369 Phil. 1049
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:
That sometimes [sic] in the year 1993, in the Municipality of Kawit, Province of Cavite, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, taking advantage of his superior strength over the person of his thirteen (13) year old daughter, by means of force, violence and intimidation and with lewd designs, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, have repeated carnal knowledge of Cherry Rose Q. Teves, against her will and consent, to her damage and prejudice.The accusatory portion of the information in Criminal Case No. 3873-95 reads as follows:
CONTRARY TO LAW.
That on or about the 1st day of January 1995, in the Municipality of Kawit, Province of Cavite, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by means of force, violence and intimidation, with lewd designs and taking advantage of his superior strength over the person of his own daughter who is only thirteen years old, did, then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, have carnal knowledge of Cherry Rose Q. Teves, against her will and consent, thereby causing her damage and prejudice.The accusatory portions of the informations in Criminal Case No. 3874-95 and Criminal Case No. 3875-95 are similarly worded as that in Criminal Case No. 3872-95, except as to the dates of the commission of the crimes, which were specified as 3 January 1995 and 8 January 1995, respectively.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Taking the witness stand, the victim Cherry Rose Teves narrated how she was raped by her father on several occasions. She claimed that sometime in 1994 when she was only thirteen (13) years old and while washing dishes, her father touched her breast. A day before New Year of 1995, her father told her not to leave their house; that in a little while, her father laid her down, removed her panty and shorts, touched her breast and inserted his sex thing into her organ; that after a week, while she was taking a bath, her father asked her to hand him the dipper; that when she obeyed, he suddenly entered the bathroom and again sexually abused her; that she even noticed blood coming out of her organ. Continuing, she elucidated that on January 1, 1995, she was instructed by her father to clean the house and to take care of her younger brothers and sisters after sending her twelve (12) year old brother [on] an errand to buy cigarettes; after her brother left, she was molested by her father. The assault on her virtue was always followed by a threat for her not to report the incident to her mother or else she [would] be killed; that during all those times that she was abused by her father, her mother who [was] a laundry woman, was out of the house.Applying Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 11 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7659, which imposes the death penalty in rape cases committed by a parent when the victim is under 18 years of age, the trial court then decreed:
When cross-examined, she declared that her father was then working as a carpenter and usually arrived home at around 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon or late in the evening. She, being the eldest among the six children in the family, was the one taking care of her little brothers and sisters because she already stopped schooling. Nobody knew of the abused [sic] heaped upon her by her father until she confided it to her friends who [resided] at Kaingin, Kawit, Cavite.
After presenting the victim, the parties entered into stipulations to wit:
In view of the above stipulations, the testimony of Social Worker Leonida Ramos was dispensed with.
- That Social Worker Leonida Ramos was the one who assisted and brought the complainant to the PC Crime Laboratory for examination resulting in the issuance of a medico-legal report;
- That said Social Worker knew the complainant because the latter came to see her and so, she brought her to the Kawit Police Station where her statement was taken.
Likewise, the testimony of Dr. Owen Lebaquin, Medico-Legal Officer of the PNP Crime Laboratory Service, was dispensed with after the defense admitted the findings of the said physician as contained in Medico-Legal Report No. M-0092-95 (Exh. "B"). As stated in the Report of the Medico-Legal Officer which was completed on January 31, 1995, the subject is in non-virgin state physically without external signs of application of violence.
Accused ... claimed that he knew of no reason why he was charged [with] rape, except that he did not approve of [his] daughter coming home late from her friend at the DSWD. And because of this, he maltreated her. He added that he only comes home on weekends, being a construction worker at the Arcontica on a "pakyawan" basis; that there were occasions that he and his daughter were the only ones left at their house.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Guilty of Multiple Rape. He is thus sentenced to death for the rape of his 13 year old daughter and to indemnify her of the sum of P50,000.00 as compensatory damages.In his Appellant's Brief, GODOFREDO's lone error is that the trial court erred in finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape.
Respecting the charge that CHERRY's testimony consisted mainly of uncertain, conflicting, vague and inconsistent answers to specific questions propounded upon her during the direct and cross-examination, suffice it to state that her failure to remember and elaborate on every detail of her unfortunate experience was inconsequential. What must be borne in mind was that she was merely fourteen (14) years old when she testified; moreover, GODOFREDO did not object to her testimony as to the time of the commission of the crime. It is settled that the precise time of the commission of rape is not an essential element of the crime. Likewise, GODOFREDO's harping on CHERRY's failure to recall the exact number of times she was raped is not persuasive. We cannot reasonably expect her to recount in detail her humiliating experience since the accused is of her own flesh and blood. The natural vacillation of a daughter to publicly denounce her father and to testify in an unfamiliar and unfriendly environment on such a delicate matter very well explain the minor lapses in her testimony. More than anything else, the alleged inconsistencies and discrepancies in CHERRY's testimony referred only to minor and trivial matters and were, undoubtedly, insufficient to dilute the truthfulness and destroy the probative value of her testimony. We find no iota of evidence showing that CHERRY's account was a result of deliberate falsehood. Settled is the rule that discrepancies and inconsistencies on minor matters do not impair the essential integrity of the prosecution's evidence as a whole nor reflect on the witness' honesty. Such inconsistencies, which may be caused by the natural fickleness of the memory, even tend to strengthen rather than weaken the credibility of the witness because they erase any suspicion of rehearsed testimony.
Q Do you remember when your father raped you? A I cannot remember. Q How many times were you raped by your father? A Many times. Q Miss Witness, how old were you when you were first raped by your father? A 13 years old. Q That would be sometime in 1994? A
Yes, mam [sic].
Q Can you tell the court what happened on the first occasion when you were raped by your father? A Yes, mam [sic]. Q
What were you doing on that day when you were first raped by your father?
A I was washing dishes. Q Do you remember what time was it [sic]? Was it morning, afternoon or evening? A I cannot recall. It happened quite some time. Q
While you were washing dishes, what did your father do?
A He touched my breast. Q After that what else did you do? A Nothing happened anymore. On that day before New Year, my father told me not to go out of the house. Q
After your father told you not to go out of the house, what happened?
A My father told me to lie on the floor. He laid me down. Q After he laid you down, what did he do? A
He inserted his organ into my organ.
Q Were you wearing a dress at that time? A
Yes, mam [sic].
Q What were you wearing? A T-shirt and short pants. Q Before your father inserted his organ inside your organ, what if any, did he do with your short? A He removed my shorts. Q How about your pantie? A He also removed my pantie. Q After he removed your shorts and pantie what else did he do? A He inserted his organ into my organ. He touched my breast. My mother was out of the house. Q You said that your father inserted his organ into your organ, what did you feel? A I felt pain. Q What did you do? A
I just bore the pain. "Tiniis ko na lang ang sakit."
Q After that, what else did your father do? A None. Q Did he leave the house? A He felt [sic] asleep. He was drunk then. Q You said awhile ago that you were raped several times by your father, after that first night when did your father rape you again, can you remember? A
I cannot recall.
Q Could it be one week after? A
After a week.
Q Can you tell the court how your father raped you on the second instance? A I was taking a bath. Q When you were taking a bath, what happened? A My father asked me to give him the "tabo". Q Where were you taking a bath at that time? A Inside our bathroom. Q Where is that bathroom located? A Kaingin, Kawit, Cavite. Q The first instance when you said your father raped you in what place where you then? A At Kaingin, Kawit, Cavite. Q You said that in the second instance your father asked you to hand him the "tabo" [dipper], what did you do when your father asked you to hand the dipper? A I handed it to him. Q What did you do after that? A He suddenly entered in [sic] the bathroom. Q After entering the bathroom, what did he do? A He inserted his organ into my organ. I noticed blood came out of my organ. Q You said that you were raped several times by your father, when was the last time your father raped you? A January 23. Q What year? A January 23, 1995. Q Where were you on Jan. 23, 1995? A
I was cleaning our house.
Q While you were cleaning your house, what happened? A My mother came and then [the] raped [sic] [did] not pushed [sic] through. Q Madam Witness, in connection with this case, do you remember having executed an affidavit? A Yes, mam [sic]. Q If you were shown that document will you be able to identify it? A Yes, mam [sic]. Q I am showing to you this document below is a signature above the typewritten name Cherry Rose Teves, will you please tell us if that is the statement which you said you executed? A Yes, mam [sic]. Q Whose signature is this above the typewritten name cherry Rose Teves? A Mine, mam [sic]. PROS. DE CASTRO For purposes of identification, we request that this document be marked as Exh. A and the signature of the witness as Exh. A-1. Q In this statement particularly par. 5 the question was "Kailan ka ni rape ng iyong tatay?" Ans: "Sa Kawit, Cavite." Q Can you tell the Court what happened on Jan. 1, 1995? A I went out of the house and then I went home. Q What happened after you went home on that day? A
My father called me.
Q What did you do after he called you? A He asked my brother to buy cigarette[s]. Q After that, what happened? A He asked me to clean our house and to take care my small brothers and sister. Q What did you do? A I cleaned our house. Q After that what happened? A
I was again "raped" by my father and it happened many times.
Q During all those times when you were being raped by our father, where was your mother? A She was not around. Q Where was she? A She went somewhere else. Only my small brothers and sisters were around. Q What was the occupation of your mother? A Laundrywoman. Q During those times when you were raped by your father, do you remember where your mother was? A She was washing clothes. Q Where? A In the apartment a little bit near our house. Q Why did you not tell you mother about what your father did to you the first time that you were raped? A I was afraid. Q Why were you afraid? A I did not tell my mother because father told me not to tell her. Q What else did your father tell you? A Not to tell the matter to my mother because if I will tell my mother he will kill me. Q Before you were raped by your father for the first time, did you love your father? A Yes, mam [sic]. Q How about now how do you fell [sic] towards your father? A I am mad at him.
These seven attendant circumstances, given that they alter the nature of the crime of rape and thus increase the degree of the penalty, are in the nature of qualifying circumstances. Plainly, these attendant circumstances added by R.A. No. 7659 are not mere aggravating circumstances, which merely increase the period of the penalty. So we held in People v. Ramos, to the effect that a qualifying circumstance must be specifically pleaded in the information, thus:
- When the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consaguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim.
- When the victim is under the custody of the police or military authorities.
- When the rape is committed in full view of the husband, parent, any of the children or other relatives within the third degree of consaguinity.
- When the victim is a religious or a child below seven (7) years old.
- When the offender knows that he is afflicted with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) disease.
- When committed by any member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine National Police or any law enforcement agency.
- When by reason or on the occasion of the rape, the victim has suffered permanent physical mutilation. (As amended by Sec. 11, Ra 7659.)
While Republic Act No. 7659 did not give a legal designation to the crime of rape attended by any of the seven new circumstances introduced in Article 335 on December 31, 1993, this Court has referred to such crime as qualified rape in a number of its decisions. However, with or without a name for this kind of rape, the concurrence of the minority of the victim and her relationship with the offender give a different character to the rape defined in the first part of Article 335. They raise the imposable penalty upon a person accused of rape from reclusion perpetua to the higher and supreme penalty of death. Such an effect conjointly puts relationship and minority of the offended party into the nature of a special qualifying circumstance.Anent the Constitutional right afforded an accused to be informed of the nature and cause of an accusation against him, as implemented by the relevant provisions of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, Section 9 of Rule 110 provides:
As this qualifying circumstance was not pleaded in the information or in the complaint against appellant, he cannot be convicted of qualified rape because he was not properly informed that he is being accused of qualified rape. The Constitution guarantees the right of every person accused in a criminal prosecution to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation against him. This right finds amplification and implementation in the different provisions of the Rules of Court. Foremost among these enabling provisions is the office of an information.
Section 9. Cause of accusation. -- The acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense must be stated in ordinary and concise language without repetition, not necessarily in the terms of the statute defining the offense, but in such form as is sufficient to enable a person of common understanding to know what offense is intended to be charged and enable the court to pronounce a judgment.Pertinent to this case is the phrase of the current set of adjective rules: "a person of common understanding," which had its origins in this jurisdiction in the phrase: "a person of ordinary intelligence."
[A]nd taking advantage of his superior strength over the person of his own daughter who is only thirteen years old...What strikes us about the informations is that, as phrased, they unduly lay stress on the generic aggravating circumstance of "taking advantage of superior strength." Be it in terms of syntax or composition, the wording of the informations is unable to sufficiently notify the accused, a person of common understanding or ordinary intelligence, of the gravity or nature of the crime he had been charged with, especially considering that the generic aggravating circumstance of taking advantage of superior strength is not even an element of the attendant circumstances treated under number 1 of the last paragraph of Article 335. The aforequoted clauses in the informations can thus not be read nor understood as constituting a specific allegation of the special circumstances of relationship of father and daughter and that the daughter was less than 18 years of age at the time the crime of rape was committed.
[T]aking advantage of his superior strength over the person of his thirteen (13) year old daughter...