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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 188600 : July 13, 2010]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. MARCOS QUIROS Y SEMBRANO, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

D E C I S I O N


MENDOZA, J.:

This is an appeal from the June 18, 2008 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. CR H.C. No. 02682, affirming with modification the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City, Branch 43, which found the accused, Marcos Quiros y Sembrano, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of having committed statutory rape3 against the 9-year-old EMA.4

The accusatory portion of the Information5 dated August 26, 2006 reads:

That on or about the 24th day of August, 2006, in the City of Dagupan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, MARCOS QUIROS y SEMBRANO, with lewd design, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally have carnal knowledge upon one EMA, who is under 12 years of age, to the damage and prejudice of the latter.

Contrary to Article 266-A, par. 1(d) of R.A. 8353.

Upon arraignment, the accused pleaded not guilty to the charge. The parties stipulated on the respective identities of EMA and the accused, as well as EMA's minority.

During the trial, the prosecution presented, as witnesses, EMA herself; YYY,6 the mother of EMA; Dr. Mary Gwndolyn M. Luna, the physician who medically examined EMA; and PO2 Jailine De Guzman Aquino, the police officer who received and investigated the complaint of EMA.

The thrust of the evidence of the prosecution, as summarized in the Appellee's Brief,7 is as follows:

The victim EMA and the accused-appellant Marcos Quiros y Sembrano knew each other well as they are both residents of xxx, xxx,8 Dagupan City, and are in fact immediate neighbors. At the time of the complained incident, EMA was [nine (9)] years old. (Exh. B)

On August 24, 2006, at around 3 o'clock in the afternoon, EMA was on top of the guava tree inside the residential compound of the accused. From below she heard the accused calling and instructing her to go down from the guava tree, uttering the words "Halika dito, mag-iyotan tayo" which means "Come here, let's have sex."

Without realizing the significance of what the accused uttered and afraid that the appellant might cause her to fall from the guava tree, EMA acceded to the accused's instructions.

Quickly, the accused brought EMA to his house and into his son's room. While EMA was lying on the bed, the accused removed the latter's short and panty and inserted his erect penis into EMA's vagina. EMA felt great pain; thus she pushed back the accused who, thereafter, discontinued the sexual assault. Noticing blood in her vagina and on the accused's penis, EMA ran home and reported the incident to her mother.

On the same afternoon of August 24, 2006, the victim submitted her person to Dr. May Gwendolyn M. Luna of the Region I Medical Center, Dagupan City, who conducted a medical examination on her. Dr. Luna, thereafter, issued a medical legal certificate (Exhibit A) finding fresh abrasions at 7 o'clock hymenal area, fresh bleeding, deep hymenal laceration, edge bluish at 3, 4 o'clock, deep laceration at 6-7 o'clock and superficial laceration at 5 o'clock, suggestive of sexual abuse. All in all, EMA sustained four (4) deep lacerations and one (1) superficial laceration on her vagina.

That same afternoon, EMA, accompanied by her parents proceeded to Dagupan City Police Station to report the sexual assault (Exh. C), where she and her mother executed sworn statements on the incident (Exhibits D and E).

Those who testified for the defense were the accused, Marcos Quiros y Sembrano; his daughter, Mylene F. Quiros; and Rebecca Fernandez. The defense of the accused, as summarized in his Appellant's Brief,9 is as follows:

On August 24, 2006, Mylene F. Quiros was alone in their house watching television. As she was watching, her father (accused), who was apparently drunk arrived. The latter sat down for a while and then instructed her to go upstairs because she was sleepy.

She did not notice if EMA entered their house since she was already upstairs. At around 3:00 o'clock p.m., she was awakened by the noise coming from the people outside. She later learned that her aunties were looking for her father for allegedly raping EMA.

On August 24, 2006, at around 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon, Rebecca Fernandez Paraiso, was in her house with the accused. Her house is about half (½) a kilometer away from the house of the accused.

The accused talked with her husband for about (2) hours or until past 3:00 o'clock p.m. When the accused left, he told her that he will be going home. She learned about the case against the accused at around 5:00 o'clock on the same day.

On August 24, 2006, at around 3:00 (sic) o'clock p.m., Marcos Quiros was at the house of his kumadre, Rebecca Paraiso, located at Bonuan Boqui[g], Dagupan City. The said place is half (½) a kilometer from his house. He arrived at the house of his kumadre at around 1:30 o'clock p.m. and stayed there for about two and half (2 ½) hours.

At past 3:00 o'clock p.m., he went back home. He was more or less eight (8) meters from his house when he was arrested by Chief Tanod Cayabyab. The latter informed him that a complaint for rape was filed against him. The witness reacted but was nonetheless placed on board a motorcycle.

He was brought to the barangay office, where he was made to wait for the arrival of members of the Bonuan police. Thereafter, he was brought to the police precinct.

In its January 29, 2007 Decision, the trial court convicted the accused of statutory rape. Thus, it disposed:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the felony charged and in conformity with law, he's sentenced to suffer the prison term of Reclusion Perpetua and to pay the victim the following, to wit:

1. P50,000.00 as indemnity fee;
2. P30,000.00 as moral damages;
3. P20,000.00 as exemplary damages;
4. And costs.

The BJMP-Dagupan City is ordered to commit the accused to the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa, Metro Manila without unnecessary delay.

SO ORDERED.10

Aggrieved, the accused appealed to the Court of Appeals presenting this lone assignment of error:

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN RENDERING A VERDICT OF CONVICTION DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT WAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.11

On June 18, 2008, the Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the judgment of conviction of the Regional Trial Court. The dispositive portion of the decision of the Court of Appeals reads:

WHEREFORE, the decision dated January 29, 2007 holding the accused appellant guilty of statutory rape, in Criminal Case No. 2006-0509-D of the RTC, Branch 43, Dagupan City, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that the accused-appellant is ordered to pay private complainant EMA the increased amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages, in addition to the P50,000.00 awarded by the RTC in favor of EMA as indemnity or compensatory damages.

SO ORDERED.12

Hence this appeal.13

In advocacy for his exoneration, the accused argues that the testimony of the victim that she went with him during the incident for fear that he might cause her to fall down from the tree is unbelievable. According to the accused, such fear on the part of the victim should have ceased after she had gone down from the tree and she had no more reason to go with him.14

By the distinctive nature of rape cases, conviction usually rests solely on the basis of the testimony of the victim, provided that such testimony is credible, natural, convincing, and consistent with human nature and the normal course of things. Accordingly, the Court has consistently adhered to the following guiding principles in the review of similar cases, to wit: (1) an accusation for rape can be made with facility; while the accusation is difficult to prove, it is even more difficult for the accused, though innocent, to disprove; (2) considering that, in the nature of things, only two persons are usually involved in the crime of rape, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution; and (3) the evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits, and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the defense.15

After going over the evidentiary record, the Court finds no reason to disturb the decisions of the courts below.

The Court does not subscribe to the argument of the accused that just because EMA had come down from the tree, she had no more reason to be afraid and to follow what he said. It must be remembered that EMA was just 9 years old and was obviously innocent, unwary and too trusting as she meekly obeyed the instructions of the accused. The simplicity of her story should not detract from the veracity of her complaint. She has proved to be a credible witness, and her testimony, worthy of judicial acceptance.

Testimonies of child-victims are almost always given full weight and credit, since when a woman, more so if she is a minor, says that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape has been committed. Youth and immaturity are generally badges of truth and sincerity.16 Thus, the Court quotes with approval the disquisition of the appellate court on this score. Thus:

The fact that EMA freely went with the accused to the house of the latter after she went down from the guava tree should not be taken to mean that her account of the events is incredible. It must be noted that EMA was merely (9) years of age when the rape transpired. By her own admission, EMA did not even understand what accused-appellant said when he instructed her to have sexual intercourse with him. It is not ludicrous to think that an innocent and unsuspecting nine-year old girl would trust a grown-up neighbor enough to let him take her with him to his own home - especially if the girl lived only two houses away therefrom. Well-settled is the rule that the testimonies of young victims deserve full credence and should not be so easily dismissed as a mere fabrication.17 (Citation omitted)

Considering the age of the complainant, the Court finds it improbable for a girl of her age to fabricate a charge so traumatic to herself and her family had she not been truly subjected to the painful experience of sexual abuse.18 Under rigid cross-examination, she was steadfast in relating her ordeal and nightmarish experience at the hands of the accused. For accuracy, the details of her defilement are hereby reproduced as follows:

PROS. SOLOMON:

You said awhile ago that when the accused brought you inside the room of his son Indong on August 24, 2006 at 3:00 in the afternoon and he raped you, how did he rape you?

A
He undressed me while in the room of his son, sir.

Q
What was your position when he undressed you?

I was lying down, sir.

COURT:

Q
What was your attire at that time?

A
Red dress, sir.

Q
Was it a T-shirt?

A
Yes, sir.

Q
How about your lower attire?

A
Blue short(s), sir.

Q
When he brought you inside the room of his son and he undressed you, he removed all his clothings (sic)?

A
No, sir, only the short(s).

Q
In other words, your upper attire w(as) intact?

A
Yes, sir.

COURT:
Proceed.

PROS. SOLOMON:

Q
Aside from wearing your shortpant(s), were you wearing also panty?

A
Yes, sir.

Q
And he also removed your panty?

A
Yes, sir.

Q
After he undressed you, what did he do next?

A
He inserted his penis into my vagina, sir.

Q
And what did you feel when he inserted his penis into your vagina?

A
It was painful, sir.

Q
And what was your reaction when you felt that it was painful?

A
I pushed him, sir.

Q
And what did the accused do to you when you pushed him?

A
He did not continue anymore, sir.

Q
You said that you felt pain in your vagina, what did he do next after you pushed the accused?

A
None, sir.

Q
What happened (t)o your vagina Madame witness?

A
There was blood in my vagina, sir.

Q
And upon seeing your vagina bleeding, what did you do next?

A
I went home, sir.

COURT:
Q
When the accused inserted his penis inside your vagina, describe the accused's penis?

A
It was covered with blood, sir.

Q
Was it stiff?

A
Yes, sir.

COURT:
Proceed.

PROS. SOLOMON:

Q
You claimed a while ago that the accused in this case Marcos Quiros's penis was covered with blood, was that after you pushed him?

A
Yes, sir.

COURT:
Q
When the accused inserted his penis inside your vagina, was he naked?

A
No, sir, only his shortpant(s).

Q
In other words, he was naked from the waist down?

A
Yes, sir.19

From the foregoing narration, sexual intercourse was clearly proven. Moreover, the prosecution more than sufficiently established that the victim was only 9 years old at the time of the rape incident, as evidenced by her Certificate of Live Birth.20 Undeniably, the case is one of statutory rape, the gravamen of which is the carnal knowledge of a woman below 12 years old. Sexual congress with a girl under 12 years is always rape. Thus, force, intimidation or physical evidence of injury is immaterial.21

Besides, the testimony of EMA was corroborated by her mother YYY who told the court that when EMA came home, she was naked from the waist down, with blood oozing from her genitals. Shocked at her daughter's appearance, she asked EMA what happened. EMA told her that the accused had raped her.22 No ill-motive could be imputed against the victim and her parents to manufacture such an accusation, considering that the accused, by his own admission, had maintained cordial relationship with the family of the victim.

The victim's testimony that accused inserted his organ into her vagina was further strengthened by the testimony of Dr. Gwendolyn Luna, who examined her one and a half (1 ½) hours after the incident and the Medical Report23 she prepared after the examination. Dr. Luna informed the court that EMA informed her that a certain "Macoy" inserted his penis into her vagina. Her report stated that the injuries sustained by the victim in her vagina were indicative of sexual abuse. When the testimony of the witness corresponds with medical findings, there is sufficient basis to conclude that the essential requisites of carnal knowledge have been established.24

The fact that Mylene Quiros, daughter of the accused was inside the house cannot negate the fact that the accused did rape EMA. "Sadly, the presence of family members in the same room has not discouraged rapists from preying on children, giving this Court to observe before that lust is no respecter of time and place. Rape has been shown to have been committed even in places where people congregate, in parks, along the roadside, within school premises, inside a house where there are other occupants, and even in the same room where other members of the family are also sleeping."25 In other words, the rapist and the victim need not have to be alone for rape to be consummated.

The contention of the accused that he was in the house of his kumadre, Rebecca Paraiso, at the time of the alleged rape deserves scant consideration.

Time and time again, this Court has ruled that denial and alibi are the weakest of all defenses, because they are easy to concoct and fabricate.26 Furthermore, said defenses cannot prevail over the positive and unequivocal

identification of the accused by the victim, EMA. Denial and alibi are practically worthless against the positive identification made by the prosecution witnesses, especially by the rape victim.27

At any rate, the cardinal rule has always been that factual findings of the trial court, its calibration of the testimonies of the witnesses, and its conclusions anchored on its findings are accorded by the appellate court high respect, if not conclusive effect, more so when affirmed by the Court of Appeals. The exception is when it is established that the trial court ignored, overlooked, misconstrued, or misinterpreted cogent facts and circumstances which, if considered, will change the outcome of the case. The Court of Appeals has observed this rule and so will this Court.

The Court, thus, sustains the conviction of the accused for the crime of statutory rape under Article 266-A, paragraph 1(d)28 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC)29 and the imposition of the penalty of reclusion perpetua in accordance with Article 266-B of the RPC.30 The penalty for statutory rape is reclusion perpetua, which being a single indivisible penalty, is imposable regardless of any mitigating or aggravating circumstances that may have attended the commission of the deed.31

In line with prevailing jurisprudence, the victim, in a case for simple statutory rape, is entitled to P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages. In addition to the

damages awarded, the Court also imposes on all the amounts of damages an interest at the legal rate of 6% from this date until fully paid.32

WHEREFORE, the June 18, 2008 Decision of the Court of Appeals, in CA-G.R. CR H.C. No. 02682 is MODIFIED to read as follows:

WHEREFORE, finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of rape, the Court sentences him to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and to pay the victim, EMA, the following:
  1. P50,000.00 as indemnity fee;
  2. P50,000.00 as moral damages;
  3. P30,000.00 as exemplary damages; and
  4. the costs of the suit.
The accused is further ordered to pay legal interest on the civil liabilities imposed until fully paid.

SO ORDERED.

Carpio, (Chairperson), Abad, Villarama, Jr.,* and Perez,**  JJ. , concur.

Endnotes:


* Designated as additional member in lieu of Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, per Special Order No. 585 dated July 1, 2010.

** Designated as additional member in lieu of Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura, per Special Order No. 863 dated July 5, 2010.

1 Penned by Associate Justice Hakim S. Abdulwahid, with Associate Justices Rodrigo V. Cosico and Myrna Dimaranan Vidal concurring; Rollo, pp. 2-14.

2 CA rollo, pp. 53-64.

3 Docketed as Criminal Case No. 2006-0509-D.

4 The Court shall use fictitious initials in lieu of the real names and circumstances of the victim and the latter's immediate family members other than accused-appellant. See People v. Gloria, G.R. No. 168476, September 27, 2006, 503 SCRA 742; citing Sec. 29 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7610, Sec. 44 of R.A. No. 9262, and Sec. 40 of the Rule on Violence Against Women and Their Children; and People v. Cabalquinto, G.R. No. 167693, September 19, 2006, 502 SCRA 419.

5 CA rollo, p. 7.

6 Name withheld to protect the identity of the child-victim.

7 Statement of Facts, CA rollo, pp. 77-78.

8 The place of residence of the child-victim is withheld to protect her privacy.

9 Evidence for the Defense, CA rollo, pp. 45-46.

10 Id. at 30.

11 Id. at 41, 46.

12 Rollo, p. 13.

13 On September 11, 2008, the Court of Appeals gave due course to the notice of appeal filed by the accused (CA rollo, p. 110). The Court required the parties to simultaneously file their respective supplemental briefs (Rollo, p. 21), but both manifested that they would no longer file supplemental pleadings (Rollo, pp. 30-31 and 33-35).

14 CA rollo, p. 48.

15 People v. Lilio U. Achas, G.R. No. 185712, August 4, 2009, 595 SCRA 341, 349-350.

16 People v. Alfredo Bon, G.R. No. 166401, October 30, 2006, 506 SCRA 168.

17 CA Decision, Rollo, pp. 11-12.

18 People v. Dalipe, G.R. No. 187154, April 23, 2010.

19 TSN, October 18, 2006, pp. 9-13.

20 Index of Exhibits for the Prosecution, p. 34; CA rollo, p. 5.

21 People v. Ligotan, 331 Phil. 98 (1996).

22 TSN, October 23, 2006, pp. 5-9.

23 Records, p. 56.

24 People v. Anthony Rante y Reyes, G.R. No. 184809, March 29, 2010, citing People v. Tuazon, G.R. No.

168102, August 22, 2008, 563 SCRA 124, 135.

25 People v. Pacheco, G.R. No. 187742, April 10, 2010.

26 People v. IIagan, 455 Phil. 891, 903 (2003).

27 People v. Isla, Jr., 432 Phil. 414, 431 (2002).

28 Art. 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:

xxx xxx  xxx

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.

29 Previously Article 335, par. 3 of the RPC which has been amended by Republic Act No. 8353 (the Anti- Rape Law of 1997).

30 Art. 266-B. Penalties. - Rape under paragraph 1 of the next preceding article shall be punished by  reclusion perpetua.

31 People v. Andaya, 365 Phil. 654 (1999).

32 People v. Bagos, G.R. No. 177152, January 6, 2010, citing People v. Guevarra, G.R. No. 182192, October 29, 2008, 570 SCRA 288, 313; People v. Antivola, 466 Phil. 394 (2004); and People v. Olaybar, 459 Phil. 114 (2003).
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