People vs Arcillas (G.R. No. 181491 July 30, 2012)

People of the Philippines vs Arcillas
G.R. No. 181491 July 30, 2012

Facts: In the evening of May 12, 2000, AAA, then barely thirteen (13) years old, as evidenced by her certificate of live birth, went to sleep in a room shanty located in Magsaysay, Uson, Masbate, together with her two sisters, CCC and EEE, her mother and the latter’s live-in partner, accused Henry Arcillas. The shanty consisted of a single room measuring more or less four (4) square meters. At around 11:00 o’clock in the evening, AAA was awakened when she felt that somebody was lying on top of her. She found out that accused Henry Arcillas was on top of her. She noticed that she had no more short pants and panties and that she felt pain in her vagina. She also noticed that something had been inserted into her vagina and that the accused was making a push and pull movement on top of her. She then pushed away the accused and awakened her mother Josie, who was just asleep near her. BBB then stood up and immediately lighted the gas lamp. She saw the accused beside AAA still naked. AAA told her mother that she was sexually abused by Henry Arcillas. BBB then grabbed an ax and struck the accused with it but the latter was not hit. Before BBB was awakened, CCC, who was at the right side of AAA, was awakened first because she heard the latter crying. She then saw Henry Arcillas already at the post of their hut.

Issue: Whether or not accused is liable for qualified rape.

Held: NO. Under Article 266-A of the RPC, Rape, When and How Committed. – Rape is committed – 1. 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 is otherwise unconscious; c. By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority; d. When the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age or is demented, even though none of the circumstances mentioned above be present.

The elements of the offense charged are that: (a) the victim is a female over 12 years but under 18 years of age; (b) the offender is a parent, ascendant, stepparent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim; and (c) the offender has carnal knowledge of the victim either through force, threat or intimidation; or when she is deprived of reason or is otherwise unconscious; or by means of fraudulent machinations or grave abuse of authority.

Rape is qualified and punished with death when committed by the victim’s parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, or relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or by the common-law spouse of the victim’s parent. However, an accused cannot be found guilty of qualified rape unless the information alleges the circumstances of the victim’s over 12 years but under 18 years of age and her relationship with him. The reason is that such circumstances alter the nature of the crime of rape and increase the penalty; hence, they are special qualifying circumstances. As such, both the age of the victim and her relationship with the offender must be specifically alleged in the information and proven beyond reasonable doubt during the trial; otherwise, the death penalty cannot be imposed.

Civil indemnity is mandatory upon the finding of the fact of rape, while moral damages are proper without need of proof other than the fact of rape by virtue of the undeniable moral suffering of AAA due to the rapes.

In addition, Arcillas was liable for exemplary damages. According to the Civil Code, exemplary damages may be imposed in criminal cases as part of the civil liability “when the crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances.” The law permits such damages to be awarded “by way of example or correction for the public good, in addition to the moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages.” Accordingly, the CA and the RTC should have recognized the entitlement of AAA to exemplary damages on account of the attendance of her minority and the common-law relationship between him and her mother. It did not matter that such qualifying circumstances were not taken into consideration in fixing his criminal liability, because the term aggravating circumstances as basis for awarding exemplary damages under the Civil Code was understood in its generic sense.

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