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431 Phil. 485

THIRD DIVISION

[ G.R. No. 139753, May 07, 2002 ]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. HERNANDO QUINSON GARCIA, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

D E C I S I O N

VITUG, J.:

Hernando Quinson Garcia was charged with the offense of rape in Criminal Case No. 98-234 before the Regional Trial Court ("RTC") of Cagayan de Oro City, Branch 19, under the following recitals of the complaint, to wit:
"That on December 13, 1997, at more or less 8:30 o'clock in the morning, at Lim Ket Kai Drive, Barangay 35, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, and within the Jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, 65-year old, uncle of complainant's mother, with violence and intimidation, armed with a knife, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of one Roan T. Garcia, a 13-year old minor, against her will by then and there pointing a knife towards the latter's stomach, repeatedly demanding from her to undress, to which complainant refused, and threatening to kill her if she will shout, pulling her, and despite complainant's struggle from the holds of accused, complainant could not resist, then accused pointed the knife towards complainant's stomach and breast, managing to lower her short pants together with her panty, and when complainant was already downward, she was forcibly laid down on the bench by the accused, forcibly touching her breast, then inserted his right finger inside her vagina, while holding the knife in his left hand, her pleas of mercy being of no avail, until accused fully penetrated his penis inside complainant's vagina, performing the act of sexual intercourse on her, all done against her will."[1]
At his arraignment on 04 May 1998, the accused pleaded "not guilty" to the charge; thereupon, the trial ensued.

The Version of the Prosecution -

On the early morning of 13 December 1997, complainant Roan Garcia, then 13 years old, was preparing to leave their house located at Brgy. 35, Justo Ramonal Extension, Cagayan de Oro City.  Just as she went down the stairs, she was surprised to see her granduncle, Hernando Quinson Garcia, wielding a 12-inch stainless knife with his right hand.  To her utter consternation, she was told to undress and when she refused, Garcia grabbed and dragged her towards the sofa.  Roan was outraged when he began fondling her breasts.  She protested but she was silenced when the accused finally threatened to kill her.  He poked his knife at her chest and inserted his left middle finger into her vagina.  He pushed and pulled his finger, then unzipped his pants and removed the young girl’s shorts and panty.  He parted her thighs open with his legs and inserted his penis half-way into her vagina.  She felt intense pain and cried.  When the accused concluded his beastly act, he threatened Roan not to tell anyone about the incident.

Fearful of the threat, Roan kept her silence, at least, not until a month later when she related her unfortunate experience to her twin sister May Ann, who, in turn, reported the matter to their mother Maria Theresa Garcia.  Maria Theresa lost no time in bringing her daughter Roan to the police station where SPO1 Salome Catulong took her sworn statement.  Roan also had herself physically examined at the NBI Regional Office in Cagayan de Oro City.  Dr. Tammy Uy, who attended to her, made the following findings, viz:
"GENERAL PHYSICAL EXAMINATION'

"Height: 157 cms.                                            Weight: 45 kgs.
Fairly nourished, fairly developed.  Conscious, coherent, cooperative.  Ambulatory.  Breasts, fully developed, conical, firm.  Areolae, brown, Symmetrical, 2.8 cms. wide.  Nipples, brown, protruding, symmetrical, 0.8 cm. wide.  No extragenital physical injuries noted.

"GENITAL EXAMINATION:

"Pubic hairs, fully grown, scanty.  Labiae majora and minora, both coaptated.  Fourchette, tight.  Vestibule, pinkish, smooth.  Hymen, tall, thick, fleshy, with healed, complete laceration at 5:00 o'clock position, edges of which are sharp and coaptable.  Hymenal orifice, originally annular, admits a glass tube of 2.5 cms. diameter with moderate resistance.  Vaginal walls, tight; rugosities, prominent.

"CONCLUSION:

"Genital findings, compatible with sexual intercourse with man on or about the alleged date of commission of rape and subsequently thereafter."[2]
A complaint for rape was filed against Hernando Quinson Garcia.  It was during the trial, shortly following the arraignment, when Roan further revealed that since August 1997 the accused had been molesting (“fingering”) her.  The incidents spawned several cases for acts of lasciviousness.

The Version of the Defense -

The accused interposed the defense of alibi. He contended that he was the driver of Atty. Antonio Dugenio and working for him at the time of the incident.  He argued that rape could not have been committed due to the proximity of their house to several other houses in the neighborhood.  The accused and Roan lived under one roof and, in their crowded abode, rape could not have been possible.  He claimed that Roan was a teenage coquette and, at one time, he caught her with her brother under one blanket, "pumping."  A compelling reason, he said, for the filing of the rape charge against him by Roan and her family because his several acts of lasciviousness could not carry the death penalty and they would rather have him executed.

The trial court found to be flimsy the defense interposed by the accused.  Giving credence to the evidence presented by the prosecution, the trial court adjudged the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime for which he was indicted.  The trial court held:
"WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and to indemnify the complainant the sum of P75,000, to pay her moral damages in the sum of P50,000 and to pay the costs of this case.

"Accused's custodian is ordered to ship him to the higher authorities without delay in accordance with law."[3]
The convicted accused, in his Appellant's Brief, ascribed error to the trial court, thusly:
"I

"THE COURT A QUO COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT ON THE BASIS OF THE INCREDIBLE AND INCONSISTENT STATEMENTS OF THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES.

"II

"THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR THE CRIME OF RAPE HAS BEEN PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT."[4]
In the prosecution for rape, the credibility of the complainant becomes the single most important factor to consider, and it always behooves the Court to minutely examine her testimony.  The Court now quotes liberally, hereunder immediately following, the testimony given by Roan Garcia at the witness stand.
"Q
On December 13, 1997 at about 8:30 in the morning can you recall where were you?
 
"A
Yes, Sir.
 
"Q
Where were you?
 
"A
I was in our house.
 
"Q
Were you alone?
 
"A
We were two.
 
"Q
Who was your companion?
 
"A
Hernando Garcia.
 
 
"x x x                                        x x x                                  x x x
 
"Q
While you were left [alone] in the house with your paternal granduncle, Hernando Garcia, can you recall if there was any unusual incident that happened?
 
"A
Yes, Sir.
 
"Q
Will you please tell the court?
 
"A
During that time I was upstairs I took a bath and then changed my clothes.  At that time Hernando Garcia was downstairs and I was preparing to go to the house of my Auntie.
 
"Q
Who is this Auntie?
 
"A
Her husband is the brother of my mother.
 
"Q
What is the name of this Auntie?
 
"A
Belen.
 
"Q
You said you were about to go down because you wanted to go to the house of Auntie Belen, what happened thereafter?
 
"A
When I went down I was surprised because I saw Hernando Garcia holding a knife.
 
"Q
Where particularly in the house when you saw Hernando Garcia holding a knife?
 
"A
Downstairs at the sala.
 
"Q
Where particularly at the sala?
 
"A
He was sitting on the bench.
 
"Q
And you said he was holding a knife.  Can you demonstrate the position of Hernando Garcia?
 
"A
He was holding a knife with the use of his right hand.  (Witness demonstrating by raising her right hand as if holding something)
 
"Q
You were at the sala when you [saw] Hernando Garcia holding a knife?
 
"A
Yes, Sir.
 
"Q
How far were you with Hernando Garcia?
 
"A
About one meter.
 
"Q
When you saw Hernando Garcia holding a knife, what did he say or do anything?
 
"A
He instructed me to undress myself.  I was so shocked and I told him `No, Uncle do not do that.'
 
"Q
Can you still describe the knife?
 
"A
Yes, Sir.
 
"Q
Please describe it?
 
"A
A stainless knife.
 
"Q
Can you estimate the length of the knife?
 
"A
12 inches.
 
"Q
After that what happened?
 
"A
After that he again instructed me to undress and I told him `No, Uncle do not do that' and he grabbed me.
 
"Q
He grabbed you?
 
"A
Yes, Sir.
 
"Q
Then what happened next?
 
"A
I was grabbed towards the sofa.
 
"Q
What happened to you when you were grabbed?
 
"A
I was crying I told him `No, Uncle don't do that'.  And he told me not to shout if I do he will kill me.
 
"Q
At that particular time when you were grabbed he was still holding the knife?
 
"A
Yes, Sir.
 
"Q
When you were already in the sofa what happened next?
 
"A
When I was at the sofa he fondled my breasts and I felt pain.
 
"Q
That is only what he did to you?
 
"A
He inserted his finger [into] my vagina.
 
"Q
Can you show which finger did he insert?  (Witness demonstrating by showing her left middle finger)
 
"Q
After that what did the accused do to you?
 
"A
After he inserted his finger he [did] the rubbing and he pushed and pulled his finger [in] my vagina.  And I told him `don't do that' after that he pulled up his finger and he pulled his zipper and the knife was poked on my chest.
 
"Q
When the accused [was] unzipping his zipper and the knife was in your chest, what did he do to you?
 
"A
He removed my shortpants including my panty.
 
"Q
Did you not shout?
 
"A
He told me not to shout if I do so he will kill me.
 
"Q
Did you not kick him?
 
"A
If I will kick him I'm afraid because the knife was poked on my chest.
 
"Q
You said that he undressed you and he unzipped his pants, what else happened?
 
"A
After that his two thighs spread my thighs.
 
"Q
Then what transpired next?
 
"A
After that he inserted his private part in my vagina.
 
"Q
Was he able to insert his private organ?
 
"A
Half of it was inserted.
 
"Q
When his organ was already inserted what did you observe of him?
 
"A
He was doing the push and pull movement.
 
"Q
What else?
 
"A
After inserting his penis he did the push and pull.  He experienced ecstasy and he pulled his penis and I was surprised there was a fluid coming from his penis.
 
"Q
How about you did you experience ecstasy?
 
"A
No.
 
"Q
How long did your uncle perform that push and pull movement?
 
"A
About 5 seconds.
 
"Q
While your uncle Hernando Garcia was doing this what did you feel?
 
"A
I cried and I felt intense pain.
 
"Q
You said you observed that half of the accused' penis was inserted in your vagina did you feel if it was hard?
 
"A
Yes, Sir.
 
"Q
You said that after he inserted his penis and a few moments he pulled out his penis?
 
"A
Yes, Sir.
 
"Q
And you saw a white substance coming out?
 
"A
The white fluid dripped to the cement."[5]
The narration given by the complainant is brief but so straightforward that it hardly gives reason for the Court to ignore it, let alone brush aside the assessment made on it by the court a quo.  Indeed, the assignment of values to the testimony of a witness is virtually left, almost entirely, to the trial court[6] which has the opportunity to observe the demeanor of the witness at the stand.  Unless there are substantial matters that might have been overlooked or discarded, the findings of credibility by the trial court will not generally be disturbed on appeal.  Mere inconsistencies on non-material points committed by the witness, even when they exist, are not enough to deny weight to the entire testimony; often, in fact, such discrepancies reassure against the likelihood of rehearsed testimony.  Nor would variations of the testimony from that contained in an affidavit enough to foreclose value to the former.  By its very nature and the manner it is taken, affidavits can ill-compare to the weight of testimony given in open court.  Roan, it might be noted, has not been shown to entertain any ill-motive to impute such a grave offense against her own granduncle.  It is also unimaginable for a young woman to fabricate a horrifying rape experience and open herself to public scrutiny if she, indeed, were not, sexually violated.

The defense of alibi proffered by appellant cannot override the positive identification made by Roan of her defiler.  She could not have mistaken for someone else the accused who, in fact, has been living under the same roof with her and their family.  Relative to the alleged impossibility of rape occurring in a crowded place, the Court, in a string of cases, has already observed that this crime is known to occur even at the most unlikely time and place.[7]

En passant, rape may be committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman through, among other ways, force, threat or intimidation.[8] Appellant, with the use of a 12-inch knife, has cowed his victim to submit to his carnal urges.  The penalty prescribed by law for the offense is reclusion perpetua to death.[9] When the crime charged is not attended by any aggravating or mitigating circumstance, duly alleged and proven, the penalty that can be imposed is reclusion perpetua.

Conformably with prevailing jurisprudence, the civil indemnity for simple rape is P50,000.00[10] in addition to moral damages, an innate suffering in the crime of rape and thus due to an offended party, fixed at P50,000.00.

WHEREFORE, the assailed decision of the court a quo is AFFIRMED except that the civil indemnity awarded in favor of private complainant is reduced to P50,000.00.  Costs against appellant.

SO ORDERED.

Melo, (Chairman), Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Carpio, JJ., concur.



[1] Rollo, p. 9.

[2] Records, p. 10.

[3] Rollo, p. 25.

[4] Rollo, p. 59.

[5] TSN, 07 September 1998, pp. 6-11.

[6] People vs.  Navarette, G.R. No. 138640, 13 September 2001.

[7] People vs.  Sumampong, 290 SCRA 471; People vs.  Escala, 292 SCRA 48; People vs.  Perez, 296 SCRA 17; People vs.  Ambray, 303 SCRA 697; People vs.  Gastador, 305 SCRA 659.

[8] Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.

[9] Article 266-B, supra.

[10] People vs.  Pili, 289 SCRA 118.

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