December 2003 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 2003 > December 2003 Decisions > G.R. Nos. 145523-24 December 11, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. EDUARDO RATA:
[G.R. Nos. 145523-24. December 11, 2003.]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, v. EDUARDO RATA y BAGAMENTO, Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
Before this Court for automatic review is the Decision 1 dated 2 August 2000 of the Regional Trial Court of Malabon, Branch 170 ("trial court"), in Criminal Case Nos. 18752-MN and 18753-MN. The trial court found Eduardo Rata y Bagamento ("appellant") guilty of two counts of qualified rape and sentenced him to suffer the death penalty for each count of rape and to indemnify the victim.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
In Criminal Case No. 18752-MN, the Information charged appellant with the crime of rape as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
That on or about the 23rd day of October, 1997, in the Municipality of Malabon, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being then the father of ANNALIZA RATA y ENSISO, with lewd design by means of force, violence and intimidation, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously did then and there have sexual intercourse with said ANNALIZA RATA y ENSISO, who is under 18 years of age against her will and without her consent.
CONTRARY TO LAW. 2
In Criminal Case No. 18753-MN, the Information likewise charged appellant with the crime of rape as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
That on or about the 25th day of December, 1996, in the Municipality of Malabon, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being then the father of ANNALIZA RATA y ENSISO, with lewd design by means of force, violence and intimidation, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously did then and there have sexual intercourse with said ANNALIZA RATA y ENSISO, who is under 18 years of age against her will and without her consent.
CONTRARY TO LAW. 3
Arraignment and Plea
When arraigned on 25 June 1998, appellant, with the assistance of his counsel de parte, entered a plea of not guilty. 4
Version of the Prosecution
The prosecution presented three witnesses: (1) complainant Annaliza Rata ("Annaliza"); (2) Dr. Tomas Suguitan of the Medico-Legal Division of the Philippine National Police ("PNP") Crime Laboratory, who conducted the physical examination on Annaliza; and (3) social worker Luz de Guzman.
In the People’s Brief, the Solicitor General summarized the prosecution’s version of the incident as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
At around 3:00 a.m. of December 25, 1996, Annaliza Rata was in their house in Letre, Malabon, Metro Manila with her father, appellant herein, when the latter made her lie down. Appellant undressed her and thereafter undressed himself. Appellant subsequently inserted his penis into Annaliza’s vagina and made some thrusting movements. After a while, appellant withdrew himself and ended Annaliza’s horrifying ordeal.
On October 23, 1997, Annaliza was again ravaged by appellant under the same conditions as the first rape on December 25, 1996. This time, however, appellant satisfied his lust a little longer, at the same time threatening Annaliza with death if ever the latter would report to anyone what had transpired between them. Unable to bear her painful experience at the hands of her very own father, Annaliza reported the incidents to her neighbor, Josie, who accompanied her to the authorities. Her statement to the police led to the institution of the present charges against appellant (Ibid., pp. 4–5). 5
Dr. Tomas Suguitan testified that he conducted the physical examination on Annaliza and prepared the corresponding medico-legal report. 6 The report reads:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
FINDINGS:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
GENITAL AND EXTRAGENITAL:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Fairly developed, fairly nourished and coherent female subject. Breasts are hemispherical with pale brown areola and nipples from which no secretions could be pressed out. Abdomen is flat and soft.
GENITA[L]:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
There is moderate growth of pubic hair. Labia majora are full, convex and coaptated with the pinkish brown labia minora presenting in between. On separating the same disclosed an elastic, fleshy-type hymen with complete healed laceration at 3 o’clock and deep healed lacerations at 8 and 10 o’clock positions. External vaginal orifice offers moderate resistance to the introduction of the examining index finger. Vaginal canal is narrow with prominent rugosities. Cervix is firm and closed.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw library
CONCLUSION:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Subject is in non-virgin state physically.
There are no external signs of application of any form of violence.
REMARKS:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Vaginal and peri-urethral smears are negative for gram-negative diplococci and spermatozoa.
When Dr. Suguitan interviewed Annaliza, she revealed that appellant sexually molested her from December 25, 1996 up to October 23, 1997. 7
Luz de Guzman of the Department of Social Welfare and Development ("DSWD") narrated that Annaliza was brought by her stepmother Aida to the DSWD office in Malabon in November 1997. Annaliza complained that her father sexually abused her. The DSWD subsequently brought Annaliza to DSWD’s Marilac Hills, where she is presently staying. 8
Version of the Defense
The defense presented two witnesses: (1) appellant himself and (2) appellant’s stepdaughter Errol Rata ("Errol"). 9
The Public Attorney summarized the defense’s version as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
ERROL RATA averred that nothing happened on December 25, 1996 and October 23, 1997, at around 3:00 in the morning, while he was sleeping in the sala of their house located at Block 4, Lot 24, Phase 4, Paradise Village, Malabon, Metro Manila, together with Annaliza and [her] little brother. However, prior to October 23, 1997, when [s]he just came from school, [s]he saw [her] stepfather slap Annaliza, because the latter left their house without leaving anybody to attend to the rice being cooked at that time. As a result of which, Annaliza left the house and [s]he does not know anymore where she went. (TSN, February 23, 1999, pp. 2–4).
EDUARDO RATA vehemently denied the allegations against him that he raped Annaliza on 25 December 1996, at about 3:00 in the morning. On that very same day and time, he was with his common-law [w]ife slaughtering chickens and ducks in preparation for the baptism of their child while Annaliza, Errol and Marde were all sleeping in their sala. After the baptism held in Malabon Church at 11:00 in the morning, they dined together. However, because his house is small, his other guests left early. Bonifacio Solera and some of his other visitors were left behind and started drinking at around 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon and lasted up to 5:00 o’clock in the early morning of the following day.
In relation to the second charge, he claimed that when he went home to have lunch, accidentally, he smelled the overcooked rice. At that time, Annaliza was nowhere to be found when he called her. When Annaliza arrived, she told him that she was just in the neighborhood watching [a] video. Losing control of himself, he spanked and kicked her. Thereafter, she left their house and never came back up to the present. (TSN, November 16, 1999, pp. 2–4) 10
The Trial Court’s Ruling
The trial court rendered a judgment of conviction on 2 August 2000. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
1. In Criminal Case No. 18752-MN, the Court finds accused Eduardo Rata y Bagamento guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape (Republic Act No. 8353) and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of DEATH; to pay Annaliza Rata the amount of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages and P35,000.00 as exemplary damages plus the cost of the suit.
2. In Criminal Case No. 18753-MN, the Court finds accused Eduardo Rata y Bagamento guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape penalized under Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by R.A. 7659 and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of DEATH; to pay Annaliza Rata the amount of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages and P35,000.00 as exemplary damages plus the cost of the suit.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
SO ORDERED. 11
Hence, this automatic review.
Appellant seeks the reversal of his conviction by contending that —
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF RAPE.
ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT APPELLANT IS GUILTY OF THE CRIME CHARGED THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN IMPOSING THE DEATH PENALTY UPON HIM INSTEAD OF RECLUSION PERPETUA. 12
The Court’s Ruling
Our review of the evidence in this case convinces us that appellant is guilty of simple rape and not of qualified rape in Criminal Case No. 18752-MN. Therefore, while we sustain the appellant’s conviction in Criminal Case No. 18752-MN, we reduce the penalty imposed by the trial court from death to reclusion perpetua.
Appellant’s guilt of the crime charged
has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.
We agree with the trial court that the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt appellant’s guilt of the crime of rape in Criminal Case No. 18752-MN.
Carnal knowledge requires the entrance of the male organ at least within the labia of the pudendum of the female organ. This is an essential element of the crime, which the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt. Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not require absolute certainty but merely moral certainty on each element essential to constitute the offense and on the responsibility of its perpetrator. 13
Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 8353, 14 provides:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Article 266-A. Rape. When and How Committed. — Rape is committed —
1) By a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
a) Through force, threat or intimidation;
x x x
In proving that appellant had carnal knowledge of her by means of threat or intimidation on 25 December 1996 and 23 October 1997, Annaliza testified as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Q At around 3:00 o’clock in the early morning of December 25, 1996, do you remember any unusual incident that happened to you?
A I was raped, sir.
Q Will you tell us how did it happen?
A He made me lie, sir.
Q Who made you lie?
A My father, sir.
Q And after you lie [sic] down, what did you do next?
A He took off my clothes, sir.
Q What else?
A He took off my panty, sir.cralaw : red
Q What happened next when, he took off your panty?
A He also took off his clothes, sir.
Q After he took off his clothes, what happened next?
A He inserted his organ into my vagina, sir.
Q Will you tell us how long his penis [was in] your vagina before removing that penis [from] your vagina?
A He made it stay in my vagina for a long time, sir.
Q Was there any movement when he inserted his penis to your vagina?
A He was moving, sir.
Q Will you tell us what was that movement your father did to you?
A (Witness cannot answer.)
Q Was this insertion of the penis to your vagina repeated?
A Yes, sir.
Q How many times?
A I could not recall, sir.
Q When was the last time that your father had sex with you?
A October 23, Your Honor.
Q What year?
A 1997, sir.
Q What did he do to you on October 23, 1997?
A He raped me, sir.
Q How did he rape you?
A He made me lie, sir.
Q After asking you to lie down, what did you do next?
A He took off my clothes, sir.
Q What else?
A He took off my panty, sir.
Q What else happened after he took off your clothes and panty?
A He raped me, sir.
Q When you stated your father raped you, what do you mean?
A (The witness cannot answer).
Q That October 23, 1997 incident, how did your father rape you?
A He went on top of me, sir.
Q When he went on top of you, was he with clothing or none?
A None, sir.
Q What did he do next when he went on top of you?
A He inserted his penis to my organ, sir.
Q How long [did] his penis stayed [sic] in your vagina?
A For a long time, sir.
Q Can you still recall if your father was talking or whispering to while he was having sex with you?chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
A Yes, sir.
Q What was he uttering or whispering to you?
A That I will not tell what he was doing to anybody otherwise he will kill me, sir.
Q Did you like what your father did to you?
A No, sir. (Emphasis added) 15
Dr. Suguitan’s medico-legal report and his testimony in open court corroborate Annaliza’s claim that appellant raped her. The medico-legal report states that Annaliza’s hymen has a "complete healed laceration" at the 3 o’clock position and "deep healed lacerations" at the 8 o’clock and 10 o’clock positions. 16 Dr. Suguitan testified on the matter as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Q Will you tell us in layman’s language your result?
A The pertinent result — there is laceration of the hymen at 3:00, 8:00, and 10:00 o’clock position, sir.
Q Is that the reason why you concluded subject is in non-virgin state physically?
A Precisely, sir. 17
There is sufficient foundation to conclude the existence of the essential element of carnal knowledge when the physician’s findings of penetration corroborate the victim’s testimony that the accused raped her. 18 The testimony of a young rape victim is credible and deserves full credit, especially where, as in this case, the facts point to her having been a victim of sexual assault. 19
Appellant’s twin defenses of denial and alibi fail to hold up against Annaliza’s testimony. Not a few persons convicted of rape have attributed the charges brought against them to family feuds, resentment, or revenge, but such alleged motives have never swayed the Court from giving full credence to the testimony of a complainant who remained steadfast throughout her direct and cross-examination. 20
Annaliza executed a sworn statement that describes the 25 December 1996 incident as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
T: Maaari mo bang liwanagin sa akin kung kailan iyong maraming beses na?
S: Iyong una po ay noong ika-25 ng Disyembre 1996, bandang alas 3:00 ng madaling araw, sa kuwarto bale ng tatay ko.
T: Papaano naman ito nangyari?
S: Nagkataong wala ang nanay ko at ang kasama ko lamang ng mga oras na iyon bukod sa tatay ko ay iyong dalawang kapatid ko na ang idad ay isang katorse na babae at iyong isa ay apat na taong gulang na lalake. Katabi kong natutulog sa sala ang mga kapatid ko nang tawagin ako ng tatay ko at papasukin sa kuwarto niya. Ang akala ko ay basta tawag lang niya ako pero ang nangyari po pilit niya akong pinahihiga sa sahig ng kuwarto niya pero hindi po ako pumayag at sinabihan niya ako na papatayin niya ako at inaambaan akong susuntukin niya kaya sumunod na lamang ako at humiga. Tinanggalan niya ako ng damit pang-ibaba at pang-itaas. Pati bra tinanggal. Hinalikan niya iyong dalawang suso ko. Umiiyak ako at nagmamakaawa pero ayaw niyang makinig. Nakuha niyang maipasok ang ari niya sa ari ko. Nasaktan ako at nag-iiyak lalo. Pagkatapos po ay nagbihis na ulit siya ng pang-ibaba at pang-itaas niya. Ako po naman kusang nagbihis na lamang at lumabas ng kuwarto niya. Siya po naman ay hindi kumikibo. (Emphasis added) 21
This narration from Annaliza’s sworn statement shows that appellant employed violence and intimidation on her. The use of violence and intimidation is characterized by physical acts and uttered threats made on the victim. 22
Annaliza failed to state in open court that appellant raped her on 25 December 1996 with the use of force or intimidation. The prosecutor failed to ask questions regarding this element. However, Annaliza never declared that appellant did not employ threat or intimidation on her. There is no contradiction between her testimony in open court and her sworn statement. Annaliza was merely unable to recite the exact contents of the sworn statement. In People v. Charmie Servano y Gaor ("Servano") 23 we held that the rule that an affidavit or sworn statement is inferior to testimony in open court applies only when there are discrepancies and inconsistencies between the allegations in the sworn statement and those made in open court. No such conflict or contradiction exists in the instant case.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Annaliza identified her sworn statement in open court. The prosecution presented it in open court as Exhibits "B" and "B-1," while the defense did not interpose any objections. 24 Annaliza affirmed in open court that she made the sworn statement to the police and that the signature on the statement was her signature. 25 In Servano, we held that a witness’ failure to reiterate the contents of her sworn statement during trial should not affect her credibility and render the sworn statement useless and insignificant, as long as it is presented as evidence in open court. The sworn statement and the open court declarations must be evaluated and examined together to obtain a thorough determination of the merits of the case. In every case, the court should review, assess and weigh the totality of the evidence presented by the parties. It should not confine itself to oral testimony during trial. In the instant case, Annaliza’s sworn statement contained a detailed account of the 25 December 1996 rape incident. It described how Annaliza was made to submit to appellant’s wishes by his use of threats and intimidation.
However, we find Servano inapplicable to the present case. In Servano, the complainant identified her sworn statement and confirmed the truth thereof in open court. In this case, although Annaliza identified her sworn statement, the prosecutor failed to make her affirm the truthfulness of its contents. Each and every charge of rape pertains to a separate crime. The prosecution has the duty to establish beyond reasonable doubt the elements of rape for each charge. 26 Annaliza failed to state in open court that appellant raped her on 25 December 1996 with the use of force or intimidation. The prosecutor failed to ask questions regarding this element.
We make another point on the inapplicability of Servano to the present case. In Servano, the prosecution proved the relationship between complainant and the accused. Since the accused was the complainant’s father, moral ascendancy could substitute for the requisite "force, threat or intimidation." In the present case, the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt appellant’s relationship with Annaliza. Hence, the principle of substituting force, threat or intimidation with moral ascendancy does not apply here. For these reasons, we acquit appellant of the charge in Criminal Case No. 18753-MN.
During the 23 October 1997 incident, appellant threatened Annaliza that he would kill her if she told anyone what he was doing to her. This clearly constitutes intimidation. Intimidation affects the mind of the victim and, being subjective, no hard and fast rule can determine its presence. Instead, the presence of intimidation is gleaned from the victim’s perception and judgment of her assailant’s actuations considering the circumstances at the time of the commission of the crime. 27
Reclusion perpetua and not death is the correct penalty.
The death penalty imposed by the trial court upon appellant is not correct. Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 8353, states:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Article 266-B. Penalties. — . . .
The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the following aggravating/qualifying 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 of the victim; . . ..
To justify the imposition of the death penalty, the information must specifically allege the qualifying circumstances of the minority of the victim and her relationship to the offender. The prosecution must prove the presence of these attendant circumstances. 28 The prosecution bears the burden of proving all the elements of a crime, including the qualifying circumstances. Where the prosecution fails to conjointly allege and prove the qualifying circumstances of minority and relationship, the accused is liable only for the crime of simple rape. 29 This is in consonance with the constitutional right of the accused to be informed of the charges against him. 30
The trial court disregarded appellant’s attempts of disowning Annaliza by referring to her as his stepdaughter. 31 Appellant’s claim that Annaliza is his stepdaughter is inconsistent with his affidavit and contradicted by appellant’s own witness, his stepdaughter Errol. In his affidavit, appellant repeatedly referred to himself as "the natural father of complainant." 32 For her part, Errol repeatedly referred to Annaliza as appellant’s "flesh and blood natural daughter." 33 Errol even identified Annaliza as "the daughter of my stepfather from his first wife" in open court. 34
However, we find that the evidence presented is not sufficient to dispel doubts about the true relationship of appellant and Annaliza. Where the life of an appellant is at stake, the prosecution must adduce more exacting proof to establish the qualifying circumstances. 35 The prosecution failed to prove Annaliza’s relationship with appellant. The prosecution could not present a marriage certificate as Annaliza was an illegitimate child. The prosecution should have presented in evidence the original copy of Annaliza’s birth certificate but it did not. There is no evidence that said certificate of birth was lost or destroyed or was unavailable without the fault of the prosecution. The photocopy of the birth certificate presented contained an alteration and thus its contents are of doubtful validity. Hence, substitutionary evidence is inadmissible. 36
The prosecution alleged that Annaliza was only 15 years old when appellant raped her on 25 December 1996. Since the prosecution failed to present the original copy of Annaliza’s birth certificate, appellant is liable only for simple rape. Decisions of this Court relating to the rape of minors invariably state that in order to justify the imposition of the penalty of death, there must be independent evidence proving the age of the victim, other than the testimonies of prosecution witnesses and the absence of denial by the accused. A certified true copy of the certificate of live birth showing the complainant’s age or some other authentic document such as a baptismal certificate or a school record has been recognized as competent evidence. 37
The prosecution failed to prove that: (1) appellant is indeed Annaliza’s father and (2) Annaliza was under 18 years of age when the crime of rape was committed against her. Because of the prosecution’s failure to prove Annaliza’s relationship with appellant and Annaliza’s minority, we cannot hold appellant liable for qualified rape. Hence, reclusion perpetua, and not death, is the correct penalty.
Since the penalty is reclusion perpetua, the civil indemnity must be reduced from P75,000 to P50,000. Moral damages of P50,000 must also be awarded in favor of Annaliza, without need of proof that she suffered from mental, physical, and psychological trauma.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
WHEREFORE, the Decision dated 2 August 2000 of the Regional Trial Court of Malabon, Branch 170, in Criminal Case Nos. 18752-MN and 18753-MN, is hereby MODIFIED. Appellant Eduardo Rata y Bagamento is found GUILTY of one count of simple rape in Criminal Case No. 18752-MN. Appellant is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay complainant Annaliza Rata P50,000 as civil indemnity and P50,000 as moral damages.
With respect to Criminal Case No. 18753-MN, appellant is ACQUITTED for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna and Tinga, JJ., concur.
1. Penned by Judge Benjamin T. Antonio.
2. Rollo, p. 4.
3. Ibid., p. 5.
4. Records, p. 47.
5. Rollo, pp. 67–68.
6. Exh. "A," Records, p. 76.
7. TSN, 26 October 1998, Records, pp. 127–129.
8. Ibid., pp. 132–136.
9. Also referred to as "Erolh Rata."cralaw virtua1aw library
10. Rollo, pp. 34–35.
11. Ibid., p. 15.
12. Rollo, p. 29.
13. People v. Thamsey, 413 Phil. 790 (2001).
14. Effective 22 October 1997.
15. TSN, 23 February 1999, Records, pp. 139–140.
16. Exh. "A," Records, p. 76.
17. TSN, 26 October 1998, Records, p. 128.
18. People v. Managbanag, G.R. No. 140101, 7 December 2001, 371 SCRA 615; People v. Bation, 364 Phil. 731 (1999).
19. See People v. Pine, G.R. No. 133441, 29 November 2000, 346 SCRA 383.
20. People v. Itdang, G.R. No. 136393, 18 October 2000, 343 SCRA 624.
21. Exh. "B," Records, p. 78-A.
22. People v. Catubig, 416 Phil. 102 (2001); People v. Maglente, 366 Phil. 221 (1999).
23. G.R. Nos. 143002-03, 17 July 2003.
24. Records, p. 141.
26. People v. Supnad, 414 Phil. 637 (2001).
27. People v. Nogar, G.R. No. 133946, 27 September 2000, 341 SCRA 206.
28. People v. Cantos, Sr., 365 Phil. 341 (1999).
29. People v. Flores, 379 Phil. 857 (2000).
30. People v. Bernaldez, 379 Phil. 493 (2000).
31. TSN, 16 November 1999, Records, pp. 155–157.
32. Exh. "3," Records, pp. 121–123.
33. Exh. "1," Records, pp. 116–117.
34. TSN, 19 July 1999, Records, p. 147.
35. People v. Berana, 370 Phil. 696 (1999).
36. People v. Ramos, G.R. No. 142577, 27 December 2002.
37. People v. Viajedor, G.R. No. 148138, 11 April 2003; People v. Pruna, G.R. No. 138471, 10 October 2002.