SECOND DIVISION

 

 

 

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,

                              Plaintiff-Appellee,

 

 

 

 

 

-versus-

 

 

 

 

DIOSDADO TUBAT y VERSOZA,

                           Accused-Appellant.

 

 

G.R. No. 183093

 

 

Present:

 

CARPIO, J.,     

   Chairperson,            

BRION,

PEREZ,

SERENO, and

REYES, JJ.

 

Promulgated:

 

February 1, 2012

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D E C I S I O N

 

PEREZ, J.:

 

Before us for final review is the conviction[1] of appellant Diosdado Tubat for the rape of a married woman.

 

Accused of the crime of rape,[2] appellant entered a plea of not guilty on 29 July 2004 before the Regional Trial Court.[3]        

 

On trial, complainant AAA[4] testified that, at around 3:00 o’clock in the morning of 10 March 2004, her husband left for the market to sell mussels.  Shortly after, appellant, who slept in their house, went out to buy cigarettes.  AAA stepped out to fetch a pail of water.  While doing so, appellant came back with a bladed weapon and poked it at her neck.  Upon reaching the house and still with the knife at her neck, appellant undressed himself, pulled down her shorts and underwear and forced her to lie down. He went on top of her, inserted his organ into hers, and mashed her breast.  She pleaded with the appellant but that was all she could do.  She could not fight back because he was too strong for her.  She could not shout for help because he threatened to kill her four (4) children who were then fast asleep.  Moreover, appellant kept the knife at her neck.  After a while, she was able to grab a piece of wood and hit him on the neck.  Appellant ran away. 

 

AAA could not reveal the incident to her husband because of the appellant’s threat against their children.  However, six (6) days after the rape was committed, she learned that appellant had been telling her children that he would kill her husband.  It was then that she mustered the courage to report the incident to the police authorities.

 

Appellant, gave a different version of the story.  Appellant denied having committed the crime.  Instead, he claimed that he could have earned the ire of AAA because he saw her being kissed by one Eddie Malicdem, her alleged lover.  This, appellant believed, could have possibly motivated AAA to file the complaint against him.  However, on cross examination, the appellant admitted that the rape committed on 10 March 2004 preceded the kissing incident that he allegedly witnessed on 3 April 2004.

 

On 30 June 2006, the trial court convicted the appellant.[5]  The dispositive portion of the decision reads:

 

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the [c]ourt finds accused DIOSDADO TUBAT y VERSOZA GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua [and] to pay the complainant the amount of P50,000.00 by way of civil indemnity, plus the costs of suit.[6]

 

Appellant filed a Notice of Appeal on 18 September 2006.[7]   On 30 January 2008, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision[8] in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 02517 upholding the conviction of appellant.  It reads, in part: 

 

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed decision dated June 30, 2006 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch xxx, xxx, in Criminal Case No. 31344-MN, is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION.  Accused-appellant DIOSDADO TUBAT is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay the complainant in the amount of P50,000.00, as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages, plus costs of suit.[9]

 

On further appeal to this Court on the repeated ground that the trial court erred in finding appellant guilty of rape, we required the parties to file their respective supplemental briefs[10] but both manifested that they would no longer do so.[11]

 

Our Ruling

 

          We affirm the appellant’s conviction.

 

In the determination of the innocence or guilt of the accused in rape cases, courts are guided by the following principles:

 

(1) an accusation for rape can be made with facility; it is difficult to prove but more difficult for the accused, though innocent, to disprove; (2) in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape in which only two persons are usually involved, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution; and (3) the evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits, and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the defense.[12]

 

Inasmuch as only two persons are usually involved in rape cases, the settled rule is that the lone uncorroborated testimony of the offended victim, so long as the testimony is clear, positive, and probable, may prove the crime as charged.[13]

 

In his attempt to destroy the credibility of the testimony of AAA, the appellant touched even the most trivial of the matters testified to.  We are compelled to reiterate established jurisprudence on rape.

 

The trial court’s findings on the credibility

of witnesses and of their testimonies

are accorded the highest respect

 

Once again, we recite the time-honored principle that the findings of the trial court as to the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies deserve the highest respect absent a showing that the court would have ruled otherwise had it not overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied material facts or circumstances.[14]   As none of the exceptions is present in this case, there is no reason to overturn the findings of the trial court thereon.

 

The credibility of a rape victim

is not diminished nor impaired

by minor inconsistencies in her testimony

 

AAA initially testified that, in the early morning of the day she was raped, the appellant asked her husband to get up so that they could go to the market to sell mussels.  On cross examination, however, it was clarified that it was her mother-in-law who woke her husband up.   Appellant, thus, posited that if she could give two (2) inconsistent statements during the examination, it is with more reason that her recollection of the event that transpired years ago would be unreliable.

 

We are not convinced. 

 

In the case of People v. Laog,[15] where the appellant also raised the inconsistencies in the testimony of the victim, this Court declared:

 

 Nonetheless, this matter raised by appellant is a minor detail which had nothing to do with the elements of the crime of rape.  Discrepancies referring only to minor details and collateral matters -- not to the central fact of the crime -- do not affect the veracity or detract from the essential credibility of witnesses’ declarations, as long as these are coherent and intrinsically believable on the whole.[16]  For a discrepancy or inconsistency in the testimony of a witness to serve as a basis for acquittal, it must establish beyond doubt the innocence of the appellant for the crime charged.[17] It cannot be overemphasized that the credibility of a rape victim is not diminished, let alone impaired, by minor inconsistencies in her testimony.[18]

 

No woman would go through the process and humiliation

of trial had she not been a victim of abuse

and her only motive is to seek and obtain justice;

When she says she has been raped, she says, in effect, all

that is necessary to prove that rape was, indeed, committed

 

Appellant was given the opportunity to show the court that AAA was driven by some ill motive to falsely testify against him.  Evidently, there was none that he could validly impute against her.  As it turned out, his allegation that he saw AAA being kissed by the alleged lover in the morning of the rape incident, which, he claimed, would give AAA reason to file the case against him, is not true.  He himself admitted on cross examination that he witnessed the kissing incident in April 2004 long after the rape was committed in March of the same year. 

 

The following pronouncements of the Court, therefore, apply in this case:

 

As it has been repeatedly held, no woman would want to go through the process, the trouble and the humiliation of trial for such a debasing offense unless she actually has been a victim of abuse and her motive is but a response to the compelling need to seek and obtain justice.[19] 

 

It is settled jurisprudence that when a woman says that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape was indeed committed.[20]

 

Physical resistance need not be established

when threats and intimidation are employed

 

We are also convinced that AAA was not able to fight back not only because appellant was strong but because a knife was poked on her neck. He also threatened to kill her children.  These also explained why she did not shout for help.  As held in People v. Fernandez:[21]

 

Physical resistance need not be established in rape when threats and intimidation are employed, and the victim submits herself to her attackers because of fear. xxx The use of a weapon, by itself, is strongly suggestive of force or at least intimidation, and threatening the victim with a gun is sufficient to bring her into submission.[22] Thus, the law does not impose upon the private complainant the burden of proving resistance.[23]

 

Delay in the filing of a complaint,

if satisfactorily explained, does not

impair the credibility of a witness

 

Appellant would have us believe that AAA’s testimony is not credible considering that she could have immediately shouted for help if, indeed, appellant fled after he was hit by a piece of wood.  Instead, she waited for several days before filing the complaint. 

 

The credibility of a witness, however, is not impaired if the delay in making a criminal accusation has been satisfactory explained.[24]  In the instant case such delay is understandable.  AAA was afraid of appellant’s threats.[25]  Since individuals react differently to emotional stress, no standard form of behavior can be expected of them after they have been raped.[26]   

 

Defense of denial and alibi cannot prosper

 

As to appellant’s defense of denial and alibi, we completely agree with the ruling of the Court of Appeals, to wit:

 

In rape cases, while denial and alibi are legitimate defenses, bare assertions thereof cannot overcome the categorical testimony of the victim.  In particular, the defense of alibi is weak if wanting in material corroboration, as in this case.[27]

 

In order to merit credibility, denial must be buttressed by strong evidence of non-culpability which herein accused-appellant failed to show.  And in order for alibi to prosper, the accused-appellant must prove not only that he was at some other place at the time of the commission of the crime but also that it was physically impossible for him to be at the locus delicti or its immediate vicinity.  In the present case, accused-appellant failed to demonstrate this fact.[28]

 

Penalty and Award of Damages

 

We likewise adopt the Court of Appeals’ imposition of the penalty of reclusion perpetua. 

 

The use of a deadly weapon in the commission of rape, which was alleged in the Information and sufficiently established during trial, carries with it the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death.[29]  Since no other circumstances attended the commission of the crime, the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua shall be imposed.[30]

As to the award of damages, the amounts of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as civil indemnity and Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as moral damages are in order.[31]  Consistent with prevailing jurisprudence, however, the victim shall likewise be entitled to exemplary damages in the amount of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00)[32]  and the rate of 6% per annum interest shall be imposed on all damages awarded to be computed from the date of finality of the judgment until fully paid.[33]

 

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated 30 January 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 02517 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION.

         

Appellant is hereby found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is further ordered to pay the victim the amounts of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as civil indemnity, Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as moral damages, Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) as exemplary damages, and interest on all damages at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum from the finality of judgment until fully paid.

 

SO ORDERED.

 

 

 

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

 Associate Justice

 

WE CONCUR:

 

 

 

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

Chairperson

 

 

 

 

         ARTURO D. BRION                             MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO

         Associate Justice                                            Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

BIENVENIDO L. REYES

Associate Justice

 

 

ATTESTATION

 

          I attest 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’s Division.

 

 

 

                                                                   ANTONIO T. CARPIO

                                                                Associate Justice

                                            Chairperson, Second Division    

           

CERTIFICATION

 

          Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairperson’s Attestation, 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’s Division.

 

 

 

 

                                                                 RENATO C. CORONA

                                                                  Chief Justice



[1]               Rollo, pp. 2-9.  Penned by Court of Appeals Associate Justice Rodrigo V. Cosico with Associate Justices Hakim S. Abdulwahid and Arturo G. Tayag , concurring. 

[2]           The accusatory portion of the Information dated 29 July 2004 in Criminal Case No. 31344-MN    reads:

 

That on or about the 10th day of March 2004, in the City of xxx, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, while armed with a knife, with lewd design and by means of force and intimidation, did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sexually abused/molested [AAA], by having carnal knowledge with her against her will and without her consent. Records, p. 1.    

[3]               Id. at 15.  Order dated 3 January 2005.

[4]               In People v. Cabalquinto (G.R. No. 167693, 19 September 2006, 502 SCRA 419),  the real name and the personal circumstances of the victim, and any other information tending to establish or compromise her identity, including those of her immediate family or household members were withheld in order to maintain the confidentiality of information on child abuse cases, and consistent with the application of: (1) the provisions of Republic Act No. 7610 (Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act) and its implementing rules; (2) Republic Act No. 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004) and its implementing rules; and (3) this Court’s Resolution dated 19 October 2004 in A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC (Rule on Violence Against Women and their Children).  While it would appear that victims of rape who are already of legal age are not covered by the provisions of Republic Act No. 9262, we deem it best to extend similar protection to them in order to respect their dignity and protect their privacy and that of their families.

 

[5]               Records, pp. 60-62.  Decision dated 30 June 2006 penned by Judge Benjamin T. Antonio.

[6]               Id. at 62.

[7]               Id. at 63.  Notice of Appeal dated 18 September 2006 filed by appellant with the trial court.

[8]               CA rollo, p. 68.  Notice of Judgment dated 30 January 2008 of the Fourth Division of the Court of Appeals.

[9]               Id. at 76.  Decision dated 30 January 2008 of the Court of Appeals.

[10]             Rollo, p. 21.  Resolution dated 16 July 2008, First Division, Supreme Court.

[11]             Id. at 28-31.  Manifestation (in Lieu of Supplemental Brief) dated 8 October 2008 of the Office of the Solicitor General; Id. at 24-27. Manifestation in Lieu of Supplemental Brief dated 22 September 2008 of the Public Attorney’s Office.

[12]             People v. Dalisay, G.R. No. 188106, 25 November 2009, 605 SCRA 807, 814 citing People v. Glivano, G.R. No. 177565, 28 January 2008, 542 SCRA 656, 662 further citing People v. Malones, 425 SCRA 318, 329 (2004).

[13]             People v. Ogarte, G.R. No. 182690, 30 May 2011citing People v. Buenviaje, 408 Phil. 342, 354 (2001).

[14]             People v. Padilla, G.R. No. 182917, 8 June 2011 citing People v. Paculba, G.R. No. 183453, 9 March 2010, 614 SCRA 755, 763-764.

[15]             G.R. No. 178321, 5 October 2011.

[16]             Id. citing People v. Suarez, G.R. Nos. 153573-76, 15 April 2005, 456 SCRA 333, 345.

[17]             Id. citing People v. Villarino, G.R. No. 185012, 5 March 2010, 614 SCRA 372, 387 further citing People v. Masapol, G.R. No. 121997, 10 December 2003, 417 SCRA 371, 377.

[18]             Id. citing People v. Wasit, G.R. No. 182454, 23 July 2009, 593 SCRA 721, 729.

[19]             People v. Saludo, G.R. No. 178406, 6 April 2011 citing People v. Alcazar, G.R. No. 186494, 15 September 2010, 630 SCRA 622, 633; People v. Belga, G.R. No. 129769, 19 January 2001, 349 SCRA 678.

[20]             People v. Belga, id., citing People v. Manuel, 298 SCRA 184 [1998].

[21]             G.R. No. 172118, 24 April 2007, 522 SCRA 189.

[22]             Id. citing People v. Galido, G.R. Nos. 148689-92, 30 March 2004, 426 SCRA 502, 515; People v. David, 461 Phil. 364, 680-681(2003); People v. Gutierrez, 451 Phil. 227, 239-240 (2003).

[23]             Id.

[24]             People v. Francisco, G.R. No. 141631, 4 April 2003, 400 SCRA 650, 657 citing People vs. Tanail, 323 SCRA 667, 675 [2000]; People vs. Narido, 316 SCRA 131 [1999].

[25]             Id.

[26]             Id. at 661.

[27]             Rollo, p. 8 citing People v. Cachapero, 428 SCRA 744 (2004).

[28]             Id. citing People v. Arevalo, 421 SCRA 604 [2004].

[29]             See People v. Bulagao, G.R. No. 184757, 5 October 2011.

[30]             Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code provides, in part:

                ART. 63.  Rules for the application of indivisible penalties. ˗  xxx

                In all cases in which the law prescribes a penalty composed of two indivisible penalties, the following rules shall be observed in the application thereof:

1.    xxx

        2. When there are neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstances in the commission of the deed, the lesser penalty shall be applied.

        xxx

See also People v. Dumadag, G.R. No. 176740, 22 June 2011.

[31]             People v. Bulagao, supra note 29 citing People v. Manulit, G.R. No. 19258, 17 November 2010, 635 SCRA 426, 439.

[32]             Id. citing People v. Dalisay, G.R. No. 188106, 25 November 2009, 605 SCRA 807, 821; People v. Dumadag, supra note 30.

[33]             People v. Dumadag, supra note 30 citing People v. Galvez, G.R. No. 181827, 2 February 2011, 641 SCRA 472 and People v. Alverio, G.R. No. 194259, 16 March 2011.