The Supreme Court has affirmed the conviction of a 67-year-old who raped his 12-year-old granddaughter in 2008.
The SC dismissed the appeal of the accused and affirmed with modification the Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) which found him guilty of two counts of Rape under Article 266-A, Paragraph 1(a) in relation to Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
The Court ruled that the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 64 of Labo, Camarines Norte, and the CA were correct in their assessment of the testimonies of the victim and the accused-appellant. It held that the alleged inconsistencies in the victim’s testimony “are understandable considering that she was still only a minor…at the time she testified before the trial court.”
It further held that slightly conflicting statements of the minor will not undermine her credibility or the veracity of her testimony. They will in fact tend to buttress rather than impair their credibility as they erase any suspicion of rehearsed testimony.
“It is settled jurisprudence that testimonies of child-victims are given full weight and credit, since when a woman or a girl-child says that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape was indeed committed,” stressed the Court. “We have consistently ruled that rape is committed when intimidation is used on the victim, which includes moral intimidation or coercion,” it held further.
The SC also found unacceptable the accused-appellant’s contention that he could not have sexually abused his victim since he could no longer have an erection due to his old age. Accused-appellant did not present documentary evidence such as a medical certificate to prove the physical impossibility of his having an erection and incapacity of raping the victim. It stressed that his conviction was on the basis of the victim’s “consistent and steadfast testimony, even under rigid cross-examination, pointing to him as the one who despoiled her honor.”
The accused-appellant argued that he should be penalized under Section 5, Article III of RA 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, and that the mitigating circumstance of old age be applied in his favor.
The RTC convicted the accused appellant for two counts of rape in relation to RA 7610 and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua on each
count. On appeal, the CA sustained the rape conviction and imposed a penalty of reclusion perpetua but added “without eligibility for parole for each count.” It also raised the amount from
P50,000 to P100,000 each the civil indemnity, moral damages, and exemplary damages, respectively, earlier awarded by the RTC.
In the Decision penned by Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando, the Court’s Third Division affirmed the Decision of the CA, but held the accused-appellant guilty of two counts of Rape under Article 266-A, Paragraph 1(a) in relation to Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). It deleted the correlation to RA 7610.
The SC pointed out that “there is a need to fix the error in the nomenclature of ZZZ’s crime. As corrected, accused-appellant should be held criminally liable for two counts of Rape under Article 266-A, Paragraph 1(a) penalized under Article 266-B (1) of the RPC.”
Citing its 2019 jurisprudence in People v. Tulagan, the Court held: “Indeed, while R.A. No. 7610 is a special law…We hold that it is contrary to the legislative intent of the same law if the lesser penalty (reclusion temporal medium to reclusion perpetua) under Section 5(b) thereof would be imposed against the perpetrator of sexual intercourse with a child 12 years of age or below 18.”
Further citing Tulagan, the Court emphasized that “Article 266-A, paragraph 1(a) in relation to Article 266-B of the RPC, amended by R.A. No. 8353, is not only the more recent law, but also deals more particularly with all rape cases, hence, its short title ‘The Anti-Rape Law of 1997.’”
The Court explained that the crime of Qualified Rape under paragraph 1, Article 266-A of the RPC is penalized under Article 266-B
(1) provides that the death penalty shall be imposed if the victim is below
18 and the offender, among others, is the ascendant or a relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree. Applying RA 9346 or An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of the Death Penalty, the CA correctly imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua and without eligibility for parole. When circumstances warranting the imposition of the death penalty but the death penalty could not be imposed because of RA 9346, the qualification ‘without eligibility for parole’ shall be used to qualify reclusion perpetua in order to emphasize that the accused should have been sentenced to death had it not been for RA No. 9346.
(G.R. No. 232329, People v. ZZZ, April 28, 2021)
READ FULL TEXT: https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/21338/