined. 5

Dr. ESTERLITA FIEL, resident physician of Cebu City Medical Center, testified that she examined Rosemarie Monopolio on August 13, 1996 at around 10:30 A.M. and found fresh lacerations on her hymen at 2:00 o’clock and 10:00 o’clock positions. She opined that these lacerations could have been caused by sexual intercourse, bicycle riding, ballet dancing, horseback riding, and masturbation. 6

SPO1 ELBERT FLORES, SR. testified that he was assigned at Precinct No. 4 of Mabolo, Cebu City. He stated that he was one of those who invited appellant to their station for investigation. 7

LETICIA AGUSTIN, Rosemarie’s maternal aunt, testified that she accompanied Rosemarie to the barangay and the police station, as well as to the hospital after Rosemarie told her that Manuel raped her. She also testified that Manuel and Rosemarie were sweethearts, and that she did not understand the affidavit she signed at the police station. 8

The first defense witness was appellant MANUEL YLANAN. He admitted having copulated with private complainant, but denied raping her. For according to him, she consented to the sexual intercourse on August 13, 1996. He alleged that he was a widower and that he was attracted to Rosemarie and courted her. He even had plans of marrying Rosemarie. 9

A son of Manuel, MANOLINE CINCO FLORES, 10 years old, was also presented as witness for the defense. He testified that Rosemarie was introduced to him and his siblings by their father as their new mother. He also alleged that Rosemarie even took them out to a mall to win their affection. He said Rosemarie slept on the same bed with Manuel in the kitchenette. 10

On February 13, 1997, the prosecution presented JULIE FE MONOPOLIO as rebuttal witness. She denied that her sister Rosemarie and appellant Manuel were lovers. She claimed they were not close to their aunt Leticia.

After Julie’s testimony, the court required that Rosemarie be placed again on the witness stand, to the consternation and objection of the prosecution. She reiterated her testimony that she was raped by appellant. She denied that they were lovers. 11

AVELINA BOHOL was presented by the defense as sur-rebuttal witness. She testified that she was a housekeeper/helper of Manuel Ylanan. According to her, Rosemarie and Manuel were sweethearts as she would see Manuel kiss Rosemarie and the latter would not resist. 12

The last witness presented was BERNARDITA FAMUDULAN of the Institute of Religion and Culture (IRC) in Cebu City. She was identified as the custodian or guardian of Rosemarie. She testified that she works for the IRC as a seminar house staff. According to her, the IRC is a religious organization that aids abused victims. She testified that Rosemarie and her family were under IRC’s custody while her case was pending trial. Aside from IRC, LIHOK FILIPINA also helped Rosemarie. 13

On April 15, 1997, the trial court rendered its assailed decision disposing as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court hereby finds the accused Manuel Ylanan guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the rape and violation of the complainant Rosemarie Miaga Monopolio that evening of August 13, 1996 at Mabolo District in this city. He is hereby sentenced to RECLUSION PERPETUA and to indemnify the complainant in the amount of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) in concept of moral and exemplary damages.

The costs of these proceedings shall also be taxed against the accused.

SO ORDERED. 14

In this appeal, appellant alleges that the trial court erred,

I. . . . IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONY OF THE PRIVATE COMPLAINANT.

II. . . . IN NOT GIVING THE TESTIMONY OF THE CHILD WITNESS FOR THE DEFENSE EVIDENTIARY WEIGHT. 15

Essentially, the issue is one of witnesses’ credibility.

Appellant contends that the testimony of Rosemarie does not deserve credence. For one, appellant points out that Rosemarie did not even attempt to shout to get the attention of her sister who was sleeping nearby, although there were opportunities for her to do so. He casts doubts on her allegations, that (1) she slapped him despite her arms being locked by him; (2) she watched him rest and put on his clothes right after the alleged rape, which is not a normal response of a woman who had just been raped; and, (3) appellant was able to enter her from behind. He says this was incredible since it would be difficult for a man to enter a woman from behind, sexually, without her cooperation and consent.

Appellant also assails the trial court’s failure to appreciate the testimonies of the following witnesses: (1) Leticia, Rosemarie’s own aunt who testified that Rosemarie and appellant were sweethearts; (2) Dr. Fiel, the doctor who said that there were no hematomas on any part of Rosemarie’s body, indicating that there was no force inflicted upon her; (3) Manoline, a young and naive witness, whose testimony in court deserves full credence. 16

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), for the appellee, argues that the trial court did not commit any error in giving credence to the testimony of the prosecution witnesses. The OSG avers that the seemingly unnatural response of Rosemarie after the rape should not affect her credibility as there is no standard set of behavior when one is confronted by a startling experience. It also emphasizes that the absence of any hematoma or any external sign of injury does not necessarily negate rape. It dismisses appellant’s contention that Rosemarie and he were sweethearts and even if they were indeed sweethearts, this does not necessarily mean appellant did not rape her. There are such things as marital and date rapes. Finally, the OSG argues that penetration from behind was not sexually impossible. 17

Time and again, the Court has consistently followed three guiding principles in reviewing rape cases: (1) an accusation of rape can be made with facility and while the accusation is difficult to prove, it is even more difficult for the person accused, although innocent, to disprove; (2) considering the intrinsic nature of the crime, only two persons being usually involved, the testimony of the complainant should be scrutinized with great caution; and (3) the evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merit, and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the defense. 18 These are the guidelines that we utilized, and we are convinced that the present appeal has no merit.

On the issue concerning the credibility of witnesses, we have also consistently ruled that it is best left to the trial courts’ determination since, more often than not, they are in the unique position to physically observe closely the witnesses while testifying, an opportunity denied the appellate courts which usually rely on the cold pages of the mute records of the case. 19 In this case, after observing the complainant, the appellant, and their respective witnesses as to their demeanor, gestures, their voices and their conduct on the witness stand, the trial judge arrived at a favorable assessment of Rosemarie’s testimony. Judge Renato Dacudao found her version of the incident to be more credible than that of the appellant. On review, we find nothing on record to show that the trial judge overlooked, misunderstood or misappreciated certain facts and circumstances, which if considered would have altered the outcome of the case. We find that the trial court’s ruling on the issue of credibility worth savoring:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

The cold and barren words of the pertinent stenographic records, heretofore quoted, can hardly present in faithful and genuine perspective, the pain, suffering and anguish that were written over the face and form of complainant as she related on the witness box, at times in halting tones that reek with pathos and anger, the heart-rendering story of her ravishment and despoliation by the accused that evening of August 13, 1996. Indeed, as the poet says, they breathe truth who breathe their words in pain. For throughout her testimony the complainant was sobbing and wailing in pain (which, in the perception of the Court could not have been a sham or made-up act) when she narrated how the accused that evening in question, with his ungovernable libido, tiptoed into her makeshift bed, pushed her face down on the bed with his powerful hands, and when she slapped him, threatened to kill her and told her to shut up, then clamped his hand on her mouth; and then proceeded to lock his arms around her neck totally immobilizing her, and rendering her hors de combat; after which he pushed down with his feet and legs her shorts and panties, and then proceeded to penetrate her from behind with his male member.

It is of course true that the accused’s system is not exactly the normal way to copulate with a girl, even in a rape. But then truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, just as there is method even in madness. And, in the case at bench, the Court wishes to point this out, indeed the Court must will out with this, that the accused herein was literally smirking and smacking, with more than a dash of mischief in his eyes, as he sought to regale and tantalize the Court (and the people at the gallery, too) with his unusual sexual exhibition, evidently relishing and savoring every bit and morsel of his perverted and twisted machismo. (Rollo, pp. 133-134).

Appellant’s main defense is the trite "sweetheart theory." In People v. Domended, 20 we said that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

". . . we cannot imagine that a countrified lass, barely in her teens, will have the courage to engage in sexual intercourse with her middle-aged employer a week after commencing with her employment."cralaw virtua1aw library

Similarities of this case to Domended are striking. First, both complainants were 15-year-old girls who hailed from a distant rural area. They went to the city, wanting to try their luck and earn a living. Second, complainants were ravished by their middle-aged employers barely a week after they commenced their employment. Third, appellants in each case averred that the sexual encounters were borne out of mutual lust and desire, if not love. In Domended, we struck down appellant’s "sweetheart theory." We can do no less in this case.

For, the contention of appellant that he and Rosemarie were lovers does not square with the facts. It is a worn-out concoction which we find all too often in analogous cases. It is aimed to be a cover-up for what is now patent sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. In People v. Cambi 21 we said:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Also of additional significance is the fact that the appellant was Margie’s employer. Thus, appellant’s contention that there was no intimidation prior to the commission of the alleged carnal act is simply not true. Time and again this Court has held that intimidation must be viewed in the light of the victim’s perception and judgment at the time of the commission of the crime and not by any hard and fast rule. This Court is not blind to Margie’s unfortunate predicament of having been subjected to the unbridled lust of one who provided her and her siblings with a much needed source of livelihood. That appellant took advantage of his moral influence over his fifteen-year old worker cannot be denied. We more than understand, we sympathize with the plight of this poverty stricken barrio lass who must have agonized over the loss of her innocence but also feared the very thought of losing the hand that feeds her.

Moreover, even if arguendo Rosemarie and appellant were indeed lovers, such a relationship does not necessarily negate the commission of rape. The gravamen of the crime of rape is sexual congress of a man with a woman without her consent. 22 Love is not a license for carnal intercourse through force or intimidation. A sweetheart cannot be forced to have sex against her will. 23

Appellant’s reliance on Leticia’s and Avelina’s testimonies as well as that of his son, Manoline, does not serve him well. On Leticia’s testimony, the trial court keenly observed:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

To be sure, the Court had taken stock of the rather unfavorable [to the complainant] testimony of Leticia Agustin. But Leticia Agustin is definitely not a loyal aunt, one who is expected to root for Rosemarie or to be protective of her. For in her very straitened circumstances (Julie Fe Monopolio told the Court that during their brief sojourn with Leticia, she and Rosemarie were given food but once a day), it is quite understandable that Leticia would wish to rid herself of two additional mouths to feed and two free lodgers in her shanty, whilst pining for a slice of the cake which a settlement of the rape case would fetch (The evidence shows that she went with the accused’s son, "Boy" to Zamboanga to work out some kind of settlement of the rape case with Rosemarie’s parents, offering to that end the sum of P50,000.00). At the same time, the Court can not be unaware of the fact that Leticia was a former employee of the accused, and that she must owe him gratitude. In any event, the Court noticed that Rosemarie’s mother and Leticia, who are virtual look-alikes, traded baleful glances after Leticia stepped down from the witness box. Obviously there was no love lost between the two sisters. 24

Needless to stress, in Manoline’s testimony we see a young son trying to protect his father and keep him away from jail. How and why in so short time as one week, with long working hours, the private complainant would find time to ingratiate herself as a new "mother" to appellant’s children had been left unexplained. This tale is unworthy of belief.

Appellant asserts that the absence of any physical injury on the victim meant that no force or intimidation was employed on Rosemarie. However, force and intimidation depend on perception. What may constitute force or intimidation differs from person to person. Rosemarie categorically testified that she resisted appellant, but he was just too strong. He also rendered her immobile. No doubt he enjoyed moral ascendancy as employer over his new employee. Aside from this, he threatened to kill her. These circumstances more than suffice to sustain a finding that force and intimidation existed in this case. Besides, the absence of any hematoma or marks on Rosemarie’s body does not mean that she consented to the sexual act. Much less could one draw from that negative fact the conclusion that no force or intimidation was used against her. Proof of injuries is not indispensable in prosecutions for rape. 25 In People v. Dreu, 26 we held:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

It is of no moment either that the medical certificate fails to show that Josephine suffered any contusion or abrasion. Although the results of a medical examination may be considered strong evidence to prove that the victim was raped, such evidence is not indispensable in establishing accused-appellant’s guilt or innocence. . .

Rosemarie’s inability to scream to get the attention of her sister did not positively indicate willingness on her part to have sex with appellant. As she claimed, appellant was nearly suffocating her with a pillow and she was stricken with fear, which paralyzed and silenced her to suffer rather than risk more harm.

Appellant further claims that Rosemarie’s silence after the rape was unnatural and indicated her consent to the sexual act. Nothing is farther from the truth. Rosemarie’s reactions could indicate shock and fear. But note that immediately thereafter she reported the incident to her aunt. The very same day, they reported the rape to the barangay officials and to the police. She also willingly subjected herself to a medical examination. That she remained motionless after the rape and watched appellant dress did not mean consent. After having just undergone a traumatic experience she was naturally unnerved, even shocked to inaction. We have noted in a number of cases that there is no uniform reaction for persons subjected to sexual assault. Some may shout, some may faint, some may be shocked into insensibility, while others may openly welcome the intrusion. 27

We cannot likewise give any merit to appellant’s contention that Rosemarie’s testimony is inconsistent and incredible. We find her testimony straightforward, spontaneous and consistent even in the face of a long and grueling interrogation from the defense counsel. The rule is that when a rape victim’s testimony is straightforward and candid, unshaken by rigid cross-examination and unflawed by inconsistencies or contradictions in its material points, it must be given full faith and credit. 28

Appellant’s assertion that it is impossible for Rosemarie to have slapped him after he had held her hands is misleading. What she said is that she slapped him after she was awakened by his unwanted touch and before she was rendered immobile. 29

Contrary to appellant’s defense, having carnal knowledge of a woman from behind without the latter’s consent is not impossible. Complainant testified that appellant mounted her and held her in such a way as to render her immobile, removed her shorts and undergarments and forcefully spread her legs with the use of his feet and proceeded to insert his penis into her private parts from behind. She testified that she was penetrated for she felt stinging pain on that part of her anatomy. 30 Moreover, the prosecution presented Dr. Fiel, who testified that the victim suffered several lacerations on her private parts. They show that she had indeed been sexually abused, but more important, that she struggled, against forcible coitus. These facts were not successfully rebutted by Appellant.

Appellant’s contention that it would have been impossible for him to rape Rosemarie without waking up Julie Fe who was sleeping nearby also deserves scant consideration. Julie Fe explained she was in a deep slumber due to lack of sleep and fatigue the previous days. We also note that even appellant admits that it was possible for him and Rosemarie to engage in sex without disturbing Julie Fe. The smallness of the make-shift room did not mean that rape was impossible. Lust is no respecter of time or place. 31 Rape may be committed in the most unlikely places such as a small room where other family members also slept. 32

In sum, we agree with the trial court in giving credence to the testimony of Rosemarie and the prosecution witnesses. Given the natural modesty and shyness of a 15-year-old barrio lass, in our view, Rosemarie would not fabricate a rape charge, expose herself to the rigors and intrusions of a medical examination, as well as the scandal of a public trial, if said charge were not true. 33 Appellant also failed to establish any reason or motive why Rosemarie would falsely testify, against him, Absent any showing of ill motive on her part, Rosemarie’s testimony deserves utmost weight and credence. 34 And considering all the evidence on record, we agree that the appellant is guilty as charged.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

However, we note that the trial court awarded P100,000 for moral and exemplary damages. This is not accurate, for the trial court should have specified which amount referred to what damages. Pursuant to current jurisprudence, as civil indemnity, P50,000 should be awarded in a rape case, but moral damages should also be awarded to the victim in the amount of P50,000. To discourage the abuse of young girls, especially by their elders, such as employers, the amount of P25,000 could also be awarded as exemplary damages.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City in Criminal Case No. CBU-41810, finding accused-appellant MANUEL YLANAN guilty of rape is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. He is sentenced to reclusion perpetua, and ordered to pay the victim, Rosemarie Monopolio, the following: (1) civil indemnity of P50,000; (2) moral damages fixed at P50,000; and (3) exemplary damages in the amount of P25,000, together with the costs.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo, Mendoza and Corona, JJ., concur.

Endnotes:



1. Rollo, pp. 16-48.

2. Also referred to as "Manopolio" in the records.

3. Rollo, p. 4.

4. "Letecia" in some parts of the records.

5. TSN, November 18, 1996, pp. 4-28.

6. TSN, January 21, 1997, pp. 3-11.

7. TSN, January 22, 1997, pp. 2-5.

8. Id. at 14-18; TSN, January 23, 1997, pp. 3-8.

9. TSN, February 3, 1997, pp. 3-16.

10. TSN, February 11, 1997, pp. 3-8.

11. TSN, February 13, 1997, pp. 5-8, 28-33.

12. TSN, February 25, 1997, pp. 2, 6.

13. Id. at 13-18.

14. Rollo, pp. 47-48.

15. Id. at 82.

16. Id. at 114-139.

17. Id. at 201-208.

18. People v. Serrano, G.R. No. 137480, 353 SCRA 161, 169 (2001) citing People v. Gallo, G.R. No. 124736, 284 SCRA 590, 612 (1998); People v. Barrientos, G.R. No. 119835, 285 SCRA 221, 237-238 (1998); People v. Balmoria, G.R. Nos. 120620-21, 287 SCRA 687, 698 (1998); People v. Sta. Ana, G.R. Nos. 115657-59, 291 SCRA 188, 202 (1998); People v. Perez, G.R. No. 118332, 270 SCRA 526, 531 (1997).

19. People v. Velasco, G.R. Nos. 135231-33, 353 SCRA 138 (2001) citing People v. Castillo, G.R. No. 130205, 335 SCRA 100, 111-112 (2000).

20. G.R. No. 137564, March 30, 2001, p. 13.

21. G.R. No. 127131, 333 SCRA 305, 316-317 (2000).

22. See People v. Yparraguire, G.R. No. 124391, 335 SCRA 69, 76 (2000).

23. People v. Jimenez, G.R. No. 128364, 302 SCRA 607, 618 (1999) citing People v. Gecomo, G.R. Nos. 115035-36, 254 SCRA 82, 110 (1996).

24. Rollo, p. 46.

25. See People v. Docena, G.R. Nos. 131894-98, 322 SCRA 820, 829 (2000).

26. G.R. No. 126282, 334 SCRA 62, 70 (2000).

27. People v. Cambi, supra at 315, citing People v. Silvano, G.R. No. 127356, 309 SCRA 362, 392 (1999).

28. People v. Baway, G.R. No. 130406, 350 SCRA 29 (2001) citing People v. Caratay, G.R. Nos. 119418, 119436-37, 316 SCRA 251, 267 (1999); People v. Bonghanoy, G.R. No. 124097, 308 SCRA 383, 390 (1999); People v. Perez, G.R. No. 122764 296 SCRA 17, 27 (1998).

29. See TSN, November 18, 1996, p. 38. Emphasis supplied.

30. TSN, November 18, 1996, pp. 19-20.

31. People v. Alcartado, G.R. Nos. 132379-82, 334 SCRA 701, 717 (2000).

32. See People v. Baybado, G.R. No. 132136, 335 SCRA 712, 720-721 (2000).

33. See People v. Taño, G.R. No. 133872, 331 SCRA 449, 461 & 462 (2000)

34. See People v. Velasco, supra at 15, citing People v. Gementiza, G.R. No. 123151, 285 SCRA 478, 486 (1998).

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