Invoking the name of God and certain biblical passages in its defense did not dissuade the Supreme Court (SC) from affirming, with modification, the 40 years of maximum imprisonment imposed on a man who sexually abused a girl of 15 years in Laguna in 2006..
“Parang ginusto po ng Dios. Pinagtagpo kami in a bahay. Pag namatay is muling nabubuhay. Yan ang nabasa ko in Bibliya. Parang ganun (Maybe it is God’s will. God allowed us to meet at home. When one dies, he will be resurrected. That’s what I read in the bible. It looks like to that.), ”said the convicted felon whose name and names of the girl and others who testified in the case were redacted in the SC resolution.
Asked about the young girl’s mental retardation, the man said during the trial of the case: “Mukha ngang may kulang, ma’am. (As if something was missing, ma’am). But he denied taking advantage of the victim and forcing her to have sex with him.
The young girl testified that in March 2006, she saw the man in the street while she was shopping for food. She said the man asked her to enter his house.
Once inside the house, she said the man locked the door, started molesting her, and then raped her. She said the man asked her not to tell anyone what had happened.
The girl’s mother later learned of the rape when her daughter became pregnant. The girl named the man as the rapist. After medical examinations, a case was filed in court.
The man was the only defense witness. He claimed that he and the girl were in a relationship. He even said it was the girl who had courted him and had sex several times as the girl would ask for money for her expenses and electricity bills.
He then referred to the name of God and certain Bible passages when asked why she had sexually assaulted and abused the young girl.
Twelve years after the case was filed in 2006, the court of first instance, in a decision handed down on March 16, 2018, found the man guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment, with a prison term ranging from 20 years old to 40 years old. He was also ordered to pay P 225,000 in civil damages and moral and exemplary damages with six percent interest until fully paid. He appealed to the Court of Appeal (CA).
Among other things, the man told the CA that his knowledge of the girl’s mental retardation was not alleged in the criminal charge sheet filed against him. He alleged that because the girl is mentally retarded, he could not give a credible testimony. He also attacked the results of the medical examinations because he claimed that there should have been more lacerations if a rape had indeed taken place.
On October 14, 2019, the CA upheld the trial court’s decision with modification. It ruled that the man was guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced him to life imprisonment “without the possibility of parole”. The monetary reward has been increased to P300,000 with six percent interest.
The man took his case to the SC. In resolving the petition, the SC, in a resolution promulgated on September 13 and made public on October 3, said:
“Here we support the findings of the courts a quo (trial court and CA) that the girl is a credible witness. In any case, the young girl’s mental deficiency does not diminish her credibility as a witness. If a mentally retarded person is able to perceive and make his perception known to others, his testimony deserves all the faith and credit.
“In the present case, the direct and categorical testimony of the young girl is sufficient to support a verdict of conviction. As she affirmed the contents of her affidavit under oath during the trial that the accused-appellant had indeed raped her, she could not help but cry as she recalled her heartbreaking experience.
“However, we agree with the assertion of the accused-appellant (the man) that the qualifying circumstance of knowledge of the mental state of the girl during the commission of the crime was not alleged in information (criminal charge sheet filed by prosecutors).
“There was no allegation in the information here that the accused-appellant was aware of the young girl’s mental state. Thus, notwithstanding the proof that the accused-appellant had knowledge of the mental state of the young girl, he can only be held responsible for Simple Rape.
“Finally, in accordance with AM No. 15-08-02-SC (Guidelines for the proper use of the expression ‘without eligibility for parole’ in indivisible sentences), the Court hereby removes the the phrase “without parole eligibility” in the sentence to be imposed on the accused-appellant.
“In accordance with recent case law, pecuniary damages are also amended as follows: P 75,000 as civil compensation; P 75,000 in moral damages; and P 75,000 as exemplary damages.
“THEREFORE, the appeal is PARTLY GRANTED. The contested decision of October 14, 2019 of the Court of Appeal in case CA-GR CR HC No. 11021 is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION in that the accused-appellant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of SIMPLE RAPE in under Article 266-A, paragraph 1 (a) of the revised Penal Code, as amended, and is sentenced to life imprisonment. It is ORDERED to PAY the private plaintiff the amounts of P 75,000 as civil compensation, P 75,000 as moral damages and P 75,000 as exemplary damages. In addition, interest is imposed on all damages awarded at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum from the final date of this resolution until they are fully paid. THUS ORDERED.
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