G.R. No. Nos. L-47440-42 September 12, 1984
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. LEONARDO LOR, ALFREDO RUIZ and DOMINGO RUIZ, Accused-Appellants.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.chanrobles virtual law library
Basilio Fa. Agravante for accused-appellants.
This is an appeal from the joint decision of the Court of First Instance of Leyte (Branch VIII) in three rape cases under the following titles and captions: Criminal Case No. B-495, People of the Philippines vs. Leonardo Lor; Criminal Case No. B-496, People of the Philippines vs. Alfredo Ruiz; and Criminal Case No. B-497, People of the Philippines vs. Domingo Ruiz.
On August 31, 1977, after both parties had presented their evidence, the lower court promulgated judgment, the dispositive part of which reads as follows:
On the same day, the defense filed its notice of appeal (p. 23, rec.) from the above decision.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
On January 16, 1979, the accused-appellants, through counsel, filed their Brief with this Court. On March 29, 1979, the People filed its Brief.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
On September 17, 1981, during the pendency of this appeal, this Court granted (p. 317, rec.) the withdrawal of appeal dated August 15, 1981 (p. 315, rec.) filed by Alfredo Ruiz and Domingo Ruiz.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Thus, this appeal reviews only the conviction of appellant Leonardo Lor.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
WE note that under date of November 4, 1981, the three plaintiffs, Concepcion Lor, Victoria Erit and Juanita Lamadura, filed a joint motion to withdraw complaint in favor of Leonardo Lor (p. 319, rec.). The motion was accompanied by a copy of the affidavits executed by Juanita Lamadura and Concepcion Lor exempting Leonardo Lor from any participation in the commission of the crime charged (pp. 320 & 322, rec.).chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Juanita Lamadura affixed her fingerprint on the motion to withdraw complaint and on her own affidavit. WE note, however, that both documents were written in English. Juanita Lamadura has no educational attainment at all, and does not know how to read and write (p. 17, Appellee's Brief, p. 296, rec.). WE find no showing that the documents aforestated were read and explained to her in a language or dialect she understood prior to her affixing of her fingerprint thereon. WE find said documents suspect.
Granting that the aforementioned documents filed by Juanita Lamadura operate as a pardon, the same do not bar US from deciding the present appeal. The pardon that operates to divest the court of jurisdiction to continue hearing a case involving a private offense is one that is given before the institution of the criminal prosecution (People vs. Infante, et al., No. 36270, August 31, 1932, 57 Phil. 138), and not that which is given, as in the present case, during the pendency of the appeal thereon.
Thus, WE resolve to review Leonardo Lor's appeal on the merits.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
The appellee's Brief describes the factual setting for the People thus:
Said Brief then continues with a narration of Juanita Lamadura's plight as follows:
From the appellee's Brief, WE observe two things.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
First, there were no positive signs of physical violence nor traces of the alleged rape on the body of Juanita Lamadura.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
After the assault, Juanita Lamadura underwent two physical examinations. On August 26, 1975, three (3) days after the assault, Dr. Antonia Ladion conducted an external physical examination on Juanita because the latter refused to have an internal examination on that date. The examination showed no pertinent findings of marks of violence. On August 27, 1975, Juanita agreed to an internal examination. The examination showed negative for the presence of spermatozoa. Only healed lacerations were found with the observation that the scars were fresh.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Nonetheless, WE note that the absence of any marks of violence on the body of the victim does not negate the commission of rape (People vs. Balbuena, et al., G.R. Nos. L-44859-60, April 27, 1984). The same can be explained by the fact that the external physical examination was conducted on the victim three days after the assault. The marks could have healed by then. During the period of three days after the sexual assault, she must have urinated and thereby expelled all the spermatozoa.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
The important consideration in the crime of rape is not the emission of the male semen but the penetration of the male penis into the female genital organ (p. 34, Appellee's Brief citing People vs. Jose, 37 SCRA 450, People vs. Selfaison, 1 SCRA 235, People vs. Hernandez, 49 Phil. 980, People vs. Llamas, 3 C.A. Rep. 232).chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Second, having been dragged away from the rest of her companions before the alleged assault on her chastity was made, Juanita Lamadura's testimony is the only available evidence on the assault itself. This, however, does not preclude conviction for the offense charged. After all, her testimony (supra) is credible and sufficient to warrant a conviction. It is a rule consistently adhered to that the lone testimony of the victim in the prosecution for rape, if credible, is sufficient to sustain a verdict of conviction, the rationale being that, owing to the nature of the offense, the only evidence that can oftentimes be adduced to establish the guilt of the accused is the offended party's testimony (People vs. Ramos, G.R. No. 50450, March 16, 1984; People vs. Selfaison, 110 Phil. 889; People vs. Macaya, et al., 85 Phil. 540).chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
WE note that at the time of the taking of her testimony, Juanita Lamadura was only 15 years old (p. 105, tsn, March 18, 1976). She was unlettered. It is inconceivable how she could have concocted a story of rape with such convincing details unless she had been the victim of such a detestable assault.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Juanita Lamadura is a simple provincial lass doing the menial tasks of a housemaid. Her own provincial sentiments proscribe exposing herself to the shame and humiliation of being publicly known as a rape victim, unless she in fact was. She braved the consequences of such exposure.
It is true that while rape is an abominable crane, it is an accusation easy to make, hard to prove, and still harder to defend by the person accused (People vs. Olalia, G.R. No. L-50669, March 12,1984; People vs. Reyes, Nos. L-36874-76, September 30, 1974, 60 SCRA 126). So that such charge, based on the lone and uncorroborated testimony of the victim, must be regarded with utmost caution and examined with the greatest care. To warrant conviction, the testimony of the victim must be clear and free from serious contradictions, and her sincerity and candor, free from suspicions (People vs. Olalia, supra People vs. Lacuna, et al., No. L-38463, December 29, 1978, 87 SCRA 364).chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Indeed, during her external physical examination, she refused an examination of her private parts because according to her nothing happened. She testified and signed an affidavit wherein she declared that the accused did everything to her except one thing (p. 4, Appellant's Brief). She filed a complaint for acts of lasciviousness, but then later changed the charge to one of rape (Ibid., pp. 2-7). Nonetheless, these enumerated facts do not deviate from her sincerity and candor and the veracity of her accusation for rape. Her conservative and provincial values put her on guard. She was equally ashamed and afraid for her life (Ibid., p. 25). Only her sense of justice overwhelmed her hesitation.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Against the appellee's version, Leonardo Lor (23 years old, at the time his testimony was taken, single, and a resident of Barrio Concepcion, Hilongos, Leyte [tsn, p. 2261) claims that he was not with Juanita Lamadura at the time of the alleged rape. Accordingly, he remained in the motor cab with Concepcion Lor while the two other complainants went in pairs with his two other companions. He maintains that he stayed behind with Concepcion Lor and did nothing but talk with Concepcion through the two hours or so that they stayed by the river bank.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Appellant's version defies belief. The three complainants, including Juanita Lamadura herself, positively Identified Leonardo Lor as the one who dragged Juanita to a secluded area where he took advantage of her.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
It is undisputed that the three victims did not know any of the accused; and neither did they (the victims) know one another (Ibid., p. 35). Considering that all the three victims reside in the province, their outlook provincial and conservative, it is hardly natural for them to have easily acquiesced to go with the three accused separately and to separate secluded areas.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
On the other hand, as correctly observed by the lower court (p. 156, rec.), the three accused knew one another and were friends. If Leonardo did not participate in the commission of any criminal design, but admittedly was only present when his two companions were perpetrating their own criminal designs, how is it that he did not show any effort to prevent the crime against two of the complainants taking place a short distance away from him. That he was an active participant in a criminal design is borne by the fact that he was driving the motor cab on which the other accused and the three victims rode. He directed the course of the trip. He actively represented one of his companions as a P.C. soldier. He conferred with the two other accused before taking the three victims in his motor cab. He participated in the deception that culminated in his own forcible defloration of the helpless Juanita Lamadura chanrobles virtual law library
The information filed against Leonardo Lor alleges as aggravating circumstances nighttime, use of motor vehicle and taking advantage or abuse of superior strength.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
The general rule is that the aggravating circumstance must have been purposely sought by the offender to facilitate the commission of the offense.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
There is no showing that the offender, Leonardo Lor, purposely and deliberately sought nighttime to perpetrate and facilitate the commission of his criminal design. (People vs. Coderes Nos. L- 32509, April 27, 1981, 104 SCRA 255; People vs. Apduhan, Jr., No. L-19491, August 30, 1968, 24 SCRA 798; People vs. Condemena, No. L- 22426, May 26, 1968, 23 SCRA 910).chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
WE find that the use of motor vehicle was deliberately sought to facilitate the commission of the crime. Leonardo Lor did not immediately take the victims into the motor cab when the latter hailed it. Instead, he conferred with his two male companions, the present co-accused. It was only after their brief conference that Leonardo Lor agreed to take the victims in the motor cab. At this time, the criminal design of all the three accused to sexually assault the three girls, began to be evident. Henceforth, Leonardo Lor was to take the three girls in the motor cab; and unknown to said victims, he was to take them and his co-accused to a secluded place by the river bank; there, he and his co-accused were to drag their respective partners to separate places to consummate the rape. Clearly, said motor cab was used to facilitate the commission of the rape and aggravated the crime. (People vs. Famador No. L-36553, March 30, 1982, 113 SCRA 310; People vs. Ong, et al., No. L-37908, October 23, 1981, 108 SCRA 267).chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
For superior strength to aggravate a crime, it must be clearly shown that there was deliberate intent to take advantage of the same (People vs. Bello, No. L-18792, February 28,1964, 10 SCRA 298). There must also be notorious inequality of forces between the victim and the aggressor (People vs. Cabiling, No. L-38091, December 17, 1976, 74 SCRA 285). No such showing appears in the present case. The fact that the victim was only 14 years old at the time of the assault while the aggressor was 23 years of age does not reflect notoriety of inequalities in strength. In People vs. Parayno (No. L- 24804, July 5, 1968, 24 SCRA 3), abuse of superior strength was not considered despite the fact that the accused was 61 years old while the victim was only 9 years old.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
While the aggravating circumstance of craft or fraud (Paragraph 14, Article 14, Revised Penal Code) was not alleged in the information, there is evidence that the same was employed to facilitate the commission of the crime. To convince the victim that the change of route during the trip was a necessity, Leonardo Lor told the victims that they had to drop a P.C. soldier-passenger somewhere near the river bank.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Fraud, which constitutes deceit and manifested by insidious words and machinations, is illustrated in the case of the offended party's stepfather who, taking advantage of the absence of her mother, took the young girl away and told her she was to be taken to the house of her godmother, but instead she was taken to another house where she was raped (People vs. de Leon, No. 26867, August 10, 1927, 50 Phil. 539). Similarly, there is also deceit or fraud where accused "lured a minor girl to go with him and look for her sister Liza who was allegedly waiting for the offended girl somewhere at Junquera Street but instead, accused upon reaching said destination, dragged the girl to a secluded area and there raped her (People vs. Famador 173 SCRA 310).chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
There is craft, which is cunning or trickery, where accused pretended to buy a pig from his victims, and then thereafter, taking advantage of his victims' goodwill, stabbed one of them, then robbed the other (People vs. Lobetania, No. L-56973, August 30, 1982, 116 SCRA 297). Craft was also present where "accused Revotoc asked permission from -his employer allegedly to go home to Pangasinan at 4:00 p.m. on the day the offense was committed. He even borrowed P50.00 from his employer. He brought with him his clothes placed in a travelling bag. At 10:00 p.m. of the same day, he went back to the store with his co-accused. He knocked at the door and when asked who he was he mentioned his name. To place the victims off-guard and to gain entrance at that unholy hour, he pretended that he was going back to the store because he failed to take a ride to Pangasinan. By reason of his pretension, the unsuspecting Chinese opened the door to welcome him. Thereafter, Revotoc and de Vera entered the place, and with Diaz standing guard, they perpetrated the crime. The agent gravating circumstance of craft is therefore present" (People vs. Revotoc, No. L-37425, July 25, 1981, 106 SCRA 22).chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Finally, the nearest house to the river bank, site of the crime, was about 300 to 450 meters away. This qualifies the place as uninhabited. A place where there are no people or any number of houses within a perimeter of less than 200 meters is uninhabited (Fundamentals of Criminal Law Review by Gregorio, p. 66, citing Decision Supreme Court of Spain, July 9, 1894). The fact that Leonardo Lor, together with his co-accused deliberately brought the three victims to the said river bank, is proof that said uninhabited place was purposely sought for the commission of the crane charged. While uninhabited place is not aggravating when there is no showing that accused selected the place of commission of the crime (People vs. Capillas, No. L-27177, October 23, 1981, 108 SCRA 173), said aggravating circumstance is present in the instant case, where there was a deliberate selection of an isolated place for the perpetration of the crime (People vs. Ong, No. L-37908, October 23, 1981, 108 SCRA 267).chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
WHEREFORE, FINDING LEONARDO LOR (IN CRIMINAL CASE NO. B-495) GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF RAPE AGGRAVATED BY FRAUD OR CRAFT, THE USE OF MOTOR VEHICLE, AND UNINHABITED PLACE, HE IS HEREBY SENTENCED TO RECLUSION PERPETUA, AND ORDERED TO INDEMNIFY JUANITA LAMADURA IN THE SUM OF THIRTY THOUSAND (P30,000.00) PESOS, WITHOUT SUBSIDIARY IMPRISONMENT IN CASE OF INSOLVENCY. HE IS HEREBY FURTHER ORDERED TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND SUPPORT THE CHILD SHOULD THE OFFENDED PARTY HAVE GIVEN BIRTH TO ONE BY REASON OF THE OF OFFENSE, AND TO PAY THE COSTS.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Abad Santos, Escolin and Cuevas, JJ., concur.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Aquino, J., concurs in the result.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Concepcion, Jr. and Guerrero, JJ., are on leave.
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