THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 135699-700, 139103. October 19, 2000]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. CESAR CLADO, accused-appellant.

D E C I S I O N

GONZAGA-REYES, J.:

In Criminal Cases Nos. T-2863, T-2864 and T-2865 of the Regional Trial Court of Tabaco, Albay (Branch 16), accused-appellant Cesar Clado was charged on October 13, 1997 with three counts of rape under separate informations filed on the bases of complaints sworn to by the complainant, Salve Cario.

The information in Criminal Case No. T-2863[1] alleges:

That on April 14, 1997 at around 10:00 oclock in the evening, more or less, inside the Ditas Beauty Parlor, Market Site, Poblacion, Municipality of Tiwi, Province of Albay, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd design and by means of force, threat and intimidation, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual intercourse with SALVE CARIO, 15 years of age, against her will and consent, to her damage and prejudice.

while that in Criminal Case No. T-2864[2] avers:

That on April 15, 1997 at around 11:00 oclock in the evening, more or less, inside the Ditas Beauty Parlor, Market Site, Poblacion, Municipality of Tiwi, Province of Albay, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd design and by means of force, threat and intimidation, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual intercourse with SALVE CARIO, 15 years of age, against her will and consent, to her damage and prejudice.

The information in Criminal Case No. T-2865 is a verbatim copy of the information in Criminal Case No. T-2864.

During the arraignment, appellant entered a plea of not guilty to the offenses charged. The cases having been consolidated, the lower court, after a joint trial, rendered judgment on September 4, 1998 finding appellant guilty of two counts of rape as charged in Criminal Cases Nos. T-2863 and T-2864 and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua for each count and to indemnify the victim in the amount of P50,000.00 in each of the two cases. Criminal Case No. T-2865 was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.

The prosecution presented as its witnesses - Salve Cario, the private complainant, Editha Cario, the formers sister and Dr. Leonides Cruel, municipal health officer of Tiwi, Albay. For its part, the defense presented the accused-appellant himself, Juanito Credo, a stall owner in the market site and Salvacion Crucillo, a friend of accused-appellant.

The testimonies of the witnesses for the prosecution established the following facts succinctly summarized in the Appellees Brief[3] as follows:

On April 14, 1997, Salve Cario was tending Ditas Beauty Parlor located at Market Site, Tiwi, Albay in the absence of her sister, Editha Cario, who left for Manila to buy wedding gowns. It had only been three (3) days since she arrived from Bulacan after she was fetched by Editha to assist her in the store (TSN, December 10, 1997, p. 7; January 29, 1998, p. 9).

At about 7:00 oclock in the evening, accused-appellant borrowed a water jug from Salve, which the latter immediately lent. He came back at about 10:00 oclock that evening to return it. When Salve opened the door to return the water jug, accused-appellant forced his way inside, switched off the lights and closed the door. Then, he embraced and kissed her while threatening to kill her should she make an outcry. He covered her mouth with his hand while fondling her. He pushed her to the bed and stripped her of her t-shirt and shorts. Despite Salves efforts to extricate herself from his solid grip, he successfully forced himself on her. After he had satisfied his lust, he warned Salve not to tell the incident to her sister Editha and left her crying (TSN, Dec. 10, 1997, pp. 4-7).

The following day, April 15, 1997, at about 11:00 oclock in the evening, Salve was in deep sleep when she was awakened by somebody knocking and borrowing a match and candle. Without second thought, she got up and opened the door only to find out that it was accused-appellant, who directly went inside, hurriedly switched off the lights and slammed the door. Salve pleaded for him to leave as she was alone. But instead of leaving, accused-appellant embraced her and kissed her. He threw her on the bed and pinned her down. She managed to push him and he fell down. She tried to run, but he caught her at the waist. Enraged, he forcibly laid her on the cement floor where he ravished her twice that night (ibid., pp. 7-9).

When Editha Cario returned from Manila on April 18, 1997, she noticed that Salve was unusually silent and unable to eat. The next day, April 19, 1997, Salve begged Editha to allow her to go home to their mother at Pulangui, Albay, ahead of her scheduled departure on April 21, 1997. Since Salve was unaccustomed to travelling alone and Editha could not afford to close the store on a weekend to accompany her, Editha refused to let Salve go. Probing for the real reason for her sudden decision to leave, Salve finally told Editha of her ordeal. Editha lost no time in confronting accused-appellant, who denied the accusation. Confused and unsure whom to believe, Editha went back to Salve who assured her that she was telling the truth (TSN, Dec. 10, 1997, pp. 9-10; Jan. 29, 1998, pp. 10-12).

Editha and Salve went to the police station where Salves Sworn Statement was taken. Thereafter, they were advised to proceed to Mayor Gutierrez who gave them a referral letter to Dr. Leonides Cruel, the Municipal Health Officer. The latter asked them to return the next day as it was Sunday then and he had no employee to assist him. Meanwhile, upon the advise of the police, they fetched their mother at Pulangui, Albay (TSN, Dec. 10, 1997, pp. 10-16; Jan. 29, 1998, pp. 13-14; 21).

Upon examination, Dr. Cruel issued the following Living Case Report:

FINDINGS:

1. No external physical injury noted.

2. Hymen revealed superficial fresh healed lacerations at 5:00 oclock and 7:00 oclock before the face of a watch.

3. Vaginal orifice admits one finger with difficulty.

CONCLUSIONS:

Physical virginity on the person of SALVE CARIO y REMODIS lost.

(Exhibit C; Rec. Vol. 1, p. 5).

Accused-appellant refuted the charge against him by raising the defense that he and Salve were sweethearts, thus, the sexual intercourse that happened between them on the night of April 14 and April 15, 1997 was with their mutual consent. His version of what happened on the said dates is as follows: In the evening of April 14, 1997, he was at Ditas Beauty Parlor along with three other friends, playing records and tapes. The group stopped listening to the records and tapes at about 7:30 of that evening because of the agreement he and Salve had to have sexual intercourse later that evening. He and the rest of the companions left the parlor, but he returned because of the agreement he had with Salve. He returned to the parlor at around 10:00 and knocked softly three times as a signal upon instruction of Salve. She let him in and the two had sexual intercourse with each other with Salve positioned on top of him. He came back the following night on April 15, 1997, as he and Salve had an agreement to have sex again.[4] Accused-appellant further testified that the reason Salve charged him with rape was because the former got angry with him when he decided to cool off the relationship after he found out that she was no longer a virgin and that she was experienced in performing sexual acts.[5]

To bolster accused-appellants contention that he and Salve were sweethearts and that the sexual intercourses on April 14 and 15, 1997 were with the voluntary will of the complainant, defense witness Salvacion Crucillo testified on the close relations between accused-appellant and Salve; while the other defense witness Juanito Credo who had been sleeping in a store two meters away from Ditas beauty parlor did not hear any unusual sounds during the nights in question.

As mentioned earlier, the lower court found accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two counts of rape. In arriving at the conviction, the lower court rejected the version of the accused-appellant, stating as follows:

By reason of the accuseds admission of having carnal knowledge with the complainant at the place and on the date and time in question, the accused bears the burden of proving his defense by substantial evidence. (People vs. Bayani, 262 SCRA 660). Otherwise stated, the burden to prove that the sexual intercourse was voluntary on the part of the complainant or that it was mutually done by both complainant and accused is shifted to the accused. After all, it is settled that when a woman says that she has been raped she says in effect all that is necessary to show that she has been raped. (People v. Cristobal, 252 SCRA 507). Besides, the law does not impose upon a rape victim the burden of proving resistance. (People vs. Talaboc, 256 SCRA 441). What needs only to be established is the use of force or intimidation by the accused in having sexual intercourse with the victim. (People vs. Gecomo, 254 SCRA 82).

The Court does not find the defense put by the accused credible. The Court is not convinced that a fifteen-year old girl like complainant would hastily agree to have sexual intercourse with the accused whom she had known barely a week. Such an action is not in accordance with the ordinary course of events especially because complainant appears to have been devirginized by accused because the medical certificate (Exhibit C) shows that complainants vaginal orifice admits one finger with difficulty. If complainant consented to have sexual intercourse with the accused, her natural reaction would have been to conceal it or keep silent about it instead of reporting the crime upon her chastity to her sister. (People vs. Espaol, 256 SCRA 137) Moreover, the claim of the accused that on April 19, 1997, complainant was with him swimming at Joroan, Tiwi, Albay from eight oclock in the morning up to five oclock in the afternoon, is clearly belied by the fact that at 9:50 oclock in the morning of said date, complainant was not in Joroan but actually at the police station of Tiwi, Albay giving her statement about the rape incidents complained of and this is clearly shown by Exhibit B.[6]

Hence, this appeal from the lower courts decision, with the sole assignment of error[7] allegedly committed by and imputed to the court a quo:

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY OF TWO (2) COUNTS OF RAPE, WITHOUT HIS GUILT HAVING BEEN PROVED BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT.

It is appellants position, as articulated in his lone assignment of error, that the lower court erred in convicting him of two counts of rape considering that the prosecution failed to prove the attendance of force and intimidation in the commission of the sexual acts. In support of his contention, appellant claims that he was unarmed on April 14 and 15, 1997, but complainant did not make any serious outcry or determined efforts of resistance; that the medical certificate does not contain any findings of external injuries on complainants body; and that it is improbable that the alleged unconsented copulations took 30 to 40 minutes each as testified to by the complainant.

We are not impressed.

Appellants assertion that the sexual congresses were consensual and that the same were not accomplished through force and intimidation is belied by the records. Complainant testified that she struggled to resist appellant who used force and intimidation to subdue her. On the night of April 14, 1997, this is what happened:

Q: What happened after Cesar Clado knocked at your door?

A: I opened the door for him.

Q: What happened after you opened the door for him?

A: He went directly inside then switched off the light and closed the door.

Q: What happened when he went inside, closed the door and switched off the light?

A: He embraced me.

Q: What else did the accused do, if any?

A: He kissed me.

Q: He kissed you where?

A: On my neck.

PROS. PIFAO: (Continuing)

Q: Where else?

A: On my breast.

Q: Aside from kissing your breast, what else?

ATTY. BROTAMONTE:

Leading.

COURT:

Witness may answer.

A: Running his hands over my body.

PROS. PIFAO: (Continuing)

Q: What else after that?

A: He closed my mouth with his right hand.

Q: After that, what did he do?

A: He removed my t-shirt.

Q: What else?

A: And removed my shorts.

Q: What happened next?

A: He forcibly laid me on the bed.

Q: Before he laid you on the bed, did he do anything to you?

ATTY. BROTAMONTE:

Leading.

COURT:

Reform the question.

PROS. PIFAO:

Q: Before he laid you to the bed, what did he do?

ATTY. BROTAMONTE:

Leading.

COURT:

Witness may answer.

A: He kissed me and threatened me not to tell Ate Dita because he will kill me if I do.

PROS. PIFAO: (Continuing)

Q: What else after he laid you down the bed?

A: He unzipped his pants and removed it downward.

Q: What happened next?

A: He entered his organ into mine.

INTERPRETER:

Witness is crying while stating the statement.

PROS. PIFAO: (Continuing)

Q: After he entered his organ, what happened next?

A: He pushed and pulled out his organ from my organ.

Q: For how long did he do that, if you know?

A: About thirty (30) minutes.

Q: What happened after that?

A: Then, he told me to put on my clothes again.

Q: While the accused doing a push and pull of his organ, what did you do?

A: I was making efforts to extricate from his hold.

Q: After thirty minutes, what happened?

A: He left.

Q: How about you, what did you do?

A: I kept crying on my bed.[8]

On the other hand, on the night of April 15, 1997, this is what happened:

Q: Will you tell the Hon. Court what was that unusual incident?

A: Somebody knocked at the door saying that he wanted to borrow a match and a candle.

Q: What did you do?

A: Because I was sleeping then as soon as I arose from bed I unknowingly opened the door because I came from a deep sleep.

Q: What happened after you opened the door?

A: Cesar Clado directly go inside and switch off the light.

Q: What did you do?

A: While he was switching off the light I told him to go out because Ate was not around so I could not tolerate him inside then I fought him but instead of leaving he kept on embracing me and kissing me.

Q: Where did he kiss you?

A: On my neck.

Q: Where else?

A: On my breast.

Q: Aside from embracing you and kissing you, what else did he do, if any?

A: He removed my shorts and panty.

Q: After he removed your shorts and panty, what happened?

A: He lowered his pants.

PROS. PIFAO: (Continuing)

Q: After he lowered his pants, what did he do, if any?

A: He entered his organ into mine.

Q: And what happened after he entered his organ into your organ?

A: I was fighting him.

Q: What happened after fighting him?

A: While I was fight him he fell off the bed.

Q: What happened after he fell off the bed?

A: I was able to run away but he was able to hold me.

INTERPRETER:

Witness demonstrating with her two hands on her waist.

PROS. PIFAO:

Q: What happened after he hold you?

A: He forcibly laid me on the cement.

Q: What happened after he forcibly laid you on the cement?

A: He entered his organ into mine.

Q: After that, what did he do?

A: Then he pushed and pull out his organ into mine.

Q: For how many minutes did he do that?

A: Forty minutes.

Q: After that, what happened?

A: He left.

Q: After he left, what did you observe from your body?

A: I felt very painful.

Q: Where?

A: Here in my organ.

Q: Aside from feeling pain in your organ, what happened?

A: I saw there was blood in my organ.

Q: Aside from blood, what else did you find?

A: I saw a sticky substance which look like saliva when I looked at it.

PROS. PIFAO: (Continuing)

Q: What happened in the afternoon of April 14, 1997 at about 10:00 oclock in the evening after the accused left you after you were sexually abused, what did you observe in your private organ?

A: I felt something cut and I saw blood in my organ.

Q: Aside from that, what else?

A: A sticky white substance like mucous.[9]

The law does not impose upon a rape victim the burden of proving resistance.[10] Physical resistance need not be established in rape when intimidation is exercised upon the victim and the latter submits herself, against her will, to the rapists embrace because of fear for life and personal safety.[11] Evidently, on the first night, complainant submitted herself to appellants embrace because of fear for life and personal safety. She was prevented from shouting when appellant covered her mouth and she was cowed into silence by the threat made by appellant against her life. Intimidation must be viewed in the light of the victims perception and judgment at the time of the rape and not by any hard and fast rule.[12] It is therefore enough that it produces fear - fear that if the victim does not yield to the bestial demands of the accused, something would happen to heart the moment or thereafter, as when she is threatened with death if she reports the incident.[13] This Court has noted in several cases that minors could be easily intimidated and cowed into silence even by the mildest threat against their lives.[14] At the time of the commission of the crimes, Salve was a fifteen-year old girl who had just arrived in town to tend the beauty parlor of her sister. She was left all alone that night and intimidation would explain why she did not put up a determined resistance against her defiler.

On the second night, there was a scuffle as complainant tried to resist appellants advances, however, this Court has ruled time and again that the force required in rape cases is relative and need not be overpowering or irresistible when applied. What is necessary is that the force employed in accomplishing it is sufficient to consummate the purpose which the accused has in mind.[15] In the instant case, appellant used the necessary force to overcome his victim and consummate his bestial deed. The absence of external injuries such as bruises, scratches or abrasions in complainants body does not rule out rape. The lack of such telltale signs of force is not necessarily inconsistent with complainants testimony regarding the manner by which appellant succeeded in satisfying his lust.[16] Complainant resisted appellants advances and fought him off but her efforts proved futile as can be expected from a fifteen-year old girl pitted against a twenty-one year old man.

As to her testimony on direct examination that the actual sexual intercourses took thirty to forty minutes each, we note that in her cross-examination she stated that the same occurred for three minutes. Suffice it to state that a rape victim is not and cannot be expected to keep an accurate account of her traumatic experience.[17] This detail - the length of time of the sexual intercourse - is too insignificant to negate the use of force and intimidation during the incidents in question and to discredit the testimony of complainant. Moreover, we have held in People vs. Alfeche[18] where the testimony of the victim regarding the length of stay of the rapist was likewise questioned that, a misestimation of time is too immaterial to discredit the testimony of a witness, especially where time is not an essential element or has no substantial bearing on the fact of the commission of the offense.

Appellant further assails the credibility of complainant Salve and insists that the rape charges are a clear fabrication borne out of a relationship that had gone sour and left in its wake a scorned woman exacting her revenge. After having carefully studied the transcripts of the testimonies of the witnesses, we must again defer to the lower courts evaluation of the credibility of Salves testimony. It is plainly inconceivable that complainant, who was only fifteen- years old at the time the incidents happened, would have subjected herself to the humiliation and rigors of a public trial, if the accusations were not true.[19] It is highly unlikely that a simple barrio lass in her teens, would accuse another of a serious crime such as rape if it were not the plain truth or if her motive was not purely to bring the perpetrator of her violation to justice.[20]

We share the view of the lower court that appellants claim that he and Salve were sweethearts is a fabrication; and that she agreed to have sex with him and positioned herself on top of him in consummating the sexual act is a blatant lie. Equally unworthy of belief is his contention that the reason complainant filed the charges against him was because he decided to break up with her upon finding out that she was no longer a virgin and that she was experienced in the ways of the world. As correctly pointed out by the lower court, appellant had the burden of proving that indeed they were sweethearts, and this he miserably failed to do so. Evidence for the defense that appellant and complainant were swimming and enjoying themselves in Joroan on April 19, 1997 was successfully rebutted by the evidence for the prosecution that she was actually at the Tiwi police station on that day. Appellant and complainant had known each other for barely a week and not only was his claim categorically denied by Salve, but there was no substantial evidence, such as love notes, mementoes or pictures, presented by the appellant to support it.[21]

Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of conviction rendered by the lower court. Pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence, an additional amount of P50,000.00 for moral damages is likewise granted for each count of rape.[22]

WHEREFORE, the decision of the lower court finding the appellant guilty of two counts of rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua for each count, and to pay civil indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00 for each count is AFFIRMED. An additional award of P50,000.00 for moral damages is hereby granted for each count of rape.

SO ORDERED.

Melo, (Chairman), Vitug, Panganiban, and Purisima, JJ., concur.



[1] Original Record (vol. I), p. 16.

[2] Original Record (vol. II), p. 17.

[3] Rollo, pp. 87-90.

[4] TSN dated March 19, 1998, pp. 2-8.

[5] Ibid., pp. 13-14.

[6] OR (vol.I), pp. 116 -117.

[7] Appellants Brief, p. 1; Rollo, p. 40.

[8] TSN dated December 10, 1997, pp. 4-7.

[9] Ibid., pp. 7-9.

[10] People vs. Peero, 276 SCRA 564 (1997).

[11] People vs. Sagucio, 277 SCRA 183 (1997).

[12] People vs. Caada, 253 SCRA 277 (1996).

[13] Ibid.

[14] People vs. Pardillo, Jr., 282 SCRA 286 (1997).

[15] People vs. Lo-ar, 280 SCRA 207 (1997).

[16] Ibid.

[17] People vs. Garcia, 281 SCRA 465 (1997).

[18] 294 SCRA 352 (1998).

[19] People vs. Erese, 281 SCRA 316 (1997).

[20] People vs. Betonio, 279 SCRA 532 (1997).

[21] People vs. Laray, 253 SCRA 654 (1996).

[22] People vs. Perez, 307 SCRA 276 (1999).