G. R. No. 150501 - June 3, 2004
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, vs. GERONIMO BOROMEO y MARCO, Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
Before us on automatic review1 is the Decision2 dated 15 August 2001 of the Regional Trial Court of Lipa City, Branch 12 ("trial court"), in Criminal Case No. 0759-99. The trial court convicted appellant Geronimo Boromeo y Marco ("appellant") of rape and sentenced him to suffer the death penalty.
On 22 October 1999, Second Assistant City Prosecutor Danilo S. Sandoval filed an information charging appellant with rape under Article 266-A, 1(d), and Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code,3 committed as follows:
When arraigned on 10 November 1999, appellant, assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty.5 Trial on the merits ensued.
The prosecution presented two witnesses: the victim Christine Liezel Mendoza, and Dr. Aletha Silang, Medico-Legal Officer III of the Lipa City District Hospital.
Born in Lipa City on 23 January 1990, Christine Liezel Mendoza ("Christine") is one of Luzviminda C. Tiquis ("Luzviminda") eight children with Sevilla R. Mendoza ("Sevilla"). Luzviminda and Sevilla were lawfully married on 16 November 19806 but later separated. Sometime in 1997, Luzviminda started living-in with appellant, a sidewalk vendor. Of her eight children with Sevilla, only Christine, four-year old Maria Vena, and two-year old Deo lived with Luzviminda and appellant.7
Christine testified that on 19 October 1999, around 10:30 oclock in the evening, she and appellant were in their house in Paninsingin, Tambo, Lipa City. Deo was also in the house sleeping. Luzviminda was then attending a relatives wake.
Christine testified that appellant ordered her to go inside their room. She obeyed. Appellant then took off his clothes. Without removing Christines T-shirt and shorts, the only garments she was wearing, appellant placed himself on top of Christine. Christine stated that appellant forcibly inserted his organ into hers through the hole in her shorts. She felt pain. Christine further stated that appellant had "partially" penetrated her genitalia when Luzviminda suddenly arrived and caught appellant on top of her.
Luzviminda was furious on seeing what appellant was doing to Christine. Christine recalled Luzviminda warning appellant that she would have him jailed. Christine and Luzviminda then left their house and went to the house of Virginia Tiquis ("Virginia"), Luzvimindas mother. Christine stated that Luzviminda did not tell Virginia about the rape incident. However, when Virginia learned of the rape, Luzviminda decided to bring Christine to the Lipa City Police Station to file a complaint against appellant.8 Christine executed a Sinumpaang Salaysay narrating how appellant raped her.9 She confirmed the contents of her sworn statement during the trial.10 Luzviminda also executed her sworn statement, as follows:
On 21 October 1999, Luzviminda brought Christine to the Lipa City District Hospital12 where Dr. Aletha Silang ("Dr. Silang") examined her. Dr. Silang issued a medico-legal report with the following findings:
This is to certify that I have attended CHRISTINE LIEZEL MENDOZA, 10 years of age, female, child, Filipino, of Paninsingin, Tambo, Lipa City at about 7:55 a.m., October 21, 1999 with the following injuries sustained:
For its part, the defense presented two witnesses: appellant himself and Luzviminda Tiquis.
Appellant denied the accusation against him. Appellant recounted that after selling his merchandise that afternoon of 19 October 1999, his friends invited him to a drinking spree. They started to drink at 6 oclock in the evening. On reaching home at 8 oclock that night, appellant immediately went to their bedroom and slept, as he was drunk. He woke up when Luzviminda arrived at 11 oclock in the evening, without her children whom she left at a nearby store. Earlier that evening, Luzviminda and her children had left the house to attend a relatives wake.
Luzviminda was furious and became shrill because she saw her Kumareng Elena sleeping beside appellant. Luzviminda had accommodated Elena in their house because of Elenas marital problems. Realizing Luzviminda was jealous, appellant explained to her that he "happened to sleep beside Elena" because he was drunk when he came home. Appellant asserted that he and Elena were not doing anything wrong. Elena also tried to explain the matter to Luzviminda, but Luzviminda would not listen. As Luzviminda would not stop nagging him, appellant boxed and kicked her. When Luzviminda retaliated, appellant slapped her.
Appellant then left the house and spent the whole evening at the bus stop in Mataas na Lupa, Lipa City. He was about to sell his goods at the bus stop the next day when a police officer arrived and arrested him. The police officer brought appellant to the Lipa City Police Station where the police investigated him for allegedly raping Christine.14
To corroborate his testimony, appellant presented Luzviminda who testified that when she, Christine and Maria Vena left their house at 6 oclock in the evening of 19 October 1999 to attend a relatives wake, appellant was left alone resting in their living room. Appellant could not go with them to the wake because he was drunk. When she and her children returned home at 10:30 oclock in the evening, Luzviminda was surprised to see appellant sleeping beside Elena in their bedroom. She was so angry that she kicked appellant. Appellant kicked and slapped her in retaliation. Appellant then left the house.
Luzviminda asserted that it was not true that appellant raped Christine. Luzviminda stated that she was just jealous and wanted to get back at appellant. Hence, she reported the rape incident to the police and filed a complaint against appellant. Luzviminda accompanied the police in their search for appellant. On 20 October 1999, around 8 oclock in the morning, they found and arrested appellant at the bus stop in Mataas na Lupa.15
After trial on the merits, the trial court found that appellant raped Christine. The trial court gave full credence to Christines testimony "which was positive and given in a straightforward, clear and convincing manner." The trial court noted that "during the cross-examination, she was unwavering and her answers were consistent; she never changed her account of what transpired."16 The dispositive part17 of the trial courts decision reads:
Hence, this automatic review.
Appellant assigns the following errors:
On 13 February 2003, the Office of the Solicitor General filed its Appellees Brief praying that this Court affirm in toto the trial courts decision.19
On 14 March 2003, appellant filed his Reply Brief reiterating the same arguments he pleaded to seek an acquittal.20
We affirm the judgment of conviction.
In criminal cases, an appeal throws the whole case wide open for review. The reviewing tribunal can correct errors or even reverse the trial courts decision on grounds other than those that the parties raise as errors.21
Appellant points to the results of the medical examination on Christine showing the absence of hymenal laceration on her genitals. Appellant claims that the medical report shows that Christines hymen remained intact. Appellant asserts that these findings are incompatible with Christines claim that appellant forced his organ into hers, much less, that appellant raped her in the evening of 19 October 1999. Appellant also submits that the medical findings show no visible signs of physical injury even though Christine was of tender age at the time of the alleged rape. Appellant argues that if it were true that he raped Christine, "it is unbelievable that no external physical injuries or unusual findings could be noted on her body."
Appellants arguments do not persuade us.
In a rape case, what is most important is the credible testimony of the victim. A medical examination and a medical certificate are merely corroborative and are not indispensable to a prosecution for rape. The court may convict the accused based solely on the victims credible, natural, and convincing testimony.22
Proof of hymenal laceration is not an element of rape.23 An intact hymen does not negate a finding that the victim was raped.24 To sustain a conviction for rape, full penetration of the female genital organ is not necessary. It is enough that there is proof of entry of the male organ into the labia of the pudendum of the female organ. Penetration of the penis by entry into the lips of the vagina, even without laceration of the hymen, is enough to constitute rape,25 and even the briefest of contact is deemed rape.26 As long as the attempt to insert the penis results in contact with the lips of the vagina, even without rupture or laceration of the hymen, the rape is consummated.27 In People v. Tampos,28 this Court held that rape is committed on the victims testimony that she felt pain.
In the present case, Christine testified that appellant was able "to partially insert his private organ into hers," because of which she felt pain. Christine further testified that appellant failed to "fully insert his private organ into hers because Luzviminda arrived."29 Christines hymen remained intact because there was no full penetration due to Luzvimindas sudden arrival at the house.
Rape is committed when the accused has carnal knowledge of the victim by force, threat or intimidation, or when the victim is deprived of reason or is unconscious, or when the victim is under 12 years of age.30 Based on the records, the prosecution proved that appellant had carnal knowledge of Christine.
If the victims testimony meets the test of credibility, that is enough to convict the accused.31 We entertain no doubt that Christine told the truth. Her testimony was clear, candid and consistent. She positively identified appellant as her rapist.32 On the witness stand, Christine testified thus:
On cross-examination, Christine testified, thus:
Courts give full weight and credence to testimonies of child-victims of rape.35 It is highly improbable that a ten-year old girl like Christine would impute to the live-in partner of her own mother a crime as serious as rape and undergo the humiliation of a public trial, if what she asserts is not true.36 Appellant did not ascribe any credible motive to explain why a girl of tender age like Christine would concoct a story accusing him of rape.37
That Christine bore no physical evidence of any force against her person is of no moment. Contrary to appellants contention, the absence of external signs of physical violence on Christine does not prove that he did not rape her. Proof of physical injury is not an essential element of rape.38 Admittedly, appellant did not use force or violence in raping Christine. Christine merely obeyed when appellant ordered her to enter their bedroom. Christine did not offer any resistance when appellant raped her. This explains the absence of any external sign of injury on Christines body. Besides, where the victim is below 12 years old, the only subject of inquiry is whether "carnal knowledge" took place. Proof of force, threat or intimidation is unnecessary since none of these is an element of statutory rape. There is statutory rape where, as in this case, the offended party is below 12 years of age.39 Here, the Information alleged, and the prosecution proved during trial, that Christine was below 12 years old when appellant raped her. Under Article 266-A(d)40 of the Revised Penal Code, when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age, there is rape even in the absence of force, threat or intimidation.41
Appellant assails the inconsistencies in Christines statements on whether appellant totally undressed her or inserted his penis through a hole in her shorts. These inconsistencies cannot exculpate appellant. Whether appellant raped Christine after undressing her or inserted his penis through a hole in her shorts is immaterial. Rape could take place under either situation. Besides, it is natural for inconsistencies to creep into the testimony of a rape victim who is of tender age like Christine. Courts expect minor inconsistencies when a child-victim narrates the details of a harrowing experience like rape.42 Inconsistencies in a rape victims testimony do not impair her credibility, especially if the inconsistencies refer to trivial matters that do not alter the essential fact of the commission of rape.43 A rape victim is not expected to mechanically keep in memory details of the rape incident and then when called to testify automatically give an accurate account of the traumatic experience she suffered.44
Appellant capitalizes on Luzvimindas turning into a defense witness as convincing proof of his innocence. Appellant argues that no sane mother would testify against her own daughter if the latter were telling the truth. That Luzviminda turned her back on Christine and testified for appellant does not militate against Christines credibility. Appellant insists that the charge arose out of Luzvimindas desire to exact revenge on him because Luzviminda caught appellant and Elena "sleeping side by side" that night.
Appellant argues that Luzvimindas moral ascendancy over Christine made it easy for Luzviminda to manipulate her daughter to tell an "orchestrated story." Appellant points out that when Luzvimindas conscience bothered her, Luzviminda recanted and corroborated his testimony that he did not rape Christine.
Appellants assertions are futile. Luzvimindas actuations after the rape incident convince this Court of the truthfulness of Christines testimony. Luzviminda brought Christine, a ten-year old girl, to the Lipa City Police Station to report the rape incident. Luzviminda filed the criminal complaint against appellant. Luzviminda led the police to the place where appellant was arrested at 8 oclock in the morning of 20 October 1999. On 21 October 1999, Luzviminda executed a sworn statement before the police narrating her eyewitness account of the rape incident and pointing to appellant as the culprit. On that same day, Luzviminda brought Christine to the Lipa City District Hospital for medical examination.45
All these circumstances belie appellants claim that Christine merely concocted the rape incident so that Luzviminda could get back at appellant. We quote Luzvimindas testimony on cross-examination:
Luzviminda testified that after the lapse of ten hours since she surprised appellant sleeping side by side with Elena on the night of 19 October 1999, "no anger remained in her heart." Luzviminda should have then desisted from executing her sworn statement to the police two days later on 21 October 1999 because by her own admission she was no longer angry with appellant. Still, Luzviminda pursued the criminal complaint against appellant. This belies appellants claim that Christine merely concocted the rape incident to satisfy Luzvimindas desire for revenge against appellant. If Christine merely wanted to accommodate Luzviminda, Christine should have also changed her own story when Luzviminda changed hers. Christine, however, remained steadfast that appellant raped her even after her mother recanted.
Motives such as resentment, hatred, or revenge have never swayed this Court from giving full credence to the testimony of a minor rape victim.47 Besides, the transcript of stenographic notes fails to show that Christines testimony was elicited by intimidation or undue influence. Far from being an "orchestrated story," as appellant claims, Christines testimony clearly appears candid, spontaneous and clear.
It is lamentable that Luzvimindas concern for appellant was more intense than her desire to right a grievous wrong done to her own child. In People v. Dizon,48 this Court stated:
There being proof beyond reasonable doubt that appellant committed the crime as charged, we affirm his conviction.
Articles 266-A and 266-B of the Revised Penal Code partly provide:
In the present case, the Information alleged that appellant is the common-law spouse of Luzviminda who is Christines mother. The Information also alleged that Christine was only 10 years old when appellant raped her.
During the trial, the prosecution proved Christines minority by presenting in evidence her birth certificate. The document clearly states that Christine was born on 23 January 1990.50 Christine was thus 9 years and 8 months old when appellant raped her on 19 October 1999, although the Information stated that she is a "10-year old minor."
Appellant and Luzviminda categorically admitted in their testimonies that they are live-in partners.51 The Information correctly alleged that the appellant is the "common-law spouse of the mother of herein victim."
Thus, the trial court did not err in sentencing appellant to death.52
We have ruled that if rape is qualified by any of the circumstances warranting the death penalty, the civil indemnity for the victim is
We also award the victim moral damages of
WHEREFORE, the Decision dated 15 August 2001 of the Regional Trial Court of Lipa City, Branch 12, in Criminal Case No. 0759-99, finding appellant Geronimo Boromeo y Marco GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of qualified rape and sentencing him to suffer the DEATH penalty, is AFFIRMED. In addition to the
In accordance with Article 83 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 25 of Republic Act No. 7659, upon finality of this Decision, let certified true copies of the records of this case be forwarded forthwith to the President of the Philippines for the possible exercise of the pardoning power.
Davide, Jr., Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, and Tinga, JJ., concur.
Search for www.chanrobles.com
|Copyright © ChanRoblesPublishing Company| Disclaimer | E-mailRestrictions|
ChanRobles™Virtual Law Library ™ | chanrobles.com™