EN BANC

[G.R. No. 137714. September 8, 2000]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ROBERTO BANIGUID y PASSION, accused-appellant.

D E C I S I O N

MENDOZA, J.:

This is an appeal from the decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 110, Pasay City, finding accused-appellant Roberto Baniguid y Passion guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape against his minor daughter, Josibelle Baniguid, and sentencing him to death and to pay complainant the amount of P75,000.00, as civil indemnity, and the costs of the suit.

The information[2] against accused-appellant, based on the complaint filed by the offended party, alleged -

That on or about the 4th day of January 1995, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, Roberto Baniguid y Passion, by means of force and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of her minor daughter-private complainant Josibelle V. Baniguid against her will and consent.

Contrary to law.

Upon arraignment, accused-appellant entered a plea of not guilty, whereupon trial ensued.

The evidence for the prosecution established that complainant was born on October 28, 1980, the second of four children by Josefa Victorino and accused-appellant.[3] The family was then residing in Sun Valley, Pasay City, but in 1992 complainant’s mother left them to live in Bulacan with another man. The family residence in Pasay City was sold and complainant, her father, and two brothers transferred to a small house in Cainta, Rizal.

On the night of March 23, 1993, while complainant and her brothers were asleep in their house in Cainta, Rizal, accused-appellant had carnal knowledge of complainant. Complainant tried to resist, reminding her father that she is his daughter, but her pleas went unheeded. Complainant could not shout because she was afraid of her father. With complainant’s brothers asleep, accused-appellant was able to make her submit to his will.

The next morning, complainant ran away from their house and worked as a domestic helper. Nonetheless, from time to time, complainant checked on her father. She learned that her father got so angry after finding that she had run away that he burned her clothes. Later, upon the advice of her employer, complainant returned home to her father, but not before telling him that she would leave if he abused her again.

On January 8, 1994, complainant, her father, and her two brothers left Cainta, Rizal to live in San Nicolas. Upon arriving the next day, they did not find complainant’s grandmother but stayed in the latter’s house, together with complainant’s uncles who live in the same house. That night, while complainant was sleeping with her two brothers in the living room, accused-appellant came to her again, and forced himself on her. As before, she tried to resist his advances and pleaded with him to stop, but her efforts proved futile. Complainant was afraid of her father because he once hit her with a piece of wood. After her father finished raping her, she put on her panties and shorts and cried through the night until she fell asleep. Later, she disclosed her ordeal to her cousin, Juan, but he did nothing to help her.

Meanwhile, her father got her employed as a domestic helper. She was earning P700.00 a month, but accused-appellant took all her wages. After working for two months, complainant returned to her family to look after her brothers because she had been informed by them that they were being maltreated by their father.

Accused-appellant again made complainant work as a housemaid for another family. As before, her monthly salary was P700.00 but she received only P100.00 because her father took the rest of her money. She never received her fourth month salary because it was used to pay for her tuition fees. She tried going to school but was unable to finish the third grade because her father wanted her to go to Manila with him.

In the morning of January 4, 1995, complainant and her father left San Nicolas, Pangasinan to live in Pasay City again. They arrived at the house of her father’s “kumpare” in Vitales, Pasay City in the evening. The place was a one-room shanty lit only by a gas lamp. Complainant went to sleep on the floor while her father engaged in a drinking spree with the neighbors. After a few moments, she was awakened by her father who again demanded to have sex with her, as she lay on her right side. Her father’s “kumpare” was sleeping at arm’s length away from them. Complainant just covered her eyes with her hands and cried, helpless at what her father was doing to her.

Complainant again ran away from home. She went to the house of Edna Lopez, her mother’s “kumare,” at Sun Valley, Pasay City. She told Edna Lopez that she had been raped by accused-appellant. Edna Lopez told her to stay with her, took care of her, and gave her P50.00 a month as allowance, but did nothing to help her in reporting to the authorities what her father had done to her.

Later, complainant’s mother came, took complainant from the custody of Edna Lopez, and brought her to Bulacan to work as a housemaid for a certain Rey (Rick) Macatangay. Complainant’s mother took her monthly salary of P700.00. For the four months she worked with the Macatangay household, complainant only received P300.00. Complainant also informed her mother that she was raped by accused-appellant but her mother likewise did nothing to help her report to the proper authorities what she had gone through.

After some time, complainant asked permission from her employer in Bulacan to visit her former employer. Complainant never returned to Bulacan nor did she join her family in Pasay City. She went to visit her friend, Mark, in the squatters’ area near Rivera Village in Pasay City. She spent the night with her godmother who lived in that place. Thereafter, she stayed with one friend after another. She also stayed in the house of her boyfriend, Joey, with whom she had sexual intercourse twice. She admitted that she smoked shabu with Joey for some time. Joey also gave her some money to spend for herself.

Later, while staying in the house of another friend, complainant learned that a woman and a policeman were looking for her. She fled and hid in a passenger jeepney then under repair. While she was sleeping inside the vehicle, she was chanced upon by a barangay official who reported the matter to the barangay captain, Daniel Detera.[4] Detera summoned complainant to his office and asked her why she was sleeping inside the jeepney. Complainant told him that she had run away from home because her father had abused her. Detera accompanied her to the Pasay City Police Station where she filed a complaint against accused-appellant.[5]

At the police headquarters, the station commander, Senior Inspector Cristeto Escobia, upon learning from complainant that she had been abused, sent PO3 George Clavo and PO3 Danilo Tabucol to look for accused-appellant. The policemen and complainant boarded a mobile car and proceeded to Gat. Mendoza St., Sun Valley, Pasay City, where they found accused-appellant. He was surprised to see her daughter. When asked by the police to go with them to their station, accused-appellant complied voluntarily.[6]

Accused-appellant was investigated at the police precinct. After informing accused-appellant of his constitutional rights, SPO3 Milagros Carrasco, the police officer on duty at the precinct’s Women’s Desk, asked him if he wanted to give a statement regarding his daughter’s complaint. Aside from denying the accusations made by his daughter, accused-appellant declined to give any statement to the police, whereupon SPO3 Carrasco referred complainant to the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory for medicolegal examination and prepared the booking and information sheet for accused-appellant. Accused-appellant was then turned over to the Central Investigation Division of the same precinct, after which he was ordered detained without bail. Complainant executed a sworn statement before SPO3 Carrasco. Thereafter, the matter was referred to the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasay City for indictment.[7]

Accused-appellant testified in his defense as follows: He denied the allegations against him. He denied he abused complainant while they were residing in Cainta, Rizal, because, according to him, complainant stayed in the house of his former employers, spouses Reynaldo and Dina Tanio. Accused-appellant claimed that complainant, accompanied by Dina Tanio, only visited him from time to time.

According to accused-appellant, about the second week of January 1994, accused-appellant and his four children went to San Nicolas, Pangasinan. They stayed in the house of his brother, Mariano Baniguid, together with his mother, his in-laws, nephews, and nieces. Accused-appellant averred that on the night of their arrival in San Nicolas, Pangasinan, complainant slept in another house.

On November 1994, accused-appellant and his eldest child, Gilbert, went to Manila. He let Gilbert stay with his “kumpare,” Dominador Reyes. Complainant was left in Pangasinan, in the care of a certain Atty. Gonzales, who agreed to send complainant to school in exchange for her taking Atty. Gonzales’ granddaughter to school. According to accused-appellant, he was later told by the son-in-law of Atty. Gonzales that complainant had not been attending school but was only gallivanting with her friends. Accused-appellant was asked to take complainant with him lest something bad befell her because of her wayward nature. Accordingly, accused-appellant took complainant with him to Manila, where they stayed in the house of his “Kumpareng Domeng” (Dominador Reyes) in Gatchalian Extension, MIA, Pasay City. Accused-appellant claimed that on the night of their arrival, complainant slept with his “kumare,” Edna Lopez, who lived in a place about 20 minutes walking distance from the house.

Accused-appellant stated that, on June 17, 1996, he saw complainant at the house of his “Kumpareng Domeng” high on drugs so he advised her to go home to his “Kumareng Edna” (Edna Lopez). According to him, in the evening of that day, he saw complainant on board a police mobile with policemen who were looking for him because his daughter had complained that he raped her. When he tried to talk to her daughter, the policemen prevented him from doing so.

At the police station, accused-appellant was unable to explain his side. Accused-appellant testified that complainant did not know what to say regarding his daughter’s complaint so police officers coached her on what to indicate in her sworn statement. He claimed that someone in the police station took complainant’s hand and made her point to him as the perpetrator of the rape.[8]

On February 15, 1999, the trial court rendered its decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:[9]

IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered finding the Accused guilty of the crime of Rape defined in and penalized by Article 335, as amended by Republic Act 7659 and hereby sentences the said Accused to suffer the supreme penalty of DEATH.

Conformably with the Decision of our Supreme Court in “People versus Esteban Victor, G.R. No, 127903, July 9, 1998,” the Accused is hereby ordered to pay the private complainant the amount of P75,000.00 by way of actual damages and to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.

In this appeal, accused-appellant argues that the trial court erred in convicting him of rape. He contends that the trial court blindly believed the testimony of complainant despite its falsehood. For these reasons, he maintains that his defense of denial and alibi should be upheld.

In cases of rape, this Court has been guided by the following principles in its review of trial court decisions: (1) an accusation for rape can be made with facility; it is difficult to prove but more difficult for the person of the accused, though innocent, to disprove; (2) in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape where only two persons are usually involved, the testimony of the complainant is scrutinized with extreme caution; and (3) the evidence for the prosecution stands or falls on its own merits and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the defense.[10]

Guided by these principles, this Court finds, and after careful examination of evidence adduced by both parties, that accused-appellant is indeed guilty of rape of his daughter.

First. Accused-appellant points to the inability of complainant to remember the names of certain people which he contends impairs her credibility. She could not remember the names of the persons who employed her as a domestic. Nor could she remember the name of her paternal grandmother with whom they stayed while in San Nicolas, Pangasinan.

Accused-appellant’s argument has no merit. There are people who have difficulty remembering names of other people, but their credibility is not necessarily impaired. Complainant worked for a family in Cainta, Rizal for only a month way back in March 1993. She worked for another family in Pangasinan for only two months sometime in 1994. When she testified in 1996, she could hardly be expected to remember their names. It would also be understandable that complainant could not remember the name of her paternal grandmother because she never really knew it. Nobody told her what her paternal grandmother’s name was. With respect to the name of complainant’s paternal uncle, it should be noted that accused-appellant had two brothers and his counsel did not specify who between them was being alluded to. Indeed, there can be no doubt about complainant’s testimony that they stayed in the house of her grandmother in San Nicolas, Pangasinan, because accused-appellant himself said they stayed there in his brother’s house with his mother. Complainant was also unable to remember the name of her father’s “kumpare,” but it is not denied that, from San Nicolas, Pangasinan, accused-appellant took his family to Pasay City and stayed in the house of his “Kumpareng Domeng.”

These persons, whose names complainant could not recall, had no involvement in the misfortune of complainant. Their names are of minor importance. That these people actually existed cannot be doubted because accused-appellant himself mentioned or referred to them in his own defense.

Complainant’s inability to recall the names of some people did not affect the consistency of her testimony concerning the circumstances under which she was raped. After all, she remembered the names of other people because these were the ones to whom she had unburdened herself. These were her friends, Edna Lopez, Juan (her cousin), her Ate Beng, and her boyfriend, Joey.

Second. Accused-appellant capitalizes on complainant’s testimony that even after she had run away from her father, she nevertheless “secretly visited” him. Accused-appellant contends that such admission negates her claim that she had been abused by him.

“Secretly visited” is actually a literal translation of what complainant said. Complainant’s testimony is as follows:

Q After one month with that woman as your employer, where did you go?

A When I was working in that store, I used to visit my father secretly (sinisilip-silip ko pa rin ang tatay ko).[11]

It is clear what complainant meant was that, concerned for accused-appellant who, after all, is her father, she checked on him without making him know she was doing so. But her love and concern for him wore out after he repeatedly defiled her, so she fled from her father and never returned again. Indeed, unable to forgive him any longer, she left it to the trial court to decide what penalty to impose on her father for what he had done to her.

Third. Complainant was forced to seek the company of her friends because of her father’s abuses. She had no one else to turn to. Her mother had already abandoned them way back in 1992. When complainant told her mother what had happened to her, the latter did nothing to help her. Complainant’s mother only got her employed and took practically all of her salaries.

The fact that complainant’s friends were mostly male is of no moment. There is nothing peculiar nor extraordinary if a person, like complainant, has more friends of the opposite sex. It is true complainant admitted that she had sexual intercourse with her boyfriend and that she had taken shabu. It would seem, however, that this was a choice forced on her as a result of her misfortune. There is no showing that she is promiscuous by nature. If at all, complainant’s admission that she had sexual intercourse with her boyfriend and that she had taken shabu only proves her candor, which all the more shows that she is telling the truth.

Even assuming that complainant is less than chaste, this fact would not detract from the fact that accused-appellant violated her on the night of January 4, 1995. As long as the victim’s testimony measures up to the standard of credibility, the fact that she had sexual relations with other men would not destroy or affect her credibility. The moral character of the victim is immaterial in rape cases. For even a prostitute can be the victim of rape.[12]

Fourth. It has been held 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.[13] In this case, complainant consistently declared that, on the night of January 4, 1995, when she was 15 years old, accused-appellant abused her, describing in detail how accused-appellant removed her shorts and panties and succeeded in having carnal knowledge with her by entering her from behind while she was lying on her right side. She submitted to her father’s lust because of fear and she could only cry in desperation and anger. This happened in the shanty of her father’s “kumpare” in which they were temporarily staying.

A daughter, especially one of tender age like complainant, would not just accuse her own father of a heinous crime had she not really been aggrieved.[14] Considering this fact, accused-appellant’s contention that complainant only made up her story and was merely taught what to say during the investigation deserves no consideration. Nor does the refusal of the people to whom complainant had disclosed her misfortune to help her put in doubt complainant’s credibility for reluctance of some people to involve themselves in criminal actions is a matter of judicial notice.[15] Having had the opportunity to observe complainant’s demeanor, particularly her scorn and outrage against her own father, the trial court committed no error, much less abuse of discretion, in believing the testimony of the complainant which, to repeat, is worthy of absolute credence.[16]

Indubitably, the crime as charged was proven according to the quantum of evidence required by law. Complainant positively testified that she was raped by accused-appellant. Notwithstanding the absence of testimony as to the findings on complainant’s medical examination, complainant’s testimony, being credible, is sufficient to prove accused-appellant’s guilt. It is well established that a medical examination of the victim, as well as the medical certificate, is merely corroborative in character and is not indispensable in proving rape.[17]

The evidence shows that accused-appellant forced complainant to submit to his will. Complainant feared her father as he once hit her with a piece of wood and even chased her with a bladed weapon. She saw him beat her mother while the latter was pregnant. It is settled jurisprudence that physical resistance need not be established when intimidation is exercised upon the victim and the latter submits herself against her will to the rapist’s embrace because of fear for her life and personal safety.[18] Furthermore, when rape is committed by a father against his own daughter, the moral ascendancy of the former over the latter takes the place of physical violence and intimidation.[19]

Accused-appellant’s bare and uncorroborated denial of the crime charged is insufficient to refute the prosecution evidence, especially in the face of his positive identification by complainant as the malefactor.[20]

Fifth. We agree with accused-appellant that his warrantless arrest by the police officers was illegal considering that it was not one of the cases falling under Rule 113, § 5 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure. However, for his objection thereto to prosper, he should have interposed it before he entered his plea during arraignment, otherwise, the same is already waived.[21] His belated protest as to his defective arrest is but an effort reduced to waste.

Nevertheless, we hold that it was error for the trial court to impose the death penalty on accused-appellant. Under Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. No. 7659, the death penalty is imposed for the crime of rape if “the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent . . . of the victim.” For this purpose, the special qualifying circumstances of the victim’s minority and her relationship with the offender should be alleged and proved.[22] The allegation in the information that complainant is the “minor daughter” of accused-appellant is insufficient. As held in People v. Puertollano,[23] the information must state the exact age of the victim at the time of the commission of the crime, thus:

A close scrutiny of the information filed in this case shows that all that is stated therein is that Mary Joy is a minor. No mention was made of her exact age.

We reiterate that due process requires that the acts or omission constitutive of the offense be stated in the Information to fully apprise the accused of the charge against him. The nature and the cause of the accusation must be reasonably stated therein.

Consequently, the death penalty imposed by the trial court should be reduced to reclusion perpetua as provided for in the second paragraph of Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.[24]

Accused-appellant’s admission that he is the complainant’s father and that complainant was born on October 28, 1980 and, hence, that complainant was a minor under 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the rape, cannot cure the defect in the allegation in the information.

In view of the reduction of the penalty, the amount of P75,000.00 awarded by the trial court to complainant as civil indemnity should be correspondingly reduced to P50,000.00, in line with our case law that if the crime is simple rape the indemnity should only be P50,000.00. Aside from the civil indemnity, complainant should likewise be paid moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00, pursuant to the ruling of this Court that such is automatically granted in rape cases without need of proof for it is assumed that the victim has suffered moral injuries entitling her to such an award.[25]

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 110, Pasay City, convicting accused-appellant of rape, is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that his sentence is REDUCED to reclusion perpetua, the award of indemnity to complainant is reduced to P50,000.00, and accused-appellant is ordered to pay complainant the additional amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

Ynares-Santiago, J., on leave.



[1] As per Judge Porfirio G. Macaraeg.

[2] Rollo, p. 7.

[3] TSN (Josibelle Baniguid), p. 2, Nov. 7, 1996; TSN (Roberto Baniguid), p. 3, Aug. 20, 1998.

[4] TSN (Josibelle Baniguid), pp. 23-78, Sept. 18, 1996; TSN (Josibelle Baniguid), pp. 2-39, Nov. 7, 1996; Exh. D; Records, p. 106.

[5] TSN (Josibelle Baniguid), pp. 70-72, Sept. 18, 1996; Exhibit D; Records, p. 106; TSN (Daniel Detera), pp. 3-8, Nov. 8, 1996.

[6] TSN (Daniel Detera), pp. 5-6, Nov. 8, 1996; Exh. G; Records, p. 109; TSN (PO3 George Clavo), pp. 4-11, Sept. 17, 1997.

[7] TSN (SPO3 Milagros Carrasco), pp. 4-21, Sept. 18, 1996.

[8] TSN (Roberto Baniguid), pp. 3-18, Aug. 20, 1998.

[9] Rollo, p. 28.

[10] People v. Baygar, G.R. No 132238, Nov. 17, 1999.

[11] TSN (Josibelle Baniguid), Nov. 7, 1996, p. 9.

[12] People v. Javier, 311 SCRA 122 (1999).

[13] People v. Flores, 311 SCRA 170 (1999).

[14] People v. Nunez, 310 SCRA 168 (1999).

[15] People v. Realin, 301 SCRA 495 (1999).

[16] People v. Dizon, 309 SCRA 669 (1999).

[17] People v. Brandares, 311 SCRA 159 (1999).

[18] People v. Javier, 311 SCRA 122 (1999).

[19] Id.

[20] People v. Atop, 286 SCRA 157 (1998); People v. Caisip, 290 SCRA 451 (1998).

[21] People v. Patalin, Jr., 311 SCRA 186 (1999).

[22] People v. Puertollano, 308 SCRA 356 (1999).

[23] 308 SCRA 356 (1999).

[24] Id., at 367.

[25] People v. Alba, 305 SCRA 811 (1999).