Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. 205413 December 2, 2013
PEOPLE OF THE PHILLIPINES, Appellee,
ROGELIO MANICAT y DE GUZMAN, Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
We resolve the appeal, filed by Rogelio Manicat y de Guzman (appellant), from the decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA), dated May 4, 2012 in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 03930. The decision affirmed with modification the January 14, 2009 decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 169, Malabon City, in Crim. Case No. 24550-MN, finding the appelant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape, and sentencing hime to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, without elligibility of parole.
The RTC Ruling
In its January 14, 2009 decision, the RTC found the appelant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of simple rape. It gave credence to the testimony of AAA, the 13-year old victim, that while she was on her way to buy coffee and sugar, the appellant pulled her inside his house, undressed her, and then forced her to lie down on her back. The appellant afterwards inserted his penis inside her vagina. AAA explained that she felt pain but she did not cry because the appellant threatened to kill her if she made any noise. According to the RTC, the fact that AAA is afflicted with mild mental retardation with a mental age of 7-8 years old does not make her an incompetent witness, as she testified in a clear and straightforward manner. Thus, the RTC sentenced the appellant to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, without eligibility for parole, and ordered him to pay the victim the sum of ₱50,000.00 as civil indemnity, ₱50,000.00 as moral damages, and ₱25,000.00 as exemplary damages.
The CA Decision
On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTC judgment with the modification that the award of exemplary damages in the amount of ₱25,000.00 be deleted. The CA held that AAA testified in a "straightforward, candid and convincing manner." 3
Her testimony was corroborated by Medico Legal Report No. M-257-01 dated April 29, 2001 stating that the victim is in a non-virgin physical state. The CA noted that the Clinical Abstract issued by the National Center for Mental Health does not indicate whether AAA’s condition impairs her capacity as a witness. It also explained that AAA’s credibility cannot be impaired by her behavior as a rape victim because rape victims do not all react in the same way. The CA rejected the appellant’s defense of denial and alibi for failure to substantiate these defenses. Lastly, the CA found that the penalty of "reclusion perpetua, without eligibility for parole" was proper because under Resolution No. 24-4-10, 4 those convicted of offenses punished with reclusion perpetua are disqualified from the benefit of parole.
We deny the appeal, but modify the awarded indemnities. For the charge of rape (under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code [RPC], as amended) to prosper, the prosecution must prove that: (1) the offender had carnal knowledge of a woman; and (2) he accomplished this act through force, threat or intimidation, when she was deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious, or when she was under 12 years of age or was demented.
In the present case, the prosecution established the elements of rape required under Article 266-A of the RPC.
First, the appellant had carnal knowledge of the victim. AAA was straightforward when she testified that the appellant inserted his penis into her vagina. Her testimony was supported by Medico Legal Report No. M-257-01 dated April 29, 2001, reflecting the victim’s non-virgin physical state. We have held that when the testimony of a rape victim is consistent with the medical findings, there is sufficient basis to conclude that there has been carnal knowledge.5
Second, the appellant employed threat, force and intimidation to satisfy his lust. AAA categorically testified that she resisted when the appellant pulled her inside his house. She also recalled that she cried when the appellant inserted his penis into her vagina. Nonetheless, she was helpless and afraid to make further noise because the appellant threatened to kill her. These facts sufficiently indicate that the appellant’s acts were against AAA’s will.
Being afflicted with mild mental retardation does not mean that AAA’s testimony was merely imagined. We agree with the RTC and the CA’s conclusion that the testimony of a mental retardate depends on the quality of her perceptions and the manner she can make these known to the court.6
In the present case, the questions asked were couched in terms that AAA could easily understand, as recommended by Ma. Cristina P. Morelos, M.D., Medical Officer III.7
Hence, we are convinced that AAA understood the questions propounded to her, which she answered in a clear and straightforward manner. Contrary to the appellant’s argument, the behavior of the victim does not establish the truth or falsity of her accusation. "As a matter of settled jurisprudence, rape is subjective and not all victims react in the same way; there is no typical form of behavior for a woman when facing a traumatic experience such as a sexual assault." 8
In addition, the appellant’s denial cannot overturn his conviction in light of AAA’s positive testimony. We have consistently held that positive identification of the accused, when categorical and consistent and without any showing of ill motive of the part of the eyewitness testifying, should prevail over the mere denial of the appellant whose testimony is not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence.9
We reject the appellant’s argument that the phrase "without eligibility for parole" is a penalty which is appropriate only to qualified rape. Article 266-B of the RPC10 is explicit that rape committed through force, threat, or intimidation is punishable by reclusion perpetua.
On the other hand, Resolution No. 24-4-1011 states that those convicted of offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua are disqualified for parole. Thus, the RTC did not alter the appropriate penalty for simple rape as it merely reflected the consequence of having been convicted of a crime punishable by reclusion perpetua.
We reinstate the award of exemplary damages to deter similar conduct and to set an example against persons who abuse and corrupt the youth. We set the amount of ₱30,000.00 to conform to prevailing jurisprudence.
Finally, interest at rate of six percent (6%) per annum shall be applied to the award of civil indemnity, moral damages and exemplary damages from the finality of judgment until fully paid.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals dated May 4, 2012 in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 03930 is AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS: (a) the appellant is further ordered to pay AAA ₱30,000.00 as exemplary damages; and (b) he is ordered to pay interest, at the rate of 6% per annum to the award of civil indemnity, moral damages, and exemplary damages from finality of judgment until fully paid.
ARTURO D. BRION
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
|MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
|JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
ESTELLA M. PERLAS-BERNABE
A T T E S T A T I O N
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decesion had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Chairman, Second Division.
C E R T I F I C A T I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairperson’s Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the aove Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.
MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO
1 Rollo, pp. 2-20; penned by Associate Justice Agnes Reyes-Carpio, and concurred in by Associate Justices Jose C. Reyes, Jr. and Franchito N. Diamante.
2 CA Rollo, pp. 11-21.
3 Id. at 11-16.
4 RE: Amending and Repealing Certain Rules and Sections of the Rules on Parole and Amended Guidelines for Recommending Executive Clemency of the 2006 Revised Manual of the Board of Pardons and Parole.
5 People v. Mercado, G.R. No. 189847, May 30, 2011, 649 SCRA 499, 503.
6 Citing People v. Macapal, 501 Phil. 675 (2005).
7 Rollo, p. 11.
8 People v. Barberos, G.R. No. 187494, December 23, 2009, 609 SCRA 381, 400
9 Id. at 401.
10 Article 266-B. Penalty. - Rape under paragraph 1 of the next preceding article shall be punished by reclusion perpetua.
11 RULE 2.2. Disqualifications for Parole - Pursuant to Section 2 of Act No. 4103, as amended, otherwise known as the "Indeterminate Sentence Law," parole shall not be granted to the following inmates:
i. Those convicted of offenses punished with reclusion perpetua, or whose sentences were reduced to reclusion perpetua by reason of Republic Act No. 9346 enacted on June 24, 2006, amending Republic Act No. 7659 dated January 1, 2004[.] [emphasis and underscore ours]
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