People vs Soria (GR No. 179031 November 14, 2012)

People of the Philippines vs Soria
GR No. 179031 November 14, 2012

Facts: A complaint for rape was filed against the respondent for allegedly raping her minor daughter, AAA. The information indicated the offense as rape by sexual intercourse as defined by the Revised Penal Code. However, respondent as his defense invoked that as the father of the child he will not be able to do the imputed act and the case was tainted with bad faith on the part of the victim’s mother not having a good relationship with the respondent. During the course of the proceedings and examination of the witness, it was found out that the identification of the victim by the respondent was in reliance to her brother’s statement that he saw that it was their father who committed the act. The medico legal was also presented with the findings that the hymen of the victim is intact. These statements were invoked by the defense to question the findings of the trial court of the offense charged which was later affirmed by the appellate court, hence, this appeal. 

Issue: Whether or not the offense was properly charged.

Held: No. The  following  are the  elements  of  rape  by  sexual  assault: 

(1)  That  the  offender  commits  an  act  of  sexual  assault;   
(2)  That  the  act  of  sexual  assault  is  committed  by  any  of  the following  means: 

(a)  By inserting  his  penis  into  another  person’s  mouth  or  anal  orifice;  or 
(b)  By  inserting  any  instrument or  object  into  the  genital or anal orifice  of another  person; 

(3)  That  the act  of  sexual  assault  is accomplished  under  any  of  the following circumstances: 

(a)  By using  force  and  intimidation; 
(b)  When the  woman  is  deprived of  reason  or  otherwise  unconscious;  or 
(c)  By means  of  fraudulent  machination  or  grave  abuse  of  authority;  or 
(d)  When the  woman  is  under  12 years  of  age  or  demented.

In  the  instant case,  it  was  clearly  established  that  appellant  committed  an  act of sexual  assault  on “AAA”  by inserting  an  instrument  or object  into her genital.   We find it  inconsequential  that  “AAA”  could not  specifically identify  the particular  instrument  or  object  that  was  inserted  into  her  genital.    What  is important  and relevant  is  that  indeed something was  inserted into her vagina.   To require  “AAA”  to  identify  the  instrument  or object  that  was  inserted  into her vagina  would be  contrary to the  fundamental  tenets of  due  process.   It  would be akin  to requiring “AAA”  to  establish  something that  is  not  even  required  by  law.   [Moreover,  it  might  create  problems later  on  in  the  application  of  the  law  if  the victim  is  blind or otherwise  unconscious.]   Moreover,  the  prosecution satisfactorily  established  that  appellant  accomplished  the  act  of  sexual  assault through  his  moral  ascendancy  and  influence  over  “AAA”  which  substituted  for violence  and intimidation.   Thus,  there  is  no doubt  that  appellant  raped  “AAA”  by sexual  assault.

The  failure of “AAA” to  mention that  her  panty  was  removed prior to the rape  does  not  preclude  sexual  assault.    We  cannot  likewise  give  credence  to  the assertion  of  appellant  that  the  crime  of  rape  was  negated by  the  medical  findings of an intact  hymen or absence  of lacerations  in the  vagina  of “AAA”.   Hymenal rupture,  vaginal  laceration or genital  injury is  not  indispensable  because  the  same is not an  element  of the  crime of rape.   “An  intact  hymen  does  not  negate a finding that  the victim  was  raped.”    Here,  the  finding of reddish discoloration  of the  hymen  of  “AAA”  during  her medical  examination  and the intense pain  she felt in  her  vagina  during  and  after  the  sexual  assault  sufficiently  corroborated  her testimony  that  she was  raped.    

Likewise  undeserving  of credence  is  appellant’s  contention that  his  wife merely  instigated “AAA”  to  file the  charge of rape  against  him  in  retaliation  for his  having  confronted her about  her  illicit affair  with  another  man.    This imputation  of  ill  motive  is  flimsy considering that  it  is  unnatural  for appellant’s wife  to  stoop so low  as  to  subject  her own  daughter  to the hardships and  shame concomitant  with  a  prosecution for rape,  just  to assuage  her hurt  feelings.   It is also  improbable  for appellant’s  wife to  have  dared  encourage their  daughter “AAA”  to  publicly  expose  the  dishonor of the  family unless  the  rape  was  indeed committed.


People vs Teodoro (G.R. No. 175876 February 20, 2013)

People of the Philippines vs Teodoro
G.R. No. 175876 February 20, 2013

Facts: Two informations, both dated March 25, 1998, charged Teodoro with statutory rape. Based on the medical certificate, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Agusan del Norte charged Teodoro with two counts of statutory rape through the informations. At his arraignment on August 17, 1998, Teodoro pleaded not guilty to the informations. Although he subsequently manifested a willingness to change the pleas to guilty, he balked when he was re-arraigned on December 23, 1998 by qualifying that he had only “fingered” AAA. Accordingly, the RTC reinstated his pleas of not guilty. During the trial, AAA and BBB testified for the Prosecution, but two years later recanted and turned hostile towards the Prosecution, now telling the RTC that Teodoro had only touched AAA’s vagina on the nights of December 18, 1997 and February 8, 1998.

Issue: Whether or not the recantation of the victim be considered in determining the penalty of the accused.

Held: No. The crimes charged were two counts of statutory rape. The elements of statutory rape are that: (a) the victim is a female under 12 years or is demented; and (b) the offender has carnal knowledge of the victim. Considering that the essence of statutory rape is carnal knowledge of a female without her consent, neither the use of force, threat or intimidation on the female, nor the female’s deprivation of reason or being otherwise unconscious, nor the employment on the female of fraudulent machinations or grave abuse of authority is necessary to commit statutory rape. Full penile penetration of the female’s genitalia is not likewise required, because carnal knowledge is simply the act of a man having sexual bodily connections with a woman.

In objective terms, carnal knowledge, the other essential element in consummated statutory rape, does not require full penile penetration of the female.  The Court has clarified in People v. Campuhan that the mere touching of the external genitalia by a penis capable of consummating the sexual act is sufficient to constitute carnal knowledge. All that is necessary to reach the consummated stage of rape is for the penis of the accused capable of consummating the sexual act to come into contact with the lips of the pudendum of the victim.  This means that the rape is consummated once the penis of the accused capable of consummating the sexual act touches either labia of the pudendum. As the Court has explained in People v. Bali-Balita, the touching that constitutes rape does not mean mere epidermal contact, or stroking or grazing of organs, or a slight brush or a scrape of the penis on the external layer of the victim’s vagina, or the mons pubis, but rather the erect penis touching the labias or sliding into the female genitalia. Accordingly, the conclusion that touching the labia majora or the labia minora of the pudendum constitutes consummated rape proceeds from the physical fact that the labias are physically situated beneath the mons pubis or the vaginal surface, such that for the penis to touch either of them is to attain some degree of penetration beneath the surface of the female genitalia. It is required, however, that this manner of touching of the labias must be sufficiently and convincingly established.

As a rule, recantation is viewed with disfavor firstly because the recantation of her testimony by a vital witness of the State like AAA is exceedingly unreliable, and secondly because there is always the possibility that such recantation may later be repudiated. Indeed, to disregard testimony solemnly given in court simply because the witness recants it ignores the possibility that intimidation or monetary considerations may have caused the recantation. Court proceedings, in which testimony upon oath or affirmation is required to be truthful under all circumstances, are trivialized by the recantation. The trial in which the recanted testimony was given is made a mockery, and the investigation is placed at the mercy of an unscrupulous witness. Before allowing the recantation, therefore, the court must not be too willing to accept it, but must test its value in a public trial with sufficient opportunity given to the party adversely affected to cross-examine the recanting witness both upon the substance of the recantation and the motivations for it. The recantation, like any other testimony, is subject to the test of credibility based on the relevant circumstances, including the demeanor of the recanting witness on the stand. In that respect, the finding of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses is entitled to great weight on appeal unless cogent reasons necessitate its re-examination, the reason being that the trial court is in a better position to hear first-hand and observe the deportment, conduct and attitude of the witnesses.