Criminal Law

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. MANALILI G.R. No. 191253 August 28, 2013 Rape, Statutory Rape, Alibi

FACTS:

Manalili was charged with statutory rape as defined and penalized under Article 266-A, par. 1 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 5(b) of R.A. No. 7610, otherwise known as “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.”

AAA, the victim who was then barely eleven (11) years old narrated that she was playing with her friends in front of their house, which is near the store owned by BBB. Manalili was drinking with three of his friends in front of his house on ZZZ Street, which is located across the store and is one house away from AAA’s house. While AAA was chatting with the son of the store owner, Manalili whom she addresses as “Ninong Nario” called her and asked her to go to his other house on YYY street, to get a dustpan because one of his drinking mates vomited. AAA readily complied and went to Manalili’s house. No one was around at that time and it was dark inside the house. The drunken Manalili followed AAA in said house and ordered AAA to remove her panty. Manalili forcibly tried to insert his penis into her vagina. AAA felt pain and cried as Manalili tried to push in his organ. Unsuccessful, Manalili then inserted his finger into AAA’s vagina. Feeling severe pain, AAA resisted by holding Manalili’s hand. Afterwards, Manalili directed AAA to hold his penis and AAA did as she was told. Manalili ordered her to use her hands to make downward and upward movements on his phallic organ. She felt sticky substance coming out and afterwards wiped off her hands of the said substance. Manalili also kissed her neck and breasts. After Manalili satisfied his lust, AAA was directed to go home and was instructed not to let anyone see her leave the house of Manalili.

The medico-legal officer of the NBI, testified that during the medical examination, he found two (2) contusions, one on the neck and one on the right breast of the victim. He explained that in sexual abuse cases, contusions could be caused by suctions on the skin, resulting in discoloration. He also observed that the hymen was not violated and still intact.

For his defense, Manalili testified and he vehemently denied the accusations. In open court, he admitted knowing the victim, AAA, as he is one of the godfathers of AAA’s sibling and they live on the same street. In denying the alleged rape, he pointed out that he lives with his wife and that on the night of the incident, he was drinking with his friends in front of his house.

The RTC rendered a decision convicting Manalili of statutory rape, which was affirmed by the CA.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Manalili is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of statutory rape.

RULING:

The Court finds no reason to disturb the decisions of the courts below.

Rape is essentially an offense of secrecy, not generally attempted except in dark or deserted and secluded places away from the prying eyes, and the crime usually commences solely upon the word of the offended woman herself and conviction invariably turns upon her credibility, as the prosecution’s single witness of the actual occurrence. As a corollary, a conviction for rape may be made even on the testimony of the victim herself, as long as such testimony is credible. In fact, the victim’s testimony is the most important factor to prove that the felony has been committed.

In reviewing rape cases, the Court had always been guided by the well-entrenched principles:

(1) an accusation of rape can be made with facility and while accusation of rape is difficult to prove, it is even more difficult to disprove; (2) considering that in the nature of things, only two persons are usually involved in the crime of rape, the testimony of the complainant should be scrutinized with great caution; and
(3) the evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the defense.

Manalili contends that AAA’s testimony is not sufficient to convict him because the identity of the accused as the perpetrator of the crime was not positively established. We find such argument untenable. Jurisprudence is instructive that identification of an accused by his voice has been accepted particularly in cases where, such as in this case, the witness has known the malefactor personally for so long and so intimately.

This Court has opined that once a person has gained familiarity with another, identification becomes quite an easy task even from a considerable distance. Furthermore, settled is the rule that the testimony of a single witness may be sufficient to produce a conviction, if the same appears to be trustworthy and reliable. If credible and convincing, that alone would be sufficient to convict the accused. No law or rule requires the corroboration of the testimony of a single witness in a rape case.

The trial court noted that during AAA’s cross-examination, her testimony bore the hallmarks of truth, as she remained consistent on material points. We find no reason to disturb the trial court’s appreciation of the credibility of AAA’s testimony. The trial court’s assessment deserves great weight, and is even conclusive and binding if not tainted with arbitrariness or oversight of some fact or circumstance of weight and influence. “The assessment of the credibility of witnesses is a domain best left to the trial court judge because of his unique opportunity to observe their deportment and demeanor on the witness stand; a vantage point denied appellate courts-and when his findings have been affirmed by the Court of Appeals, these are generally binding and conclusive upon this Court.”

Moreover, this Court has held time and again that testimonies of rape victims who are young and immature deserve full credence, considering that no young woman, especially of tender age, would concoct a story of defloration, allow an examination of her private parts, and thereafter pervert herself by being subject to public trial, if she was not motivated solely by the desire to obtain justice for the wrong committed against her. Although she failed to report the incident immediately, such reaction is deemed normal considering that she was only 10 years old at that time.

With regard to the results of the medical examination, this Court holds that the absence of laceration and semen does not preclude the fact that rape has been committed. In the crime of rape, complete or full penetration of the complainant’s private part is not at all necessary. Neither is the rupture of the hymen essential. What is fundamental is that the entry or at the very least the introduction of the male organ into the labia of the pudendum is proved. The mere introduction of the male organ into the labia majora of the complainant’s vagina, consummates the crime. Likewise, the absence of semen in AAA’s vaginal area would not preclude a finding of rape. The presence or absence of spermatozoa is immaterial because the presence of spermatozoa is not an element of rape. Moreover, it has been held that the absence of spermatozoa in the vagina could be due to a number of factors, such as the vertical drainage of the semen from the vagina, the acidity of the vagina or the washing of the vagina immediately after sexual intercourse.

The accused merely denied the accusation, proffering the alibi that he was outside his house on ZZZ Street at the time of alleged incident. His denial could not prevail over AAA’s direct, positive and categorical assertion. For Manalili’s alibi to be credible and given due weight, he must show that it was physically impossible for him to have been at the scene of the crime at the approximate time of its commission. This Court has consistently held that denial is an intrinsically weak defense which must be buttressed by strong evidence of non-culpability to merit credibility.

No jurisprudence in criminal law is more settled than that alibi is the weakest of all defenses, for it is easy to contrive and difficult to disprove and for which reason it is generally rejected.

For the alibi to prosper, it is imperative that the accused establishes two elements: (1) he was not at the locus delicti at the time the offense was committed; and (2) it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene at the time of its commission. More importantly, Manalili failed to provide any corroborative evidence that could prove his defense.

The first element of statutory rape, (a) that the victim is a female under 12 years or is demented, was substantiated by the presentation of the Birth Certificate of the victim, while the second element, (b) that the offender had carnal knowledge of the victim, was evidenced by the testimony of the victim herself. Thus, the lower court was correct in sentencing accused-appellant to a penalty of Reclusion Perpetua.

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