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170236, August 31, 2006

Criminal Law, Penalties, Rape

Appellant Roberto Quiachon was charged with the crime of qualified rape committed against her eightyear-old deaf-mute daughter in 2001. Key witnesses for the prosecution were the victim and her 11year-old brother; for the defense, it was appellants mere bare denial. The victims testimony was
supported by medico-legal findings indicating rape. The trial court found the appellant guilty and
sentenced him to death plus payment of damages. On automatic appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed
the decision and also imposed civil indemnity. Notably, Republic Act 9346 was enacted on June 24, 2006
prohibiting the imposition of the death penalty.


1.) Whether or not appellant is guilty of rape based on the evidence presented?

2.) Whether or not death was still the proper penalty imposed in view of RA 9346, considering that the
crime was committed before the laws enactment?

3.) That in case death penalty is reduced to reclusion perpetua, is civil indemnity still proper?


On the first issue, the Court finds the accused guilty. In rape cases, the credibility of complainant's
testimony is the primordial consideration in determining if accused is guilty, and the trial court is in a
better position to determine such, having the full opportunity to observe directly the witnesses'
behavior. The victims testimony was "simple, straightforward, unshaken by a rigid cross-examination,
and unflawed by inconsistency or contradiction." It was further corroborated by the medico-legal report.
From this damning evidence, appellant's simple denial of the charge against him must fail.

On the second issue, reclusion perpetua, not death penalty, is the proper penalty in this case in view of
RA 9346. Although the crime was committed before the law was enacted, favorabilia sunt amplianda
adiosa restrigenda, or penal laws which are favorable to accused are given retroactive effect. (Article 22,
Revised Penal Code) But appellant is not eligible for parole because Section 3 of RA 9346 provides that
"persons convicted of offenses punished with reclusion perpetua, or whose sentences will be reduced to
reclusion perpetua by reason of the law, shall not be eligible for parole."

On the third issue, even if the penalty of death is not to be imposed because of the prohibition in RA
9346, civil indemnity is still proper because it is not dependent on the actual imposition of the death
penalty but on the fact that qualifying circumstances warranting the imposition of the death penalty
attended the commission of the offense. The award of civil indemnity shows "not only a reaction to the
apathetic societal perception of the penal law and the financial fluctuations over time but also the
expression of the displeasure of the court of the incidence of heinous crimes against chastity."