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435 Phil. 297


[ G.R. No. 136158, August 06, 2002 ]




On appeal is the judgment[1] of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 219, in Criminal Case No. Q-96-66445, which found appellant Antonio de la Cruz y Flores guilty of rape and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay the offended party, Princess Janice Abaya, P50,000 in moral damages.

Appellant was a “faith healer” who conducted “healing” sessions in various provinces. Sometime in January 1996, he met complainant’s mother, Trinidad Collimar,[2] in one of these sessions. They became fast friends and appellant stayed from January until March 14, 1996, at Trinidad’s house in Tignoan, Real, Quezon, where he got to know Princess Janice, Trinidad’s minor daughter by her estranged common-law husband, Jerry Abaya. Princess Janice then was only aged 13, having been born on November 27, 1982.[3]

With her mother’s permission, Princess Janice would accompany appellant, whom she called “Lolo,” whenever he had healing sessions. On the average, they would be gone three days at a time. On March 14, 1996, appellant asked Trinidad if he could bring Princess Janice with him to Manila. Though classes had not yet ended, Trinidad gave her permission as appellant promised to buy clothes and school materials for Princess Janice, who was an elementary school pupil. Thus, appellant was able to bring Princess Janice to his house at No. 50 Women’s Club Street, Sto. Niño, Galas, Quezon City.

On June 6, 1996, Princess Janice, with the assistance of her father, filed a complaint for rape, alleging:

That on or about the 15th day of March 1996, in Quezon City, Philippines, the above-named accused, by means of force and intimidation, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously put himself on top of complainant PRINCESS JANICE ABAYA, a minor, fourteen (14) years of age, who was then sleeping at the time, and thereafter had carnal knowledge with the undersigned complainant against her will and without her consent.

Contrary to law.[4]

Initially, private complainant had declared that appellant had ravished her three times: on March 15, 18, and 20, 1996. The preliminary investigation conducted by the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office, however, disclosed there was probable cause to charge appellant with rape only for the incident of March 15, 1996. The City Prosecutor ruled that appellant’s acts of March 18 and 20, 1996 only constituted qualified seduction and acts of lasciviousness, respectively, which were distinct from the present case of rape.

Complainant submitted to a medico-legal examination at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Central Crime Laboratory. Police Senior Inspector Rosaline O. Cosidon, M.D., conducted the examination. Her findings were as follows:



Fairly developed, fairly nourished and coherent female subject, breasts are conical with light brown areola and nipples from which no secretion could be pressed out. Abdomen is flat and soft.


There is scanty growth of pubic hair. Labia majora are full, convex and gaping with the pinkish brown labia minora presenting in between. On separating the same is disclosed an elastic, fleshy type hymen with shallow healed lacerations at 3 and 9 o’clock. External vaginal orifice offers moderate resistance to the introduction of the examining index finger and the virgin-sized vaginal speculum. Vaginal canal is narrow with prominent rugosities. Cervix is normal in size, color and consistency.


Subject is in non-virgin state physically.[5]

On June 26, 1996, appellant was arraigned. He pleaded not guilty to the charge of rape. Trial then commenced.

Testifying for the prosecution were the private complainant, her mother, and Dr. Rosaline Cosidon, the PNP medico-legal officer.

Complainant testified that on March 15, 1996, at around seven o’clock in the evening, she was trying to sleep in an upstairs room in appellant’s house. With her were appellant’s sister, two of his nieces, and his son. She was fitfully awake, thinking of her mother, when appellant went up and invited her to sleep downstairs with him. She thought nothing of it, since she considered appellant like her own grandfather. She lay down beside him and was soon asleep. Later that night, she was awakened when she felt a sharp pain in her private parts. She then saw that her underwear had been lowered to her thighs and that appellant had inserted his penis into her vagina. He commanded her not to make any noise and to just keep quiet. She cried and resisted by pushing him away, forcing him to move back. He then warned her in a very stern manner not to tell anyone about what he did to her,[6] and that he would kill her and her family should she tell anybody about the incident.[7] Frightened, she fled upstairs and went to sleep beside the other occupants of the house.

During her entire stay in Manila, she was not allowed to go out of the house. She stayed in appellant’s house until March 26, 1996 when he brought her back to Quezon. Upon her return to the province, she narrated her defilement to her best friend, a certain Rezzy Malinao.[8]

On May 15, 1996, her mother brought her to Quezon City to stay with her father. She told her father that appellant had raped her. She also disclosed that she no longer wanted to stay in the province because people were gossiping about the rape incident. Her father immediately brought her to the police to lodge a complaint and had her medically examined.[9]

Trinidad testified that appellant stayed in their home from January to March 14, 1996 when he left for Galas, Quezon City, with Princess Janice in tow. She said that she allowed her daughter to go with appellant because the latter was like a real father to her family.[10] Moreover, he asked for her permission in a very nice way (“Maganda po kasi ang pagpapaalam niya sa akin.”).[11] Trinidad also explained that she allowed it although classes had not yet ended because her daughter’s teacher assured her there was no problem since the final examinations were over.[12] She added she brought her daughter to her father’s place in Galas, Quezon City for a vacation in May 1996. Upon returning to the province, she read in the newspapers about the rape charge filed by her daughter against appellant. She immediately rushed back to Quezon City. It was only then that her daughter revealed that appellant had sexually abused her.

Dr. Rosaline Cosidon informed the trial court that she subjected private complainant to a general physical examination on May 20, 1996. She found that the victim’s hymen had “shallow healed laceration(s) at (the) 3 and 9 o’clock positions.” In her opinion, the lacerations could have been caused by the “forcible entry of (a) hard object” such as a fully erect phallus. Dr. Cosidon declared that it was possible the lacerations on the victim’s hymen happened on March 15, 1996.[13]
Appellant interposed in his defense an alibi. He claimed that the rape charges against him were instigated by complainant’s father to extort money from him.[14] The trial court summed up his testimony as follows:

…[I]t was impossible for him to have raped the complainant at the time, date and place stated in the complaint because 1) at the time the alleged act imputed to him was committed, he was somewhere else conducting healing sessions; 2) he usually had visitors in his house during those hours of the day and his housemates were still awake watching television; 3) the accusations were instigated by the father of the complainant; 4) the complainant did not immediately complain or ask for help; 5) that his healing power comes from the Lord in whom he has great fear and who can take such power away from him if he commits any wrongdoing; and 6) the report card of the complainant (Exh. 1) shows that she was attending her classes from March 14 to March 26, 1996 at the Tignoan Elementary School in Quezon province (TSN, August 11, 1997, pp. 3-6).[15]

In his “Contra-Salaysay” dated May 21, 1996, appellant averred that on March 15, 1996, he was in Bagumbayan, Malinao, Albay for healing sessions. He stayed at the house of a certain Andrea B. Barrion during his stay in Albay from March 15 to April 12, 1996.[16]

To corroborate appellant’s alibi, the defense presented Clarissa Sipin, Delia Bilolo, and Jimmy Lapasi. Sipin, a niece of appellant, was allegedly staying at her uncle’s place in Galas at the time of the incident. Sipin averred that appellant could not have raped complainant in Quezon City on March 15, 1996 as the former left for Bicol in March 1996 and did not return until April 17, 1996.[17] She was sure appellant left for Albay in March 1996 because she helped him pack his belongings and healing paraphernalia. Moreover, complainant’s claim that the occupants of appellant’s house were asleep when she was raped at 7:00 P.M. of March 15, 1996 was not true as they usually went to sleep at 10:00 P.M.[18] Sipin also declared that private complainant never slept at appellant’s house.[19]

Bilolo, the owner of the Galas house rented by appellant, affirmed the contents of her affidavit[20] where she stated that sometime in March 1996, appellant’s sister had informed her that appellant had gone to Bicol. She said that she was present when appellant arrived from Bicol at around 7:00 or 8:00 A.M. of April 17, 1996.[21]

Lapasi, in turn, testified that appellant stayed in his house in Bagtang, Daraga, Albay from March 2 to April 15, 1996, and never left the place during that period.[22]

Appellant also presented Gloria Atendido, principal of Tigmuan Elementary School in Real, Quezon and Edna Segoma, the victim’s teacher, to testify on the veracity of the entries respecting complainant’s school attendance in her report card.

The trial court noted that even before the case was decided, appellant had changed his theory of the case, thus:

…The thrust of his defense in his Memorandum, is that the act was consensual which is totally inconsistent with his defense of alibi and denial. He vehemently asserted that the actuations of the complainant before, during and after the alleged violation were not typical of [a] someone who abhorred the acts committed against her. Rather, they were characteristic of someone who had consented to and who had enjoyed the sexual congress. His line of argument was that because the accused had “fingered” her at least three times on March 15, 1996 before the act complained of was committed, her acceding to his invitation to sleep beside him and the manner how it was perpetrated, as pictured by her, show that she was a “willing victim.” Moreover, he claimed that the intimate manner they had slept together and her acceding to be fingered again on the 20th of March support his stand. Furthermore, he cited the impossibility of the rape being committed by the way the complainant pictured it to have happened.[23]

On October 6, 1998, the trial court convicted appellant of the charge. The decretal portion of its decision reads:

WHEREFORE, finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of having committed Rape, defined and punished under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. 7659, the Court hereby sentences him (1) to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua; (2) to pay the complainant Princess Janice Abaya the amount of P75,000.00 as moral damages; and (3) to pay the costs.


In convicting appellant, the trial court noted that appellant’s alibi was not only weak but was contradicted by the inconsistent testimonies of the defense witnesses. Hence, it could not prevail against private complainant’s positive identification singling him out as her ravisher.

Now before us, appellant assigns the following errors committed by the trial court:





Appellant submits that the foregoing assigned errors are interrelated and should be discussed jointly. We agree. The only issue before this Court is whether or not the trial court erred in finding appellant guilty of rape beyond reasonable doubt, and in sentencing him to reclusion perpetua with the accessory penalties provided by law.

First, appellant contends that his guilt has not been proven with moral certainty for failure of the prosecution to prove the elements of the crime. He claims that while the complaint charged him with rape through force and intimidation, a closer scrutiny of complainant’s testimony clearly shows that force and intimidation during the course of the coitus were inexistent. He argues that he was not armed with a deadly weapon. Nor did he threaten complainant with bodily harm. Moreover, there was no showing of any resistance on the victim’s part. She failed to shout for help, much less struggle during the sexual congress, according to him. Appellant submits that all of the foregoing circumstances, taken together, show not only the lack of either forcible compulsion or coercion on his part, but also the willingness of complainant to have sex with him.

For the appellee, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) points out that the victim here is a 13-year-old rural lass who looked up to and respected appellant as her “Lolo” or grandfather. She believed appellant to be a good man, being a faith healer. She so trusted him that she felt secure in going alone with him to the metropolis. Undoubtedly, appellant exercised moral ascendancy, domination, and influence over her, more so as she was brought to a house where appellant was the main figure. The Solicitor General contends that given these circumstances, appellant’s moral ascendancy and influence over his victim, substitute for the requisite violence and intimidation. He stresses that the law does not impose a burden on the rape victim to prove resistance.

In reviewing rape cases, we are guided by the following principles: (1) an accusation for rape can be made with facility, it is difficult to prove but more difficult for the accused, though innocent, to disprove; (2) in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape where only two persons are usually involved, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution; and (3) 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.[25]

In convicting appellant of rape, the trial court noted “that no force was applied, (but) intimidation cannot be ruled out altogether.”[26] Complainant testified that she was asked by appellant to sleep beside him and she did as requested. She was suddenly awakened when she felt pain in her vagina (“Nung natutulog ako, nagising po ako na may masakit sa pekpek ko.”)[27] only to see appellant “inserting his penis into (her) vagina.”[28]

Rape is committed when the accused has carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances: (1) by using force or intimidation; (2) when the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and (3) when the woman is under twelve years of age or is demented.[29]

In the present case, the complaint alleged that the victim of the rape “was then sleeping at the time.”[30] As earlier discussed, complainant testified under oath and in open court that she was asleep when appellant’s organ penetrated her genitals. The resulting pain in her vagina awakened her, enabling her to catch appellant in the act of raping her. Her testimony on this point was not rebutted by the defense. Thus, we are in agreement with the trial court’s conclusion that there was rape. Carnal knowledge with a woman who is asleep constitutes rape.[31]

However, appellant cannot be held liable under Article 335 (1)[32] of the Revised Penal Code, because complainant was not compelled by appellant’s threats into having sexual relations with him. He threatened her only after the consummation of the sexual act. She said she pushed him away and appellant then forcefully told her to keep quiet regarding the incident, otherwise he would kill every member of her family.[33] However, appellant was correctly convicted under Article 335 (2).[34] What is controlling in the complaint or information is not the title of the complaint, nor the designation of the offense charged or of the particular law or part thereof violated, these being mere conclusions of law, but the description of the crime charged and particular facts therein recited.[35] It can be readily gleaned from the complaint that the commission of rape by appellant in the instant case falls under the second circumstance of Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. No. 7659 but before the enactment of R.A. No. 8353.

We likewise agree with the Solicitor General that the evidence shows that appellant did indeed exercise a high degree of ascendancy and influence over the victim. However, it is unclear whether appellant used said ascendancy or influence to force her into submitting to his bestial desires.

For his part, appellant claims that complainant did not resist his advances. He argues that her failure to shout for help was tantamount to voluntariness on her part to have sex with him. But his contention is belied by evidence to the contrary. Complainant categorically testified that she pushed appellant away when the pain in her vagina woke her up as she felt his phallus intruding into her private parts. This is unrebutted. Resistance on the part of the victim need not be carried to the point of inviting death or sustaining physical injuries at the hands of the rapist.[36] Complainant’s pushing appellant away is sufficient resistance. Besides, as the OSG stresses, the law does not impose upon the rape victim the burden of proving resistance.[37]

Appellant faults complainant for her failure to immediately report the rape to the authorities or her parents. Appellant argues that complainant’s father lived in the same neighborhood in Quezon City, and she could have run to him to complain had she really been raped. However, complainant’s failure to immediately report the rape to her family or to the authorities does not detract from her credibility, nor does it mean that she fabricated the rape charge. She offered good reason for her hesitation. She did not know her way around Galas, Quezon City, having just arrived a day before the incident. Moreover, she was not allowed to leave appellant’s house. She could not even go back to Quezon province until appellant took her back on March 26, 1996. Once back in the province, she immediately told her best friend about the incident. But considering her youth, it was understandable that she could take no further action. Moreover, it is not uncommon for a young girl to conceal for some time the assault on her virtue because of the rapist’s threats on her life, fear of public humiliation, or lack of courage and composure to immediately complain that she has been sexually assaulted.[38]

Before us, appellant maintains that the victim consented to be his paramour. This is a belated change of theory. His allegation is too shopworn to deserve serious consideration. To begin with, his shift from denial and alibi to the “sweetheart theory,” made apparently after realizing the futility of his earlier defense, is a clear indication that his defense is based on nothing but mere concoctions. Second, it is difficult to believe that a young and immature rural girl would willingly consent to be the mistress of a man more than four times her age, and whom she looks up to as her own grandfather. In rural areas of this country, young ladies by custom and tradition act with circumspection and prudence, and great caution is observed so that their reputation remains untainted.[39] Nothing on record appears to show that complainant was a girl of loose morals, lacking in Filipina modesty. Having admitted the carnal act, the onus probandi is now on appellant to show that complainant freely consented to be his lover.[40] As an affirmative defense, the alleged illicit affair needs convincing proof. The records, however, are so thread bare on this score, such that appellant’s latest theory could only tax one’s credulity without benefit to his cause.

Finally, we note that appellant failed to show any plausible reason or motive why private complainant would charge him of a serious offense. Absent such showing of an ill motive, complainant’s testimony should be upheld as worthy of full faith and credit. Complainant’s voluntary submission to medical examination and her willingness to undergo public trial where she was compelled to give out the details of the assault on her dignity, cannot so easily be dismissed as a mere concoction.[41] She was telling the truth under oath in order that justice could prevail. Consequently, we have no doubt that the trial court did not err in convicting appellant of rape.

As to damages, we note that the trial court ordered appellant to pay the victim P75,000 as moral damages. In line with current jurisprudence, however, the award of moral damages must be pegged at P50,000,[42] but the victim ought also to be awarded another sum of P50,000 as civil indemnity. Such award is mandatory upon the finding of the fact of rape and is separate and distinct from the award of moral damages.[43]

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 219, in Criminal Case No. Q-96-66445, finding appellant ANTONIO DE LA CRUZ guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape and sentencing him to reclusion perpetua is AFFIRMED, with the MODIFICATION that he is ordered to pay complainant, Princess Janice Abaya, the amount of P50,000 as civil indemnity and another sum of P50,000 as moral damages, together with the costs.


Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, and Corona, JJ., concur.

[1] Records, pp. 234-244.

[2] Also referred to as Trinidad Juliamar or Trinidad Callara in the records.

[3] TSN, November 4, 1996, p. 3.

[4] Records, p. 1.

[5] Id. at 98.

[6] TSN, July 31, 1996, pp. 22-36.

[7] TSN, October 7, 1996, p. 16.

[8] TSN, July 31, 1996, pp. 37-38; TSN, October 7, 1996, pp. 10-11.

[9] TSN, July 31, 1996, pp. 41-49.

[10] TSN, November 4, 1996, p. 5.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Id. at 6.

[13] TSN, April 3, 1997, pp. 14-16.

[14] TSN, August 11, 1997, p. 3; TSN, August 18, 1997, pp. 4-9.

[15] Records, pp. 236-237.

[16] Id. at 22.

[17] TSN, September 3, 1997, p. 6.

[18] Id. at 8-10.

[19] TSN, November 13, 1997, p. 6.

[20] Records, p. 176, Exhibit “4”.

[21] TSN, February 11, 1998, p. 4.

[22] TSN, May 20, 1998, pp. 3-5, 8-10.

[23] Records, p. 243.

[24] Id. at 244.

[25] People vs. Gutierrez, 339 SCRA 452, 462 (2000), citing People vs. Excija, 258 SCRA 424, 438-439 (1996); People vs. De Guzman, 265 SCRA 228, 241 (1996).

[26] Supra, note 23.

[27] TSN, July 31, 1996, p. 25.

[28] Id. at 26.

[29] Revised Penal Code, Art. 335.

[30] Records, p. 1.

[31] People vs. Conde, 322 Phil. 757, 767 (1996), citing People vs. Dayo, 51 Phil. 102, 104 (1927), People vs. Corcino, 53 Phil. 234, 238 (1929), and People vs. Caballero, 61 Phil. 900, 902 (1935).

[32] Art. 335 (1), RPC: When and how rape is committed.—Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances.

1. By using force or intimidation;

x x x

[33] TSN, October 7, 1996, pp. 15-16. 

[34] Art. 335 (2), RPC: When and how rape is committed.—Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances.

x x x

2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and

x x x

[35] People vs. Banihit, 339 SCRA 86, 93 (2000), citing People vs. Taño, 331 SCRA 449, 469 (2000), and People vs. Barrientos, 285 SCRA 221, 244-245 (1998). 

[36] People vs. Sagaysay, 308 SCRA 455, 464 (1999), citing People vs. Soberano, 244 SCRA 467, 477 (1995).
[37] People vs. Baltazar, 329 SCRA 378, 389 (2000). 

[38] People vs. Historillo, 333 SCRA 615, 622 (2000), citing People vs. Adora, 275 SCRA 441, 460 (1997). 

[39] People vs. Caratay, 316 SCRA 251, 268 (1999), citing People vs. Travero, 276 SCRA 301, 312 (1997). 

[40] People vs. Cepeda, 324 SCRA 290, 297 (2000). 

[41] People vs. Onabia, 306 SCRA 23, 38 (1999), citing People vs. Cabillan, 267 SCRA 258, 265 (1997). 

[42] People vs. Pacina, 338 SCRA 195, 216 (2000). 

[43] People vs. Watimar, 338 SCRA 173, 192-193 (2000), citing People vs. Decena, 332 SCRA 618, 626 (2000), People vs. Penaso, 326 SCRA 311, 323 (2000), and People vs. Maglente, 306 SCRA 546, 578 (1999).

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