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338 Phil. 956


[ G.R. No. 114291, May 14, 1997 ]



Appellant Jacinto Salazar was convicted of the crime of rape and sentenced by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 41 of Dagupan City "to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua" and "to pay the offended party x x x the amount of P200,000.00 as compensatory and moral damages" and "to pay the costs"[1]. Appellant interposed this appeal assigning as errors the following:







We required the Office of the Solicitor General to comment thereon. In lieu of appellee's brief, the Office of the Solicitor General filed a manifestation recommending appellant's acquittal.

The facts as stated and adopted by the trial court are as follows:

"Evidence for the prosecution tends to show that complainant Jennette R. David is 16 years old, single and a student of Daniel Maramba National High School. On February 23, 1993, she was in the house of the accused at 10:00 A.M., upon the invitation of the latter. There were no other people, except the children of the accused. The accused told his children to get out of the house. As soon as the children were out of the house, accused took hold of Jennette and poked a knife at her neck and dragged her to the bedroom. Then he laid her on the bed; and with his right hand holding a knife poked at her neck, he undressed.

"Jennette was wearing her school uniform of skirt and blouse. After the accused removed her blouse and skirt, panty and bra, he removed his pants.

"She struggled to free herself; tried hard to resist but to no avail. The accused was so strong for her. Then he inserted his penis into her vagina. She felt weak, suffered pain and noticed her vagina bleeding. After she was sexually abused, but before the accused left the room, he warned her not to tell what happened to anybody; otherwise, he will kill her and her family.

"Jennette put back her dress and returned to school. On her way home, the accused met her at the gate of the school and repeated his threat to her and the family.

"Thereafter, everytime she comes to school, the accused repeated his threat to her.

"Jennette together with no other students, has been taking instructions in Martial arts from the accused for three (3) months before the incident.

"She did not reveal to what happened to her because of the continuing threat made by the accused against her.

"However, she mustered the courage to tell her mother about the incident when sometime in June, she became desolate and had fever.

"She was accompanied by her father, mother and brothers to the Police Station of Sta. Barbara, to complain against the accused. Then, they went to the Pangasinan Provincial Hospital at Binloc, Dagupan City where she was physically examined and found to have been sexually abused. She identified her Sworn Statement (Exh. 'A').

"Evidence for the defense tends to show that since 1985, the accused has been a security guard at the Daniel Maramba National High School. Jennette is a student of the same school. She frequented the accused's house. She always reveal her problems to him, like her mother suspecting them to have relationship. She sent him roses and gave him fruits like guavas and mangoes also pictures and valentine card. She voluntarily submitted herself to him."[3]
The appeal is impressed with merit.

In the review of rape cases, we are guided by three settled principles, viz: (1) an accusation for rape can be made with facility; it is difficult to prove, but more difficult for the person accused, though innocent, to disprove; (2) in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime where only two persons are usually involved, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with great caution; and (3) evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits, and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence of the defense.[4] With these in mind, we now proceed to assay private complainant's testimony and demeanors before, during and after her alleged sexual violation.

Before the incident in question, it was proven that private complainant and the appellant have had an existing intimate relationship. Defense Exhibit "1", a handwritten letter the authorship of which was admitted by the private complainant during the cross-examination,[5] unveils private complainant's intense emotional feelings to the appellant. The subject letter reads as follows:

"Dear Sir,

"Greeting you in Jesus' name. Before I start my humble letter, let me begin by saying, 'I love you.' for I can find no words sweeter than this. Hope that you always feel fine with the guidance of our Lord.

"Thanks to the Lord for having you as my love and thank you very much sa pagmamahal ninyo sa akin. Hinding-hindi ako magbabago ng desisyon ko. Kayo lamang and mamahalin ko, kahit na makakita man ako ng mas higit sa inyo. Pangako iyan. Salamat rin pala sa relos na iniregalo ninyo sa akin. Aalagaan ko ito at iingatan.

"Sana sir magustuhan ninyo itong regalo ko bilang pasasalamat sa pagmamahal, pag-aalaga at pagkalinga sa akin. Kalakip rito ay ang komposisyon na ginawa namin sa Filipino

"Sana sir hindi rin kayo magbabago ng pagtingin at pagmamahal ninyo sa akin. Dahil kahit na magkakalayo tayo, hindi ako magbabago.

"God Bless you and I really love you.


"(David)                                                                                                                            Jennette"[6]

(underscoring supplied)
The accompanying "komposisyon" which private complainant wrote and dedicated to the appellant also shows private complainant's pubescent admiration and affection. Thus:

"Guro, Aking Inspirasyon

"Ang guro and siyang nagsisilbing pangalawang magulang ng mga mag-aaral. Siya ang nagtuturo ng mga kagandahang-asal upang magkaroon ng kinabukasan ang mga mag-aaral. Bawat isa sa atin ay may kanya-kanyang inspirasyon, maaaring ang ating hinahangaan ay isang artista, basketbolista at iba pa.

"Gaya ko, mayroon rin akong inspirasyon. Ang aking inspirasyon ay ang aking guro sa Marcial (sic) Arts. Hindi lamang inspirasyon kundi hinahangaan at iniidulo ko pa. Sapagkat siya ay mabait at maawain. Lahat ng aking problema ay sinasabi ko sa kanya at kanya naman ito binibigyan ng solusyon. May katandaan na rin siya pero kahit na matanda na siya ay nakikibagay pa rin siya sa kabataan. Kapag wala akong baon ay binibigyan niya ako ng pera. Lagi niya akong ipinagtatanggol sa mga nang-aapi sa akin. Mapagmahal siya (sa) mga taong nangangailangan ng tulong.

"Mayroon isa siyang katangian na gustong-gusto at nais kong isaberhay (sic) iyon. Ang kanyang pagiging mapagmahal. Dahil kung ikaw ay isang mapagmahal ay magkakaroon ka ng maraming kaibigan.

"Sa buong buhay ko, siya lamang ang aking inspirasyon na kahit kailan ay hindi ko makalilimutan. Maraming salamat sa aking guro."[7] (Emphasis supplied)

An examination of the text of the aforequoted writings indicates that their contents transcend the bounds of decency and propriety of a teacher-student relationship and supports appellant's averment that the copulation was not attended by force or intimidation as they were lovers. This gains strength with the testimony of Vilma Samson, private complainant's schoolmate, who stated under the rigors of cross-examination that private complainant and the appellant were frequently conversing not only at the school, but also at the appellant's residence.[8] In fact, in one occasion said witness saw the appellant holding the hands of private complainant with the latter offering no resistance.[9]

Private complainant's indifference also erodes faith in her credibility. Appellant's wife, Virginia Salazar, who already suspected the unholy relationship between private complainant and her husband, warned the former not to go to their place. Thus:

“Q.  Did you also have an occasion to talk with Jennette David at the school?
“A.   Yes, sir.

“Q.  What did you talk about?
“A.   I told her not to go to our house if she is alone because she is a lady, sir" [10]
The admonition fell on deaf ears. Indeed, complainant's nonchalance becomes emphatic when she voluntarily went and entered alone appellant's house, allegedly on appellant's instruction, to be given a diagnostic martial arts session. Private complainant's meek silence inside appellant's house defies the normal conduct of a woman especially when the appellant ordered his three children to get out of the house leaving the two of them all alone by themselves. There was no plausible reason why the children were banished if she was just to undergo a martial arts session. As to be reasonably expected, a barrio lass like the complainant would instinctively discern the uncompromising situation and protest or devise other means to be freed from an imminent danger. But private complainant did nothing bolstering appellant's assertion that the sexual congress between them was with private complainant's full volition and consent.

Equally disturbing are the inherent improbabilities and irreconcilable inconsistencies that attended her testimony during her alleged ravishment. Thus:


x x x                                                                         x x x                                                                                 x x x

“q.    When you were in the house of Jacinto Salazar, what transpired next?

“a.    He immediately took hold of me and pointing a knife at my neck and dragged me to the room, madam.

x x x                                                                         x x x                                                                                 x x x


After the accused poked a knife at your neck, what did you do next?

“a.    He dragged me to the bedroom immediately, madam.


When you said that the only two of you were in the house he already dragged you in the bedroom, what happened when he dragged you to the bedroom?

“a.    He laid me down on the bed, madam.

“q.    By laying you down on the bed, what was your position at that time?
“a.    When he made me laid down on the bed, his right arm was holding a knife pointing at my neck, pressed my arm and the other hand was starting removing my dress, madam.

x x x                                                                         x x x                                                                                 x x x


You mentioned that it was your dress which was removed, was that the only one removed by Jacinto Salazar?

“a.    He removed my blouse, skirt, bra and panty, madam.

x x x                                                                         x x x                                                                                 x x x


What happened next after removing your blouse, skirt, panty and bra?

“a.    He also removed his pants and he forcibly inserted his penis at my vagina, madam.

“q.    When Jacinto Salazar inserted his penis into your vagina, how do you feel or what did you do?
“a.    I felt weak and feel pain and my vagina was bleeding, madam.

“q.    Did you not struggle to free yourself from that act of Jacinto Salazar?
“a.    I was trying to resist but because he was strong I could not resist him and I feel pain and that the knife was still placed on my neck, madam.

x x x                                                                         x x x                                                                                 x x x

“q.    How did you resist, what did you do, be specific?
“a.    My hands were like this and I tried to move my arms that way but still I could not resist, madam.

“q.    You tried to move your hands to push the accused?
“a.    Yes, madam.

x x x                                                                         x x x                                                                                 x x x


After having a sexual intercourse with you, what transpired next?

“a.    He left the room and I dressed myself and when I tried to went out of the room he told me that I will not tell to anybody otherwise he will kill me and my family, madam.

“q.    When he told you that, did you answer him back?
“a.    I did not answer him, madam.

“q.    After the sexual intercourse committed in the bedroom and you already went out of the room, did you go home?
“a.    I immediately proceeded to our school, madam.

“q.    When you left for the school, were you alone?
“a.    Yes, madam."[11]



“q.    The house of the accused, how far is it from the neighbor?
“a.    More or less 5 meters, ma'm.

“q.    When you were being dragged by the accused inside his house, did you not try to shout to attract the attention of the neighbors?
“a.    I was not able to shout because he covered my mouth and besides he poked a knife on my neck, ma'm.

“q.    How did he poke a knife and cover your mouth at the same time?
“a.    His right hand poked a knife on my neck and his left hand covered my mouth, ma'm.

“q.    But your hands and legs are free, did you not use your hands and legs to resist him?
“a.    I tried to struggle by using my elbow and I would like to kick him but I can't do because he was so strong and I tried to step on his feet but he was so strong and I cannot do anything, ma'm.


“q.    Both of your hands were then free when you were allegedly dragged by the accused to the bedroom?
"a.    Yes, sir, but the knife was poked against my neck and he held me so tightly.

“q.    Where did he hold you so tightly?
“a.    His left hand is covering my mouth while his right hand is poking a knife in my neck so closed and tightly to my body, sir.

x x x                                                                         x x x                                                                                 x x x

“q.    And when you were already in the bedroom, you already lay down?

x x x                                                                         x x x                                                                                 x x x


Witness may answer.

“a.    He pushed me to the bed, sir.


You earlier declared that when you were already in the bedroom, the accused was at your back, Correct?
“a.    Yes, sir.

“q.    Holding you at your shoulder. Is that right?
“a.    Yes, sir.

“q.    You said he pushed you to the bed, your face was down the bed. Is that not right?
“a.    When he pushed me, his body is at the same went with me and his body was on top of me, sir.

x x x                                                                         x x x                                                                                 x x x


How did the accused remove his pant?

“a.    A knife was poked against my neck and his hand elbow is pinned to my body with the other hand removing his pant and brief, madam.

“q.    While he was lying on top of you?
“a.    His half body was on top of me while he was removing his pant and brief, sir.

x x x                                                                         x x x                                                                                 x x x

“q.    When he removed his brief, necessarily, he will also move his feet so that his feet will be raised up away from your feet also. Is that correct?
“a.    When he lowered down his pant and brief, he did not lower them entirely but only up to his legs while he was on top of me, sir.

“q.    Will you kindly show on your body how low was the brief lowered by the accused?
“a.    Below the knee, sir.

“q.    So that his legs were already tied by the brief and he could not widen your legs. Is that correct?
“a.    While his knees were between my legs, that was the time he lowered his pant and brief below the knee.


That is all.

x x x                                                                         x x x                                                                                 x x x


“q.    The incident happened on February 23, 1993 is your first experienced?
“a.    Yes, ma m.

“q.    And how did you feel after the incident?
“a.    I felt pains around my body and my vulva is painful and I cannot almost walk, and blood oozing to my legs, ma'm.

“q.    And inspite of that you attended the school?
“A.   Yes, ma'm."[12]
From the foregoing testimony, it is evident that all throughout her ordeal private complainant was subjected to force with the appellant dragging her and continuously pointing a knife at her neck. Her energetic resistance, according to private complainant, went all to naught. But it seems highly improbable that private complainant emerged from the assault unscathed. The motions and struggles that accompany an unconsented copulation would necessarily, albeit unintentional, cause some scratches or superficial wounds on private complainant's neck, upper and lower extremities[13] which was not the case at bench. Her classmates, teachers and even her mother[14] did not observe anything peculiar or amiss on her person.

Another point. It would be inconceivable that private complainant was "laid down on the bed" if we were to subscribe to her declaration that she was pushed. Likewise, it would also be highly impossible for the appellant to be ahead of her in going to the bedroom as she declared during the hearing on appellant's bail application.[15] Thus:

"Will you please show to us how he dragged you?

"Witness demonstrated that the accused was in her behind hold her and swang her.

"In going to the room who was ahead, you or Jake?

"The accused.[16]
Private complainant also stresses that appellant immediately placed his person on top of her body pinning down her left arm while continuously "poking a knife in (sic) [her] neck". In such a situation, appellant removed her apparels in the following order: "blouse, skirt, bra and panty", and thereafter the appellant lower[ed] his pant (sic) and brief" below his knees and copulated with the private complainant without her consent. If it were true that private complainant was continuously pinned down, then it is highly improbable for the appellant to remove her blouse and bra without tearing or otherwise destroying them. And had appellant been truly on top of her body with his knees apparently between her legs, then private complainant's skirt and panty could not be removed without likewise tearing them. We are thus baffled how private complainant was able to wear her clothes without damage after the incident. Worse, despite the fact that she "felt weak [with] pains around [her] body and [her] vulva is painful and [she] cannot almost walk, [with] blood oozing on her legs", private complainant still managed to report to school and attend her classes for the entire duration of the day with equanimity. Similarly disturbing is her silence for almost four (4) long months about her unfortunate ravishment and only to be broken when she could no longer hide her pregnant state notwithstanding the alleged threat of the appellant that she and her family will be killed. Her failure to notify the authorities, or at the very least her parents immediately after her harrowing experience seriously affects the truthfulness of her narration.[17] It appears to us that the conduct of private complainant is contrary to the natural reaction of an outraged woman robbed of her honor. Her reaction seemed to be too perfunctory negating the fidelity of her accusation. This is fortified all the more by the fact that she even reciprocated the appellant from his dastard crime by giving him gifts instead of denouncing and condemning him. Thus:

“q.    What did she give to the accused?
“a.    Mangoes and guavas, sir.

“q.    Do you mean to tell the Hon. Court that she gave guavas and mangoes sometime in June, 1993?
“a.    Yes, sir, in June, 1993.

“q.    Was it a ripe mango or green mango?
“a.    Green mango, sir.

“q.    You know the color that it is green, what was the color of the dress of the complainant when you allegedly saw her gave 3 green mangoes to the accused?


Immaterial, your Honor.


Very material, your Honor. I am testing the credibility of the witness.


Witness may answer.
“a.    Uniform. White and blue, sock white and rubber shoes, sir."[18]
We can not see our way clear why a ravished woman would still bother to give her violator presents if the sexual assault that took place between them was without her approval.

Prescinding from the foregoing observations, the Court feels that the guilt of the appellant was not proved beyond reasonable doubt. It is a settled rule that evidence to be believed must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness but must also be credible itself - such as the common experience and observation of mankind can approve as probable under the circumstances.[19] Without passing this exacting standard, appellant's conviction loses force and validity especially as the private complainant's testimony is fraught with inherent improbabilities and material inconsistencies. This gains importance considering that the judge[20] who penned the decision and found private respondent credible was not the magistrate[21] who heard and observed her testimony and demeanors respectively. Thus we can not subscribe and be bound by the judge's findings on the credibility of private complainant. It takes more than a mere accusation to make a man liable for a crime. Accusation, we reiterate, is not synonymous with guilt.[22] We hold that the constitutional presumption of innocence in favor of appellant was not successfully rebutted, hence his acquittal is inevitable.

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Appellant JACINTO SALAZAR is hereby ACQUITTED on reasonable doubt. His immediate release is ordered, unless there is other valid ground for his continued incarceration.

Narvasa, C.J., (Chairman), Davide, Jr., Melo, and Panganiban, JJ., conccur.

[1] RTC Decision p. 4; Rollo, p. 72.

[2] Brief for the Appellant, p. 1; Rollo, p. 54.

[3] RTC Decision, pp. 1-2; Rollo, pp. 69-70.

[4] People vs. Batis, 216 SCRA 673, 680.

[5] TSN, Jennette R. David, September 20, 1993, pp. 5-6.

[6] Exhibit "1", Folder of Exhibits for the Accused.

[7] Exhibit "2", Folder of Exhibits for the accused.

[8] TSN, Vilma Samson, January 24, 1994, pp. 3-7.

[9] Id., p. 8.

[10] TSN, Virginia Salazar, January 25, 1994, p. 3.

[11] TSN, Jennette R. David, September 9, 1993, pp. 4-6.

[12] TSN, Jennette R. David, September 16, 1993, p. 8; September 20, 1993, pp. 8, 12, 13, 20, 21.

[13] People v. Tarlac, 188 SCRA 607.

[14] TSN, Mrs. Felomena David, October 11, 1993, p. 14.

[15] Rule 114, Section 8 provides that "x x x The-evidence presented during the bail hearings shall be considered automatically reproduced at the trial x x x."

[16] Records, p. 40.

[17] See: People v. Tiwaken, 213 SCRA 701.

[18] TSN, Vilma Samson, January 24, 1994, p. 6.

[19] 1 Moore on Facts 134 at 181; People v. Sinatao, 249 SCRA 554.

[20] Hon. Deodoro J. Sison, Judge.

[21] Hon. Erna Falloran Aliposa, Judge

[22] People v. Maribung, 149 SCRA 292; People v. Dimacali, 153 SCRA 454; Borquilla v. Court of Appeals, 147 SCRA 9.

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