G. R. Nos. 140736-39 - February 4, 2003
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. CARLOS LILO, Accused-Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
For automatic review is the decision rendered by Branch 25 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Iloilo City finding accused-appellant Carlos Lilo guilty of incestuous rape on four counts and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of death on one count and reclusion perpetua on three.
By the account of private complainant, Carol Lilo, the only child of accused-appellant, she was raped numerous times by him but could recall only four occasions,1 those subject of the criminal complaint docketed as Criminal Case No. 49823 and three separate informations docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 49824, 49825 and 49826 filed on September 3, 1998 at the RTC of Iloilo City, for acts allegedly committed in October 1995, May 24, 1998, July 24, 1998, and May 19, 1998, respectively, as follows:
CRIMINAL CASE NO. 49823
That in October 1995, in the Municipality of Calinog, Province of Iloilo, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a bolo, with deliberate intent, by means of force and intimidation and with abuse of confidence and trust, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of the undersigned complainant CAROL LILO, his daughter, who was then seventeen (17) years old, against her will and/or consent.
CRIMINAL CASE NO. 49824
That on or about May 24, 1998, in the Municipality of Calinog, Province of Iloilo, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a bladed weapon, with deliberate intent, by means of force and intimidation and with abuse of confidence and trust, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of his daughter CAROL LILO, against her will and/or consent.
CRIMINAL CASE NO. 49825
That on or about July 24, 1998, in the Municipality of Calinog, Province of Iloilo, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a bladed weapon, with deliberate intent, by means of force and intimidation and with abuse of confidence and trust, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of his daughter CAROL LILO, against her will and/or consent.
CRIMINAL CASE NO. 49826
That on or about May 19, 1998, in the Municipality of Calinog, Province of Iloilo, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a bladed weapon, with deliberate intent, by means of force and intimidation and with abuse of confidence and trust, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of his daughter CAROL LILO, against her will and/or consent.
Recalling the rape which occurred on a day in October 1995 subject of Criminal Case No. 49823, Carol declared as follows:
After accused-appellant had eaten at around 10:30 a.m., he summoned her.4 As she obliged, he held her, pointed a bolo at her and told her not to make any noise.5 She was thus prompted to ask him what he intended to do, he being her father, to which he replied: "You are my daughter and I was the one who caused you to be born. I was the one feeding you, clothing you. Afterwards others will make use of you? I will do it first."6cräläwvirtualibräry
Accused-appellant thereupon dragged her toward the sugarcane field some thirty meters from the farm and upon reaching it, he hugged her thighs and laid her on the ground.7 She resisted and fought back, but he punched her, and she proved no match for him.8cräläwvirtualibräry
Accused-appellant then removed her panty, raised her shirt, felt her whole body and kissed her lips and breasts.9 Thereafter, he undressed himself, laid flat on her, and forced his penis into her vagina where it stayed for one (1) minute, he "mov[ing] his buttocks up and down," drawing her to cry.10 When he was through, accused-appellant cautioned her not to tell anybody what happened, otherwise he would kill her, her mother, and her grandmother.11cräläwvirtualibräry
A certification from the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Calinog, Iloilo shows that Carol was only 17 years and 4 months old at the time of the incident.12cräläwvirtualibräry
With respect to the May 19, 1998 incident subject of Criminal Case No. 49826, Carol related that while she was at home sleeping, accused-appellant woke her up, pointed a bolo at her and threatened her not to make any noise.13 While holding the bolo in one hand, accused-appellant undressed her, touched her body, kissed her on the lips and breasts,14 and "did to [her what] he did to [her] in the past.15cräläwvirtualibräry
The sexual act was repeated in the same manner, so Carol claimed, on May 24, 199816 when at around midnight while she was at home, accused-appellant did to her the, "same thing he had done to [her] before.17cräläwvirtualibräry
Finally, on the July 24, 1998 incident, Carol declared that as she lay asleep at 10:30 p.m., after a long night at a school function, accused-appellant woke her up, pointed a bolo at her and threatened her not to make any noise.18 He then "undressed [her] and d[id] what he [had] done to [her] again."19cräläwvirtualibräry
When asked why she never reported the incidents to her mother, Carol responded that her mother seldom went home on account of her work in "town" and that she was under constant threat from accused-appellant not to disclose the incidents to anyone.20cräläwvirtualibräry
In August 1998, following her attendance in a symposium on abuses committed against children and women held at the Calinog Agricultural and Industrial College where she was enrolled, Carol, then already 20, revealed to her friend Joy Lyn Casalan about accused-appellants molestations on her.21cräläwvirtualibräry
Accompanied by Joy, she, on August 12, 1998, reported to the local police station the multiple rapes committed against her, and on the instruction of the police, she on even date submitted herself to medical examination which showed that she had 3 healed lacerations in the hymen located at 4, 6 and 8 oclock positions.22cräläwvirtualibräry
Accused-appellant denied the accusations against him.
The trial court, however, discredited accused-appellants denial and found him guilty of four counts of rape in the decision on review, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the court, finding the accused, Carlos Lilo, guilty of four (4) counts of rape beyond reasonable doubt, imposes upon him the following penalties:
In each of the cases docketed as Crim. Cases Nos. 49824, 49825 and 49826, the penalty of reclusion perpetua with the accessory penalties as provided in Article 42 of the Revised Penal Code;
In Crim. Case No. 49823 the penalty of death with such accessory penalties as provided in Article 40 of the Revised Penal Code; and
To pay private complainant P50,000.00 as moral damages as well as pay the cost.23cräläwvirtualibräry
Before this Court, accused-appellant disputes the finding that he is guilty beyond reasonable doubt,24 and assails the reliance by the trial court on the testimony of Carol who was merely motivated, so he claims, by resentment in filing the complaint due to the fact that he often maltreated her.25cräläwvirtualibräry
Accused-appellants submission does not persuade. This Court finds his claim to be a mere afterthought for, during the trial, when asked if he knew of any motive why Carol filed the cases against him, he replied in the negative.26 Further, this Court has consistently echoed its ruling that parental punishment would not suffice to egg one to falsely charge ones father with rape.27cräläwvirtualibräry
Accused-appellant goes on to harp on Carols inability to recall the exact date when the incident in October 1995 was allegedly committed.28 Failure to recall the exact date of the crime, however, is not an indication of false testimony,29 for even discrepancies regarding exact dates of rapes are inconsequential and immaterial and cannot discredit the credibility of the victim as a witness.30cräläwvirtualibräry
Accused-appellant goes further to posit that rape could not have been committed in October 1995 in broad daylight, particularly in a farm where there were other people who were supposed to be at work.31 Judicial notice, however, is taken of the fact, and it can be considered of public knowledge, that the scene of rape is not always or necessarily isolated or secluded,32 as it can be committed even in places where people congregate, in parks along the roadside, in school premises, in a house where there are other occupants, in the same room where other members of the family are also sleeping, and even in places which to many would appear unlikely and high-risk venues for its commission.33cräläwvirtualibräry
Finally, accused-appellant focuses on Carols behavior after the alleged rape incidents as running counter to human nature.34 He cites Carols casually leaving the place where she claims to have been molested in October 1995 and continuing to work in the farm with him as if nothing happened.35 The behavior or reaction of every person to a certain event cannot, however, be predicted with accuracy, and may be dealt with in any way by the victim whose testimony may be given full credence so long as her credibility is not tainted by any modicum of doubt.36cräläwvirtualibräry
The undoubted credibility of the witness in Carol and of her testimony notwithstanding, this Court finds that the prosecution has proven only one (1) count of rape, that committed in October 1995. The following testimony of Carol instructs so:
The bare allegation of Carol that she was raped in the same manner as in previous incidents without giving any detail on how the act was committed is inadequate to establish to a degree of moral certainty the guilt thereof of accused-appellant. It bears emphasis that every charge of rape is a distinct and separate crime and each must be proved beyond reasonable doubt.39cräläwvirtualibräry
With respect then to the incident of May 19, 1998, in the absence of any evidence showing that, aside from accused-appellants undressing and touching the delicate parts of Carols body, he had carnal knowledge with her, the crime committed is merely acts of lasciviousness under Article 336 of the Revised Penal Code which reads:
ART. 336. Acts of lasciviousness - Any person who shall commit any act of lasciviousness upon other persons of either sex, under any of the circumstances mentioned in the preceding article, shall be punished by prision correccional.
As in the May 19, 1998 incident, Carols following testimony regarding the July 24, 1998 incident, quoted verbatim, does not establish the commission of rape:
As earlier mentioned, every charge of rape is a distinct and separate crime and each must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Since the prosecution has failed to prove that any crime was committed on May 24, 1998, accused-appellants acquittal in Criminal Case No. 49824 is in order.
Having found that accused-appellant committed rape in Criminal Case No. 49823, and acts of lasciviousness in Criminal Case No. 49826, a determination of the penalties therefor is in order.
With respect to Criminal Case No. 49823, the May 27, 1997 Certification of the Calinog, Iloilo Civil Registrar44 which therein quotes entries on the "facts of birth appear[ing] in our Registry of Birth" shows that Carol was born on June 1, 1978 to Carlos Lilo (accused-appellant) and Rosa Paloma. Unquestionably then, Carol is the daughter of accused-appellant, and was under eighteen years of age at the time of the commission of the rape in October 1995. Since the crime was committed in October 1995, Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act 7659 (effective December 31, 1993),45 thus applies. It provides:
Article 335. When and how rape is committed. - Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances.
The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the following, attendant circumstances:
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;
x x x (Emphasis supplied.)
Hence, accused-appellant must be penalized with death.
Three justices of the Court, however, continue to maintain the unconstitutionality of R.A. 7659 insofar as it prescribes the death penalty. Nevertheless, they submit to the ruling of the majority to the effect that the law is constitutional and that the death penalty can be lawfully imposed in the case at bar.
With respect to Criminal Case No. 49826, relationship aggravated the commission of the acts of lasciviousness. As held in People v. Caiñgat,46 under Article 15 of the Revised Penal Code, relationship is one of the alternative circumstances and in the crimes of rape under Article 335 and acts of lasciviousness under Article 336 of the same Code, relationship is aggravating, hence, accused-appellant must be penalized with prision correccional in its maximum period.
WHEREFORE, the judgment on review is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION.
In Criminal Case No. 49823, accused-appellant, Carlos Lilo, is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of RAPE and is hereby sentenced to death and to pay private complainant, Carol Lilo, the amount of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages, and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages.
In Criminal Case No. 49826, accused-appellant is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of ACTS OF LASCIVIOUSNESS and is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of Six (6) Months of Arresto Mayor as minimum, to Six (6) Years of Prision Correccional as maximum, and to pay private complainant the amount of P30,000.00 as moral damages, plus costs of suit.
Accused-appellant is ACQUITTED of the charges in Criminal Case Nos. 49824 and 49825.
Costs de officio.
In accordance with Article 83 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 25 of R.A. 7659, upon finality of this Decision, let the records of these cases be forwarded to the Office of the President for possible exercise of executive clemency.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
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