Before us on automatic review is the Omnibus Judgment, 1 dated November 23, 2000, of the Regional Trial Court of Butuan City, Branch 1, acquitting herein appellant Andres Daño y Toreta of rape in Criminal Case No. 7972, but convicting him of two counts of qualified rape in Criminal Case Nos. 7970 and 7971, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of death in each case.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
The separate informations charging appellant Andres Daño y Toreta of two counts of rape as defined and penalized under Articles 266-A and 266-B of the Revised Penal Code read:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Criminal Case No. 7970:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
That on or about the 8th day of December, 1998, at 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon, more or less, in Barangay Concordia, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, said accused, by means of force and intimidation, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge with his step-daughter, BABY JANE G. NALAM, a minor, below twelve (12) years old.
Contrary to law.
Criminal Case No. 7971:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
That on or about the 15th day of December, 1998, at 9:00 o’clock in the morning, more or less, in Barangay Concordia, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, said accused, by means of force and intimidation, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge with his step-daughter, BABY JANE G. NALAM a minor, below twelve (12) years old.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Contrary to law.
Arraigned on July 13, 1999, appellant, assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty to both charges. Thereafter, joint trial on the merits ensued.
The prosecution evidence showed that, on January 8, 1999, Magdalena Barrido confronted her granddaughter, Baby Jane Nalam, about the latter’s claim that she was sexually molested by the appellant who was allegedly her "step-father." After confirming Baby Jane’s story, Magdalena and her brother, Decisimo Limato, reported the matter to their sister, Avelina Amado, who was there the incumbent barangay chairwoman. Avelina accompanied Baby Jane, Magdalena and Decisimo to the police station in Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte where Baby Jane gave her sworn statement. 2 Subsequently, Baby Jane was physically examined by Dr. Theresa R. Kho, Municipal Health Officer of Magallanes, Agusan del Norte. 3 The medical certificate, 4 whose existence and due execution were admitted by the defense, showed that Baby Jane had an "impacted hymen."cralaw virtua1aw library
Baby Jane testified that sometime in December 1998, she was left alone with the appellant in their house in Dalagangan, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte. Her mother, Jocelyn, had earlier brought Baby Jane’s half-brother Aldrin (Jocelyn’s son by the appellant) to his grandmother in Magallanes, Agusan del Norte for treatment, as said grandmother happened to be a manghihilot. On the said occasion, the appellant forcibly undressed Baby Jane and went on top of her. Thereafter, he tried to insert his penis into her vagina but failed to penetrate her since she felt extreme pain and bled in the process. She could not shout for help as the appellant pointed a knife at her and warned her to remain silent or he would kill her. 5
The sexual assault was repeated in the same month in their house in Dalagangan, before Jocelyn and Aldrin returned from Magallanes, Agusan del Norte. Again, appellant forcibly undressed Baby Jane before mounting her. He then inserted his penis into her vagina and Baby Jane felt intense pain. She resisted and struggled but the appellant was too strong. Moreover, as in the first rape, the appellant was armed with a knife which he used to threaten Baby Jane into submission. 6
Baby Jane confided her ordeal to her elder sister while she was at her grandmother’s residence in Buhang, Magallanes, Agusan del Norte, on January 8, 1999. Her grandmother Magdalena overheard their conversation and summoned the sisters. Upon inquiry, Baby Jane confirmed that she was sexually molested by the appellant in their house in Dalagangan on two occasions in December 1998. 7 She also related the same story to her other relatives, including Avelina Amado, 8 before finally going to the police station to lodge a formal complaint 9 for rape against the appellant.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Baby Jane was committed to the care and custody of the Department of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD) while the joint trial of the instant cases was ongoing. However, Jocelyn later took her daughter Baby Jane from the DSWD and brought her back home to Dalagangan. Subsequently, Jocelyn land her children transferred residence to Libertad, Butuan City, near the provincial jail, so they could regularly visit the appellant who was detained there. 10
During the presentation of evidence for the defense, Baby Jane retracted her accusation that she was sexually molested by the appellant on two occasions in December 1998. She also belied her grandmother’s claim, that on January 8, 1999, she confided to her sister about the appellant’s sexual molestations. According to her, she was coached by Decisimo Limato and two officers of the DSWD, named Golda and Nene, on what to say during the trial. 11
Defense witness Jocelyn Daño, on the other hand, claimed that she was threatened by a policeman into signing the complaints against the appellant. She likewise denied having brought her daughter to the health center for physical examination. Her statement during the preliminary investigation to the effect that appellant admitted having sexual intercourse with Baby Jane was allegedly prompted by her fear of Decisimo Limato who threatened to slash private complainant’s abdomen if she got pregnant. 12
Jocelyn blamed her aunt, Avelina Amado, for her husband’s plight. She claimed that Avelina was angry at the appellant for constantly changing his family residence. She also alleged that Avelina was furious upon learning that the appellant was suspected of stealing a fishing boat (barato) within her territorial jurisdiction. Lastly, Jocelyn claimed that her mother and Avelina wanted her to live in Manila but the appellant objected since nobody would look after their children. 13
Testifying in his defense, appellant insisted that it was Avelina and Decisimo who initiated the charges of rape against him. He claimed that both harbored a grudge against him for constantly transferring his family from one residence to another. Appellant narrated that he changed residence, with his family, at least 10 times in different localities before the charges of rape were filed against him. 14
Anent the fishing boat, appellant disclosed that the same belonged to a certain Susan who managed a fishpond. Avelina was mad at him merely because he was the principal suspect in the theft of the fishing boat. 15
The prosecution presented Segundina Dalauta, also known as "Nene," and Avelina Amado as rebuttal witnesses. Segundina testified that she was a social welfare officer of the DSWD whose duties consisted of observing the behavior of their wards, escorting them to court hearings and attending to their personal problems. She admitted knowing Baby Jane but denied that she personally attended to her. She stated that it was a certain Joy Palima and subsequently one Ruth Montederamos, both social workers at the Home for Girls of the DSWD in Butuan City, who were assigned to attend to Baby Jane.
She explained that Baby Jane was admitted to the Home for Girls in Butuan City on February 15, 1999, one month prior to her (Segundina’s) transfer thereto in March 1999. As such, only Joy Palima and Ruth Montederamos could have known the complainant’s case history, in accordance with the policy of confidentiality in the DSWD. The only instance when she attended to Baby Jane was when she substituted for Ruth Montederamos who had to attend another court hearing. Hence, she could not have coached Baby Jane on what to say during the trial, as she claimed. 16
For her part, Avelina belied that she, together with her brother Decisimo, initiated the charges against the appellant. She stated that the constant transfers of residence by the appellant and his family were a private matter with which she never interfered. Regarding the stolen fishing boat, Avelina had no reason to blame appellant for its loss since no formal complaint against him was ever brought to her attention. 17
On November 23, 2000, the trial court found the appellant guilty as charged. Accordingly, he was sentenced to death for each count of rape and ordered to pay the private complainant P150,000 as civil indemnity and moral damages.
In his Brief, 18 the appellant raised the following assignments of error:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT DISREGARDING THE TESTIMONY OF PRIVATE COMPLAINANT BABY JANE NALAM IN CRIMINAL CASE NOS. 7970 AND 7971 DESPITE HER ADMISSION THAT SHE WAS COACHED INTO TESTIFYING AGAINST THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT BY HER GRANDFATHER AND THE DSWD.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT GIVING FULL FAITH AND CREDENCE TO THE SUBSEQUENT TESTIMONY OF PRIVATE COMPLAINANT IN CRIMINAL CASE NOS. 7970 AND 7971 DISOWNING HER EARLIER CLAIM OF RAPE.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT GIVING EVIDENTIARY WEIGHT TO THE DEFENSE INTERPOSED BY ACCUSED-APPELLANT TO THE EFFECT THAT THE RELATIVES OF PRIVATE COMPLAINANT WERE MOTIVATED BY ILL WILL IN TESTIFYING AGAINST HIM.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RENDERING A VERDICT OF CONVICTION IN CRIMINAL CASE NOS. 7970 AND 7971 DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE GUILT OF ACCUSED-APPELLANT WAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT ACCUSED-APPELLANT IS GUILTY, NONETHELESS, THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN IMPOSING UPON HIM THE DEATH PENALTY IN CRIMINAL CASE NOS. 7970 AND 7971 DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO ALLEGE IN THE SUBJECT INFORMATIONS THAT ACCUSED-APPELLANT IS THE COMMON-LAW SPOUSE OF PRIVATE COMPLAINANT’S MOTHER.
In a nutshell, it is the position of the defense that appellant should be acquitted because Baby Jane retracted her testimony that she was raped by the appellant. In her recantation, she claimed that she was merely coached by Decisimo Limato and certain personnel of the DSWD. Consequently, the trial court erred in giving credence to Baby Jane’s previous testimony and in rejecting appellant’s claim, corroborated by his wife, that the instant charges were merely concocted by persons who harbored a grudge against him.
Appellant likewise pointed out that, assuming he was guilty as charged, the penalties imposed by the trial court were erroneous considering that no evidence was adduced by the prosecution to prove he was legally married to the mother of Baby Jane. Hence, even on the assumption that he indeed committed two count’s of rape, he could only be made to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua in each case and not death.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
The appellant, in his first four assignments of error, assail the credibility of Baby Jane. The rule is well-settled that the appellate court will generally not disturb the assessment of the trial court on matters of credibility of witnesses, owing to its unique opportunity to observe firsthand their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial, unless certain facts of substance and value were overlooked which, if considered, might affect the result of the case. 19
After a careful review, we find that the trial court correctly adjudged the appellant liable for raping Baby Jane on two occasions in December 1998, in Dalagangan, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte. The simplicity and candidness of her testimony describing the sexual assaults manifested truthfulness worthy of this Court’s belief. Baby Jane testified on how she was raped by the appellant on December 8, 1998:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Q What if any is your complaint against Andres Daño?
A I want him to be imprisoned, ma’am.
A Because he molested me.
Q How did he molest you?
A He undressed me.
Q What did he undress?
A My skirt and my panty, ma’am.
Q What happened next after he undressed you?
A He lay (sic) himself on top of me.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Q What happened next?
A He inserted his penis into my vagina.
Q Who is this person who did this to you?
A My stepfather, ma’am.
Q What is the name of your stepfather?
A Andres Daño, ma’am.
x x x
Pros. Dagani:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Q Can you identify this Andres Daño?
A Yes, ma’am.
Q Is he present here in this room?
A Yes, he is.
Q Will you point to him?
A There he is. (Witness pointing to a person wearing an orange t-shirt who was previously identified as Andres Daño)chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Q What happened after he inserted his penis into your vagina?
A He pointed a knife at me, ma’am.
Q What if any did he say while he pointed a knife at you?
A He told me to just keep quiet because if I will not follow that instruction, he will (sic) kill me. 20
With regard to the sexual assault on December 15, 1998, Baby Jane also narrated as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Pros. Dagani:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Q You said he again molested you. Can you recall how did he do it?
A He undressed me.
Q After he undressed you, what happened next?
A He lay (sic) himself on top of me.
Q After he (sic) lay on top of you, what happened next?
A Again he inserted his penis into my vagina.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Q Where did this second incident happen?
A Also in Dalagangan, ma’am.
Q What particular place in Dalagangan?
A In a house also.
Q Is this house you said where the second incident happened the same house where the first incident happened?
A This is the same house owned by my Mama Emelia, ma’am.
x x x
Q Let us go back to that incident, when your stepfather inserted his penis into your vagina, what did you feel, if any at that time that he inserted his penis into your vagina?
A I felt great pain, ma’am. 21
We find the foregoing testimony sufficient to sustain the appellant’s conviction, the subsequent recantation of Baby Jane notwithstanding. To be sure, no ulterior motive on her part was offered by the defense to explain why she had to perjure herself by accusing the appellant with so grave a crime which, she clearly knew, could cost him his life. 22 Likewise, the record fails to show that Baby Jane’s testimony for the prosecution was elicited by force, intimidation or undue influence. Far from being an "instructed tale," as claimed by the defense, the same clearly appeared to have been given spontaneously and on her own free will. Significantly, Baby Jane admitted having related her misfortune to other persons prior to the filing of these cases in court:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Q Can you still recall if there were people whom you have told your story of what happened?chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
A Yes, there was someone I talked to, ma’am.
A I told my grandmother about this, ma’am.
Q What’s the name of your grandmother?
A Magdalena Barrido, ma’am.
Q What else if any?
A I also told my Lolo Decisimo, ma’am.
Q Who else?
A My aunts and my uncles.
Q Who else aside from your aunts and your uncles?chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
A The barangay captain, ma’am.
Q Aside from the barangay captain, who else?
A I also told my mother and the policeman, ma’am.
Q What is the name of your mother?
A Jocelyn, ma’am.
Q You said that you told the policeman, at what particular place did you tell this policeman?
A At the police station, ma’am. 23
On the other hand, Baby Jane’s complete turn around was the result of the dubious maneuvers of her own mother who was obviously being manipulated by the appellant. It should be pointed out that, during the trial of these cases, Jocelyn took Baby Jane from the DSWD. Subsequently, Jocelyn and her children moved to a place near the provincial jail in Butuan City where the appellant was then detained, bringing Baby Jane closer to the appellant and making her vulnerable to persuasion. Jocelyn even went to the extent of belying her own statements given under oath during the preliminary investigation in the hope of saving her husband from the consequences of his criminal acts.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Appellant’s claim that the instant charges against him were merely concocted by Avelina Amado and Decisimo Limato, who both allegedly bore a grudge against him, was clearly self-serving. Avelina took the witness stand as rebuttal witness and denied that she resented appellant’s constant transfers of residence with his family. She explained that she never meddled with appellant’s family affairs since they had their own parents who could offer them advice. As far as the theft of fishing boat was concerned, Avelina clarified that she had no reason to accuse or suspect the appellant of involvement therein as no formal complaint was ever filed against him. Besides, it was farfetched for Avelina and Decisimo, who were not shown to be morally depraved, to sacrifice the honor and dignity of their kin and their entire family just to get back at the appellant for such trivial reasons. Hence, we affirm appellant’s conviction for two counts of rape.
However, we agree with appellant that the relationship between him and Baby Jane was not sufficiently established by the prosecution. Both informations alleged that Baby Jane was the step-daughter of the appellant. The relationship between a step-father and a step-daughter presupposes a legitimate relationship, that is, the former should be legally married to the latter’s mother. 24 While the prosecution presented Baby Jane’s birth certificate 25 showing she was merely 8 years old in December 1998, having been born on December 26, 1990, it failed to adduce in evidence a marriage certificate to prove that the appellant was legally married to Baby Jane’s mother. It should be pointed out that no explicit admission to this effect was made either by the appellant during the trial.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
We have consistently ruled that the twin circumstances of minority and relationship under the amendatory provisions of Section 11 of RA 7569, and under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, 26 are in the nature of qualifying circumstances which must be alleged in the information and proved beyond reasonable doubt at the trial. If the prosecution fails to allege and prove the qualifying circumstances of minority and relationship, the accused should be held liable for the crime of simple rape only. 27 Having failed to prove the relationship between the appellant and Baby Jane as alleged in the separate informations, the said appellant can only be convicted of simple rape and sentenced to reclusion perpetua in each case.
The trial court erred in awarding civil indemnity and moral damages in one lump sum since these are distinct from each other and, hence, should be determined separately. Prevailing jurisprudence mandates the award of P50,000 as indemnity ex delicto in rape cases. Moral damages in the amount of P50,000 may also be awarded without need of proof. 28
WHEREFORE, the Omnibus Judgment, dated November 23, 2000, of the Regional Trial Court of Butuan City, Branch 1, finding appellant Andres Daño y Toreta guilty of two counts of qualified rape and imposing upon him the penalty of death in each case is hereby MODIFIED. Appellant Andres Daño y Toreta is hereby found GUILTY of two counts of simple rape and is sentenced to reclusion perpetua in each case.
He is further ordered to pay Baby Jane Nalam P50,000 as civil indemnity, in addition to the amount of P50,000 as moral damages, in each case.cralaw : red
Costs de oficio.
Davide, Jr., C.J.
, Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna and Tinga, JJ.
1. Penned by Judge Marissa Macaraig-Guillen, Rollo, pp. 22–53.
2. Exhibit "F."cralaw virtua1aw library
3. TSN, August 19, 1999, pp. 11–15.
4. Exhibit "A."cralaw virtua1aw library
5. TSN, September 24, 1999, pp. 3–5.
6. Id., pp. 6–8.
7. Id., p. 11.
8. Id., p. 9.
9. Exhibit "E."cralaw virtua1aw library
10. TSN, August 30, 2000, p. 17; TSN, July 6, 2000, p. 4.
11. TSN, July 6, 2000, p.3.
12. TSN, August 30, 2000, pp. 4–5; 8–15.
13. Id., pp. 5–7.
14. Id., pp. 20–24.
15. Id., p. 25.
16. TSN, October 16, 2000, pp. 3–5.
17. Id., pp. 8–10.
18. Rollo, pp. 82–104.
19. People v. Rendaje, 344 SCRA 738, 750 ; People v. Pacina, 338 SCRA 195, 207 ; People v. Lubong, 332 SCRA 672, 689 .
20. TSN, September 24, 1999, pp. 3–4.
21. Id., pp. 6–11.
22. People v. Aliviano, 335 SCRA 371, 380–381 ; People v. Gementiza, 285 SCRA 478, 486 .
23. Id., p. 9.
24. People v. Tolentino, 328 SCRA 485,495 .
25. Exhibit "C."cralaw virtua1aw library
26. Per RA, 8353, otherwise known as the Anti-Rape Law which took effect on October 22, 1997.
27. People v. Flores, 322 SCRA 779, 788 .
28. People v. Reyes, 315 SCRA 563, 578 .