Self-identifying culprit

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison () - July 15, 2004 - 12:00am
A criminal is known to use all means to beat the long arm of the law. In this case, the means employed is quite unique. The rapist identified himself to the victim by using another name. The name used however is not as notorious as "Jose Velarde".

This is another case of rape of a minor, 13 years old. Let’s call her Carolyn. She was staying with her Lola in a sitio in Bohol. On the day of the incident, at about noon, Carolyn was on an errand for her lola to buy tuyo at the village cooperative store about half a kilometer away. Seen at the store at about the same time was Florencio a 22 year old farmer and chairman of the Sangguniang Kabataan, known in the area as Cio.

Carolyn was then going back home passing by a trail. About 20 meters ahead of her was Florencio who left the store before she did. Upon reaching a bridge traversing a creek Florencio tarried and waited for Carolyn. However, Carolyn stopped before him and politely suggested that he crossed the bridge ahead. Florencio did not respond nor show signs that he was yielding to Carolyn’s suggestion. So the anxious Carolyn went ahead. But barely had she taken three steps when Florencio wrapped his arm around her neck, pointed a knife and threatened to kill her. Then he dragged Carolyn under the bridge and about 20 meters away from the creek, he succeeded in sexually assaulting Carolyn who could not cry for help because the knife was pointed at her neck.

As Florencio stood up after he was through, Carolyn asked who he was, but he simply told her to inform anyone who would ask that his name was "Pabling Simpatico", and then left. The bleeding and crying Carolyn then went back to her lola and told the latter she was raped. Lola immediately accompanied Carolyn back to the store and from the salesgirl, learned that the man who was there when Carolyn bought tuyo was Cio. So Lola and Carolyn reported the incident to the Sitio Chairman who happened to be there. The chairman promptly sent for Cio who turned out to be the accused Florencio.

After medical examination of Carolyn showing the "presence of blood at the vaginal canal" and the "presence of vaginal laceration at 6:00 o’clock with fresh blood, Carolyn filed a complaint for rape against Florencio, assisted by her parents.

During the trial, Carolyn related the incident and what Florencio did to her in a plain and straightforward manner. Her mother, lola and the examining physician also testified. Florencio denied having raped Carolyn. He said he was at the coconut plantation in another barangay some 7 kilometers away. His brother in law corroborated him and told the court that Florencio was nowhere at the village store when the rape happened.

But the trial court did not believe Florencio’s alibi.The court found him guilty and sentenced him to death. On automatic review by the Supreme Court, Florencio made much of the failure of Carolyn to inform the Bgy. Chairman that the name of the person who raped her was "Pabling Simpatico", and of the swift summons made by the chairman specifically for the accused notwithstanding the fact that Carolyn did not disclose the name of her abuser. He contended that his identity as the culprit has not been established beyond reasonable doubt.

Was Florencio correct?


The omission to relay the name given by the rapist is understandable. It is incredible for a person who perpetrated the crime of rape to leave his real name to his victim, like giving her his printed calling card, and thus pave the way for his easy apprehension and facilitate his prosecution. Neither Carolyn nor her lola could have been expected to accept the name left by the culprit as his correct name. Apparently it was Lola’s skepticism that led them back to the store to ascertain the real identity of the rapist.

There was also nothing suspicious about the action of the sitio chairman to call for Florencio. He was summoned precisely because he was known by the chairman as Cio, the same person identified by the salesgirl to have been present at the store, and who was suspected to be the rapist of Carolyn. So Florencio was adjudged guilty as charged but his penalty was reduced to reclusion perpetua because of the absence of aggravating circumstance. (People vs. Avergonzado G.R. 127152, February 12, 2003. 397 SCRA, 295)
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E-mail: jcson@info.com

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