Rebuttable presumption
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - May 8, 2020 - 12:00am

Crimes against chastity, like almost all other crimes, are usually committed in secrecy and privacy such that courts are constrained to rely upon the uncorroborated testimony of the complaining woman. Hence her testimonial and personal credibility becomes vital in the resolution of the case like qualified seduction or seducing and having sexual intercourse with a woman. Also resolved in this case is whether deceit must be proven to have been employed in the commission of the sexual intercourse. In other words, can there be qualified seduction even if the sexual intercourse is voluntary?

This case involves Oliver, 52 years old and married to Jen, his second wife. Oliver and Jen have been married for two years but they are childless, although Oliver has grown up children by his first marriage. One day in September, the sister of Jen, Sylvia, brought her daughter Patricia, a 15-year-old virgin, to work as a domestic helper in the house of the couple. Apparently, Oliver became attracted to Patricia as he immediately made amorous overtures and advances toward her. Aside from giving her money, Oliver even repeatedly promised to abandon his wife and live with her.

And so, only about a week after Patricia’s arrival in the house of the couple, Oliver intruded into the bedroom of Patricia because the wooden bar used to lock the door of said bedroom did not prevent said door from being opened when pushed from the outside. Thus Oliver was able to consummate his first sexual intercourse with her. For three months, during the day when Jen was away and at night, when the latter was already asleep, Oliver succeeded in having carnal knowledge of Patricia although she could not remember the total number of times. She yielded because she was induced by Oliver’s promises of marriage and frightened by his acts of intimidation. Thereafter however, Jen caught them in flagrante on the kitchen floor. So the following day, Patricia returned to her mother and revealed everything to her. Two weeks later, Patricia and her parents decided to bring the case to court by going to the provincial fiscal who requested that Patricia be examined in the provincial hospital.

Meanwhile, the town mayor tried to amicably settle the case through Patricia’s uncle Luis. But no settlement happened as the parties could not agree on the consideration for such settlement. Hence it was only after two months when Oliver was charged with qualified seduction in a criminal complaint signed by Patricia, who testified for the prosecution in a sincere and honest manner, even to the extent of embarrassingly admitting that she was beginning to like Oliver and “enjoy his sexual intercourse.”

For his defense, Oliver admitted that Patricia actually lived in their house for about three months because she was a niece of his wife Jen and she was treated as their own child. However, he vehemently denied having carnal knowledge of Patricia as there was never an occasion during which he could have taken advantage of her chastity because at night, the room was locked and during daytime, he was out in the farm. Besides, Oliver claimed that it was no longer possible for him to seduce Patricia since his sexual capabilities has waned at the time of the commission of the alleged offense because he was already 52 years old. Oliver also said that there is no evidence to show that he had sexual intercourse with Patricia because her testimony is hazy and contradictory. He argued that if it is true that he repeatedly promised to marry her in order to deceive her into submitting to his carnal desires, then she should not have consented to the continuance of their illicit relations after it was evident that he would not fulfill such promise. Oliver also cited the delay in filing the charges to support his contention alleging that it was only upon instigation of Patricia’s uncle Luis that the case was filed.

But after trial, the Lower Court found Oliver guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged and sentenced him to an indeterminate prison term from four months to two years and four months and to pay the costs.

This decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court (SC). The SC said that the frank and revealing testimony of Patricia particularly regarding the first sexual intercourse one night in the first month when she started working as a maid belies the contention of Oliver that there is no evidence showing he had carnal knowledge of Patricia. While no other witness corroborated Patricia’s testimony with respect to the actual act of seduction nor to the amorous overtures of Oliver before the first sexual act nor to their subsequent carnal acts, the final verdict hinges on the testimonial and personal credibility of Patricia because aside from Oliver and Patricia, only Oliver’s wife Jen was in the house who was either asleep or away when the two indulged in the illicit lovemaking.

Patricia could not have been pressured to file the case by his uncle Luis who objected to the settlement of the case proposed by the mayor of the municipality. On the contrary, from the actuations of Luis, it can be inferred that he was just trying to protect his niece who was offered so meager an amount as settlement for an offense which caused the irredeemable loss of her virginity.

Patricia’s testimony is not also hazy and self-contradictory said the SC. Patricia’s consent to the continuance of their illicit liaison even after it was evident that Oliver would not fulfill his promise to marry her is reasonably explained by Patricia in a frank albeit embarrassing reply that she was beginning to “like him and enjoy his sexual intercourse.” It evinces “basic honesty and sincerity” as it could put her to shame and ridicule, if not true.

Even if there is no evidence on record about Oliver’s marital promises to deceive Patricia, the crime charged in this case is qualified seduction because the deceit is replaced by abuse of confidence. The seduction of a virgin…. by any person who, in any capacity, shall be entrusted with her custody, constitutes the crime of qualified seduction even though no deceit intervenes or even when such carnal knowledge was voluntary on the part of the virgin because in such a case the existence of deceit is already an integral element.., taking into account the abuse of confidence of the culprit.

With regards to Oliver’s defense that at age 52, he could have sexual intercourse with Patricia twice a day because his sexual potency has considerably waned, is also untenable. Patricia’s testimony in this regard was with respect to the time and not the frequency of the intercourse. Secondly there is also a presumption that an adult male has normal powers of virility and thus the burden is on him to rebut said presumption clinically with the aid of a competent and expert witness. Oliver failed to do so in this case.

So the judgment of the lower court must be affirmed with the modification that the moral damages must be increased five times (People vs. Fontanilla, G.R L-25354, June 28, 1968)

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