PEOPLE OF THE
- versus -
G.R. No. 186533
August 9, 2010
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
is an appeal from the Decision dated
7 November 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00030-MIN which
affirmed with modification the Decision
dated 14 April 2004 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Gingoog City, 10th
Judicial Region, Branch 43, in Criminal Case No. 2000-211 finding herein
appellant Efren Castillo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape
under Article 266-A, par. 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, committed against AAA, thereby imposing upon him the
penalty of reclusion perpetua. The appellate court further ordered the
appellant to pay AAA
P50,000.00 as moral damages, in addition to the P50,000.00
civil indemnity awarded by the trial court.
a Complaint dated
That sometime in March 2000, in XXX, XXX City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named [appellant], did then and there wilfully (sic), unlawfully and feloniously force and intimidate AAA, known by the [appellant] to be mentally retarded, and then forcibly committed sexual intercourse with the said AAA, against her will.
Contrary to and in violation of Article 266-A, paragraph 1, of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by [Republic Act No.] 8353.
When arraigned on
At the pre-trial conference, both the prosecution and the defense failed to make any stipulation of facts. The pre-trial conference was then terminated and trial on the merits ensued.
The prosecution presented the following witnesses: AAA, the private offended party; Dr. Thessa Marie Antillon-Malimas (Dr. Antillon-Malimas), the doctor in Gingoog District Hospital who examined AAA; BBB, the mother of AAA, who was also presented as rebuttal witness; and Myrna delos Reyes-Villanueva, the Guidance Psychologist at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center who conducted psychological tests on AAA to determine her mental capacity.
On the basis of the testimonies of the aforesaid witnesses, the prosecution established that AAA was 18 years old when she was raped by the appellant. She is the eldest of the four children of BBB and CCC, the deceased father of AAA. She began attending school when she was already eight years old. AAA, however, was not able to finish her Grade I level primarily because of her epileptic seizures which started when she was nine years old. Since then she suffered epileptic seizures at least once a month. During attacks, AAA trembles and becomes stiff. AAA also had difficulty understanding her lessons in school, she cannot write well and she had poor memory. Compared to her younger siblings, AAA had difficulty following instructions given to her at home and in school.
AAAs ordeal began sometime in March
2000 when she approached the appellant in order to collect his debt for the
rice cake he bought from her mother.
Instead of settling his account, the appellant cuddled AAA until they
reached the house of a certain Atok located in Barangay Agay-ayan,
Days thereafter, such awful experience
of AAA was repeated when she was on her way to visit her aunts house. The appellant, who was then standing by the mango
grove, approached AAA, walked along with her and led her to a nearby chapel
also in Agay-ayan,
Subsequently, AAA executed her sworn statement before Senior Police Officer 4 Myrna Z. Palad (SPO4 Palad), the investigator at Gingoog City Police Station.
was also subjected to psychological tests to determine her mental capacity. The psychological tests administered by
Myrna Delos Reyes-Villanueva on AAA consist of the Draw-A-Person Test and the Bender
Visual Motor Test. The aforesaid psychological
tests showed that AAA has poor visual motor coordination and low level mental
functioning not within her chronological age, i.e., 21 years old at the time of her examination. In view of that result, Myrna Delos
Reyes-Villanueva concluded that AAA is suffering from mild to moderate mental
retardation with a mental age of 8 to 12 years old and can be educated up to
Grade VI level. She also noted that AAA
lacked personal hygiene and has a vague concept of big numbers and time, like
days of the week. She further declared
that AAAs instinct to resist any sexual assault is always there; however, with
her low level mental functioning she could easily be deceived or persuaded by a
man to engage into sexual intercourse. The result of AAAs psychological tests was also
reduced into writing as evidenced by a Psychological Report
For its part, the defense presented Rolando Castillo (Rolando), appellants father, and the appellant himself whose testimony consists mainly of bare denial and alibi.
The appellant denied having raped AAA. He stated that it was impossible for him to rape AAA in March 2000 because for the entire period of the said month he was harvesting coconuts from the land of a certain Elizabeth Camus from until or every day. Similarly, the house of Atok, where the first rape incident allegedly happened, was already demolished as early as 1998 and he was one of those who dismantled the said house.
The appellant also insisted that he
was not arrested; instead, he surrendered voluntarily to the Barangay Captain of Agay-ayan,
Likewise, the appellant claimed that he does not know of any reason why AAA would impute such a grave offense against him. The only thing he could remember was AAAs mother, BBB, who got angry at him when he told her to get married since she is now a widow. Since then BBB did not talk to him anymore. The appellant believed this could be the reason why AAAs family charged him with rape.
The defense likewise presented appellants father, Rolando, who categorically admitted that AAA is mentally retarded. Rolando also disclosed that he accompanied the appellant to AAAs place to talk to her mother and ask forgiveness in case the charge against him was true so that the matter will no longer reach the court. The appellant then asked forgiveness from AAAs mother by saying, Ya, forgive me because the charge against me is not true. Then BBB allegedly replied, We cannot withdraw the case Fren because it was already filed in court. Rolando also divulged that immediately after they went to AAAs house, there were already police officers who were about to arrest the appellant but the latter ran away. When the appellant went home, he told him to surrender, which the appellant obeyed.
On rebuttal, BBB disclosed that even prior to the filing of the instant case the appellant already admitted that he truly molested AAA. The appellant, indeed, went to their house in August 2000 asking forgiveness from her but she told him that the case was already in court. BBB also clarified that the house of Atok where the first rape incident happened was not yet demolished in 1998. The house demolition happened only in 2000. She was certain about this because during the demolition she was there gathering firewood.
The trial court, convinced on the
merits of the prosecutions case, rendered a Decision on
P50,000.00 as civil
The records were originally transmitted to this Court on appeal. In view, however, of this Courts ruling in People v. Mateo, the case was transferred to the Court of Appeals for intermediate review.
In his brief, the appellant assigned the following errors:
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT [AAA] IS A MENTAL RETARDATE DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE SUCH MENTAL RETARDATION.
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE [APPELLANT] OF THE CRIME OF RAPE UNDER ARTICLE 266-A, par. 1(B), AS AMENDED BY R.A. 8353, DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
The Court of Appeals, taking into
consideration the aforesaid assignment of errors and after a thorough study of
the records of the case, rendered the assailed Decision dated
P50,000.00 as moral damages.
The records were then forwarded to this Court for further review.
This Court affirms appellants conviction.
Appellant contends that the records are bereft of any evidence that would conclusively show that AAA was suffering from mental retardation. BBBs declaration that AAA is a slow thinker does not sufficiently establish AAAs mental retardation. Further, the expert witness qualification of the prosecutions supposed expert witness is highly questionable because she had not acquired any doctorate degree in the field of psychology or psychiatry. More so, the psychological tests administered by her on AAA were inadequate to establish AAAs mental capacity.
Appellant anchors his argument for acquittal on the alleged failure of the prosecution to establish AAAs mental retardation to make him guilty of rape under Article 266-A, par. 1(b), of the Revised Penal Code. Appellant concludes that his guilt has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt.
We reject appellants position.
In rape cases, the gravamen of the offense is sexual intercourse with a woman against her will or without her consent. Article 266-A, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 8353, states:
ART. 266-A. Rape; When and How Committed. - Rape is committed.
1) By a man who 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 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. [Emphasis supplied].
It can be deduced from the aforequoted provision that for the charge of rape to prosper, the prosecution must prove that; (1) the offender had carnal knowledge of a woman, and (2) he accomplished such act through force or intimidation, or when she is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious, or when she is under 12 years of age or is demented. The term woman deprived of reason includes one suffering from mental retardation. Clearly, carnal knowledge of a woman who is a mental retardate is rape under the aforesaid provisions of law. Proof of force or intimidation is not necessary as a mental retardate is not capable of giving consent to a sexual act. What needs to be proven are the facts of sexual congress between the accused and the victim, and the mental retardation of the latter.
In People v. Dalandas, citing People v. Dumanon, this Court held that mental retardation can be proven by evidence other than medical/clinical evidence, such as the testimony of witnesses and even the observation by the trial court.
Section 50, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence explicitly provides:
SEC. 50. Opinion of ordinary witnesses. The opinion of a witness for which proper basis is given, may be received in evidence regarding-
(a) x x x
(b) x x x
(c) The mental sanity of a person with whom he is sufficiently acquainted.
The witness may also testify on his impressions of the emotion, behavior, condition or appearance of a person. [Emphasis supplied].
Accordingly, it is competent for the ordinary witness to give his opinion as to the sanity or mental condition of a person, provided the witness has had sufficient opportunity to observe the speech, manner, habits, and conduct of the person in question. Commonly, it is required that the witness details the factors and reasons upon which he bases his opinion before he can testify as to what it is. As the Supreme Court of Vermont said: A non-expert witness may give his opinion as to the sanity or insanity of another, when based upon conversations or dealings which he has had with such person, or upon his appearance, or upon any fact bearing upon his mental condition, with the witness own knowledge and observation, he having first testified to such conversations, dealings, appearance or other observed facts, as the basis for his opinion. 
The mother of an offended party in a rape case, though not a psychiatrist, if she knows the physical and mental condition of the party, how she was born, what she is suffering from, and what her attainments are, is competent to testify on the matter. Thus, even though the Guidance Psychologist who examined AAA may not qualify as an expert witness, though the psychological tests conducted by her on AAA may not be accurate to determine AAAs mental capacity, such circumstance is not fatal to the prosecutions cause.
In the case at bench, BBB testified that AAA has been suffering from epilepsy since she was nine years old, which is one of the reasons why AAA was not able to finish her Grade I level. AAA also had to stop schooling because she had difficulties understanding her lessons in school, she cannot write well, she had poor memory and she had difficulty answering even the simplest question asked of her. BBB further stated that AAA is the eldest of her four children; however, compared to her younger siblings, AAA had a hard time comprehending the instructions given to her at home and in school.
In the same way, though the Guidance Psychologist who examined AAA may not be qualified as an expert witness, her observations, however, as regards the appearance, manner, habits and behavior of AAA, is also admissible in evidence as an ordinary witness testimony. Even before the Guidance Psychologist administered the psychological tests on AAA, she already noticed that AAA lacked personal hygiene. While conversing with AAA, she observed that AAA has low level mental functioning as she has difficulty understanding simple things, has a vague concept of big numbers and time ─ like days of the week, and has regressed behavior that is not congruent to her age, i.e., 21 years old at the time of her examination. She also stated that she was not able to administer the Purdue Non-Language Test, which is an Intelligence Quotient Test, on AAA due to the latters inability to identify the items therein.
This Court, in People v. Dalandas, clarified that a mental retardate, in general, exhibits a slow rate of maturation, physical and/or psychological, as well as impaired learning capacity. Further, the mental retardation of persons and the degrees thereof may be manifested by their overt acts, appearance, attitude and behavior. The dentition, manner of walking, ability to feed oneself or attend to personal hygiene, capacity to develop resistance or immunity to infection, dependency on others for protection and care and inability to achieve intelligible speech may be indicative of the degree of mental retardation of a person. All these may be testified on by ordinary witnesses who come in contact with an alleged mental retardate.
It bears stressing that the deprivation of reason contemplated by law need not be complete; mental abnormality or deficiency is sufficient. Thus, it is clear from the foregoing that AAAs impaired learning capacity, lack of personal hygiene and difficulty in answering simple questions, as testified to by her mother and the Guidance Psychologist who had an opportunity to observe her appearance, manner, habits and behavior, are indicative that she is truly suffering from some degree of mental retardation.
More telling is the trial courts own observation on AAAs manner of testifying that confirms the fact that AAA is a mental retardate, to wit:
Court: Alright, Order.
The prosecution presented their first witness in the person of the victim herself, AAA, who seemed to be a retardate.
The witness finds it hard to answer simple questions and it has to be repeated to ask questions in a simple way as possible in order for her to understand.
In the course of her direct testimony it developed and appeared that she was already tired and she could not concentrate well probably because of her predicament she being also an epileptic and it is for this reason that the prosecution and the defense agreed that the cross examination of the witness be continued later in order to give her a chance to rest x x x. [Emphases supplied.]
For purposes of determining the mental capacity of a person, this Court held that the personal observation of the trial judge suffices even in the absence of an expert opinion. Hence, the aforesaid findings of the trial court are entitled to great weight and respect being in the best position as it had the opportunity to hear and observe the demeanor, conduct and attitude of AAA while testifying.
Surprisingly, though the appellant vehemently contends that the prosecution was not able to establish AAAs mental retardation, he failed to notice that his own father, Rolando, during his testimony before the court a quo, categorically admitted and confirmed that, indeed, AAA is mentally retarded and feeble-minded. Here we quote appellants fathers testimony:
Q: Will you agree with me that this AAA is somewhat mentally retardate?
A: Yes, Sir. That is really true.
x x x x
Q: But you knew for a fact that this AAA is a feeble-minded?
A: Yes, Your Honor.
Such testimony puts beyond doubt that AAA is truly a mental retardate. Her condition was so apparent to people who have had an opportunity to interact and deal with her that even appellants own father, who happens to be AAAs neighbor, could not deny her mental state. The prosecution evidence settled this issue.
As well and as much established is the fact of sexual congress between the appellant and AAA.
AAA was able to recall and narrate in detail before the court a quo how she was ravished by the appellant on two occasions; first, at the house of a certain Atok and second, outside the chapel. On the first rape incident, AAA vividly described how the appellant cuddled her until they reached the house of a certain Atok. Once inside, the appellant made her lie down on the bed and removed her short pants and panty. The appellant subsequently undressed himself and inserted his penis into her vagina. On the second rape, AAA similarly recalled how the appellant led her to a nearby chapel. While they were outside the chapel, the appellant undressed her and likewise removed his shorts and underwear and had sexual intercourse with her in a standing position. Such testimony of AAA can be characterized as categorical and straightforward. Also, as noted by the trial court, although AAA could not easily grasp the questions asked, her answers were nonetheless marked with candidness even as they were given simplemindedly.
It bears emphasis that the competence and credibility of mentally deficient rape victims as witnesses have been upheld by this Court where it is shown that they can communicate their ordeal capably and consistently. Rather than undermine the gravity of the complainants accusations, it even lends greater credence to her testimony, that, someone as feeble-minded and guileless could speak so tenaciously and explicitly on the details of the rape if she has not in fact suffered such crime at the hands of the accused. Moreover, it is settled that when a woman says she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that she has been raped and her testimony alone is sufficient if it satisfies the exacting standard of credibility needed to convict the accused.
It is also worth stressing that during AAAs testimony, she positively identified the appellant as the person who had raped her. Thus, the straightforward narration of AAA of what transpired, accompanied by her categorical identification of appellant as the malefactor, sealed the case for the prosecution.
The fact of sexual congress between AAA and the appellant was also supported by the medical findings of healed hymenal lacerations at and positions which, according to Dr. Antillon-Malimas, could have resulted from sexual intercourse. When the victims testimony is corroborated by the physicians finding of penetration, there is sufficient foundation to conclude the existence of the essential requisite of carnal knowledge. Laceration, whether healed or fresh, is the best physical evidence of forcible defloration. Thus, the said medical findings, together with the straightforward testimony of AAA, even strengthens her claim of sexual violation by appellant.
The records also failed to show that AAA was prompted by ill motive in imputing such a grave offense against the appellant. The absence of evidence of improper motive on the part of the prosecution witnesses to testify against the appellant strongly tends to sustain the conclusion that no such improper motive exists and that their testimonies are worthy of full faith and credit. The claim of the appellant that his remark on AAAs mother, that since she was already a widow she should already get married, could possibly trigger the filing of this case against him is highly implausible. As the trial court had stated, it is quite unbelievable that BBBs anger could have been triggered by such an innocuous joke to the extent of allowing the examination of AAAs private parts and subjecting AAA to the humiliation of declaring in open court the sexual molestation she underwent in the hands of the appellant. Besides, no mother in her right mind would possibly stoop so low as to subject her daughter to the hardships and shame concomitant to a rape prosecution just to assuage her own hurt feelings. It is unnatural for a parent to use her offspring as an engine of malice, especially if it will subject her daughter to embarrassment and even stigma. It is hard to believe that a mother would sacrifice her own daughter and present her to be the subject of a public trial if she, in fact, has not been motivated by an honest desire to have the culprit punished.
It is also worthy to note the testimony of the appellant that he, together with his father, and a certain Eddie Camus, went to the house of AAA to have the case settled, which testimony was corroborated by his own father. Appellants father went further in saying that they went to AAAs house to ask for forgiveness. AAAs mother, BBB, confirmed appellants importunity. This Court has ruled that an act of asking for forgiveness is undeniably indicative of guilt. If the appellant so believed that he did not commit any wrongdoing against AAA, he would not bother to go to AAAs house to have the case settled and to ask for forgiveness.
The array of the prosecution evidence stresses the weakness of appellants defense of denial and alibi.
Denial and alibi are inherently weak defenses and, unless supported by clear and convincing evidence, the same cannot prevail over the positive declaration of the victim, who in a simple and straightforward manner, convincingly identified the appellant who sexually molested her. For alibi to prosper, the accused must show that it was impossible for him to have been at the scene of the commission of the crime at the time of its commission.
In the instant case, the appellant
claimed that he cannot rape AAA in March 2000 because for the entire period of
the said month he was harvesting coconuts from the land of a certain Elizabeth
Camus from until or every day. Similarly, the house of Atok, where the first
rape incident allegedly happened, was already demolished as early as 1998 and
he was one of those who dismantled the said house. However, these assertions of the appellant
remained uncorroborated. He also failed
to show the physical impossibility of his presence at the scene of the crime at
the time of its commission. As can be
inferred from his testimony, he left Agay-ayan,
In sum, AAAs straightforward testimony, as well as her unwavering and positive identification of the appellant as her defiler and tormentor, corroborated by the medical findings conducted by Dr. Antillon-Malimas, was sufficient to convict the appellant. The flimsy and self-serving defenses of denial and alibi of the appellant failed to destroy the truthfulness and the credibility of AAAs testimony.
Although the complaint specifically alleged the circumstance of appellants knowledge of the victims mental retardation at the time of the commission of the crime of rape, which qualifies the crime and makes it punishable by death under Article 266-B, paragraph 10 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, the prosecution did not adduce any evidence to prove the same during trial. This Court, therefore, is fully convinced that the trial court and the appellate court correctly convicted the appellant for the crime of simple rape under Article 266-A, par. 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, which is punishable by reclusion perpetua.
Anent the award of damages, civil
indemnity ex delicto is mandatory
upon finding of the fact of rape while moral damages is awarded upon such
finding without need of further proof because it is assumed that a rape victim
had actually suffered moral injuries entitling the victim to such award. Exemplary
damages, on the other hand, are awarded under Article 2230
of the Civil Code if there is an aggravating circumstance, whether ordinary or
qualifying. Thus, this Court similarly affirms the
civil indemnity and P50,000.00 moral damages awarded by the lower courts
to AAA. However, there being no
aggravating circumstance that can be considered, no exemplary damages can be
awarded to AAA.
premises considered, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C.
No. 00030-MIN dated
RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice Associate Justice
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
RENATO C. CORONA
* Per Special Order No. 876, Associate Justice Lucas P. Bersamin is designated as additional member in place of Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. who is on official leave under the Courts Wellness Program.
 Penned by Associate Justice Romulo V. Borja with Associate Justices Mario V. Lopez and Elihu A. Ybaez, concurring. Rollo, pp. 4-33.
 Penned by Presiding Judge Editho E. Lucagbo, CA rollo, pp. 43-53.
 This is pursuant
to the ruling of this Court in People of
the Philippines v. Cabalquinto [G.R. No. 167693,
The Supreme Court took note of the legal mandate on the utmost confidentiality of proceedings involving violence against women and children set forth in Sec. 29 of Republic Act No. 7610, otherwise known as Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act; Sec. 44 of Republic Act No. 9262, otherwise known as Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004; and Sec. 40 of A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC, known as Rules on Violence Against Women and Their Children effective 15 November 2004.
 Records, pp. 2-3.
2001 up to the present, she is already at the
the direct testimony of AAA conducted on
 Records (Folder of Exhibits), p. 1.
 Records (Folder of Exhibits), pp. 11-12.
 G.R. Nos. 147678-87,
 CA rollo, p. 29.
 People v. Ybaez, 404 Phil. 423, 429 (2001).
 People v. Dela Paz, G.R. No. 177294,
 People v. Bacaling, 447 Phil. 197, 203 (2003).
 People v. Dela Paz, supra note 29 at 376.
 442 Phil. 688 (2002).
 401 Phil. 658 (2000).
 People v. Dalandas, supra note 32 at 697.
 People v. Duranan, 402 Phil. 205,
215-216 (2001) citing V. J. Francisco, The Revised Rules of Court of the
 People v. Duranan, id. at 215.
 People v. Dalandas, supra note 32 at 696-697.
 People v. Atuel, G.R. No. 106962,
 People v. Bacaling, supra note 30 at 204.
 People v. Dela Paz, supra note 29 at 381-382.
 People v. Agunos, 375 Phil. 315, 323-324 (1999).
v. Macapal, Jr., G.R. No. 155335,
 People v. Malones, 469 Phil. 301, 325-326 (2004).
 People v. Garin, 476 Phil. 455, 472 (2004).
 People v. Jose, 367 Phil. 68, 78 (1999).
 People v. Erardo, G.R. No. 119368,
 People v. Agravante, 392 Phil. 543, 551 (2000).
 People v. Kimura, 471 Phil. 895, 919-920 (2004).
 People v. Nieto, G.R. No. 177756,
 ART. 266-B. Penalties. x x x.
x x x x
The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the following aggravating/qualifying circumstances:
x x x x
10. When the offender knew of the mental disability, emotional disorder and/or physical handicap of the offended party at the time of the commission of the crime.
 ART. 266-A. Rape: When and How Committed.-Rape is committed:
1) By a man who have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:
a) x x x;
b) When the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious;
x x x. (Revised Penal Code).
 ART. 266-B. Penalties.-Rape under paragraph 1 of the next preceeding article shall be punished by reclusion perpetua. (Revised Penal Code).
 People v. Calongui, G.R. No. 170566,
 Art. 2230. In criminal offenses, exemplary damages as a part of the civil liability may be imposed when the crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances. Such damages are separate and distinct from fines and shall be paid to the offended party.
v. Gragasin, G.R. No. 186496,