Lesser degree
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - September 12, 2018 - 12:00am

Having sexual intercourse with a woman through force and intimidation is a crime of rape punishable under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code. Force in rape is relative, depending on the age, size and strength of the parties. In the same manner, intimidation must be viewed in the light of the victim’s perception and judgment at the time of the commission of the crime. This is explained in this case of Helena.

Helena was a mentally retarded woman about 38 years old with the mind of a 10-year-old child. She was living with her parents, Bong and Sol, in a remote town among a row of houses occupied by neighbors whom she was well acquainted particularly Dindo and Junior.

One evening at about 11 p.m., Helena was on her way home after watching a parade of gays. She passed by Junior who was sitting on a bench apparently drunk. Suddenly Junior blocked her way, then pulled her and brought her to a nearby deserted house, stripped off her clothes, removed her underwear and succeeded in having sexual intercourse with her. After satisfying his lust Junior ran away.

A few minutes later, while Helena was dressing up, Dindo who was also drunk entered the house, pulled her down, undressed her and had sexual intercourse with her also, then ran away. So when Helena went home she told her mother Sol what Dindo and Junior did to her.

Sol therefore filed a complaint for rape against Dindo and Junior before the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of their town. The MTC found a prima facie case against the two and thus ordered their arrest without bail but they still tried to prevent the filing and trial of the case in the Regional Trial Court (RTC). Eventually however the provincial prosecutor filed the complaint of rape thru violence and intimidation taking advantage of nighttime before the RTC.

At the trial, Helena testified and narrated what happened to her despite her mental condition. Sol and Eddie also testified and reiterated the events involving them. Only Dindo testified for the defense as Junior opted not to take the witness stand. Dindo claimed that he and Helena, a distant cousin, were lovers. He admitted seeing Helena that night and bringing her to the vacant house of their neighbor where they voluntarily had sexual intercourse.

But the RTC still found Dindo and Junior guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and sentenced them both to reclusion perpetua. The RTC Judge noted that even if Helena was a mongoloid who has difficulty in understanding the questions, she was still able to prove convincingly that she was raped by Dindo and Junior. It gave full credence to her testimony because it was supported by the medical findings and was really overcome with shock, fear and intimidation. On the other hand, the RTC characterized Dindo’s version as simply out of this world, because Helena is a mental retardate who could not give a valid consent. This decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

Dindo and Junior still appealed to the Supreme Court, contending that the trial court erred in convicting them of rape on a mental retardate when the Information accuses them of rape with the use of force and intimidation. Besides they claimed that in the absence of a medical expert on her mental condition, Helena cannot be considered a mental retardate. The denied also that there was no force and intimidation in the sexual acts between them and Helena.

But the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that even if there was no expert testimony to prove Helena’s mental capacity, such expert testimony is not important here because the trial court found them guilty of rape through the use of force and intimidation and not of rape of a mental retardate with a mental age of a child below 12 years old. For purposes of determining whether Helena is mentally normal or not, the personal observation of the trial judge would suffice as a measure of determining the impact of the force and intimidation foisted by Dindo and Junior on Helena.

The SC also ruled that Helena was indeed raped by means of force and intimidation based on Helena’s narration about the blocking, holding of her hand and pulling her towards the uninhabited house, the removal of her panty and the fact that Dindo and Junior were drunk. Such narration shows enough force and intimidation considering her mental state. Furthermore, the hematoma found on Helena’s left thigh is physical evidence of force in the sexual intercourse. Force in rape depends on the age, size and strength of the parties. In the same manner intimidation must be viewed in the light of the victim’s perception and judgment. When the victim is a retardate, the force and intimidation required to overcome her is of a lesser degree than that against a normal adult. Thus the degree of force which may not suffice when the victim is a normal person may be more than enough when employed against a retardate. (People vs. Dumanon and Labrador, G.R.123096, December 18, 2000).

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Email: attyjosesison@gmail.com.

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