PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. HERNANI SANDICO y GABRIEL, Accused-Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
HERNANI SANDICO y GABRIEL
was charged with two (2) counts of rape in two (2) separate Informations filed
with the Regional Trial Court of Malabon for raping his own daughter, Marivic
Sandico, docketed as Crim. Cases Nos. 15896-MN and 15897-MN.
In Crim. Case No. 15896-MN, he was found
guilty as charged and sentenced to reclusion perpetua, to indemnify his
Accused-appellant assails his conviction on the ground that the court a quo in giving credence to the testimony of his daughter, Marivic Sandico, and that the prosecution failed to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
The two (2) incidents of rape took place in May 1995. First, on 19 May 1995, at around twelve oclock midnight, when Marivic arrived home from the Fishwealth Canning Corporation, Fish Port, Navotas, where she was employed as a factory worker. Their house was a one-storey, one-room affair, situated at Martiniko St., Dagat-dagatan, Malabon. It had no bedroom, only an informal sala, four (4) by four (4) meters, with no partition or division. In other words, the whole Sandico family slept together in the same room with nothing to separate them from each other.
When Marivic arrived home that evening, her mother Gloria Sandico, sister Marife and a nephew were lying on a papag2 already asleep. After eating supper, Marivic changed to her duster, short pants and panty. Her father, accused-appellant Hernani Sandico, was also there. He was still awake. He was watching television. He had nothing on except his briefs.
When Marivic lay down on the floor to sleep, her father went near her, lay down with her and started to embrace her. Marivic resisted. She pushed his arm away. But the accused, now enraged by her resistance, kicked her in the buttocks and boxed her on her right side near her breast. Despite her tenacious defiance of her father, however, he was able to remove her short pants and underwear, then he removed his briefs, placed himself on top of her, inserted his penis into her vagina, and consummated his bestial desire. Before he could ejaculate, he pulled his penis off her vagina and let his sticky semen splatter on her thighs. After satisfying his lust, he went to sleep near the closet, an area not adjacent to Marivic who could only cry in silence and in fear. She was very much afraid of him and of the scandal that the family would be dragged into.3
The second incident was on 21 May 1995, at around 2:30 in afternoon. While Marivic was watching television in their house together with her mother and sister, accused-appellant arrived. He was very drunk. He then ordered his wife and daughter marife to leave, as they did immediately, because of fear.4 As soon as Gloria and Marife left, he stared at Marivic and forced her to remove her duster.5 He poked a bladed weapon on the left side of her neck. She was terribly afraid and shaken. She begged, Tay, ayoko ho, ayoko ho, nagmamakawa ako dahil may regla ako,6 But the accused merely replied, Hindi na bale.7 He removed her duster and cut the strap of her bra. After stripping her naked, accused-appellant ordered her to get out of the house. Of course, she refused. She could not go out streaking in broad daylight. Due to heavy drunkenness, accused-appellant fell asleep near the front door of their house. Marivic then hurriedly grabbed a towel to cover her body, escaped through the window and proceeded to her grandmothers house located in the same neighborhood. Her grandmother was at that time sleeping so she told instead her aunt Concepcion how she was sexually abused by her own father.8
On 26 May 1995 Concepcion accompanied Marivic to the Malabon Police Station where she was instructed to undergo a physical examination first. She went to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) where she was examined by Dr. De Perio-Daniel who issued a medical report.9 Thereafter, Marivic returned to the Malabon Police Station where she executed a Sinumpaang Salaysay before Police Investigator Rolando Pilapil who referred the case to the Inquest Fiscal.10
Dr. De Perio-Daniel testified that she examined Marivic on 26 May 1995 and that her findings showed that there was no laceration in Marivics hymen. However, she explained that Marivics hymen was the elastic type which would allow penetration by an average-size Filipino male organ in full erection without causing genital injury. The report also indicated that there was no sign of extra-genital physical injuries or violence on the body of Marivic.11
Accused-appellant had a different story. As his own sole witness he testified that no unusual incident took place on 20 may 1995. He claimed that at around 1:00 oclock that early morning he only watched television together with his wife and daughter Marife. Marivic arrived between 2:00 to 3:00 oclock that morning.
Accused-appellant also denied having raped Marivic on 21 May 1995. He testified that at around 5:00 oclock in the morning he woke Marivic up to ask for P100.00. Thereafter he went outside for a drinking spree with his friends and fellow construction workers and returned only at around 11:00 oclock.12 When he arrived home, Marife together with Marivic and their nephew were watching television. Upon seeing him, Marivic inquired whether he was drunk; he replied, bitin (not so drunk). Marivic then told him that a bottle of gin was available in their house. When the gin was handed by Marife to him who was outside the house, the former asked permission to attend a birthday party together with her nephew.
With Marife and her nephew gone, accused-appellant asked Marivic for a chaser. She did not obey. After asking her the third time, he got exasperated so (referring to Marivic), Sinabunutan ko po, pinitsiran ko at hinila ko palabas.13 After dragging her outside, he ordered Marivic to take off her clothes. When she refused to obey, he hit her at the back sending her to seek refuge in the house.
Accused-appellant asserts that on 18 May 1995 Marivic lodged a complaint against him allegedly for maltreatment and he was incarcerated by the Malabon Police Detachment. On 21 may 1995, he was again imprisoned at the instance of his daughter for beating her. He was apparently surprised to learn that he was being charged with two (2) counts of rape.
The trial court refused to believe the version of accused-appellant and found him guilty of rape in Crim. Case No. 15896-MN. However, in Crim. Case No. 15897-MN he was acquitted for insufficiency of evidence.
Accused-appellant insists on his innocence not only in Crim. Case No. 15897-MN but also in Crim. Case No. 15896-MN; hence, he comes to us for a reassessment of his conviction. He contends that the evidence for the prosecution should not be given credence. First, he questions the credibility of Marivic. According to him, Marivic hated him and that the instant case was instituted out of vengeance. Second, he makes much of the findings in the medical certificate of Dr. De Perio-Daniel showing the absence of laceration in Marivics hymen and that there was no sign of physical violence in her body. Third, he advances the argument that it was inherently impossible for him to have committed the salacious act given the circumstances and the place where the crime was committed. Fourth, he maintains that there was insufficient resistance on the part of Marivic considering her was unarmed at the time of the alleged rape. Lastly, he claims that there was unreasonable delay in the filing of the charge against him.
The Court is far from persuaded. The trial courts assessment of a witness credibility will not be disturbed on appeal in the absence of palpable error or grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial judge.14 In the instant case, the defense has not given any sufficient reason to reverse or alter this finding. Indeed, Marivic was unequivocal in charging accused-appellant with rape. Her account of the rape was straightforward, detailed, and consistent, interrupted only by tears and bitter sobs when she recalled the repealed acts of lust that her father of all people mercilessly perpetrated on her. She testified, thus
Q: And could you still recall as to how long was he able to do that kind of act unto you or in other words how long his penis inserted into yours?
A: For quite a long time sir.
Q: And what happen (sic) after that, Maddam Witness?
A: At the time there was something coming out from his organ, he removed his organ and he placed that white thing on my thigh, sir.
Q: Madam Witness, tell us how long was your father doing this horrible thing to your person?
x x x x
A: When I was eighteen (18), sir.
Q: Could you tell us the reason, Madam Witness, why you had not reported this to your mother or to (any) other authorities?
A: Because I was very afraid and he was threatening me, sir.
At this juncture, we would like to manifest that the witness while uttering those answers, Your Honor, is continuously in tears or crying, Your Honor.
Q: Now, you mentioned a while ago, Madam Witness, that while this molestation was being done to you by your father, your mother, your nephew and your sister was (sic) in the same room of the house or in the same roof, now tell us why did you not shout or cried (sic) aloud so as your mother can (sic) be awaken (sic)?
A: Because I was afraid and I already have a phobia that he will (sic) going to kill me, sir.15
Accused-appellant alleges that the complaint against him was filed by his daughter out of resentment because he beat her and maltreated her a few days before the incident, and that the charge was simply concocted out of vengeance in order to get rid of him.
We are not convinced. A rape charge is a serious matter with pernicious consequences both for the accused and the complainant. It exposes both the accused and the accuser to humiliation, fear, and anxieties, not to mention the stigma of shame that both have to bear for the rest of their lives.16 These allegations are not enough to overcome the fact that the consequences of filing a case for rape are so serious that an ordinary woman would have second thoughts about filing the same. Even when consumed with revenge, it takes a certain amount of psychological depravity for a young woman to fabricate a story which would put her own father in jail for the most part of his remaining life and drag herself and the rest of her family to a lifetime of shame.17
Accused-appellant theorizes that the absence of any laceration in the victims genital organ completely negated rape, there being no physical evidence of the same. This, according to him, was confirmed by the findings of the medico-legal officer who examined the victim. However, this phenomenon was satisfactorily explained by the medico-legal officer when she said that Marivics hymen is the elastic type which would allow penetration by an average-size Filipino male organ in full erection without genital injury.18 In other words, according to Dr. De Perio-Daniel, it was possible that Marivics hymen would not break even if there was penetration. After all, and perhaps more importantly, full penetration is not required to sustain the conviction of rape, and that it is enough that there be proof of the entrance of the male organ within the labia of the pudendum of the female organ. In fact, penetration of the penis by the entry into the lips of the female organ even without rupture or laceration of the hymen suffices to warrant conviction for rape.19
Accused-appellant insists that it was improbable for rape to be committed under the circumstances narrated by Marivic, i.e., with her mother, sister and a nephew sleeping together in a small room and that, on top of it, Marivic did not even scream which shows insufficient, or even lack of, resistance on her part.
Again, we disagree. It is almost a matter of judicial notice crimes against chastity have been committed in many different places which may be considered as unlikely or inappropriate20 and that the scene of the rape is not always or necessarily isolated or secluded21 for lust is no respecter of time or place.22 Thus, rape can, and has been, committed in places where people congregate,23 e.g. inside a house where there are occupants,24 a five (5) meter room with five (5) people inside25 or even in the same room which the victim is sharing with the accuseds sister.26 Therefore, we find it very probable, and not improbable, that accused-appellant had the temerity to sexually abuse Marivic even when his wife, daughter and nephew were near them. This Court had the occasion to rule that animal lust is an aberration which this Court will not explain for the benefit of the accused.27
As regards the alleged lack or insufficiency of resistance on the part of complaining witness, we hold that force and intimidation necessary in rape is naturally a relative term, depending not only on the age, size and strength of the parties, but also on their relation to each other. Considering that the assailant is no less than complaining witness own father who wields parental influence over her person, the crime undoubtedly was consummated with facility. The reason is that in rape committed by a father against his own daughter, the formers moral ascendancy over the latter substitutes for violence or intimidation. A rape victims actions are oftentimes overwhelmed by fear rather than reason. It is this fear, springing from the initial rape, that the perpetrator hopes to build a climate of extreme psychological terror which would, he hopes, numb his victim into silence and submissiveness. Incestuous rape magnifies the terror because the perpetrator is the person normally expected to give solace and protection to the victim. Furthermore, in incest, access to the victim is guaranteed by the blood relationship, proximity magnifying the sense of helplessness and degree of fear.28
In a last ditch effort at exculpation, the defense would capitalize on the fact that complaining witness reported the incident of rape after ten (10) years from the very first incident, i.e., when she was still eighteen (18), asserting that her initial silence contradicts the natural course of things.
In a long line of cases, this Court has held that the delay in reporting the rape incidents, in the face of threats of physical violence, cannot be taken against the victim.29 Perhaps it could indeed have been sooner but it is not really all that strange that an offended party in a rape case procrastinates in coming up with a complaint to the authorities,30 especially when the lecherous attacker is her own father. Strong apprehensions brought about by fear, stress, or anxiety can easily put the offended party to doubt or even distrust what should otherwise be a positive attitude of bringing the culprit to justice. The Court has thus considered justified the filing of complaints for rape months, even years, after the commission of the offense. In People v. Malagar31 the Court observed
Vacillation in the filing of complaints by rape victims is not an uncommon phenomenon. This crime is normally accompanied by the rapists threat on the victims life, and the fear can last for quite a while. There is also the natural reluctance of a woman to admit her sullied chastity, accepting thereby all the stigma it leaves, and to then expose herself to the morbid curiosity of the public whom she may likely perceive, rightly or wrongly, to be more interested in the prurient details of the ravishment than in her vindication and the punishment of the rapist. In People v. Coloma32 we have considered an 8-year delay in reporting the long history of rape by victims father as understandable and so not enough to render incredible the complaint.
In fine, the offended partys reactions were consistent with reason. Her complete obedience to accused-appellant, her lack of struggle against him, and the studied silence she kept about her terrible order were all brought about by her genuine fear of him who needed no weapon to instill it in her. In Marivics mind she was convinced of a potential yet real danger posed by her own father against her. Under the circumstances, coupled with the fact that the victim positively identified accused-appellant as her ravisher, the Court must, without doubt, affirm the trial courts conviction.
The court a quo
granted Marivic an indemnity of
WHEREFORE, the 28 June 1996 decision of the RTC-Br. 64,
Malabon, finding accused-appellant HERNANI SANDICO y GABRIEL guilty of RAPE in
Crim. Case No. 15896-MN and sentencing him to reclusion perpetua is
AFFIRMED, with the modification that the amount of indemnity granted to
complaining witness Marivic Sandico is increased from P30,000.00 to
Puno, Mendoza, and Quisumbing, JJ., concur.
Buena, J., on leave.
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