811 Phil. 802
On October 13, 2004, four (4) Informations were filed before the RTC, charging Monroyo of the crimes of Acts of Lasciviousness against AAA and Qualified Rape against her sister, BBB, viz.:
Criminal Case No. C-04-7787 (Acts of Lasciviousness)
That on or about 24 August, 2003, at around 11:30 o'clock in the morning, in the dwelling of complainant AAA located at Barangay San Isidro, Municipality of Victoria, Province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, actuated by lust and lewd desire, with force and intimidation, did and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, commit acts of lasciviousness on AAA, a fourteen (14) year-old-virgin, by then and there touching her private parts, against her will and without her consent, [an] act which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of the said AAA, to her damage and prejudice.
Contrary to law.
Criminal Case No. C-04-7786 (Acts of Lasciviousness)
That on or about 15 October, 2003, at around 10:30 o'clock in the morning, at Barangay San Isidro, Municipality of Victoria, Province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, actuated by lust and lewd desire, with force and intimidation, did and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, commit acts of lasciviousness on AAA, a fourteen (14) year-old-virgin, by then and there touching her private parts, against her will and without her consent, [an] act which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of the said AAA, to her damage and prejudice.
Contrary to law.
Criminal Case No. C-04-7785 (Acts of Lasciviousness)
That on or about 13 October, 2003, at around 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon, in the dwelling of complainant AAA located at Barangay San Isidro, Municipality of Victoria, Province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, actuated by lust and lewd desire, with force and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and [feloniously], commit acts of lasciviousness on AAA, a fourteen (14) year-old-virgin, by then and there touching her private parts, against her will and without her consent, [an] act which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of the said AAA, to her damage and prejudice.
Contrary to law.
Criminal Case No. C-04-7788 (Rape)
That on or about November 18, 2003, at around 11:00 o'clock in the evening, in the dwelling of complainant BBB, located at Barangay San Isidro, Municipality of Victoria, Province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, motivated by lust and lewd desire and by means of force and intimidation, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of one BBB, a sixteen (16) year-old-virgin, against the will and without the consent of said private complainant, thereby violating her person and chastity, [an] act of sexual abuse which debase[s], degrade[s] and demean[s] her intrinsic worth and dignity as a human being, to the damage and prejudice of said private complainant.
In the commission of the offense the qualifying circumstance of relationship is attendant, the accused being a relative of the complainant by affinity within the 3rd civil degree and the complainant being then under eighteen years of age.
Contrary to law.
On the charges of Acts of Lasciviousness, the prosecution alleged that at around 11:30 in the morning of August 24, 2003, AAA was alone in her house when her uncle, Monroyo, arrived. While AAA was cleaning the house, Monroyo approached her, touched her private organ, and warned her against telling her parents about what happened.
The incident was repeated on October 13, 2003, at around 3 o'clock in the afternoon, when Monroyo went to AAA's house to ask for cigarette sticks. AAA went out to buy the cigarette sticks, handed them to Monroyo, and went to the living room to resume cleaning the house. Monroyo followed her to the living room and once more, touched her private organ.
Finally, at around 10:30 in the morning of October 15, 2003, AAA went to Monroyo's house looking for her cousin, Norton, but the latter was not at home. When she was about to leave, Monroyo touched her private organ.
On the charge of Rape, the prosecution claimed that on the night of November 18, 2003, BBB, a sixteen (16) year-old girl, slept on a bed with her siblings, AAA and EEE. At around 11 o'clock in the evening, BBB woke up when she felt someone touching her breast. She saw Monroyo, the husband of her mother's half-sister, sitting on the floor beside their bed. Her uncle instructed her to sit down on the floor and told her not to make any noise. He then forced her to lie down on the floor and started kissing her all over her body while BBB cried. He forcibly removed her shorts and panty and thereafter stood up to remove his shorts and brief. He then placed himself on top of her, inserted his penis into her private organ, and made a push and pull motion. BBB cried loudly but Monroyo covered her mouth with his hand. After satisfying his lust, he put on his clothes and threatened to kill BBB and her family if she tells anyone about what happened. BBB did not see him again after the incident.
In March 2004, BBB mustered enough courage to tell her mother about the incident when the latter saw her crying. BBB subjected herself to a medical examination administered by Municipal Health Officer Dr. Ma. Virginia R. Valdez (Dr. Valdez), who found healed hymenal lacerations that could have been caused by a hard object, like an erect penis.
For his part, Monroyo denied the accusations against him and testified that on October 15, 2003, AAA and BBB asked for money from him to buy junk food while he was buying cigarettes from a store. When he refused to give them money, they grabbed the belt bag tied around his belt. Monroyo tried to retrieve the bag by tickling them on the side of their bodies but the bag was ripped in the process. Monroyo slapped AAA and BBB for destroying the bag and then he went home. He claimed that he does not know why the cases were filed against him by complainants but speculated that it was probably because of a familial tiff with the latter's father regarding the house that he and his wife were residing in. 
The RTC Ruling
In a Joint Decision dated November 16, 2011, the RTC found Monroyo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of three (3) counts of Acts of Lasciviousness (Crim. Case Nos. C-04-7785, C-04-7786 and C-04-7787) and accordingly, sentenced him to suffer in each case the penalty of two (2) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor in its medium period, as minimum to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional in its medium period, as maximum, and ordered him to pay P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, as well as P25,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages.
The RTC gave more credence to AAA's testimony clearly and convincingly narrating the details of each lascivious conduct committed by Monroyo against her. It added that AAA had no ill motive against Monroyo, while the latter's excuses were too shallow and insignificant for AAA to concoct a story that she was molested.
In another Decision dated November 16, 2011, the RTC similarly found Monroyo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape (Crim. Case No. C-04-7788), and accordingly, imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and ordered him to pay BBB P100,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages, and P50,000.00 as exemplary damages.
The RTC gave full faith and credence to BBB's testimony, as she was likewise able to narrate the details of how Monroyo raped her inside their house, noting further that her youth and immaturity are generally badges of truth. The foregoing account was corroborated by the medical certificate issued by the physician who examined BBB (i.e., Dr. Valdez) that confirmed the latter's hymenal lacerations, which could have been caused by a hard object, like an erect penis. On the other hand, Monroyo merely interposed the defense of bare denial, which cannot be given greater weight than the positive declaration of a credible witness like BBB. The RTC however, did not consider the special qualifying circumstances of relationship and minority because these were not purportedly alleged in the Information.
Dissatisfied, Monroyo elevated his case to the CA.
The CA Ruling
In a Decision dated May 27, 2015, the CA affirmed the RTC's ruling, observing that the trial court's findings as to the credibility of the witnesses and their testimonies deserve the highest respect absent any showing that it overlooked, misunderstood, or misapplied material facts or circumstances. The CA added that the minor inconsistencies in AAA and BBB's testimonies do not refer to the essential elements of the crimes; thus, they are not grounds to reverse the conviction. Notably, the CA no longer discussed the attendant circumstances of relationship and minority in the Rape case.
Aggrieved by his impending conviction, Monroyo filed the present appeal.
The Issue Before the Court
The main issue for the Court's resolution is whether or not Monroyo's conviction for three (3) counts of Acts of Lasciviousness and one (1) count of Rape should be upheld.
The Court's Ruling
The appeal is bereft of merit.
The Court first examines the charges of Acts of Lasciviousness against Monroyo in Crim. Case Nos. C-04-7785, C-04-7786 and C-04-7787, committed against AAA.
Preliminarily, although the three Informations designated the crime committed only as "Acts of Lasciviousness," the facts alleged therein pertain not only to violations of Article 336 of the RPC but also of Section 5 (b) of RA 7610, otherwise known as the "Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act." It is settled that a designation in the information of the specific statute violated is imperative to avoid surprise on the accused and to afford him the opportunity to prepare his defense. Nevertheless, the erroneous reference to the law violated does not vitiate the information if the facts alleged therein clearly recite the facts constituting the crime charged. As the Court had ruled, the real nature of the criminal charge is determined not from the caption or preamble of the information, or from the specification of the legal provision alleged to have been violated, which are mere conclusions of law, but by the actual recital of facts in the information. In the present case, the recital of facts in the Informations constitute violations of Acts of Lasciviousness under Article 336 of the RPC in relation to Section 5 (b) of RA 7610.
Article 336 of the RPC provides:
Article 336. Acts of Lasciviousness. - Any person who shall commit any act of lasciviousness upon other persons of either sex under any of the circumstances mentioned in the preceding article, shall be punished by prision correccional.
Its elements are: (1) that the offender commits any act of lasciviousness or lewdness; (2) that it is done (a) by using force or intimidation, or (b) when the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious or (c) when the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age; and (3) that the offended party is another person of either sex.
On the other hand, Section 5 (b) of RA 7610 states:
Section 5. Child Prostitution and Other Sexual Abuse. - x x x
The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua shall be imposed upon the following:
x x x x
(b) Those who commit the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child exploited in prostitution or subject to other sexual abuse; x x x
x x x x (Emphasis supplied)
The elements under Section 5 (b) of RA 7610 are: (1) the accused commits the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct; (2) the said act is performed with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse; and (3) the child, whether male or female, is below 18 years of age. In Quimvel v. People, the Court held that the allegation of “force and intimidation" is sufficient to classify the minor victim as one who is "exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse."
Common to both legal provisions is the element of lascivious conduct or lewdness. The term "lewd" is commonly defined as something indecent or obscene. It is characterized by or intended to excite crude sexual desire. That an accused is entertaining a lewd or unchaste design is a mental process that can be inferred by overt acts carrying out such intention, i.e., by conduct that can only be interpreted as lewd or lascivious.
In this case, the Court agrees with the findings of the RTC, as affirmed by the CA, that the prosecution was able to establish the presence of the aforementioned elements. As correctly observed by the lower courts, AAA clearly and convincingly narrated in detail each lascivious act committed by Monroyo against her. On various occasions, i.e., August 24, October 13 and 15, 2003, Monroyo succeeded in touching the latter's private organ. The Court finds that Monroyo's overt acts were done against AAA's will and much more, committed without any other justifiable reason, hence, demonstrating its lewd character. AAA also sufficiently established that she was a minor during that time. In this relation, it should be pointed out that Monroyo was AAA's uncle and thus, exercised moral ascendancy and influence over her, which according to case law, constitutes intimidation.
Verily, AAA's testimony is worthy of full faith and credence as there is no proof that she was motivated to falsely accuse Monroyo of the crimes charged. To this, it may not be amiss to state that in several cases, the Court has observed that no young and decent girl (like AAA in this case) would fabricate a story of sexual abuse, subject herself to undergo public trial, with concomitant ridicule and humiliation, if she is not impelled by a sincere desire to put behind bars the person who assaulted her. Ultimately, the credibility of AAA's testimony, as well as Monroyo's opposite account involves findings of fact which the Court does not generally review. Case law dictates that factual findings of the trial court, particularly when affirmed by the CA, are binding on the Court barring arbitrariness and oversight of some fact or circumstance of weight and substance, of which there are none in this case.
In view of the foregoing, Monroyo's conviction for three (3) counts of Acts of Lasciviousness is proper under Article 336 of the RPC in relation to Section 5 (b) of RA 7610. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, Monroyo is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment with an indeterminate period of fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months of reclusion temporal, as minimum, to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum. Furthermore, in order to conform with prevailing jurisprudence, his civil liabilities are adjusted, in that he is ordered to pay the amounts of P20,000.00 as civil indemnity, P30,000.00 as moral damages, and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages, also for each count.
Separately, Monroyo was charged with the crime of Qualified Rape in Crim. Case No. C-04-7788, this time committed against AAA's sister, BBB. At the outset, it should be clarified that, contrary to the RTC's observation, the qualifying circumstances of minority and relationship were sufficiently alleged in the Information in Crim. Case No. C-04-7788, the pertinent portion of which reads:
In the commission of the offense the qualifying circumstance of relationship is attendant, the accused being a relative of the complainant by affinity within the 3rd civil degree and the complainant being then under eighteen years of age. (Emphases supplied)
The presence of these circumstances is readily verifiable from the records of this case. As to BBB's minority (i.e., sixteen years old at the time the crime was committed), the prosecution formally offered a photocopy of her birth certificate, the authenticity of which was not in any way disputed by the defense. Meanwhile, the fact that Monroyo is BBB's relative by affinity within the third civil degree was attested to by BBB, who testified that Monroyo is the husband of her mother's half-sister. In fact, Monroyo admitted their relationship on cross-examination, stating that "his wife is the sister of the mother of [BBB]."
Well-settled is the rule that an appeal in a criminal case opens the entire case for scrutiny on any question, even one not raised by the parties as errors, and that the appeal confers the appellate court with full jurisdiction over the case, enabling the court to examine records, revise the judgment appealed from, increase the penalty, and cite the proper provision of the penal law. Thus, given that the circumstances of minority and relationship were alleged and proven in this case, the Court examines Monroyo's criminal liability for Qualified Rape as charged.
Article 266-A (1) (a), in relation to Article 266-B of the RPC, as amended by RA 8353, defines and penalizes the crime of Rape, including the circumstances which qualify the penalty to be imposed:
Article 266-A. Rape, When and How Committed. - Rape is committed-
1) By a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:
a) Through force, threat or intimidation;
x x x x
Article 266-B. Penalties. - Rape under paragraph 1 of the next preceding article shall be punished by reclusion perpetua.
x x x x
The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the following aggravating/qualifying circumstances:
1) When the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common law spouse of the parent of the victim.
x x x x (Emphases supplied)
The elements of Qualified Rape under these provisions are: (a) the victim is a female over twelve (12) years but under eighteen (18) years of age; (b) the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim; and (c) the offender has carnal knowledge of the victim either through force, threat, or intimidation.
A perusal of the records reveals that all these elements are present. Both the RTC and the CA found credible BBB's categorical testimony that on November 18, 2003, Monroyo had carnal knowledge of her without her consent; that she was sixteen (16) years old at that time; and that Monroyo is her uncle, being the husband of her mother's half-sister. In addition, the results of Dr. Valdez's medical examination corroborated BBB's account. The lower courts also noted BBB's testimony that Monroyo previously molested her five (5) times prior to the rape incident but she opted not to inform her parents due to Monroyo's threats against her.
As in the Acts of Lasciviousness cases, the Court defers to the findings of fact of the trial court, as affirmed by the CA. Jurisprudentially settled is the principle that if a victim's testimony is straightforward, convincing and consistent with human nature and the normal course of things, unflawed by any material or significant inconsistency, it passes the test of credibility and the accused may be convicted solely on the basis thereof. Putting more emphasis, the factual findings of the trial court, especially on the credibility of the rape victim, are accorded great weight and respect and will not be disturbed on appeal, as in this case.
At this juncture, it should be emphasized that Monroyo only proffered the defense of denial, which the courts a quo, found to be too shallow and insignificant so as to impel BBB to falsely charge her uncle and publicly disclose that she was raped. Case law edifies that "[d]enial cannot prevail over [a] private complainant's direct, positive and categorical assertion that rings with truth. Denial is inherently a weak defense which cannot outweigh positive testimony. As between a categorical statement that has the earmarks of truth on the one hand and bare denial, on the other, the former is generally held to prevail."
Based on the foregoing, Monroyo's criminal liability in Crim. Case No. C-04-7788 is thus upheld. However, for the reasons initially stated, his conviction is modified from Rape to Qualified Rape, which, based on Article 266-B of the RPC, as amended by RA 8353, is penalized with death. Pursuant to RA 9346, courts shall impose the penalty of reclusion perpetua in lieu of the death penalty and the offender shall not be eligible for parole. As for his civil liability, jurisprudence states that when death is the imposable penalty for the crime committed but it cannot be imposed due to RA 9346, the Court shall award the following to BBB: (a) P100,000.00 as civil indemnity; (b) P100,000.00 as moral damages; and (c) P100,000.00 as exemplary damages.
Finally, the Court imposes interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum on all monetary awards from the date of finality of judgment until fully paid, for each count of Acts of Lasciviousness and Qualified Rape.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The Decision dated May 27, 2015 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 06078 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS, finding accused-appellant Norieto Monroyo y Mahaguay GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of three (3) counts of Acts of Lasciviousness and one (1) count of Qualified Rape. Accordingly:
(a) In Criminal Case Nos. C-04-7785, C-04-7786, C-04-7787, Monroyo is SENTENCED to suffer the penalty of imprisonment with an indeterminate period of fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months of reclusion temporal, as minimum, to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum, for each count and is ORDERED to pay AAA the amounts of P20,000.00 as civil indemnity, P30,000.00 as moral damages, and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages, also for each count;
(b) In Criminal Case No. C-04-7788, Monroyo is SENTENCED to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, without eligibility for parole, and is ORDERED to pay BBB the amounts of P100,000.00 as civil indemnity, P100,000.00 as moral damages, and P100,000.00 as exemplary damages; and
(c) All monetary awards shall earn interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum from the date of finality of judgment until fully paid.
Sereno, C.J., (Chairperson), Leonardo-De Castro, and Del Castillo, JJ., concur.
Caguioa, J., concur consistent with his opinion in Peo. v. Caoili, GR # 196342.
 Id. at 2-15. Penned by Associate Justice Samuel H. Gaerlan with Associate Justices Normandie B. Pizarro and Zenaida T. Galapate-Laguilles concurring.
 CA rollo, pp. 49-57. Penned by Judge Tomas C. Leynes.
 Id. at 58-67.
 Defined and penalized under Article 266-A in relation to 266-B of the RPC, as amended by RA 8353, entitled "AN ACT EXPANDING THE DEFINITION OF THE CRIME OF RAPE, RECLASSIFYING THE SAME As A CRIME AGAINST PERSONS, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE ACT NO. 3815, AS AMENDED, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE REVISED PENAL CODE, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES," approved on September 30, 1997.
 The identity of the victim or any information which could establish or compromise her identity, as well as those of her immediate family or household members, shall be withheld pursuant to RA 7610, entitled "AN ACT PROVIDING FOR STRONGER DETERRENCE AND SPECIAL PROTECTION AGAINST CHILD ABUSE, EXPLOITATION AND DISCRIMINATION, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES," approved on June 17, 1992; RA 9262, entitled "AN ACT DEFINING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND THEIR CHILDREN, PROVIDING FOR PROTECTIVE MEASURES FOR VICTIMS, PRESCRIBING PENALTIES THEREFORE, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES," approved on March 8, 2004; and Section 40 of A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC, known as the "RE: RULE ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND THEIR CHILDREN," effective November 15, 2004, (See footnote 4 in People v. Cadano, Jr., 729 Phil. 576, 578 (2014), citing People v. Lomaque, 710 Phil. 338, 342 ).
 Rollo, p. 3.
 Id. at 3-4.
 Id. at 4.
 Id. at 5.
 See CA rollo, p. 61
 See rollo, p. 6.
 Id. at 6-7.
 See CA rollo, pp. 62-63.
 Id. at 49-57.
 Id. at 57.
 Id. at 56.
 Id. at 58-67.
 Id. at 66-67.
 Id. at 65-66.
 Rollo pp. 2-15.
 Id. at 9.
 See Notice of Appeal dated June 11, 2015; id. at 16-17.
 Malto v. People, 560 Phil. 119, 135 (2007).
 See id. at 135-136.
 People v. PO2 Valdez, 679 Phil. 279, 293-294 (2012).
 Amployo v. People, 496 Phil. 747, 755 (2005). Citation omitted.
 Imbo v. People, G.R. No. 197712, April 20, 2015, 756 SCRA 196, 205.
 G.R. No. 214497, April 18, 2017.
 Amployo v. People, supra note 32, at 756. Citations omitted.
 People v. Magbanua, 576 Phil. 642, 648 (2008).
 Amployo v. People, supra note 32, at 757. Citation omitted.
 Id. Citation omitted.
 Act No. 4103, entitled "AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR AN INDETERMINATE SENTENCE AND PAROLE FOR ALL PERSONS CONVICTED OF CERTAIN CRIMES BY THE COURTS OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS; TO CREATE A BOARD OF INDETERMINATE SENTENCE AND TO PROVIDE FUNDS THEREFOR; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES," approved on December 5, 1933. This Act was later amended by RA 4203 entitled "AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS THREE AND FOUR OF ACT NUMBERED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND THREE, AS AMENDED, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE INDETERMINATE SENTENCE LAW," which was approved on June 19, 1965.
 People v. Leonardo, 638 Phil. 161, 198-199 (2010).
 See People v. Bandril, G.R. No. 212205, July 6, 2015, 761 SCRA 665, 677, citing People v. Dominguez, Jr., 650 Phil. 492, 523-524 (2010).
 Rollo, p. 4.
 In People v. Villanueva (549 Phil. 747, 765-766 ), the Court held that since a birth certificate is a public record in the custody of the local civil registrar, its photocopy is admissible as secondary evidence to prove its contents if the opponent fails to dispute them.
 See CA rollo, p. 61.
 Id. at 63.
 People v. Mirandilla, Jr., 670 Phil. 397, 415 (2011), citing People v. Madsali, 625 Phil. 431, 451 (2010).
 People v. Comboy, G.R. No. 218399, March 2, 2016, citing Manansala v. People, G.R. No. 215424, December 9, 2015, 777 SCRA 563, 569.
 People v. Balcueva, 762 Phil. 730, 736 (2015).
 CA rollo, p. 65.
 People v. Lumaho, 744 Phil. 233, 243-244 (2014).
 People v. Bitancor, 441 Phil. 758, 769 (2002). Citation omitted.
 Entitled "AN ACT PROHIBITING THE IMPOSITION OF DEATH PENALTY IN THE PHILIPPINES," approved on June 24, 2006.
 People v. Jugueta, G.R. No. 202124, April 5, 2016, 788 SCRA 331, 377.
 Id. at 388.