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613 Phil. 507


[ G.R. No. 182792, August 25, 2009 ]




The Case

This is an appeal from the November 23, 2007 Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01374 entitled People of the Philippines v. Pepito Neverio, which held accused-appellant Pepito Neverio guilty of two counts of rape. The CA Decision affirmed the September 30, 2004 Decision[2] in Criminal Cases Nos. P-3182 and P-3183 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 32 in Pili, Camarines Sur.

The Facts

AAA[3] is a mentally deficient lass, who resides with her family in Barangay Sagurong, Pili, Camarines Sur. Because of her mental condition, she was not able to go to school for most part of her life. Nonetheless, she learned to cook for the family and clean their house.[4]

In the morning of June 29, 2001, AAA, then 20 years old, was alone in their home cooking. Her father was farming, while her mother was at the poblacion[5] of Pili. Her siblings, too, were somewhere else--somewhere in school and others were tending a neighborhood store away from their residence.[6]

Suddenly, Pepito, AAA's cousin, entered the kitchen by lifting the bamboo barrier with a bolo. Pepito then poked a fan knife to AAA's neck, placed the bolo on the table, and dragged AAA to her brother's room. He pushed AAA on the bed and went on top of her. Still poking the knife against AAA's neck, he removed her shorts and panty; then he also removed his pants. He then began to insert his penis inside AAA's vagina. AAA shouted in pain, but Pepito covered her mouth and continued removing and inserting his penis inside her vagina. When Pepito was done, he put on his pants and threatened to kill AAA should she share with anyone what had happened. Fearing for her life, AAA kept mum about the incident.[7]

On July 27, 2001, Pepito committed the same abuse against AAA. At around five o'clock in the afternoon, while AAA was alone in their home, Pepito again entered AAA's house through the kitchen. He poked his knife against AAA's neck, dragged her to the nearby room, and pushed her on the bed. AAA fought back but did not succeed in getting out of the room. Pepito then brought AAA back to the bed. Still pointing the knife against AAA, Pepito removed her lower garments, and thereafter removed his shorts and brief. He then proceeded to insert his penis inside AAA's vagina. Satiated, he stood up and got dressed. Before he left, he again warned AAA not to tell anyone what had happened; otherwise, he would kill her.[8]

On August 1, 2001, AAA's mother arrived from Naga City. She saw AAA crying under the bamboo grove. She asked why AAA was crying and AAA finally revealed what Pepito had done to her. She then sought the assistance of law enforcement authorities in investigating and in filing the appropriate charge against Pepito.[9]

On August 28, 2001, the National Bureau of Investigation medico-legal expert Jane Perpetua-Fajardo conducted a physical examination on AAA. She noted that her hymen had one healed laceration. She further stated that AAA's injury was probably caused by sexual intercourse and that the healed laceration was compatible with the time that the alleged incidents of rape happened.[10]

On October 17, 2001, two Informations were filed against Pepito. Except for the date and time of the commission of the crime, both Informations contained the same allegations, thus:
That on or about 10:00 A.M. on June 29, 2001 in Barangay Sagurong, Municipality of Pili, Province of Camarines Sur, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the above named accused, with lewd designs and grave abuse of confidence being a cousin of the private complainant, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with the use of force and intimidation succeed in having carnal knowledge, with [AAA], a 20 years old mental retardate against her will and without her consent, to her damage and prejudice in such amount as may be awarded by the Honorable Court.[11]
The other information averred the commission of the crime of rape against AAA on July 27, 2001 at 5:00 p.m.[12]

During trial, Pepito did not present any evidence but instead filed a Demurrer to Evidence with Leave of Court. On February 24, 2004, the trial court denied the Demurrer to Evidence. Despite the said denial, the defense still chose not to present any evidence. Thereafter, instead of filing a memorandum, the defense adopted its Demurrer to Evidence as its memorandum.[13]

On September 30, 2004, the RTC rendered a Decision, the dispositive part of which reads:
Wherefore, in view of the foregoing considerations, judgment is hereby rendered in Crim. Cases No. P-3182 and P-3183, finding the accused, Pepito Neverio, a.k.a. "Totoy", GUILTY in both cases, of the crime of rape, defined and penalized under Art. 266-A, R.A. 8353, and accordingly sentences him [to suffer] the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA for each RAPE, to indemnify the offended party, [AAA], the sum of [PhP] 50,000.00 as indemnity for each rape, plus the sum of [PhP] 50,000.00 for each rape, as moral damages, and to pay the costs, with all the accessories of the penalty; he is credited in full for his preventive detention had he agreed to abide with the rules for convicted prisoners, otherwise, for 4/5 of the same.

The case was appealed to the CA.

The Ruling of the CA

Aware that Pepito did not present any evidence to support his cause, the CA, in its November 23, 2007 Decision, carefully reviewed the evidence of the prosecution. It re-assessed the testimony of AAA and was convinced of its credibility. It found that despite AAA's mental retardation, her testimony was "direct, natural and unvarnished."[15] It noted further that the physical evidence fully supports the allegations of AAA.

Finding that the prosecution successfully proved its charges against Pepito, the CA affirmed the September 30, 2004 Decision of the RTC.

Hence, we have this appeal.

The Issues

In a Resolution dated July 30, 2008, this Court required the parties to submit supplemental briefs if they so desired. On September 30, 2008, Pepito, through counsel, signified that he was no longer filing a supplemental brief. Thus, the following issues raised in Pepito's Brief dated August 30, 2006 are now deemed adopted in this present appeal:

The Court a quo, gravely erred in finding the accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape.


The Court a quo, gravely erred in failing to appreciate the arguments of the defense in the Motion to Dismiss with Demurrer to Evidence.[16]

The Ruling of the Court

The appeal is without merit.

In his Brief, Pepito argues that the prosecution failed to prove two elements of the crime as alleged in the Information--AAA's mental retardation and the use of force and intimidation in committing the sexual act. He claims that medical findings confirming AAA's mental retardation should have been presented; however, none was given in this case. Also, he maintains that it was incredible for him to have managed to hold a knife against AAA with one hand, while at the same time undressing and later having sex with her with only one hand free. We, however, hold that his arguments deserve scant consideration.

Under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, if the victim is demented, the element of force becomes immaterial and absence of consent is presumed. Thus, only sexual intercourse must be proved in order to convict an accused. For this reason, if the mental age of a woman above 12 years old is that of a child below 12 years old, even if she voluntarily submits herself to the bestial desires of the accused, or even if the circumstances of force or intimidation are absent, the accused would still be liable for rape.[17] If the victim, however, is above 12 years old and has normal psychological faculty at the time of the crime, sexual intercourse and the attendant circumstance of force, violence, intimidation, or threat must be proved.

In this case, the Information alleged that AAA is mentally retarded. It, however, contained also an allegation that sexual intercourse was committed against AAA through force and intimidation and without her consent. The trial court convicted Pepito after finding that sexual congress through force and intimidation had been sufficiently established. It did not consider the mental condition of AAA because it was no longer necessary. As correctly ruled by the CA, AAA's mental retardation was inconsequential because the conviction of the accused was based on the use of force and intimidation. The CA held:
In reality, the absence of competent evidence on the victim's mental retardation is inconsequential because it did not negate the finding of guilt. Contrary to the accused's argument, her mental retardation had no bearing on the worthiness of the evidence of rape. We find to be correct the [Office of the Solicitor General]'s submission that the mental retardation was a "non-issue," for the conviction of the accused was based on the use of force and intimidation. Indeed, threatening the victim with a knife is sufficient to coerce the victim and constitutes an element of rape.[18]
We also affirm the findings of the RTC and the CA that the sexual molestation was committed through force and intimidation. The fact of sexual congress was established by the testimony of AAA and corroborated by the medico-legal findings of lacerations on her hymen. When the victim's straightforward testimony is consistent with the physical finding of penetration, there is sufficient basis for concluding that sexual intercourse did take place.[19]

As to the attendant circumstance of force, this was likewise sufficiently established. Force or intimidation necessary in rape is relative, for it largely depends on the circumstances of the rape as well as the size, age, strength, and relation of the parties.[20] Notably, however, the act of holding a knife by itself is strongly suggestive of force or at least intimidation, and threatening the victim with a knife is sufficient to bring a woman to submission.[21] And the victim does not even need to prove resistance.[22] To appreciate force or intimidation, it is enough to show that such force or intimidation was sufficient to consummate the bestial desires of the malefactor against the victim. Such was determined in this case.

In Pepito's Motion to Dismiss with Demurrer to Evidence, he faults AAA for her failure to state the place where the alleged crime happened. He maintains that the identification of the place where the crime was committed was necessary for vesting the court with jurisdiction over the case. This argument is without merit.

For the court to acquire jurisdiction over a criminal case, the offense or any of its essential elements should have taken place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.[23] This territorial jurisdiction of the court is determined by the facts alleged in the complaint or information.[24] In this case, the October 17, 2001 Informations clearly indicated that the acts of rape were committed in Barangay Sagurong, Pili, Camarines Sur. During trial, prosecution evidence showed that the molestations happened in AAA's house. And as testified by AAA's mother, their house was situated in Sagurong, Pili, Camarines Sur. Thus, AAA's inability to state her address in her testimony was trivial. Understandably, this failure was due only to her mental deficiency.

As to the damages, we find that an award of exemplary damages in the amount of PhP 30,000 is warranted, following People v. Sia.[25] Exemplary damages are awarded when the crime is attended by an aggravating circumstance;[26] or as in this case, as a public example,[27] in order to protect hapless individuals from molestation.

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the CA's November 23, 2007 Decision in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01374 with MODIFICATION. As modified, the dispositive portion of the affirmed September 30, 2004 RTC Decision shall read:
Wherefore, in view of the foregoing considerations, judgment is hereby rendered in Crim. Case Nos. P-3182 and P-3183, finding the accused, Pepito Neverio, a.k.a. "Totoy," GUILTY in both cases, of the crime of rape, defined and penalized under Art. 266-A, RA 8353, and accordingly sentences him to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA for each RAPE. He is likewise ordered to pay the offended party, for each rape, the sum of PhP 50,000 as civil indemnity, PhP 50,000 as moral damages, PhP 30,000 as exemplary damages, and to pay the costs, with all the accessories of the penalty; he is credited in full for his preventive detention had he agreed to abide with the rules for convicted prisoners, otherwise, for 4/5 of the same.

Chico-Nazario, (Acting Chairperson), Corona, Carpio Morales, and Peralta, JJ., concur.

* As per Special Order No. 678 dated August 3, 2009.

** Additional member as per August 17, 2009 raffle.

*** Additional member as per Special Order No. 679 dated August 3, 2009.

[1] Rollo, pp. 3-21. Penned by Associate Justice Lucas P. Bersamin (now a member of this Court) and concurred in by Associate Justices Portia Aliño Hormachuelos and Arturo G. Tayag.

[2] CA rollo, pp. 21-22. Penned by Judge Nilo Malanyaon.

[3] Pursuant to Republic Act No. 9262, otherwise known as the "Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004" and its implementing rules, the real name of the victim, together with that of her immediate family members, is withheld and fictitious initials instead are used to represent her, to protect her privacy.

[4] Rollo, p. 5.

[5] Literally "town" in Spanish. Poblacion is commonly used for the central barangay or barangays of a Philippine city or municipality. Common features of the poblacion include a town plaza, church, market, school, and town hall. It is sometimes shortened to "pob."

[6] Rollo, p. 5.

[7] Id.

[8] Id. at 5-6.

[9] Id. at 6.

[10] Id.

[11] CA rollo, p. 9.

[12] Id. at 11.

[13] Id. at 51.

[14] Id. at 22.

[15] Rollo, p. 17.

[16] CA rollo, p. 51.

[17] People v. Lopez, G.R. Nos. 135671-72, November 29, 2000, 346 SCRA 469, 476.

[18] Rollo, p. 19.

[19] People v. Malibiran, G.R. No. 173471, March 17, 2009; People v. Corpuz, G.R. No. 168101, February 13, 2006, 482 SCRA 435, 448.

[20] People v. Murillo, G.R. Nos. 128851-56, February 19, 2001, 352 SCRA 105, 118.

[21] People v. Galido, G.R. Nos. 148689-92, March 30, 2004, ­­­­­­­­425 SCRA 502, 515; People v. Baylen, G.R. No. 135242, April 19, 2002, 381 SCRA 395, 404; People v. Dela Peña, G.R. No. 128372, March 12, 2001, 354 SCRA 186, 194.

[22] People v. David, G.R. Nos. 121731-33, November 12, 2003, 415 SCRA 666, 681; People v. Moreno, G.R. No. 140033, January 25, 2002, 374 SCRA 667.

[23] People v. Macasaet, G.R. No. 156747, February 23, 2005, 452 SCRA 255, 271; citing Uy v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 119000, July 28, 1997, 276 SCRA 367.

[24] Fullero v. People, G.R. No. 170583, September 12, 2007, 533 SCRA 97, 123.

[25] G.R. No. 174059, February 27, 2009.

[26] CIVIL CODE, Art. 2230.

[27] People v. Tabio, G.R. No. 179477, February 6, 2008, 544 SCRA 156, 169.

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