Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1998 > June 1998 Decisions > G.R. Nos. 121205-09 June 29, 1998 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. CESAR LARENA:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. Nos. 121205-09. June 29, 1999.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. CESAR LARENA Y SARDONIDO, Accused-Appellant.


D E C I S I O N


YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:


A harrowing tale of bestial despoliation unfolds as a young woman, in the threshold of her teens, accuses her own father of having five (5) counts of forcible sexual intercourse with her. Such lustful incest can only merit, if not the penalty of death, a life behind bars for the rest of the offender’s mortal life.

Herein accused-appellant Cesar Larena y Sardonido was meted the supreme penalty of death by the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga, Branch 16, for four of the five (5) counts of rape committed against his daughter, Dolores Larena y Casiñas, and reclusion perpetua for the rape committed prior to the effectivity of Republic Act No. 7659. 1

Hence, this automatic review.

Except as to the dates of the commission of the crimes charged, that is, December 5, 1993 in Criminal Case No. 12940, 2 January 20, 1994 in Criminal Case No. 12941, 3 February 10, 1994 in Criminal Case No. 12942, 4 March 12, 1994 in Criminal Case No. 12943 5 and April 19, 1994 in Criminal Case No. 12944, 6 the identical complaints allege as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"The undersigned, under oath, hereby accuses Cesar Larena y Sardonido of the crime of rape, committed as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

That on or about December 5, 1993 in the City of Zamboanga, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused, by means of force and intimidation, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, have carnal knowledge of the undersigned, a girl 13 years of age, against her will.

Contrary to law."cralaw virtua1aw library

The facts as culled from the records are as follows.

Dolores Larena y Casiñas was born on April 3, 1981. She is the eldest in a brood of eight of herein accused-appellant Cesar Larena, a tubā gatherer, and Teresa Casiñas. Two of Dolores’ siblings, Pedro and Cesar, Jr., died in infancy. Pedro died at birth while Cesar Jr. died of tetanus infection on December 7, 1993, when he was a month old.

When Teresa was pregnant with Dolores, the couple had a quarrel and accused-appellant left their house. Accused-appellant returned when Dolores was four (4) months old. 7 He married Teresa in 1984 when they already had two children. There is no doubt, however, that Dolores is accused-appellants’ daughter with Teresa since he testified in court that Dolores is his daughter and the blood running in her veins is also his blood. 8

Dolores and her family live in Cawit, Zamboanga City. Their house is located near a mangrove and is made of coconut lumber, measuring 10 by 18 feet, with two bedrooms and no living room. The floor of the house is elevated from the ground by about five steps. It has a kitchen without walls elevated by about three steps from the ground. There is a fluorescent lamp between the two bedrooms and another one in the kitchen. Accused-appellant and his wife, together with their two younger children, Rizal, 5, and Maricor, 3, sleep in one of the bedrooms while Dolores, Maricel, 12, Mary Ann, 10, and Milagros, 9, sleep in the other bedroom.

Dolores was only twelve years and eight months old when she was allegedly raped by her father for the first time on December 5, 1993. She is described by the trial court as a "puny, homely, timid girl" with a low and barely audible voice. She stands four feet and six inches and weighs thirty one (31) kilos only. 9 At the time of the trial, she was enrolled by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) at the Don Pablo Lorenzo Memorial High School, Sta. Maria, Zamboanga City as a first year high school student.

Dolores testified that on the evening of December 4, 1993, she and her mother Teresa, kept watch over Cesar Jr. who was confined at the Brent Hospital for tetanus infection. The following morning, or on December 5, 1993, she went home to get clothes to bring back to the hospital. While she was inside her parents’ room, at around 8:00 o’clock in the morning, her father, herein accused-appellant Cesar Larena, suddenly entered, embraced her from behind and kissed her on the cheek. Sensing her anxiety to get out from the room, Accused allegedly held her hands and asked her where she was going. Dolores replied that she wanted to leave the room but accused told her not to go out. He then pulled her and pushed her down on the floor. When Dolores was already lying face down on the floor, Accused removed her panties. He then took off his own short pants and underwear, went on top of her, forcibly spread her legs sidewise and inserted his penis into her vagina.

While her father was trying to insert his penis into her vagina, Dolores pleaded, "Do not do that, Pang." 10 Her plea, however, fell on deaf ears as her father told her, "I will have sex with you; but don’t tell your mother." 11 It took some time for accused-appellant to insert his penis inside Dolores’ vagina because the latter was a virgin. 12 When he was able to penetrate her, Accused-appellant moved up and down while holding her shoulders. 13 Then, he pulled out his penis and ejaculated outside Dolores’ vagina. 14 After satisfying his lust, Accused-appellant warned Dolores that if she will report the incident to her mother, he will kill all of them. Accused-appellant made Dolores stand up but the latter could only sit down because she felt weak from the overwhelming pain in her belly, legs and vagina. She also saw blood coming out of her vagina. Wary of her father’s threat, she did not tell her mother about the incident when she went back to the hospital.

On January 20, 1994, at around midnight, while Dolores was sleeping in the room she shared with her sisters, Maricel, Mary Ann and Milagros, she woke up to find her father beside her. He lay down beside her, covered himself and Dolores with the blanket and removed her shorts and panties. While she was struggling to pull her panties up, Accused-appellant tried to place his legs over her. When he succeeded in removing her panties, he also removed his underwear and inserted his penis into her private part. The hapless girl could not even shout for help even if she wanted to because accused-appellant told her that if she will shout, he will kill them all. 15 After having sexual intercourse with her, Accused-appellant returned to his room. Dolores did not tell her mother about the incident, fearing her father’s warning that he would kill all of them if she reports to her mother.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Again, on February 10, 1994, at around midnight, while Dolores was sleeping in the room she shared with her sisters, she woke up and saw that her father was already inside the room sitting beside her. She tried to stand up and leave the room but her father held her and prevented her from going out. He forced her to lie down and told her that he will have sexual intercourse with her. He warned her that if she will report the incident to her mother, he will kill all of them. He proceeded then to take off her panties and thereafter his briefs. Accused-appellant succeeded in raping Dolores but as he was about to ejaculate, he pulled out his organ and ejaculated outside her vagina since he did not want to impregnate her. 16 His bestial lust having again been satisfied, Accused-appellant put on his briefs and returned to his own room. Again, for fear of her father’s threats to kill all of them, Dolores kept her silence. 17

At around midnight of March 12, 1994, Dolores woke up from her sleep because mosquitoes were biting her. She then saw her father inside the room sitting beside her. Accused-appellant told her of his intention to have sexual intercourse with her but Dolores, this time, said that if he will insist in doing so, she will report it to her mother. Accused-appellant merely reiterated his threat that he will kill her if she does. He removed her panties and then his briefs and, for the fourth time, succeeded in having sexual intercourse with her. As in previous instances, Accused-appellant took great care in not ejaculating inside her but outside, on the mat and blanket. 18

On April 19, 1994 at around 4:30 in the morning, Accused-appellant woke up Dolores and told her to boil water in the kitchen. While Dolores was putting the kettle on the stove, Accused-appellant, who was sitting on a coconut grater, pulled her towards him. At that time, he was wearing only a shirt and briefs while Dolores was wearing a t-shirt and a skirt. Accused-appellant then removed her underwear, lifted her and made her sit on his lap with her back towards him. He put out his penis from the side of his briefs, separated her legs and inserted his penis inside her vagina. While she was sitting on her father’s lap with his penis inside her vagina, her father held her and moved her body up and down. At this point, her mother went down to the kitchen and saw them. She pulled Dolores from her father’s lap as the latter made Dolores stand up. Accused-appellant himself stood up from the coconut grater he was sitting on and hurried to a nearby table. 19

Complainant’s mother, Teresa Larena, testified that when she went down to the kitchen at around 5:00 o’clock in the morning of April 19, 1994, she saw her husband sitting on a coconut grater with his erect penis exposed. Her daughter, Dolores, was sitting on Cesar’s lap with her skirt raised and her back towards him. When accused-appellant saw Teresa, he pushed the complainant away from him and put his penis inside his brief. Teresa, shocked beyond belief, was not able to say anything. After some prodding from her mother, when accused-appellant was no longer around, complainant revealed that her father had sexual intercourse with her five times but she never revealed it to anyone because of accused-appellant’s threat to kill all of them. 20

Dolores’ fear of accused-appellant is understandable. Once when she was in Grade II, her father spanked her, lifted her and then threw her on the floor as a result of which she got sick. He whipped her many times and sometimes kicked her. 21 He used a piece of wood and bamboo stick to beat her on the thigh and legs. According to complainant, Accused-appellant also used to spank his other daughters including his son and he used to hit his wife, Teresa, whenever they quarrelled. Teresa never fought back because accused-appellant threatened to hack her with a scythe. 22

After Dolores revealed to her mother the abuses committed against her by accused-appellant, she was advised not to stay in their house anymore. Dolores went to the house of her teacher, Mrs. Erlinda Filoteo, and stayed there for two weeks before she returned home.

On April 24, 1994, Dolores, accompanied by her mother and uncle, lodged a complaint at the Western Police Station in Ayala, Zamboanga City, alleging that her father sexually abused her five times, specifically in the months of December 1993, and January, February, March and April 1994. Her statement was taken at the police station. Thereafter, Accused-appellant was detained at said station.

On April 25, 1994, Dolores was examined by Dr. Rodolfo Valmoria, Regional Chief, PNP Crime Laboratory Service Regional Unit 9, Zamboanga City" (t)o determine the presence or absence of physical virginity." Dr. Valmoria’s medical report revealed the following:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

FINDINGS:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Absence of pubic hair. Labia majora full, convex and gaping. Labia minora light brown in color and presenting in between is a fleshy type hymen with deep healing lacerations at 3, 4, 9, 12 and 6 o’clock positions.

Vaginal canal is narrow moderately admits index finger.

Abdomen is flat and tight, no injuries noted.

Breasts hemispherical in shape, light brown aerolae and nipples and no secretion or injuries.

Gram staining revealed negative for sperm cells and pus cells.

CONCLUSION:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Subject is of non-virgin state physically. 23

Accused-appellant Cesar Larena, in the meantime, was released on April 26, 1994 after having been detained for 24 hours. On May 5, 1994, Teresa and Dolores Larena filed an affidavit of desistance, withdrawing the complaint for 5 counts of rape filed by Dolores against her father. 24 Consequently, the complaint, which was then pending before the Office of the City Prosecutor, was dismissed.

On May 18, 1994, Dolores executed an affidavit before Atty. Jose Manuel S. Mamauag of the Commission on Human Rights, Regional Field Office No. IX, Zamboanga City reiterating her complaint against her father. Dolores stated that she was forced to sign the affidavit of desistance on May 5, 1994 because she was warned that should she pursue her complaint against her father, nobody will take care of her and her younger siblings. 25 Moreover, she was desperately scared of her father who used to inflict physical violence on her and the rest of the family. Dolores since then lived at the Lingap Center of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) at San Roque, Zamboanga City.

On October 29, 1994, five (5) criminal complaints for rape, all signed by Dolores, were then filed in court against herein accused-appellant Cesar Larena y Sardonido. He was arrested and detained on the same day and no bail was recommended for his temporary liberty in all cases.

Herein accused-appellant categorically denied having sexual intercourse with his daughter Dolores. He denied having raped Dolores on December 5, 1993. He said he could not possibly do it "because the blood in her veins are also my blood." 26 He also said that it was not possible for him to have sneaked inside the bedroom where Dolores was sleeping at around midnight of January 20, 1994 and had carnal knowledge against her will because the room was locked and there is no way he could enter it.

Accused-appellant also denied having sexual intercourse with Dolores on February 10, 1994 and on March 12, 1994 in the middle of the night inside the bedroom where she was sleeping with her sisters because "there is a lock" and because Ma. Dolores is his daughter and he could not do it to her. 27 Accused-appellant averred that at around 5:00 a.m. of April 19, 1994, Dolores was carrying firewood in the kitchen when she slipped and fell on his lap while he was sitting on a coconut grater. As he was helping his daughter stand up, his wife happened to see them. 28 Accused-appellant admitted wearing only his briefs at that time. 29

Accused-appellant insisted that he knew of no reason why his daughter would accuse him of the crime of rape. He contended that it is actually his wife who is trying to poison the mind of herein victim against him. He recalled that he had a misunderstanding with his wife on April 24, 1994, the very day he was arrested. On that day, he threw a "Petromax" gaslamp and ruined it beyond repair so his wife threatened to find a way to put him in jail. 30 On October 21,1994, he again had a quarrel with his wife when he bet P30.00 in a "wahoy" game. His wife abandoned him, taking with her all their 6 children while accused-appellant was out gathering tubā. 31 She returned on October 28, 1994, accompanied by three policemen who arrested him and brought him to the Central Police Station, the City Prosecutor’s Office, and finally to the city jail where he was detained. 32

The trial court, however, gave credence to the testimony of Dolores and rendered a decision the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"WHEREFORE, the court finds accused CESAR LARENA Y SARDONIDO GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT of the crimes of RAPE defined and penalized under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 11 of R.A. 7659, committed against his daughter, Ma. Dolores Larena y Casiñas and sentences him as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. In Criminal Case No. 12940, to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA and all its accessory penalties considering that the crime of rape charged therein was committed before the effectivity of R.A. No. 7659 on December 31, 1993;

2. In Criminal Case No. 12941, to suffer the penalty of DEATH and its accessory penalties, in the manner provided by law;

3. In Criminal Case No. 12942, to suffer the penalty of DEATH and its accessory penalties, in the manner provided by law;

4. In Criminal Case No. 12943, to suffer the penalty of DEATH and its accessory penalties, in the manner provided by law;

5. In Criminal Case No. 12944, to suffer the penalty of DEATH and its accessory penalties, in the manner provided by law; and

6. To pay the offended party, Ma. Dolores Larena y Casiñas, moral damages in the sum of P50,000 in each of the five (5) cases or a total of P250,000.00, and exemplary damages in the sum of P25,000.00 in each of the five (5) cases or a total of P175,000.00 (sic), and to pay the costs.

Let the complete records of these cases be forwarded to the Supreme Court for automatic review and judgment as provided by law.

SO ORDERED. 33

In his Appellant’s Brief, Accused-appellant relies on the following Assignment of Errors —

"I


THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE DENIAL BY THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE CHARGES OF RAPE ON 5 COUNTS AND HIS CLAIM THAT HIS WIFE AND VICTIM WERE MOTIVATED BY VENGEANCE WHEN THEY FILED THE AFORESAID CASES AGAINST HIM.

II


GRANTING WITHOUT ADMITTING THAT THE ACCUSED COULD BE HELD LIABLE FOR RAPE, THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN IMPOSING THE MAXIMUM PENALTY OF DEATH FOR THE 4 COUNTS OF RAPE ON ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR LACK OF SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO ESTABLISH THEIR BLOOD RELATIONSHIP.

III


GRANTING WITHOUT ADMITTING THAT RATIONALIZING THAT ACCUSED COULD BE HELD LIABLE FOR RAPE AGAINST THE VICTIM THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN IMPOSING THE MAXIMUM PENALTY OF DEATH AGAINST ACCUSED-APPELLANT IN VIEW OF THE ABSENCE OF ALLEGATION IN THE FIVE (5) COMPLAINTS OF THE BLOOD RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE ACCUSED AND THE VICTIM." 34

Accused-appellant’s first assigned error should be brushed aside.

Settled is the rule that the findings of the trial court on the credibility of the witnesses are entitled to great weight on appeal as it is in a better position to decide the question of credibility, having seen and heard the witnesses themselves and observed their behavior and manner of testifying. 35 The trial court, in rendering said decision against herein accused-appellant noted that his negative testimony merely denying the commission of five (5) counts of rape against his own daughter was not corroborated by the testimony of any other witness as opposed to the positive, credible and convincing testimony of his daughter, Dolores and his wife, Teresa. Time and time again, we have stated that denial, like alibi, is a weak defense which becomes even weaker in the face of the positive identification of the accused by the complaining witness. As between positive and categorical testimony which has the ring of truth on one hand and a bare denial on the other, the former is generally held to prevail. 36

Indeed, it is a trifle hard to believe that for a petty quarrel over a Petromax gaslamp and a measly bet of P30.00 over a "wahoy" game, a mother would goad her daughter, a mere wisp of a girl, untrained in the ways of the world and of men, to concoct a scandalous tale of not just one but five counts of incestuous rape and expose herself and her family to public humiliation and scrutiny.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary:red

We are not unaware of complainant having executed a sworn statement before the police stating that the first incident of rape happened on December 5, 1993 at 4:00 p.m., which she later corrected in her affidavit before the Commission on Human Rights and in her testimony in court to have taken place at 8:00 a.m. of the same date. We agree with the trial court’s observation, however, that the discrepancies and/or inconsistencies between the victim’s testimony in court, her sworn statement given to the police as well as her affidavit before the Commission on Human Rights are "minor ones referring to the time the alleged rapes were committed and do not detract from the credibility of the victim’s testimony that she was raped by her own father, especially in the absence of any ill-motive on her part to fabricate the rape charges against her father." 37

Furthermore, the findings of the medical examination conducted on complainant would indubitably show that she had indeed been subjected to repeated sexual intercourse. In his testimony before the court, Dr. Valmoria said that Dolores’ hymen had deep healing lacerations at 3,4,9,12 and 6 o’clock positions. He opined that it is possible the lacerations were caused by an "erect male adult penis" and could have taken place within December 5, 1993 to April 19, 1994, the time the victim was allegedly sexually abused by herein accused-appellant, considering the healed and unhealed lacerations of the hymen. Dr. Valmoria further testified that the numerous or multiple healed and unhealed lacerations on the different parts of the victim’s hymen indicate repeated sexual intercourse. 38 He in fact concluded that the subject is no longer a virgin physically. 39

Neither is accused-appellant’s second assigned error convincing.

His belated claim that Dolores may not, after all, be his daughter, is obviously an afterthought that deserves scant consideration considering that the accused-appellant, all throughout the trial, has consistently declared that the complainant is his own daughter, and that the blood running in her veins is also his own.

There is, however, merit in the third assigned error of Accused-Appellant.

Under Republic Act No. 7659, the death penalty shall be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the following attendant circumstances:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. when the victim is under eighteen (18) years 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 or victim.

2. when the victim is under the custody of the police or military authorities.

3. when rape is committed in full view of the husband, parent, any of the children or other relatives within the third degree of consanguinity.

4. when the victim is a religious or a child below seven (7) years old.

5. when the offender knows that he is afflicted with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) disease.

6. when committed by any member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine National Police or any law enforcement agency.

7. when by reason or on occasion of the rape, the victim has suffered permanent physical mutilation. 40

The Court has consistently held that these seven attendant circumstances under Section 11 of RA 7659 are in the nature of special qualifying circumstances which, unlike generic aggravating circumstances which may be appreciated and proved even if not alleged, cannot be considered as such unless so alleged in the information even if proved. 41

In the cases at bench, We note that the four (4) Complaints filed against accused-appellant for which he was eventually meted the penalty of death in each by the trial court, failed to allege the relationship between accused-appellant and the complainant.

In this regard, the instant case appears to be on all fours with the recent case of People v. Ramos, 42 where the accused was also found to have raped his 14-year old daughter. As in this case, only the fact of minority of the complainant was alleged in the information therein, while the fact of relationship was not. In that case, We declared that the failure to allege the relationship between the accused and the offended party in an information for rape is a bar to the imposition of the death penalty since relationship in this particular form of rape is qualifying and not merely aggravating.

"A rape by a father of his minor daughter is punishable by the single indivisible penalty of death and not by reclusion perpetua to death, as the lower court erroneously believed.

"In explaining the nature of the seven new attendant circumstances instituted by Republic Act No. 7659 in Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, this Court held in People v. Garcia that these attendant circumstances partake of the nature of qualifying circumstances, and not merely aggravating circumstances, since they increase the penalties by degrees. Aggravating circumstances affect only the period of the penalty but do not increase it to a higher degree.

"In People v. Bayot, we gave the reminder that a qualifying circumstance or an inherent aggravating circumstance should not be mistaken for a generic aggravating circumstance in the crime of robbery. This Court then distinguished the two circumstances by stating that generic aggravating circumstance, not offset by any mitigating circumstances, increases the penalty which should be imposed upon the accused to the maximum period, but without exceeding the limit prescribed by law. A qualifying circumstance, on the other hand, not only gives the crime its proper and exclusive name but also imposes on the author thereof no other penalty but that specially prescribed by law for said crime." 43

The trial court was thus, clearly in error in ruling that the relationship of accused-appellant to Dolores "is not really a qualifying aggravating circumstance which must be alleged in the complaint or information because it does not change the nature or the name of the crime which is still rape." 44 Indeed, as We have mentioned above, it has been ruled that the seven new attendant circumstances provided for in RA No. 7659 partake of the nature of qualifying circumstances, and not merely aggravating circumstances, since they increase the penalties by degrees. 45 In contrast, aggravating circumstances affect only the period of the penalty but do not increase it to a higher degree.

As explained in People v. Ramos, supra,

"While Republic Act 7659 did not give legal designation to the crime of rape attended by any of the seven new circumstances introduced in Article 335 on December 31, 1993, this Court has referred to such crime as qualified rape in a number of its decisions. However, with or without a name for this kind of rape, the concurrence of the minority of the victim and her relationship with the offender give a different character to the rape defined in Article 335, they raise the imposable penalty upon the person accused of rape from reclusion perpetua to the higher and supreme penalty of death. Such an effect conjointly puts relationship and minority of the offended party into the nature of a special qualifying circumstance."cralaw virtua1aw library

While the failure to allege the relationship between accused-appellant and the complainant appears to be a mere technicality, it nevertheless saves accused-appellant from the supreme penalty of death imposable for qualified rape because he was not properly informed that he is being accused of qualified rape. Due process demands that an accused in a criminal case should be informed of the nature of the offense with which he is charged before he is brought to trial in order to enable him to prepare for his defense. In meting out the death penalty upon accused-appellant for qualified rape, the trial court violated accused-appellant’s constitutional right to be properly informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. 46

"As this qualifying circumstance was not pleaded in the information or in the complaint against appellant, he cannot be convicted of qualified rape because he was not properly informed that he is being accused of qualified rape. The Constitution guarantees the right of every person accused in a criminal prosecution to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation against him. This right finds amplification and implementation in the different provisions of the Rules of Court. Foremost among these enabling provisions is the office of an information.

"The facts stated in the body of the information determine the crime of which the accused stands charged and for which he must be tried. This recital of the essentials of a crime delineate the nature and cause of accusation against an accused.

"It is fundamental that every element of which the offense is composed must be alleged in the complaint or information. The main purpose of requiring the various elements of a crime to be set out in an information is to enable the accused to suitably prepare his defense. He is presumed to have no independent knowledge of the facts that constitute the offense.

"An accused person cannot be convicted of an offense higher than that with which he is charged in the complaint or information on which he is tried. It matters not how conclusive and convincing the evidence of guilt may be, but an accused cannot be convicted of any offense, unless it is charged in the complaint or information on which he is tried or is necessarily included therein. He has a right to be informed of the nature of the offense with which he is charged before he is put on trial. To convict an accused of a higher offense than that charged in the complaint or information on which he is tried would be an unauthorized denial of that right.

"To be more precise, we declared in Garcia that it would be a denial of the right of the accused to be informed of the charges against him and, consequently, a denial of due process, if he is charged with simple rape and be convicted of its qualified form punishable with death although the attendant circumstance qualifying the offense and resulting in capital punishment was not alleged in the indictment on which he was arraigned.

"Contrary, therefore, to the pose of the lower court and the Solicitor General, the non-allegation of the relationship between appellant and offended party in an information for a rape is a bar to the imposition of the death penalty since relationship in this particular form of rape is qualifying and not merely aggravating. Having been informed only of the elements of simple rape, appellant can only be convicted of such crime and accordingly be punished with reclusion perpetua.

"Now, it is accepted that qualifying circumstances not pleaded in the indictment but duly proven without objection during the trial may be considered as aggravating circumstances. The general principles of criminal law provide that aggravating circumstances, even if not alleged in the information, may be proven during the trial over the objection of the defense and may be appreciated in imposing the sentence. Such evidence merely forms part of the proof of the actual commission of the offense and its consideration by the courts do not violate the constitutional right of the accused to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.

"However, in the case before us, the aggravating circumstance of relationship becomes inconsequential in view of the nature of reclusion perpetua prescribed for the felony of simple rape. Our general criminal code states that in all cases in which the law prescribes a single indivisible penalty, it shall be applied by the courts regardless of any mitigating or aggravating circumstances that may have attended the commission of the deed.

"Again, we are constrained by the law to impose the lighter penalty of reclusion perpetua on a man who, in fact and after due proof, actually deserves the capital punishment. The information sufficiently charged appellant with the crime of simple rape, but a conclusion of qualified rape cannot be legally justified from the allegations of such information.

"We, therefore, call the attention of the members of the prosecution service and peace officers charged with the preparation of informations and complaints, that the attendant circumstances provided by Republic Act No. 7659 must be specifically alleged in an information for rape in order that they may properly qualify the crime to the penalty specially prescribed by the law." 47

Thus, We are constrained to reduce the penalty of death imposed by the trial court in Criminal Cases Nos. 12941 to 12944, inclusive, to reclusion perpetua.

Finally, We notice that while accused-appellant was ordered to pay complainant moral damages in the amount of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) in each of the five cases or a total of P250,000.00 and exemplary damages in the sum of P25,000.00 in each of the five (5) cases or a total of P125,000.00 and to pay the costs, complainant was not awarded civil indemnity.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

We have repeatedly ruled that civil indemnity is mandatory upon the finding of the fact of rape. It is automatically imposed upon the accused without need of proof other than the fact of the commission of the rape. 48 It is distinct from and should not be denominated as moral damages which are based on different jural foundations and assessed by the court in the exercise of sound discretion. 49

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga City, Branch 16 in Criminal Cases Nos. 12940, 12941, 12942, 12943 and 12944, finding accused-appellant Cesar Larena y Sardonido guilty beyond reasonable doubt of 5 counts of rape, is hereby AFFIRMED, with the MODIFICATION that accused-appellant is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua in each of Criminal Cases Nos. 12941, 12942, 12943 and 12944; and to pay complainant Dolores Larena in each of the five counts of rape, the sum of P50,000.00 or a total of P250,000.00 by way of indemnity; P50,000.00 or a total of P250,000.00 as moral damages; and P25,000.00 or a total of P125,000.00 as exemplary damages, and costs.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo, Buena and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.

Romero, J., is on leave.

Endnotes:



1. Penned by Judge Jesus C. Carbon, Jr.; Rollo, pp. 15-67.

2. Exhibit B.

3. Exhibit C.

4. Exhibit D.

5. Exhibit E.

6. Exhibit F.

7. TSN, March 30, 1995, p. 10.

8. TSN, March 23, 1995, p. 19.

9. Rollo, p. 19.

10. TSN, March 20, 1995, p. 9.

11. Ibid., p. 12.

12. TSN, March 21, 1995, p. 42.

13. TSN, March 20, 1995, pp. 14-15.

14. Ibid., p. 15.

15. Ibid., p. 25.

16. TSN, March 21, 1995, p. 7-8.

17. Ibid., p. 9.

18. Ibid., p. 11.

19. Ibid., pp. 14-17.

20. TSN, March 30, 1995, pp. 5-9.

21. TSN, March 20, 1995, p. 13.

22. TSN, March 21, 1995, pp. 21-23.

23. Exhibit H.

24. Exhibit J.

25. Exhibits A and A-1.

26. TSN, March 23, 1995, p. 19.

27. Ibid., pp. 21-22.

28. Ibid., pp. 25-27.

29. TSN, April 3, 1995, p. 4.

30. TSN, March 23, 1995, p. 10.

31. Ibid., pp. 12-13.

32. Ibid., pp. 15-16.

33. Rollo, pp. 66-67.

34. Rollo, pp. 84-85.

35. People v. Lakibul, 217 SCRA 575, at 581 (1993).

36. People v. Garcia, 281 SCRA 463, at 481 (1997).

37. Rollo, p. 53.

38. TSN, March 22, 1995. p, 10.

39. Exhibit "H."cralaw virtua1aw library

40. Sec. 11.

41. People v. Dimapilis, G.R. No. 128619-21, December 17, 1998.

42. G.R. No. 129439, September 25, 1998.

43. People v. Ramos, supra; Citations omitted.

44. Rollo, pp. 64-65.

45. People v. Garcia, 281 SCRA 463, at 489 (1997).

46. Section 14(2), Article III, Constitution.

47. People v. Ramos, supra; Citations omitted.

48. People v. Caballes, 274 SCRA 83, at 100 (1997); People v. Gementiza, 285 SCRA 478, at 491 (1998).

49. People v. Marabillas, G.R. No. 127494, February 19, 1999.




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June-1998 Jurisprudence                 

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  • A.M. No. MTJ-98-1165 June 21, 1998 - EXEQUIEL P. DOMINGO v. LUIS ENRIQUEZ REYES, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. RTJ-99-1445 June 21, 1998 - VENTURA B. AYO v. LUCIA VIOLAGO-ISNANI, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. 99-1-16-RTC June 21, 1998 - REQUEST OF JUDGE IRMA ZITA V. MASAMAYOR

  • G.R. No. 101439 June 21, 1998 - GSIS v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

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  • A.M. No. P-99-1314 June 25, 1998 - ROSANNA V. CASALME, ET AL. v. MARVIN S. RIVERA, ET AL.

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  • A.M. No. P-96-1183 June 29, 1998 - LUCINA L. REGALADO v. LILIA S. BUENA

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  • G.R. No. 124049 June 30, 1998 - RODOLFO P. VELASQUEZ v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.