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370 Phil. 811

SECOND DIVISION

[ G.R. No. 119956, August 05, 1999 ]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. CRESENTE NAPIOT, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

D E C I S I O N

MENDOZA, J.:

This is an appeal from the decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court of Pagadian City, Branch 18, finding accused-appellant Cresente Napiot guilty of rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to indemnify the victim in the amount of P40,000.00.

The information in this case alleged
That on or about the 15th day of August 1976 at about 6:30 o'clock in the evening at Barangay Dongos, Municipality of Dinas, Province of Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused by means of violence, force and intimidation, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously succeed in having carnal knowledge with one Rosario B. Naves against the latter's will.

Act contrary to Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code.[2]
Accused-appellant pleaded not guilty, whereupon, trial on the merits ensued.

The prosecution presented as its sole witness complainant Rosario B. Naves, who testified as follows:[3]

Rosario (then 17 years old) and her sister Teodora (then 20 years old) both single, were living with their mother in Barangay Dongos, Dinas, Zamboanga del Sur in a house which was about 600 meters from that house of accused-appellant. Between the two houses were a two-hectare farmlot planted to corn owned by Flordeliza, accused-appellant's wife, and a one-hectare lot planted to corn and rice owned by accused-appellant's father. Flordeliza is Rosario's sister.

After being delivered of her second child, Flordeliza decided to stay in her mother's house. On August 15, 1976, Flordeliza's younger sisters, Rosario and Teodora, were requested by accused-appellant to help in the harvest of corn.

At about 6:00 p.m., Rosario, Teodora, and accused-appellant decided to go home. Teodora went ahead as she still had to feed the pigs. After bringing her harvested corn ears to the house of accused-appellant, Rosario bade goodbye, but accused-appellant wanted to take her home. Rosario walked ahead carrying a torch, while accused-appellant followed with a scythe in his hand. On their way, accused-appellant asked Rosario to accompany him to some coconut trees from which could he gather "tuba." Rosario obliged. As they went along, accused-appellant ordered her not to make any noise otherwise he would kill her. Upon reaching the farmland of Julio Sumalpong, about 200 meters away from the main road, accused-appellant embraced Rosario and started fondling her breast. As Rosario was screaming, accused-appellant covered her mouth and threatened to kill her. He dragged her to a grassy spot. He boxed her twice in the abdomen, forcing her to a sitting position on the ground. Accused-appellant pushed and pinned her down and then sat on her. He took off his pants and ordered her to do likewise, but she refused. Accused-appellant therefore ripped the front part of her pants and removed her underwear. He then lay on top of her, pressed both her hands against his elbows, inserted his penis into her vagina and performed the sexual act. Rosario said she could not remember how many times accused-appellant had sexual intercourse with her because she was dazed and lost consciousness, but she remembered the intense pain she felt. Crying and with only a blouse to cover her body, she and accused-appellant proceeded to the house of Rosario's mother. She was warned not to tell anybody about the incident or act in an unusual manner that would make her mother or sisters suspect anything wrong.

When accused-appellant and Rosario reached the house, only accused-appellant went inside to look for clothes she could wear. She stayed at the yard. Accused-appellant then took Rosario to the house of Claudia Vda. de Naves, who is the latter's sister-in-law, about 500 meters away. Accused-appellant ordered Rosario to tell her sister-in-law that she was accompanied by her brother after letting his carabao graze. Accused-appellant remained outside the house to make sure that Rosario did not tell her sister-in-law what had happened to her.

The following morning, August 16, 1976, finding that accused-appellant had gone home, Rosario went to the house of her elder brother, Eulalio Naves. Eulalio was sick, so she told her story to Eulalio's wife who, after learning what had befallen Rosario, lost no time in telling Rosario's mother and sister. Rosario was taken home by the husband of her eldest sister. When she reached her house, she washed herself. She later went to see Dr. Francisca Pineda-Jose, municipal health officer of Dinas, Zamboanga del Sur, who, after examining her, issued a medical certificate (Exh. A) containing the following physical findings:
  1. Contusion - chin

  2. Wound - lower lip

  3. No sign of external violence on other parts of the body

  4. Internal examination:
  1. One finger is easily admitted into the vaginal cavity

  2. Hymen is no longer intact

  3. Fresh lacerations are found on the 9:00 o'clock, 2:00 o'clock, and 5:00 o'clock positions

  4. No semen can be obtained inside
Rosario also reported the incident to the barangay captain of Dongos, Dinas, Zamboanga del Sur, who advised her to report the matter to the police. Complainant Rosario B. Naves[4] was 17 years old when she was raped on August 15, 1976. Her assailant was her brother-in-law. Accused-appellant was never apprehended until September 27, 1993. He was eventually arrested by the police authorities of Initao, Misamis Oriental, who sent a radio message to the Integrated National Police (INP) of Dinas, Zamboanga del Sur. As Rosario, with the consent of her husband, showed interest in pursuing the rape case against the accused-appellant, the Dinas police fetched accused-appellant from Initao, Misamis Oriental. He was later detained at the Municipal Jail of Dinas, Zamboanga del Sur on April 14, 1993 and thereafter committed to the Provincial Jail of Pagadian City on July 26, 1993 during the pendency of the case.

On August 17, 1976, Rosario executed a sworn criminal complaint (Exh. C) before the Municipal Trial Court of Dinas, Zamboanga del Sur, accusing accused-appellant of raping her on August 15, 1976. On June 14, 1993, the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Zamboanga del Sur filed an information for rape against accused-appellant.

Cresente Napiot denied the charge and interposed the defense of alibi, claiming that he was in his father's house in Pamantakan, Bukidnon when the rape allegedly occurred on August 15, 1976. He said that the rape charge against him was fabricated by the Naves family as they resented the marriage of Flordeliza to him by reason of his poverty. They also believed that the death of Rosario's elder brother Fernando Naves (husband of Claudia Vda. de Naves) in 1975 due to typhoid fever was caused by sorcery practiced by accused-appellant's mother. Fernando and accused-appellant had a misunderstanding concerning the boundaries of their respective farmlots. For this reason, on August 13, 1976, Rosario and her brother Yolando went to accused-appellant's house and confronted him. When he realized that his wife Flordeliza sided with Rosario and Yolando, he hurled invectives at her, calling her and Rosario prostitutes.

Accused-appellant explained that he suddenly left Zamboanga del Sur because his wife and the latter's paramour, Baloloy Matapa (Rolando Matapa), in the act of kissing in their house at about 6:00 p.m. in August 1976. Accused-appellant had arrived from work and he saw his wife and the latter's lover kissing when he peeped through a hole. Even though he was hurt by what he saw, he was unable to do anything because his wife's paramour was much bigger and was armed with a bolo. According to accused-appellant, he decided to leave their house on August 14, 1976 and went to Pamantakan, Bukidnon. Years later, Flordeliza and her paramour lived together as husband and wife in his house and begot a child. In 1981, accused-appellant went to the house of his parents in San Jose, Dinagat, Surigao and engaged in farming. He did not return to his wife Flordeliza because of the threats to kill him in retaliation for the death of Fernando. He wrote his wife a letter asking her to stay with him in Bukidnon, but she refused. In 1991, he went to Initao, Misamis Oriental and stayed in his sister's house. Since then, he had never written his wife Flordeliza because he was informed that she got married to Rolando Matapa. On April 14, 1993, accused-appellant was arrested by the police authorities of Dinas, Zamboanga del Sur.[5]

Casiana Napiot, 70 year old mother of accused-appellant, was also presented. She corroborated accused-appellant's claim that their family was being held responsible for the death of Fernando Naves. The Naves family believed that she was practicing black medicine which caused the death of Fernando. She also stated that she learned of the illicit relationship of Flordeliza and her paramour Rolando Matapa sometime in August 1976. She was informed that Flordeliza wanted to separate from accused-appellant so that Flordeliza could live with Matapa. Moreover, Eulalio and Yolando Naves were looking for him. Thus, on August 14, 1976, accused-appellant left for Bukidnon and lived there. She presented a letter of transmittal of the complaint of accused-appellant, dated August 9, 1994 (Exh. 1), addressed to the Provincial Prosecutor of Pagadian City with an attached complaint-affidavit (Exh. 2) for adultery against Flordeliza and Matapa. Other supporting documents were also presented, to wit, the marriage contract between accused-appellant and Flordeliza dated October 11, 1969 (Exh. 3), a certification, dated March 9, 1994 (Exh. 4), issued by the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Dinas, Zamboanga del Sur, to the effect that Rosalie N. Matapa was born on February 3, 1991 at Dongos, Dinas, Zamboanga del Sur to Flordeliza B. Naves and Rolando G. Matapa who were married on September 18, 1989.[6]

On February 27, 1995, the trial court rendered a decision finding accused-appellant guilty of rape. The dispositive portion of its decision reads:
WHEREFORE, finding the guilt of the accused to have been proven beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution, the Court finds the accused CRESENTE NAPIOT GUILTY of the crime of Rape and hereby sentences the said accused CRESENTE NAPIOT to suffer an imprisonment of RECLUSION PERPETUA, Article 335, par. 2 of the Revised Penal Code, considering the crime was committed before lifting the effectivity of the death penalty which have been suspended for sometime; and to indemnify the victim in the sum of P40,000.00.

SO ORDERED.[7]
Hence, this appeal. Accused-appellant contends that the trial court erred in giving weight to the testimony of complainant Rosario B. Naves that she was raped and insinuates that Rosario consented to have sexual intercourse with him.

First. We find accused-appellant's contention to be without merit. To begin with, the rule is that the trial court's findings will be respected and sustained on appeal unless it is shown the trial court had overlooked facts or circumstances of weight and substance which will alter its findings. For indeed, the evaluation of the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies is a matter best undertaken by the trial court, considering its opportunity to observe the witnesses and their demeanor, conduct, and attitude, especially under cross-examination.[8] With reference to prosecutions for rape, this Court is guided by the following considerations in the evaluation of the evidence: (a) an accusation for rape can be made with facility, it is difficult to prove it but more difficult for the person accused, though innocent, to disprove it; (b) in view of the nature of the crime in which only two persons are involved, the testimony of complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution; (c) the evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits, and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the defense.[9]

In the case at bar, complainant Rosario B. Naves gave a vivid and detailed narration of how she had been raped by accused-appellant as only one who has suffered the ignominy of such crime can tell. Her testimony passes the test of credibility. For even had she simply said she had been raped, her testimony, barring anything to excite suspicion, would have been sufficient. As has been held, when an alleged victim of rape says that she was violated, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape has been inflicted on her, and so long as her testimony meets the test of credibility, the accused may be convicted on the basis thereof.[10] This is so because by its very nature, rape is committed with the least possibility of being seen by the public.[11]

Indeed, no young and decent Filipina would publicly admit that she had been violated unless what she says is true.[12] It is inconceivable for a woman of tender age to concoct a tale of defloration, allow the examination of her private parts, and undergo the expense, trouble, inconvenience, not to mention the trauma of a public trial, unless she was in fact raped.[13] In this case, the complainant submitted herself to a medical examination the morning following the rape. Her testimony was confirmed by the findings of Dr. Pineda-Jose who examined her on August 16, 1976 and found that she suffered lacerations in her hymen. Two days after she was sexually abused, she reported the matter to the barangay captain and, thereafter, executed two separate sworn statements, both dated August 17, 1976 (Exhs. B & C), in which she clearly recounted how she was raped. Against such evidence of the prosecution, the bare denial of accused-appellant cannot prevail. Denial is an intrinsically weak defense which must be buttressed by strong evidence of non-culpability to merit credibility.[14]

We reject accused-appellant's claim that Rosario filed her complaint for rape because the Naves family had an axe to grind against his family who was being blamed for the death of Rosario's brother, Fernando. With the attendant publicity that goes with a rape case, the Naves family would not have gone to the extent of fabricating a story that would expose Rosario to public humiliation just to get even with accused-appellant's family. At the time the case was tried, it had already been more than 17 years since the rape was committed. Rosario had already gotten married. That she nonetheless decided to pursue the case against accused-appellant shows the depth of her feeling and desire to vindicate her honor as a woman.

Second. Accused-appellant invokes the defense of alibi claiming that he was in his father's place in Pamantakan, Bukidnon at the time of the incident. However, in this appeal, he raises in issue the alleged absence of force or intimidation and argues that the resistance put up by Rosario was not tenacious enough to indicate that she had been raped. He claims that Rosario failed to prove that she resisted or struggled hard not only at the initial stage but also during the commission of the alleged rape. He points out that Rosario could have kicked him, hit him with the torch she was carrying, shouted for help, or kept on struggling to prevent the accused-appellant from inserting his penis. He insinuates that Rosario consented to having sexual intercourse with him.

This contention is without any basis. The evidence shows that Rosario fought off her attacker, but the latter proved too strong for her. She shouted for help, but accused-appellant covered her mouth and threatened to kill her as he dragged her to the grassy spot where he succeeded in ravishing her. As she tried to free herself from accused-appellant's hold, the latter boxed her twice in the abdomen. If complainant went with accused-appellant alone after dark, it was only because she trusted him. After all, accused-appellant is her sister's husband.

In this case, it is enough that the prosecution had proven that force or intimidation was exerted in the commission of the crime. The law does not impose upon a rape victim the burden of proving resistance.[15] Moreover, physical resistance need not be established in rape when intimidation is exercised upon the victim and she submits herself against her will to the rapist's lust because of the fear for her life or personal safety.[16] Indeed, it has been said that, in rape cases, it is not necessary that the victim should have resisted unto death[17] or sustained physical injuries in the hands of the rapist. It suffices that the intercourse takes place against her will, or that she yields because of a genuine apprehension of great harm.

Third. We affirm the trial court's imposition of the penalty of reclusion perpetua but for a reason different from that given by it.

The penalty for rape under Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, is reclusion perpetua. This is increased to reclusion perpetua to death if the crime is committed "with the use of a deadly weapon," i.e., when a deadly weapon is used to make the victim submit to the will of the offender but not when it is simply shown to be in the possession of the latter. For example, in People v. Gastador,[18] the use of a deadly weapon was both alleged in the information and proven during the trial. It was appreciated because it was shown that the victim was raped "at knifepoint." As held in People v. Sagaysay,[19] for the purpose of increasing the penalty, the rape must be "committed with the use of a deadly weapon and not just the overt act of `being armed with a weapon'."

In the instant case, although complainant testified that accused-appellant had a scythe in his hand, nowhere in her testimony did she ever say that it was used by accused-appellant to make her submit to his will. Moreover, the fact that accused-appellant was carrying a scythe was merely incidental as they were earlier harvesting corn. In fact, the information did not allege this circumstance.

The award of indemnity by the trial court must likewise be modified. The trial court awarded the complainant Rosario civil indemnity of P40,000.00. This should be increased to P50,000.00 in accordance with prevailing jurisprudence[20] which make the award of P50,000.00 for civil indemnity mandatory in cases of rape. In addition, accused-appellant is ordered to pay complainant the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages. This award is to be given even if there is neither allegation nor evidence presented as basis therefor.[21] The conventional requirement of "allegata et probata" in civil procedure and for essentially civil cases is dispensed with in prosecutions for rape with the civil aspect included therein since no appropriate pleadings are filed wherein such allegations can be made.[22]

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pagadian City, Branch 18, is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that accused-appellant is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay the offended party, Rosario B. Naves-Bailon, the amount of P50,000.00 by way of civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages.

SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo, (Chairman), Quisumbing, and Buena, JJ., concur.



[1] Per Judge Fausto H. Imbing, presiding.

[2] RTC Records, p. 1; Rollo, p. 6.

[3] TSN, pp. 2-29, Dec. 17, 1993; TSN, pp. 2-31, Jan. 19, 1994; TSN, pp. 2-3, 5-7, March 16, 1994.

[4] Now Rosario Naves Bailon, married, with a family of her own. She was 34 years old when the trial of the rape case was held.

[5] TSN, pp. 2-28, Aug. 3, 1994.

[6] TSN, pp. 2-26, Aug. 12, 1994.

[7] Rollo, p. 22.

[8] People v. Maglente, G.R. Nos. 124559-66, April 30, 1999.

[9]People v. Sta. Ana, 291 SCRA 188 (1998).

[10] People v. Manggasin, G.R. Nos. 130599-600, April 21, 1999.

[11] People v. Bonghanoy, G.R. No. 124097, June 17, 1999.

[12] People v. Villamor, G.R. No. 124441, October 7, 1998.

[13] People v. Medina, G.R. No. 126575, December 11, 1998.

[14] People v. Maglente, supra.

[15] People v. Silvano, G.R. No. 127356, June 29, 1999.

[16] People v. Rabosa, 273 SCRA 142 (1997).

[17] People v. Monfero, G.R. No. 126367, June 17, 1999.

[18] G.R. No. 123727, April 14, 1999. See also People v. Emocling, G.R. No. 119592, October 7, 1998; People v. Cantos, G.R. No. 129298, April 14, 1999; People v. Padilla, G.R. No. 126124, January 20, 1999; People v. Ranido, 288 SCRA 369 (1998); People v. Taton, 282 SCRA 300 (1997); People v. Tadulan, 271 SCRA 233 (1997); People v. Igdanes, 272 SCRA 113 (1997).

[19] G.R. No. 128818, June 17, 1999, citing People v. Poculan, 167 SCRA 176 (1988); See also People v. Alojado, G.R. Nos. 122966-67, March 25, 1999.

[20] People v. Gementiza, 285 SCRA 478 (1998) cited in People v. Maglente, supra.

[21] People v. Prades, 293 SCRA 411 (1998) cited in People v. Maglente, supra; People v. Alba, G.R. Nos. 131858-59, April 14, 1999.

[22] People v. Prades, supra, cited in People v. BaƱago, G.R. No. 128384, June 29, 1999.

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