Juanito Garcia was charged with three (3) counts of statutory rape committed against AAA, his cousin, then a minor, 8 years old, against her will.
Juanito pleaded not guilty to the charges.
During trial, the prosecution presented three (3) witnesses: (a) AAA, who was eleven (11) years old at the time she testified; (b) Rosalina Alcantara; and (c) Dr. Florentina Agno Vergara.
AAA, an orphan under the care of her aunt BBB, testified that Juanito sexually abused her on three (3) successive occasions. The first time was at around 12 noon of April 30, 2001, while she was inside her aunt’s dampa, sleeping. Awakened by movements on the floor, she saw Juanito standing in front of her and holding an axe. Juanito removed the blanket covering her, pointed the axe towards her and forcibly pulled her shorts and panty. Juanito kissed her cheeks, touched her vagina and, thereafter, forced his penis inside her vagina. She could tell that Juanito was drunk as she could smell alcohol in his breath. After a while, Juanito stopped and pulled out his penis. He stood up, raised his pants and threatened to kill her should she tell anyone of what happened.
The second incident took place on May 1, 2001, while she was inside her aunt’s house preparing for bedtime. While the others were asleep, Juanito suddenly appeared in the dark and removed her blanket. He once again kissed her cheeks and touched her vagina. Done with the act, he left.
The third incident happened on May 2, 2001. While she was about to sleep, Juanito once again appeared. He kissed her cheeks and touched her vagina. He lowered his pants and inserted his penis in her vagina. Juanito thereafter left without saying anything to her.
She often felt sick, found it difficult to urinate and her stomach constantly ached. She walked oddly and frequented the restroom, which BBB eventually noticed. At BBBs prodding, she disclosed what Juanito did to her and that same day, they went to the police station and formally filed a complaint against him.
Alcantara, a Municipal Social and Welfare Development Officer, testified that she assisted in preparing AAAs and BBBs affidavits and in securing a copy of AAAs birth certificate.
Dr. Vergara, who conducted a medical examination of AAA, testified that the latter had a healed hymenal laceration at 3 o’clock position, which indicated penile penetration. According to Dr. Vergara, the laceration was two (2) weeks old at the time of the examination and AAA could no longer be considered a virgin. Dr. Vergara noted, however, the absence of spermatozoa.
For his defense, Juanito denied raping AAA but could not recall where he was during the subject dates. He could not explain why AAA would accuse him of raping her but supposed that the ongoing feud between his family and BBBs may have been the reason.
His mother, Nancy, corroborated Juanito’s testimony relative to the dispute between her family and BBB’s, which allegedly arose from BBBs refusal to give her share in the land that they inherited from their parents. This conflict, Nancy claimed, motivated BBB to instigate AAA to falsely accuse Juanito of raping her.
The RTC rendered a Decision finding the accused GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of one (1) count of STATUTORY RAPE, and sentenced him to Reclusion Perpetua.
Said accused was likewise found GUILTY of ACTS OF LASCIVIOUSNESS for that offense committed on May 1, 2001 and sentenced to Prision Correccional.
Accused was, however, ACQUITTED of the third charge of rape on reasonable doubt.
On appeal, the CA, in its assailed decision, affirmed Juanito’s conviction.
Whether or not accused is guilty of statutory rape under Article 266-B of the Revised of Code.
Statutory rape is committed by sexual intercourse with a woman below twelve years (12) of age regardless of her consent, or the lack of it, to the sexual act. Proof of force, intimidation or consent is unnecessary; they are not elements of statutory rape; the absence of free consent is conclusively presumed when the victim is below the age of twelve (12).
At that age, the law presumes that the victim does not possess discernment and is incapable of giving intelligent consent to the sexual act. Thus, to convict an accused of the crime of statutory rape, the prosecution carries the burden of proving:
(1) the age of the complainant;
(2) the identity of the accused; and
(3) the sexual intercourse between the accused and the complainant.
The prosecution was able to prove the existence of all the elements of statutory rape.
First, as evidenced by her birth certificate, which Juanito does not dispute, AAA was only eight (8) years old at the time she was sexually molested on April 30, 2001.
Second, the prosecution was able to prove that it was Juanito who raped AAA on April 30, 2001 by means of AAA’s categorical and spontaneous testimony, which remained to be so under cross-examination. AAA’s narration was likewise corroborated by Dr. Vergara’s medical findings as to the existence of hymenal laceration, which is the best physical evidence of forcible defloration.
This Court finds no cogent reason to reverse the RTCs assessment of AAAs credibility or of any of the prosecution’s witnesses for that matter. Absent any evidence that it was tainted with arbitrariness or oversight of a fact of consequence or influence, the trial court’s assessment is entitled to great weight, if not conclusive or binding on this Court.
Testimonies of child-victims are normally given full weight and credit, since when a girl, particularly if she is a minor, says that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape has in fact been committed. When the offended party is of tender age and immature, courts are inclined to give credit to her account of what transpired, considering not only her relative vulnerability but also the shame to which she would be exposed if the matter to which she testified is not true. Youth and immaturity are generally badges of truth and sincerity.
A young girls revelation that she had been raped, coupled with her voluntary submission to medical examination and willingness to undergo public trial where she could be compelled to give out the details of an assault on her dignity, cannot be so easily dismissed as mere concoction.