OF THE PHILIPPINES,
G. R. No. 117472
June 25, 1996
ECHEGARAY y PILO,
E C I S I O N
endless debates on whether or not
the re-imposition of the death penalty is indeed a deterrent as far as
the commission of heinous crimes is concerned, and while the attendant
details pertaining to the execution of a death sentence remain as yet
burning issue, We are tasked with providing a clear-cut resolution of
or not the herein accused-appellant deserves to forfeit his place in
society for the infliction of the primitive and bestial act of
lust on his own blood.
Before Us for
automatic review is the judgment
of conviction dated September 7, 1994 for the crime of rape rendered
marathon hearing by the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch
the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered
accused LEO ECHEGARAY y PILO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
of Rape as charged in the complaint, aggravated by the fact that the
was commited by the accused who is the father/stepfather of the
he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of death, as provided for
under R. A. No. 7659, to pay the complainant Rodessa Echegaray the sum
of P50,000.00 as damages, plus all the accessory penalties provided by
law, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay
however, that the charge had been formulated
in this manner:
C O M P L A I N T
The undersigned accuses LEO
of the crime of RAPE, committed as follows:
That on or about the month of April
in Quezon City, Philippines, the above-named accused, by means of force
and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
have carnal knowledge of the undersigned complainant, his daughter, a
10 years of age, all against her will and without her consent, to her
arraigned on August 1, 1994, the accused-appellant,
assisted by his counsel de oficio, entered the plea of "not
These are the
pertinent facts of the case as summarized
by the Solicitor-General in his brief:
This is a case of
rape by the father of his ten-year
old daughter. Complainant Rodessa Echegaray is a ten-year old
and a fifth-grader, born on September 11, 1983. Rodessa is the eldest
five siblings. She has three brothers aged 6, 5 and 2, respectively,
a 3-month old baby sister. Her parents are Rosalie and Leo Echegaray,
latter being the accused-appellant himself. The victim lives with her
in a small house located at No. 199 Fernandez St., Barangay San
San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City [pp. 5-9, Aug. 9, 1994, T.S.N.].cralaw
Sometime in the
afternoon of April 1994, while
Rodessa was looking after her three brothers in their house as her
attended a gambling session in another place, she heard her father, the
accused-appellant in this case, order her brothers to go out of the
[pp. 10-11, ibid.]. As soon as her brothers left,
Leo Echegaray approached Rodessa and suddenly dragged her inside the
[p. 12, ibid.]. Before she could question the appellant, the
immediately, removed her panty and made her lie on the floor [p. 13, ibid.].
Thereafter, appellant likewise removed his underwear and immediately
himself on top of Rodessa. Subsequently, appellant forcefully inserted
his penis into Rodessa's organ causing her to suffer intense pain [pp.
14-15, ibid.]. While appellant was pumping on her, he even
"Masarap ba, masarap ba?" and to which Rodessa answered: "Tama
na Papa, masakit." [p. 16, ibid.]. Rodessa's plea proved
as appellant continued with his act. After satisfying his bestial
appellant threatened to kill her mother if she would divulge what had
Scared that her mother would be killed by appellant, Rodessa kept to
the ordeal she suffered. She was very afraid of appellant because the
most of the time, was high on drugs [pp. 17-18, ibid.]. The
sexual assault happened up to the fifth time and this usually took
when her mother was out of the house [p. 19, ibid.]. However,
the fifth time, Rodessa decided to inform her grandmother, Asuncion
who, in turn, told Rosalie, Rodessa's mother. Rodessa and her mother
to the Barangay Captain where Rodessa confided the sexual assaults she
suffered. Thereafter, Rodessa was brought to the precinct where she
an affidavit [p. 21, ibid.]. From there, she was accompanied to
the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory for medical examination
[p. 22, ibid.].cralaw
that the said sexual assaults
happened only during the time when her mother was pregnant. Rodessa
that at first, her mother was on her side. However, when appellant was
detained, her mother kept on telling her. "Kawawa naman ang Tatay
nakakulong" [pp. 39-40, ibid.].
When Rodessa was examined by the
Officer in the person of Dra. Ma. Cristina B. Preyna,
the complainant was described as physically on a non-virgin state, as
by the presence of laceration of the hymen of said complainant [T.S.N.,
Aug. 22, 1995, pp. 8-9].
On the other
hand, the accused-appellant's brief
presents a different story:
The defense presented its first witness,
Echegaray. She asserted that the rape charge against the accused was
the figment of her mother's dirty mind. That her daughter's complaint
forced upon her by her grandma and the answers in the sworn statement
Rodessa were coached. That the accusation of rape was motivated by
grandmother's greed over the lot situated at the Madrigal Estate-NHA
Barangay San Antonio, San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City, which her
paramour, Conrado Alfonso, gave to the accused in order to persuade the
latter to admit that Rodessa executed an affidavit of desistance after
it turned out that her complaint of attempted homicide was substituted
with the crime of rape at the instance of her mother. That when her
came to know about the affidavit of desistance, she placed her
under the custody of the Barangay Captain. That her mother was never a
real mother to her.
She stated that her complaint against
was for attempted homicide as her husband poured alcohol on her body
attempted to burn her. She identified the certification issued by the
and Tag No. 87-0393 [Exh. 2]. That the certification based on the
[Exh. 3] indicates that the property is co-owned by accused and Conrado
Alfonso. That Rodessa is her daughter sired by Conrado Alfonso, the
being the paramour of her mother. That Conrado Alfonso waived his right
and participation over the lot in favor of the accused in consideration
of the latter's accepting the fact that he is the father of Rodessa to
simulate the love triangle and to conceal the nauseating sex orgies
Conrado Alfonso's real wife.
Accused testified in his behalf and
the grandmother of the complainant has a very strong motive in
him to the crime of rape since she was interested to become the sole
of a property awarded to her live-in partner by the Madrigal Estate-NHA
Project. That he could not have committed the imputed crime because he
considers Rodessa as his own daughter. That he is a painter-contractor
and on the date of the alleged commission of the crime, he was painting
the house of one Divina Ang of Barangay Vitalis, Parañaque,
Manila [Exh. 4]. The travel time between his work place to his
is three  hours considering the condition of traffic. That the
contract is evidenced by a document denominated "Contract of Services"
duly accomplished [see submarkings of Exh. 4]. He asserted that he has
a big sexual organ which when used to a girl 11 years old like Rodessa,
the said female organ will be "mawawarak." That it is abnormal
report the imputed commission of the crime to the grandmother of the
Accused further stated that her (sic)
mother-in-law trumped-up a charge of drug pushing earlier and he
guilty to a lesser offense of using drugs. The decretal portion of the
judgment of conviction ordering the accused to be confined at the
Rehabilitation Center irked the grandmother of Rodessa because it was
wish that accused should be meted the death penalty.
Accused remain steadfast in his testimony
the strong motive of Rodessa's grandmother in implicating him in this
crime because of her greed to become the sole owner of that piece of
at the National Housing Authority-Madrigal Project, situated at San
del Monte, Quezon City, notwithstanding rigid cross-examination. He
that the imputed offense is far from his mind considering that he
Rodessa as his own daughter. He categorically testified that he was in
his painting job site on the date and time of the alleged commission of
Mrs. Punzalan was presented as third
witness. She said that she is the laundry woman and part-time baby
of the family of accused. That at one time, she saw Rodessa reading sex
books and the Bulgar newspaper. That while hanging washed clothes on
vacant lot, she saw Rodessa masturbating by tinkering her private
The masturbation took sometime.
This sexual fling of Rodessa were
by Silvestra Echegaray, the fourth and last witness for the defense.
stated that she tried hard to correct the flirting tendency of Rodessa
and that she scolded her when she saw Rodessa viewing an x-rated tape.
Rodessa according to her was fond of going with friends of ill-repute.
That (sic) she corroborated the testimony of Mrs. Punzalan by
that she herself saw Rodessa masturbating inside the room of her house.
In finding the
accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of rape, the lower court dismissed the defense of
and lent credence to the straightforward testimony of the ten-year old
victim to whom no ill-motive to testify falsely against
can be attributed. The lower court likewise regarded as inconsequential
the defense of the accused-appellant that the extraordinary size of his
penis could not have insinuated itself into the victim's vagina and
the accused is not the real father of the said victim.
accused-appellant now reiterates his position
in his attempt to seek a reversal of the lower court's verdict through
the following assignment of errors:
1.chanrobles virtual law library
THE LOWER COURT FAILED TO
SINISTER MOTIVE OF PRIVATE COMPLAINANT'S GRANDMOTHER THAT PRECIPITATED
THE FILING OF THE CHARGE OF RAPE, HENCE, IT ERRED IN HOLDING ACCUSED
AS CHARGED.chanrobles virtual law library
2.chanrobles virtual law library
THE COURT BELOW OVERLOOKED THE
THE HEALED LACERATIONS AT 3 AND 7 O'CLOCK COULD NOT HAVE BEEN DUE TO
PUMPING OF THE PENIS OF ACCUSED TO THE VAGINA OF PRIVATE COMPLAINANT,
IT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT ACCUSED COMMITTED THE CRIME CHARGED,
VEHEMENT DENIAL.chanrobles virtual law library
3.chanrobles virtual law library
THE COURT A QUO
THE DEFENSE OF ALIBI THAT ACCUSED WAS IN PARAÑAQUE ON THE DATE
TIME OF THE IMPUTED CRIME, HENCE, IT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT ALIBI IS NOT
SUSTAINABLE IN THE CASE AT BAR.
a rape charge, in the light of
the re-imposition of the death penalty, requires a thorough and
examination of the circumstances relating thereto, this Court remains
by the following principles in evaluating evidence in cases of this
(a) An accusation for rape can be made
it is difficult to prove but more difficult for the accused though
(b) In view of the intrinsic nature of
of rape where only two persons are involved, the testimony of the
must be scrutinized with extreme caution; and
(c) The evidence for the prosecution
and fall on its own merits, and cannot be allowed to draw strength from
the weakness of the evidence for the defense.
Anent the first
assigned error, no amount of persuasion
can convince this Court to tilt the scales of justice in favor of the
notwithstanding that he cries foul insisting that the rape charge was
concocted and strongly motivated by greed over a certain lot situated
the NHA-Madrigal Estate Housing Project, Barangay San Antonio, San
del Monte, Quezon City. The accused-appellant theorizes that
witness Asuncion Rivera, the maternal grandmother of the victim
concocted the charge of rape so that in the event that the
shall be meted out a death sentence, title to the lot will be
in her favor. Indeed, the lot in question is co-owned by the
and Conrado Alfonso, the live-in partner of Asuncion Rivera, according
to the records of the National Housing Authority [Exh. "3"]. The
would want Us to believe that the rape charge was fabricated by
Rivera in order to eliminate the accused-appellant from being a
So, the live-in partners would have the property for their own.
We believe, as
did the Solicitor-General, that
no grandmother would be so callous as to instigate her 10-year old
to file a rape case against her own father simply on account of her
interest over the disputed lot.
It is a well-entrenched
rule that the testimony of a rape victim is credible where she has no
to testify against the accused.
We find no flaws material enough to discredit the testimony of the
old Rodessa which the trial court found convincing enough and
by the defense. The trial court not surprisingly noted that Rodessa's
in detail of her father's monstrous acts had made her cry.
Once again, We rule that:
The testimony of the victim who was only
old at the time of the rape as to the circumstances of the rape must be
given weight, for testimony of young and immature rape victims are
(People v. Guibao, 217 SCRA 64 ). No woman, especially one of
age, practically only a girl, would concoct a story of defloration,
an examination of her private parts and thereafter expose herself to a
public trial, if she were not motivated solely by the desire to have
culprit apprehended and punished [People v. Guibao, supra].
accused-appellant points out certain inconsistencies
in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses in his attempt to
his claim that the rape accusation against him is malicious and
Firstly, Rodessa's testimony that the accused-appellant was already
when he dragged her inside the room is inconsistent with her subsequent
testimony that the said accused-appellant was still wearing short pants
when she was dragged inside the room. Secondly, Rodessa's sworn
before the police investigator which indicated that, while the accused
was executing pumping acts, he uttered the words "Masarap ba?",
differ from her testimony in court wherein she related that, when the
took out his penis from her vagina, the accused said "Masarap,
na." Thirdly, the victim's grandmother, Asuncion Rivera, recounted
in her sworn statement that it was the accused who went to see her to
her of the rape committed on her granddaughter. However, in her
in court, Asuncion Rivera claimed that she was the one who invited the
accused-appellant to see her in her house so as to tell her a secret.
These alleged discrepancies merely pertain to minor details which in no
way pose serious doubt as to the credibility of the prosecution
Whether or not the accused was naked when he dragged Rodessa inside the
room where he sexually assaulted her, bears no significant effect on
testimony that she was actually raped by the accused-appellant.
a conflicting account of whatever words were uttered by the
after he forcefully inserted his penis into Rodessa's private organ
her will cannot impair the prosecution's evidence as a whole. A
of which version earmarks the truth as to how the victim's grandmother
learned about the rape is inconsequential to the judgment of conviction.
As we have
pronounced in the case of People v.
This Court has stated, time and again,
inconsistencies in the narration of the witness do not detract from its
essential credibility as long as it is on the whole coherent and
believable. Inaccuracies may, in fact, suggest that the witness is
the truth and has not been rehearsed as it is not to be expected that
will be able to remember every single detail of an incident with
or total recall.
deliberation, this Court finds that the
trial judge's assessment of the credibility of the prosecution
deserves our utmost respect in the absence of arbitrariness. With
respect to the second assigned error, the records of the instant case
bereft of clear and concrete proof of the accused-appellant's claim as
to the size of his penis and that if that be the fact, it could not
merely caused shallow healed lacerations at 3:00 and 7:00 o'clock.
In his testimony, the accused-appellant stated that he could not have
Rodessa because of the size of his penis which could have ruptured her
vagina had he actually done so.
This Court gives no probative value on the accused-appellant's
statement in the light of our ruling in the case of People v. Melivo,
The vaginal wall and the hymenal membrane
elastic organs capable of varying degrees of distensibility. The degree
of distensibility of the female reproductive organ is normally limited
only by the character and size of the pelvic inlet, other factors being
minor. The female reproductive canal being capable of allowing passage
of a regular fetus, there ought to be no difficulty allowing the entry
of objects of much lesser size, including the male reproductive organ,
which even in its largest dimensions, would still be considerably
than the full-term fetus.
In the case at bench, the presence of
lacerations in various parts of he vaginal wall, though not as
as appellant might have expected them to be, indicate traumatic injury
to the area within the period when the incidents were supposed to have
occurred. [at pp. 13-14; Emphasis supplied]
In rape cases,
a broken hymen is not an essential
A mere knocking at the doors of the pudenda, so to speak, by
accused's penis, suffices to constitute the crime of rape as full entry
into the victim's vagina is not required to sustain a conviction.
In the case, Dr. Freyra, the Medico-Legal Examiner, categorically
that the healed lacerations of Rodessa on her vagina were consistent
the date of the commission of the rape as narrated by the victim to
taken place in April, 1994.
Lastly, the third
assigned error deserves scant
consideration. The accused-appellant erroneously argues that the
of Services [Exhibit 4] offered as evidence in support of the
defense of alibi need not be corroborated because there is no law
In view of Our finding that the prosecution witnesses have no motive to
falsely testify against the accused-appellant, the defense of alibi, in
this case, uncorroborated by other witnesses, should be completely
More importantly, the defense of alibi which is inherently weak becomes
even weaker in the face of positive identification of the
as the perpetrator of the crime of rape by his victim, Rodessa.
The Contract of
Services whereby the accused-appellant
obligated himself to do some painting job at the house of one Divina
in Parañaque, Metro Manila, within 25 days from April 4, 1994,
not proof of the whereabouts of the accused-appellant at the time of
commission of the offense.
The accused-appellant in this case is
with statutory rape on the basis of the complaint dated July 14, 1994.
The gravamen of the said offense, as stated in paragraph 3, Article 335
of the Revised Penal Code, is the carnal knowledge of a woman below
Rodessa positively identified his father accused-appellant, as the
of statutory rape. Her account of how the accused-appellant succeeded
consummating his grievous and odious sexual assault on her is free from
any substantial self-contradiction. It is highly inconceivable that it
is rehearsed and fabricated upon instructions from Rodessa's maternal
Asuncion Rivera as asserted by the accused-appellant. The words of
Justice Enrique M. Fernando, speaking for the Court, more than two
ago, are relevant and worth reiterating, thus:
It is manifest in the decisions of this
that where the offended parties are young and immature girls like the
in this case, [cited cases omitted] there is marked receptivity on its
part to lend credence to their version of what transpired. It is not to
be wondered at. The state, as parens patria, is under the
to minimize the risk of harm to those who, because of their minority,
as yet unable to take care of themselves fully. Those of tender years
its utmost protection. Moreover, the injury in cases of rape is not
on the unfortunate victim alone. The consternation it causes her family
must also be taken into account. It may reflect a failure to
by the announced concern in the fundamental law for such institution
is all the more reason then for the rigorous application of the penal
with its severe penalty for this offense, whenever warranted. It has
aptly remarked that with the advance in civilization, the disruption in
public peace and order it represents defies explanation, much more so
view of what currently appears to be a tendency for sexual
Where the prospects of relationship based on consent are hardly
self-restraint should even be more marked.
11 of Republic Act No. 7659 often referred
to as the Death Penalty Law, Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code was
The death penalty
shall also be imposed if the
crime of rape is committed with any of the following attendant
1. When the victim is under eighteen (18)
of age and 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.
xxx xxx xxx
a last glimpse of hope, the accused-appellant
questions the penalty imposed by the trial court by declaring that he
neither a father, stepfather or grandfather of Rodessa although he was
a confirmed lover of Rodessa's mother.
On direct examination, he admitted that before the charge of rape was
against him, he had treated Rodessa as his real daughter and had
for her food, clothing, shelter and education.
The Court notes that Rodessa uses the surname of the accused-appellant,
not Rivera [her mother's maiden name] nor Alfonso [her grandmother's
partner]. Moreover, Rodessa's mother stated during the
that she, the accused-appellant, and her five children, including
had been residing in one house only.
At any rate, even if he were not the father, stepfather or grandfather
of Rodessa, this disclaimer cannot save him from the abyss where
of heinous crimes ought to be, as mandated by law. Considering that the
accused-appellant is a confirmed lover of Rodessa's mother,
he falls squarely within the aforequoted portion of the Death Penalty
under the term "common-law spouse of the parent of the victim."
The fact that the
ten-year old Rodessa referred
to the accused-appellant as "Papa" is reason enough to
that accused-appellant is either the father or stepfather of Rodessa.
the act of sexual assault perpetrated by the accused on his young
has become all the more repulsive and perverse. The victim's tender age
and the accused-appellant's moral ascendancy and influence over her,
factors which forced Rodessa to succumb to the accused's selfish and
craving. The law has made it inevitable under the circumstances of this
case that the accused-appellant face the supreme penalty of death.cralaw
affirm the decision of the Regional
Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 104.cralaw
Padilla, Regalado, Davide,
Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza,
Hermosisima, Jr., Panganiban and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.cralaw
Records, p. 53.
Records, p. 1.
The name of the Medico-Legal Officer as per Medico-Legal Report No.
[Exhibit "6"] reads Ma. Cristina B. Freyra.
Rollo, pp. 87-90.
Rollo, pp. 45-48.
Rollo, p. 49.
People v. Apolonio Melivo y Valete, G. R. No. 113029 promulgated on
8, 1996, citing People v. Matrimonio, 215 SCRA 613 ; People v.
175 SCRA 635 ; People v. Capilitan, 313 SCRA 313 .
T.S.N., August 30, 1994, p. 13.
Rollo, p. 93.
People v. Matamorosa, 231 SCRA 509, 515 , citing People v.
229 SCRA 543 , and People v. Cabilao, 210 SCRA 326 .
R.T.C. Decision, p. 6; Records, p. 50.
People v. Espinoza, 247 SCRA 66, 72-73 .
Rollo, pp. 53-54.
214 SCRA 685-690-691 , citing People v. Ansing (196 SCRA 374
Rollo, p. 58.
T.S.N., August 30, 1994. p. 19.
See Note No. 7.
People v. Salinas, 232 SCRA 274, 278-279 ; People v. Madrilano,
SCRA 363, .
People v. Abella, 228 SCRA 662, 666 ; People v. Tesimo, 204 SCRA
535, 555-556 ; People v. Castillo, 197 SCRA 657, 662 .
T.S.N., August 22, 1994, pp. 8-9.
Rollo, p. 65.
People v. Gapasan, 243 SCRA 53, 62 .
People v. Torres, 247 SCRA 212, 217 ; People v. Tayco, 235 SCRA
521 ; People v. Molina, 213 SCRA 52, 65 .
People v. Samillano, 207 SCRA 50, 53-54  citing People v.
201 SCRA 37 ; People v. Puedan, 196 SCRA 388 ; People v.
182 SCRA 329 .
People v. Baylon, 57 SCRA 114, 120-121  see also People v.
208 SCRA 787, 794 ; People v. Sulte, 232 SCRA 421, 425 .
Rollo, p. 38.
T.S.N., August 30, 1994, p. 13, 15-16.
T.S.N., August 29, 1994, pp. 28-29.
Rollo, p. 50.