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A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - December 26, 2018 - 12:00am

In rape cases, the evidence usually consists of the testimony of the victim to prove the charge as against the contradictory testimony of the accused. The case thus becomes a question of credibility of the victim or the accused; as to who between them is telling the truth, a case of “she says, he says”. In such a case, how does the court determine who is telling the truth? What are the basic rules used by the court in resolving these questions of fact? This is answered in this case of Elena.

Elena is a thirteen-year-old first year student of a university and one of the two children of A and B. One of her teachers in school is C who is teaching the subject of Technology and Home Economics (THE) with classes from 1:20 to 2:40 p.m., Monday to Friday. C was accused of raping Elena one Tuesday when he “willfully and feloniously, by means of force, threats and intimidation and actuated by lust, have carnal knowledge of Elena in conspiracy with D, one of her classmates. After being arrested and on arraignment, C pleaded not guilty while D was committed to the joint custody of her guardian E and her counsel who filed a Petition for Review with the Department of Justice questioning the charge filed against her for alleged conspiracy.

In the meantime, C filed a petition for bail which the judge granted supposedly because the evidence of guilt against him is not strong. So C was released and trial proceeded against him by another Judge who replaced the judge that granted bail.

During the hearing, the prosecution presented Elena as the principal witness who narrated the events leading to the rape. Because of the trauma of her experience, she initially told the doctor who first examined her that she was raped by four of her classmates whose names she mentioned as suggested to her while being raped by C. But after the examination by the medico-legal officer, her mind had sufficiently cleared and she was back to her normal self to be able to tell her parents that it was C who raped her.

She testified that on said Tuesday at 2:35 in the afternoon, after her class in THE, she proceeded to the school quadrangle together with her classmate Eunice near the gate of the school fronting a street. While Eunice was at the telephone, Elena went to get something from her locker at the lobby near the administration building. On the way, she met Mary Grace who gave her a stork candy which she ate and felt dizzy. They then proceeded to the ladies comfort room which was under renovation. Then C (Baldoz) went to the CR and instructed Mary Grace to stay at the doorway. Baldoz then told Elena to remove her panty and when Elena refused, Baldoz got angry and punched her twice in the abdomen. Then Baldoz forcibly removed Elena’s panty and pushed down his pants and was able to satisfy his lust. She looked at Mary Grace who did nothing and just stood at the door. Baldoz immediately stopped as he noticed blood on Elena’s uniform. So he threatened to kill her if she reported the incident.

Four days later, Elena complained to her parents about the pains she was suffering. So she was subjected to medical examination, where she broke down and told the whole truth. So Baldoz and Mary Grace were accused of conspiring together in order to rape Elena.

For his defense, Baldoz denied that he raped Elena. He said that he was no longer in school when the alleged rape happened because he went out of the school campus at 2:57 p.m. He told the principal and related to the court that he was already at home when the incident happened to fetch his son from his mother-in-law.

Baldoz’ testimony was corroborated by the high school principal, the  security guard, co-teacher, his brother and mother-in-law.

But the lower court was convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Elena had been sexually abused by Baldoz. Clear, straightforward and sincere was her testimony narrating in great detail how she was violated by Baldoz. She positively identified her tormentor as her technology and home economics teacher describing him a “maitim, malaki ang tiyan at may bigote.” It is highly improbable that she could have mistaken the aggressor’s identity because he had been her teacher for four months. The trial court rejected the theory of Baldoz that the rape had been committed by four of the victim’s classmates. The court was satisfied with the explanation of Elena that she imputed the crime to her male classmates because of her emotional and psychological breakdown.

Baldoz said that the trial court gravely erred in convicting him on the lone testimony of Elena principally because of the alleged inconsistency in the  two judges’ assessment of her testimony in granting bail and her testimony on the trial on the merits; doubt over the identity of the rapist; and Elena’s conduct which was supposedly contrary to an outraged woman.

But the Supreme Court sustained the decision of the trial court. The sole testimony of the victim if credible is sufficient to sustain the conviction in a rape case especially when the victim narrated in detail what happened to her. Complainant’s pained story of her sexual molestation was corroborated by the medical officer who reported having observed the victim’s hymen. The longstanding rule is that when a victim of rape says she was violated, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that the crime has been inflicted. It is highly inconceivable for a young girl, inexperienced to the ways of the world, to fabricate a charge of defloration, undergo a medical examination of her private parts and subject herself to public trial and tarnish her family’s reputation unless she is motivated by a potent desire to seek justice for the wrong done against her.

The assessment of the evidence during the bail hearing is only for purposes of granting or denying bail for the provisional release of the accused. It is not a final assessment.

So Baldoz is really guilty of rape and sentenced to reclusion perpetua plus payment of the corresponding damages and civil indemnity People vs. Baldoz and May Grace Angel C. Baldoz, G.R. 140032, Nov. 20, 2011)

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