PEOPLE OF THE
- versus - QUISUMBING,
ROGELIO ALARCON y TIOXON AZCUNA,**
VELASCO, JR., and
March 7, 2007
Subject of this automatic review is the Decision promulgated by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 01000. The appellate court had affirmed the Regional Trial Courts (RTC) judgment in Criminal Case No. 8620-2001-C finding appellant guilty of qualified rape but modified the RTC judgment in Criminal Case No. 8621-2001-C by finding appellant guilty of acts of lasciviousness only instead of rape.
Based on the complaints filed by private complainant AAA, assisted by Sister Laura P. Chavez (Sister Laura), appellant was charged with two (2) counts of statutory rape. In Criminal Case No. 8620-2001-C, the accusatory portion in the Information reads, thus:
That sometime in the month of March 2001 at Brgy. Tuntungin-Putho, Municipality of Los Baos, Province of Laguna and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused thru force, violence and intimidation and with lewd design, did then and there wil[l]fully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal relation with one [AAA], a ten (10) year old minor, his own daughter, against her will and consent, to her damage and prejudice.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
In Criminal Case No. 8621-2001-C, the Informations accusatory portion, except as to the exact date of the commission of the offense, similarly reads, thus:
That sometime in the month of March 2001 at Brgy. Tuntungin-Putho, Municipality of Los Baos, Province of Laguna and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the above-named accused thru force, violence and intimidation and with lewd design, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal relation with one [AAA], a ten (10) year old minor, his own daughter, against her will and consent, to her damage and prejudice.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Upon arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty. Afterwards, trial on the merits ensued.
The prosecution presented the victim, AAA, who recounted the details of her harrowing experience that began one evening in March 2001 at her home in Los Baos, Laguna, which she shared with her father, the present appellant, and four (4) of her siblings. While they were all sleeping side by side in one room, AAA was awakened by appellant, who removed her panty and told her to remain quiet. He then forced his penis into her vagina. After finishing the act, appellant hit AAA.
Later that month, just a few days before
24 March 2001, another similar incident occurred. That afternoon, at their home, appellant
ordered AAA to lie down. She refused to
obey him but appellant started molesting her by removing her panty and letting
his penis touch her vagina. This incident occurred while AAAs two elder
(2) siblings were sleeping at home. On
testified that she lived with her four (4) siblings in Barangay Buot, Los
Baos, Laguna. At around on
In his defense, appellant denied the charges hurled against him. He claimed that on the dates of the alleged rape incidents, he was working overtime as a welder in Cabuyao, Laguna. He insinuated that Sister Laura may have had an influence in the filing of cases because his children told him that she convinced them to stay at the Tahanan ng Ama. Asencion Alarcon (Asencion) corroborated his brothers alibi. He allegedly served as the time keeper in the place where appellant worked. He declared that appellant worked from to on March 2, 3, 5, 7, 23 and 24, the dates when he allegedly committed rape and acts of lasciviousness against AAA. The daily time record however was not presented in evidence.
The trial court gave full credence to the categorical and positive testimony of the victim, AAA, which was corroborated by the Rape Case Report. It ruled that the act of AAA in immediately reporting the crime further strengthened her credibility.
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision dated
P25,000.00 in addition
to the civil indemnity of P75,000.00, and the amount of moral damages is
increased to P75,000.00.
Pursuant to A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC (Amendments to the Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure to Govern Death Penalty Cases) effective
With respect to Criminal Case No. 8621-2001-C, accused-appellants
conviction is modified to acts of lasciviousness and he is accordingly
sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of six (6) months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to six (6)
years of prision correccional, as
maximum. Accused-appellant is ordered to
pay private complainant
P30,000.00 as civil indemnity, P40,000.00
as moral damages, and P20,000.00 as exemplary damages.
In downgrading the crime to acts of lasciviousness, the appellate court observed that in Criminal Case No. 8621-2001-C, there was no showing of penetration of the vagina in the recounting of the second incident. The appellate court observed that when AAA testified as to that incident, she merely said, Dinidikit po niya, when asked how she was molested by appellant.
a Resolution dated
As earlier noted, concerning Criminal Case No. 8621-2001-C, the Court of Appeals modified the trial courts guilty verdict of appellant from rape to acts of lasciviousness. We can no longer review this aspect of the Decision without violating the right against double jeopardy, which proscribes an appeal from a judgment of acquittal or for the purpose of increasing the penalty imposed upon the accused, as in this case. The instant case was brought to this Court by way of automatic review which is mandatory only where the penalty imposed is death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. The present appeal should therefore be treated as an appeal only from that aspect of the appellate courts decision finding appellant guilty of qualified rape.
Appellant challenges the credibility of AAA on three (3) grounds: first, considering that the house is small and has only one room, and the fact that they slept side by side, it would be impossible for the other children not to be awakened when the alleged incidents of rape allegedly took place; second, AAA nurtured ill-feelings towards appellant because the latter maltreated and beat her and her siblings; and third, AAA admitted that the information she relayed before the police came from Sister Laura.
The issue of a witnesss credibility is best addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court, which had the unique opportunity to observe the witness firsthand and note her demeanor, conduct, and attitude under grueling examination. Hence, on this issue, findings of the trial court will not be disturbed on appeal unless the lower court overlooked, ignored, misapprehended, or misinterpreted certain facts or circumstances so material such as to affect the outcome of the case. No compelling reason was shown why this Court should depart from the findings of the trial court, which found the testimony of AAA as believable, positive, clear and convincing.
Recounting her ordeal in the first incident, AAA testified:
Q- Miss Witness, do you know a person by the name of Roger Alarcon?
A- He is my father, sir.
Q- Kindly identify him if he is inside the [c]ourt room?
A- (Witness pointing to a man wearing [a] stripe[d] t-shirt and who upon inquiry gave the name of Rogelio Alarcon).
x x x x
Q- What were you doing just before you were raped by your father for the first time?
A- I was already asleep, sir.
Q- What arose [sic] you when you were raped at that time?
A- My father was waking me up, sir.
Q- How did you wake up?
A- My other siblings were already asleep when he was shaking my shoulders, sir.
Q- Was he saying anything?
A- Nothing, sir.
x x x x
Q- What else did he do when he shake [sic] your shoulder?
A- He removed my panty, sir.
Q- What else did he do when he removed your panty?
A- He told me to keep quiet, sir.
Q- What were you. . . After that time after he removed your panty and keep quiet, what did you feel?
A- Masakit po, sir.
Q- What do you mean?
A- Yung mag-asawa po, yung titi po, sir.
Q- What did he do with his penis?
A- Pinasok po sa akin, sir.
Q- You said you fel[t] pain[.] [I]n what part of your body did you feel that pain?
A- Pepe ko po, sir.
Q- What did he do after he penetrated you?
A- Nothing else, sir (shaking her head).
AAAs testimony categorically established the fact of her defloration at the hands of her father at that. Indeed, she positively identified appellant as the perpetrator of the crime. She was only ten (10) years old when the rape was committed. It is inconceivable for a child to concoct a sordid tale of so serious a crime as rape at the hands of a close kin, her father in this case, and subject herself to the stigma and embarrassment of a public trial, if her motive were other than an earnest desire to seek justice. Thus, it becomes implausible for AAA to make up the rape story over her resentment caused by her fathers beatings.
The defense failed to dent even slightly the clear and categorical evidence of the prosecution. We do find untenable appellants contention that AAAs testimony before the police was prodded by Sister Laura. There is no evidence on record for Sister Laura to fabricate charges against appellant. Appellant failed to substantiate his allegations during the cross-examination that Sister Laura had wanted his children to stay with her at the Tahanan ng Ama Retreat House. Even assuming the same to be true, this fact does not indicate any ulterior motive on the part of Sister Laura. If at all, it only proves that Sister Laura was genuinely concerned for the lot of the children.
Appellant characterizes the testimony of his brother Asencio corroborating his alibi as being clear, straightforward and credible. Alibi is inherently a weak defense. Where it is established only by himself and by his relative, his denial of culpability does not deserve consideration in the face of the affirmative testimony of a credible prosecution witness. The daily time record, which would have supported the alibi of appellant, was not presented in court. This fact further created doubts on the veracity of Asencios testimony.
Appellants argument that rape could not have been committed due to the presence of AAAs siblings by her side is also bereft of merit. Rape is not a respecter of place or time. It is not necessary that the place where the rape is committed be isolated. There have been too many instances when rape was committed under circumstances as indiscreet and audacious as a room full of family members sleeping side by side.  Rape is not rendered impossible simply because the siblings of the victim who were with her in that small room were not awakened during its commission.
can be gathered from the decision of the RTC, as affirmed by the Court of
Appeals, that AAA came out with a credible testimony. Moreover, the persuasive impact of her
testimony remained unshaken despite the defense put up by appellant. Still, there are other pieces of evidence
that bolster the case of the prosecution.
The Rape Case Report prepared by Dr. Teresita Samadi-Denani of the
Q- When did you have a conversation with your siblings regarding what you said?
A- In the morning of March 24, sir.
Q- What other things did you talk [about] on that day/occasion particularly [AAA]?
A- I told AAA that morning that I will be leaving because I can no longer injure [sic] the beating of my father and she told me that she would like to come with me, sir.
Q- Why did she like to go with you?
A- [AAA] wanted to go with me because our father molested her, sir.
Q- And were you able to know when your sister was molested by your father?
A- Yes, sir.
Q- And when was that?
A- She told me that she was molested by our father the previous night of the morning, sir.
Her act of immediately reporting the crimes once the threat against her life had been lifted certainly adds to the credibility of the account.
The guilt of the accused having been duly proven beyond reasonable doubt, the trial court, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, correctly found appellant guilty of raping his daughter. Under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, rape is punished with death when the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent of the victim.
As a special qualifying circumstance
raising the penalty for rape to death, the minority of the victim and her
relationship to the offender must be alleged in the criminal complaint or
information and proved conclusively and indubitably as the crime itself. Appellant maintains that the trial court
erred in appreciating the special qualifying circumstance of minority and
relationship for failure of the prosecution to present the birth certificate of
the victim. The Court of Appeals relied
on the admission made by appellant with respect to his relationship with AAA
and the latters age during pre-trial in affirming the trial courts
conclusion. In the Pre-trial Order
1. x x x
2. that the private offended party [AAA] is the daughter of the accused;
3. that the victim [AAA] is 10 years old as of today;
x x x x
During the direct examination, AAA stated that she is 10 years old and alleged that her father raped her. In his direct examination, appellant also affirmed the testimony of AAA on these points:
Q- Do you have any children[,] daughters or sons[,] Mr. Witness?
A- Yes, sir[.] I have.
Q- How many daughters and sons?
A- Ten (10), sir.
Q- How many girls and how many boys?
A- Six (6) girls and four (4) boys.
Q- How many of your children were staying with you, Mr. Witness?
A- Four, sir.
Q- Who were they, Mr. Witness?
A- [AAA] around 11 years old, [CCC] around 8, [DDD] around 7 and [EEE,] around 15.
The latest jurisprudence on the
matter was laid down in People v.
the Court explicitly ruled that the imposition of the supreme penalty of death
is proper if the special
qualifying circumstances of the victim's minority and her relationship to appellant were properly alleged in the Information and their existence duly admitted by the defense on stipulation of facts during pre-trial.
The death penalty cannot however be imposed in view of the enactment of Republic Act No. 9346. Accordingly, the penalty of reclusion perpetua without possibility of parole is hereby meted on appellant.
the Decision dated
P75,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral
damages and P25,000.00 as
exemplary damages, is AFFIRMED.
DANTE O. TINGA
REYNATO S. PUNO
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ
RENATO C. CORONA
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.
(On Official Leave)
ADOLFO S. AZCUNA
MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
CANCIO C. GARCIA
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
C E R T I F I C A T I O N
Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 13 of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.
REYNATO S. PUNO
real name of the victim is withheld per Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7610 and R.A.
No. 9262. See People v. Cabalquinto, G.R. No. 167693,
Records, pp. 10-11.
People v. Dela Torre, 430 Phil. 420, 430 (2002) citing Heirs of Tito Rillorta v. Firme, 157 SCRA 518,
People v. Almendral, 433 SCRA 440 citing People v. Awing, G.R. Nos. 13391920, February 19, 2001, 352 SCRA 188, 204.
People v. Manahan, 455 Phil. 658 (2003);
People v. Fucio, G.R. Nos. 151186-95,