November 2008 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
G.R. No. 177354 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. RICARDO TALAN Y DOE @ CARDING
[G.R. NO. 177354 : November 14, 2008]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, v. RICARDO TALAN y DOE @ CARDING, Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
This is an appeal from the 30 November 2006 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 00410 affirming the 4 November 2004 Joint Judgment2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Judicial Region V, Branch 57, Libmanan, Camarines Sur, in Criminal Case Nos. L-3373 and L-3599. The trial court found Ricardo Talan y Doe alias Carding (Talan) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two counts of forcible abduction with rape.
AAA was born on 15 July 1984. She resided in Poblacion Zone 2, Del Gallego, Camarines Sur. She is the niece of Talan.
On 16 May 2000, Talan asked AAA if she wanted to study at the University of the Philippines, Diliman for free. AAA said yes. Talan told AAA that he knew three women who were offering a scholarship and whom they should meet in Barangay Pinagdapian, Del Gallego, Camarines Sur.
On 17 May 2000, at around 8 a.m., AAA and Talan went to Barangay Pinagdapian. When they arrived at the supposed meeting place, the three women were not there. AAA and Talan went to a hut owned by Talan, then went to a place with banana trees. There, Talan raped AAA: (1) he told her to undress; (2) he threatened to kill her, her parents and her siblings; (3) he pushed her to the ground; (4) he told her that they will do three positions; (5) he kissed her lips; (6) he sucked her breasts; (7) he licked her vagina; (8) he inserted his penis in her vagina; and (9) he told her not to tell anyone about what happened. After raping AAA for around 15 minutes, Talan rested for around five minutes. Talan then raped AAA again for around 10 minutes. Because of fear, AAA did not tell anyone about the incident.
On 30 May 2000, at around 8 p.m., AAA was on her way home from a friend's house. Talan (1) approached AAA; (2) forced AAA to go with him; (3) told AAA that the supposed persons who wanted to kill her were at her house; (4) dragged AAA towards the highway where a tricycle was waiting; (5) brought AAA to Tagkawayan, Quezon, using the tricycle; (6) forced AAA to board a bus going to Santa Elena, Camarines Norte; and (7) brought AAA to a hut in the middle of rice fields in Barangay San Lorenzo. A certain Graciano Romano (Romano) owned the hut. AAA and Talan spent the night in the hut.
On 1 June 2000, Talan (1) poked a knife on AAA's neck; (2) threatened to kill AAA; (3) undressed AAA; (4) mounted AAA; and (5) inserted his penis in AAA's vagina.
On 2 June 2000, AAA's uncles and Talan's brothers, Marcus and Rodolfo Talan (Marcus and Rodolfo), went to Santa Elena, Camarines Norte, to look for AAA. Romano informed Marcus and Rodolfo that AAA and Talan were there. Marcus and Rodolfo sought the help of the members of the barangay tanod. Two members of the barangay tanod searched for AAA and Talan. When the barangay tanod members saw AAA and Talan, they handcuffed Talan and brought him to the police station.
On 5 June 2000, Dr. Ma. Rizalina B. Adalid (Dr. Adalid) examined AAA. Dr. Adalid found "incomplete healed, hymenal laceration at 9 o'clock position."
In an Information dated 13 August 2001, Talan was charged with forcible abduction with rape. The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. L-3373. The Information stated:
That on or about 8:00 o'clock p.m. of May 30, 2000, at Barangay Poblacion, Zone 2, Del Gallego, Camarines Sur, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd design, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, abduct [AAA], his fifteen (15) year old niece, against her will and without her consent by forcibly taking her to San Lorenzo Ruiz, Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte, and thereat on June 1, 2000 at around 10:00 o'clock in the evening, with force, violence and intimidation and while armed with a knife succeeded in having sexual intercourse with aforesaid victim against her will and without her consent to her damage and prejudice.3
In another Information dated 16 July 2002, Talan was charged with forcible abduction with rape. The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. L-3599. The Information stated:
That on or before 8:30 o'clock in the morning of May 17, 2000 at Zone 2, Bgy. Poblacion, Del Gallego, Camarines Sur, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court and the above-named accused, by means of deceit, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take the victim, [AAA], 15 yrs. old, to Bgy. Pinagdapian, Del Gallego, Camarines Sur, under the [pretext] that students from the University of the Philippines are waiting for them to talk to her about the possibility of sending her to school for free, but once there, through force, threat and intimidation and fraudulent machination, had carnal knowledge with the victim against her will for three (3) times, allowing the victim to leave for home after 10:30 o'clock in the morning but only after warning her not to tell anyone or else he will kill her, to her damage and prejudice.4
Talan pleaded not guilty to both charges. According to him, (1) he was cutting and gathering bamboos with his nephew in Barangay Pinagdapian on 17 May 2000; (2) he brought AAA to Santa Elena, Camarines Norte, to protect her from the persons who wanted to kill her; and (3) his siblings filed the present case against him because they were interested in his lands.
The RTC's Ruling
In its 4 November 2004 Joint Judgment, the trial court found Talan guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two counts of forcible abduction with rape:
WHEREFORE, the prosecution having duly proved the guilt of the accused in these two cases for forcible abduction with rape, this court finds accused RICARDO TALAN y DOE Alias "Carding" GUILTY of the crimes as charged and hereby imposes against said accused the supreme penalty of DEATH in Criminal Case No. L-3373 and the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA in Criminal Case No. L-3599 and in line with recent jurisprudence where the death penalty is imposed he is hereby ordered to indemnify the victim [AAA], the amount of Seventy[-]Five Thousand Pesos (
P75,000.00) as civil indemnity in Criminal Case No. L-3373 and Fifty Thousand Pesos ( P50,000.00), as civil indemnity in Criminal Case No. L-3599 and the further sum of One Hundred Thousand Pesos ( P100,000.00) as moral damages in these two cases.5
On appeal, Talan claimed that the trial court erred in finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two counts of forcible abduction with rape: (1) the trial court relied solely on AAA's testimony as the basis for its judgment; (2) that AAA did not cry for help while Talan was bringing her to Santa Elena, Camarines Norte, was improbable; and (3) denial was a valid defense. Talan also claimed that, assuming that he was indeed guilty of the charges, the trial court erred in considering the qualifying circumstance of relationship in Criminal Case No. L-3373.
The Court of Appeals' Ruling
In its 30 November 2006 Decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's Joint Judgment with modification:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, herein appeal is hereby DISMISSED. The assailed Decision is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION, the penalty of Death imposed by the court a quo in Criminal Case No. L-3373, is reduced to Reclusion Perpetua. Likewise, the civil indemnity to be awarded to the Victim in Criminal Case No. L-3373 is hereby reduced to Fifty Thousand (Php 50,000.00) Pesos.6
Hence, this appeal.
The Court's Ruling
An appeal in a criminal case opens the entire case for review. The Court can correct errors unassigned in the appeal.7
The Court finds Talan guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two counts of rape. Forcible abduction is absorbed in the crime of rape if the real objective of the accused is to rape the victim.8 Based on the records, the real objective of Talan was to rape AAA when he brought her to the place with banana trees and to Santa Elena, Camarines Norte.
Talan claimed that the lower courts erred in relying solely on AAA's testimony. The Court is not impressed. In rape cases, the credibility of the victim's testimony is almost always the single most important factor. When the victim's testimony is credible, it may be the sole basis for the accused's conviction.9
The evaluation of the credibility of the witnesses' testimonies is a matter best left to the trial court because it has the opportunity to observe the witnesses and their demeanor during the trial. The Court accords great respect to the trial court's findings, unless the trial court overlooked or misconstrued substantial facts which could have affected the outcome of the case.10
In the present case, the trial court found AAA's testimony credible. The trial court held that, "Evaluating the evidence presented both by the prosecution and the defense, this court gives more credence to the testimony of the prosecution witnesses as against the alibi and denial posited by the accused." The trial court added that, "This court x x x noted that when [AAA] was describing how accused raped her she cried for at least two times."
Indeed, the Court finds AAA's testimony convincing:
Q: How did you know that your uncle were [sic] forcibly removing your T-shirt?cralawred
A: I was awaken [sic] and I looked at him.
Q: Now, when you looked at him and when you said he was forcibly removing your T-shirt, what did you do?cralawred
A: I was crying.
Q: Why were you crying?cralawred
A: Because he poked a knife on my neck.
x x x
Q: Now, after this accused able [sic] to remove your T-shirt, what did the accused do next, if any?cralawred
A: He was forcibly removing my short [sic] and underwear.
Q: And while he was according to you forcibly removing your short [sic] and underwear, what were you doing also?cralawred
A: I was crying.
x x x
Q: After he removed your short [sic] and panty, what did the accused do next?cralawred
A: He also removed his underwear.
x x x
Q: After he was removing [sic] his underwear and you said he was already naked, what did the accused do next?cralawred
A: He forcibly opened my two (2) legs.
x x x
Q: And what was your position as well as the accused when he forcibly opening [sic] your legs?cralawred
A: I was lying on my back.
Q: What about him, what was his position to you [sic]?cralawred
A: He was on top of me.
Q: Now, after he opened your legs and according to you he forcibly opened your legs, what did the accused do next, if any?cralawred
A: He was trying to insert his penis into my vagina.
INTERPRETER: Witness is demonstrating by making push and pull movements.
x x x
Q: And what did you feel if any when he inserted his penis into your vagina?cralawred
A: I felt pain.
Q: What were you doing while he was inserting his penis and making push and pull movements on top of you?cralawred
A: I was crying.
Q: Why were you crying?cralawred
A: I am afraid, sir.11
x x x
Q: What did you feel when you were being told to undress yourself?cralawred
A: He told me if I will not undress he will kill me including my parents and my siblings.
Q: Did you undress after you were threatened that way?cralawred
A: Yes, sir, because of great fear.
Q: What happened after you undressed yourself?cralawred
A: He made me lie on the ground, sir.
x x x
Q: When you were made to lie down, what happened next?cralawred
A: He told me that there will be three (3) positions to be made.
x x x
Q: What happened after that?cralawred
A: He kissed my lips and my breast, sir.
Q: What else happened?cralawred
A: He also kissed my vagina.
Q: So after that what happened next?cralawred
A: He keeps [sic] on touching my private parts and he repeatedly kissed my private parts and when he kissed my lips he inserted his penis into my vagina.
Q: What did you feel when he inserted his penis into your vagina?cralawred
Q: After fifteen (15) minutes, what happened next?cralawred
A: He told me that we will be changed [sic] position, the side position, sir, but I did not agree with him, so, he chose to do the previous position.
Q: You said that he was on top of you for about fifteen (15) minutes, after fifteen (15) minutes what did he do?cralawred
A: He rested for a while.
Q: For how long?cralawred
A: About five (5) minutes.
Q: And after that, that was the time when he told you that he wanted to do the side position?cralawred
A: Yes, sir.
Q: So what did he do on the second time?cralawred
A: Same with the previous position, sir.
Q: And how long was he on top of you?cralawred
A: Also 10 to 15 minutes, sir.
Q: After that what did he do?cralawred
A: He told me that it is already finished and he told me that I should not be fear [sic] what had happened to us and he keeps [sic] on threatening me that he will kill me.
Q: How many times were you raped on May 17?cralawred
A: For two (2) times.12
Moreover, AAA's testimony is consistent with the medical findings. When the testimony of the victim is consistent with the medical findings, sufficient basis exists for the conclusion that the crime was committed.13 In the medical certificate she prepared, Dr. Adalid found "incomplete healed, hymenal laceration at 9 o'clock position." During the trial, Dr. Adalid testified:
Q: Now, in this Exhibit A there are findings, will you please read the findings and explain to us in layman's language the meaning of this medical findings?cralawred
A: I have here my medical findings for the patient, Positive incomplete healed, hymenal laceration at 9 o'clock position. "Incomplete healed hymenal laceration" this means that the incident might have occurred four (4) to ten (10) days before I examined the patient. And the "hymenal laceration at 9 o'clock position" this is compared to a clock, the laceration was found at the 9 o'clock position.
Q: What could have been the cause of this particular finding on [AAA]?cralawred
A: The possible cause of this particular laceration could have been a solid or hard object was inserted to the vagina of the victim.
Q: For instance, an erected [sic] penis inserted on [sic] the vagina during sexual intercourse could cause this laceration?cralawred
A: Yes, that might cause the laceration.14
Talan claimed that it was improbable that he forced AAA to go with him because AAA did not cry for help while he was bringing her to Santa Elena, Camarines Norte. The Court is not impressed. It is not improbable because Talan threatened AAA that if she cried for help, he would kill her. The intimidation prevented AAA from crying for help.15 Moreover, AAA was a minor and Talan exercised moral ascendancy over her, being her uncle. During the trial, AAA testified:
Q: Did it not occur to [sic] your mind to shout when he dragged you by the arm?cralawred
A: No, sir.
Q: Tell us why?cralawred
A: Because he often threatened me not to shout because the persons who wants [sic] to kill me were in our house.
x x x
Q: And did it not occur to [sic] your mind to tell the tricycle driver about what happened to you?cralawred
A: No, sir, because he keeps on looking at me as if he is telling me not to tell anybody of what happened to us.
x x x
Q: Why did you board that bus going to Tabogon together with the accused?cralawred
A: In order that the persons who wants [sic] to kill me will not be able to track us.16
x x x
Q: While you were being dragged to the other side of the highway did you not plead to the accused not to drag you?cralawred
A: I pleaded to the accused and he said that he should bring me back to our house.
Q: On [sic] top of your voice when you pleaded to him to bring you back to your house?cralawred
A: Yes, sir.
Q: But no one helped you, is that correct?cralawred
A: Yes, because there were no people around.
x x x
Q: Did you not tell the trimobile driver that you were being forced by the accused in going to Tagkawayan, Quezon?cralawred
A: Yes, sir.
Q: While on board the trimobile did you not talk to each other?cralawred
A: While on board the trimobile, he told me that I should not talk, particularly that I should not report to the trimobile driver, because if I should do so he will kill me.17
x x x
Q: Did you not talk to the passengers in the bus while you were inside the bus?cralawred
A: No, because we have no seatmates.
Q: Did you not approach any passengers and tell them about your problem with respect to this alleged incident?cralawred
A: No, because at that time the accused does [sic] not want me to talk to anybody inside the bus, because if I should talk to them he will be the one to kill me.18
Talan claimed that denial is a valid defense. The Court is not impressed. Denial as a defense is inherently weak and deserves scant consideration. It cannot prevail over the victim's positive identification of the accused.19 During the trial, AAA positively identified Talan:
Q: Now, tell us, do you know a certain Ricardo Talan alias "Carding?"
A: He is my uncle.
Q: Why he became [sic] your uncle?cralawred
A: He is the brother of my mother.
Q: And how do you call this Ricardo Talan?cralawred
Q: Tiyo what?cralawred
A: Tiyo Carding.
Q: Tell us, is he the same Ricardo Talan alias "Carding," the accused in this case?cralawred
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Will you please tell us if the accused is in court?cralawred
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Will you please point to him.
INTERPRETER: Witness is pointing to a man seated inside the courtroom and when he was asked to identify his name responded [sic] by the name of Ricardo Talan.
Q: Do you know that you are charging your uncle a very serious offense?cralawred
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Now, if your uncle will be convicted he could be sentenced for life imprisonment or death?cralawred
A: Yes, sir.20
Talan claimed that the qualifying circumstance of relationship should not be considered in Criminal Case No. L-3373. The Court agrees. The qualifying circumstance of relationship must be specifically alleged in the information - the information must clearly state that "the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common law spouse of the parent of the victim."21 In People v. Ibarrientos,22 the Court held that:
The allegation in the information x x x that the appellant is an uncle of the victim is not specific enough to satisfy the special qualifying circumstance of relationship. We have previously ruled, and now we reiterate, that it is necessary to spell out in the Information for rape that the accused is a "relative within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity" as stated in Article 266-B. Without such averment, the Information x x x falls short of the statutory requirement for the imposition of capital punishment on the offender. Factual allegations in the information do not need to be referred to as "qualifying circumstances," in order to appreciate them as such and raise the penalty. However, these factual allegations must be specified completely, in order to fully inform the accused of the circumstances which warrant the imposition of a higher offense. Otherwise, such circumstances cannot be appreciated to qualify the offense.
In the present case, the information in Criminal Case No. L-3373 merely states that Talan abducted and raped his "niece" without specifying that Talan is a relative of the victim within the third degree of consanguinity. In any event, the penalty for simple rape is still reclusion perpetua.23
WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the 30 November 2006 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 00410 with the MODIFICATION that appellant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two counts of simple rape.
* Per Special Order No. 534.
** Designated member per Special Order No. 535.
*** Designated member per Special Order No. 535.
1 Rollo, pp. 2-27. Penned by Associate Justice Myrna Dimaranan-Vidal, with Associate Justices Bienvenido L. Reyes and Fernanda Lampas-Peralta concurring.
2 CA rollo, pp. 12-26. Penned by Judge Irma Isidora M. Boncodin.
3 CA rollo, p. 12.
4 Id. at 13.
5 Id. at 27.
6 Rollo, pp. 26-27.
11 TSN, 12 February 2002, pp. 15-20.
12 TSN, 17 November 2003, pp. 8-10.
13 People v. Muros, supra note 8.
14 TSN, 21 January 2002, pp. 5-6.
15 People v. Muros, supra note 8.
16 TSN, 12 February 2002, pp. 10-13.
17 TSN, 3 June 2002, pp. 10-11.
18 TSN, 6 June 2002, p. 3.
20 TSN, 12 February 2002, pp. 5-6.
21 Revised Penal Code, Art. 266-B.
23 See note 21.