Criminal Law

PEOPLE v. TEODORO G.R. No. 175876 February 20, 2013 Recantation by the Victim in Statutory Rape

FACTS:

Tomas Teodoro was convicted for two counts of rape in which the victim, AAA, was the 8-year old daughter of BBB, his common-law wife. The Regional Trial Court had pronounced Teodoro guilty of two counts of statutory rape on December 10, 2001, and condignly meted him the penalty of reclusion perpetua for each count.

The records show that on December 18, 1997 BBB left home on an errand in Surigao, and her children, including AAA, were left under the care of Teodoro, her common-law husband. He returned home drunk, late that night, and his arrival roused the children from their sleep. Soon after dinner, the children went to bed. AAA was asleep beside her siblings, when he roused AAA, and ordered her to strip naked. When she refused, he himself undressed her, and had carnal knowledge with her. AAA did not tell her mother about what Teodoro had done to her.

Anent the rape committed on February 8, 1998, BBB was again away from the house, having gone to Manila. Teodoro committed the rape in a fashion similar to that in the first rape. This time, AAA told of the rapes to CCC, the older brother of BBB. CCC immediately reported the crimes to the Police Station. Hence, Teodoro was arrested. AAA was then taken to the hospital for physical and medical examination.

Based on the medical certificate of AAA, Teodoro was charged with two counts of statutory rape.

During the trial, AAA and BBB testified for the Prosecution, but two years later recanted and turned hostile towards the Prosecution, now telling the RTC that Teodoro had only touched AAA’s vagina on the two occasions.

After the trial, the RTC rendered its judgment convicting Teodoro on both counts of statutory rape notwithstanding the recantations by AAA and BBB. 

On appeal, the CA sustained the RTC, and ignored AAA’s recantation for being dictated by her family’s financial difficulties. 

ISSUE:

Whether or not the recantation by AAA should be accepted?

RULING:

The appeal lacks merit.

The recantation of her testimony by the victim of rape is to be disregarded if the records show that it was impelled either by intimidation or by the need for the financial support of the accused.

BBB was then rearing four young children by Teodoro (the youngest being born when he was already detained), as well as AAA and her five siblings that BBB had from an earlier relationship. She unabashedly needed the material support of Teodoro; hence, she prevailed on AAA to withdraw her charges against him. But a recantation under such insincere circumstances was unacceptable.

As a rule, recantation is viewed with disfavor firstly because the recantation of her testimony by a vital witness of the State like AAA is exceedingly unreliable, and secondly because there is always the possibility that such recantation may later be repudiated. Indeed, to disregard testimony solemnly given in court simply because the witness recants it ignores the possibility that intimidation or monetary considerations may have caused the recantation. 

Court proceedings, in which testimony upon oath or affirmation is required to be truthful under all circumstances, are trivialized by the recantation. The trial in which the recanted testimony was given is made a mockery, and the investigation is placed at the mercy of an unscrupulous witness. 

Before allowing the recantation, therefore, the court must not be too willing to accept it, but must test its value in a public trial with sufficient opportunity given to the party adversely affected to crossexamine the recanting witness both upon the substance of the recantation and the motivations for it. 

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