Incredulous and absurd

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - July 19, 2019 - 12:00am

The crime of rape is usually committed without anyone watching. Hence the guilt or innocence of the accused mainly lies on the credibility of the testimony of either the victim or the accused. In determining who is telling the truth, what are the criteria used by the court? Will the circumstantial evidence corroborating the testimony of the victim enough to convict the accused? Is the defense of amorous relationship raised by the accused usually credible and acceptable? If not, why? These are the questions answered in this case of Clara.

Clara is married to Ray with two children aged 7 and 9 years old. They lived in a one-bedroom house with a store, located in a town down south. Sleeping with Clara in said bedroom near the kitchen were his two children and her 13 year old nephew, Jayson, the son of Nessy, sister of her husband. Among their neighbors is Matt who was introduced to her by Nessy.

Matt had been previously charged of robbery with physical injuries for burglarizing the store of Clara and Ray by taking P800 cash, 22 bottles of beer, several bottles of gin and bars of health soap after attacking Clara with a kitchen knife.

One month after the robbery at around 2 a.m. while her husband Ray was away, Clara was roused from her sleep with a crushing noise of their wall being broken down, and the sound of crashing bottles. She took a flashlight and went to the kitchen. Matt immediately grabbed her right hand and poked a sharp instrument at her, telling her not to shout or else she would be killed. Then Matt pulled her down on the earthen floor, took her flashlight and asked her to withdraw the robbery case she filed against him. When Clara refused, a struggle ensued and Clara fell to the ground in a supine position. Despite Clara’s resistance and struggle Matt still succeeded in consummating his bestial desire on Clara.

Later, Clara was able to shout for help. Responding to her plea was Nessy’s husband Rommel. So Matt dashed out of the house and escaped through the kitchen. But three days later Matt was arrested by the police and Clara then filed a complaint for rape with physical injuries. After preliminary investigation by the Fiscal, the complaint for rape with the use of deadly weapon was filed in court against Matt who was subsequently arrested. Clara was then taken to a hospital by Ray and was examined by a doctor who found spermatozoa and wounds on her body.

At the trial, Clara testified for the prosecution and narrated the foregoing incidents on how she was raped by Matt. Her testimony was corroborated by Nessy and her son, Jayson who narrated in detail the circumstances they witnessed pointing to Matt’s guilt. The medico-legal officer who examined Clara also testified about his findings on Clara.

Matt on the other hand denied raping Clara and claimed that his sexual intercourse with her was with her consent as they were lovers. His defense was corroborated by his wife Issa who testified that on the early morning of the alleged incident Matt was sleeping with her. Rommel, also corroborated Matt’s defense that Clara and Matt were sweethearts.

But the lower court still convicted Matt of the crime charged and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua. This decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court (SC) despite Matt’s contention that the lower court erred (a) in giving credence to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, (b) in finding that he had sexual intercourse with Clara on said date even if no prosecution witnesses was able to confirm Clara’s testimony, and (c) in finding him guilty as charged beyond reasonable doubt.

According to the SC when a woman says that she had been raped, she says all that is necessary to show that rape was indeed committed. Thus even if the victim’s testimony on how she was raped is uncorroborated, it is sufficient to justify a conviction for rape as long as it is credible, positive and satisfies the court as to the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. In this case, the sordid details related by Clara on how when and where she was raped belies Matt’s denial and protestation of innocence. The deportment of Clara and her willingness to divulge even the intimate details of the incident which cannot be concocted are enough to convince the court on the veracity of the sexual intercourse forced by Matt upon Clara. Moreover Clara’s testimony is corroborated by the doctor and the medical technologist who examined her particularly her wounds and the specimen taken from her body.

Besides, Clara’s testimony is not only the basis of Matt’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Although circumstantial the testimonies of the other witnesses like Nessy and Jayson likewise point to Matt’s culpability. Their relationship to Clara does not weaken the prosecution theory of the crime which was committed in a remote rural island where everyone is related to each other.  In fact even Matt’s own witnesses are related to him.

The alleged amorous relationship between Clara and Matt is not credible. Clara’s behavior after the commission of the crime speaks of a desire to abide by the law and let the courts of justice take care of the wrong done to her. Furthermore, if indeed Clara had an illicit relationship with Matt, then certainly she would not have lodged the robbery charge against him. That Matt broke the wall of Clara’s house to gain entry also belies his claim that Clara was his paramour. To say the least, his tale is incredulous if not absurd (People vs Bondoy, G.R. 79089, May 18, 1993).

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