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554 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Credibility/Credible

ANNOTATION

CREDIBILITY/CREDIBLE
By *
ALICIA GONZALEZ-DECANO

___________________

The Supreme Court, in the case under annotation,


convicted the accused solely on the credibility of the
victimÊs testimony, hence, a statement of the meaning of
CREDIBILITY and CREDIBLE is imperative.
Meaning of Credibility. BurtonÊs Legal Thesaurus Third
Edition by William C. Burton, the Mc Graw Hill 2001, page
135, defines „Credibility‰ (N) as appearance of truth,
auctoritas, believability, believableness, credibleless,
faithfulness, fides, integrity, plausibility, probity, rectitude,
relationship, tenability, tenableness, trustworthiness,
truthfulness, uprightness, veracity, verisimilitude.‰
As an adjective credible means „assured, believable,
commanding belief, commanding confidence, convincing,
credibilis, credit worthy, dependable, deserving belief,
deserving of confidence, faithful, faithworthy, frank,
honest, incorruptible, indisputable, indubitable, ingenious,
irrefutable, scrupulous, sound, straight forward, to be
depended on, to be relief upon, true, trusted, trustworthy,
truth telling, truthful, incorrupt, incorruptible, undeniable,
unequivocal, unfailing, unfalse, upright, veracious,
verisimilar, void of suspicion, well grounded, worthy of
belief, worthy of confidence, worthy of credence.‰
Testimony of the Victim. The following cases are
illustrated of the conviction of the accused based solely on
the credible testimony of the victim:
1. In the case of People vs. Laurito Arriola, G.R. Nos.
140779-80, December 2, 2002 (393 SCRA 318), the Supreme
Court ruled:

_______________

* Law Professor, University of Pangasinan and Professorial Lecturer


III and Consultant, UST Graduate School, Law.

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„x x x What is most important in a rape case is the credible


testimony of the victim. The medical certificate is merely
corroborative in nature. The testimony of the victim alone, if
credible, is sufficient to convict the accused of the crime.‰

The Supreme Court continued:

„We find it highly inconceivable that Judylou, a child of 11 years of


age, with all her naivete and innocence, will fabricate a story of
defloration, allow an examination of her private parts and
thereafter submit herself to public trial, gossip or ridicule, if she
was not, in fact, a victim of rape and deeply motivated by a sincere
desire to have the culprit apprehended and punished. No woman or
girl will subject herself to such humiliation just because her
stepfather treated her and her step brother and stepsister badly.‰

2. The Supreme Court, in the case of People vs. Jimmy S.


Plurad, et al. (at large) Jimmy Plurad, appellant, G.R. Nos.
138361-63, December 2, 2002 (393 SCRA 306) held:

„x x x a young girlÊs revelation that she has been raped coupled with
her voluntary submission to medical examination and her
willingness to undergo public trial where she could be compelled to
give out the details of an assault in her dignity, cannot be so easily
dismissed as a mere concoction. Needless to say, it is settled
jurisprudence that testimonies of child victims are given full weight
and credit, since when a woman, more so if she is a minor, says that
she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show
that rape was committed. Youth and immaturity are generally
badges of truth and sincerity.

3. In the case of People vs. Rodrigo Pacheco, appellant, G.R.


No. 142887, March 2, 2004, 424 SCRA 164), the Supreme
Court held:
„x x x what we find credible and consistent is the testimony of the
private complainant. She did not waiver in her claim that, she was
raped by the appellant. She was put on the witness stand no less
than five times her testimony the entire time was candid and
straightforward. Despite being subjected to grueling cross
examination, she stood firm in her version of events. The Trial
Court found her to be a credible witness, without any motive to lie.‰
„x x x We note that while testifying, private complainant broke
down in tears several times because of her fear of the appellant.
The crying of a victim during her testimony is eloquent evidence of
the credibility of the

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rape charge with the verity born out of human nature and
experience, x x x.‰
The Court continued: „when the offended party is young and
immature girl between the age of 12 to 16, as in this case, courts are
inclined to give credence to he version of the incident, considering
not only her relative vulnerability but also the public humiliation to
which she would be exposed by court trial if her accusation were
untrue. Testimonies of youthful rape victims are, as a general rule,
given full faith and credit, considering that when a girl says she has
been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape
was indeed committed.‰

4. The testimony of a witness giving details of a startling


incident that cannot easily be fabricated deserves credence
and full probative weight for it indicates sincerity and
truthfulness in the narration of events (People vs. Almazan,
426 SCRA 108 (2004).
5. A victim would not willingly go through a traumatic
experience of narrating the sordid details of a rape just to
vex appellant who she considered as her stepfather. It is
truly inconceivable for a girl of such tender years to be able
to concoct a story, provide details of rape and ascribe such
wickedness to her „stepfather‰ just because she resents
being disciplined by him, since by thus charging him, she
would also expose herself to extreme humiliation, even
stigma. MyleneÊs credible testimony is unshaken by
appellantÊs weak claim that she was motivated by ill-will in
accusing him of rape. (People vs. Beneaflor, G.R. No.
130586, July 29, 2004, 421 SCRA 354)
Guidelines in appreciating age, either as an element of
the crime of rape or as a qualifying circumstance. In the
case of People vs. Ulit, G.R. No. 131799-801, February 23,
2004, the Supreme Court set the guidelines as follows:

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 victimÊs mother or a member of the family
either by affinity or consanguinity who is qualified
to

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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 victimÊs
mother or relatives concerning the victimÊs age, the
complainantÊs testimony will suffice provided that is
expressly and clearly admitted by the accused;
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; and
6. The trial courts should always make a categorical
finding as to the age of the victim.

Absence of a struggle or an outcry from the victim is


immaterial. Where the girl is below twelve (12) years of
age, violence or intimidation is not required, because the
only suspect of inquiring is whether or not carnal
knowledge took place. The absence of a struggle or an
outcry from the victim is immaterial to the rape of a child
below twelve (12) years of age. The law presumes that such
a victim, or account of her tender age, does not and cannot
have a will of her own (People vs. Calderon, G.R. Nos.
145343-46, December 2, 2002, 393 SCRA 342 [2002]).
No uniform behavior/reaction to sexual assault. In the
case of People vs. Catubig, Jr., appellant, the Supreme
Court held that rape victims have no uniform reaction to
sexual assault. While one may offer strong resistance by
shouting at the top of her voice, another may be too cowed
and thus suffer her ordeal in silence. In this case, the
victim should that the sexual assault was against her will
by shouting, though not very loudly. (342 SCRA 179 [2000])
There is no standard behavioral response when one is
confronted by a startling incident like sexual abuse. Some
may shout; some may faint; some maybe shocked into
insensibility (People vs. Bailen, 390 SCRA 59 [2002]). Not
every rape victim can be ex-

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pected to act conformably to the usual expectations of every


one (People vs. Silvano, 309 SCRA 362 [1999]). The cases
were cited in the case of People vs. Anggit, 390 SCRA 45
[2002].
It will be plain fallacy to say that the failure to shout or
offer tenacious resistance makes voluntary the victimÊs
submission to the criminal act of the offender (People vs.
Rodriguez, 375 SCRA 224, [2002]) cited in the case of
People vs. Blancaflor, supra).
Absence of external signs of injury does not necessarily
negate the commission of rape. The absence of external
signs of injury does not necessary negate the commission of
rape, especially when the victim was intimidated by the
offender into submission. CristyÊs testimony shows that she
was the one who pushed away and kicked accused-
appellant and not the other way around. (People vs.
Rolando dela Cuesta, appellant, G.R. No. 133904, October
5, 2000, 342 SCRA 166)
Rupture of the hymen or laceration of the vagina, not an
essential element of rape. In the case of People vs. Plurad,
supra, the Supreme Court ruled that the rupture of the
hymen or laceration of the vagina is not essential element
of rape, for mere knocking at the door of the pudenda by
the accusedÊs penis suffices to constitute the crime of rape.
Penile invasion, as it has been held, necessarily entails
contact with the labia where even the briefest of contact
under circumstances, even without laceration of the
hymen, is deemed to be raped in our jurisprudence. Hence,
neither the penetration beyond the lips of the vagina nor
the rupture of the hymen is indispensable to justify
conviction.
Medical examination of the victim and medical
certificate. In the case of People vs. Baniqued y Passion,
appellant (340 SCRA 2000), the Supreme Court maintained
that the crime as charged was proven according to the
quantum of evidence required by law. Complainant
positively testified that she was raped by accused-
appellant. Notwithstanding the absence of testimony as to
the findings on complainantÊs medical examination,
complainantÊs testimony being credible, is sufficient to
prove accused-appellantÊs guilt. It is well-established that
the medical examination of the victim as well as the
medical certificate is merely corroborative in character and
is not indispensable in proving rape.‰ (People vs. Plurad,
supra).

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Accused-appellants made much of the medical findings that


there were no physical injuries found on complainantÊs
body. According to them, it is inconceivable that the victim
did not sustain a single bruise on her body after she was
dragged, pushed to the ground and her nipple was bitten.
To be sure, medical examination of the victim is merely
corroborative in character and is not an essential element
of rape. The absence of external signs of physical injuries
does not necessarily negate rape. (People vs. Plurad, supra
and People vs. Anggit, supra).
Assessment by trial courts in the credibility of witnesses
is accorded great respect. It is axiomatic that the
assessment by trial court of the credibility of witnesses is
entitled to the highest respect because it heard them and
observed their behavior at the witness stand. Absent any
showing that it overlooked some facts or circumstances of
weight and substance that would affect the result of the
case, its factual findings will not be disturbed on appeal
(People vs. Catubig, Jr., supra and People vs. Pacheco,
supra).
The lower courts assessment of the credibility of a
witness is accorded great respect owing to its direct
opportunity to observe the latterÊs demeanor during trial.
(People vs. Jose Santos, 426 SCRA 133 [2004]).
Rape is not a respecter of place or time. In the same case
of People vs. Catubig (supra), the Supreme Court ruled:

„x x x The court has repeatedly held that rape in not a respecter of


place or time. Hence, the mere fact that the rape was committed
inside a room in a thickly populated squatterÊs area during a wake
does not by itself, discredit the claim of complainant. Moreover,
having been threatened by appellant and his cohorts, she was
thereby prevented from shouting or otherwise effectively attracting
attention to her ordeal.

CONCLUDING STATEMENT

May I adopt as my concluding statement, the ruling of the


Supreme Court in the case cited below:

„x x x As long as the witness was found to be credible by the Trial


Court especially after undergoing a rigid cross examination, any
apparent inconsistency may be overlooked. In reconstructing the
events that led to the incident in question, courts should not expect
the narration or presentation to be strictly chronological. Factors
such as memory, length of time,

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intelligence, articulateness, and emotional condition all affect a


witnessÊ narration of events as long as the witness was found to be
credible by the trial court, especially after undergoing a rigid cross-
examination (People vs. Pacheco, supra), any apparent
inconsistency maybe overlooked. This is true especially if the lapses
concern trivial matters.‰ (People vs. Rodolfo dela Cuesta, appellant,
G.R. No. 133904, October 5, 2000, 342 SCRA 166)

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