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370 Phil. 714


[ G.R. No. 129289, July 29, 1999 ]




Accused-appellant Jose Carullo was charged with two counts of rape in Criminal Case Nos. 3532 and 3533 before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 13,[1] of Ligao, Albay under separate informations which read as follows:

I. In Criminal Case No. 3532 - Rape
"That on or about 8:00 o'clock in the evening of October 20, 1996, at Barangay Kinale, Municipality of Polangui, Province of Albay, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a deadly weapon, with lewd design, and with grave abuse of his parental authority, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously had sexual intercourse with his daughter, Emily A. Carullo, a 17 year old girl, against her will and consent, to her damage and prejudice.

II. In Criminal Case No. 3533 - Rape
"That on or about 2:00 o'clock in the early morning of October 21, 1996, at Barangay Kinale, Municipality of Polangui, Province of Albay, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a deadly weapon, with lewd design, and with grave abuse of his parental authority, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously had sexual intercourse with his daughter, Emily A. Carullo, a 17 year old girl against her will and consent, to her damage and prejudice.

When arraigned, appellant entered a plea of not guilty to both charges. Thereafter, by order of the court dated January 29, 1997, upon joint manifestation of the prosecution and the defense, the two criminal cases were consolidated and tried jointly.

The evidence for the prosecution which led to appellant's conviction are as follows:

Jon-jon Carullo, the son of appellant and brother of private complainant Emily Carullo, testified that on or about eight o'clock in the evening of October 20, 1996, he was watching television at his cousin's house which is approximately 20 meters away from their house in Barangay Kinale. At around 8:30 p.m., Jon-jon headed for home to rest but before he could knock at the door, he heard his sister crying and his father angrily shouting at her to stop crying so that she will not be hurt and to submit herself to him. He also heard the sound of a bolo being unsheathed from its scabbard while his father was threatening Emily. Upon hearing such menacing remarks, he left and met his cousin Rodolfo Carullo on the road . Both of them proceeded to the house of former barangay captain Santiago Creolo to report what Jon-jon overheard. Creolo, however advised them to talk to Kagawad Domingo Remolacio who, unfortunately, was drunk at the time. Forthwith, Jon-jon and Rodolfo proceeded to Centro Kinale and had the incident recorded in the blotter. With nowhere else to go, Jon-jon spent the night at his Aunt Miling's house.

The next day, at around 7:00 o'clock in the morning, Jon-jon waited for his sister Emily to pass by her way to school. Upon meeting her, he asked what their father did to her the night before but Emily did not answer and simply cried. Together they went to the house of Santiago Creolo and the latter accompanied them to the Polangui police station where the complaints against the appellant were filed.

Iluminada Arbo Carullo, the mother of private complainant and the common law wife of the appellant, testified that she started cohabiting with the appellant in 1975 and they begot two children, Emily and Jon-jon. At the inception of their purported marital relations, they resided in Manila and went home to Kinale, Albay only in April 1996.

Private complainant Emily Carullo, 17 years old at the time of the alleged rape, narrated that appellant ravished her on two occasions, the first at around 8:00 o'clock in the evening of October 20, 1996 and later, at about 2:00 o'clock in he morning of October 21, 1996. Emily testified that on October 20, 1996, there was a get-together at heir house to commemorate the death anniversary of her paternal grandmother. After prayers were offered, snacks were served. According to Emily, the gathering lasted until 5:00 o'clock p.m. but a few of the guests stayed a little longer as her father engaged them in a drinking spree. By 7:00 o'clock p.m., all the visitors had already left, so Emily went to her room to sleep. As she was dozing off, she was startled when someone beamed a flashlight to her face. She asked who that person was and she recognized her father's voice when he replied, "I". Her father then held her hand saying, "Intindihin mo ako." When she asked why he was asking for her understanding, her father simply said, "Kailangan mo akong intindihin." Thereafter, appellant embraced her and started kissing her on the lips and neck while groping for her breasts. At this point Emily started crying and, to cow her into silence, appellant unsheathed a bolo from its scabbard and poked the same at her neck threatening her that if she did not stop crying she would get hurt. Emily tried to resist her father's advances but was completely overpowered as he was holding her tightly. Appellant thus succeeded in removing her shorts and underwear. Then, while pinning his daughter to the bed, appellant hurriedly removed his pants and underwear, at which point Emily freed herself from his grip and got up from the bed, but just as quickly, appellant grabbed her and pushed her down again where the former finally consummated the carnal act.

As if Emily had not suffered enough, the appellant allegedly sneaked into her room once again at around 2:00 o'clock a.m. and forced himself on her. Emily pleaded that she be spared this time, but her pleas fell on deaf ears.

The next morning, after she woke up, Emily headed for the house of her aunt, Maria Coderes, and on the way, she met her brother, Jon-jon, who accompanied her to Santiago Creolo. After reporting the incident to the barangay authorities, Emily, together with Jon-jon and Creolo, proceeded to the Polangui police station and filed the rape charges.

Municipal Health Officer of Polangui, Albay, Dr. Arnel Borja, testified in court that on October 21, 1996, he examined the private complainant and his findings revealed that, although there were no signs of external physical injuries on her body, he noted two hymenal lacerations in the complainant's private organ which, he said, could have been caused by the penetration of a male organ.

The defense, on the other hand, presented three witnesses to refute the allegations of rape committed by the accused-appellant:

Alfredo Calpe, 51 years old, a farmer and resident of Balangibang, Polangui, Albay, asserted that, in the afternoon of October 20, 1996, appellant Carullo invited him to the latter's house in Barangay Kinale to commemorate the death anniversary of Carullo's mother. After the prayers and snacks, appellant brought out four bottles of gin and engaged his guests, including Calpe, in a drinking spree to cap the day's affair. At around 8:00 o'clock p.m. and after consuming three of the four bottles of gin, Calpe left even as the appellant and the others set out to finish the last bottle.

Norma Peña, b a niece of the appellant, testified that she was at the appellant's house on October 20, 1996 to commemorate her grandmother's death anniversary. She averred that on said date, Emily arrived late for the family affair, and appellant scolded his daughter for not helping in the preparations. According to Peña, she left the Carullos' house past 9:00 o'clock in the evening, and by that time, she said, appellant was visibly too drunk to have committed the crimes charged. She likewise controverted Emily's claim that the first rape was committed at around 8:00 o'clock that night as the drinking spree had just started then.

Appellant Jose Carullo, for his part, acknowledged that private complainant and Jon-jon are his children by common-law wife Iluminada Arbo. He testified that before his detention, he lived with Iluminada and Jon-jon in their house in Barangay Kinale while Emily stayed at her aunt's place in Magurang. On direct examination, Carullo denied the accusations against him, saying that at the time the first rape was allegedly committed, there were a few guests still present and the drinking spree in his house was in full swing. In fact, he claimed, he was not able to finish the sixth bottle of gin with his guests because he passed out and fell asleep on a bench where he found himself the following morning.

According to Carullo, he even roused Emily from sleep at around 6:00 o'clock the next morning, urging the latter to prepare breakfast as she had to go to school. After giving his daughter's allowance, he left his house to tend to his farm. Later that day, a policeman and a barangay councilman of Kinale invited him to go with them to the municipal building where he saw Emily conversing with the investigator who, when asked what the problem was, ignored him and instead locked him in a cell. When asked about the probable motive behind his daughter's accusations, appellant replied that Emily is the type of person who wants to get things done regardless of who gets involved. He likewise theorized that probably, someone is courting his daughter and this person hatched this evil scheme against him.

After due trial, the lower court convicted the appellant in a decision dated March 25, 1997, the decretal portion of which reads:
"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing consideration and finding the accused Jose Carullo y Sarmienta guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape against his then 17-year old daughter, the Court hereby:
  1. In Criminal Case No. 3532 sentences him to suffer the supreme penalty of DEATH; and

  2. In Criminal Case No. 3533 sentences him to suffer the supreme penalty of death.
The accused is ordered to indemnify the offended party the amount of P100,000.00 and to pay the costs."[4]
Hence, this appeal.

After a careful scrutiny of the entire record of the case, and considering the abhorrent nature of the crime of rape which, in this case, is punishable by the supreme penalty of death, we are constrained to affirm the conviction of the trial court.

Appellant maintains that the circumstances surrounding the commission of the crimes charged negate the veracity of the prosecution's claim that his identification as the malefactor was clear, positive and convincing. We do not subscribe to this conclusion. While it is true that the Carullo residence did not have any electricity at the time of the alleged rapes, the fact, however, remains uncontroverted that appellant entered the victim's room with a flashlight in hand, thus illuminating the room which has a floor area of only 4 x 3 meters. The identity of the appellant as the rapist is bolstered by the finding of the trial court that, prior to the sexual assault, the appellant engaged his daughter in a conversation, thus,
"Q- Did you recognize the person who focused that flashlight?
A- Yes.
Q- Who?
A- My father.
Q- Why were you able to say that it was your father who was focusing the flashlight on your face?

I asked who he was.

Q- Was there ever an answer coming from the person who was focusing the flashlight?
A- Yes.
Q- What was the answer?


Q- After that what happened next?
A- He held my hands and he said that I should understand him.
Q- Aside from those words, what else?
A- I said, why should I understand you?
Q-And what did your father answer if any?
A- He said, "There is a need for you to understand me."
Q- Now, when your father uttered/said that, what did you do or say if any?
A- I said, why are you telling this to me?
Q- After that, what happened next?
A- He embraced me and kissed me."[5]
From the foregoing, it is clear that the person who entered Emily's room and molested her was her own father. If, as the defense sought to establish, Emily was unaware of the identity of the person who entered her room, it would be highly incongruous for the victim to have engaged in such kind of a conversation with an intruder whom she did not know. To be sure, the natural reaction of one roused from sleep by the sudden intrusion of a stranger would be to shout for help, or at least be alarmed. In the case at bar, Emily, knowing that it was her father talking to her, allowed him to hold her hand and even conversed with him. Moreover, as correctly observed by the trial court, assuming that the complainant at first failed to identify the person who beamed the flashlight to her face, she, however, eventually recognized her father's voice when he spoke. As cited by the trial court, in People vs. Calixtro,[6] this Court ruled that private complainant's identification of the accused through the latter's voice may be accepted considering that they are barriomates and, in fact, appellant admitted that they were friends. In the present case, the accused here is the father of the victim and admittedly, if one can identify a friend or acquaintance just by the sound of the latter's voice, with more reason can she readily recognize, even in the dark, any member of her family through his voice.

Well settled is the rule that when an alleged victim of rape says 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.[7] Moreover, as this Court held in another case, it would be highly improbable for a young girl to fabricate a charge so humiliating to herself and her family as well, had she not been truly subjected to the pain and harrowing experience of sexual abuse.[8] Thus, since there is no evidence to show that the private complainant was actuated by improper motives, her identification of her own father as her rapist should be given full faith and credit. This Court has also had occasion to rule that the unfounded claim of evil motives on the part of the victim would not destroy the credibility reposed upon her by the trial court because a rape victim's testimony is entitled to greater weight when she accuses a close relative of having raped her, as in the case of a daughter against her father.[9]

As perceptively observed by the Solicitor General, Emily's willingness to tell her story to the police investigator and to submit herself to a physical examination by a physician, is a mute but eloquent testimony of the truth of her accusation against accused-appellant. If she had indeed been fabricating the serious charges of rape against her father, the idea of allowing her private parts to be examined would have caused her to recoil, not only out of humiliation but also at the possibility of being caught in her prevarication. As it turned out, the medical examination confirmed Emily's claim that she was indeed violated.

The defense further posits that the evidence presented in behalf of the accused-appellant were sufficient to exculpate him from liability for the crimes charged. It should be noted, however, that the testimonies of the defense witnesses, including that of the accused-appellant, merely established that the first alleged rape could not have happened at the time claimed by the victim - that is, about 8:00 o'clock in the evening of October 20, 1996 - because there were still some guests present at the Carullo residence at that time. That no rape could have been committed within the hour of 8:00 o'clock that fateful night, however, does not necessarily mean that no rape was committed shortly thereafter when all the guests had already left. Besides, even if the victim indeed mistook the time of the rape to be around 8:00 o'clock in the evening, such error on her part cannot be taken against her considering that before the rape, she had just been roused from sleep by her father and could have been disoriented. Thus, in another case, we held that a witness, testifying about the same horrifying event, can hardly be expected to be correct in every detail and consistent with other witnesses in every aspect, considering the inevitability of differences in perception, recollection, viewpoint or impressions as well as their physical, mental, emotional and psychological states at the time of reception and recall of such impressions. After all, no two individuals are alike in powers of observation and of recall.[10]

More important is the fact that the time of the sexual assault is not an element of the crime of rape. Generally speaking, the determination of the precise time when the alleged rape was committed merely serves to test the credibility of the complaining witness regarding the circumstances surrounding the rape. In the present case, the records clearly show Emily's candor and spontaneity in relating her ordeal in the hands of her own father. Several times during her examination, the trial court duly noted that she was crying while answering questions about the details of her rape. In People vs. Atop,[11] the Court held that the tears that spontaneously flowed from the private complainant's eyes and the sobs that punctuated her testimony when asked about her experience with the accused eloquently conveyed the hurt, the pain, and the anguish the private complainant has suffered and lived with during all the years.

The trial court, having considered Emily's testimony as competent and credible, we see no reason to reverse such finding. It is doctrinal that the evaluation by the trial court of the testimony of a witness is accorded the highest respect because it is the trial court that has the direct opportunity to observe the witness'

Demeanor on the stand and determine if she is telling the truth or not.[12]

Under the circumstances, accused-appellant's denial that he did not rape his daughter must necessarily fail. Elementary is the rule that positive identification, where categorical and consistent, prevails over unsubstantiated denials because the latter are negative and self-serving, and thus, cannot be given any weight on the scales of justice.

All told, the case at bar properly falls under one of the instances when the capital punishment of death may be imposed. The informations in Criminal Case Nos. 3532 and 3533 sufficiently describe the acts committed, the age of the victim (17 years old) and the relationship between the accused-appellant and the victim as father and daughter. With this qualifying circumstance, Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659 becomes applicable. It provides that the death penalty shall be imposed if the crime of rape is committed where 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. The imposition of the death penalty in such case is mandatory.[13]

Worth emphasizing is the fact that four members of this Court maintain their position that Republic Act No. 7659, insofar as it prescribes the death penalty, is unconstitutional; but they nevertheless submit to the ruling of the majority of the Court that the law is constitutional and the death penalty should be imposed in the case at bar.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the judgment of the trial court in Criminal Case Nos. 3532 and 3533 imposing the death penalty for each count of rape on accused-appellant Jose Carullo y Sarmienta is hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that, in line with current jurisprudence,[14] the civil indemnity to be awarded tot he victim should be P75,000.00 for each count of rape or a total of P150,000.00. The amount of P50,000.00 for moral damages for each count of rape or a total of P100,000.00 is likewise imposed.

In accordance with Section 25 of Republic Act No. 7659, amending Article 83 of the Revised Penal Code, upon finality of this decision, let the records of this case be forthwith forwarded to the Office of the President for possible exercise of executive clemency.

Costs against accused-appellant.


Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, and Ynares-Santiago JJ., concur.
Davide, Jr. C.J., on leave.

[1] Presided by Judge Jose S. Sañez.

[2] Records, p. 16.

[3] Records, p. 15.

[4] Rollo, p. 24.

[5] tsn, February 18, 1997, pp. 60-61.

[6] 193 SCRA 303, (1991).

[7] People vs. Antido, 278 SCRA 425 (1997).

[8] People vs. Cabillan, 267 SCRA 258 (1997).

[9] People vs. Tabugoca, 285 SCRA 312 (1998).

[10] People vs. Mamalayan, 280 SCRA 748 (1997).

[11] 286 SCRA 157 (1998).

[12] People vs. Atuel, 261 SCRA 339 (1996)

[13] People vs. Echegaray, 267 SCRA 682 (1997).

[14] People vs. de los Santos, G.R. No. 121906, September 17, 1998 citing People vs. Victor, G.R. No. 127903, July 9, 1998.

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