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SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 191365, February 22, 2012]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. EDUARDO


NAVARETTE, JR. Y NATO, ACCUSED-APPELLANT

FACTS:

The case on appeal is regarding the decision of the Court of Appeals dated January 29,
2010 affirming with modification the decision by the RTC of Imus, Cavite finding
appellant Eduardo Navarette, Jr. y Nato guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
of rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua

Appellant Navarrete, Jr. was charged with two counts of rape for with lewd designs
and by means of threat, force and intimidation the appellant, then and there, willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously lie and had sexual intercourse with private complainant
against her will and consent in two instances, one in the year 1994 and another in
1996.

The victim is the first cousin of the appellant, the victim’s father, Dominador
Navarette and the appellant’s father Eduardo Navarette, Sr. are brothers.

The prosecution presented the testimonies of the victim, her mother, and the medico-
legal officer, Dr. Ida C. De Perio-Daniel

The victim testified that she was raped twice by the appellant, once when she was 6 in
1994 and when she was 10 in 1996. In both instances, the victim claimed that she
went to the house of the appellant to play with his youngest brother, Emerson. When
the victim looked for Emerson in the house, the appellant told her to look in the
second floor which she did. Once there, the appellant pulled her to a room, forced her
to the floor, and undressed her. During the instance in 1994, the appellant tried to
insert his penis in the victim’s vagina but he was not able to do so, it just merely
touched the victim’s vagina. In 1996 however, the appellant was able to insert his
penis in the victim’s vagina and thus there was complete penetration. It took the
victim 3 years before she reported the incident to her mother because the appellant
apparently threatened to kill her parents and sister if she did. She told her parents
when her sister was also being sexually harassed by the appellant.

During the cross-examination, it was revealed that the appellant’s brother Eleazar
Navarette was killed by the victim’s father, Dominador because the former allegedly
raped the victim too. After the murder, a case was filed against Dominador for killing
Eleazar and a rape case was filed against the appellant.

As for the examination conducted by Dr. Perio-Daniel, she could not exactly tell
whether the victim was raped because of the lapse of time between the date of the
alleged commission of the crime and the date of the physical examination.

For the defense, the appellant raised that the victim falsely charged the appellant of
rape in order to have leverage over the murder case of the victim’s father. Dominador
wanted to have his murder case dismissed in exchange for dismissing the rape case
against appellant. This testimony of appellant was corroborated by Dominador’s
sister, Lualhati. Dominador passed away sometime in 2002.

The RTC rendered judgement finding the appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt
for the two counts of rape on March 6, 2008. The RTC gave weight to the testimony
of the victim that she was raped. The trial court found her testimony categorical,
straightforward and candid. The appellant was sentenced to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetuain each of the two cases> Appellant was also ordered to pay the
victim P75,000.00 for civil indemnity, another P75,000.00 for moral damages and
P25,000.00 as exemplary damages for each conviction of rape.

The appellant appealed the case to the CA but the latter affirmed the conviction but
modified the award of exemplary damages, increasing it from P25,000.00 to
P30,000.00.

The appellant raised in his brief casting doubt on the testimony of the victim saying
that the victim should at least be able to remember the month when she was raped,
which the victim was unable to do during her testimony.

Appellant also questions why the victim returned to the house of the former even if
she was raped the first time.

Also, the appellant again raised that it took the victim three years before telling his
parents and which is fabricated because of the murder case against Dominador.

ISSUE:

WON appellant’s guilt has been proven beyond reasonable doubt by the testimony of
the victim

HELD:

YES. In cases of rape, only two people are normally privy to the crime, the victim and
the accused. Generally, the nature of the offense is such that the only evidence that
can prove the guilt of the accused is the testimony of the complainant herself. Thus,
the prosecution of rape cases is anchored mainly on the credibility of the complaining
witness

The general rule is that the findings of trial court relative to the credibility of the rape
victim are normally respected and not disturbed on appeal, even more so when
affirmed by the appellate court. The general rule has an exception, which is if there
are exceptional circumstances, such as when the court’s evaluation was reached
arbitrarily, or when the trial court overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied certain
facts or circumstances of weight and substance which could affect the result of the
case. But in the current case, there is no such exceptional circumstances warranting
the application of the exception.
The appellant questioning the reason why the victim could not remember the month
when she was raped as well as the reason why she returned to the house despite being
raped is without merit.

The Court of Appeals stated that an errorless testimony cannot be expected of rape
victims as she may not be able to remember every detail of the traumatic experience.
Also, the date or time of the commission of rape is not a material ingredient of the
said crime. The important ingredient in statutory rape are 1) the accused had carnal
knowledge of the woman and 2) that such woman is under twelve years of age.

In questioning why the victim returned to the house of the appellant even after
allegedly being raped, the SC used the CA’s statement saying that there is no normal
behaviour when faced with an extraordinary circumstance. Thus, as stated in People
vs Marcos, “Rape victims, especially child victims, should not be expected to act the
way mature individuals would when placed in such a situation”.

As for the delay in reporting the rape to her parents, such delay does not render the
charge unworthy. This is particularly true since such delay could be brought about
because of the threats of the appellant of killing the victim’s parents and sister. Given
the age of the victim during the first instance of rape, she was 8 then, the threats of the
victim could easily intimidate her, which indeed happened.

With regard to the claim of the appellant that the rape case was filed for leverage only,
the SC said that such motives as revenge or feuds have never swayed the court from
giving full credence to the testimony of a rape victim. Also, ill motives become
inconsequential if there is an affirmative and credible declaration from the rape victim
which clearly established the liability of the accused which was the case in the current
situation.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 29 January 2010 finding
appellant Eduardo Navarette, Jr. y Nato guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape
isAFFIRMED in toto.