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563 Phil. 1020


[ G.R. NO. 173491, November 23, 2007 ]




The January 31, 2006 Decision of the Court of Appeals[1] which affirmed that of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 71 of Iba, Zambales[2] convicting petitioner, Edwin Cabila, of violation of Section 5(b), Article III of Republic Act (RA) No. 7610, “SPECIAL PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AGAINST CHILD ABUSE, EXPLOITATION AND DISCRIMINATION ACT,” is before this Court on appeal.

The accusatory portion of the Information against petitioner reads:
That on or about the 7th day of August, 1998 at around 5:30 o’clock in the afternoon, in Sitio St. Joseph, Brgy. Namatacan, in the Municipality of San Narciso, Province of Zambales, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, with lewd design, and by means of persuasion, enticement and coercion, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously commit lascivious conduct with one [AAA][3], a minor of eight (8) years old, by touching her private parts against her will and consent, to the damage and prejudice of the said [AAA].

CONTRARY TO LAW.[4] (Underscoring supplied)
On arraignment, petitioner pleaded not guilty.[5]

Except for denying the offense charged, petitioner either admitted or did not deny the following tale of AAA, the private complainant.

On August 7, 1998, at around 5:30 p.m., AAA, who was born on September 23, 1990,[6] boarded together with her classmates a tricycle driven by petitioner to be brought home from Namatacan, Doce Martires Elementary School, San Narciso, Zambales. On petitioner’s direction, AAA sat in front of him atop the gasoline tank of the motorcycle.

After AAA’s classmates had disembarked, leaving AAA and petitioner on the tricycle, petitioner inserted his fingers inside AAA’s underwear and touched her private part. The pain notwithstanding, AAA did not do anything, fearing that petitioner might push her off the bridge through which the tricycle was passing.[7]

As petitioner was about to enter the yard of AAA’s house, he tried to give AAA a one peso coin which she refused to accept. Petitioner then told AAA not to tell anyone that he gave her a free ride.

AAA further gave the following account:

Once inside her house, AAA cried. The following morning, AAA’s mother BBB became aware that AAA had difficulty urinating. AAA soon cried profusely and recounted what petitioner did to her.

AAA’s father lost no time in reporting the matter to the Office of the Barangay Chairman of Grullo, San Narciso, Zambales where a confrontation took place in which petitioner denied the accusation. The matter was later referred to the police authorities of San Narciso, Zambales.[8]

AAA underwent medical examination which revealed the following:
-Linear erythema, 1 mm. hymenal area, 9:00 o’clock position.
-Hymen is intact.[9]
Hence, spawned the filing of the Information against petitioner.

Denying the charge, petitioner gave the following version:

The road on the way to the houses of AAA and her classmates was rough and undergoing construction, hence, the ride was bumpy. When AAA alighted from his tricycle, he did not notice any unusual behavior on her part. He in fact became acquainted with AAA only when he had a confrontation with her at the barangay office.[10]

As earlier mentioned, the trial court convicted petitioner of violation of Section 5(b), Article III of RA No. 7610 by Decision dated October 25, 2004, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court renders judgment finding accused EDWIN CABILA guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Violation of Secion 5(b), Article III of Republic [Act No.] 7610, otherwise known as the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act”, and he is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of EIGHT (8) YEARS AND ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as minimum to FIFTEEN (15) YEARS, SIX (6) MONTHS AND TWENTY (20) DAYS of reclusion temporal as maximum.

Accused is likewise ordered to pay the private complainant [AAA] the amount of P30,000.00 as moral damages.[11] (Emphasis supplied)
In affirming the trial court’s decision, the Court of Appeals declared:
Unfortunately for the accused-appellant, his defense is a bare denial not established by clear and convincing evidence, thus undeserving of weight in law. It cannot prevail over the positive declarations of private complainant who in a simple and straightforward manner, convincingly and categorically identified accused-appellant as the person who touched her private parts. His suggestion that private complainant had a bumpy and an uneasy ride in his tricycle is not only difficult to believe but also preposterous. We cannot believe that a victim of private complainant’s age (barely 8 years old per her certificate of live birth, Exh. C) could concoct a tale of lasciviousness, allow her [sic] examination of private parts and undergo the expense of trouble, inconvenience, not to mention the trauma of a public trial if the same were not true. Her account of her horrible ordeal evinces sincerity and truthfulness.[12]
Hence, the present petition for review anchored on the sole issue of:
The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s conviction of petitioner under Section 5(b), Article III of RA No. 7610, the pertinent portions of which section read:
SEC. 5. Child Prostitution and Other Sexual Abuse. – Children, whether male or female, who for money, profit or any other consideration or due to the coercion or influence of any adult, syndicate or group, indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be children exploited in prostitution and other sexual abuse.

The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua shall be imposed upon the following;

(a) x x x

(b) Those who commit the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse: Provided, That when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age, the perpetrators shall be prosecuted under Article 335, paragraph 3, for rape and Article 336 of Act No. 3815, as amended, the Revised Penal Code, for rape or lascivious conduct as the case may be; Provided, That the penalty for lascivious conduct when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age shall be reclusion temporal in its medium period;

x x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
For an accused to be convicted of child abuse through lascivious conduct on a minor below 12 years of age, “the requisites for acts of lasciviousness under Article 336 of the RPC must be met in addition to the requisites for sexual abuse under Section 5 of Rep. Act No. 7610.”[14]

Section 5, Article III of RA No. 7610 enumerates the elements of sexual abuse as follows:
(1) The accused commits the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct;

(2) The said act is performed with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse; and

(3) The child, whether male or female, is below 18 years of age.[15] (Emphasis supplied)
The earlier-quoted Information filed against petitioner did not allege the presence of the above-listed second element of Section 5, Article III of RA No. 7610 – that the act is performed with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse. In fact no attempt was made to prove that element, for it would have violated petitioner’s right to be informed of his constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.[16]

Petitioner could not thus have been held liable under Section 5(b), Article III of RA No. 7610. No doubt, the information charges petitioner with Acts of Lasciviousness under Article 336 of the Revised Penal Code, the elements of which are as follows:
(1) That the offender commits any act of lasciviousness or lewdness;

(2) That it is done under any of the following circumstances:
  1. By using force or intimidation; or

  2. When the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; or

  3. When the offended party is under 12 years of age; and
(3) That the offended party is another person of either sex.[17]
Petitioner argues that the failure of the prosecution to present the physician who prepared the medico-legal report renders the report hearsay and violates his constitutional right to confront a witness testifying against him.

The argument does not persuade. The medico-legal report is not essential in establishing guilt in a case for acts of lasciviousness, the sole testimony of the private complainant being sufficient for the purpose.
In cases of acts of lasciviousness, the lone testimony of the offended party, if credible, is sufficient to establish the guilt of the accused. Such is the testimony of victims who are young, immature, and have no motive to falsely testify against the accused…[18]
From a reading of the transcript of AAA’s testimony, she gave her account of the facts attendant to the case in a straightforward, candid, credible, and spontaneous manner. As stated early on, except for AAA’s claim that petitioner committed the acts complained of which he denied, petitioner either admitted or did not deny the other details of her account.

Petitioner posits that the pain (“mahapdi”) AAA felt in her vagina and the linear erythema on the hymenal area found by the examining physician could have been caused by the bumpy ride and the hard surface of the gasoline tank on which she sat. The pain felt by AAA and the linear erythema are not vital in establishing petitioner’s guilt, however. In fact, a prosecution for acts of lasciviousness under the Revised Penal Code (or for violation of Section 5, Article III of RA No. 7610) does not require any proof of injury in order to prove its commission. Petitioner did not even impute any motive on the part of AAA to falsely charge him.

In fine, petitioner is guilty of acts of lasciviousness penalized, under Article 336 of the Revised Penal Code, with prision correccional. There being no mitigating nor aggravating circumstances and applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, petitioner should suffer an indeterminate prison term of six (6) months of arresto mayor as minimum, to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional in its medium period as maximum.[19]

The trial court’s order for petitioner to pay private complainant the amount of P30,000 as moral damages remains,[20] however.

WHEREFORE, the assailed January 31, 2006 Decision of the Court of Appeals is VACATED and another rendered finding petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Acts of Lasciviousness penalized under Article 336 of the Revised Penal Code. He is accordingly sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of Six (6) months of arresto mayor as minimum, to Four (4) years and Two (2) months of prision correccional in its medium period as maximum. And he is ordered to pay the private complainant the amount of P30,000 as moral damages.

Costs against petitioner.


Quisumbing, (Chairperson), Carpio, Tinga, and Velasco, Jr., JJ., concur.

[1] CA-G.R. CR No. 29069; penned by Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo and concurred in by Justice Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr. and Justice Magdangal M. de Leon; rollo, pp. 67-75.

[2] Crim. Case No. RTC-2510-I; id. at 53-66.

[3] The names of the victim and the immediate family members of the victim were withheld pursuant to People v. Cabalquinto, G.R. No. 167693, September 19, 2006, 502 SCRA 419.

[4] Records, p. 2.

[5] Id. at 16.

[6] Id. at 61.

[7] Rollo, p. 68.

[8] Id. at 69.

[9] Records, p. 62.

[10] TSN, January 30, 2003, pp. 6-12.

[11] Rollo, pp. 65-66.

[12] Id. at 74.

[13] Id. at 19.

[14] Amployo v. People, G.R. No. 157718, April 26, 2005, 457 SCRA 282, 291.

[15] People v. Larin, 357 Phil. 987, 997 (1998).

[16] Section 14(2), Article III, Constitution.

[17] People v. Abadies, 433 Phil. 814, 822 (2002).

[18] People v. Bon, 444 Phil. 571, 584 (2003) citing People v. Dichoson, 352 SCRA 56, 66 (2001); citing People v. Acala, 307 SCRA 330 (1999); People v. Abordo, 258 SCRA 571 (1996); People v. Fraga, 330 SCRA 669 (2000); People v. Molina, 53 SCRA 495 (1973).

[19] People v. Orillosa, G.R. Nos. 148716-18, July 7, 2004, 433 SCRA 689, 700; People v. Dizon, G.R. Nos. 134522-24 and 139508-09, April 3, 2001, 356 SCRA 69.

[20] People v. Orillosa, supra; People v. Lilo, G.R. Nos. 140736-39, February 4, 2003, 396 SCRA 674.

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