394 Phil. 491

FIRST DIVISION

[ G.R. No. 126402, September 13, 2000 ]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. LITO ROSALES, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

DECISION

PUNO, J.:

This is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 21, Bansalan, Davao del Sur finding accused-appellant Lito Rosales guilty of the crime of rape and sentencing him to reclusion perpetua as follows:
"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, this court finds accused Lito Rosales guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and hereby sentences said accused to a penalty of reclusion perpetua. Accused is further ordered to indemnify the victim in the amount of P50,000.00 as damages in line with latest jurisprudence.

Accused is entitled to full credit of the preventive imprisonment he had undergone if he has abided by the rules and regulations imposed upon inmates by the authorities of the Provincial Jail of Davao del Sur, otherwise, he shall be entitled only to four-fifths of the preventive imprisonment he had undergone.

SO ORDERED."[1]
In an Information dated March 3, 1993, accused-appellant was charged with the crime of rape committed as follows:
"That a little past 10:00 or thereabout, in the evening of December 20, 1992 along riverside Villa Alde St., Bansalan, Davao del Sur, within the jurisdiction of this court, the said accused with deliberate intent, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously hold forcibly, pull and drag to the bank of the river one Helen V. Villaflor, a 17-year old, feeble-minded female retardate, and against the will and despite the resistance of the latter, push and steady her against a rock, cover her mouth, remove her panty and ultimately have carnal knowledge with the victim, to her damage and prejudice.

CONTRARY TO LAW."[2]
The prosecution established that on December 20, 1992, at 10:00 in the evening, Helen Villaflor was in the store of her sister Vilma at the public market in Bansalan, Davao del Sur. With her was her mother and another sister, Nena. Nena requested Helen to buy some sheets of cellophane at another store nearby. There were three other customers at the store. It was very dark that night as there was a brown-out and the only light was provided by a "mitsa"[3] lamp. Helen bought the cellophane. As she left the store, accused-appellant suddenly appeared and pulled the girl towards him. He covered her mouth with one hand and with the other, held her hands behind her.

Accused-appellant dragged Helen towards the river some 120 meters away. Beside the river, accused-appellant released his hand on Helen's mouth prompting the latter to shout for help. Accused-appellant clamped the girl's mouth and slapped her. He threatened that he would slap her again should she shout. Accused-appellant made Helen lie down on a big rock and took off her panty. He took off his brief and had carnal knowledge of the girl. Accused-appellant entered Helen twice. Helen was frightened; all parts of her body felt different and very weak. After accused-appellant satisfied his lust, he got up and left the girl on the rock.

Helen got up and dragged herself to her sister's store at the public market. There, she told her sister of what happened to her. That same night, her sister and mother took her to the police station. Helen informed the police of what accused-appellant did to her. The following day, Helen's father took her to the Davao Provincial Hospital for a physical examination.

The examination was conducted by Dr. Annabelle Yumang, Municipal Health Officer of Bansalan, Davao del Sur. Dr. Yumang found:
"P.E. findings:
+ swollen, erythematous labia majora
+ complete fresh laceration of hymen with slight bleeding
+ admits 3 cm diameter vaginal speculum with ease

Other findings:
+ erythema over L face
+ contusions over L forearm mid-anterior and lower lip
Laboratory examination--- + for presence of sperm cells[4]

Remarks: physical virginity is lost."[5]
Accused-appellant denied having raped Helen. He said that they were sweethearts and that they had sexual intercourse because Helen consented to it. Accused-appellant alleged that they became sweethearts on December 6, 1992, a week after he arrived from Southern Leyte. He was employed as a baker at the La Suerte Bakery which was adjacent to Helen's house. On December 20, 1992, at 7:00 P.M., he was sitting in front of the bakery when Helen and a companion whom he did not know passed by. Helen called him and asked him to accompany her to buy bread at Leynes' Bake Shoppe. He went with them. After buying bread, Helen proceeded to her sister's store at the public market while he returned to the bakery.

At 8:30 in the evening, Helen, alone this time, passed by the La Suerte Bakery and called accused-appellant. She told him she was going to buy cellophane. Accused-appellant accompanied Helen. They stopped at a store barely 20 meters away and saw people milling around. Helen bought the cellophane. Thereafter, Helen led appellant towards the public market. As they walked, Helen told appellant that she was going to Manila with her sister. Accused-appellant, however, replied that he could not leave Bansalan because of his work. By this time, they had reached the public market and they went inside. The market was well-lighted; there was no brown-out.

The couple went out of the market and walked on the road for some fifteen minutes. They reached the side of the river and sat on a rock nearby. Five meters from where they sat were two houses whose occupants were then still awake. Accused-appellant saw one of the occupants watching a video tape while the others were drinking.

As they sat, Helen placed her right elbow on accused-appellant's lap and embraced him. Responding, accused-appellant wrapped his arms around her and they kissed. Accused-appellant asked Helen if he could have sex with her. In reply, she said it was for him to decide as long as he would marry her. Then Helen herself removed her panty while he removed his pants and brief. They laid down on the rock. Helen held his penis and inserted it into her vagina. The girl then embraced him and said that the sensation pained but at the same time tingled her.

Thereafter, accused-appellant got up, put on his brief and pants as Helen dressed herself. They sat down and Helen told him again that she was leaving Bansalan with her elder sister. They conversed for some ten minutes and afterwards got up together. Helen proceeded to her sister's store while appellant returned to the bakery to bake pan de sal for the morning. After baking, accused-appellant heard some noise coming from Helen's house. He heard thudding sounds and someone crying and shouting. He tried to listen further but fell asleep.

Half an hour later, accused-appellant was awakened by three policemen who took him to the municipal hall. That night, he was arrested and imprisoned.[6]

The trial court upheld the prosecution evidence and found accused-appellant guilty of the crime charged. Hence, this appeal.

Accused-appellant claims that:
"THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED GUILTY OF RAPE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE TESTIMONY OF COMPLAINANT HELEN VILLAFLOR IS DOUBTFUL AND CONTRARY TO HUMAN EXPERIENCE."[7]
The only issue accused-appellant raises is the credibility of Helen Villaflor's testimony.

The general rule in criminal cases is that conclusions as to the credibility of witnesses in rape lie heavily on the sound judgment of the trial court which is accorded great weight and respect, if not conclusive effect.[8] In this case, there is nothing that would warrant a deviation from the general rule. Helen's testimony on direct examination is as follows:
"PROSECUTOR QUIÑONES
   
Q:
Can you recall Miss Witness where were you on December 20, 1992 at around 10:00?
 
HELEN VILLAFLOR
 
A:
I was in our store.
 
Q:
Where is your store located?
A:
It is in the place where Benito's Bakery is situated.
 
Q:
You are pointing to the public market of Bansalan?
A:
Yes, sir.
 
Q:
Bansalan, Davao del Sur?
A:
Yes, sir.
 
Q:
Who was with you last December 20, 1992 at around 10:00 in the evening?
A:
I was with my mother and older sister.
 
Q:
Now, do you recall if there was an unusual incident that transpired last December 20, 1992?
A:
There was.
 
Q:
What was that unusual incident that took place Miss Witness?
A:
A rape.
 
Q:
Who was raped?
A:
Me.
 
Q:
How did it happen Miss Witness?
A:
My older sister ordered me to buy cellophane.
 
Q:
What is the name of your older sister who ordered you to buy cellophane?
A:
Nena Villaflor.
 
Q:
Now did you proceed to buy cellophane?
A:
Yes, sir.
 
Q:
Where if you can recall?
A:
I bought cellophane in the store which is beside the store of my sister.
 
Q:
Were you able to buy cellophane?
A:
Yes, sir.
 
Q:
Were you able to come back after buying?
A:
No more.
 
Q:
Tell the Honorable Court why you failed to come back?
A:
He suddenly pulled me.
 
Q:
What else happened after he pulled you?
A:
He covered my mouth with his hand and brought me towards the public market.
 
Q:
Did you arrive at the public market?
A:
Yes, sir.
 
Q:
After that what next happened?
A:
He brought me towards the river.
 
Q:
How far is this river where you were brought by the accused from the public market?
A:
About two (2) kilometers.
 
Q:
Kindly indicate assuming that where you are now sitting to (sic) the public market?
A:
That Shell station.
(counsels agreed to be 100 to 120 meters)
 
Q:
Now, where particularly in the river Miss witness?
A:
He brought me towards the side of the river.
 
Q:
How were you brought towards the river?
A:
He dragged me.
 
Q:
What happened when you arrived at the river?
A:
When we reached the side of the river I shouted and he covered my mouth with his hand and suddenly slapped me and hit my right elbow and boxed my right thigh.
 
Q:
After that what happened to you?
A:
He undressed me.
 
Q:
After that what next happened?
A:
He raped me.
 
ATTY. GUYOT:
 
 
I would like to manifest for the record that the word "gipahimuslan" or "make used of" be placed on record, Your Honor.
 
PROS. QUIÑONES : (Continuing)
 
Q:
What do you mean by "gipahimuslan"
A:
(witness gesturing with her right finger pointing to her lap successively)
 
Q:
What do you mean Miss witness when you do like this?
A:
He made (sic) sex with me. And after having sex with me he boxed me.
 
Q:
Where?
A:
At my right thigh.
 
Q:
How many times he made (sic) sex with you?
A:
Twice.
 
Q:
You said that you were brought to the river and you were pulled or dragged by the accused, kindly tell the Honorable court your surroundings at that time you were dragged?
A:
It was hilly and there were many stones.
 
Q:
Were there houses nearby?
A:
There were houses but they were located on the other side.
 
Q:
How about at the public market where he started to pull you were there people around or how about the lighting?
A:
It was dark.
 
Q:
Why did you say that it was dark?
A:
It was brown-out during that time.
 
Q:
Now, you said that you were sexually abused for (sic) two (2) times, what next transpired?
A:
No more.
 
Q:
Where did you proceed after that?
A:
He left me and after that I went home and told my older sister what happened to me.
 
Q:
You said that you were left by the accused, you were left where?
A:
By the river side.
 
Q:
It took you how many minutes to go to your house?
A:
I do not know.
 
Q:
Now, you said that you went home and informed your sister about what happened to you, kindly tell us who is this sister of yours that you informed?
A:
Vilma, she is in court now.
 
Q:
Please point to her.
A:
(witness pointed to a woman in court who when asked of her name answered Vilma Villaflor).
 
Q:
Where was that when you informed her?
A:
In our store.
 
Q:
You are referring to that store in the public market?
A:
Yes, sir.
 
Q:
After you informed her what next happened?
A:
We went to the police station and had the incident entered in the police blotter.
 
Q:
Who went to the police station to have the incident blottered?
A:
Me together with my sister and mother."[9]
Helen's testimony is direct, straightforward and categorical, and she did not waver even on cross-examination. She had no motive to concoct the charge against accused-appellant. Helen's credibility is further strengthened by the spontaneity of her act immediately after the incident.[10] After the assault on her virtue, Helen lost no time in reporting the incident to her family and this is a clear manifestation that she was telling the truth. The trial court therefore did not err in giving her testimony full faith and credence.

Accused-appellant alleges that Helen's claim of rape is belied by the fact that she did not struggle tenaciously against him.[11] In rape cases, the force required need not be overpowering or irresistible when employed. What is necessary is that the force be sufficient to accomplish the purpose for which the accused had in mind.[12]

That force was applied by accused-appellant on Helen is corroborated by the results of the physical examination and the testimony of Dr. Annabelle Yumang who examined the girl the morning after the incident. Dr. Yumang testified that Helen's labia majora was swollen and that her hymen had a fresh laceration with some slight bleeding. The swelling, according to the doctor, could have been caused by a forceful insertion of the penis or some other object in the vagina.[13]

Dr. Yumang also found erythema or redness on Helen's face as well as some contusions on her lower lip. There were also contusions on the girl's left forearm. The contusions and redness could have been caused by the application of some force such as slapping or boxing on the girl's face and body, the doctor testified.[14] Clearly, the force applied on Helen was sufficient to accomplish accused-appellant's lustful desires.

The prosecution evidence proves beyond reasonable doubt that accused-appellant, with the use of force, had carnal knowledge of Helen Villaflor against her will.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 21, Bansalan, Davao del Sur in Criminal Case No. XXI-362 (93) is affirmed. Accused-appellant Lito Rosales is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to indemnify the victim, Helen Villaflor, the sum of P50,000.00.[15]

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Kapunan, and Pardo, JJ., concur.
Ynares-Santiago, J., on leave.



[1] Decision, pp. 6-7; Rollo, pp. 22-23.

[2] Information, Records, p. 1.

[3] A kind of lamp with a wick made of rolled paper and placed inside a bottle (TSN of February 14, 1994, p. 19).

[4] Attached to the Folder of Exhibits, i.e., Exhibit "A" is Exhibit "B"-- the laboratory report made upon request by Dr. Yumang. The laboratory report stated "presence of sperm cells found positive."]

[5] Exhibit "A," Folder of Exhibits.

[6] TSN of September 23, 1994, pp. 4-6; TSN of October 27, 1994, pp. 2-11.

[7] Accused-appellant's Brief, pp. 5-6; Rollo, pp. 58-59.

[8] People v. Abuan, 284 SCRA 46, 53 [1998] ; People v. Malabago, 271 SCRA 464, 475 [1997].

[9] TSN of February 14, 1994, pp. 4-7.

[10] People v. Ulzoron, 286 SCRA 741, 748 [1998] ; People v. Jaca, 229 SCRA 332, 337 [1994].

[11] Accused-appellant's Brief, pp. 8, 10; Rollo, pp. 61, 63.

[12] People v. Corea, 269 SCRA 76, 92 [1997] ; People v. Antonio, 233 SCRA 283, 299 [1994] ; People v. Matrimonio, 215 SCRA 613, 630 [1992].

[13] TSN of March 8, 1994, pp. 5-6, 8.

[14] TSN of March 8, 1994, pp. 5-6.

[15] Helen Villaflor was 20 years old at the time of the rape, not 17 as alleged in the Information (Testimony of Eliezer Villaflor, Helen's father, TSN of Nov. 15, 1993, p. 6). Neither was her mental age that of a girl below 12 years old. Her mental retardation was diagnosed as merely "mild-moderate" (Medical Report of Dr. Bihildis V. Castillones, Medical Officer III, Davao Medical Center, Psychiatry Department, Davao City); Records, p. 18; see also Court Order dated January 27, 1993, Records, p. 19. However, in People v. Conde, 252 SCRA 681, 692-693 (1996), the civil indemnity for the 1990 rape of a 38-year old woman was increased from P20,000.00 to P50,000.00.



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