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433 Phil. 365

THIRD DIVISION

[ G.R. Nos. 137661-63, July 04, 2002 ]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. ADRIANO PONSICA, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

D E C I S I O N

PUNO, J.:

Before us on appeal is the consolidated decision of the Regional Trial Court of Urdaneta City, Pangasinan, Branch 46,[1] promulgated on August 8, 1998, in Criminal Case Nos. U-9631, U-9632, and U-9633 finding appellant Adriano Ponsica guilty of three counts of rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua in each case.

For allegedly violating the womanhood of his 13-year old neighbor, Melba R. Quidem, appellant was charged with three counts of rape in separate Informations, the accusatory portion of each reads as follows:

Criminal Case No. U-9631
“That sometime on April 3, 1998 in the evening at barangay San Vicente East, Asingan, Pangasinan, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused entered the house of Melba R. Quidem and once inside by means of force and violence, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual intercourse with said Melba R. Quidem, a minor, 13 years of age, against her will and without her consent, to her damage and prejudice.
CONTRARY to Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by R.A. 7659 and R.A. 8353.”[2]
Criminal Case No. U-9632
“That sometime on April 7, 1997 at barangay San Vicente East, Asingan, Pangasinan, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused by means of force and violence, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual intercourse with Melba R. Quidem, a minor, 13 years of age, against her will and without her consent, to her damage and prejudice.
CONTRARY to Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by R.A. 7659.”[3]
Criminal Case No. U-9633
“That sometime on (sic) November, 1997 in the evening at barangay San Vicente East, Asingan, Pangasinan, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused by means of force and violence, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual intercourse with Melba R. Quidem, a minor 13 years of age, against her will and without her consent, to her damage and prejudice.
CONTRARY to Article 335, Revised Penal Code as amended by R.A. 7659 and R.A. 8353.”[4]

Upon arraignment, appellant entered a plea of Not Guilty to each of the charges. Trial on the merits thereafter ensued.

It appears from the evidence adduced by the prosecution that the victim Melba Quidem and appellant in these cases are neighbors. Their houses, which are very near each other, are located in San Vicente East, Asingan, Pangasinan. Since her family did not own any television set, Melba would usually go to the appellant’s house to watch television with other companions.

It was immediately after watching television at the appellant’s house on April 7, 1997, at 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon, Melba recalled,[5] that the first of the three incidents of rape happened. She and her playmates began to gather at the house at 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon to view a telecine program. After the program, which lasted for approximately one hour, her friends started to leave. She was about to follow suit when appellant suddenly placed a handkerchief in her mouth. He then carried her, using his two hands, to a corner of the house. He forced her to lie down, face up, on the cemented floor. He removed her shorts, together with her panty. After which, he removed his own pants and pulled his briefs sideways, letting his penis out. He inserted it into her sexual organ. The act caused her to experience pain in her vagina. She put up a struggle in a desperate attempt to defend her honor. She soon realized the futility of it all as the appellant was bigger and stronger than her. In time, appellant succeeded in penetrating her. After satisfying his carnal desire, appellant stood up, put his clothes back on, and left the place. Melba subsequently went home. Upon reaching their place, she washed her vagina. She chose not to tell her parents about the incident for the threat the appellant made stuck to her mind: he will kill her whole family if she even mentioned a word about the matter.

The second incident of rape happened almost exactly the same way as the first one. Melba was again watching television one night at the house of the appellant on the third week of November 1997 with several companions. They stayed there up to 9:00 in the evening. After the TV program, the people headed home one by one. Melba was likewise going to leave when she noticed that one of her slippers was missing. She looked around, but could not find it, so she went home. While she was walking, appellant chased her and overtook her. He grabbed her, covered her mouth, and placed his hands around her. He carried her to a nearby bamboo grove. At that time, he was wearing only briefs and sandos. He forced her to lie down face up then began to insert his penis into her vagina. He thereafter made a push and pull movement. She noticed that something came out of his penis which is hot and sticky. While in the process of making the push and pull movement, appellant tore her upper garment. He sucked her breast which, to her, felt very painful. After he succeeded in imposing his bestial will upon her, he stood up and left his ravished prey. Melba headed home. Before she went to sleep, at about 10:30 o’clock in the evening, she washed her vagina.

The boldness of the appellant seemed to increase, as he committed the third and last of the rapes inside the very house of the victim. At about 10:00 o’clock in the evening of April 3, 1998, Melba was roused from her sleep when she heard the door of the house being opened. She got up, closed the door, and went back to sleep with her two brothers. After a while, Melba was again awakened, this time because she felt somebody on top of her. That somebody turned out to be the appellant. Then she realized that his penis was already inside her vagina. His knees were placed on top of her knees. She attempted to parry him, but instead got boxed in the stomach. While he was making his familiar push and pull movement, she felt enormous pain in her vagina. He also lowered her upper dress to suck her right nipple. All throughout, she was just lying face up, with her hands above her head as they were being held by the appellant.

Early the next morning, Melba’s aunt, Rosalinda Bitana, caught her crying.[6] She asked the girl why she was crying. The young lass told her of the rape. Feeling compassion for her niece, she brought her to the Barangay Captain, who accompanied them to the Asingan Medicare Hospital for medical examination.

Dr. Noemie M. Taganas physically examined Melba.[7] Her examination indicated the following external findings: swelling of both nipples and swelling of labia majora, labia minora and clitoris. The following, on the other hand, were her internal findings: (1) hymen ruptured showing incomplete old lacerations at about 12:00, 2:00, 5:00, 6:00 and 9:00 o’clock positions; hymenal orifice admits one finger tip with difficulty and pain; and whitish discharge coming from vagina. She also found the presence of spermatozoa. Her overall diagnosis is that the girl has lost her virginity. The doctor opined that the laceration could have possibly been caused by a human penis, and that the presence of wounds in different positions indicates that there could have probably been several sexual intercourse which caused them.

After the medical examinations were finished, Rosalinda brought Melba to the Asingan Police Station for the girl to lodge a formal complaint against the appellant. When they arrived at the station, the police investigator on duty, SPO1 Patricio Badua, Jr., investigated Melba’s grievance.[8] He took her statements, which became the basis of the complaint he himself later filed with the court.

In a bid for exculpation, appellant interposed denial and alibi, contending that on the dates the three instances of rape happened, he was in another place or otherwise doing something else.[9] The defense called to the stand, aside from the appellant himself, the following witnesses to corroborate his story: his wife Carlina Ponsica, his son-in-law Virgilio Quidem, and his friend Romulo Lapena.

Appellant declared that on April 7, 1997, he arrived at his house at about 2:00 o’ clock in the afternoon. He came that day from his work at a machine shop owned by a certain Jun Subido and located at San Juan, San Manuel, Pangasinan. As a mechanic, he specializes in engine overhauling and welding. He went home unusually early that day because his eyes were painful caused by the flaks of a welding machine. He remembered that from 4:00 to 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon that day, he was just seating with his wife in front of their house. After which, his wife proceeded to fix the family’s meal. At the dinner table, the two of them were joined by their children, Novalyn and John Ponsica. After finishing their food, they all prepared to sleep. His wife arranged their beddings in front of the television in the sala, where they all eventually retired. He admitted that he knows Melba, since she was their neighbor. He, however, denied that the young girl would visit their house to watch television. Also, he never recalled seeing her that day inside their house or anywhere else.

Carolina Ponsica, the appellant’s wife, corroborated the story of her husband.[10] She narrated that her husband indeed arrived unusually early that day. They sat and talked and whiled away the time in front of their house until she had to cook dinner. They ate with their two children, Novalyn and John, before all of them went to sleep. She and appellant slept at the sala in front of the television while the kids stayed near their aparador. She stated that Melba never came to their house to watch television, as their TV set was only black and white. She insisted that on April 7, 1997, the girl did not go to their house.

The second rape, which happened on the third week of November, appellant contends, could not have also been committed by him. He claimed that on November 4, 1997 he went to Abolog, Cagayan, where he stayed until December 27, 1997. He went to the province in connection with a contract he obtained to repair a rice-milling machine, owned by a certain Wilma Guillermo. According to him, in the almost two months that he stayed there, not even once did he come home.

This story was corroborated by his son-in-law Virgilio Quidem, who is also the first cousin of Melba.[11] He testified that he accompanied appellant to Cagayan in the afternoon of November 4, 1997 to do some repair jobs on a rice-milling machine. He acted as his assistant. They stayed there during the whole time of the project and only went home on December 27, 1997.

At the time of the third and last of the rape incidents on April 3, 1997, appellant similarly maintains that he was not present at the alleged scene of the crime. He claims that at approximately 7:30 in the evening, he went to the house of his friend Romulo Lapena. There was a wedding celebration to be held there the next morning and he volunteered to help in the preparation of the food. From 7:30 that night up to 5:30 the next morning, he kept himself busy cooking different kinds of food.

This story was confirmed by defense witness Romulo Lapena.[12] He testified that in the evening of April 3, 1998, both he and appellant went to the house of his brother Alfredo Lapena, whose daughter was going to walk the aisle the next morning. They offered their assistance as kusineros in preparing the food. He remembered that when he arrived at his brother’s house, appellant was already there. The latter stayed with them until about 5:00 o’clock in the morning the next day when they all left together.

After analyzing the evidence, the trial court adjudged the appellant guilty of three counts of rape as charged in the Informations and meted out the penalty of reclusion perpetua for each conviction. The dispositive portion of its consolidated decision reads:

“Wherefore, the Court finds ADRIANO PONSICA guilty beyond reasonable doubt of RAPE under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Republic Act 7659 and the Court sentences ADRIANO PONSICA, as follows:

1. In CRIM. CASE NO. U-9631, to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA. To indemnify Melba Quidem the sum of P50,000.00 for moral damages plus P20,000.00 as exemplary damages;

2. In CRIM. CASE NO. U-9632, to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA. To indemnify Melba Quidem the sum of P50,000.00 for moral damages plus P20,000.00 as exemplary damages;

3. In CRIM. CASE NO. U-9633, to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA. To indemnify Melba Quidem the sum of P50,000.00 for moral damages plus P20,000.00 as exemplary damages;

x x x                                            x x x                                   x x x

SO ORDERED.”[13]

Taking vigorous objection to the guilty verdict, appellant interjected the present appeal. In his brief, he cited and argued the following issues:

“I - Whether or not the prosecution has established beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused-appellant Adriano Ponsica in the three (3) criminal charges filed against him?

II - Corollary issue on damages.”[14]

The appeal is bereft of merit.

Rape is committed by having 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, even though neither of the circumstances mentioned in the two next preceding paragraphs shall be present. The gravamen of rape is carnal knowledge of a woman against her will or without her consent.[15]

Appellant, however, asserts that he cannot be held liable allegedly because the prosecution failed to prove the element of force or intimidation in the first charge of rape. He referred to the testimony of Melba and noted how the penile insertion was made with facility. He also tried to point out the apparent lack of force or intimidation on his part as can be gleaned from the fact that he merely had to pull his brief sideways before he was able to fully introduce his sexual organ into hers.

We disagree. From the testimony of Melba, it is very evident how appellant used a great amount of force to cower her into submission. He preliminarily grabbed her and placed a handkerchief in her mouth, before carrying her to a corner and coercing her to lie on the cemented floor. His hands tightly held her hands. The resistance Melba offered were useless since he was far stronger and bigger than her. The fact that appellant merely pulled his brief sideways should not be taken as an indication that the intercourse was done with ease. It only shows that it was done in a hurried and uncomfortable manner, which dovetails rather than contradict the version of Melba.

Anent the second incident, appellant again tries to impress on us that the sexual intercourse was consensual. He found it unbelievable that Melba, after the first rape incident, would still return to the house of the person who previously abused her. Unless, he argues, the girl was asking for it. It also puzzles him why she never revealed the alleged rape to any of her friends and relatives after the incident.

That Melba returned to the house of the very person who abused her and where the latter forcibly imposed his bestial will against her does not necessarily imply that she was asking for more. The only reason why she came back to appellant’s house was because, according to her, she was more afraid to be left alone at their house. Every time her family and friends would go there to watch television, she explained that she did not have any choice but to go with them, thus:

“Court:
Q:    Why did you still go and watch television in the house of Adriano Ponsica when he had already forced you to have sexual intercourse to (sic) you?
A:    Because I saw children going to the house of Adriano Ponsica to watch TV, sir.
Q:    Is it not a fact that you hated Adriano Ponsica when he had sexual intercourse with you the first time around?
A:    I hated him sir.
Q:    Despite that hate, why must you have to go to the house and watch TV?
A:    Because I am more afraid at our house because I have no companion there, sir.”[16]

Melba’s non-revelation of the first incident of the rape can be attributed to the fear created in her mind by the various threats appellant made against her. To be sure, appellant’s stern warning that he would kill her and her whole family generated fright in the young girl’s mind. The threat for her was real and she believed beyond doubt that her attacker was very much capable of making good his threat. Under the circumstances, it would be unreasonable to expect that the victim act with equanimity of disposition and to have the courage and intelligence to disregard the threat made by the appellant.[17] Verily, her delay in reporting the rape in the face of threats of death or physical violence should not be taken against her.[18]

In the same fashion, appellant contends that based on the evidence presented, the third incident should not be considered rape. He argues that the act of Melba in opening the door signifies that she already knew beforehand that he was going there. Otherwise, if he just forcibly opened the door, it would have awakened her two brothers who were sleeping with her. The appellant’s thesis is that, while he and Melba were engaging in consensual sex, her two brothers were awakened. Later they must have told their aunt, Rosalina Bitana, about what they saw and it was the latter who instigated Melba into filing the complaint.

These arguments are completely without basis. It is clear from the testimonial evidence on record that it was not Melba who opened their door. In truth, she was the one who closed it when, earlier that night before the incident happened, she discovered it was opened. There is therefore no merit in appellant’s assertion that Melba knew beforehand that he was going to their house, as a result of which, she intentionally left the door open to expedite his entry. The fact that Melba’s brothers were not roused from their sleep when he forced his way in is not improbable. We note that the crime was committed in the middle of the night. It is at this time when children are in deep slumber and could not easily be awakened.[19] It is therefore understandable why even if assuming the forcible manner by which he entered the house created some noise, Melba’s younger siblings continued their sleep.

The attempt of appellant to persuade us that the filing of the criminal case was due to the instigation of Melba’s Aunt Rosalina must fail in the absence of any showing that the latter was impelled by improper motive in doing so. Normally, no member of the victim’s family would subject the victim to the stigma and embarrassment concomitant with a rape trial if he or she were not motivated solely by an honest desire to have the malefactor punished.[20]

Well to point out is the sudden turnaround in appellant’s line of defense. In the trial court, appellant was insistent in his claim of alibi and denial. He firmly maintained that he did not engage in any form of sexual activity with Melba. On appeal, however, he changed his account of the story and this time admitted that he and Melba indeed had intercourse, only that they were consensual. His change in theory accentuates his lack of credibility. The second version that he concocted on appeal is a mere afterthought and a desperate attempt to escape criminal liability after his claim of alibi was soundly repudiated in the trial court.

It bears emphasis that when the offended parties are young and immature girls from the ages of twelve to sixteen, courts are inclined to lend credence to their version of what transpired, considering not only their relative vulnerability but also the shame and embarrassment to which they would be exposed by court trial if the matter about which they testified is not true.[21] It is instinctive for a young, unmarried woman to protect her honor and it is thus difficult to believe that she would fabricate a tale of defloration, allow the examination of her private parts, reveal her shame to the small town where she grew up, and permit herself to be subject of a public trial had she not really been ravished.[22]

Before finally disposing of these cases, we hold that a modification in the monetary award is in order. The trial court did not award any civil indemnity in favor of the victim as it just awarded P50,000.00 as moral damages for each count of rape. In accordance with prevailing jurisprudence, we grant another P50,000.00 for each of the rapes as civil indemnity, which is automatically given to the offended party without need of further evidence other than the fact of the commission of the rape.[23] We also find the award of P20,000.00 as exemplary damages to be without basis. Exemplary damages, under Article 2230 of the Civil Code may be imposed only when the crime is committed with one or more aggravating circumstance.[24] No such circumstance has been duly proven in the cases at bar.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Urdaneta City, Pangasinan, Branch 46, in Crim. Case Nos. U-9631, U-9632 and U-9633 finding appellant Adriano Ponsica GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of three counts of rape and sentencing him to reclusion perpetua for each count is hereby AFFIRMED, with the MODIFICATION that he is also adjudged to pay complainant Melba Quidem the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages for each of the rapes. The award of exemplary damages in the amount of P20,000.00 is deleted.

SO ORDERED.

Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Carpio, JJ., concur.




[1] Special Criminal Court.

[2] Information, Criminal Case No. U-9631, Original Records, p. 1.

[3] Information, Criminal Case No. U-9632, Original Records, p. 2.

[4] Information, Criminal Case No. U-9633, Original Records, p. 3.

[5] TSN, July 13, 1998, pp. 1-19; TSN, July 20, 1998, pp. 1-18.

[6] TSN, July 21, 1998, pp. 3-9.

[7] TSN, July 9, 1998, pp. 1-12.

[8] TSN, July 22, 1998, pp. 3-8.

[9] TSN, July 28, 1998, pp. 8-21.

[10] TSN, July 27, 1998, pp. 2-9.

[11] TSN, July 28, 1998, pp. 2-7.

[12] TSN, July 29, 1998, pp. 2-8.

[13] Decision, Crim. Cases Nos. U-9631, U-9632, & U-9633, pp. 12 - 13; Rollo, pp. 34 - 35.

[14] Brief for the Appellant, p. 2; Rollo, p. 52.

[16] TSN, July 20, 1998, p. 16.

[17] People v. Alfanta, 320 SCRA 357 (1998).

[18] People v. Carino, supra.

[19] People v. Balmoria, 344 SCRA 723 (2000).

[20] People v. Bersabe, 289 SCRA 685 (1998).

[21] People v. Clopino, 290 SCRA 432 (1998).

[22] People v. Ranido, 288 SCRA 369 (1998).

[23] People v. Pili, 289 SCRA 118 (1998).

[24] People v. Sagaysay, 328 SCRA 455 (1999).

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