Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court

Manila

 

THIRD DIVISION

 

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,

Plaintiff-Appellee,

 

 

 

 

-versus -

 

 

 

 

AVELINO FELAN,

Accused-Appellant.

G.R. No. 176631

 

Present:

 

CARPIO MORALES, Chairperson,

BRION,

BERSAMIN,

VILLARAMA, JR., and

SERENO JJ.

 

Promulgated:

 

February 2, 2011

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

D E C I S I O N

 

BERSAMIN, J.:

 

His own daughter commenced the prosecution of Avelino Felan for qualified rape through her complaint dated May 30, 1996.[1] The information subsequently filed in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Ormoc City alleged:

 

That on or about the 12th day of February 1995, at around 10:00 oclock in the evening, at Brgy. Tambulilid, Ormoc City, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused AVELINO FELAN, by means of violence and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual intercourse with his very own daughter, AAA,[2] a fourteen (14) years old lass, against her will.[3]

 

The Prosecution showed that at about 10:00 p.m. on February 12, 1995, the accused roused his daughter AAA, the complainant, then 14 years old, from sleep inside their house; that he told her not to be afraid; that he removed her panty, spread her legs, and went on top of her; that she resisted but he overpowered her; that he inserted his penis into her vagina and made pumping movements until he satisfied himself; that she cried due to vaginal pain; that she left the house and stayed with her friends, who advised her to report the rape to Mrs. Charito Aris, a social worker of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Ormoc City; that Mrs. Aris later brought her first to the police station for reporting of the rape, and then to Dr. Gloria Esmero Pastor, City Health Officer of Ormoc City, for medical examination; that Dr. Pastor found that AAAs hymen was torn; and that Dr. Pastor concluded that the hymenal laceration could be caused by sexual intercourse.

 

The accused denied the accusation, branding it as the fabrication of AAA out of anger at him for not giving her basic needs and for admonishing her to stop using illegal drugs.

 

After trial, on November 26, 1997, the RTC convicted the accused of qualified rape and imposed the death penalty. He was also ordered to pay AAA P50,000.00 as civil indemnity.[4]

 

On July 14, 2006, the Court of Appeals (CA) modified the criminal and civil liabilities of the accused after finding him guilty of simple rape on account of AAAs minority not being established beyond reasonable doubt. The CA lowered the penalty to reclusion perpetua and sentenced him to pay an amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages in addition to the civil indemnity of P50,000.00.[5]

 

In his appeal to this Court, the accused contends that the RTC and the CA erred in relying mainly on AAAs testimony, despite her not being a credible witness and although her testimony was doubtful by reason of her having used illegal drugs and having engaged in prostitution, aside from possessing a poor memory. He insists that he could control his sexual urge.[6]

 

The appeal lacks merit and persuasion. We affirm the conviction.

 

The law applicable is Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659,[7] which provides:

 

Article 335. When and how rape is committed. Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:

 

1.      By using force or intimidation;

 

2.      When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and

 

3.      When the woman is under twelve years of age or is demented.

 

The State competently and sufficiently established these elements beyond reasonable doubt. AAA rendered a complete and credible narration of her ordeal at the hands of the accused, whom she positively identified. In a prosecution for rape, the accused may be convicted solely on the basis of the testimony of the victim that is credible, convincing, and consistent with human nature and the normal course of things, as in this case.[8] Here, the victims testimony was even corroborated on material points by the testimonies of Mrs. Aris and Dr. Pastor as well as by the documentary evidences adduced.

 

It is notable that the RTC and the CA both found and considered AAA as a credible witness whose testimony should be believed. We accord great weight to the trial judges assessment of the credibility of AAA and of her testimony because the trial judge, having personally observed AAAs conduct and demeanor as a witness, was thereby enabled to discern if she was telling or inventing the truth.[9] The trial judges evaluation, when affirmed by the CA, is binding on the Court, and it becomes the burden of the accused to project to us facts or circumstances of weight that were overlooked, misapprehended, or misinterpreted which, when duly considered, would materially affect the disposition of the case differently.[10] We do not vary from this rule now, however, considering that the accused did not make any showing that the RTC, in the first instance, and the CA, on review, ignored, misapprehended, or misinterpreted facts or circumstances supportive of or crucial to his defense.

 

The denial of the accused, being worthless, was properly disregarded. It was both self-serving and uncorroborated. It could not, therefore, overcome the positive declarations against the accused and the positive identification of the accused by AAA,[11] whose good motive to impute such a heinous act to her own father was not disproved or refuted. We do consider to be highly inconceivable for a daughter like AAA to impute against her own father a crime as serious and despicable as incest rape, unless the imputation was the plain truth. In fact, as we observed before, it takes a certain amount of psychological depravity for a young woman to concoct a story which would put her own father to jail for the rest of his remaining life and drag the rest of the family including herself to a lifetime of shame.[12]

 

The attempt to discredit AAA on the ground of her being a user of illegal drugs and of her having engaged in prostitution deserved no consideration. First of all, AAAs use of illegal drugs and engaging in prostitution, even if true, did not destroy her credibility as a witness or negate the rape. Indeed, the Court has ruled that the victims moral character was immaterial in the prosecution and conviction of an accused for rape, there being absolutely no nexus between it and the odious deed committed.[13] Moreover, even a prostitute or a woman of loose morals could fall victim of rape, for she could still refuse a mans lustful advances.[14]

 

The CA correctly pronounced the accused liable for simple rape and properly punished him with reclusion perpetua. Under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659, supra, rape is qualified and punished by death if it is alleged and proved that the victim was a minor during the commission of the crime and that the offender was her parent.[15] Although the information alleged that the victim was only 14 years of age at the time of the rape, the State did not duly establish such circumstance because no birth certificate, or baptismal certificate, or other competent document showing her age was presented. Her testimony regarding her age without any independent proof is not sufficient.[16] As a result, the penalty for simple rape was properly reclusion perpetua.

 

Prevailing jurisprudence leads us to affirm the CAs ruling that AAA was entitled to P50,000.00 as civil indemnity,[17] and P50,000.00 as moral damages,[18] without need of any pleading and proof. Similarly correct was the CAs grant of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages. [19] In People v. Mira,[20] we observed that when either one of the qualifying circumstances of relationship and minority is omitted or lacking, that which is pleaded in the information and proved by the evidence may be considered as an aggravating circumstance.  In this case, the relationship between the victim and the accused is an aggravating circumstance because it was alleged in the information and duly proved during the trial.  Thus, conformably with Article 2230 of the Civil Code, which provides that 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 circumstance, we ratify the award of exemplary damages.

 

WHEREFORE, the Court affirms the decision promulgated on July 14, 2006 in CA-G.R. CR. H.C. No. 00158.

 

SO ORDERED.

 

 

 

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN

Associate Justice

 

 

WE CONCUR:

 

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES

Associate Justice

Chairperson

 

 

 

ARTURO D. BRION MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.

Associate Justice Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO

Associate Justice

 

A T T E S T A T I O N

 

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division

 

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES

Associate Justice

Chairperson

 

 

 

 

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

 

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

 

 

 

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

 

 



[1] Records, p. 2-3.

[2] Pursuant to Republic Act No. 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004), and its implementing rules, the real name of the victim and the real names of her immediate family members are withheld and, instead, fictitious initials are used to represent her to protect her privacy. See also People v. Cabalquinto, G.R. No. 167693, September 19, 2006, 502 SCRA 419.

[3] Supra note 1.

[4] Records, pp. 191-200.

[5] Rollo, pp. 7-14; penned by Associate Justice Agustin S. Dizon (retired), with Associate Justice Isaias P. Dicdican and Associate Justice Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr., concurring.

[6] CA rollo, pp. 33-40.

[7] An Act to Impose the Death Penalty on Certain Heinous Crimes, Amending for that Purpose the Revised Penal Laws, and for other Purposes. (The law took effect on December 31, 1993).

[8] People v. Montesa, G.R. No. 181899, November 27, 2008, 572 SCRA 317, 331.

[9] People v. Lantano, G.R. No. 176734, January 28, 2008, 542 SCRA 640, 651-652.

[10] People v. Domingo, G.R. No. 184958, September 17, 2009, 600 SCRA 280, 288; Gerasta v. People, G.R. No. 176981, December 24, 2008, 575 SCRA 503, 512.

[11] People v. Agsaoay, Jr., G.R. Nos. 132125-26, June 3, 2004, 430 SCRA 450.

[12] People v. Javier, G.R. No. 126096, July 26, 1999, 311 SCRA 122, 133.

[13] Supra note 11, p. 466.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Article 335. xxx

xxx

The death penalty shall be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the following attendant circumstances:

1. When the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, stepparent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law-spouse of the parent of the victim.

xxx

[16] People v. Mira, G.R. No. 175324, October 10, 2007, 535 SCRA 543, 561.

[17] People v. Dalisay, G.R. No. 188106, November 25, 2009, 605 SCRA 807, 816.

[18] People v. Gragasin, G.R. No. 186496, August 25, 2009, 597 SCRA 214, 233.

[19] People v. Arcosiba, G.R. No. 181081, September 4, 2009, 598 SCRA 517, 525.

[20] Supra, note 16, p. 562.