Home of ChanRobles Virtual Law Library

 

Home of Chan Robles Virtual Law Library

www.chanrobles.com

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 138974. September 19, 2002.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ROBERTO SEGOVIA, Accused-Appellant.

D E C I S I O N


YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:


Before us is an appeal of the Decision 1 dated July 10, 1998 of the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City, Branch 22, in Criminal Case No. 32713, finding accused-appellant Roberto Segovia guilty of rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

Accused-appellant was charged with rape in an Information which reads as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

That on or about 22nd day of November 1987 in the Municipality of Nueva Valencia, Guimaras, Iloilo, Phils., and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, said accused armed with a knife, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, through the use of force, violence and intimidation, have sexual intercourse with a certain Miriam Montalvo, then a thirteen-year old and mentally defective child, without her consent and against her will.

Contrary to law. 2

Upon arraignment, Accused-appellant pleaded "not guilty" to the crime charged. Thereafter, the case was tried on the merits.

The facts are as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

The victim, thirteen year-old Miriam Montalvo, was a resident of Barangay Lanipe, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras, Iloilo. She regularly walked to school with her cousin, Stephen Deles. The two would pass by the store of accused-appellant to fetch his granddaughter, Jennylin Bilib-on, and bring her to school.

When Miriam and Stephen arrived at accused-appellant’s store in the morning of November 21, 1986, the latter told them that Jennylin had gone back home to fetch water. Accused-appellant insisted that they wait for her, but Stephen decided to go ahead since he did not want to be late for class. Accused-appellant invited Miriam to come in and wait for Jennylin inside the store. Miriam initially refused but later acceded upon accused-appellant’s insistence. When they got inside, Miriam sat on a stool while accused-appellant closed the door. Miriam started to feel uncomfortable and decided to leave, but accused-appellant held her left hand and pushed her towards a bamboo bed about two meters away. Accused-appellant pointed a knife at Miriam and lay on top of her. Miriam struggled and fought back but accused-appellant was too strong. He took off his shorts and brief and, after removing Miriam’s panties, forced her legs apart with his knees. Miriam felt intense pain as accused-appellant inserted and repeatedly thrust his penis into her vagina. After satisfying his lust, he again pointed the knife at Miriam’s neck and threatened to kill her if she told anybody what he did.

Miriam’s vagina bled profusely and stained her dress. After accused-appellant got up, Miriam put on her panties and hurriedly left the store. She proceeded to her school but did not attend her classes. Instead, she waited for Stephen at the gate. When morning classes were over, she and Stephen walked home together. Stephen noticed that Miriam’s eyes were swollen but he said nothing. As soon as they arrived home, Miriam changed her clothes and washed them. She stopped going to school since then.

Six months later, Miriam’s cousin, Luzvminda Deles, discovered that she was pregnant. When she confronted her, Miriam confessed that she was raped by accused-appellant Roberto Segovia. In August 1987, Miriam gave birth to a baby girl.

On January 18, 1989, complainant finally mustered the courage to file a criminal complaint, charging accused-appellant of the crime of rape.

Accused-appellant interposed the defense of denial and alibi. He alleged that on the day of the alleged rape, he stayed in his house in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras and did not go to the store, which is located half a kilometer away.

After trial, judgment was rendered against the accused-appellant, the dispositive portion of which reads:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court hereby renders judgment finding the accused, Roberto Segovia, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of having committed the crime of rape. He is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is further ordered to indemnify the victim, Miriam Montalvo, the amount of P50,000.00, pay moral damages in the amount of P20,000.00, and P10,000.00 as exemplary damages in order to serve as an object lesson to the public that no one may deprive a young woman of "the right to grow up and discover the wonders of womanhood in the normal way", without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.

He is further ordered to acknowledge and support the child delivered by Miriam Montalvo in August 1987 whose complete name has not been revealed.

Costs against him.

SO ORDERED.

Accused-appellant interposed the instant appeal, raising the following assignment of errors:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

I


THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT DISMISSING THE CASE ON THE GROUND OF VARIANCE OF THE DATE OF THE COMMISSION OF THE ALLEGED RAPE AND THAT WHICH THE PROSECUTION PROVED DURING THE TRIAL SINCE THE COMPLAINT WAS NEVER AMENDED NOR SUBSTITUTED.

II


THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONY OF THE OFFENDED PARTY DESPITE THE FACT THAT SHE GAVE INCONSISTENT, CONTRADICTORY AND EVASIVE DECLARATIONS DURING THE TRIAL AND DURING THE PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION OF THE CASE.

III


THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THE IMPROBABILITY OF THE COMMISSION OF THE CRIME ON NOVEMBER 22, 1987 OR NOVEMBER 21, 1986, WHICH WAS ALLEGED AS A SCHOOL DAY AND, THEREFORE, IN DISCREDITING THE TESTIMONY OF THE OFFENDED PARTY AS REGARDS THE COMMISSION OF RAPE.

IV


THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING THE ACCUSED FOR LACK OF EVIDENCE WHICH WILL SUSTAIN HIS CONVICTION.

Accused-appellant alleged that the case should have been dismissed because while the complaint alleged that the rape was committed on November 22, 1987, the evidence showed that the crime was committed on November 21, 1986.

The pertinent provision of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure is Rule 110, Section 11, which states:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Date of commission of the offense. — It is not necessary to state in the complaint or information the precise date the offense was committed except when it is a material ingredient of the offense. The offense may be alleged to have been committed on a date as near as possible to the actual date of its commission.

In rape cases, the date of the commission of the crime is not an essential element of the crime and, therefore, need not be accurately stated. 3 The material fact or circumstance to be considered is the occurrence of the rape, not the time of its commission. The date or time of the commission of rape is not a material ingredient of the said crime because the gravamen of rape is carnal knowledge of a woman through force and intimidation. In fact, the precise time when the rape takes place has no substantial bearing on its commission. As such, the date or time need not be stated with absolute accuracy. It is sufficient if the complaint or information states that the crime has been committed at any time as near as possible to the date of its actual commission. 4

In the case at bar, the complaint alleges that the rape was committed "on or about 22nd day of November 1987." 5 This sufficiently apprised accused-appellant of the charge proffered against him. 6 The date alleged was stated near to the actual date of commission. Thus, the same afforded accused-appellant ample opportunity to prepare an intelligent defense and avoid surprise and substantial prejudice to the defense. 7

In People v. Bugayong, 8 we held that a difference of one (1) year or twelve (12) months is merely a matter of form and does not prejudice the rights of the accused. The phrase "on or about" employed in the information does not require the prosecution to prove any precise date but may prove any date which is not so remote as to surprise and prejudice the defendant. 9

Similarly, the discrepancy in the dates does not discredit complainant. Sworn statements such as that given by complainant during the preliminary investigation, being ex parte, are often incomplete and inaccurate because of partial suggestion or want of suggestions and inquiries, without the aid of which the witness may be unable to recall all connected circumstances. Thus, as between the sworn statement and the testimony of the complainant given in court, the latter is given more weight. 10

Significantly, Accused-appellant in this case admitted that complainant "ultimately answered that she was raped on November 21, 1986, and that she was sure it was a Friday." 11 In this connection, we quote with approval the following observations of the trial court, to wit:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

There were instances that she got confused of the exact date when the act of rape was committed. There were minor discrepancies between her previous testimony during the preliminary investigation in the fiscal’s office and her testimony in open court. However, she was able to satisfactorily explain them in the course of her cross-examination. The variance of the date as stated in the information with that as stated in her testimony before the prosecutor’s office and the Court is not so fatal an error that will cause the dismissal of the case. 12

Complainant positively and categorically testified that accused-appellant sexually molested her in the morning of November 21, 1986. Accused-appellant’s commission of the rape was accompanied with the use of force and intimidation, by pointing a knife at her neck to subdue her. Her continued silence after the incident is consistent with the ordinary behavior pattern of a child who had undergone a traumatic experience. She even decided to quit school on the very same day she was raped. In fact, Stephen testified that while they were on their way home, he noticed that Miriam’s eyes were swollen from crying.

It has been stressed often enough that the testimony of rape victims who are young and immature deserve full credence. It is improbable for a girl of complainant’s age to fabricate a charge so humiliating to herself and her family had she not been truly subjected to the painful experience of sexual abuse. At any rate, a girl of tender years, innocent and guileless, can not be expected to brazenly impute a crime so serious as rape to any man if it were not true. 13

Accused-appellant’s defense of denial and alibi must fail in view of Miriam’s positive identification. 14 Alibi, like denial, is inherently weak and easily fabricated. 15 It is elementary that for alibi to prosper, the requirements of time and place must be strictly met. 16 The accused must not only prove his presence at another place at the time of the commission of the offense but he must also demonstrate that it would be physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime at that time. 17

In the case at bar, Accused-appellant failed to establish with clear and convincing evidence that it was physically impossible for him to have been at the scene of the crime during its commission, considering that the distance between the place of the incident and the location of his house is only half a kilometer.

Thus, the trial court did not err in finding accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and in imposing the penalty of reclusion perpetua, pursuant to Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code.

Finally, in line with the prevailing jurisprudence, we affirm the trial court’s award of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, in line with the current policy of this Court to award civil indemnity ex delicto in the said amount for each count of rape upon an indubitable showing of its commission. 18 With respect to the moral damages, the amount of P20,000.00 should be increased to P50,000.00. Moral damages are automatically granted in rape cases without need of further proof other than the commission of the crime, because it is assumed that a rape victim has actually suffered moral injuries entitling her to such an award. 19

It has been the policy of the Court to award outrightly an amount not exceeding P50,000 to victims of rape upon an indubitable showing of its commission; this is categorized as civil indemnity ex delicto. In response to the rising incidence of heinous crimes against chastity, the Court has laid down the rule that if the crime of rape is committed and effectively qualified by any of the circumstances under which the death penalty is authorized by law, the indemnity for the victim shall be increased to the amount of P75,000.00. Since this case is not qualified, the indemnity should properly be P50,000.00. As to the award of moral damages, this Court has now been consistently awarding the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages to the victim in a rape case. This amount is automatically granted without need of further proof, other than the commission of the crime. It is assumed that the offended party has suffered moral injuries entitling her to the award of such damages. 20

The trial court’s award of exemplary damages, however, should be deleted. Also known as "punitive" or "vindictive" damages, exemplary or corrective damages are intended to serve as deterrent to serious wrong doings, and as a vindication of undue sufferings and wanton invasion of the rights of an injured or a punishment for those guilty of outrageous conduct. 21 Under Article 2230 of the Civil Code, exemplary damages as a part of the civil liability may be imposed when the crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances. Such damages are separate and distinct from fines and shall be paid to the offended party. Considering that no aggravating circumstance attended the commission of the crime in this case, Accused-appellant cannot be ordered to pay exemplary damages.

Finally, we affirm the order of the trial court for accused-appellant to support the offspring of complainant, pursuant to Article 345 of the Revised Penal Code and prevailing jurisprudence. 22

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City, Branch 22, in Criminal Case No. 32713, finding accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Accused-appellant Roberto Segovia is ordered to pay the victim, Miriam Montalvo, the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages. The award of exemplary damages is DELETED for lack of legal basis. Finally, Accused-appellant is ordered to SUPPORT the offspring of complainant delivered in August 1987.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Vitug and Carpio, JJ., concur.

Endnotes:



1. Penned by Judge Emilio B. Legaspi; Records, pp. 19-29.

2. Rollo, p. 9.

3. People v. Villaruel, G.R. No. 135401 March 5, 2002.

4. People v. Espejon, G.R. No. 134767, February 20, 2002, citing People v. Magbanua, 319 SCRA 799 [1999].

5. Op. cit., note 2.

6. People v. Gopio, 346 SCRA 408, 429 [2000].

7. People v. Taganna, G.R. No. 137608-09, July 6, 2001.

8. 299 SCRA 528, 538 [1998]

9. Citing People v. Borromeo, 123 SCRA 253 [1983].

10. People v. Matugas, G.R. No. 139698-726, February 20, 2002.

11. Appellant’s Brief, p. 16.

12. RTC Decision, p. 10.

13. People v. Molas, 286 SCRA 684 [1998].

14. People v. San Agustin, 350 SCRA 216 [2001].

15. People v. Pontilar, Jr., 275 SCRA 338 [1997].

16. People v. Fuertes, 296 SCRA 602 [1998]; People v. Tazo, 260 SCRA 816 [1996].

17. People v. Alcantara, Et Al., 254 SCRA 384 [1996].

18. People v. Santos, G.R. No. 135454-56, November 13, 2001.

19. People v. Lachica, G.R. No. 143677, May 9, 2002.

20. People v. Manayan, G.R. No. 142741-43, October 25, 2001.

21. People v. Catubig, G.R. No. 137842, August 23, 2001.

22. People v. Flores, G.R. No. 134488-89, January 15, 2002.

Top of Page