*G.R. No. 224212, November 27, 2019
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, v. ROMEO DE CASTRO DE GUZMAN, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.
D E C I S I O N
This is an appeal under Rule 1241 of the Rules of Court challenging the May 26, 2015 Decision2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 06680, which affirmed with modification the January 20, 2014 Joint Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Las Piñas City, Branch 254, in Crim. Case Nos. 11-0400 and 11-0540, finding accused-appellant Romeo De Castro De Guzman (De Guzman) guilty of two counts of Qualified Rape.
In Criminal Case No. 11-0400 (Qualified Rape in relation to RA 7610):During his arraignment, De Guzman entered a plea of "not guilty."7
That on or about the 9th day of May 2011, in the City of Las Piñas, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, with lewd designs, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously had carnal knowledge [of AAA4], a fifteen (15)[-]year old minor, without her consent, by means of force, threat and intimidation, and by taking advantage of his moral ascendancy over her, he being her stepparent, thereby subjecting her to sexual abuse; the act complained of is prejudicial to the physical, psychological and moral development of the said minor, and which degrades or demeans her intrinsic worth and dignity as a human being.
CONTRARY TO LAW.5
In Criminal Case No. 11-0540 (Qualified Rape in relation to RA 7610):
That sometime in year 2003, in the City of Las Piñas, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd designs, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously had carnal knowledge [of AAA], an eight (8)[-]year old minor, without her consent, by means of force, threat and intimidation, and by taking advantage of his moral ascendancy over her, he being her step-parent, thereby subjecting her to sexual abuse; the act complained of is prejudicial to the physical, psychological and moral development of the said minor, and which degrades or demeans her intrinsic wo1ih and dignity as a human being
CONTRARY TO LAW.6
AAA was born on January 20, 1996. After the separation of her mother BBB9 with her biological father, BBB cohabited with appellant, who acted as his stepfather. Appellant also has two (2) biological children with BBB.During trial, AAA's birth certificate14 was presented which revealed that she was only around seven years old (not yet eight years old as indicated in the Information) when the first rape was committed against her in 2003, as she was born on January 20, 1996. AAA was 15 years old when she was raped on May 9, 2011.
Sometime in 2003, when AAA was only eight (8) years old, appellant who was then at the small extension of their house at x x x asked AAA to join him. At that time[,] BBB was out of their house doing laundry. AAA's siblings were also asleep.
AAA approached appellant who made her lie down on the floor and removed her shorts and underwear. Appellant then inse1ied his penis [into] AAA's vagina. AAA felt pain but did not shout because prior to this, appellant warned AAA against reporting the incident to anyone, including her mother. Appellant also told AAA not to make any noise. Out of fear, AAA did not report the rape to her mother.
AAA was repeatedly raped on separate occasions, which she did not also report to her mother. In order to avoid appellant, AAA often spent time with her friends outside of their house. Meanwhile, AAA's mother did not appreciate this so she shaved AAA's head. At this point, AAA also stopped studying.
Thereafter, AAA transferred to the house of her aunt, [CCC10], x x x where she continued her studies. While living with her aunt [CCC] sometime in March 2011, she disclosed to her aunt [CCC] that appellant raped her.
Another incident of rape occurred when AAA returned to their new house x x x. On May 9, 2011, at around 2:00 p.m., appellant approached AAA while [she was sorting out] her younger brothers' toys. He immediately removed AAA's shorts and underwear, and instructed AAA to lie down on the floor. Appellant then inserted his penis into AAA's vagina. AAA did not shout because she was scared. No one was home at the time of the said incident because AAA's mother was doing laundry at her employer's house, while her brothers were playing outside.
The following clay, or on May 10, 2011, at around 11:00 a.m., AAA's aunt [DDD11] went to their house x x x when she learned from [CCC] about what happened. Afterwards, [DDD] brought AAA to her own house where she confronted AAA regarding the sexual abuse committed by appellant. AAA then confirmed that appellant indeed raped her.
Soon after, AAA and her aunt [DDD] went to her uncle [EEE12]. They then proceeded to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and to the Las Piñas Police Station for purposes of reporting AAA's rape.13 (Citations omitted)
Likewise, AAA narrated what De Guzman did to her during the May 9, 2011 incident, as follows:
[Pros. Sylvia I. Butial]: Can you tell the Court of any incident that transpired in 2003, inside your house x x x? [AAA]: My mother was not at home then. She was doing the laundry and
my siblings were then asleep when this incident happened, Ma'am.
Q: Do you recall the [month] when this incident happened? A: No more, Ma'am. Q: What happened when your mother was not at home and your siblings were then sleeping? A: My stepfather who was then at the small extension of our house called
Q: Can you tell me the mime of your stepfather? A: Romeo De Castro De Guzman, Ma'am. Q: What did you do when Romeo De Castro De Guzman called you x x x? A: I approached [him], Ma'am. Q: What happened when you approached Romeo De Castro De Guzman? A: He made me lie down on the floor and removed my shorts and panty,
Q: What happened after he removed your shorts and panty? A: He inserted his penis [into] my vagina, Ma'am. Q: How did you feel when he did that to you? A: It was painful, Ma'am. Q: Did you shout when he did that to you? A: No, Ma'am. Q: Why did you not shout? A: Because before he did that to me, he told me not to report to my mother nor to anyone and not to make any noise, Ma'am. Q: What else did he tell you before he inserted his penis [into] your vagina? A: That's all, Ma'am. Q: Did you tell your mother [about] what the accused did to you? A: No, Ma'am. Q: Why not? xxxx A: Because I was scared, Ma'am.20
AAA stated that she was alone at the time and while she was sorting the toys of her siblings, De Guzman approached her. Thereafter, he immediately removed her shorts and panty and instructed her to lie down on the floor. She did not do anything because she did not know who to ask help from in case she had the chance to do so. Moreover, she explained that she did not shout because she was scared, and that she did not tell her mother about what happened. After the harrowing experience, AAA stayed at her cousin's house. Afterwards, AAA's aunt, DDD, asked AAA about the rape incidents. AAA then relayed to DDD that De Guzman raped her. In tum, DDD told her brother EEE about what happened to AAA. Together, they brought AAA to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to report the crime.22
[Pros. Sylvia I. Butial]: Can you also tell the Court if there was any unusual incident that transpired on May 9, 2011? [AAA]: Yes, Ma'am. Q: What was that incident? A: That same day, he again did the same thing he was doing to me, Ma'am. Q: Who is that person you are referring to? A: Romeo De Guzman, Ma'am. Q: Can you tell the Court what exactly did Romeo De Guzman do to you? A: He removed my shorts and my panty and he inserted his penis [into] my
Q: How old were you then? A: I was 15 years old, Ma'am.21
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered, finding accused ROMEO DE CASTRO DE GUZMAN, GUILTY as charged in Criminal Case Nos. 11-0400 and 11-0540, and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua, for each case, and to pay the private complainant AAA, the amount[s] of SEVENTY[-]FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P75,000.00) as civil indemnity, SEVENTY[-]FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P75,000.00), as moral damages, and Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00), as exemplary damages.Aggrieved, De Guzman appealed31 before the court of Appeals and assigned this sole error:
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE OFFENSES CHARGED DESPITE THE PROSECUTION'S FAILURE TO ESTABLISH HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.32The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
WHEREFORE, the RTC Joint Decision dated January 20,2014 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION as to the amount of exemplary damages, which should be reduced from FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) to THIRTY THOUSAND PESOS (P30,000.00).Discontented, De Guzman appealed36 his case before Us. Thus, the main issue is whether or not he is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the felony of Qualified Rape.
Article 266-A. Rape; When and How Committed. - Rape is committed -Under Article 266-B of the RPC, Rape under paragraph 1 of Article 266-A shall be punished by reclusion perpetua. However, rape is considered qualified and the death penalty shall be imposed -
1) By a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances: a) Through force, threat, or intimidation; b) When the offended party is deprived of reason or is 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.
x x x x40 (Emphasis supplied)
1. When the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common law spouse of the parent of the victim[.]Relevantly, the elements of qualified rape are: "(1) sexual congress; (2) with a woman; (3) done by force and without consent; (4) the victim is under [eighteen] years of age at the time of the rape; and (5) the offender is [either] a parent (whether legitimate, illegitimate or adopted), [ascendant, stepparent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent] of the victim."41 The minority of the victim and his or her relationship with the offender should both be alleged in the Information and proven beyond reasonable doubt during trial in order to qualify the rape charge as these circumstances have the effect of altering the nature of the rape and its corresponding penalty. Otherwise, the death penalty cannot be imposed upon the offender.42
Very truly yours,
(SGD) TERESITA AQUINO TUAZON
Deputy Division Clerk of Court
* corrected from G.R. No. 240441 to G.R. 224212
* Designated additional member per Special Order No. 2727 dated October 25, 2019.
1 As amended by A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC.
2Rollo, pp. 2-18; penned by Associate Justice Magdangal M. de Leon and concurred in by Associate Justices Jane Aurora C. Lantion and Nina G. Antonio-Valenzuela.
3 CA rollo, pp. 31-42; penned by Presiding Judge Gloria Butay Aglugub.
4 "The identity of the victim or any information which could establish or compromise her identity, as well as those of her immediate family or household members, shall be withheld pursuant to Republic Act No. 7610, An Act Providing for Stronger Deterrence And Special Protection Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination, Providing Penalties for its Violation, And for Other Purposes; Republic Act No. 9262, An Act Defining Violence Against Women And Their Children, Providing For Protective Measures For Victims, Prescribing Penalties Therefor, And for Other Purposes; and Section 40 of A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC, known as the Rule on Violence against Women and Their Children, effective November 15, 2004." (People v. Dumadag, 667 Phil. 664, 669 ).
5 CA rollo, p. 45.
6Id. at 47.
7 Records, p. 22.
8Id. at 37.
9Supra note 4.
13 CA rollo, pp. 95-96.
14 Records, p. 58.
15Id. at 56.
16Id. at 190.
17 TSN, August 30, 2013, pp. 10-12.
18Id. at 16.
19 TSN, February 28, 2012, p. 5.
20Id. at 7-10.
21Id. at 10-11.
22Id. at 12-18.
23Id. at 27 and 31.
24 TSN, May 29, 2012, p. 4.
25Id. at 13-14.
26 TSN, December 4, 2012, p. 10.
27 TSN, November 22, 2013, pp. 5-17.
28 CA rollo, pp. 31-42.
29Id. at 40-41.
30Id. at 41-42.
31Id. at 43-44.
32Id. at 59.
33Rollo, pp. 2-18.
34Id. at 12-16.
35Id. at 17-18.
36Id. at 19-21.
37Id. at 64-68.
38Id. at 100.
39Id. at 100-111.
40 REVISED PENAL CODE, Article 266-A, as amended by Republic Act No. 8353 (1997).
41People v. Salaver, G.R. No. 223681, August 20, 2018, citing People v. Colentava, 753 Phil. 361, 372-373 (2015).
42People v. Begino, 601 Phil. 182, 190 (2009), citing People v. Ferolino, 386 Phil. 161, 179 (2000); People v. Bayya, 384 Phil. 519, 527 (2000); People v. Maglente, 366 Phil. 221 (1999); People v. Ilao, 357 Phil. 656, 672 (1998); People v. Ramos, 357 Phil. 559, 575 (1998).
43People v. Begino, id., citing People v. Radam, Jr., 434 Phil. 87, 100 (2002).
44People v. Arcillas, 692 Phil. 40, 42 (2012); see People v. Mamac, 388 Phil. 342, 351-352 (2000); People v. Fraga, 386 Phil. 884, 909-911 (2000); People v. Balacano, 391 Phil. 509, 525-527 (2000).
45People v. Begino, supra note 43.
46Id. at 192, citing People v. Garcia, 346 Phil. 475, 504-505 (1997).
47People v. Traigo, 734 Phil. 726, 730 (2014).
48People v. Colentava, supra note 42 at 377-378.
49People v. Salaver, supra note 42, citing People v. Dalipe, 633 Phil. 428, 448 (2010).
50People v. Traigo, supra note 47.
51People v. Tulagan, G.R. No. 227363, March 12, 2019.
52People v. Jugueta, 783 Phil. 806, 849 (2016).
53People v. Roy, G.R. No. 225604, July 23, 2018, citing Nacar v. Gallery Frames, 716 Phil. 267, 283 (2013).