PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ARNEL ALMACIN y CERENO, accused-appellant.
D E C I S I O N
The case before us is an appeal
from the decision1 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 41, Daet,
Camarines Norte, in Criminal Case No. 6573, finding the accused Arnel Almacin y
Cereno, guilty of rape committed against
Marilyn B. Idaloy, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua, and to indemnify the offended party in the sum of
On March 27, 1990, one Marilyn B. Idaloy, assisted by her father Eufronio Idaloy, filed a criminal complaint2 for rape against the accused in the Municipal Trial Court, Vinzons, Camarines Norte. The complaint alleged that on March 25, 1990, at about 4:00 p.m., the accused, by means of intimidation, had carnal knowledge of the victim, Marilyn Idaloy, a 19-year old mentally retarded woman. She affixed her thumbmark in the complaint and her father, likewise, signed the same. After preliminary investigation, the judge3 found the accused probably guilty of the accusation. On April 16, 1990, the judge issued an order4 forwarding the case to the Regional Trial Court, Daet, Camarines Norte, through the Office of the Provincial Fiscal, for its cognizance and transferring the accused to the custody of the Provincial Warden at Daet, Camarines Norte.
On May 23, 1990, the Provincial Prosecutor5 of Camarines Norte filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 41, Daet, Camarines Norte, an information against the accused, the accusatory portion of which reads:
That on or about 4:00 oclock in the afternoon of March 25, 1990 at Sitio Dipdipon, Brgy. Sto. Domingo, municipality of Vinzons, province of Camarines Norte, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by means of intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge with one MARILYN B. IDALOY, who is deprived of reason being a 19-year old mentally retarded woman, and in her own house.
All contrary to law, and with the aggravating circumstance that the said offense was committed in the dwelling of the offended party, the latter not having given provocation for it.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Upon arraignment on June 22, 1990,
accused pleaded not guilty.
trial, on August 19, 1993, the court a quo rendered its decision
convicting the accused of rape, and sentencing him to the penalty of reclusion
perpetua, with all the accessory penalties attached thereto, and to
indemnify Marilyn Idaloy in the sum of
Hence, this appeal.
At times material hereto, Marilyn Idaloy, a 19-year old retardate, lived with her sister Lilia in Sitio Dipdipon, Vinzons, Camarines Norte. Marilyn was not able to finish Grade I because of her epileptic bouts, which averaged from about 5 to 6 times a day. She was rarely left alone in the house because whenever her sickness attacked, she got stiff and frequently fell down.
On March 25, 1990, Lilia attended the death anniversary of her former boyfriend, and left Marilyn alone in the house at around 1:30 p.m. until Lilia arrived home around 6:00 p.m.6 At around 4:00 p.m., March 25, 1990, accused Arnel Almacin went to the house of Marilyn and asked that he be admitted. When Marilyn refused, he forced his way inside the house. Thereafter, he invited Marilyn to the room where he undressed her, removed her panty and his own pants, told her to lie down, sat on her stomach and inserted his organ inside her. While he was on top of her, the accused threatened Marilyn not to tell anyone, otherwise he would return to kill her.7cräläwvirtualibräry
On March 26, 1990, Lilia Idaloy observed that her sister was uneasy and very bored. While changing Marilyns clothes, she noticed that the formers breasts were mashed. She also noticed that there was blood on Marilyns skirt. Upon inquiry, Marilyn confessed that Arnel Almacin had forced himself inside the room, undressed her, told her to lie down, raped her and threatened her not to tell anyone otherwise he would kill her. Upon learning that her sister had been sexually molested, Lilia went to the police to report the incident. Thereafter, two policemen accompanied her to fetch Arnel Almacin. Both Marilyn and Lilia knew Arnel Almacin as the nephew of the second wife of their father.8cräläwvirtualibräry
Dr. Miguel Ponayo, a general practitioner for three years with experience in dealing with patients suffering from epilepsy and mental retardation, attested that although Marilyn was afflicted with epilepsy and mental retardation, she was, nevertheless, competent to testify as a witness.9cräläwvirtualibräry
On March 27, 1990, Lilia brought Marilyn to the Camarines Norte Provincial Hospital for medical examination. Dr. Pauline Kollin examined Marilyn and issued a medical certificate with the following findings:
= Moderate pubic hair, multiparous outlet, old healed laceration (a) 7 oclock position;
Admits 1 finger with difficulty;
= Contusion, hematoma, 10 x 8 cms. in its width diameter, breast, right;
= Contusion, hematoma, 12 x 9 cms. in its width diameter, breast, left;
= Hematoma, Distal 3rd, arm, right;
Sperm cells --- none seen.10cräläwvirtualibräry
Dr. Kollin explained that the laceration could have been caused by a finger, a penis or any hard object inserted inside the victims organ. She admitted that the laceration and hematomas were about three (3) to four (4) days old.11cräläwvirtualibräry
Eufronio Idaloy, father of the victim, learned of the incident when Marilyn was brought for medical examination. According to him, Arnel later asked forgiveness from him. He also claimed that Marilyn was with physical defects since she was suffering from polio.12cräläwvirtualibräry
Accused Arnel Almacin interposed the defense of alibi, claiming that he was in Mangkawayan, Vinzons, Camarines Norte, that fateful day, accompanying his friend, Ronnie Pajarillo, in the latters marriage proposal. Ronnie Pajarillo and his father, Rufino Pajarillo, corroborated the story of the accused.
On March 25, 1990 at around 9:00 a.m., accused was dressing up in his grandmothers house preparing for his appointment with Ronnie Pajarillo. He reached Ronnies house in Calangcawan Sur, at around 10:00 a.m., and helped with the household chores. Then, he accompanied Ronnie and his father Rufino Pajarillo, among other persons, to the house in Brgy. Mangkawayan of Ronnies intended bride, Alicia Asis, where Ronnie asked for the latters hand in marriage. After discussing the proposed wedding date, they had a drinking spree from 1:00 p.m. until around 5:00 p.m. Thereafter, they went home to Ronnies house in Calangcawan Sur, arriving therein at around 7:00 p.m., where they continued their drinking session. At about 11:00 p.m., accused retired to bed in Ronnies house and woke up around 7:00 the following morning, March 26, 1990. Then, he went to Brgy. Dipdipon to help his brother-in-law, Adelardo Amaro, in harvesting palay. While in the ricefield, Policeman Danilo Salvanera arrived and invited him to the police station for investigation. He was informed of the rape charge only on March 28, 1990, at around 4:00 p.m.13cräläwvirtualibräry
Rufino Pajarillo corroborated Arnels testimony that on March 25, 1990, from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Arnel was with them in Mangkawayan, about ten (10) kilometers from the house of Lilia Idaloy. Later, Arnel slept in their house and left the following morning, March 26, 1990, at around 9:00 a.m.14cräläwvirtualibräry
Ronnie Pajarillo likewise validated the story of Arnel Almacin, claiming that as early as March 2, 1990, he had invited Arnel to accompany him in proposing marriage to his intended bride. On March 25, 1990, around 10:00 a.m., Arnel went with him and his family to Mangkawayan for the marriage proposal, and stayed there until 5:00 p.m. They arrived at Ronnies house at around 7:00 p.m. and continued their drinking session until they retired to bed around 10:30 p.m. According to him, Arnel Almacin did not participate in the drinking session at his house, but slept immediately.15cräläwvirtualibräry
Arnel Almacin alleged that the victim and Lilia Idaloy initiated the rape charge to create a rift between Nida Cereno, her auntie, and Eufronio Idaloy. He claimed that Nida Cereno earlier warned him that the Idaloy family would do anything to separate the couple.16cräläwvirtualibräry
On rebuttal, however, Nida Cereno belied that she even talked about such matters to Arnel. In fact, she was living with the victims father. Furthermore, she testified that Marilyn was not suffering from a mental illness, but was afflicted with polio.17cräläwvirtualibräry
In convicting the accused, the trial court gave great weight to the testimony of the victim. The defense waived its right to cross-examine the victim, consistently maintaining that since the victim was a retardate, she was incompetent to testify. The court, however, ruled that the victim was competent to testify. Neither did the court believe Arnels defense of alibi as he was unable to show the physical impossibility of his presence at the crime scene during the commission of the crime. The distance between the house of the intended bride and Lilias house was only ten (10) kilometers and easily accessible by riding a tricycle and then by walking a few meters.
In his first assigned error, the accused averred that the trial court erred in giving full faith and credit to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses and totally disregarding his defense of alibi. He claimed that based on the information filed, the victim was a mental retardate. However, Eufronio Idaloy and Nida Cereno testified that Marilyn was suffering from polio and not a retardate. Also, Dr Ponayo testified, to wit:
Q: - How did you find the capacity of the patient, when you interviewed her, particularly with respect to her capacity to respond, to your questions?
A: - Well, when I asked her, it took a little time for her to answer, however, the answer was clear. As far as her speech or the way she answered with regard to her age, there was a little problem recalling the age; when I asked about the residence she was only able to say Vinzons. But the response was in the ordinary conversation, a normal individual, an automatic response.18
The defense averred that the accused was denied the right to be informed of the charges against him when the information alleged that Marilyn was a mental retardate and yet the testimonies showed that she was normal. During the trial, the defense vehemently objected to the testimony of Marilyn, contending that since the information alleged that she was mentally retarded, then she was incompetent to testify in court. Furthermore, the defense questioned whether or not the mental retardation of Marilyn was adequately established as Dr. Ponayo, a general practitioner and not a trained psychiatrist, was not competent to diagnose the mental condition of the victim. Thus, while on the one hand, the defense accepted the allegation of the victims mental retardation and objected to her competency to testify; on the other hand, it claimed that Marilyn was a normal individual as there was no psychiatric examination diagnosing her mental condition.
The contention is devoid of merit. We have ruled that other evidence aside from a psychiatric evaluation can prove mental retardation or abnormality.19 Marilyn stated that she could only read and write her own name.20 Lilia Idaloy attested to the mental capability of Marilyn, as follows:
Q: How old is your sister Marilyn Idaloy?
A: Nineteen years old, sir.
Q: Had she gone to school?
A: No, sir.
Q: Not even Grade I in elementary?
A: She enrolled in Grade I, sir, but she was unable to finish it because of her illness.
Q: What is the illness of your sister Marilyn Idaloy?
A: Epilepsy, sir; and she is retarded.
Q: And the reason why she is no longer allowed to go to school is because she cannot comprehend or learn what is being taught in school, is it not?
A: Because according to he doctor, she will be mentally stressed, sir.21
At any rate, the defense even admitted the fact of the victims mental retardation, to wit:
AFD: If the only purpose of presenting the doctor is to testify that the victim is a retardate, we would admit that the victim is a retardate because the diagnosis of the doctor is that the victim is suffering from epilepsy and mental retardation.22
Even the accused testified to this, to wit:
Q: - When you saw Marilyn Idaloy for the first time sometime February 1990 what have you observed from her, if any?
A: - I am sure that she is suffering from mental illness, sir.23
In fact, the defense waived its right to cross-examine Marilyn, anchoring on its continuing objection to the competency of Marilyn to testify due to mental retardation.24cräläwvirtualibräry
However, such mental retardation does not automatically render the victim disqualified from being a witness.25 As long as the witness is capable of perceiving and makes known her perception to others, then she is qualified or competent to be a witness.26 During Marilyns testimony, she adequately showed she could convey her ideas by words and could give sufficiently intelligent answers to the questions propounded by the court and her counsel.27 Besides, the decision as to the competency of a person to testify rests largely with the trial court.28 Here, the trial court ruled that the witness was capable and possessed the qualifications to be a witness.29cräläwvirtualibräry
We have consistently held that a woman need not be proven as completely insane or deprived of reason for sexual intercourse to constitute the crime of rape. The term deprived of reason has been construed to include those suffering from mental abnormality or deficiency; or some form of mental retardation; the feeble-minded but coherent; or even those suffering from mental abnormality or deficiency of reason.30 Marilyns mental condition, her being illiterate and unschooled, rendered her mentally incapable of intelligently assenting to or dissenting from sexual intercourse with the accused. Thus, any sexual intercourse with a mentally retarded woman who is incapable of giving rational consent thereto constitutes rape.31cräläwvirtualibräry
Despite her mental condition, the trial court upheld Marilyns credibility as a witness. Findings of the trial court regarding credibility of witnesses are to be given great weight and high degree of respect by the appellate court.32 The trial judge is in the best position to assess the credibility of the complainant having personally heard and observed her deportment and manner of testifying during the trial.33cräläwvirtualibräry
Appellants defense of alibi, albeit corroborated, is also not persuasive. For the defense of alibi to prosper, the requirements of time and place must be strictly met. The accused must not only prove his presence at another place at the time of the commission of the offense but must also demonstrate that it would be physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime at that time.34 Considering that the intended brides house was only ten (10) kilometers from the rape scene, and easily accessible by means of a tricycle and a little walking, it was not physically impossible for appellant to have been at the crime scene. Furthermore, the defense of alibi, which is inherently weak, becomes even weaker in the face of positive identification of the accused as perpetrator of the crime by his victim.35cräläwvirtualibräry
The accused also professed that his return to the crime scene bolstered his claim of innocence. This argument is untenable since non-flight is not a conclusive proof of innocence. Unlike flight of an accused, which is competent evidence against him as having a tendency to establish his guilt, non-flight is simply inaction, which may be due to several factors. Hence, it may not be positively construed as an indication of innocence.36cräläwvirtualibräry
It is worthy to note in the testimony of Eufronio Idaloy that the accused later asked for his forgiveness. We have ruled that such an act is an admission of guilt.37cräläwvirtualibräry
In his second assignment of error, the accused asserted that his guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt. He claimed that the testimony of Dr. Kollin pegging at three (3) to four (4) days old the age of the healed laceration indicated that no rape was committed on March 25, 1990. He contended that there should have been fresh lacerations when Marilyn was examined 44 hours after the alleged rape.
We are not convinced. First, absence of fresh lacerations does not negate sexual intercourse.38 In fact, rupture of the hymen is not essential. The mere introduction of the male organ in the labia majora of the victims genitalia consummates the crime.39 Second, a medical certificate is not an indispensable element in the prosecution of rape cases,40 hence, absence thereof does not affect the verdict of conviction if sufficient evidence is presented to prove the crime charged. Third, when a woman cries rape, she says all that is necessary to show that rape was indeed committed. If her testimony meets the test of credibility, that is sufficient to convict the accused.41cräläwvirtualibräry
The accused also alleged that Lilia Idaloy, who harbored ill feelings against him for reasons unknown to him, concocted the rape charge. He continued that the non-preservation and non-presentment of the alleged bloodied skirt of Marilyn bolstered his claim of a frame-up.
The arguments are untenable. The implication of ill-motive against Lilia Idaloy is not supported by any evidence other than the testimony of the accused. In fact, Nida Cereno, on rebuttal, denied that she ever told the accused of her relationship with the Idaloys. Thus, Marilyns credibility was even enhanced by the failure of the accused to ascribe any ill-motive on her part. Where there is no evidence to show a dubious reason or improper motive why a victim would falsely implicate an accused in a crime, her testimony is worthy of full faith and credit.42 Besides, it is not believable that a sister, who nurtured and loved the victim, would expose an innocent girl, a retardate at that, to the humiliation and stigma of a rape trial simply to wreck the relationship of Eufronio Idaloy and Nida Cereno.
Furthermore, the alleged bloodied skirt is immaterial in proving the charge of rape. The presence of blood stains on the garment, without further proof that the same are necessarily the by-products of the rape committed on the alleged date, and that they are the dried blood of either accused or the victim, cannot be considered in determining the culpability of the accused.43 Thus, its presentment or non-presentment as evidence in court does not affect the verdict of conviction.
Regarding the appellants civil
liability, the trial court imposed
P50,000.00, as indemnity to the
In addition, we grant another P50,000.00,
as moral damages, in accordance with the ruling in People v. Prades.44cräläwvirtualibräry
WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the appealed decision with
accused-appellant Arnel Almacin y Cereno to the penalty of reclusion perpertua,
with the accessory penalties of the law, and to indemnify the offended party,
Marilyn Idaloy, in the amount of
P50,000.00, and to pay P50,000.00,
as moral damages.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Melo, and Kapunan, JJ., concur.
1 Rollo, pp. 20-26, penned by J. Winefredo A. Armenta.
2 Original Record, Vol.1, p. 2.
3 Judge Jaime R. Alegre.
4 Original Record, Vol.1, p. 9.
5 Provincial Prosecutor Pascualita Duran-Cereno.
6 tsn, September 26, 1990, pp. 8, 19-22, 33.
7 tsn, July 19, 1991, pp. 3-5.
8 tsn, September 26, 1990, pp. 8-10.
9 tsn, December 19, 1990, pp. 2-10.
10 Original Record, Vol. 1, p.5.
11 tsn, March 8, 1991, pp. 12-13.
12 tsn, August 28, 1991, p. 8.
13 tsn, October 27, 1992, pp. 15-29.
14 tsn, October, 15, 1991, pp. 1-9.
15 tsn, April 23, 1992, pp. 1-10.
16 tsn, October 27, 1992, pp. 77-78.
17 tsn, March 11, 1993, pp. 4-6, 15.
18 tsn, December 19, 1990, p. 6.
19 People v. Romua, 272 SCRA 818.
20 tsn, May 8, 1991, p. 4.
21 tsn, September 26, 1990, pp. 20-21.
22 tsn, December 19, 1990, pp. 2-3.
23 tsn, October 27, 1992, p. 11.
24 tsn, July 19, 1991, pp. 5-6.
25 People v. Solomon, 229 SCRA 403.
26 Rule 130, Section 20, Revised Rules of Court.
27 tsn, May 8, 1991, pp. 2-13 and July 19, 1991, pp. 2-6.
28 People v. Rizo, 189 SCRA 265.
29 tsn, May 8, 1991, pp. 4-5.
30 People v. Guerrero, 242 SCRA 606.
31 People v. Mariano, 124 SCRA 802.
32 People v. Tabalesma, 277 SCRA 536.
33 People v. Abangin, G. R. No. 125939-40, October 12, 1998.
34 People v. Fuertes, G. R. No. 126285, September 29, 1998.
35 People v. Echegaray, 257 SCRA 561.
36 People v. Comia, 236 SCRA 185.
37 People v. Cabanela, G. R. No. 127657, November 24, 1998.
38 People v. Erardo, 277 SCRA 643.
39 People v. Cura, 240 SCRA 234.
40 People v. Salazar, 258 SCRA 55.
41 People v. Abangin, G. R. No. 125939-40, October 12, 1998.
42 People v. Manuel, G. R. No. 121539, October 21, 1998.
43 People v. Ilao, G. R. No. 129529, September 29, 1998.
44 G. R. No. 127569, July 30, 1998.