341 Phil. 441
“That on or about the 24th day of September, 1992, at more or less 11:00-12:00 midnight, at Brgy. Vega, Municipality of Rapu-Rapu, Province of Albay, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd design and deliberate intent to violate the law, by means of force and intimidation, without the consent and against the will of Cecilla E. Cotorno, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual intercourse and succeeded in having carnal knowledge with the latter, to her damage and prejudice.”
“That on or about the 1st day of August, 1992, at more or less 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon, at Barangay Vega, Municipality of Rapu-Rapu, Province of Albay, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd design and deliberate intent to violate the law, by means of force and intimidation, without the consent and against the will of Cecilla E. Cotorno, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual intercourse and succeeded in having carnal knowledge with the latter, to her damage and prejudice.”
“That on or about the 27th day of June, 1992, at more or less 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon, at Barangay Vega, Municipality of Rapu-Rapu, Province of Albay, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd design and deliberate intent to violate the law, by means of force and intimidation, without the consent and against the will of Cecilla E. Cotorno, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual intercourse and succeeded in having carnal knowledge with the latter, to her damage and prejudice.”
“That on or about the 25th day of June, 1992, at more or less 8:00 o’clock in the evening, at Barangay Vega, Municipality of Rapu-Rapu, Province of Albay, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd design and deliberate intent to violate the law, by means of force and intimidation, without the consent and against the will of Cecilia E. Cotorno, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual intercourse and succeeded in having carnal knowledge with the latter, to her damage and prejudice.”Upon arraignment, appellant with the assistance of counsel pleaded “not guilty.” The trial court consolidated the four cases and joint trial ensued. On July 11, 1994, the trial court promulgated its assailed Joint Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
“The complainant Cecilia Cotorno was born on August 16, 1976 as the youngest among the four children of the spouses Ricardo Cotorno and Fe Echague, the older three others are Cynthia, Ruben and Cherry. The family was modestly living at Bago Bantay, Quezon City where the breadwinner, Ricardo was working. x x x Fe, the mother died untimely sometime in 1979, leaving Ricardo alone to take care of the children. At that time, x x x both Cherry and Cecilia were not yet of school age. The death of the children’s mother greatly affected and prejudiced Ricardo’s working schedule and efficiency. He could not work everyday because the two young daughters (Cherry and Cecilia) had to be attended to such that sometimes he could work, sometimes he could not.
“The accused Marieto Adora is a brother-in-law of Ricardo Cotorno (Complainant Cecilia’s father) because accused Marieto Adora is married to Ricardo Cotorno’s sister, Apolonia.
“That year after the death of Ricardo’s wife, x x x accused offered to take Cecilia with him to Rapu-Rapu and care for her, for after all, accused and his wife were alone in their house, their only child, having resided already in Iloilo where the latter works. x x x Considering his predicament and because it would be to his sister Apolonia and the accused Adora to whom he would be entrusting the children, Ricardo agreed that his two youngest daughters Cherry and Cecilia stay with the spouses accused Marieto Adora and Apolonia at Rapu-Rapu, Albay.
“Much later, Ricardo Cotorno re-married, this time to a certain Ester Cesar. He has seen Cecilia twice in Rapu-Rapu. This was before the incident herein complained of.
“The sisters Cherry and Cecilia then grew up in the custody and care of accused Adora and his wife. Sometime in 1992, accused Adora was able to find work for Cherry at the Munoz Market at Quezon City. Cecilia was then left alone in the care of accused and his wife.
“Cecilia finished grade 6 in the elementary only. She was no longer sent to high school by accused and his wife. Cecilia grew up to be a small and frail girl barely five feet tall. She grew up believing all the while that accused Marieto Adora was her real father and that the wife Apolonia was her real mother. Cecilia calls the accused Papa and his wife Apolonia as Mama. Having grown up with the accused since Cecilia was about three years old, accused became a real father to her, loving him, respecting him and giving him what is due from a daughter, although when Cecilia was in grade 6, she was already informed about her status, that her father was Ricardo Cotorno and not the accused and that Apolonia was not her mother. This did not change her love and respect to them.
“ XXX At the tender and innocent age of sixteen years, Cecilia underwent a painful x x x experience x x x. She was raped not once but four times, by the very man she grew up with and whom [s]he had revered as a father. All the rapes were committed in the very home where she grew up with the accused at [Biga-a], Rapu-Rapu, Albay. On all the four occasions, she had no choice but yield her body and honor because the accused had threatened to behead her and her aunt, Apolonia, wife of the accused. It was only after she was noticed to be pregnant that she revealed the bestial deeds of accused. How all the rapes were committed shall be narrated below.
“On June 25, 1992, only the accused and Cecilia were left at home in (Biga-a), Rapu-Rapu, Albay. Her aunt Apolonia, the wife of the accused had gone to Poblacion, Rapu-Rapu for a seminar. Her sister Cherry had long gone to work at Munoz market, Quezon City. At about 8:00 o’clock in the evening of that June 25, 1992, while Cecilia was asleep in her room, the accused sneaked into her room with a bolo locally known as (‘)loknit(‘) in his hand. Once inside the room, accused covered the mouth of Cecilia, undressed her and raped her. Her resistance was of no use as her strength was no match to the weight and persistence of the accused. While she was being raped, accused warned her of telling anyone about what accused was doing to her otherwise accused will behead her and so with her aunt Apolonia. After the accused has satisfied his lust, he went out of the room. Cecilia sat in a corner of the room crying, feeling betrayed and forsaken, repeatedly asking herself why she was raped by the very person she looked upon as her father.
“In the morning of June 26, 1992, when her aunt Apolonia came home from the seminar, she kept silent on the matter afraid that the accused might carry on the threat of beheading her and her aunt Apolonia.
“At about 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon of June 27, 1992, Cecilia was asleep in her room. Her aunt Apolonia was in a gambling session at the house of a certain Merle, 200 meters away from her house. Emboldened by the silence of Cecilia on the rape he committed on June 25, 1992, accused again sneaked into Cecilia’s room armed with the same bolo (‘)Loknit(‘) and once inside the room raped Cecilia the second time, under the same threats.
“When Cecilia’s aunt Apolonia came home from the gambling session at about 5:00 o’clock that afternoon she did not tell her that she was raped because of the threat of accused.
“At about 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon of August 1, 1992, while Cecilia was asleep in the same room of their house, accused sneaked into the room and for the third time raped her, under the same threats and bringing along with him the same bolo. When her aunt Apolonia came home that afternoon at about 6:00 o’clock she did not tell her about the rape committed upon her person because of the threat.
“On September 24, 1992, her aunt Apolonia was at the Poblacion of Rapu-Rapu, Albay for a seminar. Cecilia was left alone with accused. At about 11:00 o’clock that evening of September 24, 1992, accused carrying the same bolo sneaked into the room where Cecilia was sleeping and once inside raped Cecilia for the fourth time. Again, when her aunt Apolonia came home the following morning, she did not tell her about the rape committed upon her person by the accused for fear of the threat. But that day of September 25, 1992, Cecilia was brought to Legazpi (sic) by the accused to find work for her. That night of September 25, 1992, they slept at Charing’s house at Victory Village. She slept with Charing although accused asked her to sleep beside him because she was afraid the accused might rape her again. The following morning, September 26, 1992, she was brought to Nene’s Kitchenette at Lapu-Lapu St., where she was hired to work as a dishwasher thereat by the owner Rosario Relucio, also nicknamed Charing, for a salary of P200.00 a month.
“At Nene’s Kitchenette, she was visited once by the accused when the latter got P200.00 from her salary.
“Although far from the accused, she told no one of her being raped by the accused, not even her employer Rosario Relucio for fear of the threat made by the accused upon her and to her aunt Apolonia.
“As a result of the first two rapes committed upon the person of Cecilia on June 25 and 27, 1992, she got pregnant. All the while, Cecilia had been silent on the rapes committed upon her person but in December 1992, her enlarging abdomen was noticed by her employer Rosario Relucio and asked about the man responsible for her pregnancy, she felt pressed to the wall and found no excuses. She then broke her silence and told her employer that it was her father (accused) the very same person who brought her to Nene’s Kitchenette to work, as the one who impregnated her. Apprehensive of getting involved in Cecilia’s situation, Rosario Relucio entrusted Cecilia to a latter’s cousin. Subsequently, Cecilia was brought to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Legaspi Office, and after an investigation, she was brought to the DSWD Regional Office, Region 5, Legaspi City for custody and the DSWD brought her to the Albay Provincial Hospital for medical examination where she was found to be pregnant. (Exh. “A”, Rollo, p. 57). Then a complaint for the rapes committed was filed against the accused Marieto Adora. (Exh “B”, rollo, p. 58).”
“Complainant’s unexpected silence for a period of six months after she was allegedly abused renders her testimony of doubtful veracity.Appellant seeks his acquittal based on the fact that the medical evidence showed that she was already pregnant prior to the alleged first rape; that on the dates of the alleged rapes, he was not even at home; that the complainant’s letter to him proved that she still relied on him for love and support-- inconsistent with the usual behavior of a rape victim towards her aggressor; and that the complaint was filed upon the proddings of the complainant’s relatives.
“Complainant’s behavior after the alleged incident is inconsistent with the prosecution’s theory and the findings of the trial court.”
Q You also claimed that you did not shout to ask for assistance?On the other hand, the judge also made this remark in favor of the defense, viz.:
Misleading. She could not shout because Adora covered her mouth, not that she did not shout. Misleading.”
“(Asst. Prov’l Pros. De Mesa)These examples clearly signify the trial court’s zealous regard for the propriety of questions propounded to witnesses during trial. These instances cannot be equated with bias for the prosecution or, for that matter, even for the defense.
Q Mr. Witness, I would like to remind you that on August 1, 1992 you were at sea at 2:00 o’clock because you were about to celebrate the fiesta now you are saying that you were at sea before dawn. Which is correct? (sic) now?
He did not say 2:00 o’clock he only said I was at sea because I was x x x.”
Q Now, since you treated them as your own parents, how did you feel after this Marieto Adora, for several times, raped you?”
COURT: (Propounding questions)
Q Alright, questions from the Court. Do you know your height?
A No, your Honor.
Q Do you know your weight?
A I do not know, your Honor.
Q When were you born?
A I was born on August 16, 1976.
At any rate, make it of record that the witness, complainant Cecilia Cotorno appears to be with frail body and relatively a small girl.”
“The accused is Cecilia’s uncle but who was a father to her because she lived with him, she was under his custody since she was three years old and she grew up with him until age sixteen when she was raped. Because of this situation, no doubt the accused had exercised strong moral and physical influence and control over her. Naturally, Cecilia’s regard for the accused as her father intervened in those moments she was raped. The court therefore, views this outrage upon Cecilia by the accused as rapes committed by a father upon his own daughter, such that, with or without force or intimidation, any sexual intercourse with Cecilia by accused by reason of her age would be like a rape committed by a father to her daughter, because if there is no force or intimidation applied, the father’s moral ascendancy and influence over her daughter substitute for violence or intimidation. (People vs. Erardo, 127 SCRA 250)”Appellant argues that these questions ceased to be clarificatory in nature and became direct examination instead.
“A I saw the patient last January 4, that was the initial time I saw the patient. She told me that her last menstruation was April 23, and counting the date from April 24, she would be around eight months pregnant. When I examined her, the baby or fetus was very small for that stage that is why I requested for ultra sound reading to (determine) or guide my supposition that the baby was small, very small or that there was an error in the age or term of the pregnancy. Two days later, when the ultrasound reading was done, this is the official reading: (‘)PU which means pregnancy uterine, 29 - 30 weeks, AOG, which is supposed to read (‘)AOP(’), meaning age of pregnancy, Cephalic, Not in labor.(’)” Second, authorities in forensic medicine agree that the determination of the exact date of fertilization is problematic. The exact date thereof is unknown; thus, the difficulty in determining the actual normal duration of pregnancy.  A Filipino authority writes:
“The average duration of pregnancy is 270 to 280 days from the onset of the last menstruation. There is however no means of determining it with certainty. Evidence derived from pregnancy following a single coitus is trustworthy, but inasmuch as some authorities consider more than two weeks as the life span of the spermatozoa in the vaginal canal, it is hard to ascertain the exact date of fertilization. There is no synchrony between coitus and fertilization.”Computation of the whole period of gestation, thus, becomes a purely academic endeavor. In this light, while most authorities would agree on an average duration, there are still cases of long and short gestations.
“Thus, the stage of development of the fetus cannot be determined with any exactitude, and an error of at least two weeks, if not more, should be allowed for. This, together with the recognized variation in the duration of normal pregnancies, makes it very unsafe to dogmatise in a medico-legal case xxx.”More importantly, it should be pointed out that these consolidated cases are criminal cases for rape, not civil actions for paternity or filiation. The identity of the father of the victim’s child is a non-issue. Even her pregnancy is beside the point. What matters is the occurrence of the sexual assault committed by appellant on the person of the victim on four separate occasions. At any rate, that the victim was already pregnant before the first rape does not disprove her testimony that appellant raped her.
“PROS. DE MESA: (On direct examination)
Q Cecilia on June 25, 1992 at about 8:00 in the evening, do you remember where you were?
A Yes, Madam.
Q Can you tell the Court where you were on that date and time?
A I was at our house.
Q Where is that house you are referring to?
A At Biga-a, Rapu-rapu.
Q While thereat on said time and date, do you recall any unusual incident that happened on that date and time?
A Yes, Madam.
Q Will you tell the court what that incident is all about?
A While I was sleeping, my uncle entered my room.
PROS. DE MESA:
May we make it of record your Honor that the witness is crying.
Q What happened after you(r) uncle entered your room?
A When he entered my room he was carrying a (‘)luknit(‘) which is a kind of knife usually used for stripping abaca.
Q What happened next after he entered your room carrying a (‘)luknit(‘)?
A He covered my mouth with his hand and undressed me. I wanted to shout but I could not because my mouth was covered by his hand.
Q After he covered your mouth and undressed you what happened next?
A He placed his (‘)ano(‘) into my (‘)ano(‘).
Q What do you mean by (‘)ano(‘)?
A (The witness is crying) He placed his sex organ inside my vagina.
Q After that what happened next?
A While he continued to rape me, to abuse me, he told me that if will (sic) reveal to anybody what he did to me, I will be beheaded including my aunt Apolonia (witness is sobbing uncontrollably).
Q After the accused, Marieto Adora, had sexually abused you, what did you do?
A (Witness crying uncontrolably (sic)) After he abused me, I sat in the corner of the room and cried and cried and asked myself why my uncle did it to me considering that I regarded him with respect like my own father.
Let us have a recess for 5 minutes
PROS. DE MESA:
May we make it of record your Honor that the witness is gasping for breath and crying uncontrollably, testifying under labor of pain, looking very pale as if she is sick for which reason the Court called for a 5-minute recess.
x x x x x x x x x x x x
Q What did you do when he was raping you?
A I pushed him away from me and I wanted to shout but he covered my mouth with his hand.
Q Now on that date June 25, 1992 when Marieto Adora raped you, who were with you in the house aside from Marieto?
A I was the only person there because his wife attended a seminar. Only the two of us were left in the house.
x x x x x x x x x x x x
PROS. DE MESA:
Q Now when did--- ah--- you said (sic) that your auntie was attending a seminar at that time June 25 when you were raped by your uncle Marieto Adora, what time did she return to your house?
A The following morning.
Q In the morning when your auntie returned did you tell her what happened to you?
A No Madam.
Q Why not?
A I was afraid because Marieto Adora told me that my head will be cut off and that of my auntie if ever I will tell her. I was engulfed with fear.
Q Now on June 27, 1992 in the afternoon where were you, if you recall?
A I was in our house.
Q Can you tell us what you were doing about 1:00 on said date? June 27, 1992?
A I was sleeping.
Q Do you recall of any unusual incident again that happened on June 27, 1992 in the afternoon while you were sleeping?
A Yes, Madam[.]
Q Tell the court what was that unusual incident that happened on June 27, 1992 in the afternoon?
A Every time he entered my room, he was carrying a (‘)luknit(‘) which is a kind of bolo with teeth used for stripping abaca.
Q Are you saying that Marieto Adora entered your room again on June 27, 1992 at around 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon?
A Yes, Madam.
Q What did Marieto do in your room?
A He raped me again.
Q Was Marieto again with the --ah---carrying the Luknit that you described?
A Yes, Madam.
Q Can you describe to the Honorable Court how Marieto raped you on that particular date and time?
A Whenever he entered my room because my room has no lock, he was carrying the (‘)luknit(‘). He covered my mouth with his hand so that I could not shout.
Q Did Marieto succeed in raping you again on that date and time?
Already answered. She said she was raped again.
PROS. DE MESA: (CONTINUING)
Q Where was your auntie on June 27, 1992 at 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon when you said you were again raped by the accused?
A My auntie was gambling.
Q How far was that gambling place?
A It is far, in the place of Mamay Merle.
PROS. DE MESA:
Q Can you make an estimate of the distance, if you know?
A From my seat to that place (witness indicating a distance which the parties agreed to be about 200 meters).
Q What time did your auntie return to your house?
A About 5:00 in the afternoon.
Q Did you tell her what happened to you on that date, June 27, 1992?
A No, Madam.
Q Why, for what reason?
A No Madam because that Marieto was always standing by the doorway.
Q And what about if Marieto was not standing by the doorway, so what?
A Marieto keeps on warning me not to tell my aunt what happened to me because I will be beheaded if I will reveal the matter to my aunt.
Q On August 1, 1992, can you tell the Court where you were at that time 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon?
A I was in the house.
Q Do you recall of any incident that happened again to you on August 1, 1992 at about 2:00 in the afternoon?
A While I was sleeping Marieto entered my room.
Q What did Marieto Adora do to you?
A He was again carrying a luknit.
Q And after you saw him carrying the luknit when he wnetered (sic) your room, what happened to you?
A He removed my panty and placed himself on top of me.
Q While he was on top of you what was Marieto doing?
A He inserted his penis inside my vagina.
Q Did you not shout?
A No Madam because he was always with that luknit and he covers my mouth with his hand and threatend (sic) me not to tell anybody because he will behead me.
Q What was Marieto telling you while he was raping you?
A While he was raping me he continued to remind me not to reveal what he was doing to me because if ever I tell anybody, I will be beheaded, including my aunt.
Q On August 1, 1992 when according to you you were again raped in your room by your uncle, the accused in this case where was your auntie?
A She was in the gambling session.
Q And did she return that day to your house?
A No Madam. She went home at 6:00 in the evening.
Q When your auntie returned did you tell her what Marieto-- ah--- that the accused raped you?
A No Madam because if I tell my aunt while I am still there I would be killed. I am afraid that I will be beheaded by Marieto.
Q On September 24, 1992 in the evening where were you Cecilia?
A I was at our house. His wife attended again a seminar.
Q Do you remember who was with you in the house?
A That Marieto.
Q Do you recall of a similar incident that happened on that day?
Objection, very leading.
PROS. DE MESA: (rephrasing her question)
Q Do you recall of an unusual indicent (sic) that happened to you on Sept. 24, 1992 at about 11:00 in the evening?
A Yes, Madam.
Q Will you tell the court what was that incident that you recall?
A While I was sleeping he entered my room again.
Q And what time--- ah-- what did he do when he entered your room?
A He was again carrying a luknit and then he undressed me and placed himself on top of me, covered my mouth with his hand and then raped me.
Q Did you not shout or resist?
A I could not because he was covering my mouth.
Q Were you able to do anything to get yourself free from the accused?
A I could not free myself from Marieto because he is very heavy and then he was threatening to kill me with the luknit if I shout.
Q Now you tell the court again where your aunt was at the time when Marieto raped you on Sept. 24, 1992 at about 11:00 in the evening?
A My aunt was in Rapu-Rapu attending a seminar.
Q Where in particular in Rapu-rapu?
A In Sta. Florentina.
Q You said that your auntie is attending a seminar. Do you know what is the seminar about?
A She is a catechist.
Q What time did you (sic) aunt return to Bigaa to your house?
A The following morning.
Q When your aunt returned homse (sic) the following morning did you tell her about what happened to you on that evening of September 24, 1992?
A No Madam.
Q Why not?
A I was afraid to tell my aunt because she is also very cruel, unkind and mean (maisog).
Q After September 24, 1992 when according to you you were again raped by the accused, what happened the following morning?
A His wife arrived the following morning and they talked to each other that I should work.
Q After they talked about you getting you to work, what happened next?
Q(sic)Marieto brought me to Legazpi (sic) City.”
“x x x when a woman says that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that the rape has been committed, and that if her testimony meets the test of credibility the accused may be convicted on the basis thereof.”Courts usually give credence to the testimony of a girl who is a victim of sexual assault because, ordinarily, no person would be willing to undergo the humiliation of a public trial and to testify on the details of her ordeal were it not to condemn an injustice. Even during her cross-examination, no malice, ill motive, or proof of lying has been shown. Her testimony remained positive, categorical and credible. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the filing of the complaint for rape was motivated by a grudge between appellant and the Cotornos. Appellant’s admission that they had no misunderstanding and that they had few dealings with each other bolsters this conclusion.
“During all the rapes committed by the accused upon Cecilia, he was always with a bolo and while committing the rape she was being told to keep the matter a secret and to tell no one of what the accused was doing, otherwise, she will be beheaded and so with her aunt Apolonia. This threat was more than sufficient to break Cecilia’s resistance considering their relationship. x x x The test of sufficiency of force or intimidation in the crime of rape under Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code, is whether it produces a reasonable fear in the victim that if she resists or does not yield to the bestial demands of the accused, that which the latter threatened to do would happen to her or to those dear to her. Where such degree of intimidation exists and the victim is cowed into submission as a result thereof, thereby rendering resistance futile, it would be extremely unreasonable to expect the victim to resist with all her might and strength. And even if some degree of resistance would nevertheless be futile, offering none at all cannot amount to consent to the sexual assault. For rape to exist, it is not necessary that the force or intimidation employed in accomplishing it be so great or of such character as could not be resisted, it is only necessary that the force or intimidation be sufficient to consummate the purpose which the accused had in mind. (People vs. Savellano, 57 SCRA 320) This is especially true in the case of a young, innocent, immature girl like Cecilia, who could not be expected to act with equanimity of disposition and with nerves of steel. (People vs. Viray, 164 SCRA 135) or to act like an adult or mature and experienced woman who would know what to do under the circumstances or to have the courage and intelligence to disregard the threat. (People vs. Jimenez, 200 SCRA 539)Appellant’s defense of alibi is fundamentally and inherently a weak defense, much more so when uncorroborated by other witnesses. Appellant failed to prove that he was not present at the scene of the crime at the time of its commission. Juxtaposed against the clear, straightforward, positive and credible testimony of the victim, his alibi cannot stand.
The accused is Cecilia’s uncle but who was a father to her because she lived with him, she was under his custody since she was three years old and she grew up with him until age sixteen when she was raped. Because of this situation, no doubt the accused had exercised strong moral and physical influence and control over her. Naturally, Cecilia’s regard for the accused as her father intervened in those moments she was raped. The court therefore, views this outrage upon Cecilia by the accused as rapes committed by a father upon his own daughter, intercourse with Cecilia by accused by reason of her age would be like a rape committed by a father to her daughter, because if there is no force or intimidation applied, the father’s moral ascendancy and influence over her daughter substitute for violence or intimidation. (People vs. Erardo, 127 SCRA 250) That ascendancy or influence necessarily flows from the father’s parental authority xxx as well as from the children’s duty to obey and observe reverence and respect towards their parents. Such reverence and respect are deeply ingrained in the minds of Filipino children xxx. Abuse by a father can subjugate his daughter’s will, thereby forcing her to do whatever he wants.”