357 Phil. 494
"That on or about the 15th day of February, 1993, at Poblacion, Lagawe, Ifugao Province, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by means of force and intimidation, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously have carnal knowledge [of] Charmaigne I. Abad against the latter's will."On September 14, 1994, Tayaban, assisted by Counsel de Oficio Marcelo Homecgoy, pleaded not guilty to the charge against him. Trial on the merits ensued, during which Tayaban was represented by Atty. Alfredo Balajo, Jr. of the Public Attorney's Office. On February 6, 1997, Judge Anastacio D. Anghad rendered his assailed 14-page Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
"As a consequence of the foregoing, the prosecution, having proven the guilt of the accused, Gerald Tayaban, beyond reasonable doubt, the latter is hereby sentenced to serve the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is further ordered to indemnify the victim Charmaigne I. Abad, [in] the amount of P50,000.00 plus costs."
Hence, this appeal.
"In the late afternoon of February 15, 1993, Charmaigne I. Abad, then 14 years of age and a second year high school student of Don Bosco High School, Lagawe , Ifugao, went to the house of her grandmother Laura Gohang, located at Lumingay, Lagawe, Ifugao, but her "Lola" was not there, so she decided to follow her [to] the house of her uncle at Awao, Macmac-ac, Lagawe, Ifugao. Reaching her uncle's house, she found out that her grandmother was not around, so she returned home passing the same route. On her way home, she saw the accused fetching water from a spring also located at Awao, Macmac-ac, Lagawe, Ifugao. While passing by, without any notice and to her shock, accused appeared from behind and grabbed her forcefully, with one of his hands covering her mouth effectively, preventing her from shouting. Accused then dragged her to a forested area near an acacia tree. There, accused, using force and intimidation, removed her pants, laid on her [on] the ground, lowered her panty and went on top of her. She felt [the] penis [of the accused] penetrating her genitalia and she felt the sperm (referred to by the complainant as the 'white thing') of accused coming out. She tried to fight back but accused was too strong for her. After the sexual abuse, accused left her, but before leaving , he treatened her not to report the incident to anyone; otherwise he [would] do something to her. After the forced sexual contact, she was dizzy and felt extreme pain on her private part. She likewise notice blood on her sexual organ. She went home crying but did not intimate to anybody, not even [to] her grandmother, the ordeal she had gone through because she was ashamed and was afraid of the threat made by the accused. It was not until her abdomen became noticeably bigger that she was forced to relate the rape committed against her which rape resulted [in] her pregnancy. Consequently, she was forced to drop out of school.
"Her grandmother, Laura Gohang, for all the months that passed and xxx whom Charmaigne had been living with since childhood, noticed her granddaughter's abdomen getting bigger and bigger, so she kept prodding her until she narrated what the accused did to her. Thereafter, the mother of Charmaigne was contacted in Manila, as well as her father. Her parents decided to file a complaint of rape against herein accused.
"The delay in the filing of the case was explained by the grandmother, that accordingly, her grandchild did not report the sexual abuse committed on her because of the threat made by the accused."
"The accused-appellant Gerald Tayaban testified that he first met the victim when he was staying with his cousin Manuel Binway at Yakal, Lagawe. The victim frequently visit(ed) his room at Yakal[;] however, nothing happened between them. After he built his hut in Awao, the victim visited him at the said place. Although he could not remember the exact month, her first visit happened in 1993 and xxx it was in the afternoon. The victim consented and they had carnal knowledge. (TSN, January 13, 1995, p. 5)
"One week later, she visited him again, but his wife was present, so he sent them to harvest mangoes. The victim left his wife and proceeded to his house and he told her to just get the mangoes and go home. Three weeks later, after the victim's dismissal from school in the afternoon, they met again in a forested area and had carnal knowledge.
"On their next meeting, the victim was riding a bicycle, when she chanced upon him with his tricycle parked in front of a store. She asked him where he was going, to which he replied that his passengers were bound for Natuwalan. They agreed to meet in Maitab and they did the act in a hidden place near the road. On their next meeting, she rode in his tricycle and they proceeded to the house of Mariano Datong[;] however, since there were people at the said place, they went to Caba ans they did the act inside the box culvert (TSN, January 13, 1995, p. 9).
"On cross-examination, the accused stated that he had three children, and his wife was Mercy Resonabe. The victim knew that he was married and with children, [but] in spite of this, he still pursued her. They had sexual contact in his house, in a forested area, in a hidden place alongside the road at Maitab and in a box culvert without fear of being seen by people. He knew the victim was a second year high school student and inspite of this, she was aggressive and had been going after him.
"On clarificatory question by the court, he stated that they had a relationship which started in 1993. They did not write notes to each other. When she was on the family way, he stated to trhe victim that the latter knew he was married and had children. Prior to or after the [occurrence] of this alleged incident, he did not have any quarrel or misunderstanding with the victim. (TSN, January 13, 1995, p. 15).
"Mercedita Tayaban, the wife of the accused-appellant, corroborated the latter's testimony. According to the witness, she knew the victim since they stayed in Awao, Lagawe. She met the victim in January 1993 when she was fetching water and the victim ask her if it [was] painful [to be] used by a man, to which she replied that it was, if it [was] the first time. She again met her after a week at the spring when she was fetching water. The victim asked her if it [was] painful [to] [give birth] for the first time, to which she replied yes.
"Their next meeting was when the victim came to their house, where the victim asked for some Indian mangoes. The victim went to their house and she heard her saying to Gerald, ['] why is your wife around [?][']. Gerald replied [that] she should go home and take the mangoes she asked for (TSN, February 14, 1995, pp. 5-6).
"On cross-examination, she stated that she knew the victim since their house[s] were near each other. Although the victim call[ed] her auntie, the later [was] not related to her, but xxx the relative of her husband, the accused, was married to the relative of the victim.
"According to her, their relationship with the victim's family was smooth and xxx she [did ] not know why the victim sued her husband. Furthermore, there was no misunderstanding between their families and xxx they usually help[ed] each other. She knew that the victim was a second year high school student. They moved [to] Pugol, Lamut, Ifugao [in] August 1993, and xxx did not know that her husband was charged until that month.
"She loved her husband [despite all] that had happened and she testified in order to help him in this case. (TSN, Febuary 14, 1995, p. 10)."
"In short, that accused and Charmaigne were lovers is preposterous, incredulous and a product of his own wild imagination. Charmaigne, then 14 years old and a second year high school student, considered a village girl, unused to the ways of sex and to the outside material world, and steeped with the moral values imparted by a Catholic school such as the Don Bosco High School and by her grandmother xxx whom she had lived with since childhood, would not fall for a man much married whom she considered her uncle and accused's wife, her auntie. She was that naive and innocent about love matters o[r] affairs as she was then young. Yes, indeed, this court is not blind to high school student being in their pre-adolescent or puberty age to have crushes or infatuations on someone but such are directed ordinarily to their classmates and seldomly to their teachers. Charmaigne was no exception, she may have crushes but certainly not herein accused whom she considered her uncle, her neighbor and her elder. Has she no moral scruples to vent her infatuation or her teenage feeling [on] this accused by having several meetings with him? Good if the accused looks like the adonis type of man [who] can get [Charmaigne] turned on. The fact is that the accused is not the type as this Presiding Judge had the occasion to meet him in jail in one of this Judge's visits. The scenario painted by the accused that [his] and Charmaigne's affair [was] a love story deserves very scant consideration as it is a fake one. This is so because Charmaigne's testimony is completely antipodal to that of accused's version and the former[s] testimony convinced this Court that her narration is credible, trustworthy and carried legal weight."The trial court dismissed Mercedita Tayaban's testimony for being "suspect and biased," because such witness "wanted to save her husband from the gallows." The court treated the victim's alleged inquiries on sex and giving birth as ones that were asked " will all the innocence and naiv[et'e] of a young girl."
"The court a quo gravely erred in finding the accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape."At the crux of the case is the credibility of private Complainant Charmaigne Abad, upon whose testimony Appellant Gerald Tayaban was convicted. Thus, this will be discussed as the first issue, while the sufficiency of the evidence for the prosecution will be dealt with as the second.
In People v. Moreno, we held that "[t]he force necessary in rape is relative, depending on the age, the size and strength of the parties." Indeed, the Court has ruled that "it is not necessary that the force and intimidation employed in accomplishing it be so great or of such character as could not be resisted, it is only necessary that the force and intimidation be sufficient to consummate the purpose which the accused had in mind. Intimidation must be viewed in the light of the victim's perception and judgment at the time of the commission of the crime and not by any hard fast rule."
"x x x Q Do you remember the date when he rape you? A I come to think that it [was] in February. Q What year? A In 1993, last year. x x x Q Will you please narrate to the Court how the accused raped you sometime in February 1993? A He removed my pants. Q After that, what did he do, if any? A Then he inserted his sex organ [in] mine. x x x Q And what did you do after he removed your pants and before he inserted his penis [in] your sexual organ? A I tried to fight or resist him, but he was too strong for me. Q Did you attempt to shout while he was doing the act? A He covered my mouth. Q By the way, where did this incident happen? A It happened in Awao, below the acacia tree. [Witness pointing beyond the mountains as the direction of the place of the incident] Q Madam witness, why were you there at that time at Awao, Mac-mac-ac [?] [P]lease tell the Court. A I was about to see my grandmother at Luminay but incidentally, she was not there, so I proceeded to Mac-mac-ac and so I returned to where I first came from, taking the same route that I took in going, and upon my return, I saw him there, fetching water. Q And what else happened while you were passing by? A I was walking and all of a sudden, he came [from] behind and covered my mouth and dragged me to xxx an acacia tree where he raped me. x x x Q Will you please describe the area where the rape took place? A It [was] forested with plants and trees. Q What about houses, were there any? A Yes, there [were] houses, but [they were] quite far. Q After raping you, what did the accused tell you, if any? A He told me not to reveal to anybody what happened [;] otherwise , he would [do] something to me."
The Court has consistently ruled that "it is not uncommon for young girls to conceal for some time the assaults on their virtue because of the rapist's threats on their lives." As in this case, a rape victim cannot be expected to act in a manner that is reasonable and in conformity with the usual expectations of everyone. The Court observed in People v. Cabel: "Erratic as her conduct may have been, it is not difficult to understand or rationalize why she did not react to her ordeal in the well-ordered manner of an adult wise in the ways of the world and possibly also of the law. [The victim] was only fifteen years old then and, evidently, she did not know what to do." Accordingly, the fact that there was a delay in reporting the sexual assault does not by itself undermine Charmaigne's accusation.
"x x x Q Did you tell what happened to anyone? A I did not tell to anyone. Q Why did you not inform the police o[r] your relatives what Gerald Tayaban did to you? A Yes, because I was afraid. Q Afraid of what, madam witness? A I felt that he might do something to me once I [told] my parents and relatives what happened. x x x "
"x x x the accused and the complainant lived or resided in the same area or place, and the accused [was] then visible as he was a tricycle driver and [more] often than not, the sight of the accused was a grim reminder to her of his threat. She preferred to suffer in silence than to go public x x x"All in all, we agree with the trial court that the testimony of Charmaigne, narrating the rape and pointing to the appellant as her rapist, was credible, clear and straight forward. As the Court held in People v. Ferrer, "it is settled jurisprudence that testimonies of child-victims are given full weight and credit, since when a woman or a girl-child says that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape was indeed committed."