Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. 183709 December 6, 2010
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,
MANUEL "AWIL" POJO, Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
On appeal is the January 28, 2008 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 02502 which affirmed the September 4, 2006 Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court of Calabanga, Camarines Sur, Branch 63, finding appellant Manuel "Awil" Pojo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of statutory rape.
On March 16, 2004, an Information3 was filed charging appellant with the crime of statutory rape committed as follows:
That on or about the 20th day of October, 2003, at around three o’clock in the afternoon in x x x, Camarines Sur, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously through force or intimidation [had] carnal knowledge [of] "AAA,"4 ten years old, against her will, to her damage and prejudice.
ACTS CONTRARY TO LAW.
On arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge. Trial thereafter ensued.
Version of the Prosecution
"AAA" testified that appellant is the common-law husband of her mother. On October 20, 2003, at about three o’clock in the afternoon, her mother sent her to bring food to the appellant who was working at the camote plantation of a certain Tuason. While thereat, appellant made her lie on the ground which he covered with banana leaves. After ordering "AAA" to remove her shorts and panty, he also removed his undergarments and inserted his penis into the vagina of "AAA." However, appellant’s penis failed to completely penetrate "AAA’s" vagina but merely touched the same. However, "AAA" still felt pain in her private organ. After a while, appellant stood up and ordered "AAA" to go home. "AAA" however noticed a whitish substance coming out of appellant’s private part.
Upon reaching their house, "AAA" immediately relayed the incident to her sibling and mother. Thereupon, they reported the incident to the police authorities and subjected "AAA" to medical examination.
Version of the Defense
Appellant admitted that "AAA" is the daughter of his common-law spouse. However, he denied raping her on October 20, 2003. He claimed that he left Camarines Sur on October 20, 2002. On October 20, 2003, he was in Batangas working in a sugarcane plantation of his cousin, Mariano Ate. He also claimed that "AAA’s" motive in filing the rape charge against him was to force him to marry her mother.
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
The trial court lent credence to the version of the prosecution. It noted that rape was consummated although there was no complete penetration considering the categorical statement of "AAA" that she felt the penis of the appellant touch her private part. "AAA" was only 10 years old when the rape incident transpired; and only 12 years old when placed on the witness stand. According to the trial court, "AAA" could not have concocted the rape incident if it did not actually transpire. Being a minor, she lacked the sophistication to fabricate the crime of rape against the appellant.
The trial court brushed aside the defense of denial of the appellant. It held that "AAA’s" positive testimony that it was appellant who sexually assaulted her prevails over the bare denial of the appellant. It found that appellant’s claim that he was in Batangas at the time the crime of rape was committed was self-serving and uncorroborated. The defense did not present anyone who could testify that appellant was indeed in Batangas on October 20, 2003 and that he was working in a sugarcane plantation.
Finally, the trial court held that although the minority of the victim was proven by the presentation of her birth certificate, appellant could only be found liable of statutory rape. It noted that although it was proven during trial that appellant was the common-law husband of "AAA’s" mother, such fact was not alleged in the Information.
The dispositive portion of the Decision of the trial court reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the prosecution having proven the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of statutory rape, accused is found guilty of the crime as charged. He is therefore, sentenced to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and to pay the private complainant "AAA" the amount of ₱50,000.00 as civil liability, ₱50,000.00 as moral damages, and to pay the cost.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The appellate court affirmed in toto the Decision of the trial court. It noted that the trial court correctly appreciated and evaluated the facts of the case. It also found unbelievable the appellant’s claim that "AAA’s" motive in filing the case was to force him to marry her mother. According to the CA, "AAA" was too young to be able to think of that elaborate scheme. Likewise, the appellate court held that appellant’s alibi does not inspire belief as he failed to present any independent evidence to establish his whereabouts on October 20, 2003.
Hence, this appeal.
On September 3, 2008, we notified both parties that they may file their respective supplemental briefs. However, both parties manifested that they are no longer filing their briefs.
The appeal lacks merit.
In its attempt to exonerate herein appellant, the defense tries to impute ill motive on the part of "AAA" in filing the instant case. The defense claims that "AAA" harbors ill feelings against the appellant because when the latter started living-in with "AAA’s" mother, the latter no longer had time to take care of "AAA" as she devoted most of her time to appellant.
We are not persuaded. This line of reasoning totally contradicts the earlier theory adopted by the defense. It will be recalled that when the appellant testified before the trial court, he claimed that "AAA’s" motive in filing the charge of rape was to force him to marry her mother. However, in its Appellant’s Brief, the defense now argues that "AAA" harbored ill feelings towards the appellant because her mother devoted most of her time to the appellant thereby depriving "AAA" and her siblings the care and attention that they deserve from their mother. If indeed this is true, then instead of wanting the appellant to marry her mother, "AAA" would instead have wished for appellant to leave so that their mother could pay more attention to them.
We also find no merit in the contention of the defense that "AAA’s" delay in reporting the incident should have cautioned the trial court from lending credibility to her testimony.lawphi1 According to the defense, it was only on November 17, 2003, or 27 days after the alleged commission of the rape, that "AAA" signed her affidavit. We consider a lapse of 27 days reasonable for "AAA" to prepare and sign her affidavit. In several cases where the delay consisted of years and months, we still considered the same reasonable and did not in any way diminish the credibility of the complaining witness. In the instant case, "AAA’s" "delay" of 27 days did not diminish in any manner her credibility. Said "delay" was inconsequential and did not touch on the elements of the crime. It remains un-rebutted that on October 20, 2003, appellant had carnal knowledge of "AAA" through force and intimidation and without her consent. Also, "AAA" immediately reported the incident to her mother and sibling. On October 21, 2003, or merely a day after the rape was committed, the same was reported to the police authorities. Moreover, "AAA" satisfactorily explained the said "delay." She testified that she and her mother went to the police authorities several times but it was only on November 17, 2003 that she signed her affidavit.
Finally, both the trial court and the appellate court correctly disregarded appellant’s alibi. Our ruling in People v. Jimenez6 is instructive, thus:
It is an established jurisprudential rule that a mere denial, without any strong evidence to support it, can scarcely overcome the positive declaration by the victim of the identity and involvement of appellant in the crimes attributed to him. The defense of alibi is likewise unavailing. Firstly, alibi is the weakest of all defenses, because it is easy to concoct and difficult to disprove. Unless substantiated by clear and convincing proof, such defense is negative, self-serving, and undeserving of any weight in law. Secondly, alibi is unacceptable when there is a positive identification of the accused by a credible witness. Lastly, in order that alibi might prosper, it is not enough to prove that the accused has been somewhere else during the commission of the crime; it must also be shown that it would have been impossible for him to be anywhere within the vicinity of the crime scene.
As correctly observed by the lower courts, appellant’s claim that he was in Batangas on October 20, 2003 deserves scant consideration at all for being self-serving and for lack of any corroborative evidence to establish the same.
The trial court, as affirmed by the CA, correctly found appellant guilty of statutory rape. Under Article 266-A(1)(d) of the Revised Penal Code, "[r]ape is committed by a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman x x x when the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age x x x even though none of the circumstances mentioned above be present." In this case, we find that the prosecution satisfactorily established the fact that appellant had carnal knowledge of "AAA" who was only 10 years of age. Moreover, the courts below correctly imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua on the appellant pursuant to Article 266-B(1st par.).
The award of ₱50,000.00 as civil indemnity and another ₱50,000.00 as moral damages in favor of the victim is in accordance with prevailing jurisprudence.7 In addition, however, "AAA" is entitled to an award of exemplary damages.8 The qualifying circumstance that appellant was the common-law spouse of "AAA’s" mother was duly established during trial although it was not properly alleged in the Information. Although appellant may not be convicted of qualified rape, said circumstance however may be taken into account in the award of exemplary damages.9 Jurisprudence10 dictates that exemplary damages in the amount of ₱30,000.00 be further awarded to "AAA."
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The January 28, 2008 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 02502 which affirmed the September 4, 2006 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Calabanga, Camarines Sur, Branch 63, finding appellant Manuel "Awil" Pojo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of statutory rape, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay "AAA" the amounts of ₱50,000,00 as civil indemnity and ₱50,000.00 as moral damages, is AFFIRMED with modification that appellant is further ordered to pay "AAA" exemplary damages in the amount of ₱30,000.00.
MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
RENATO C. CORONA
|TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
|ROBERTO A. ABAD*
JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
C E R T I F I C A T I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.
RENATO C. CORONA
* In lieu of Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., per Special Order No. 917 dated November 24, 2010.
1 CA rollo, pp. 93-98; penned by Associate Justice Agustin S. Dizon and concurred in by Associate Justices Amelita G. Tolentino and Lucenito N. Tagle.
2 Id. at 28-35; penned by Judge Freddie D. Balonzo.
3 Records, p. 1.
4 The identity of the victim or any information which could establish or compromise her identity, as well as those of her immediate family or household members, shall be withheld pursuant to Republic Act No. 7610, An Act Providing for Stronger Deterrence and Special Protection Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination, and for Other Purposes; Republic Act No. 9262, An Act Defining Violence Against Women and Their Children, Providing for Protective Measures for Victims, Prescribing Penalties Therefor, and for Other Purposes; and Section 40 of A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC, known as the Rule on Violence Against Women and Their Children, effective November 5, 2004.
5 CA rollo, p. 35.
6 G.R. No. 170235, April 24, 2009, 586 SCRA 580, 597, citing People v. Nieto, G.R. No. 177756, March 3, 2008, 547 SCRA 511.
7 People v. Pabol, G.R. No. 187084, October 12, 2009, 603 SCRA 522, 532.
8 Id. at 532-533.
9 People v. Rante, G.R. No. 184809, March 29, 2010.
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