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Contents
People vs pruna..........................................................................................................................................1
People vs Alburo.......................................................................................................................................15
People vs godines....................................................................................................................................21
People vs ibay-somera...........................................................................................................................26

People vs pruna

[G.R. No. 138471. October 10, 2002]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. MANUEL PRUNA y RAMIREZ or


ERMAN PRUNA y RAMIREZ, accused-appellant.

DECISION
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:

A rosebud that had been snuffed out of its fragrance long before it could even blossom
into a flower. Such is the case of Lizette Arabelle Gonzales (hereafter LIZETTE), who had
been defiled at a very tender age. She was at the time voiding her body waste at their
neighbors backyard, but that did not deter herein appellant from imposing his lechery on
her. Indeed, lust is no respecter of time and place.[1]
On 27 January 1995, an information[2] for rape was filed against accused-appellant
Manuel Pruna y Ramirez or Erman Pruna y Ramirez (hereafter PRUNA), the accusatory
portion of which reads:

That on or about January 3, 1995 at Sitio Tabing-ilog, Brgy. Panilao, Pilar, Bataan,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused thru force
and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously lie and succeed to
have sexual intercourse with the offended party, Lizette Arabelle Gonzales, a 3-year-old
minor girl, against the will and consent of the latter, to her damage and prejudice.

Upon motion of PRUNAs counsel, the Public Attorneys Office (PAO), the Information was
amended changing the name of the accused from Manuel Pruna y Ramirez to Erman Pruna y
Ramirez, which was the name reflected in his birth certificate. [3] However, when he testified
in court, he stated that his name was Manuel Pruna; and in the minutes of the court
proceedings, he signed the name Manuel Pruna.
On 27 November 1995, upon the Motion to Put the Accused Under Psychiatric or Mental
Examination[4] filed by PRUNAs counsel on the ground that he could not secure from PRUNA
a coherent answer to even simple questions, the trial court ordered that the accused be

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brought to the National Mental Hospital in Mandaluyong City for psychiatric or mental
examination.[5] Accordingly, the trial was suspended, and PRUNA was sent to the National
Center for Mental Health (NCMH), Mandaluyong City.
On 28 June 1996, the trial court received a telegram [6] from the NCMH stating that
PRUNA was in fair condition. The NCMH later submitted to the trial court a report [7] on the
psychiatric evaluation of PRUNA with a recommendation to put him back to jail for the
resumption of court proceedings. The report also stated that PRUNA narrated that while he
and his friends were under the bridge sniffing rugby and drinking alcohol, they saw a 3-
year-old girl defecating in the river bank; that they called her; and, upon the order of his
friends he placed her on his lap and attempted to caress her sensitive parts. Said report was
not, however, offered in evidence by the prosecution or the defense.
The prosecution presented five witnesses, whose testimonies can be summed up as
follows:

Jacqueline Gonzales, the mother of LIZETTE, testified that on 3 January 1995, at 9:30 a.m.,
she was fetching water from the artesian well located ten meters away from her house,
while LIZETTE was defecating at the back of the house of their neighbor Gloria
Tolentino. Jacqueline then carried her pail of water and went back to her house. Since
LIZETTE was not home yet, Jacqueline headed toward the place where the former was
moving her bowel. She looked for LIZETTE but did not find her. It was when Jacqueline was
already returning to her house that she saw LIZETTE from behind -- red-faced, crying, and
appeared to be very frightened. When asked where she came from, LIZETTE answered that
she was brought by a certain Boy to the grassy area at the back of Glorias house where she
was sexually molested (or kinantot in the Tagalog dialect). LIZETTE then pulled her mother
and led her to the house of PRUNA, which was about eight meters away from their
house. PRUNA, the only one known in their community as Boy, was not there. Jacqueline
forthwith requested her mother-in-law to report the matter to the police, while Jacqueline
and LIZETTE went to the Bataan Provincial Hospital.[8]

Jacqueline further declared that at the time of the alleged rape, LIZETTE was 3 years
old, but at the time Jacqueline testified on 17 October 1995, LIZETTE was 4 years
old. LIZETTEs last birthday was on 19 April 1995.[9]
LIZETTE testified that she knew PRUNA whom he called Boy. She pointed to him inside
the courtroom. According to her, PRUNA laid her down in a grassy area and inserted his
penis into her vagina. When the presiding judge asked her whether she knew that it is a sin
to tell a lie, she answered in the affirmative.[10]
Dr. Emelita Quiroz, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Bataan Provincial Hospital,
testified that on 3 January 1995, she conducted a complete physical examination on
LIZETTE and took wet smear specimen from her vaginal wall through scraping. The
specimen was sent to the laboratory for analysis by a medical technologist. Further, she
requested a urinalysis for LIZETTE. [11] The Medico-Legal Report[12] prepared by Dr. Quiroz
reveals the following findings:

Essentially normal PE-Findings

Infantile areola & nipples

Flat breasts (-) hematoma

(-) pubic hair

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Labia minora and majora well coaptated

Hymenal ring intact (+) hyperemia (-) laceration

(Vaginal Opening)

LABORATORY RESULT:

WET SMEAR: KOH - Negative for T-Vaginalis

NSS- Negative for fungi

SPERM ANALYSIS -POSITIVE for sperm cells

Gram staining-few, epithelial cells seen, no other microorganism

URINALYSIS: RBC-3-7-/hpf epithelial cells few.

WBC-0-2

Although not stated in the Medico-Legal Report of Dr. Quiroz, the urinalysis
report[13] includes a positive finding for sperm cells. Dr. Quiroz explained that the presence
of sperm cells in the vaginal canal signified that sexual intercourse and ejaculation had
occurred on the person of the patient. There was no laceration; but there was hyperemia,
which means reddening of the tissue around the vaginal opening. Among the causes of
hyperemia is the insertion of a hard object like penis and finger.[14]
Teresita Magtagnob, the medical technologist who conducted the laboratory
examinations and prepared the corresponding reports, [15] testified that sperm cells were
found in the wet smear specimen and urine taken from LIZETTE.[16]
SPO2 Romeo D. Bunsoy, a member of the Philippine National Police assigned at the
Pilar Municipal Station, testified that on 3 January 1995 the parent of the minor rape victim
filed a complaint against PRUNA. He referred the matter to the desk officer to have it
blottered. Upon his advise, the minor was brought to the hospital for examination. When
they returned from the hospital, he took their statements. Later, he conducted an ocular
inspection and investigation at the alleged place of the incident and caused the place to be
photographed, which showed that the grasses were flattened. He inquired from the people
in the neighborhood, and one of them answered that he saw the minor being brought by
PRUNA to the place where the minor was found. When PRUNA was brought to their station
by four barangay tanods of Panilao, Pilar, Bataan, SPO2 Bunsoy tried to converse with him,
but the former did not give any reply.[17]
On the part of the defense, Carlito Bondoc and PRUNA took the witness stand.
Carlito testified that on 3 January 1995, he fetched water at the public artesian well
together with Jacqueline. After having drawn water from the well, Jacqueline called her
daughter, who was then defecating on the road near the river; and they both went
home.After a while, the parents of LIZETTE shouted that their daughter was raped, and
then they proceeded to the house of PRUNA and accused him of having raped the
child. Carlito asserted that PRUNA could not have raped LIZETTE because he (PRUNA) was
in his house from the time that LIZETTE was moving her bowel up to the time that her
mother went to the house of PRUNA. Carlito knew that PRUNA was at home because the

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former was also in the latters house to have coffee. Carlito and the Sulit family thereafter
brought PRUNA to the barangay hall. Since the barangay captain was not around, they
brought PRUNA to the municipal building to prove that he was innocent. [18]
PRUNA denied having raped LIZETTE. He claimed that in the morning of 3 January
1995, he was in his house preparing coffee for Carlito. After Carlito left, several men arrived
and boxed him for reasons not known to him. Carlito and the latters friend then brought him
to the barangay hall. There, LIZETTEs father boxed him. He was thereafter brought to the
Pilar Municipal Jail. There, the mother of the child threw at him the lid cover of a kettle. He
was also asked by the police to take off his clothes and lie flat; then he was
mauled. Thereafter, he was told to put his feet between the grills, and he was made to
masturbate. Worse, his testes were burned with cigarette butts. Every night, he was asked
to kneel on a chair and was hit with a 2x 2 piece of wood.[19]
After trial, PRUNA was convicted by the trial court of the crime of rape in its qualified
form and sentenced to suffer the supreme penalty of death and to indemnify the victim in
the sum of P50,000, plus costs.[20] Hence, this automatic review.
In his Appellants Brief,[21] PRUNA attributed to the trial court the following errors:
I

IN RELYING ON THE TESTIMONY OF JACQUELINE S. GONZALES, THE MOTHER OF THE


CHILD, THAT THE LATTER WAS THREE (3) YEARS OLD WHEN THE ALLEGED RAPE
OCCURRED WHEN THE BEST EVIDENCE THEREFOR IS THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF THE
CHILD.

II

IN RELYING ON THE HEARSAY TESTIMONY OF JACQUELINE S. GONZALES AS TO THE


ALLEGED RAPE OF HER CHILD.

III
IN ADMITTING AND RELYING ON THE TESTIMONY OF COMPLAINANT[ ] CHILD WHO WAS
ONLY THREE (3) YEARS OLD WHEN THE ALLEGED RAPE OCCURRED EVEN AS SHE WAS
ONLY FIVE (5) YEARS OLD WHEN SHE TESTIFIED.
IV

IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED ON DUBIOUS EVIDENCE.

The Office of the Solicitor General (hereafter OSG) seeks the affirmation of the trial
courts decision with the modification that an additional award of P50,000 as moral damages
be granted in favor of the offended party.
As culled from the arguments of the parties, the issues to be resolved in this case are
as follows:
(1) Whether LIZETTE was a competent and credible witness considering that she
was allegedly only 3 years old when the alleged rape occurred and 5 years old
when she testified;
(2) Whether Jacquelines testimony as to the declarations of LIZETTE is hearsay;

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(3) Whether the failure of the prosecution to present Gloria Tolentino as a witness
is fatal;
(4) Whether appellants guilt has been proved beyond reasonable doubt;
(5) Whether the qualifying circumstance of minority has been duly proved as to
justify the imposition of the death penalty.
We shall resolve these issues in seriatim.

I. LIZETTEs Competency and Credibility as a Witness

Appellant disputes the competency of LIZETTE to testify by reason of her tender


age. When LIZETTE was called to testify, his counsel interposed a vigorous objection to the
admission of her testimony because of her tender age. The trial court noted the objection
and allowed her to testify; thus:
DIRECT EXAMINATION BY
PROS. LUMABAS:
Do you know Manuel Pruna?
A Yes, sir.
Q How do you call Manuel Pruna?
A Boy, sir.
Q Where is he?
A There, sir. (Witness pointing to a person wearing blue T-shirt, who when asked,
gave his name as Manuel Pruna)
PROS. LUMABAS:
What did Manuel Pruna or Boy do to you?
A Inihiga niya ako and inserted his penis to my vagina, sir.
Q And in what place did he do this to you?
A In the grassy area, sir.
Q After he inserted his penis to your vagina, what happened next?
ATTY. BALUYOT:
The witness for quite sometime could not answer the question.
PROS. LUMABAS:
I think that will be all for the witness.[22]
After which, the defense counsel manifested that he would not cross-examine her and
that he intended to file a motion for her disqualification as a witness. [23] The court then
proceeded to ask her a few questions, thus:
COURT :

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Do you know what will happen to a child if she is not telling the truth?
A Sa lupa.
Q Do you know that it is a sin to tell a lie?
A Yes, sir.
Q The witness is excused considering the manifestation of Atty. Baluyot that he will
be filing a written motion for the striking out of the testimony of the witness
considering her tender age.[24]
No such motion is extant on the records. At the next hearing, the defense counsel
cross-examined LIZETTE, as follows:
ATTY. BALUYOT:
On January 3, 1995, in the morning where were you?
A I was in the grassy area, sir.
Q In that grassy area there were other children with you playing?
A None, sir.
Q You were then removing[sic] your bowel, is it not?
A Yes, sir.
Q Then while removing your bowel you saw your mother pass[ ] by, is it not?
A Yes, sir.
Q She was then carrying a pail to fetch some water, is it not?
A Yes, sir.
Q The water from where she will fetch is [sic] a few meter[s] away from you, is it
not?
A Near, sir.
ATTY. BALUYOT:
Considering that the grassy place where you were then discharging your bowel is
beside a street?
A Yes, sir.
Q And you saw your mother bringing a pail of water towards your house after her
pumping from the well, is it not?
A Yes, sir.
Q When she passed by she likewise saw you, is it not?
A Yes, sir.
Q Then how far were you from your house when you were discharging your bowel?
Please demonstrate the distance?
A Up to that door, sir.
Q From that position you were at the grass you could see your house, is it not?

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A Yes, sir.
Q Could you tell the Honorable Court how long did it take you to discharge your
bowel?
A For a short period of time, sir.
(Sandali lang po.)[25]
As a general rule, when a witness takes the witness stand, the law, on ground of public
policy, presumes that he is competent. The court cannot reject the witness in the absence
of proof of his incompetency. The burden is, therefore, upon the party objecting to the
competency of a witness to establish the ground of incompetency.[26]
Section 21 of Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence enumerates the persons who are
disqualified to be witnesses. Among those disqualified are [c]hildren whose mental maturity
is such as to render them incapable of perceiving the facts respecting which they are
examined and relating them truthfully.
No precise minimum age can be fixed at which children shall be excluded from
testifying. The intelligence, not the age, of a young child is the test of the competency as a
witness.[27] It is settled that a child, regardless of age, can be a competent witness if he can
perceive and, in perceiving, can make known his perception to others and that he is capable
of relating truthfully the facts for which he is examined.[28]
In determining the competency of a child witness, the court must consider his capacity
(a) at the time the fact to be testified to occurred such that he could receive correct
impressions thereof; (b) to comprehend the obligation of an oath; and (c) to relate those
facts truly to the court at the time he is offered as a witness. [29] The examination should
show that the child has some understanding of the punishment which may result from false
swearing. The requisite appreciation of consequences is disclosed where the child states
that he knows that it is wrong to tell a lie, and that he would be punished if he does so, or
that he uses language which is equivalent to saying that he would be sent to hell for false
swearing.[30] A child can be disqualified only if it can be shown that his mental maturity
renders him incapable of perceiving facts respecting which he is being examined and of
relating them truthfully.[31]
The question of competency of a child-witness rests primarily in the sound discretion of
the trial court. This is so because the trial judge sees the proposed witness and observes his
manner of testifying, his apparent possession or lack of intelligence, as well as his
understanding of the obligation of an oath. [32] Since many of the witness manners cannot be
photographed into the record, the finding of the trial judge will not be disturbed or reversed
unless from what is preserved it is clear that such finding was erroneous. [33]
In this case, appellant questions the competency of LIZETTE as a witness solely on the
ground of her age. He failed to discharge the burden of showing her mental
immaturity. From the above-quoted testimony, it can be gleaned that LIZETTE had the
capacity of observation, recollection, and communication [34] and that she could discern the
consequence of telling a lie. We, therefore, sustain the trial court in admitting her testimony
and according it great weight.
We are not persuaded by appellants assertion that LIZETTE should not be allowed to
testify two years after the alleged rape when the interplay of frail memory combines with
the imagination of earlier years. It must be noted that it is a most natural reaction for
victims of criminal violence to have a lasting impression of the manner in which the crime
was committed and the identity of the person responsible therefor. [35]

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In a string of cases, we have said that the testimony of a rape victim who is of young or
tender age is credible and deserves full credit, [36] especially where no motive is attributed to
the victim that would make her testify falsely against the accused. [37] Indeed, a girl of such
age as LIZETTE would not concoct a story of defloration; allow the examination of her
private parts; and undergo the expense, trouble, inconvenience, and the trauma of a public
trial unless she was in fact raped.[38]

II. The Alleged Hearsay Testimony of Jacqueline Gonzales

Contrary to appellants contention, Jacquelines testimony that LIZETTE told her that
appellant laid her in the grassy area and inserted his penis into her vagina is not covered by
the hearsay evidence rule, which finds application when the declarant does not testify. This
rule, as enunciated under Section 36, Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence, provides that a
witness can testify only to those facts which he knows of his personal knowledge except as
otherwise provided in the Rules of Court.
The term hearsay as used in the law on evidence, signifies evidence which is not
founded upon the personal knowledge of the witness from whom it is elicited and which
consequently does not depend wholly for its credibility and weight upon the confidence
which the court may have in him; its value, if any, is measured by the credit to be given to
some third person not sworn as a witness to that fact, and consequently not subject to
cross-examination.[39] If one therefore testifies to facts which he learned from a third person
not sworn as a witness to those facts, his testimony is inadmissible as hearsay evidence.[40]
The reason for the exclusion of hearsay evidence is that the party against whom the
hearsay testimony is presented is deprived of the right or opportunity to cross-examine the
person to whom the statements are attributed.[41] Moreover, the court is without opportunity
to test the credibility of hearsay statements by observing the demeanor of the person who
made them.[42]
In the instant case, the declarant (LIZETTE) herself was sworn as a witness to the fact
testified to by Jacqueline. The appellant even cross-examined her (LIZETTE). Moreover, the
trial court had the opportunity to observe her manner of testifying. Hence, Jacquelines
testimony on the incident related to her by her daughter cannot be disregarded as hearsay
evidence.
Even assuming that the aforementioned testimony of Jacqueline is hearsay, its non-
admission would not save the day for the appellant. Such testimony is not indispensable, as
it merely serves to corroborate LIZETTEs testimony that PRUNA laid her down in the grass
and inserted his private organ into hers. As discussed earlier, LIZETTEs testimony, which
was found to be credible by the trial court, is sufficient basis for conviction.
At any rate, Jacquelines testimony is proof of the victims conduct immediately after the
rape. It shows that LIZETTE immediately revealed to her mother the rape incident and the
identity of her defiler. As will be discussed later, such conduct is one of the earmarks of the
truth of the charge of rape.

III Non-Presentation of Gloria Tolentino as a Witness

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Appellant harps on the prosecutions failure to put on the witness stand Gloria Tolentino,
who was listed as a witness and executed an affidavit on 4 January 1995 that she saw the
appellant carrying and bringing LIZETTE to a grassy area at the back of her house.
It is undisputed that at the time the case was called for trial, Gloria had already moved
out of her residence in Panilao, Pilar, Bataan, and could not be found anymore. In any
event, as opined by the OSG, her intended testimony could be dispensed with, as it would
only be corroborative of LIZETTEs testimony that Pruna brought her to a grassy area.

IV. Sufficiency of the Prosecutions Evidence Against Appellant

When LIZETTE was put in the witness stand, she unhesitatingly identified PRUNA, their
neighbor, as the one who defiled her. A rape victim can easily identify her assailant
especially if he is known to her because during the rape, she is physically close to her
assailant that enables her to have a good look at the latters physical features.[43]
LIZETTE testified that on 3 January 1995 PRUNA, whom she called Boy, laid her in a
grassy area and inserted his penis into her genitalia. When a girl or a woman says that she
has been raped she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape was truly
committed.[44] She is not expected to remember all the ugly details of the outrage
committed against her.[45] And when her testimony passes the test of credibility, the
accused can be convicted on the basis thereof, for in most cases it is the only evidence that
can be offered to establish his guilt.[46]
Likewise, LIZETTEs mother testified that right after the incident LIZETTE disclosed what
happened to her and readily identified PRUNA as the culprit. She even led her mother to the
house of PRUNA.[47] Thereafter, the two went to the police authorities to report the incident,
and then to the hospital for LIZETTEs medical examination.
By and large, the medical evidence lends credence to LIZETTEs testimony that PRUNA
inserted his penis into her vagina. The Medico-Legal Report shows that there was hyperemia
or reddening of the vaginal opening of LIZETTE. As opined by Dr. Quiroz, who was
presented as an expert witness, hyperemia can be caused by the insertion of a hard object
like penis and finger.[48] The presence of sperm cells in the vaginal canal and urine of
LIZETTE is also a mute testimony of the sexual contact that further strengthens LIZETTEs
claim of rape.
This Court is not oblivious of the finding that no laceration was found in LIZETTEs organ
despite the fact that she was examined immediately after she was raped. We have already
ruled, however, that the absence of fresh lacerations does not preclude the finding of rape,
[49]
especially when the victim is of tender age. [50] Well- settled is the rule that rape is
consummated by the slightest penile penetration of the labia or pudendum of the female.
[51]
The presence of hyperemia in LIZETTEs vaginal opening and the existence of sperm cells
in her vaginal canal and urine are clear indications that PRUNAs organ indeed touched the
labia or pudendum of LIZETTE.
In a nutshell, the following overwhelmingly establish the truth of the charge of rape: (a)
the spontaneity of the identification by LIZETTE of PRUNA as the rapist; (b) her immediate
revelation to her mother of the dastard act committed against her; (c) her act of leading her
mother to appellants house right after the incident; (d) the prompt filing of the complaint
before the authorities; (e) LIZETTEs submission to medical examination; (f) the hyperemia
in her private part; and (g) the presence of sperm cells in her vaginal canal and urine.

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The trial court correctly disregarded the defense of alibi raised by the accused. We have
consistently held that for alibi to prosper, it must be proved that during the commission of
the crime, the accused was in another place and that it was physically impossible for him to
be at the crime scene. Just like denial, alibi is an inherently weak defense; and unless
supported by clear and convincing evidence, the same cannot prevail over the positive
declaration of the victim.[52] We have also held that when alibi is established only by the
accused, his relatives, or close friends, the same should be treated with strictest scrutiny.[53]
Carlito, who was admittedly a close friend of appellants parents, corroborated PRUNAs
testimony that he (PRUNA) was in his house during the time that LIZETTE was raped. It is,
however, an established fact that the place where the rape occurred was just a few meters
away from the house of PRUNA. Thus, there was no physical impossibility for PRUNA to be
in the grassy area to consummate the crime of rape.
The defense, through Carlito, attempted to impute motive to Jacqueline in filing against
PRUNA the charge of rape. According to him, LIZETTEs grandparents, the Sulits, wanted to
buy the place of the PRUNA family, but the latter refused. [54] Aside from the fact that such
testimony was not corroborated, said motive, if at all, is too flimsy to be even
considered. No mother in her right mind would use her offspring as an engine of malice. She
would not subject her child to the humiliation, disgrace, and even the stigma attendantto a
prosecution for rape unless she is motivated by the desire to bring to justice the person
responsible for her childs defilement.[55]

V. Sufficiency of Evidence of LIZETTEs Minority and Propriety of the Imposition of


the Death Penalty

The commission of the crime of rape by PRUNA having been duly established by the
prosecution, we now come to the question of the penalty to be meted upon him.
Article 335, seventh paragraph, no. 4, of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by
Republic Act No. 7659, provides that the death penalty shall be imposed if the crime of rape
is committed against a child below seven (7) years old. We have held that in such a case
the minority of the victim must be proved with equal certainty and clearness as the crime
itself. The failure to sufficiently establish the victims age is fatal and consequently bars
conviction for rape in its qualified form.[56]
A persons age is best proved by the birth certificate. But is the presentation of the
victims birth certificate a sine qua non requirement to prove her age for the appreciation of
minority either as an element of the crime or as a qualifying circumstance? Recent
jurisprudence has conflicting pronouncements.
In the following cases, no birth certificate was presented and this Court ruled that the
age of the victim was not duly proved by the prosecution:

1. In People v. Vargas,[57] the testimonies of the victim and her aunt that the former was 10
years old at the time of the rape were not considered proof of her age for being
hearsay. This Court also observed that the victim could easily be mistaken for a child below
12 years of age, and hence it was not correct to judge the victims age by her appearance.
We held: The difference of two or three years in age may not always be readily apparent by
mere physical manifestations or appearance.

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2. In People v. Javier,[58] the victim was alleged to be 16 years old, and the accused did not
contest her age. Ratiocinating that in this age of modernism, there is hardly any difference
between a 16-year-old girl and an 18-year-old one insofar as physical features and
attributes are concerned, this Court held that an independent proof of the actual age of a
rape victim is vital and essential so as to remove an iota of doubt that the victim is indeed
under 18 years of age as to fall under the qualifying circumstances enumerated in R.A. No.
7659.

3. In People v. Brigildo,[59] aside from the failure of the prosecution to present the offended
partys birth certificate or other equally acceptable official document concerning her age, the
testimonies on record were not clear as to her exact age. The victim declared that she was
11 years old when she testified in court a year after the incident, while her mother claimed
that she was around 15 years old at the time of the commission of the crime. The
informations even alleged a different age. Hence, this Court refused to appreciate the
qualifying circumstance of minority because of the uncertainty regarding her age.

4. In People v. Tipay,[60] the offended party was alleged in the information to be under 16
years of age. No independent evidence was presented to prove it. This Court recognized
that the minority of a victim who may be below the age of 10 is quite manifest and may be
taken judicial notice of by the court. But when the victim is between the crucial years of 15
and 17 where minority may seem to be dubitable due to one's physical appearance, the
prosecution should prove the fact of minority with certainty. The lack of objection on the
part of the accused concerning the victims age does not excuse the prosecution from
discharging its burden.

5. In People v. Cula,[61] the victim was alleged in the complaint to be 16 years old when the
rape was committed, but no evidence at all was presented to prove her age. We held that
the failure of the accused to deny such allegation cannot make up for the failure of the
prosecution to prove with certainty the victims minority. Because of the lacuna in the
prosecutions evidence, coupled with the trial courts failure to make a categorical finding of
minority of the victim, we declined to consider the qualifying circumstance of minority.

6. In People v. Veloso,[62] the victim was alleged to be 9 years of age when she was
raped. Citing People v. Vargas,[63] this Court refused to consider the testimonies of the
victim and her father as sufficient proof of her age.

7. In People v. Pecayo,[64] the victim simply stated during the beginning of her direct
examination that she was 14 years old and that she was born on 13 January 1983. We held
that the victims casual testimony as to her age is not enough, and that the lack of denial on
the part of the accused does not excuse the prosecution from proving her age through
competent evidence such as a duly certified certificate of live birth, baptismal certificate, or
some other authentic document showing her age.

8. In People v. Tundag,[65] the victim testified that she was 13 years of age when she was
raped, but she did not know exactly when she was born. Unable to secure a copy of her
birth certificate, the prosecution moved that judicial notice be taken of the fact that she was
below 18 years old at the time of the rape. Despite the admission by the defense of such
fact, this Court held that the age of the victim is not a matter of judicial notice, whether
mandatory or discretionary. Under Section 3, Rule 129 of the Rules on Evidence, a hearing
is required before such fact can be taken judicial notice of by courts.

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9. In People v. Geraban,[66] the victims testimony was categorical in declaring that she was
15, but her mothers testimony regarding her age was not clear. We thus declared that the
prosecution failed to discharge the burden of proving minority.

10. In People v. Liban[67] and People v. Llandelar,[68] the only evidence adduced to prove the
minority of the victims was the victims bare testimony that they were 10 and 16 years old,
respectively. This Court held that while the declaration of a victim as to her age, being an
exception to the hearsay proscription, would be admissible under the rule on pedigree, the
question on the relative weight that may be accorded to it is another matter. The
prosecution should present the victims birth certificate or, in lieu thereof, any other
documentary evidence, like a baptismal certificate, school records, and documents of similar
nature, or credible testimonial evidence that can help establish the age of the
victim. Neither the obvious minority of the victim nor the absence any contrary assertion
from the defense can exonerate the prosecution from its burden. Judicial notice of the issue
of age without the requisite hearing under Section 3 of Rule 129 of the Rules on Evidence
would not be sufficient compliance with the law.

11. In People v. Alvarado,[69] the victim testified that she was 14 years old at the time of the
rape, and this was confirmed by the accused, who was victims father. The victims mother,
however, testified as to her date of birth which showed that she was 13 years of age at the
time of the commission of the crime. For this doubt as to the victims age, the accused was
held guilty of simple rape only and meted the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and not death
penalty.

On the other hand, in the following cases, we ruled that the age of the rape victim was
sufficiently established despite the failure of the prosecution to present the birth certificate
of the offended party to prove her age:

1. In People v. Rafales,[70] the testimony of the victim and her mother that the former was
only 10 years old when she was raped, which was not denied by the accused, was deemed
sufficient to prove her age for the purpose of determining whether the accused could be
held guilty of statutory rape, which is carnal knowledge of a woman below 12 years of age.

2. In People v. De la Cruz,[71] the testimony of the mother alone that her two daughters
were both 14 years old at the time of the rape incidents was deemed sufficient because
there was no reason to doubt the testimony of the mother, who had personal knowledge of
the ages of her children.Moreover, said testimony was never challenged by the accused and
stood unrebutted by any other evidence.

3. In People v. Bali-balita,[72] the victims testimony as to her age, which was corroborated
by her half-sister, was deemed sufficient. We noted that the victim testified in court four
months after the rape, and hence it was not difficult for the trial court to take judicial notice
that she was under 18 years of age.

4. In People v. Velasco,[73] the minority of the victim was deemed established by (a) the
complainant herself, who was held to be competent to testify on her age, as it constituted
family tradition; (b) the open admission of the accused that the victim was a 12-year-old
minor; and (c) the categorical finding of the trial court that she was a minor of a little over
twelve years.

5. In People v. Remudo,[74] the trial court appreciated the qualifying circumstance of


minority on the strength of (a) the offended partys testimony as to the date of her birth,

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which showed that she was 13 years old at the time of the rape, and (b) the admission of
said date of birth by the accused who was the victims brother.

6. In People v. LLanita[75] the only evidence presented by the prosecution to establish that
the victim was below 7 years old at the time of the alleged rape was the victims own
testimony. Although hearsay because she could not have personal knowledge of the date of
her birth but could only acquire knowledge thereof from her parents or relatives, said
testimony was held admissible for being an assertion of family tradition regarding
pedigree. Her testimony and the accuseds admission that she was 5 years old during the
commission of the crime were held sufficient to establish her age.

7. In People v. Agustin,[76] the victims testimony that she was 14 years old at the time of
the rape incidents, coupled with the express admission of her age by the accused who was
her father, sufficiently proved her minority.

8. In People v. Esuela,[77] the testimony of the victims mother that the victim was 13 years
of age at the time of the rape was held sufficient to establish minority for the reason that as
a mother she was in the best position to know when she delivered her child. Also considered
were the victims own testimony regarding her age, as well as the observation of the trial
court that she could not have been more than 18 years old when she testified.

In order to remove any confusion that may be engendered by the foregoing cases, we
hereby set the following guidelines in appreciating age, either as an element of the crime or
as a qualifying circumstance.
1. The best evidence to prove the age of the offended party is an original or certified
true copy of the certificate of live birth of such party.
2. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, similar authentic documents such as
baptismal certificate and school records which show the date of birth of the victim would
suffice to prove age.
3. If the certificate of live birth or authentic document is shown to have been lost or
destroyed or otherwise unavailable, the testimony, if clear and credible, of the victims
mother or a member of the family either by affinity or consanguinity who is qualified to
testify on matters respecting pedigree such as the exact age or date of birth of the offended
party pursuant to Section 40, Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence shall be sufficient under the
following circumstances:

a. If the victim is alleged to be below 3 years of age and what is sought to be proved is that
she is less than 7 years old;

b. If the victim is alleged to be below 7 years of age and what is sought to be proved is that
she is less than 12 years old;

c. If the victim is alleged to be below 12 years of age and what is sought to be proved is
that she is less than 18 years old.

4. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, authentic document, or the testimony of


the victims mother or relatives concerning the victims age, the complainants testimony will
suffice provided that it is expressly and clearly admitted by the accused.[78]

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5. It is the prosecution that has the burden of proving the age of the offended
party. The failure of the accused to object to the testimonial evidence regarding age shall
not be taken against him.
The trial court should always make a categorical finding as to the age of the victim.
In the present case, no birth certificate or any similar authentic document, such as a
baptismal certificate of LIZETTE, was presented to prove her age. In imposing the death
penalty, the trial court ratiocinated in this wise:

In the instant case, the victim, Lizette Arabelle Gonzales, was a 3-year-old minor girl as
alleged in the information and the defense did not contest her age and as a matter of fact
was questioning her qualification to testify because of her tender age when she testified two
(2) years later in Court. The victims Medico-Legal Certificate date[d] January 3, 1995
established the fact that at the time of the commission of the rape on January 3, 1995, the
child was only 3 years old.[79]

It thus appears that the trial courts finding that LIZETTE was 3 years old when she was
raped was based on the Medico-Legal Report prepared by Dr. Quiroz, as well as on the fact
that the defense did not contest her age and even questioned her qualification to testify
because of her tender age.
However, the Medico-Legal Report relied upon by the trial court does not in any way
prove the age of LIZETTE, for there is nothing therein which even mentions her age. Only
testimonial evidence was presented to establish LIZETTEs age. Her mother, Jacqueline,
testified on 17 October 1995 as follows:
Q. Now, on January 3, 1995 at about 9:30 in the morning, do you still recall where
you were?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Where were you at that particular date and time?
A. I was fetching water from an artesian well beside the house of my neighbor, sir.
Q. Where was this daughter of yours then when you were fetching water?
A. My daughter was discharging her bowel who was then at the back of the house
of our neighbor, sir.
How old is your daughter Lizette Arabelle Gonzales?
A. Three years old, sir.
Q. At the time that she was discharging her bowel, how old [was] she?
A. Three years old, sir. She is four years old now.
Q. When was her last birthday?
A. April 19, 1995, sir.[80]
Likewise, LIZETTE testified on 20 November 1996, or almost two years after the
incident, that she was 5 years old. [81] However, when the defense counsel asked her how old
she was on 3 January 1995, or at the time of the rape, she replied that she was 5 years
old. Upon further question as to the date she was born, she could not answer.[82]

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For PRUNA to be convicted of rape in its qualified form and meted the supreme penalty
of death, it must be established with certainty that LIZETTE was below 7 years old at the
time of the commission of the crime. It must be stressed that the severity of the death
penalty, especially its irreversible and final nature once carried out, makes the decision-
making process in capital offenses aptly subject to the most exacting rules of procedure and
evidence.[83]
In view of the uncertainty of LIZETTEs exact age, corroborative evidence such as her
birth certificate, baptismal certificate or any other authentic document should be introduced
in evidence[84] in order that the qualifying circumstance of below seven (7) years old is
appreciated against the appellant. The lack of objection on the part of the defense as to her
age did not excuse the prosecution from discharging its burden. That the defense invoked
LIZETTEs tender age for purposes of questioning her competency to testify is not
necessarily an admission that she was below 7 years of age when PRUNA raped her on 3
January 1995. Such being the case, PRUNA cannot be convicted of qualified rape, and hence
the death penalty cannot be imposed on him.
However, conformably with no. 3(b) of the foregoing guidelines, the testimony of
LIZETTEs mother that she was 3 years old at the time of the commission of the crime is
sufficient for purposes of holding PRUNA liable for statutory rape, or rape of a girl below 12
years of age. Under the second paragraph of Article 335, as amended by R.A. No. 7659, in
relation to no. 3 of the first paragraph thereof, having carnal knowledge of a woman under
12 years of age is punishable by reclusion perpetua. Thus, the penalty to be imposed on
PRUNA should be reclusion perpetua, and not death penalty.
As regards the civil liability of PRUNA, the indemnity in the amount of P50,000 awarded
by the trial court is not sufficient. In accordance with recent jurisprudence, LIZETTE should
also be awarded moral damages in the amount of P50,000 without need of pleading or proof
because the mental, physical and psychological trauma suffered by her is too obvious.[85]
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 1, Balanga, Bataan, in
Criminal Case No. 6044 is hereby AFFIRMED with the modification that accused Manuel
Pruna y Ramirez or Erman Pruna y Ramirez is held guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
statutory rape, and not qualified rape, and is sentenced to suffer reclusion perpetua and to
pay the victim Lizette Arabelle Gonzales the sum of P50,000 as moral damages in addition
to the indemnity of P50,000.
Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.

People vs Alburo

G.R. No. 85822 April 26, 1990

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
RONILO ALBURO, ZALDY RODRIGUEZ, AND JOHN DOE, accused, RONILO
ALBURO, accused-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.


Florido & Associates for accused-appellant.

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MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:

We affirm the judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch XIX, 1 finding
Ronilo Alburo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Forcible Abduction with Rape
and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua with all the accessories of the
law; to indemnify Evelyn Cantina in the sum of P10,000.00 as moral damages, without
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; and to pay the costs.

On 3 February 1986, Evelyn Cantina filed a complaint for Forcible Abduction with Rape
against Ronilo Alburo, Zaldy Rodriguez and John Doe. The complaint reads:

That on or about the 27th day of January, 1986 at about 6:00 P.M., in the City of
Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Ronilo
Alburo, who was armed with a butcher's knife, conniving and confederating together
with Zaldy Rodriguez and John Doe and mutually helping one another, with
deliberate intent, by the accused, Zaldy Rodriguez and John Doe holding one Evelyn
Cantina and preventing the latter from disembarking from the jeep driven by
accused Ronilo Alburo took her to Beverly Hills against her will and once there, said
accused Ronilo Alburo, by means of force and intimidation, did then and there have
carnal knowledge of said Evelyn Cantina without the consent and against the will of
the latter. (p. 1, Original Record)

Accused John Doe was subsequently identified as Dionisio Sumalinog.

Upon being arraigned, the accused individually entered pleas of not guilty. Towards the end
of the presentation of the prosecution evidence, the prosecution moved for the dismissal of
the complaint against Zaldy Rodriguez and Dionisio Sumalinog. The motion was granted and
trial proceeded against Ronilo Alburo.

The prosecution evidence upon which the Trial Court based its finding of guilt beyond
reasonable doubt is summarized in the People's Brief as follows:

At or about 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon of January 27, 1986, Evelyn Cantina was
already dismissed from her classes at the Abellana National High School, located at
Jones Avenue, Cebu City. From there, her classmates, Priscilla Atillo and Aniceta
Bringuila, accompanied her in walking towards Colon Street, Cebu City, to buy some
medicine. Not long after, a passenger jeepney plying the Guadalupe. Carbon market
route stopped by the side of the road. The driver, Ronilo Alburo, invited the three
girls to board his jeepney. As Colon Street is very near, Evelyn Cantina declined the
invitation at first. Alburo was however, insistent in giving the three girls a lift. Finally,
the latter accepted the invitation by taking the front seat, with Evelyn sitting right
beside the driver. At that time however', Zaldy Rodriguez and Dionisio Sumalinog
were already seated at the passengers' area at the back (t.s.n., pp. 18-21, April 24,
1986, Priscilla Atillo).

Upon reaching the corner of Jones Avenue and Colon Street, the jeepney driven by
Alburo stopped at the red traffic light. At this juncture, Bringuila and Atillo
disembarked. Evelyn was also about to alight but she was prevented by Alburo who

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threatened to raise her skirt if she insists on alighting and following her two
companions. Bringuila and Atillo tried to help Evelyn by pulling her out but
meanwhile, the green light turned on and the jeepney sped off towards Juan Luna
Street (t.s.n., pp. 17-26, April 24, 1986, Priscilla Atillo).

Reaching Juan Luna, the jeepney then made a U-turn on its return trip to Guadalupe.
Meanwhile, Zaldy Rodriguez transferred to the front seat beside Evelyn (t.s.n., p. 20,
August 6, 1986, Evelyn Cantina).

Anticipating that the jeepney driven by Alburo would make a return trip to
Guadalupe, Atillo and Bringuila posted themselves beside the corner of Colon and
Juan Luna Streets near the Cebu City Savings Bank, where vehicles would stop at
the red light signal (t.s.n., p. 34, April 24, 1986, Priscilla Atillo).

Indeed, on its way to Guadalupe, the jeepney driven by Alburo stopped at the corner
of Colon and Juan Luna Streets when the red light signaled. Evelyn attempted to go
down from the jeepney but, she was prevented by Zaldy Rodriguez who placed his
leg as barricade. Realizing that Evelyn was being prevented from disembarking, Atillo
and Bringuila who stood by the roadside, close to the jeepney, attempted to pull
Evelyn from the vehicle. However, they did not succeed. Then the jeepney again
sped off and headed towards Jones Avenue when the green light turned on (t.s.n., p.
22, August 6, 1986, Evelyn Cantina).

On the way to the Capitol and upon reaching the Fuente Osmea Police Station, the
jeepney turned left along B. Rodriguez Street. When it was already near the
Southern Medical Center, Zaldy Rodriguez and Dionisio Sumalinog got off from the
jeepney, leaving only Alburo and Evelyn on board. Alburo then drove off, turning
right at V. Rama Avenue, passing thru Englis, he place where Evelyn resides. The
latter then begged Alburo that she be allowed to disembark. Alburo did not heed
Evelyn's plea. Instead, he pulled a knife and threatened to slash her side if she would
disembark. The jeepney then proceeded to Beverly Hills (t.s.n., pp. 27-30, August
16, 1986, Evelyn Cantina).

Thinking that Evelyn might have been dropped by Alburo at her residence in Englis
Atillo and Bringuila boarded another jeep. They were hoping that Evelyn was already
home and that they could get the notebook which one of them left with her.
However, only Evelyn's mother was there. They then realized that Evelyn was really
in trouble and so they related to her mother what happened. Alarmed by such
information, the latter sought the help of Ester Dakay, a neighbor and close friend
(t.s.n., pp. 5-10, May 13, 1986, Priscilla Atillo).

The husband of Ester Dakay, a jeepney driver who fully knew Ronilo Alburo and the
latter's route from Guadalupe to downtown, Cebu City, called up by phone Evelyn's
father, who came home not long after (t.s.n., p. 26, May 13, 1986, Ester Dakay).
Together, they then formed search teams to look for Evelyn. Lourdes Cantina and
Ester Dakay went as search team No. 1. Riding on a taxi, they searched the
reclamation area and made inquiries from the motels. On the other hand, Evelyn's
father as well as her uncle, rode on two separate motorcycles, making up search
teams 2 and 3, and scoured the streets of the city. However, the search proved futile
(t.s.n., pp. 2932, May 13, 1986, Ester Dakay).

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In an isolated area at barangay OPPRA (Capitol Hills), Alburo stopped the jeepney.
Holding the knife, he went down from the jeepney and threateningly came close to
Evelyn. He then pointed the knife at her and told her that at something would
happen to her if she would shout. Then he pushed Evelyn's head against the steering
wheel which rendered the latter unconscious.

When Evelyn regained her senses she found herself without her panty anymore.
Blood was on her vagina and she felt pain on her stomach. She saw Ronilo Alburo
with his face close to hers, getting up from her then raising his pants. She cried and
asked Alburo what he had done to her. He did not answer her inquiries. Instead, he
made her walk for a while, outside of the jeepney, accordingly, to ease the pain she
felt. Then he made her sit back on the front seat with him, still under threat of death
(t.s.n., pp. 11-19, August 15, 1986, Evelyn Cantina).

It was already dark when Alburo drove back to the City. Still under threat of death,
Evelyn remained seated beside him. To make it appear that nothing really happened,
Alburo even picked up some passengers along the way (t.s.n., p. 33, August 15,
1986, Evelyn Cantina).

At about seven o'clock in the evening, while Lourdes and Ester were standing near
Power Foods Restaurant at Jones Avenue, Ester spotted the jeepney coming from the
Capitol heading towards downtown. Ester signaled the jeepney to stop. As the
jeepney slowed down, she saw Evelyn seated between Alburo and a male passenger
(t.s.n., pp. 40-41, May 13, 1986, Ester Dakay).

Evelyn who appeared very weak and who was in tears, alighted from the vehicle
upon order from her mother Lourdes Cantina. As she was embraced by Ester, she
whispered to Ester that Alburo should not be allowed to abscond because he had
raped her (t.s.n., pp. 42-43, May 13, 1986, Ester Dakay). A commotion followed as
an altercation between Lourdes and Alburo started. The passengers at the back area
disembarked. Ester and Evelyn then sat down at the passenger's area with a certain
Boyet Junio a Barangay Tanod (t.s.n., p. 48, May 13, 1986, Ester Dakay).

During the confrontation, Lourdes demanded that Alburo should bring Evelyn and
Ester to the Fuente Osmea Police Station. At first, Alburo refused claiming that
nothing wrong had happened between him and Evelyn. When Ester told him he had
nothing to be afraid of if he was telling the truth he however, relented and drove the
jeepney towards Fuente Osmea (t.s.n., pp. 43-45, August 15, 1986, Evelyn
Cantina).

Lourdes did not board the jeepney as she decided to look for her husband in order to
inform him that they had already found Evelyn. While the jeepney was proceeding
towards Fuente Osmea, Alburo changed his mind. He made a left turn at Visitacion
Street on the pretext that he would pick up a friend who could accompany him to the
police station. At Visitation Street, Alburo parked the jeepney. He took out the
engine key and the cash collections, then left the vehicle. As Alburo had gone, Evelyn
narrated to Ester how she was raped by Alburo. She even gave to Ester the knife
which was left in the jeepney by Alburo (t.s.n., pp. D-4-57, May 13, 1986, Ester
Dakay).

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After about 15 minutes, Ester realized that Alburo would not return anymore. She
then called by phone the jeepney owner who came later and drove them to Fuente
Osmena Police Station (t.s.n., p. 60, p. 65, May 13, 1986, Ester Dakay).

When Ester and Evelyn arrived at the Fuente Osmea Police Station, Lourdes was
already there. The two women then reported to the police the abduction of Evelyn by
Rodriguez, Sumalinog and Alburo. Ester also submitted the knife (Exhibit "A") to the
police. Thereafter, Lourdes and Ester accompanied Evelyn to the Southern Islands
Medical Center for the latter's medical examination. As they could not be
accommodated there immediately, they went to the Cebu City Medical Center (t.s.n.,
pp. 52-53, August 15, 1986, Evelyn Cantina). At the Cebu City Medical Center where
Evelyn was examined by Dra. Juliet Lastimosa and was found to have fresh
lacerations on her vagina with positive presence of spermatozoa (t.s.n., pp. 52-53,
August 15, 1986, Evelyn Cantina). The medical certification (Exhibit "B") was issued
by Dra. Lastimosa on the following morning.

On that same evening, Ester, Lourdes and Evelyn made a second appearance at the
police station and the complaint for abduction with rape was formally lodged by
Evelyn. Her affidavit was initially taken by the Investigator. The knife. (Exhibit "A")
which was submitted earlier that night remained in the possession of the police. As
the panty (Exhibit "E") and the skirt (Exhibit "D" were still worn by Evelyn, they were
submitted only the following day. The skirt was torn on the right side (Exhibit "D-2")
and had some blood stains (Exhibit "D-1"). The panty also had some blood stains
(Exhibit "E-1"). (pp. 3-1 1, Brief for the Appellee)

Appellant, on the other hand, presented five (5) witnesses and offered several documentary
exhibits in his defense. His theory runs thus:

Accused Alburo's theory or main line of defense is that he and Evelyn Cantina were
sweethearts, thus, if ever there was sexual intercourse between Ronilo and Evelyn
on 27 January 1986, it was with the free and voluntary consent of complainant
Evelyn Cantina. The defense witnesses testified to the fact that on several occasions
they saw Evelyn riding the jeepney driven by Ronilo and the former was seating
beside the accused at the front seat of the motor vehicle.

One of the witnesses even testified to the effect that she saw Evelyn visiting Ronilo
at the latter's rented room for a number of times. In short, the accused tried to
convey before the trial court that it is of public knowledge in the neighborhood of
Ronilo that the accused and Evelyn were lovers." (pp. 5-6, Brief for the Accused-
Appellant)

The Trial Court gave no credence to the defense version and, as heretofore stated,
sentenced Appellant to reclusion perpetua. Before us now, Appellant maintains:

I. The lower court erred in giving credit to the claim of the prosecution that the
alleged offended victim Evelyn Cantina was forcibly raped by the accused-appellant
Ronilo Alburo.

II. The trial court erred in giving credit to the testimony of the offended party which
lacks candor or credibility and probability, and in not considering that her testimony
was due to fear of her parents that they would castigate and punish her if found that
she and Ronilo were lovers.

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III. The trial court erred in considering that the facts and circumstances presented as
evidence by the prosecution militates against a finding of rape.

IV. The trial court erred in not believing that the accused-appellant Ronilo Alburo and
Evelyn Cantina were sweethearts and lovers, and that the carnal act done by them
on 27 January 1986 was motivated by mutual passion and love and therefore
voluntary.

V. The trial court erred in not believing the testimonies of the appellant Ronilo Alburo
and of Dina Lopez, Placido Alegrado Manuel Rama and Corazon Gabato defense
witnesses, who declared that on several occasions they saw Evelyn riding the
jeepney.

VI. The trial court erred in not acquitting the accused-appellant at least on the
ground of reasonable doubt. (pp. 7-8, Ibid.)

After evaluation of the evidence in its totality, we are not persuaded by the theory that
Appellant and Evelyn were sweethearts.1wphi1 If they were, surely, Evelyn would not have
jeopardized their relationship by accusing him of having deflowered her and, on top of it all,
filing a criminal charge against him. Evelyn's picture, allegedly given to Appellant as a
remembrance of their romantic relationship, was actually given to Ruel Sipi her former
boyfriend. She emphatically denies having given Appellant any such token. Neither was
Appellant able to present any convincing evidence to substantiate his claim like love letters,
notes and other symbols of affection.

Moreover, if, in fact, they had been lovers, Evelyn would have boarded Appellant's jeep
voluntarily and alone unaccompanied by her two classmates. If the latter had any inkling
that Evelyn did want to go with Appellant, they would not have shown so much concern for
her welfare and safety like following the passenger jeepney driven by Appellant to the traffic
lights, trying to pull Evelyn down from the jeepney, failing in which, they eventually
reported the incident to Evelyn's mother.

Appellant's argument that Evelyn charged him with the crime out of fear of her parents who
did not approve of their relationship is unconvincing because, if it had been so, Evelyn could
have easily told her mother after the latter had successfully traced their whereabouts that
nothing untoward had happened between her and Appellant. Her normal reaction would
have been to cover-up for the man she loved and had a clandestine affair with. But, on the
contrary, Evelyn lost no time in denouncing Appellant and exposing to her family and the
authorities the disgrace that had befallen her.

Appellant's other assigned errors focus on the issue of credibility of witnesses in respect of
which it is well settled that Appellate Courts will not generally disturb the factual findings of
Trial Courts which are in a better position to weigh the conflicting testimonies, having heard
the witnesses themselves and observed their deportment and manner of testifying during
the trial unless it is found that the Trial Courts have plainly overlooked certain facts of
substance and value that, if considered, might affect the result of the case (People vs. Cruz,
Sr., G.R. No. L-71462, June 30, 1987, 151 SCRA 609, citing other cases).

In reviewing the evidence adduced by the prosecution for this crime of Rape, we have
likewise been guided by three well-known principles, namely, (1) that an accusation of rape
can be made with facility, is difficult to prove, but more difficult for the person accused,
though innocent, to disprove; (2) that in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape

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where only two persons are usually involved, the testimony of the complainant must be
scrutinized with extreme caution; and (3) that the evidence for the prosecution must stand
or fall on its own merits, and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weaknesses of
the evidence for the defense (Reyes, Revised Penal Code, Book II, 1981 ed., p. 850).

The factual milieu of this criminal charge before us gives us no reason to depart from these
established rules. On the contrary, we find that Appellant had taken Evelyn away against
her will, with lewd designs, subsequently forced her to submit to his lust and rendering her
unconscious in the process, thereby justifying his conviction for the complex crime of
Forcible Abduction with Rape under Article 48 in relation to Articles 335 and 342 of the
Revised Penal Code, with which he has herein been charged.

WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED, with the modification of the
amount of indemnity to be paid the offended party, which is hereby increased to
P20,000.00, in line with decisional jurisprudence.

Costs against accused-appellant Ronilo Alburo.

SO ORDERED.

People vs godines

G.R. No. 93410 May 7, 1991

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
ROLANDO GODINES and DANNY MORENO, defendants-appellants.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.


Ruben A. Songco for defendants-appellants.

GANCAYCO, J.:

The herein defendants-appellants were convicted of the crime of rape by the Regional Trial
Court of Masbate, Masbate and, accordingly, sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua and to pay P20,000.00 moral damages to the offended party. They appealed their
case to this Court seeking an acquittal. Under the circumstances obtaining in this case, and
considering the evidence on record, their acquittal is well-nigh beyond realization.

In an information filed with the trial court on September 28, 1988, the provincial prosecutor
of Masbate accused the defendants-appellants Rolando Godines and Danny Moreno of
having conspired in the commission of the crime of forcible abduction with rape as penalized
under the Revised Penal Code. 1 Thereafter, the appellants were arraigned accordingly and
they pleaded not guilty to the offense charged. In due time, a trial ensued.

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Esther Ancajas, the private complainant, testified as follows: In the evening of March 17,
1988, she was sleeping in the house of one Alejandro Vilaksi at Sitio Sincamas, Sta. Cruz,
San Pascual, Masbate. She was awakened by a commotion emanating from an adjacent
room occupied by Vilaksi and his wife Milagros. She lit a kerosone lamp to ascertain what
was going on. Thereafter, she saw the defendants-appellants talking to the couple. Godines
eventually hacked Milagros. Moreno stood by the window to serve as a lookout person. The
couple's son Vicente ran away from the house after seeing Godines hack Milagros. Godines
got some money from the couple. Thereafter, the appellants prepared to leave the house.
In the meantime, Ancajas tried to escape from the house with her small child. The
appellants, however, saw her and grabbed her. The two men dragged Ancajas and the child
out of the house and forcibly brought them to a nearby vacant lot with tall grasses, about
600 meters away from the Vilaksi residence. Both men were apparently armed; Godines
had a pistol and Moreno had a knife. They threatened to kill Ancajas if she resisted their
advances. As they were dragging her to the vacant lot, they fondled her private parts. Upon
their arrival at the vacant lot, the appellants took turns in having carnal knowledge of
Ancajas. Godines did it first. While one was raping the girl, the other was holding on to the
child. All the while, the appellants threatened to kill Ancajas if she put up any resistance.
Ancajas tried to resist but the appellants simply overpowered her. After the appellants had
finished satisfying their carnal desires, they threatened her anew with death because they
suspected that Ancajas recognized them. Ancajas knew who they were but for fear of losing
her life, she denied knowing any of them. Thus, the appellants warned her not to report the
incident to the authorities if she valued her life. Ancajas took refuge in the house of a
neighbor, Elpidio Aballe. She fell unconscious there. She eventually regained her
consciousness after which she narrated to Aballe the ordeal she went through. Ancajas later
informed her parents and the authorities about the incident.

Ancajas submitted herself to a medical examination. Rizaliano Deliarte, the municipal health
officer of San Pascual, Masbate prepared the following report

(1) Scant pubic hair;

(2) Labia Majora partially coaptate, which means that outer lip of sexual organ of the
woman is partially opened;

(3) Vagina easily admits two fingers, the forefinger and the middle finger; and

(4) Physical ExaminationAbrasion multi-linear or lateral aspect of left shoulder


joint, which means that the abrasions were located on the lateral aspect and run
across the chest, left shoulder joint, and this could have been caused by a hard
object hitting the skin of the persons, such as stone, tip of wood, sand and even
finger nails. 2

Deliarte later on testified that on account of these manifestations, it is possible that Ancajas
had been raped.

The defense, however, had a different version of the story. The witness for the defense
testified as follows: Sometime in the afternoon of March 17, 1988, the two accused
attended a religious service at the local Iglesia Ni Cristo church with a number of friends and
relatives. They were together with a certain Felomino Moreno, the wife of Godines, and two
children. When the religious service was over, they proceeded to the house of Felomino
Moreno. They passed for a certain Generoso Umpad along the way. Before they reached
their destination, Godines declared that he was feeling ill. Upon their arrival at the house of

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Felomino Moreno, everyone in the household attended to Godines. Umpad gathered some
medicinal herbs for him. Godines and his wife spent the night in the said house. They went
home at 7 o'clock the following morning. Danny Moreno stayed up to 10 o'clock in the
evening. He slept in the house of Generoso Umpad from 11 o'clock p.m. The next day,
Vicente Vilaksi went to see Godines at the latter's house in order to borrow a hammock.
Godines then accompanied Vicente to the Vilaksi residence. There, he saw Ancajas and
Elpidio Aballe. Later on in the afternoon of the same day, police authorities arrested the
accused.

Godines asserted that he could not have committed the crime because he had to stay in the
house of Felomino Moreno to recuperate from his illness and that he was able to go home
the next day. He also asserted that the house of Felomino Moreno is about two kilometers
away from the house of Alejandro Vilaksi where the incident in question took place. Godines
likewise intimated that he knew Esther Ancajas since they were small children and that they
never had a misunderstanding. For his part, Danny Moreno maintained that the house of
Generoso Umpad is about three kilometers away from the house of Vilaksi. He also admitted
that, like Danny Moreno, he knew Ancajas and that there was never any unpleasant
relationship between them in the past. Both accused related that Ancajas knew the two of
them as well.

The trial court did not sustain the version of the defense. The trial court observed that there
were serious inconsistencies in the testimonies of the witnesses for the defense and that a
distance of a few kilometers from the scene of the crime is not a sufficient basis upon which
to conclude that it was impossible for the accused to have committed the crime. Moreover,
the trial court invited attention to the fact that alibi is a defense which is easily concocted
and that the same cannot prevail against positive identification by credible witnesses. The
trial court also found the version of the prosecution credible in that no Filipino woman will
publicly admit that she has been raped unless the same is true because her natural
disposition is to protect her honor. In addition, the trial court held that the crime of forcible
abduction is absorbed in the crime of rape if the main purpose of the accused is to rape the
victim.

As stated earlier, the trial court found both accused guilty of rape.

Both accused filed a motion for reconsideration on March 5, 1990. The trial court denied the
motion on March 7, 1990.

The case was elevated to this Court by way of this appeal. The appellants raise the following
errors allegedly committed by the trial court

I.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE CRIME OF RAPE WAS COMMITTED
ON THE VICTIM.

II.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE TESTIMONIES OF THE ACCUSED
AND THEIR WITNESSES WERE INCONSISTENT AND CONTRADICTED EACH OTHER.

III.

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THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE TESTIMONY OF THE
COMPLAINANT AND HER WITNESSES WERE INSUFFICIENT AND INCREDIBLE.

IV.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THERE WAS A DELAY IN THE
FILING OF THE COMPLAINT.

V.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE COMPLAINANT AND HER
WITNESS HAS (SIC) A MOTIVE IN FILING THE CHARGE OF RAPE.

VI.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN MISAPPREHENDING THE FACTS OF THIS CASE.

VII.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED
WERE (SIC) NOT PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. 3

After a careful evaluation of the entire record of the case, the Court finds no reason to
reverse the decision appealed from.

Inasmuch as the assigned errors are interrelated, the Court will consider them altogether.

The appellants insist that there are no conclusive medical findings that the complainant had
indeed been raped. This assertion is untenable. A medical examination is not an
indispensable element in a prosecution for rape. 4At any rate, the medical evidence
discloses that the private complainant suffered abrasions on her body thereby confirming
that she had been physically violated through the use of force.

The appellants contend that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were inconsistent
and as such do not serve as valid grounds for their conviction.

The contention is untenable.

It is true that an accusation for rape can easily be fabricated because the nature of the
crime is that it is difficult to prove. More often than not, only the victim and the accused are
in a position to testify on the matter so much so that the conviction or acquittal of the
accused hinges solely upon the credibility of the witnesses. 5 In the case at bar, the private
complainant categorically identified the authors of the crime. She had no motive to conjure
up a serious charge against the appellants. The appellants themselves admit that before the
incident in question took place, there was no unpleasant relationship between the accused
on the one hand and the private complainant on the other. The record, as a matter of fact,
is devoid of inconsistencies on the part of the prosecution witnesses. The actuations of the
private complainant after the commission of the rape upon her are consistent with that of a
rape victim. What remains as the decisive factor is the positive identification of the
appellants as the perpetrators of the rape.

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The Court reiterates its oft-mentioned observation that it is very difficult to believe that a
woman would be willing to undergo the expense, trouble, inconvenience and scandal of a
public prosecution for rape, as well as an examination of the private parts of her anatomy, if
her intention is not to bring her rapists to justice. 6Besides, the trial court had the
opportunity of a first hand assessment of the testimonies of the witnesses, an opportunity
that is not available to this Court. Thus, the findings of the trial court on the credibility of
witnesses in a prosecution of a crime against chastity commands the highest respect from
the Supreme Court, 7 in the absence of valid reasons for holding otherwise. No valid
reasons have been presented by the appellants to merit a deviation from this principle.

The defense of alibi raised by the appellants is of no value in the case at bar. In order for
the appellants to establish alibi, they must show that it was impossible for them to have
been present at the place where the crime was committed at the time of the commission of
the same.8 Alibi must be supported by clear and convincing evidence. 9 In the case at bar,
the defense of alibi relied upon by the appellants does not preclude the possibility that they
were present at the scene of the crime and at the time the same was committed. The
distance between the alleged whereabouts of the appellants at the time of the commission
of the crime and the scene of the crime itself may be easily negotiated by ordinary means.
The defense witnesses themselves testified that Godines was not too ill to preclude his
moving about the premises. As stated earlier, the material factor is that there is positive
identification of the accused as the authors of the crime. Alibi cannot prevail over positive
identification. 10 Needless to say, alibi is an issue of fact which is best resolved by the trial
court. 11

In view of these observations, the Court does not find it necessary to pass upon the
assigned error as to the alleged delay in the filing of the complaint.

As to the crime committed by the appellants, the trial court correctly held that forcible
abduction is absorbed in the crime of rape if the main objective of the appellant is to rape
the victim.

The appellants are charged of conspiring and confederating with each other in the
commission of the offense charged. No doubt the evidence show the appellants through
force and intimidation and conspiring with each other successfully raped the victim by
taking turns in raping her while the other held the child of the victim and threatened her
against resisting. Obviously two (2) rapes were committed by the appellants. In a
conspiracy the act of one is the act of all. 12

Under Section 3 of Rule 120 of the Rules of Court, it is provided:

Sec. 3. Judgment for two or more offenses. When two or more offenses are
charged in a single complaint or information, and the accused fails to object to it
before trial, the court may convict the accused of as many offenses as are charged
and proved, and impose on him the penalty for each and every one of them setting
out separately the findings of fact and law in each case.

In this case the appellants failed to object to the information filed and the evidence
presented against them. Consequently the Court may convict them of as many offenses as
has been charged and proven and may impose on them the penalty for the offenses
committed.

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An appeal in a criminal case opens the whole case for review and this includes the review of
the penalty, indemnity and damages. 13 It may also include the nature and number of the
offenses committed. Each of the appellants is guilty as principal of two (2) rapes, namely
the rape he himself committed and the rape which his co-accused committed with his active
and indispensable cooperation.

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby modifies the appealed judgment by finding each of the
appellants guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two (2) rapes, so each of them is hereby
imposed the penalty of life imprisonment for each rape and each to indemnify the offended
party P50,000.00 with costs against defendants-appellants.

SO ORDERED.

People vs ibay-somera

G.R. No. 80116 June 30, 1989

IMELDA MANALAYSAY PILAPIL, petitioner,


vs.
HON. CORONA IBAY-SOMERA, in her capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional
Trial Court of Manila, Branch XXVI; HON. LUIS C. VICTOR, in his capacity as the
City Fiscal of Manila; and ERICH EKKEHARD GEILING, respondents.

REGALADO, J.:

An ill-starred marriage of a Filipina and a foreigner which ended in a foreign absolute


divorce, only to be followed by a criminal infidelity suit of the latter against the former,
provides Us the opportunity to lay down a decisional rule on what hitherto appears to be an
unresolved jurisdictional question.

On September 7, 1979, petitioner Imelda Manalaysay Pilapil, a Filipino citizen, and private
respondent Erich Ekkehard Geiling, a German national, were married before the Registrar of
Births, Marriages and Deaths at Friedensweiler in the Federal Republic of Germany. The
marriage started auspiciously enough, and the couple lived together for some time in
Malate, Manila where their only child, Isabella Pilapil Geiling, was born on April 20, 1980. 1

Thereafter, marital discord set in, with mutual recriminations between the spouses, followed
by a separation de facto between them.

After about three and a half years of marriage, such connubial disharmony eventuated in
private respondent initiating a divorce proceeding against petitioner in Germany before the
Schoneberg Local Court in January, 1983. He claimed that there was failure of their
marriage and that they had been living apart since April, 1982. 2

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Petitioner, on the other hand, filed an action for legal separation, support and separation of
property before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XXXII, on January 23, 1983
where the same is still pending as Civil Case No. 83-15866. 3

On January 15, 1986, Division 20 of the Schoneberg Local Court, Federal Republic of
Germany, promulgated a decree of divorce on the ground of failure of marriage of the
spouses. The custody of the child was granted to petitioner. The records show that under
German law said court was locally and internationally competent for the divorce proceeding
and that the dissolution of said marriage was legally founded on and authorized by the
applicable law of that foreign jurisdiction. 4

On June 27, 1986, or more than five months after the issuance of the divorce decree,
private respondent filed two complaints for adultery before the City Fiscal of Manila alleging
that, while still married to said respondent, petitioner "had an affair with a certain William
Chia as early as 1982 and with yet another man named Jesus Chua sometime in 1983".
Assistant Fiscal Jacinto A. de los Reyes, Jr., after the corresponding investigation,
recommended the dismissal of the cases on the ground of insufficiency of
evidence. 5 However, upon review, the respondent city fiscal approved a resolution, dated
January 8, 1986, directing the filing of two complaints for adultery against the
petitioner. 6 The complaints were accordingly filed and were eventually raffled to two
branches of the Regional Trial Court of Manila. The case entitled "People of the Philippines
vs. Imelda Pilapil and William Chia", docketed as Criminal Case No. 87-52435, was assigned
to Branch XXVI presided by the respondent judge; while the other case, "People of the
Philippines vs. Imelda Pilapil and James Chua", docketed as Criminal Case No. 87-52434
went to the sala of Judge Leonardo Cruz, Branch XXV, of the same court. 7

On March 14, 1987, petitioner filed a petition with the Secretary of Justice asking that the
aforesaid resolution of respondent fiscal be set aside and the cases against her be
dismissed. 8 A similar petition was filed by James Chua, her co-accused in Criminal Case No.
87-52434. The Secretary of Justice, through the Chief State Prosecutor, gave due course to
both petitions and directed the respondent city fiscal to inform the Department of Justice "if
the accused have already been arraigned and if not yet arraigned, to move to defer further
proceedings" and to elevate the entire records of both cases to his office for review. 9

Petitioner thereafter filed a motion in both criminal cases to defer her arraignment and to
suspend further proceedings thereon. 10 As a consequence, Judge Leonardo Cruz suspended
proceedings in Criminal Case No. 87-52434. On the other hand, respondent judge merely
reset the date of the arraignment in Criminal Case No. 87-52435 to April 6, 1987. Before
such scheduled date, petitioner moved for the cancellation of the arraignment and for the
suspension of proceedings in said Criminal Case No. 87-52435 until after the resolution of
the petition for review then pending before the Secretary of Justice. 11 A motion to quash
was also filed in the same case on the ground of lack of jurisdiction, 12 which motion was
denied by the respondent judge in an order dated September 8, 1987. The same order also
directed the arraignment of both accused therein, that is, petitioner and William Chia. The
latter entered a plea of not guilty while the petitioner refused to be arraigned. Such refusal
of the petitioner being considered by respondent judge as direct contempt, she and her
counsel were fined and the former was ordered detained until she submitted herself for
arraignment. 13 Later, private respondent entered a plea of not guilty. 14

On October 27, 1987, petitioner filed this special civil action for certiorari and prohibition,
with a prayer for a temporary restraining order, seeking the annulment of the order of the
lower court denying her motion to quash. The petition is anchored on the main ground that

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the court is without jurisdiction "to try and decide the charge of adultery, which is a private
offense that cannot be prosecuted de officio (sic), since the purported complainant, a
foreigner, does not qualify as an offended spouse having obtained a final divorce decree
under his national law prior to his filing the criminal complaint." 15

On October 21, 1987, this Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the
respondents from implementing the aforesaid order of September 8, 1987 and from further
proceeding with Criminal Case No. 87-52435. Subsequently, on March 23, 1988 Secretary
of Justice Sedfrey A. Ordoez acted on the aforesaid petitions for review and, upholding
petitioner's ratiocinations, issued a resolution directing the respondent city fiscal to move for
the dismissal of the complaints against the petitioner. 16

We find this petition meritorious. The writs prayed for shall accordingly issue.

Under Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code, 17 the crime of adultery, as well as four other
crimes against chastity, cannot be prosecuted except upon a sworn written complaint filed
by the offended spouse. It has long since been established, with unwavering consistency,
that compliance with this rule is a jurisdictional, and not merely a formal,
requirement. 18 While in point of strict law the jurisdiction of the court over the offense is
vested in it by the Judiciary Law, the requirement for a sworn written complaint is just as
jurisdictional a mandate since it is that complaint which starts the prosecutory
proceeding 19 and without which the court cannot exercise its jurisdiction to try the case.

Now, the law specifically provides that in prosecutions for adultery and concubinage the
person who can legally file the complaint should be the offended spouse, and nobody else.
Unlike the offenses of seduction, abduction, rape and acts of lasciviousness, no provision is
made for the prosecution of the crimes of adultery and concubinage by the parents,
grandparents or guardian of the offended party. The so-called exclusive and successive rule
in the prosecution of the first four offenses above mentioned do not apply to adultery and
concubinage. It is significant that while the State, as parens patriae, was added and vested
by the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure with the power to initiate the criminal action for a
deceased or incapacitated victim in the aforesaid offenses of seduction, abduction, rape and
acts of lasciviousness, in default of her parents, grandparents or guardian, such amendment
did not include the crimes of adultery and concubinage. In other words, only the offended
spouse, and no other, is authorized by law to initiate the action therefor.

Corollary to such exclusive grant of power to the offended spouse to institute the action, it
necessarily follows that such initiator must have the status, capacity or legal representation
to do so at the time of the filing of the criminal action. This is a familiar and express rule in
civil actions; in fact, lack of legal capacity to sue, as a ground for a motion to dismiss in civil
cases, is determined as of the filing of the complaint or petition.

The absence of an equivalent explicit rule in the prosecution of criminal cases does not
mean that the same requirement and rationale would not apply. Understandably, it may not
have been found necessary since criminal actions are generally and fundamentally
commenced by the State, through the People of the Philippines, the offended party being
merely the complaining witness therein. However, in the so-called "private crimes" or those
which cannot be prosecuted de oficio, and the present prosecution for adultery is of such
genre, the offended spouse assumes a more predominant role since the right to commence
the action, or to refrain therefrom, is a matter exclusively within his power and option.

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This policy was adopted out of consideration for the aggrieved party who might prefer to
suffer the outrage in silence rather than go through the scandal of a public trial. 20 Hence,
as cogently argued by petitioner, Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code thus presupposes
that the marital relationship is still subsisting at the time of the institution of the criminal
action for, adultery. This is a logical consequence since the raison d'etre of said provision of
law would be absent where the supposed offended party had ceased to be the spouse of the
alleged offender at the time of the filing of the criminal case. 21

In these cases, therefore, it is indispensable that the status and capacity of the complainant
to commence the action be definitely established and, as already demonstrated, such status
or capacity must indubitably exist as of the time he initiates the action. It would be absurd if
his capacity to bring the action would be determined by his status before or subsequent to
the commencement thereof, where such capacity or status existed prior to but ceased
before, or was acquired subsequent to but did not exist at the time of, the institution of the
case. We would thereby have the anomalous spectacle of a party bringing suit at the very
time when he is without the legal capacity to do so.

To repeat, there does not appear to be any local precedential jurisprudence on the specific
issue as to when precisely the status of a complainant as an offended spouse must exist
where a criminal prosecution can be commenced only by one who in law can be categorized
as possessed of such status. Stated differently and with reference to the present case, the
inquiry ;would be whether it is necessary in the commencement of a criminal action for
adultery that the marital bonds between the complainant and the accused be unsevered and
existing at the time of the institution of the action by the former against the latter.

American jurisprudence, on cases involving statutes in that jurisdiction which are in pari
materia with ours, yields the rule that after a divorce has been decreed, the innocent
spouse no longer has the right to institute proceedings against the offenderswhere the
statute provides that the innocent spouse shall have the exclusive right to institute a
prosecution for adultery. Where, however, proceedings have been properly commenced, a
divorce subsequently granted can have no legal effect on the prosecution of the criminal
proceedings to a conclusion. 22

In the cited Loftus case, the Supreme Court of Iowa held that

'No prosecution for adultery can be commenced except on the complaint of the
husband or wife.' Section 4932, Code. Though Loftus was husband of
defendant when the offense is said to have been committed, he had ceased
to be such when the prosecution was begun; and appellant insists that his
status was not such as to entitle him to make the complaint. We have
repeatedly said that the offense is against the unoffending spouse, as well as
the state, in explaining the reason for this provision in the statute; and we
are of the opinion that the unoffending spouse must be such when the
prosecution is commenced. (Emphasis supplied.)

We see no reason why the same doctrinal rule should not apply in this case and in our
jurisdiction, considering our statutory law and jural policy on the matter. We are convinced
that in cases of such nature, the status of the complainant vis-a-vis the accused must be
determined as of the time the complaint was filed. Thus, the person who initiates the
adultery case must be an offended spouse, and by this is meant that he is still married to
the accused spouse, at the time of the filing of the complaint.

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In the present case, the fact that private respondent obtained a valid divorce in his country,
the Federal Republic of Germany, is admitted. Said divorce and its legal effects may be
recognized in the Philippines insofar as private respondent is concerned 23 in view of the
nationality principle in our civil law on the matter of status of persons.

Thus, in the recent case of Van Dorn vs. Romillo, Jr., et al., 24 after a divorce was granted
by a United States court between Alice Van Dornja Filipina, and her American husband, the
latter filed a civil case in a trial court here alleging that her business concern was conjugal
property and praying that she be ordered to render an accounting and that the plaintiff be
granted the right to manage the business. Rejecting his pretensions, this Court
perspicuously demonstrated the error of such stance, thus:

There can be no question as to the validity of that Nevada divorce in any of the
States of the United States. The decree is binding on private respondent as an
American citizen. For instance, private respondent cannot sue petitioner, as
her husband, in any State of the Union. ...

It is true that owing to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15 of the Civil
Code, only Philippine nationals are covered by the policy against absolute
divorces the same being considered contrary to our concept of public policy
and morality. However, aliens may obtain divorces abroad, which may be
recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid according to their
national law. ...

Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent is no longer the husband
of petitioner. He would have no standing to sue in the case below as
petitioner's husband entitled to exercise control over conjugal assets. ... 25

Under the same considerations and rationale, private respondent, being no longer the
husband of petitioner, had no legal standing to commence the adultery case under the
imposture that he was the offended spouse at the time he filed suit.

The allegation of private respondent that he could not have brought this case before the
decree of divorce for lack of knowledge, even if true, is of no legal significance or
consequence in this case. When said respondent initiated the divorce proceeding, he
obviously knew that there would no longer be a family nor marriage vows to protect once a
dissolution of the marriage is decreed. Neither would there be a danger of introducing
spurious heirs into the family, which is said to be one of the reasons for the particular
formulation of our law on adultery, 26 since there would thenceforth be no spousal
relationship to speak of. The severance of the marital bond had the effect of dissociating the
former spouses from each other, hence the actuations of one would not affect or cast
obloquy on the other.

The aforecited case of United States vs. Mata cannot be successfully relied upon by private
respondent. In applying Article 433 of the old Penal Code, substantially the same as Article
333 of the Revised Penal Code, which punished adultery "although the marriage be
afterwards declared void", the Court merely stated that "the lawmakers intended to declare
adulterous the infidelity of a married woman to her marital vows, even though it should be
made to appear that she is entitled to have her marriage contract declared null and void,
until and unless she actually secures a formal judicial declaration to that effect". Definitely,
it cannot be logically inferred therefrom that the complaint can still be filed after the
declaration of nullity because such declaration that the marriage is void ab initio is

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equivalent to stating that it never existed. There being no marriage from the beginning, any
complaint for adultery filed after said declaration of nullity would no longer have a leg to
stand on. Moreover, what was consequently contemplated and within the purview of the
decision in said case is the situation where the criminal action for adultery was
filed before the termination of the marriage by a judicial declaration of its nullity ab initio.
The same rule and requisite would necessarily apply where the termination of the marriage
was effected, as in this case, by a valid foreign divorce.

Private respondent's invocation of Donio-Teves, et al. vs. Vamenta, hereinbefore


cited, 27 must suffer the same fate of inapplicability. A cursory reading of said case reveals
that the offended spouse therein had duly and seasonably filed a complaint for adultery,
although an issue was raised as to its sufficiency but which was resolved in favor of the
complainant. Said case did not involve a factual situation akin to the one at bar or any issue
determinative of the controversy herein.

WHEREFORE, the questioned order denying petitioner's motion to quash is SET ASIDE and
another one entered DISMISSING the complaint in Criminal Case No. 87-52435 for lack of
jurisdiction. The temporary restraining order issued in this case on October 21, 1987 is
hereby made permanent.

SO ORDERED.

Labrador Notes Criminal law Review Cases