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440 Phil. 589


[ G.R. No. 140216, November 18, 2002 ]




The case before the Court is an ordinary appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 14, 7th Judicial Region, holding Renato C. Bacus guilty of rape and meting on him the penalty of reclusion perpetua.

On 13 October 1997, 37-year old Viminda J. Sudario was sleeping with her three children at the second floor of their house in Llamas Street, Cebu City. At dawn, about four o’clock, she was roused by a “commotion” at the ground floor of the house. Going down the stairs to investigate, she was surprised to see the main door ajar. She was about to reach for the door when a man suddenly grabbed her from behind. She asked why, and the latter replied that he came for her. The man hushed her not to say a word or, otherwise, be killed. He dragged her to the maid’s room where she came to recognize the intruder to be her neighbor Renato C. Bacus. With a .45 caliber gun aimed at her, Viminda was forced to lie on her back. Again, she was told not to make any noise. He raised her skirt and removed her panties. Once she was stripped naked, he touched and licked her private parts. She suffered his advances as the gun was still pointed at her and also because she feared for her children’s safety. He removed his short pants and ordered her to spread her legs wide open. He inserted his penis into her vagina and started pumping. He went on ravishing her for thirty to forty minutes. After he had satisfied his lust, he ordered Viminda to open the gate and he left. After he was gone, Viminda told her 19-year old daughter about what had just transpired.

Shortly after daybreak, Viminda reported the incident to the police. She said that the intruder gained entry into the house by removing the window jalousies near the kitchen and reaching for the door knob. She was later brought to Cebu City Medical Center to undergo physical examination. The findings revealed no fresh lacerations but she was positive for spermatozoa. Renato C. Bacus was taken into custody by PO3 Christopher Panes, SPO3 Marvin Belita Mendiola and PO3 Rogelio Racaza Cabonilla of the Mabolo Police Precinct II.

Renato C. Bacus was promptly charged with rape in an information that read:

“That on or about the 13th day of October 1997 at about 4:00 A.M., in the City of Cebu, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, armed with a gun, with deliberate intent, using force and intimidation, did then and there willfully and unlawfully have carnal knowledge with the undersigned, against her will.”[1]

The accused entered a plea of “not guilty” when arraigned.

Controverting the testimony given by Viminda, Renato C. Bacus pictured an altogether different version of the incident. He testified that he arrived home in Llamas Street, Cebu, at around two o’clock on the morning of 13 October 1997, from his parents’ house in Talisay, Cebu. He was about to enter his house when he heard a whistle or “sitsit.” Turning his head, he saw Viminda. Asked why she was still awake at that late hour, Viminda replied that it was hot inside the house and she needed to get some fresh air. Minutes after a brief conversation, she invited him to come in to the house, assuring him that her live-in partner was not around. He obliged. She offered her Tanduay Rhum but he declined, telling her that he had taken enough beer earlier that evening. Viminda suddenly embraced him. She was so fervid that he even told her to slow down. He also asked for a loan, and she agreed to lend him P500.00. She went up the stairs and told him to wait. Moments later, Viminda descended in her skimpy apparel without any underwear and went to the comfort room to douche herself. She left the door open so that he could see her while she was freshening up. She later emerged from the restroom and started hugging him. Viminda pulled him into the maid’s quarter, and it was there where he finally succumbed to her lure. The lovemaking lasted for about forty minutes after first indulging themselves in “foreplay.”

Fe Cabanada Abayan, the mother of his live-in partner, Venus Abayan, testified that Viminda and Renato were actually lovers and carrying on since September of 1997. Often, Fe Abayan said, she would see Viminda and Renato affectionately holding each other.

Failing to be convinced by the defense, the trial court gave the case for the prosecution. The court a quo held:

“WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, JUDGMENT is hereby rendered convicting the accused of the crime charged and he is hereby imposed or punished by a penalty of Reclusion Perpetua. The accused is further directed to indemnify the victim moral damages in the sum of P50,000.00 plus costs.”[2]

In his appeal to this Court, appellant would insist that he should not be held responsible because the actuations of Viminda before and during the act of intercourse, including their “foreplay,” were simply incongruous with the idea of rape. Claiming that the filing of the rape charge was an afterthought, the original complaint lodged with the police being one for robbery, appellant would point to the propensity of Viminda to lie. He recited an inconsistency in her affidavit where she stated that she called up the police authorities as early as four-thirty in the morning on 13 October 1997 but, later in her testimony in court, she said that it was not until eight o’clock in the morning when she went to the police station.

In reviewing rape cases, the Court has, like before, been guided by the reality that an accusation for rape can be made with facility; that it is difficult to prove but even more difficult for an accused, although innocent, to disprove; and that by the peculiar nature of the crime, it is, more often than not, only the accused and the complainant who can give testimony on the incident. Great care must thus be exercised in the scrutiny of testimonial evidence given by the parties. It should also stand to reason that the findings of the trial court on the credibility of the witnesses are to be accorded great weight for the trial judge, obviously, would be in a better position to personally perceive from the witnesses the veracity of their asseverations and see the thin line between fact and prevarication.[3]

Perusing the records and guided by the above principles, the Court fails to find any cogent justification to make it ignore the assessment of the trial court on the conflicting asseverations made before it. Neither does the Court see flaws in the statements made by private complainant on the witness stand which, on the contrary, appear to be particularly candid and straightforward. Viminda Sudario has testified thusly:

“Q - On October 13, 1997 at about 4:00 o’clock in the morning, can you recall where [you were]?
“A -  I was sleeping in my house in the upper floor.
“Q - Can you tell us where your house is located?
“A -  No. 7 F. Llamas St., Mambaling, Cebu City.
“Q - Who were with you at that time?
“A -  My three children and my single daughter who were sleeping in the other room.
“Q - While you were sleeping at your residence on October 13, 1997 at about 4:00 o’clock in the morning, can you tell us if there [was] anything unusual [that] happened?
“A -  I heard some commotion downstairs.
“Q - After you heard some commotion downstairs, what did you do?
“A -  I went down to investigate.
“Q - And when you investigated, what happened?
“A - When I was already downstairs, I noticed that the main door was already opened.
“Q - So, when you noticed that the main door was [open], what did you do?
“A - I was about to close the door when suddenly a person embraced me from my back and poked a gun at my head.
“Q - And what was your immediate reaction?
“A - I asked what’s happening (unsa man ni), what’s this.
“Q - And was there any reply from that person who raped you?
“A - He said do not make any [sound] if you don’t want to die because my intention is you only.
“Q - And what did he do next?
“A -  He held me towards the [maid’s] room.
“Q - By the way, is that portion of your house lighted?
“A -  In the dining table there is a circular light there, which we intentionally [leave] on throughout the night.
“Q - Were you able to see the face of that person who pointed a gun at you?
“A -  When he was already dragging me, holding me at my side, I saw his face.
“Q - Were you able to identify him?
“A -  Yes, because he is a neighbor.
“Q - Is that person inside the court room now?
“A -  Yes, sir.
“Q - Will you please point to him?
(Witness pointed to the accused who responded to the name Renato Bacus.)
“Q - You said that he is your neighbor?
“A -  Yes, Sir, a neighbor adjacent to my house.
“Q - You said that the accused drag you, where?
“A -  At the [maid’s] room.
“Q - Upon reaching the [maid’s] room, what did he do?
“A -  He pushed me on the bed, saying lie down.
“Q - And what happened to you?
“A -  And he was pointing his gun at me and he pulled up my skirt or raised my skirt.
“Q - Then, what did he do next?
“A - He removed my panty.
“Q - Did you not shout?
“A -  No, Sir.
“Q - Why not?
“A -  I did not shout because the gun was poked at me and I was also afraid that if I will shout my children maybe [awakened] and the suspect might panic and he might [draw] on shooting rampage.
“Q - Did you resist him?
“A -  [It was] in my mind to resist but I was afraid of the gun and I was also after the safety of my children.
“Q - Did you display any active physical resistance to his evil intentions?
“A -  I did not although it was in my mind, because I was frightened and I was thinking of my daughter that could have been raped so I just did nothing.
(Put on record that the witness is crying.)

“x x x                                                                    x x x                                                                             x x x

“Q - After the accused removed your pantry, what did he do next?
“A -  He did cunnilungus on me and he touched different parts of my body and afterwards he removed his pants.
“Q - Did you allow him to do those things to you without putting any fight?
“A -  Everytime I tried to move he pushed the gun to me and when I tried to say something, he stopped [me by] saying ‘[shut] up.’
“Q - How did you react to those actions [of] the accused?
“A -  Nothing because my mind was pre-occupied with a thought of bloody massacre already in that situation.
“Q - Did you not kick him?
“A -  No, Sir.
“Q - Why not?
“A -  He might shoot me.
“Q - Did you really believe that he might kill you at that time?
“A -  Yes, I even thought that his primary intention was to kill somebody because we had a long standing grudge because there was an incident before [where] I filed a case against his wife for physical injuries, death threats and oral defamation.
“Q - How did these things happen?
“A -  Because that place where we live is sort of a compound and were occupied by the Abayan families. I am the only one who is not their relative there. I was even to sell that house to Judge Jacinto but the children of Judge Jacinto suffered injuries from the hands of the children of the [residents] there.
“Q - After the accused removed his short pants what did he do next?
“A -  He inserted his penis into my vagina and then he performed the push and pull movement.
“Q - How did he insert his penis into your vagina?
“A -  He inserted it.
“Q - You did not resist?
“A -  No, I just cried.
“Q - But did you put up any resistance?
“A -  No, because everytime I tried to move he pressed the gun to my head.
“Q - I am just curious Mrs. Sudario, how was the accused able to perform the sexual act while he was pointing a gun at your head?
Will you please demonstrate it to the court how he was able to perform the sexual act, when a gun was pointing to your head.
“A -  I was lying on the bed and he ordered me to spread my legs and then he inserted his penis and started to pump up and down while I was lying (as demonstrated by the witness) he held on his right hand a gun and everytime I made some movements he would put back the gun towards my head.
“Q - Were you able to identify the firearm he was holding?
“A -  I believe that to be a [.45] cal. because I have also seen a gun owned by my friends.

“x x x                                                                    x x x                                                                             x x x

“Q - While he was inserting his penis and doing the push and pull movement did the accused say anything?
“A -  Nothing, but when I said that’s enough he [would] just retort by saying `[shut] up, [shut] up.’

“x x x                                                                    x x x                                                                             x x x

“Q - For how long [was] the accused on top of you?
“A -  Thirty to forty minutes.
“Q - You mean to say he abused you thirty to forty minutes on top of you?
“A -  No, because he did not perform the sexual act immediately but he did the foreplay to me.
“Q - After he raped you, what did he do next?
“A -  He said open the gate because I’m going out.
“Q - Did you obey him?
“A -  Yes, Sir, I opened the gate, while at the gate I thought of running away and calling for help but I also thought of my children that he might hold hostages, so when I opened the door, waiting and immediately after I opened the main gate he also proceeded to get out from the gate.
“Q - After that, what did you do?
“A -  When I returned inside the house, I fell to the floor, because my body felt numb, I went upstairs to verify my daughter and I saw my daughter sleeping on the sofa, instead of her bed and I told her that I was raped.”[4]

The lack of tenacity by a rape victim in resisting sexual aggression does not necessarily mean consent or voluntary submission to the criminal act. Neither law nor jurisprudence requires such kind of obstinacy on the part of the victim to establish rape, particularly if the defiance becomes futile or would pose undue risk to herself or her family. Nor would the “foreplay” alluded to by the complainant[5] be connotative of such consent or voluntariness. Foreplay is to induce sexual stimulation leading to intercourse,[6] and it is what she described appellant, not she, to have done before consummating his lust.

Contrary to the claim of appellant, there is no serious inconsistency between the statements of private complainant in her affidavit and her testimony in open court.[7] In any event, sworn statements are often incomplete and unreliable because of partial suggestions or want of inquiries by investigators, and its variance from the testimony made during the trial would almost invariably not affect the credibility of the witness.[8] Appellant posits that one of the essential requisites in a successful prosecution for rape should be the police blotter, and if it is not exhibited during the trial, one should entertain serious doubt on the credibility of the complainant in her testimony.[9] The police blotter, which merely records complaints or incidents in a most abbreviated manner, can even be less consequential than an affidavit. It should not be unusual for any victim of rape to initially report as little as possible about the incident to the police authorities and to be reluctant in freely submitting herself to an extensive scrutiny and inquiry.

Appellant claims that the rape charge has been fabricated. The contention is not believable. Viminda is the mother of three children, including a teenage daughter in a nursing school, and she could not have been so callous as to expose herself and her family to a possible lifetime of shame if it were not for a just and lawful cause.

The Court, all told, is persuaded that the trial court has not erred in its judgment convicting appellant.

Under Republic Act 8353, now embodied in the first paragraph of Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code, rape is committed by a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances: (a) through force, threat or intimidation; (b) when the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; (c) by means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority; and (d) when the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age or is demented, even though none of the circumstances above be present. The crime is punished by reclusion perpetua.[10]

Conformably, with the prevailing jurisprudence, appellant should also be held liable for a civil indemnity of P50,000.00 in addition to the P50,000.00 moral damage already decreed by the trial court.

WHEREFORE, the judgment of the court a quo finding appellant Renato C. Bacus guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua is AFFIRMED. In addition to the award of P50,000.00 moral damages, appellant is likewise ordered to pay P50,000.00 civil indemnity to private complainant Viminda J. Sudario. Costs against appellant.


Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

[1] Rollo, p. 7.

[2] Rollo, p. 22.

[3] See People vs. Baniega, G.R. No. 139578, 15 February 2002.

[4] TSN, 05 December 1997, pp. 4-10.

[5] TSN, 05 December 1997, p. 10.

[6] Webster Dictionary, Third Edition, August 1998.

[7] People vs. Mercado, 304 SCRA 504.

[8] People vs. Acala, 307 SCRA 330; People vs. Macahia, 307 SCRA 404.

[9] Appellant’s Brief, pp. 6-7.

[10] Article 266-B, Revised Penal Code.

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