December 2009 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
G.R. No. 187494 - People of the Philippines v. Elmer Barberos
[G.R. NO. 187494 : December 23, 2009]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ELMER BARBEROS alias "EMIE," Accused-Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
VELASCO, JR., J.:
Before us is an appeal from the Decision1 dated March 5, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CEB-CR-HC No. 00316 which affirmed with modification the Judgment2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 14 in Cebu City, convicting accused-appellant Elmer Barberos alias "Emie" of the crime of rape.
In an Information dated January 11, 1999 filed before the RTC of Cebu City and docketed thereat as Criminal Case No. CBU-49307, appellant Elmer was indicted for the crime of rape, as defined under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as amended by Republic Act No. (RA) 8353,3 allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about the 22nd day of December 1998, at around 12:00 o'clock past dawn, more or less, in Sitio Cambuntan, Barangay Bolinawan, Municipality of Carcar, Province of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, with lewd design and by means of force and intimidation, the accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously choke her throat and threaten her "SABA RON KAY PATYON TA KA" (GO AHEAD SHOUT AND I WILL KILL YOU), then forcibly open her short pants and panty, tearing her sando, place himself on top of her and forcibly insert his penis into her vagina and succeed in having sexual intercourse with x x x [AAA], a 15 year-old girl against her will and consent.4
Upon arraignment, Elmer pleaded not guilty to the above charge.
Version of the Prosecution
The prosecution presented the following witnesses: AAA, the private complainant, and Dr. Daphnie Rana, the examining doctor, to establish the following facts:
In the evening of December 21, 1998, AAA, then 15 years old, along with four friends, watched a variety show near the cemetery of Cambuntan, Bolinawan, Carcar, Cebu. At around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., a neighbor informed AAA that her father and uncle were quarreling at her grandmother's place. AAA immediately proceeded to her grandmother's house and heard, as she was nearing the place, the raised voices of her father and uncle. Alarmed, she cried for help but nobody heeded her call. It was at this instance that Elmer, a neighbor, drew near her and told her not to worry because he would protect her. Upon the urging of Elmer, AAA went with him to his two-storey house some 50 meters away. He then led her to a room at the second floor and, once inside, locked the door.
After a while, Elmer made his move and, despite AAA's loud protestation, succeeded in placing himself on top of AAA, who shouted for help but only to be choked and told, "Saba ron kay patyon ta ka." (Do not shout, otherwise I will kill you.) AAA's attempt to wrestle herself free from Elmer's hold did not prevent the latter from getting inside her, although she felt a less-than-total penetration. And at some point during the struggle, AAA was able to cover her private part with her left hand while grabbing Elmer's sex organ with her right hand.
Then, someone knocked at the door. When Elmer stood up to open it, AAA lost no time in picking up her short pants and panty and jumped out the window. Upon reaching her grandmother's place at around 1:00 a.m., she told her grandmother the ordeal she just went through. She then washed herself. Even at that late hour, she was raring to report the incident to the police until she noticed Elmer standing outside their house.
At about 10:00 a.m. of December 22, 1998, AAA, with her mother, reported the matter to the police. From Carcar, AAA and her mother, accompanied by a policewoman, proceeded to the Don Vicente Sotto Medical Center, where Dr. Rana conducted an examination on AAA. Her findings: an intact hymen and the absence of spermatozoa in the vaginal canal. As to the first phenomenon, the doctor ventured the opinion that a woman raped could still have an intact hymen either because there was no full penile insertion, the penetration was limited only to the labia, or the hymen was distensible. The absence of spermatozoa in the vagina could be due to the fact that there might have been no ejaculation, or the sperm might have been washed out.
Version of the Defense
Elmer denied the crime imputed to him. To buttress his defense, Elmer presented his wife, Paterna, who testified being in the vicinity of AAA's grandmother's house when AAA's father and uncle were having an argument. Apparently, the uncle fired at AAA's father, with the explosion and noisy altercation attracting the neighbors.
Upon reaching home on the night in question, Paterna was surprised to find a crying AAA on the second floor, visibly afraid because of the firing incident and crying her help. When Elmer arrived with one Elijorde Paniroso,5 AAA rushed toward the window apparently to flee and, despite Elmer's admonition to be careful, eventually jumped out.
The defense proffered the theory that the fabricated rape charge was due to a standing feud between the Barberoses and AAA's family which started when the Barberoses built their house on a piece of land formerly tilled by AAA's family.
The Ruling of the RTC
After trial, the RTC, on November 13, 2000, rendered judgment,6 finding Elmer guilty of the crime charged and accordingly sentenced him, thus:
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, JUDGMENT is hereby rendered finding the accused ELMER BARBEROS GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of RAPE falling under paragraph 1, subparagraph a, ART. 266-A of the Revised Penal Code as amended by R.A. No. 8351 [sic] and hereby imposes upon him the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA as imposed under ART. 266-B of the same Code, as amended.???ñr?bl?š ??r