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357 Phil. 893

THIRD DIVISION

[ G.R. No. 119592, October 07, 1998 ]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. FERDINAND EMOCLING ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

D E C I S I O N

ROMERO, J.:

What could possibly drive a maiden of seventeen years, barely a woman but no longer a girl, to expose herself to the degradation that attends a charge of rape? To vindicate a wrong, as the accuser maintains, or, as imputed by the accused, to conceal an unwanted pregnancy for which he was not responsible? After examining the divergent tales of these two individuals, together with the physical and testimonial evidence, the Court agrees with the trial court that the complainant in the case at bar was the true victim.

Angelita Jazareno was employed as house helper by the Emoclings sometime in April 1990. Their families had been friends in Baguio City since 1972; so, with Magdalena Emocling’s offer of employment and educational opportunity for the then 15-year-old Angelita, she and her mother, Patricia Anicas,[1] agreed. Magdalena’s son, accused-appellant Ferdinand Emocling, a professional jeepney driver whom Angelita fondly called "Uncle Ticman," got married in October of the same year.

One morning in April 1992, while accused-appellant’s parents were abroad, Angelita, now a young lass two months shy of her seventeenth birthday, was roused from sleep at around 6:00 o’clock when she felt her Uncle Ticman embracing her and about to kiss her. He had nothing on except his underwear. She was able to thwart his advances, though, by shouting "Auntie Jane," his wife’s name. Accused-appellant immediately went to the bathroom and took a shower. While he was there, Angelita related to Jane what had happened. In her anger and disgust, Jane threw a feeding bottle at her husband upon seeing him.[2]

That same day, Angelita repeated her story to her older brother, to the spouses Dumaguing, relatives and landlords of the Emoclings, then to her mother, who told her there was no need to report the incident to the police inasmuch as she was untouched. She, however, opted to stay with her mother. A week later, when Magdalena Emocling had arrived from the United States, Angelita was requested by the old lady, who used to look after her when she was a small girl, to return to their house. Angelita did come back, but in the morning she left again and thereafter stayed with her mother.

One late afternoon in August 1992, however, while walking downhill towards the Botanical Gardens after visiting with friends,[3] Angelita saw accused-appellant’s jeepney approaching from the opposite direction. As it stopped near her, accused-appellant alighted and advanced toward her, poked a knife at her waist, held her by the left arm, then forced her into the front passenger seat of his jeepney before boarding through the same side himself. He continued to nudge her side with his knife as he traversed the periphery of the Baguio Country Club, occasionally placing it in the cash box only when he had to use both hands in steering and shifting gears. Accused-appellant parked near the golf course of the club, went out through the passenger side, then pulled Angelita out before leading her to a grassy portion which was partially concealed by a concrete wall and foot-high reeds and sunflowers. He made her lie on the ground then lay beside her. Angelita tearfully tried to resist him and begged for mercy, "Huwag po, Uncle Ticman," but these words fell on the deaf ears of the man she once trusted and, at that very moment, dreaded. She refused to take off her jeans and underwear when ordered by accused-appellant, so the latter removed them himself while steadily jabbing her with the knife. He fondled her breasts and pressed the knife harder when she tried to scream. Accused-appellant then unzipped his pants, went on top of her, forced her legs apart using his own legs, and greedily ravished her innocent body against her will. After that, he directed her to dress up, then threatened her not to tell anybody about the incident lest she wanted to die along with her parents, a warning he repeated just before dropping Angelita off in front of the St. Joseph’s Church.[4]

Because of the continuing threat on her life posed not only by accused-appellant himself, who would glower at her every time he passed her by in his jeepney, but also by his barkada, she would have kept her silence, except for one unfortunate consequence of that violation on her virtue: she got pregnant. By January 1993, when her state of infanticipation was becoming obvious, she decided to pre-empt any vicious rumor in school by revealing the root of her predicament to her close friends.[5] The latter, in turn, related the story to her mother who furiously confronted her daughter and heard the truth "straight from the horse’s mouth."[6] Patricia brought Angelita to the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center for examination. Dr. Norma Batnag confirmed her pregnancy and said that the baby was around twenty-two weeks into the second trimester, about five months old, based on ultrasound fetal aging.[7] Angelita gave birth to a baby boy on May 20, 1993, but accused-appellant refused to acknowledge him as his son.

In the meantime, Angelita formally charged accused-appellant with the crime of rape in a complaint dated March 19, 1993, supported by a resolution of even date by Baguio City Prosecutor Alfredo R. Centeno, recommending the prosecution of Ferdinand Emocling for rape.

Accused-appellant denied the charges hurled against him and harped on the alleged loose morality of Angelita whom he claimed was probably impregnated by one of the boys with whom she flirted.[8] He submitted that he was being made the scapegoat for her misdeeds and that the case was filed to compel him to support Angelita’s child[9] because she thought that his family had "plenty of money."[10] To demonstrate the improbability of Angelita’s accusations, the defense presented the testimony of weatherman Salvador Olivares, who declared that it was raining almost the whole month of August 1992.[11] They also put in issue some of the information supplied by Angelita to Dr. Batnag during the former’s examination at the BGHMC, such as the exact date of the incident, that is, September 15, 1992.[12] Finally, the defense questioned the delay in Angelita’s reporting of the alleged sexual assault. They dismissed her fear of accused-appellant’s threats as a figment of her fertile imagination, considering that after the alleged incident, she was relatively safe in her mother’s house and her stepfather was even a Barangay Captain.

After trial on the merits, Judge Ruben C. Ayson of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, Branch 6, rendered a judgment dated February 8, 1995, finding accused-appellant guilty as charged, to wit:
"WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding the accused Ferdinand Emocling Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape, defined and penalized under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code with the aggravating circumstances (sic) of use of a knife, a deadly weapon, and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua; to indemnify the offended party, Angelita Jazareno, the sum of P50,000.00 as Moral Damages without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; and to acknowledge Mark Jazareno as his Natural child and to give support to the said child pursuant to Article 345 of the Revised Penal Code in the reasonable amount of P1,000.00 a month which the Court deems commensurate with his financial capacity as a passenger jeepney driver and a man of means.

Having been convicted of the capital offense of Rape, the cash bond posted by accused is hereby cancelled and the same is directed to be released to accused who posted the same and the accused is hereby ordered committed and detained in jail until further orders of this Court.

SO ORDERED."
As stated at the outset, the Court sees no merit in accused-appellant’s declaration of innocence. Neither can we bear hearing him once again vilify the virtue of this teenager by impressing upon us that her adolescent mind is so polluted as to recklessly allow herself to be used by one or more partners; point to accused-appellant, a married man, as the father of her bastard son; and finally, in order to get financial support to raise the child, concoct a colorful tale of sexual abuse replete with lurid details and even prefaced by an earlier attempt at her chastity.

This Court has, time and again, been most scrupulous in resolving charges of rape because of the private character of this offense, notwithstanding its reclassification as a public crime.[13] Often, the Court is torn between by the diametrically opposed testimonies of the accused and the victim, other testimonial and physical evidence on the matter merely being corroborative. Another point to consider is the established principle that in convicting a person accused of committing a crime, the trial court is constrained to rely on the strength of the State’s evidence, not on the weakness of the defense. Ultimately, the question that truly matters is: Was accused-appellant’s guilt proved by the prosecution beyond a shadow of a doubt?

Let us examine the evidence.

Angelita Jazareno testified on the circumstances surrounding her alleged violation by accused-appellant. She was called to the witness stand no less than seven times. In those seven days, she was literally grilled upon cross-examination by the defense. Notwithstanding their attempts to derail the track of her testimony or to confuse her with petty details concerning the weather and geography, she never faltered in her testimony.

She declared in open court, under the eagle-eyed scrutiny of the trial judge, the malevolent stare of the defense, and the probing stance of the prosecution, that she, indeed, was raped by accused-appellant. He had always lusted for her, it seemed, for the moment her body exhibited signs of blossoming womanhood and they began to share one roof, his bestiality correspondingly asserted itself into his consciousness which his mind translated into action that early morning in April 1992. Fortunately, Angelita’s quick thinking and the presence of accused-appellant’s wife in the adjacent room served to abort the dastardly intent. She wasted no time in packing her bags and returning to her mother. Even gratitude for the kindness of her Lola Magdalena to her family and to her, in particular, failed to convince her to return in the service of the Emoclings. The defense could not offer a single contrary reason why she hastily left the Emocling household in April 1992. Accused-appellant’s throbbing desire for Angelita apparently persisted even after she had left. If at all, her absence only heightened his libido. Again, giving vent to this urge, he waylaid her in August 1992 while she was walking home after visiting friends.

The defense makes much of her failure to pinpoint the exact day in August when the incident supposedly occurred. Presumably, Angelita just made up the whole sordid tale, such that she could not say with certainty when she was actually violated. In pursuing this line of reasoning, accused-appellant also cites the medical report of Dr. Batnag where Angelita supplied the precise date of the alleged rape, that is, September 15, 1992. Considering further Dr. Batnag’s testimony to the effect that said date was consistent with the baby’s fetal age of twenty-two weeks on January 16, 1993, accused-appellant concludes that no rape was perpetrated in August 1992.

This is captious logic.

For one thing, the date September 15, 1992, appears only twice in the entire proceedings: It is contained in the medical report, and Dr. Batnag confirmed it on the witness stand. Angelita testified otherwise, both on direct and on cross-examination, where she insisted that the incident happened sometime in August 1992. In fact, when Patricia Anicas, Angelita’s mother, testified on August 9, 1993, about what her daughter had confessed to her on January 12, 1993, she vaguely remembered the latter saying that the incident occurred on August 15, 1992.[14] The cause for the confusion is readily apparent. Dr. Batnag’s testimony only served to muddle this issue, especially when she said, upon the defense counsel’s prodding, that at twenty-two weeks on January 16, 1993, the fetus in Angelita’s womb could have been conceived on September 15, 1992.[15] A simple arithmetic would, however, demonstrate that the fetal age of the baby on January 16, 1993, that is, twenty-two weeks, is inconsistent with September 15, 1993, but consistent with August 15, 1993.

With this incontrovertible proof that Angelita’s child was conceived around the time she claimed she was sexually abused by accused-appellant, the Court has to defer to the findings of the court a quo in this regard. The factual findings of the trial court, especially those pertaining to the judge’s evaluation of the witnesses’ body language, vocal digressions, and over-all comportment, are entitled to respect and even finality in the absence of any omission or misapprehension of the facts.[16]

The defense also points out that, assuming arguendo that the crime was indeed committed in August, it was raining almost everyday in August, as attested by defense witness Salvador Olivares. This would totally debunk the testimony of Angelita that the weather was fine on the day she was ravished by accused-appellant. Moreover, the place described by Angelita proved to be beside a sewage canal which emitted a foul smell. Would anybody have sexual intercourse in such a damp and malodorous site?

Again, the defense dwells on trivialities. Even if it was raining when Angelita was raped or even if the bestial act was committed beside a putrid canal, these facts alone cannot demolish the rest of Angelita’s testimony. The Court has unwaveringly ruled that for rape to be committed, it is not necessary for the place to be ideal, or the weather to be fine, "for rapists bear no respect for locale and time when they carry out their evil deed."[17] It is not unlikely for the crime of rape to be committed even in a place which, as the defense points out, is foul-smelling, for rape has been committed in less comfortable places such as a room shared by a wife with her husband who is charged with rape.[18] In any event, Angelita stated on rebuttal that it was "drizzling" on the day in question.[19]

Further scrutiny of Angelita’s testimony reveals her candor and honesty. She said that accused-appellant forced her into his jeepney with the use of a knife. Even while driving, he continued to jab the knife at her especially when she attempted to scream. He released the knife only when he had to steer and change gears at the same time. Angelita could have jumped out or grabbed the knife or the steering wheel, as the defense repeatedly suggested, but she could have done this only at great peril to her personal safety. He took her to a place partially concealed by a parapet and foot-high grasses and sunflowers. All the while, the knife kept pricking her sufficiently enough to terrorize her into submission. Hence, accused-appellant, whom she fondly knew as "Uncle Ticman," succeeded in owning her body.

Angelita’s recollection of her horrid experience is, to our mind, untainted by any malice or untruthfulness. It may have, as most candid declarations do, some inconsistencies, such as how they reached the crime scene or if it was raining that day. Like the rest of the facts questioned by the defense, however, these matters are too trifling as to cast doubt on the veracity of her entire testimony. Certainly, her credibility cannot be dashed by a few minor incongruities in her testimony.[20] "Needless to say, it is settled jurisprudence that testimonies of child-victims are given full weight and credit, since when a woman or a girl-child says that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape was indeed committed."[21] Neither is there any doubt that Angelita could have been mistaken about the identity of the man who abused her that fateful day in August 1992 because she knew accused-appellant since she was a small girl and even called him "Uncle Ticman."[22]

Accused-appellant also makes much of Angelita’s failure to report the incident to the police at the earliest opportunity. Why did she bide her time and complained only five months later, when all the while she was safe in the company of her family and accused-appellant could not have carried out his threats even if he had wanted to? This Court has consistently held that "the failure of the complainant to immediately report the rape to the immediate members of her family or to the police authorities does not detract from her credibility, her hesitation being attributable to her age, the moral ascendancy of the appellant and his threats against the former."[23] By Angelita’s testimony, she always saw accused-appellant while plying his route, and every time he saw her, he would menacingly stare at her. Even if he was not around, he had friends who could make good his threat. Only her pregnancy prompted her to muster enough courage to surmount her fears.

The malice ascribed by the defense to Angelita is so contrived and only demonstrates the inability of accused-appellant to fabricate an effective excuse for his malefaction. Who would believe that a 17-year-old girl who is supposedly so worldly as to be able to seduce so many men or boys would be that stupid as to allow herself to be impregnated and yet not know who the father is? Who would believe that she would ask support from a married man, a family friend at that whom she referred to as "Uncle," thinking that he was financially comfortable simply because his parents worked abroad? It is no secret that his main source of income comes from conveying people around Baguio City in his jeepney. His daily earning is barely enough to support his wife and their child. This Court is not at all convinced that Angelita would cry "rape" just so accused-appellant could be pressured into sharing his paltry earnings with her child. If she charged him with rape, it was because he really abused her. For this offense, he should be made to pay his dues to society and to his victim.

The Court observes, however, that the trial court ordered accused-appellant to acknowledge Angelita’s child Mark Jazareno as his natural child. This cannot be done, for as we stated in People v. de Guzman,[24] "(T)he rule is that if the rapist is a married man, he cannot be compelled to recognize the offspring of the crime as his child, whether legitimate or illegitimate. He may, however, be required to give it support."[25]

Finally, it must be noted that the court a quo awarded the sum of P50,000.00 to Angelita "as moral damages" and at the same time "to indemnify" her as the offended party. This is erroneous, as this Court had occasion to point out in People v. Prades,[26] where it was declared that, "(C)ivil indemnity is mandatory upon the finding of the fact of rape; it is distinct from and should not be denominated as moral damages which are based on different jural foundations and assessed by the court in the exercise of sound discretion. . . ." The award to Angelita should simply have been an indemnity for accused-appellant’s crime. Under the circumstances of this case, however, we concur with the trial court’s assessment of moral damages because these may be imposed "in rape cases involving young girls between thirteen and nineteen years of age, taking into account the immeasurable havoc wrought on their youthful feminine psyche."[27]

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the sum of P50,000.00 awarded by the trial court as moral damages shall serve as civil indemnity for the commission of the crime and an additional amount of P50,000.00 is hereby awarded to Angelita Jazareno by way of moral damages, and the order of the trial court in the appealed decision for accused-appellant to acknowledge Angelita Jazareno’s son, Mark Jazareno, as his natural child is hereby DELETED.

SO ORDERED.

Kapunan and Purisima, JJ., concur.
Narvasa, C.J., (Chairman), on leave.


[1] Angelita is Patricia’s daughter by her first husband, Angel Jazareno. After his death in 1988, she married his first cousin, Clemente Anicas.

[2] TSN, August 19, 1993, pp. 4-5, 27-29, 28-30.

[3] Melanie and Jingjing Calora, nieces of Ferdinand Emocling.

[4] TSN, August 19, 1993, pp. 7-15; September 7, 1993, pp. 6-9; September 8, 1993, pp. 2-6, 9. 13-14, 16; October 12, 1993, pp. 2-5; December 14, 1993, pp. 4-5.

[5] Jean Marilyn Lozano, Debbie Dasalla, and Ferdinand Gabriel.

[6] TSN, August 9, 1993, pp. 6-10; August 19, 1993, p. 16.

[7] TSN, August 5, 1993, pp. 5-6.

[8] TSN,August 25, 1994, p. 10.

[9] Ibid., p. 14.

[10] Id., p. 27.

[11] TSN, April 7, 1994.

[12] TSN, August 5, 1993, pp. 5-6.

[13] See R.A. No. 8353, otherwise known as "The Anti-Rape Law of 1997."

[14] TSN, August 9, 1993, pp. 28-30.

[15] TSN, August 5, 1993, pp. 5-6.

[16] People v. Ferrer, G.R. Nos. 116516-20, September 7, 1998, citing People v. Penero, G.R. No. 116292, July 31, 1997.

[17] People v. Sumampong, et al., G.R. No. 121378, May 21, 1998, citing People v. Leoterio, 264 SCRA 608 (1996).

[18] People v. Cervantes, 222 SCRA 365 (1993), cited in People v. Antipona, infra.

[19] TSN, September 15, 1994, p. 2.

[20] People v. Abad, 268 SCRA 246 (1997).

[21] People v. Ferrer, supra., citing People v. Lusa, G.R. No. 122246, March 27, 1998.

[22] People v. Ignacio, G.R. No. 114849, August 24, 1998.

[23] People v. Antipona, 274 SCRA 328 (1997), citing People v. Abad, supra.

[24] 217 SCRA 395 (1993), citing People v. Rizo, 189 SCRA 265 (1990), in turn, citing People v. Luchico, 49 Phil. 689 and People v. Belandres and Mañacop, 85 Phil. 874.

[25] Citing Art. 345(3), Revised Penal Code and People v. Barranco, 177 SCRA 104 (1989).

[26] G.R. No. 127569, July 30, 1998.

[27] People v. Ferrer, supra., citing People v. Erese, G.R. No. 120579, November 5, 1997.

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