Conclusive and adequate proof

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Atty. Jose C. Sison - The Philippine Star

It is well settled that the accused in a rape case may be convicted based solely on the testimony of the victim, provided that such testimony is credible, natural, convincing and consistent with human nature and the natural course of things. This is illustrated in the case of Orlando.

Orlando was accused of rape for willfully, unlawfully and feloniously having carnal knowledge or sexual intercourse with Annie, a 14-year-old minor by means of force, violence and intimidation which debases, degrades and demeans Annie’s dignity and impairs her normal growth and development, to her damage and prejudice. After evading arrest for about four years, Orlando was eventually arrested and pleaded not guilty.

During the trial, the prosecution presented Annie as the principal witness who testified that about four years ago, at about 7 p.m., she and her sister Berna were on their way home from the public market when a tricycle driven by Orlando stopped in front of them. Orlando and his sister Minda, who was on board the tricycle, asked Annie to send Berna home as they had something important to tell her. Annie refused but Berna got scared and ran home to ask for help. Thereafter, Orlando and Minda forced Annie aboard the tricycle and drove to a nearby barangay. Before reaching it, Minda got off the tricycle but Annie was unable to escape because Orlando drove fast.

Upon arrival at the barangay, Orlando forcibly took Annie to an uninhabited place, tied her hands with rope, slammed her to the floor, then removed his pants and clothes and had sexual intercourse with Annie, who felt pain and cried. After satisfying his lust, Orlando got dressed and told Annie not to tell anyone about the incident. But Annie reported the incident to her aunt the following day.

The doctor who examined Annie and prepared his medical legal report also testified and said that based on his findings, Annie was indeed forcibly abused sexually.

Orlando, however, denied the charge and narrated that at about that time he was at the public market waiting for Annie who was his girlfriend. Then, Annie boarded his tricycle together with Minda and dropped them off near their respective houses where Annie was seen by her grandmother. Thereafter, he plied his tricycle for passengers the whole night. Then after parking his tricycle in front of the church, the police arrested him. He saw Annie and her grandmother, who approached and slapped him several times. When informed about the alleged rape, he denied it and claimed that he had sexual intercourse with Annie several times but with her consent because they were in a relationship for about five months already and they know each other because they were neighbors.

The Regional Trial Court (RTC) still found Orlando guilty of rape. It ruled that Orlando’s flight for more than four years from filing of the information before his arrest indicates his guilt. Further, the sweetheart theory proffered by Orlando had no sufficient basis and is self-serving and uncorroborated. So, Orlando was sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and ordered to pay civil indemnity, exemplary and moral damages at P50,000 each.

This ruling was affirmed by the CA, who gave credence to the testimony of Annie. The straightforward testimony of Annie, coupled with the medical findings on the medical condition, was sufficient to convict Orlando, according to the CA. Were the RTC and the CA correct?

Yes, said the Supreme Court (SC). According to the SC, the RTC’s observations and conclusions as affirmed by the CA, particularly on the credibility of Annie, deserve great respect and are accorded great respect and finality because said court is in the best position to ascertain and measure the sincerity and spontaneity of the witnesses through their actual observation of the witnesses’ manner of testifying, their demeanor and behavior in court.

Orlando’s attempts to discredit Annie’s testimony because she did not offer resistance or ask for help is not acceptable.  Rape victims react differently. There is no uniform behavior that can be expected from those who had the misfortune of being sexually molested. Some may shout, some may faint, some may choose to keep their ordeal and some may be shocked into insensitivity. None of these, however, impair the credibility of a rape victim, let alone negate the commission of rape. The accused in rape may be convicted solely on the testimony of the rape victim, provided such testimony is credible, natural, convincing and consistent with human nature.

Orlando’s defense of denial deserves scant consideration. His sweetheart theory and claim of being in a romantic relationship with Annie for about five months and that they had previously copulated for at least six times cannot stand because they are not substantiated by some documentary or other evidence of relationship such as gifts, pictures, mementos and the like. Here there is no such evidence presented to support his claim.

The SC thus affirms, with modification, the findings of facts and conclusion of law of the CA and finds the accused Orlando guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua as well as to pay civil indemnity, moral and exemplary damages of P75,000 each (People vs Olpindo, G.R. 252861, Feb. 15, 2022).

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