Supreme Court E-Library
Information At Your Fingertips


  View printer friendly version

439 Phil. 528

THIRD DIVISION

[ G.R. No. 140638, October 14, 2002 ]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. ARNOLD RIZALDO Y GARDOSE ALIAS TOTONG, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

D E C I S I O N

CORONA, J.:

At bar is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 8, City of Malaybalay, Bukidnon, finding accused-appellant Arnold “Totong” Rizaldo guilty of rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to indemnify the victim Rose Bongcawel the amount of P50,000 in addition to another P50,000 as moral damages.

The information against accused-appellant read: 

“That on or about the 23rd day of May 1998, in the afternoon, at Purok 1-B, Camp I, Municipality of Maramag, Province of Bukidnon, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused prompted with lewd design and by means of force suddenly held both hands of ROSE BONGCAWEL which made her fall to the ground, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally removed (sic) her shortpants and panty, insert his penis to the vagina of ROSE BONGCAWEL and have sexual intercourse with 15 years old ROSE BONGCAWEL against her will, to the damage and prejudice of ROSE BONGCAWEL in such amount as may be allowed by law. 

“Contrary to and in violation of R.A. No. 7659 as amended by R.A. 8353.”[1]

The facts as culled from the records follow.

At about 5 o’clock in the evening of May 23, 1998, 15-year old Rose Bongcawel noticed that their goat was nowhere to be found. Thinking that her elder sister might have taken the goat, she decided to leave the house and look for it. Accused-appellant who had been following Rose asked the latter where she was going. Rose replied that she was looking for her goat which she suspected to be in the farm. Accused-appellant offered to help find it and insisted on accompanying her. Rose acceded.[2]

On their way to the farm, accused-appellant suggested that they take the way crossing a small creek. Rose agreed, unmindful of accused-appellant’s intentions and believing that accused-appellant knew where the missing goat might be. However, shortly after crossing the creek, accused-appellant suddenly sat on the ground, grabbed his victim’s arm and pulled Rose towards his lap, urging her to have sex with him. Rose’s pleading caused accused-appellant to release her, momentarily thwarting whatever lurid intentions accused-appellant had in mind. Rose then decided to go home. However, as the two began to retrace their way back to Rose’s house, accused-appellant suddenly kicked Rose’s legs causing her to trip and fall to the ground. Immediately thereafter, accused-appellant laid on top of his victim pinning her down with his legs. Accused-appellant took off the victim’s short pants and underwear. Rose struggled and tried to resist but accused-appellant overpowered her and succeeded in forcibly inserting his penis inside her vagina.

His lust satiated, accused-appellant dressed up and told his victim to go home. He himself left and immediately disappeared.[3]

As the victim rushed towards home, she met some close friends who inquired why she appeared weak. She replied that she was raped by accused-appellant. Thereafter, Rose met her brother who had been sent by their father to look for her. She recounted her ordeal to him. Upon arriving home, Rose tearfully narrated her harrowing experience in the hands of the accused-appellant to her father who immediately filed a complaint with the police.

Immediately thereafter, the victim was subjected to a physical examination by Dr. Evangeline Colinares-Revilla of the Bukidnon Provincial Hospital, who examined the victim’s private parts and made the following diagnosis: 

“-Erythematous walls of the labia minora with cervical laceration at the 5:00 o’clock and 7 o’clock position 

“-Cervix – admits 1 fingertip easily but with tenderness (-) abrasions nor hematoma seen in other part of the body.” 

“Under REMARK, Dr. Colinares wrote: “Vaginal smear done: (+) for spermatozoa (dead) epithelial cells moderate.”[4]

On May 28, 1998, Rose executed a sworn statement which became the basis of the criminal complaint against accused-appellant. After preliminary investigation, an information was filed charging accused with the crime of rape. On arraignment, accused-appellant, assisted by counsel, entered a plea of not guilty.

On September 7, 1999, the trial court rendered its decision finding accused-appellant guilty of rape. The trial court wrote: 

“WHEREFORE, this court finds accused Arnold Rizaldo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape in violation of R.A. 8353, and he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is also ordered to indemnify private complainant the sum of P50,000.00, and moral damages (which under the recent Supreme Court rulings need to (sic) further evidence) in the sum of P50,000.00 

“SO ORDERED.”[5]

Hence this appeal. Accused-appellant claims that the trial court gravely erred in finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape.

The appeal is bereft of merit.

Accused-appellant interposes the “sweetheart theory” claiming that he and Rose were lovers and that what happened at dusk on May 23, 1998 was consensual.[6]

In reviewing rape cases, we are guided by the following principles: (a) an accusation of rape can be made with facility and while the accusation is difficult to prove, it is even more difficult for a person accused, although innocent, to disprove the charge; (b) considering the intrinsic nature of the crime, only two persons are usually involved in the crime of rape and the testimony of the complainant should be scrutinized with great caution, and (c) the evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits and cannot draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the defense.[7]

With the above principles in mind, we take a second look at the testimony of the victim as well as that of the accused-appellant.

In her testimony, the victim pointedly denied that she had any love relationship with accused-appellant:

Q:
Now Rose, Totong offered to marry you. Are you his sweetheart?
A:
No.
 
Q:
Did he court you?
A:
No.
 
Q:
Today you are already 16 years old. Do you already experienced (sic) a sweetheart?
A:
Not yet.[8]

Moreover, the victim was candid in her recollection of that traumatic and horrifying experience:

Q:
How did it happen that you were already lying down?
A:
He kicked me and that was how I came to the position of lying down.
 
Q:
When he took off his shirt you were already on the ground?
A:
Yes.
  
 Continue.
  
PROSECUTOR DALAPO:
  
Q:
Now, when he took off his upper clothing was he standing or what was his position at that time?
A:
He was on top of me pinning me with his legs.
  
COURT: (to witness)
  
Q:He undressed you. What did he take off from you?
A:My short pant (sic) and my panty.
  
Q:He did not take off your upper clothing?
A: No. Continue.
  
PROSECUTOR DALAPO
  
Q:
He removed your short pant (sic) and panty all throughout of your feet (sic)?
A:
Yes.
 
Q:
After he removed your shortpant (sic) and panty what did he do next?
A:
He then placed himself on top of me.
 
Q:
And when he placed himself on top of you what did he do next?
A:
He held my two hands.
 
Q:
And after holding your two hands what happened next?
A:
I wanted to shout but he placed his mouth on my mouth.
 
Q:
So what did you do?
A:
I was unable to move.
 
Q:
Why?
A:
Because he exerted much strength.
 
Q:
And what did he do next?
A:
He then inserted his penis to my vagina.[9]

Accused-appellant’s version of what transpired, as narrated during his testimony, is difficult to believe.

Q:
During that time that you requested Rose to sit on your lap did your remove your pants?
A:
Not yet.
 
Q:
In what particular time on that afternoon while you and Rose are in the rice paddies that you removed her pants?
A:
When we were on a grassy area as we rested.
 
Q:
After you removed your pants and you also removed the pants and panty of Rose, what did you do?
A:
I pitied her and so I asked her to put back her pants and her panty.
 
Q:
For how many minutes that you and Rose stayed there at their rice paddies?
A:
Also about half an hour.
 
Q:
And after the lapse of thirty-minutes what did you do as well as Rose Bongcawel?
A:
We went home.
 
Q:
And in going home you walked together side by side?
A:
Yes.[10]

At this point, we take judicial notice of the fact that it is highly improbable for a young and innocent barrio lass to concoct a tale of defloration, allow the examination of her most private parts, subject herself to a public trial and suffer the humiliation of publicly recounting the violation of her womanhood, and expose herself and her family to a lifetime of shame and gossip — unless she is motivated solely by a desire to seek justice for a wrong committed against her.[11]

The “sweetheart defense” interposed by accused-appellant has been repeatedly raised in rape cases but has rarely been upheld in the absence of convincing proof. That kind of defense should always be substantiated by some credible evidence of the relationship; this the accused-appellant failed to do because his alleged romance with the victim was just a figment of his imagination.

Moreover, even if accused-appellant and the victim had indeed been sweethearts, this would not have necessarily negated rape. The fact alone that they were sweethearts — even if true — is not per se exculpatory. A sweetheart can not be forced to have sex against her will. Love is not a license for lust.[12]

Accused-appellant also denies that there was force or intimidation employed by him on the victim because the prosecution failed to show the victim sustained physical injuries which would have been present had she resisted. This is not true. The test is whether the threat or intimidation produces a sufficient and reasonable fear in the mind of the victim that she will be harmed if she resists. And if resistance is futile, offering none does not mean consent to the sexual assault. It is not necessary for the victim to resist unto death or sustain physical injuries in the hands of the rapist. It is enough if the intercourse takes place against her will or if she yields because of a genuine fear of harm to her if she does not do what her attacker wants. Indeed, the law does not impose upon a rape victim the burden of proving resistance.[13]

In the case at bar, accused-appellant kicked his victim’s legs, causing the latter to trip and fall to the ground. He thereafter went on top of her while pinning her down with his legs. The victim tried to shout but accused-appellant muffled her screams with his mouth and proceeded to ravage her. Considering that the victim was a simple barrio lass of 15 at the time of the assault, it is not hard to imagine how she was easily stifled into submission on encountering such a harrowing experience. There is no standard human reaction when one is faced with an experience so traumatic as what befell the victim in the case at bar.

It is of no moment that the medical report fails to show that the victim suffered any contusion or abrasion. Proof of injury is not an element of rape. It is not necessary to show proof of physical injuries sustained by reason of resistance to the sexual attacker.[14]

In sum, the guilt of accused-appellant has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. The records of the case have been thoroughly reviewed. The Court is convinced that the findings and conclusions of the trial court on the criminal liability of accused-appellant Arnold Rizaldo y Gardose alias “Totong” are completely supported by the facts and the law.

The trial court ordered accused-appellant to indemnify his victim in the amount of P50,000 and to pay her moral damages in the amount of P50,000. This is in line with prevailing jurisprudence that civil indemnification is mandatory upon the finding of rape.[15]  On the other hand, moral damages in rape cases are awarded without need of showing that the victim experienced trauma or mental, physical and psychological suffering.[16]

WHEREFORE, the decision of the trial court finding accused-appellant Arnold Rizaldo y Gardose guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua  and to pay the offended party, Rose Bongcawel, the sum of P50,000 as civil indemnity and P50,000 as moral damages, is hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Puno, (Chairman), Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez, and  Morales, JJ., concur.  
 


[1] Rollo, p. 5.

[2] TSN, February 4, 1999, p. 10. 

[3] TSN, Feb. 4, 1999, pp. 12-14. 

[4] Exhibit “A”, p. 5, Original Records. 

[5] Rollo, p. 15. 

[6] Rollo, p. 38. 

[7] People vs. Tipay, 329 SCRA 52 (2000). 

[8] TSN, February 4, 1999, p. 22; Rollo, p. 64. 

[9] Ibid., pp. 13-14; Rollo, pp. 65-67. 

[10] TSN, June 21, 1999, pp. 13-14. 

[11] People vs. Mitra, 328 SCRA 774 (2000). 

[12] People vs. Baltar, 235 SCRA 319 (2000). 

[13] People vs. Fraga, 330 SCRA 669 (2000). 

[14] People vs. Lucban, 322 SCRA 313 (2000). 

[15] People vs. Bernaldez, 322 SCRA 462 (2000). 

[16] People vs. Docena, 322 SCRA 820 (2000).

© Supreme Court E-Library 2019
This website was designed and developed, and is maintained, by the E-Library Technical Staff in collaboration with the Management Information Systems Office.