Evidence of guilt
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - June 13, 2018 - 12:00am

The usual defense of an accused in the crime of rape is denial and alibi. In this case however, the accused does not deny the rape but claims that it is consensual as the victim is his sweetheart. The case also discusses the effects of flight or evasion from arrest by the accused on his guilt or innocence. This is the case of Linda.

Linda is a simple probinsyana married to the assistant municipal treasurer of a remote town in an island province. The couple has 13 children and a family farm which is being tended by Linda. One of their daughters is married to Nardo who also seemed to be attracted to Linda.

One time when Linda was preparing for the planting season and after having lunch, she went to lie down in her bedroom to rest. Suddenly, Nardo barged in and approached her from behind, already naked from the waist down and holding a bolo. He lost no time in satisfying his lust and succeeded in having sexual intercourse with Linda when she fell on the floor and was pinned down by Nardo despite her struggle and shouts for help. Fortunately, Linda’s shouts were heard some 80 meters away by a neighbor Berto who called out on Linda from outside the house. Suddenly, Berto saw Nardo jump out from the window, naked from waist down carrying a pair of short pants and a bolo and ran toward the cassava plantation, as Linda who sustained bruises and contusions asked him for help. Linda fainted and was brought to a tenant’s house while Berto informed the husband and the authorities about the incident. It took the authorities six months to arrest Nardo as he fled to a sitio after the filing of charges of rape against him.

In exculpation, Nardo denied having a bolo when he entered the room of Linda and of having employed force, violence and intimidation in his sexual intercourse with her. He said he went to the house to drink water. Then he saw Linda, so he approached and kissed her because they were sweethearts. Later on they had sexual intercourse for about five minutes. When Berto arrived after Linda shouted asking for help, he had to run away wearing only his shorts. Furthermore, he said that Linda sustained injuries because she stumbled down twice on the trail when she fainted. She filed the case against him because she is apprehensive that Berto might tell her husband about what he had seen.

The Lower Court however rejected his defense mainly because of his unexplained flight and hiding for no less than six months. It relied more on Linda’s clear, concise and categorical narration of facts flowing out in simple terms, on how she was raped. The court was impressed that Linda was a simple, provincial, unsophisticated and modest woman, and thus it is hard to believe that she is a woman of loose morals with adulterous inclination. Her testimony was bolstered by Berto’s substantial corroboration that has not been shown to be an interested witness. It was also confirmed by the report of the medical officer as to the injuries she sustained. So it convicted Nardo of the crime of rape of his mother-in-law and sentenced him to death.

In automatic review by the Supreme Court (SC), Nardo contended that the lower court’s decision is based on conjectures and unfounded conclusions and rendered in reliance more on the weakness of the defense evidence rather than on the strength of the prosecution evidence.

But the SC rejected Nardo’s contentions. It declared that the trial court’s conclusions were founded on the direct and positive assertions of the offended party as regards the material occurrences, as well as the corroborative testimonies of disinterested witnesses. Furthermore, his unexplained flight from his home and going into hiding after Linda had reported the incident show that he is really guilty. If he and Linda were indeed lovers, there would have been no need for him to jump out of the window without putting his pants on. He could have simply dressed and gone out to Berto who stayed outside the house while shouting. So too there was no need for him to stay away from his home for six months. His flight under the circumstances could not but signify an awareness of his guilt and a consciousness that he had no defense on the accusation of rape. So the lower court is correct in convicting Nardo of the crime of rape of his mother-in-law. But his sentence should be reduced to reclusion perpetua since the death penalty has been abolished by the 1987 Constitution (People vs. Dejucos, G.R. L-73326, December 14, 1987).

*      *      *

Let me take this opportunity to extend my best wishes and congratulations to the Far Eastern University (FEU) on the 90th year of its founding. It can truly be said the after 90 years FEU has indeed lived up to its core values of Fortitude, Excellence and Uprightness. One important aspect of its celebration is the giving of the Green and Gold Awards to exemplary alumni “who, by their extraordinary performance in their respective fields, have brought honor and prestige to their Alma Mater and contributed to the advancement of society.” The event which was held last June 11, became more significant to our family because one of the awardees as outstanding alumni in the field of culture is my wife Josefina S. Sison. So, congratulations to FEU and to all the Green and Gold Awardees whose names could not be mentioned here for lack of space.

*      *      *

Email: attyjosesison@gmail.com.

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