On July 8, 1998, AAA was playing with some friends when then eleven-and-a-half-year-old CCC, her neighbor, called and asked her to play computer with him at the house of RICARDO PIOSANG on instructions of the latter.
On their way to his house, Piosang pushed AAA and CCC into the comfort room, which was built separately from the house.
He instructed CCC to hold AAA from behind, which CCC obeyed. Piosang removed his short pants, then applied something reddish on his penis and, while AAA was standing atop the toilet bowl being held by CCC from the back, inserted the same into her vagina and made pumping motions.
Piosang pointed the knife at CCC and told him to likewise insert his penis into AAA’s private part. CCC pretended to do what [he] was told.
Piosang threatened to kill them if they told anyone of what happened.
Months later, or on September 23, 1998, AAA revealed to her mother, BBB, that Piosang and CCC inserted their penises into her vagina.
BBB summoned CCC’s mother in their house where CCC tearfully narrated what Piosang did on July 8, 1998 and that he threatened to kill both him and AAA if they reported the matter.
In defense, Piosang completely denied the charges and had an alibi.
He said that he was at home on said date and points to CCC, instead, as the perpetrator.
He said that he and his mother went to the house of AAA and BBB, where CCC admitted having raped AAA, as a result of which, CCC’s mother, DDD hit him repeatedly.
Both the RTC and the CA found Piosang guilty of the crime charged.
Hence, this appeal.
Whether or not Piosang is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape.
Prevailing jurisprudence uniformly holds that findings of fact of the trial court, particularly when affirmed by the CA, are binding upon this Court. As a general rule, on the question whether to believe the version of the prosecution or that of the defense, the trial court’s choice is generally viewed as correct and entitled to the highest respect because it is more competent to conclude so, having had the opportunity to observe the witnesses’ demeanor and deportment on the witness stand as they gave their testimonies.
The trial court is, thus, in the best position to weigh conflicting testimonies and to discern if the witnesses were telling the truth. There is no cogent reason for us to depart from the general rule in this case.
AAA, who was six years old by the time she testified in court, had consistently, positively, and categorically identified accused-appellant as her abuser. Her testimony was direct, candid, and replete with details of the rape.
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.
Considering her tender age, AAA could not have invented a horrible story.
The crime of rape is now defined and penalized under Articles 266-A and 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R. A. Nos. 7659 and 8353, to wit:
ART. 266-A. Rape; When and How Committed. Rape is committed
1) By a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:
x x x x
d) When the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age or is demented, even though none of the circumstances mentioned above be present
x x x x
We elucidated in People v. Dollano, Jr. that:
Rape under paragraph 3 of the above-mentioned article is termed statutory rape as it departs from the usual modes of committing rape. What the law punishes is carnal knowledge of a woman below twelve years of age. Thus, the only subject of inquiry is the age of the woman and whether carnal knowledge took place. The law presumes that the victim does not and cannot have a will of her own on account of her tender years. x x x.
AAA was born on July 21, 1994, as evidenced by the Certification from the Civil Registrar’s Office, so she was almost four years of age when the crime was committed. Resultantly, Piosang was charged and proven guilty of statutory rape.