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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 80762 March 19, 1990
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
FAUSTA GONZALES, AUGUSTO GONZALES, CUSTODIO GONZALES, SR., CUSTODIO
GONZALES, JR., NERIO GONZALES and ROGELIO LANIDA, accused, CUSTODIO
GONZALES, SR., accused-appellant.

SARMIENTO, J .:
In a decision
1
dated October 31, 1984, the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo, Branch XXXVIII (38), in Criminal
Case No. 13661, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Fausta Gonzales, Augusto Gonzales, Custodia
Gonzales, Custodio Gonzales, Jr., Nerio Gonzales and Rogelio Lanida," found all the accused, except
Rogelio Lanida who eluded arrest and up to now has remain at large and not yet arrained, guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of murder as defined under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code. They
were sentenced "to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to seventeen
(17) years and four (4) months of reclusion temporal, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased victim in the
amount of P40,000.00, plus moral damages in the sum of P14,000.00 and to pay the costs."
2
The victim
was Lloyd Peacerrada, 44, landowner, and a resident of Barangay Aspera, Sara, Iloilo.
Through their counsel, all the accused, except of course Rogelio Lanida, filed a notice of appeal
from the trial court's decision. During the pendency of their appeal and before judgment thereon
could be rendered by the Court of Appeals, however, all the accused-appellants, except Custodio
Gonzales, Sr., withdrew their appeal and chose instead to pursue their respective applications for
parole before the then Ministry, now Department, of Justice, Parole Division.
3

On October 27, 1987, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision
4
on the appeal of Custodio Gonzales,
Sr. It modified the appealed decision in that the lone appellant was sentenced to reclusion perpetua and
to indemnify the heirs of Lloyd Peacerrada in the amount of P30,000.00. In all other respect, the
decision of the trial court was affirmed. Further, on the basis of our ruling in People vs. Ramos,
5
the
appellate court certified this case to us for review.
6

The antecedent facts are as follows:
At around 9:00 o'clock in the evening of February 21, 1981, Bartolome Paja, the barangay captain of
Barangay Tipacla, Ajuy, Iloilo, was awakened from his sleep by the spouses Augusto and Fausta
Gonzales. Augusto informed Paja that his wife had just killed their landlord, Lloyd Peacerrada, and
thus would like to surrender to the authorities. Seeing Augusto still holding the knife allegedly used in
the killing and Fausta with her dress smeared with blood, Paja immediately ordered a nephew of his
to take the spouses to the police authorities at the Municipal Hall in Poblacion, Ajuy. As instructed,
Paja's nephew brought the Gonzales spouses, who "backrode" on his motorcycle, to the municipal
building.
7
Upon reaching the Ajuy Police sub-station, the couple informed the police on duty of the
incident. That same night, Patrolman Salvador Centeno of the Ajuy Police Force and the Gonzales
spouses went back to Barangay Tipacla. Reaching Barangay Tipacla the group went to Paja's residence
where Fausta was made to stay, while Paja, Patrolman Centeno, and Augusto proceeded to the latter's
residence at Sitio Nabitasan where the killing incident allegedly occurred.
8
There they saw the lifeless
body of Lloyd Peacerrada, clad only in an underwear, sprawled face down inside the bedroom.
9
The
group stayed for about an hour during which time Patrolman Centeno inspected the scene and started to
make a rough sketch thereof and the immediate surroundings.
10
The next day, February 22, 1981, at
around 7:00 o'clock in the morning, Patrolman Centeno, accompanied by a photographer, went back to
the scene of the killing to conduct further investigations. Fausta Gonzales, on the other hand, was
brought back that same day by Barangay Captain Paja to the police substation in Ajuy. When Patrolman
Centeno and his companion arrived at Sitio Nabitasan, two members of the 321st P.C. Company
stationed in Sara, Iloilo, who had likewise been informed of the incident, were already there conducting
their own investigation. Patrolman Centeno continued with his sketch; photographs of the scene were
likewise taken. The body of the victim was then brought to the Municipal Hall of Ajuy for autopsy.
The autopsy of Lloyd Peacerrada's cadaver was performed at about 11:20 a.m. on February 22,
1981; after completed, a report was made with the following findings:
PHYSICAL FINDINGS
1. Deceased is about 5 ft. and 4 inches in height, body moderately built and on
cadaveric rigidity.
EXTERNAL FINDINGS
1. Puncture wound, 1 cm. in width, 9 cm. in length, located at the lower 3rd anterior
aspect of the arm, right, directed upward to the right axillary pit.
2. Stab wound, thru and thru, located at the proximal 3rd, forearm right, posterior
aspect with an entrance of 5 cm. in width and 9 cm. in length with an exit at the
middle 3rd, posterior aspect of the forearm, right, with 1 cm. wound exit.
3. Stab wound, thru and thru, located at the middle 3rd, posterior aspect of the
forearm right, 1 cm. in width.
4. Incised wound, 4 cm. long, depth visualizing the right lateral border of the sternum,
6th and 7th ribs, right located 1.5 inches below the right nipple.
5. Stab wound, 2 cm. in width, 10.5 cm. in depth, directed inward to the thoracic
cavity right, located at the left midclavicular line at the level of the 5th rib left.
6. Stab wound, 2 cm. in width, 9.5 cm. in depth directed toward the right thoracic
cavity, located at the mid left scapular line at the level of the 8th intercostal space.
7. Puncture wound, 1 cm. in width, located at the base of the left armpit directed
toward the left thoracic cavity.
8. Puncture wound, 1 cm. in width, 11 cm. in length, directed toward the left deltoid
muscle, located at the upper 3rd axilla left.
9. Puncture wound, 3 cm in width, 11.5 cm in length, located at the anterior aspect,
proximal 3rd arm left, directed downward.
10. Stab wound, thru and thru, 2.5 cm. in width, and 5 cm. in length, medial aspect,
palm right.
11. Stabwound, 4 cm.in width, iliac area, right, directed inward with portion of large
intestine and mysentery coming out.
12. Stab wound, 4 cm. in width, located at the posterior portion of the shoulder, right,
directed downward to the aspex of the light thoracic cavity.
13. Incised wound, 1 cm. in width, 10 cm. in length, located at the medial portion of
the medial border of the right scapula.
14. Incised wound, 1 cm. in width, 4.5 cm. in length, located at the posterior aspect of
the right elbow.
15. Incised wound, 1 cm. in width, 2 cm. in length, located at the posterior portion,
middle 3rd, forearm, right.
16. Lacerated wound at the anterior tantanelle with fissural fracture of the skull.
INTERNAL FINDINGS:
1. Stab wound No. 5, injuring the left ventricle of the heart.
2. Stab wound No. 6, severely injuring the right lower lobe of the
lungs.
3. Stab wound No. 7, injuring the right middle lobe of the lungs.
4. Stab wound No. 11, injuring the descending colon of the large
intestine, thru and thru.
5. Stab wound No. 12, severely injuring the apex of the right lungs
(sic).
CAUSE OF DEATH:
MASSIVE HEMMORRHAGE DUE TO MULTIPLE
LACERATED, STABBED (sic), INCISED AND
PUNCTURED WOUNDS.
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1
1

The autopsy report thus showed that Dr. Rojas "found sixteen (16) wounds, five (5) of which are fatal
because they penetrated the internal organs, heart, lungs and intestines of the deceased."
12

On February 23, two days after the incident, Augusto Gonzales appeared before the police sub-
station in the poblacion of Ajuy and voluntarily surrendered to Police Corporal Ben Sazon for
detention and protective custody for "having been involved" in the killing of Lloyd Peacerrada. He
requested that he be taken to the P.C. headquarters in Sara, Iloilo where his wife, Fausta, was
already detained having been indorsed thereat by the Ajuy police force.
13

Based on the foregoing and on the investigations conducted by the Ajuy police force and the 321st
P.C. Company, an information for murder dated August 26, 1981, was filed by the Provincial Fiscal
of Iloilo against the spouses Augusto and Fausta Gonzales. The information read as follows:
The undersigned Provincial Fiscal accuses FAUSTA GONZALES and AUGUSTO
GONZALES of the crime of MURDER committed as follows:
That on or about the 21st day of February, 1981, in the Municipality of Ajuy, Province
of Iloilo, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Court, the above-named
accused with four other companions whose identities are still unknown and are still at
large, armed with sharp-pointed and deadly weapons, conspiring, confederating and
helping each other, with treachery and evident premeditation, with deliberate intent
and decided purpose to kill, and taking advantage of their superior strength and
number, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault, stab,
hack, hit and wound Lloyd D. Peacerrada, with the weapons with which said
accused were provided at the time, thereby inflicting upon said Lloyd D. Peacerrada
multiple wounds on different parts of his body as shown by autopsy report attached
to the record of this case which multifarious wounds caused the immediate death of
said Lloyd D. Peacerrada.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Iloilo City, August 26, 1981.
14

When arraigned on September 16, 1981, Augusto and Fausta both entered a plea of not guilty.
Before trial, however, Jose Huntoria
15
who claimed to have witnessed the killing of Lloyd Peacerrada,
presented himself to Nanie Peacerrada, the victim's widow, on October 6, 1981, and volunteered to
testify for the prosecution. A reinvestigation of the case was therefore conducted by the Provincial Fiscal
of Iloilo on the basis of which an Amended Information,
16
dated March 3, 1982, naming as additional
accused Custodio Gonzales, Sr. (the herein appellant), Custodio Gonzales, Jr., Nerio Gonzales, and
Rogelio Lanida, was filed. Again, all the accused except as earlier explained, Lanida, pleaded not guilty to
the crime.
At the trial, the prosecution presented Dr. Jesus Rojas, the Rural Health physician of Ajuy who
conducted the autopsy on the body of the victim; Bartolome Paja, the barangay captain of Barangay
Tipacla; Patrolman Salvador Centeno and Corporal Ben Sazon of the Ajuy Police Force; Sgt. (ret)
Nicolas Belicanao and Sgt. Reynaldo Palomo of the 321st P.C. Company based in Sara, Iloilo; Jose
Huntoria; and Nanie Peacerrada, the widow.
Dr. Jesus Rojas testified that he performed the autopsy on the body of the deceased Lloyd
Penacerrada at around 11:20 a.m. on February 22, 1981 after it was taken to the municipal hall of
Ajuy.
17
His findings revealed that the victim suffered from 16 wounds comprising of four (4) punctured
wounds, seven (7) stab wounds, four (4) incised wounds, and one (1) lacerated wound. In his testimony,
Dr. Rojas, while admitting the possibility that only one weapon might have caused all the wounds (except
the lacerated wound) inflicted on the victim, nevertheless opined that due to the number and different
characteristics of the wounds, the probability that at least two instruments were used is high.
18
The police
authorities and the P.C. operatives for their part testified on the aspect of the investigation they
respectively conducted in relation to the incident. Nanie Peacerrada testified mainly on the expenses
she incurred by reason of the death of her husband while Barangay Captain Bartolome Paja related the
events surrounding the surrender of the spouses Augusto and Fausta Gonzales to him, the location of the
houses of the accused, as well as on other matters.
By and large, the prosecution's case rested on Huntoria's alleged eyewitness account of the
incident. According to Huntoria, who gave his age as 30 when he testified on July 27, 1982,
19
at 5:00
o'clock in the afternoon on February 21, 1981, he left his work at Barangay Central, in Ajuy, Iloilo where
he was employed as a tractor driver by one Mr. Piccio, and walked home;
20
he took a short-cut
route.
21
While passing at the vicinity of the Gonzales spouses' house at around 8:00 o'clock in the
evening, he heard cries for help.
22
Curiosity prompted him to approach the place where the shouts were
emanating. When he was some 15 to 20 meters away, he hid himself behind a clump of banana
trees.
23
From where he stood, he allegedly saw all the accused ganging upon and takings turns in
stabbing and hacking the victim Lloyd Peacerrada, near a "linasan" or threshing platform. He said he
clearly recognized all the accused as the place was then awash in moonlight.
24
Huntoria further
recounted that after the accused were through in stabbing and hacking the victim, they then lifted his
body and carried it into the house of the Gonzales spouses which was situated some 20 to 25 meters
away from the "linasan".
25
Huntoria then proceeded on his way home. Upon reaching his house, he
related what he saw to his mother and to his wife
26
before he went to sleep.
27
Huntoria explained that he
did not immediately report to the police authorities what he witnessed for fear of his life.
28
In October
1981 however, eight months after the extraordinary incident he allegedly witnessed, bothered by his
conscience plus the fact that his father was formerly a tenant of the victim which, to his mind, made him
likewise a tenant of the latter, he thought of helping the victim's widow, Nanie Peacerrada. Hence, out of
his volition, he travelled from his place at Sitio Nabitasan, in Barangay Tipacla Municipality of Ajuy, to
Sara, Iloilo where Mrs. Peacerrada lived, and related to her what he saw on February 21, 1981.
29

Except Fausta who admitted killing Lloyd Peacerrada in defense of her honor as the deceased
attempted to rape her, all the accused denied participation in the crime. The herein accused-
appellant, Custodio Gonzales, Sr., claimed that he was asleep
30
in his house which was located some
one kilometer away from the scene of the crime
31
when the incident happened. He asserted that he only
came to know of it after his grandchildren by Augusto and Fausta Gonzales went to his house that night
of February 21, 1981 to inform him.
32

The trial court disregarded the version of the defense; it believed the testimony of Huntoria.
On appeal to the Court of Appeals, Custodia Gonzales, Sr., the lone appellant, contended that the
trial court erred in convicting him on the basis of the testimony of Jose Huntoria, the lone alleged
eyewitness, and in not appreciating his defense of alibi.
The Court of Appeals found no merit in both assigned errors. In upholding Huntoria's testimony, the
appellate court held that:
. . . Huntoria positively identified all the accused, including the herein accused-
appellant, as the assailants of Peacerrada. (TSN, p. 43, July 27, 1982) The claim
that Huntoria would have difficulty recognizing the assailant at a distance of 15 to 20
meters is without merit, considering that Huntoria knew all the accused. (Id., pp. 37-
39) If Huntoria could not say who was hacking and who was stabbing the deceased,
it was only because the assailant were moving around the victim.
As for the delay in reporting the incident to the authorities, we think that Huntoria's
explanation is satisfactory. He said he feared for his life. (Id., pp. 50-51, 65) As stated
in People vs. Realon, 99 SCRA 442, 450 (1980): "The natural reticence of most
people to get involved in a criminal case is of judicial notice. As held in People
v. Delfin, '. . . the initial reluctance of witnesses in this country to volunteer
information about a criminal case and their unwillingness to be involved in or dragged
into criminal investigations is common, and has been judicially declared not to affect
credibility.'"
It is noteworthy that the accused-appellant self admitted that he had known Huntoria
for about 10 years and that he and Huntoria were in good terms and had no
misunderstanding whatsoever. (TSN, p. 33, July 18, 1984) He said that he could not
think of any reason why Huntoria should implicate him. (Id., p. 34) Thus, Huntoria's
credibility. is beyond question.
33

The Court of Appeals likewise rejected the appellant's defense of alibi.
34
The appellate court,
however, found the sentence imposed by the trial court on the accused-appellant erroneous. Said the
appellate court:
Finally, we find that the trial court erroneously sentenced the accused-appellant to 12
years and 1 day to 17 years and 4 months of reclusion temporal. The penalty for
murder under Article 248 isreclusion temporal in its maximum period to death. As
there was no mitigating or aggravating circumstance, the imposible penalty should
be reclusion perpetua. Consequently, the appeal should have been brought to the
Supreme Court. With regard to the indemnity for death, the award of P40,000.00
should be reduced to P30,000.00, in accordance with the rulings of the Supreme
Court. (E.g., People v. De la Fuente, 126 SCRA 518 (1983); People v. Atanacio, 128
SCRA 31 (1984); People v. Rado, 128 SCRA 43 (1984); People v. Bautista, G.R. No.
68731, Feb. 27, 1987).
35

The case, as mentioned earlier, is now before us upon certification by the Court of Appeals, the
penalty imposed being reclusion perpetua.
After a careful review of the evidence adduced by the prosecution, we find the same insufficient to
convict the appellant of the crime charged.
To begin with, the investigation conducted by the police authorities leave much to be desired.
Patrolman Centeno of the Ajuy police force in his sworn statements
36
even gave the date of the
commission of the crime as "March 21, 1981." Moreover, the sketch
37
he made of the scene is of little
help. While indicated thereon are the alleged various blood stains and their locations relative to the scene
of the crime, there was however no indication as to their quantity. This is rather unfortunate for the
prosecution because, considering that there are two versions proferred on where the killing was carried
out, the extent of blood stains found would have provided a more definite clue as to which version is more
credible. If, as the version of the defense puts it, the killing transpired inside the bedroom of the Gonzales
spouses, there would have been more blood stains inside the couple's bedroom or even on the ground
directly under it. And this circumstance would provide an additional mooring to the claim of attempted
rape asseverated by Fausta. On the other hand, if the prosecution's version that the killing was committed
in the field near the linasan is the truth, then blood stains in that place would have been more than in any
other place.
The same sloppiness characterizes the investigation conducted by the other authorities. Police
Corporal Ben Sazon who claimed that accused Augusto Gonzales surrendered to him on February
23, 1981 failed to state clearly the reason for the "surrender." It would even appear that Augusto
"surrendered" just so he could be safe from possible revenge by the victim's kins. Corporal Sazon
likewise admitted that Augusto never mentioned to him the participation of other persons in the
killing of the victim. Finally, without any evidence on that point, P.C. investigators of the 321st P.C.
Company who likewise conducted an investigation of the killing mentioned in their criminal
complaint
38
four other unnamed persons, aside from the spouses Augusto and Fausta Gonzales, to have
conspired in killing Lloyd Peacerrada.
Now on the medical evidence. Dr. Rojas opined that it is possible that the sixteen wounds described
in the autopsy report were caused by two or more bladed instruments. Nonetheless, he admitted the
possibility that one bladed instrument might have caused all. Thus, insofar as Dr. Rojas' testimony
and the autopsy report are concerned, Fausta Gonzales' admission that she alone was responsible
for the killing appears not at all too impossible. And then there is the positive testimony of Dr. Rojas
that there were only five wounds that could be fatal out of the sixteen described in the autopsy
report. We shall discuss more the significance of these wounds later.
It is thus clear from the foregoing that if the conviction of the appellant by the lower courts is to be
sustained, it can only be on the basis of the testimony of Huntoria, the self-proclaimed eyewitness.
Hence, a meticulous scrutiny of Huntoria's testimony is compelling.
To recollect, Huntoria testified that he clearly saw all the accused, including the appellant, take turns
in hacking and stabbing Lloyd Peacerrada, at about 8:00 o'clock in the evening, on February 21,
1981, in the field near a "linasan" while he (Huntoria) stood concealed behind a clump of banana
trees some 15 to 20 meters away from where the crime was being committed. According to him, he
recognized the six accused as the malefactors because the scene was then illuminated by the
moon. He further stated that the stabbing and hacking took about an hour. But on cross-
examination, Huntoria admitted that he could not determine who among the six accused did the
stabbing and/or hacking and what particular weapon was used by each of them.
ATTY. GATON (defense counsel on cross-examination):
Q And you said that the moon was bright, is it correct?
A Yes, Sir.
Q And you would like us to understand that you saw the hacking and
the stabbing, at that distance by the herein accused as identified by
you?
A Yes, sir, because the moon was brightly shining.
Q If you saw the stabbing and the hacking, will you please tell this
Honorable Court who was hacking the victim?
A Because they were surrounding Peacerrada and were in constant
movement, I could not determine who did the hacking.
ATTY. GATON:
The interpretation is not clear.
COURT:
They were doing it rapidly.
A The moving around or the hacking or the "labu" or "bunu" is rapid. I
only saw the rapid movement of their arms, Your Honor, and I cannot
determine who was hacking and who was stabbing. But I saw the
hacking and the stabbing blow.
ATTY. GATON:
Q You cannot positively identify before this Court who really hacked
Lloyd Peacerrada?
A Yes sir, I cannot positively tell who did the hacking.
Q And likewise you cannot positively tell this Honorable Court who
did the stabbing?
A Yes sir, and because of the rapid movements.
Q I noticed in your direct testimony that you could not even identify
the weapons used because according to you it was just flashing?
A Yes, sir.
39

(Emphasis supplied)
From his very testimony, Huntoria failed to impute a definite and specific act committed, or
contributed, by the appellant in the killing of Lloyd Peacerrada.
It also bears stressing that there is nothing in the findings of the trial court and of the Court of
Appeals which would categorize the criminal liability of the appellant as a principal by direct
participation under Article 17, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code. Likewise, there is nothing in
the evidence for the prosecution that inculpates him by inducement, under paragraph 2 of the same
Article 17, or by indispensable cooperation under paragraph 3 thereof. What then was the direct part
in the killing did the appellant perform to support the ultimate punishment imposed by the Court of
Appeals on him?
Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code provides how criminal liability is incurred.
Art. 4. Criminal liability Criminal liability shall be incurred:
1. By any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be
different from that which he intended.
2. By any person performing an act which would be an offense against persons or
property, were it not for the inherent impossibility of its accomplishment or on
account of the employment of inadequate or ineffectual means.
(Emphasis supplied.)
Thus, one of the means by which criminal liability is incurred is through the commission of a felony.
Article 3 of the Revised Penal Code, on the other hand, provides how felonies are committed.
Art. 3. Definition Acts and omissions punishable by law are felonies (delitos).
Felonies are committed not only by means of deceit (dolo) but also by means of fault
(culpa).
There is deceit when the act is performed with deliberate intent; and there is fault
when the wrongful act results from imprudence, negligence, lack of foresight, or lack
of skill.
(Emphasis supplied.)
Thus, the elements of felonies in general are: (1) there must be an act or omission; (2) the act or
omission must be punishable under the Revised Penal Code; and (3) the act is performed or the
omission incurred by means of deceit or fault.
Here, while the prosecution accuses, and the two lower courts both found, that the appellant has
committed a felony in the killing of Lloyd Peacerrada, forsooth there is paucity of proof as to what
act was performed by the appellant. It has been said that "act," as used in Article 3 of the Revised
Penal Code, must be understood as "any bodily movement tending to produce some effect in the
external world."
40
In this instance, there must therefore be shown an "act" committed by the appellant
which would have inflicted any harm to the body of the victim that produced his death.
Yet, even Huntoria, as earlier emphasized, admitted quite candidly that he did not see who "stabbed"
or who "hacked" the victim. Thus this principal witness did not say, because he could not whether
the appellant "hacked or "stabbed" victim. In fact, Huntoria does not know what specific act was
performed by the appellant. This lack of specificity then makes the case fall short of the test laid
down by Article 3 of the Revised Penal Code previously discussed. Furthermore, the fact that the
victim sustained only five fatal wounds out of the total of sixteen inflicted, as adverted to above, while
there are six accused charged as principals, it follows to reason that one of the six accused could
not have caused or dealt a fatal wound. And this one could as well be the appellant, granted ex
gratia argumenti that he took part in the hacking and stabbing alleged by Huntoria. And why not
him? Is he not after all the oldest (already sexagenarian at that time) and practically the father of the
five accused? And pursuing this argument to the limits of its logic, it is possible, nay even probable,
that only four, or three, or two of the accused could have inflicted all the five fatal wounds to the
exclusion of two, three, or four of them. And stretching the logic further, it is possible, nay probable,
that all the fatal wounds, including even all the non-fatal wounds, could have been dealt by Fausta in
rage against the assault on her womanhood and honor. But more importantly, there being not an iota
of evidence that the appellant caused any of the said five fatal wounds, coupled with the
prosecution's failure to prove the presence of conspiracy beyond reasonable doubt, the appellant's
conviction can not be sustained.
Additionally, Huntoria's credibility as a witness is likewise tarnished by the fact that he only came out
to testify in October 1981, or eight long months since he allegedly saw the killing on February 21,
1981. While ordinarily the failure of a witness to report at once to the police authorities the crime he
had witnessed should not be taken against him and should not affect his credibility,
41
here, the
unreasonable delay in Huntoria's coming out engenders doubt on his veracity.
42
If the silence of coming
out an alleged eyewitness for several weeks renders his credibility doubtful,
43
the more it should be for
one who was mute for eight months. Further, Huntoria's long delay in reveiling what he allegedly
witnessed, has not been satisfactorily explained. His lame excuse that he feared his life would be
endangered is too pat to be believed. There is no showing that he was threatened by the accused or by
anybody. And if it were true that he feared a possible retaliation from the accused,
44
why did he finally
volunteer to testify considering that except for the spouses Augusto and Fausta Gonzales who were
already under police custody, the rest of the accused were then still free and around; they were not yet
named in the original information,
45
thus the supposed danger on Huntoria's life would still be clear and
present when he testified.
Moreover, Huntoria is not exactly a disinterested witness as portrayed by the prosecution. He
admitted that he was a tenant of the deceased. In fact, he stated that one of the principal reasons
why he testified was because the victim was also his landlord.
xxx xxx xxx
Q Now, Mr. Huntoria, why did it take you so long from the time you
saw the stabbing and hacking of Lloyd Peacerrada when you told
Mrs. Peacerrada about what happened to her husband?
A At first I was then afraid to tell anybody else but because I was
haunted by my conscience and secondly the victim was also my
landlord I revealed what I saw to the wife of the victim.
46

xxx xxx xxx
(Emphasis ours.)
At this juncture, it may be relevant to remind that under our socioeconomic set-up, a tenant owes the
very source of his livelihood, if not existence itself, from his landlord who provides him with the land
to till. In this milieu, tenants like Huntoria are naturally beholden to their landlords and seek ways and
means to ingratiate themselves with the latter. In this instance, volunteering his services as a
purported eyewitness and providing that material testimony which would lead to the conviction of the
entire family of Augusto Gonzales whose wife, Fausta, has confessed to the killing of Lloyd
Peacerrada, would, in a perverted sense, be a way by which Huntoria sought to ingratiate himself
with the surviving family of his deceased landlord. This is especially so because the need to get into
the good graces of his landlord's family assumed a greater urgency considering that he ceased to be
employed as early as May 1981.
47
Volunteering his services would alleviate the financial distress he
was in. And Huntoria proved quite sagacious in his choice of action for shortly after he volunteered and
presented himself to the victim's widow, he was taken under the protective wings of the victim's uncle,
one Dr. Biclar, who gave him employment and provided lodging for his family.
48
Given all the foregoing
circumstances, we can not help but dismiss Huntoria as an unreliable witness, to say the least.
At any rate, there is another reason why we find the alleged participation of the appellant in the
killing of Lloyd Peacerrada doubtful it is contrary to our customs and traditions. Under the
Filipino family tradition and culture, aging parents are sheltered and insulated by their adult children
from any possible physical and emotional harm. It is therefore improbable for the other accused who
are much younger and at the prime of their manhood, to summon the aid or allow the participation of
their 65-year old
49
father, the appellant, in the killing of their lone adversary, granting that the victim was
indeed an adversary. And considering that the appellant's residence was about one kilometer from the
scene of the crime,
50
we seriously doubt that the appellant went there just for the purpose of aiding his
three robust male sons (Custodia Jr., Nerio, and Augusta), not to mention the brother and sister, Rogelio
and Fausta, in the killing of Lloyd Peacerrada, even if the latter were a perceived enemy.
Finally, while indeed alibi is a weak defense,
51
under appropriate circumstances, like in the instant case
in which the participation of the appellant is not beyond cavil it may be considered as exculpatory. Courts
should not at once look with disfavor at the defense of alibi for if taken in the light of the other evidence on
record, it may be sufficient to acquit the accused.
52

In fine, the guilt of the appellant has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the
appellant is hereby ACQUITTED. Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
Melencio-Herrera, Paras, Padilla and Regalado, JJ., concur.


THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 97920. January 20, 1997]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ENRIQUE
RAMIREZ y ANTONIO, accused-appellant.
D E C I S I O N
PANGANIBAN, J .:
Rape is a savage and bestial attack that violates a woman's person in the most
grievous and odious way imaginable. This abomination revolts this Court no end.
Perpetrators of this outrage are a depraved and evil who must be brought to the crucible
of justice. In the present appeal, the offender repeatedly ravished and violated his own
helpless stepdaughter of tender years. He deserves the severest penalty provided
under the laws at the time of its commission.
This is an appeal from the Decision
[1]
dated December 20 1989 of the Regional Trial
Court of Manila, Branch XXX,
[2]
in Criminal Case No. 89-7180-2-SCC, finding appellant
guilty of rape.
The Complainant
[3]
against appellant reads as follows:
"That on or about the second week of March, 1989, in the City of Manila, Philippines,
the said accused did then and there wilfully (sic), unlawfully and feloniously, by
means of force, violence and intimidation, to wit: by poking a bladed weapon at her,
ordering her to undress and at the same time threatening to kill her and her family
should she resist or report the matter, and thereafter have sexual intercourse with the
undersigned complainant, a girl 13 years of age, against her will.
CONTRARY TO LAW."
The Complainant was treated as the Information after the City Prosecutor affixed
imprimatur thereto. When arraigned, appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge.
[4]
After
trial, the court a quofound appellant guilty of rape beyond unreasonable doubt. The
dispositive portion of the Decision
[5]
reads as follows:
"WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding the Accused ENRIQUE
RAMIREZ guilty, beyond reasonable doubt, as principal, for the crime of "Rape"
defined in and penalized by Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code and hereby
imposes on the said Accused the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA, with all the
accessory penalties of the law, and hereby condemns him to pay to AAA the amount
of P30,000.00 as and by way of moral and exemplary damages and to pay the costs of
suit.
The period during which the Accused was detained during the pendency of this case
shall be credited to him provided that he agreed in writing to abide by and comply
strictly with the rules and regulations of the City Jail of Manila.
SO ORDERED.
The Facts
According to the Prosecution
The version of the prosecution is as follows:
" AAA, a 13 year old lass, naive and unschooled, is the eldest daughter of BBB and
CCC. Since July 1975, BBB and CCC lived together as man and wife, without the
benefit of marriage, at XXX, Pandacan, Manila. Aside from AAA, they had other
children: DDD, 10 years old and EEE, the youngest (TSN, September 11, 1989, pp.
10 & 13; pp. 18-19),
As fate would have it, AAA did not grow up under the constant care and guidance of
her mother BBB. Since the tender age of 2 years, she has been staying with her
paternal grandmother, FFF, at XXX, Pandacan, Manila. Ostensibly, AAAs mother
gave her up to her mother-in-law, FFF, because the latter kept bothering her and her
husband, CCC (Ibid., pp. 7-8).
As the life story of AAA unfolds, the four-year relationship of her father and mother
was turning sour and was growing worse and worse everyday. It was the usual case of
a daughter-in-law and a mother-in-law fighting for the attention of a husband and son.
This animosity was heightened by the fact that prior to his death, CCC was abandoned
by BBB sometime in 1979 to live with another man, herein appellant Enrique
Ramirez. Her reason was simple: BBB was a 'Mama's Boy'. She claimed that he did
not want to separate from his mother and usually gave his earnings to his mother, FFF
(Ibid., pp. 13-14).
The sudden death of CCC on April 22, 1982 however did not improve the relationship
between his wife BBB and his mother, FFF. As a matter of fact, the demise of CCC,
exacerbated the ongoing feud between his mother and his wife.
In any event, BBB cohabited with appellant Enrique Ramirez, a casual laborer and a
member of the notorious Sigue-Sigue Commando Gang (Ibid., pp. 6 & 12). At that
time, appellant Ramirez was already separated from his lawful wife, Christine
Somera, by whom he had a child (TSN, September 21, 1989, pp. 33-35).
Since 1979, appellant Ramirez and BBB stayed and lived in a one-room shanty, a
place one can hardly call a house, in a squatter's area in Tondo, Manila. As described
by AAA, the one-storey room has two windows: one facing the street across which
was the house of Ate Laki, and the other window facing the river (TSN, July 12, 1994,
p. 6; see also TSN, August 2, 1994, pp. 27 & 43).
In December 1988, when AAA turned 13 years of age, her mother BBB fetched AAA
from the house of her mother-in-law, FFF, Maribel's paternal grand- mother. BBB
took AAA to spend vacation in her house in Tondo, Manila where BBB resides with
her live-in partner, Enrique Ramirez, appellant herein. After the Christmas season,
AAA went back to her paternal grandmother's house in Pandacan (TSN, September
11, 1989, pp. 15-23).
xxx xxx xxx
By then, appellant Ramirez and BBB already had four (4) children namely: GGG, 8
years old; HHH, 6 years old, III, 4 years old and JJJ, about 2 to 3 years old. Appellant
was then working as a casual laborer for his brother, Rudy Ramirez, in the latter's
construction work along Pavia Street, Tondo, Manila, only about 3 alleys away from
the house of appellant Ramirez at XXX Street, Tondo (ibid., p. 43-B). Because of the
proximity of the house from his place of work, appellant was allowed by his brother to
eat his lunch at home and to have some days-off. On the other hand, BBB who
finished Grade 6 only, earned a living by selling pails, pans and basins, traveling as
far as Marikina and Montalban, from. 8 o'clock in the morning up to 5 o'clock in the
afternoon.
[6]

The offended party was violated several times by appellant during that holiday
season as follows:
"One day, shortly before Christmas, in 1988, at about 1:30 o'clock in the afternoon,
the Accused arrived home. BBB was not in their house at the time. AAA and the
Accused, and the latter's four (4) children were inside the house at the time. The
Accused ordered his children to leave the house and, once the children were
out of the house, the Accused closed the door and the windows of the house, took out
his '29 balisong' and poked the same to AAA. The Accused, thereupon, ordered AAA
to undress. Afraid of her life, AAA did as ordered. The Accused also ordered AAA to
lie down on the floor, she did. The Accused, thereupon, went on top of AAA, kissed
her on her cheeks and lips and mashed her breast to boot. The Accused warned AAA
not to tell the police authorities and her mother about the incident otherwise he will
kill all of them. The Accused, thereafter, inserted his private organ into her privated
(sic) parts and had sexual intercourse with AAA. After the Accused was through he
then dressed up. The Accused warned AAA anew not to reveal the incident to the
police authorities and her mother. Since then, almost everyday the Accused had sexual
intercourse with AAA (Exhibits 'E' and 'E-1"). After New Year, FFF AAA to her
house where AAA stayed until March 15, 1989, when BBB took AAA anew because
she wanted AAA to study. AAA did not divulge to her grandmother what the Accused
did to her."
[7]

Subsequently, the appellant again took advantage of and raped the offended party
as follows:
"In the second week of March 1989, at about 3:45 p.m., AAA was in appellant's house
in Tondo together with DDD, her 10 year old brother and her stepbrothers, stepsister
and her stepfather, appellant Ramirez. At that time, her mother BBB, was out selling
her wares (TSN, July 12, 1989, pp. 3 and 5; see also TSN, August 8, 1989, p. 27).
Appellant then ordered the children to look for GGG, his eldest son, saying in the
vernacular: 'Labas kayo, hanapin si GGG.' (TSN, July 12, 1989, p. 10) Upon hearing
appellant telling the other children to look for GGG, AAA volunteered to help look
for the latter. However, appellant told her to stay put, so it was only AAAs younger
stepsister III and her stepbrother HHH who searched for GGG, who was reportedly
watching TV in the house of another relative somewhere within the vicinity (TSN,
August 2, 1989, pp. 29- 32).
AAA, who was wearing a white T-shirt and a maong shorts, was then seated on the
floor near the window while appellant in brown-colored shorts was lying on the floor
(TSN, July 12, 1989, p. 9). As soon- as the children left the shanty, appellant Ramirez
closed the door and locked it. He also closed the window facing outside house (TSN,
August 2, 1989, p. 39 & pp. 42-43). A few minutes later, AAA saw appellant already
naked. With a fan knife ('veinte nueve' balisong) in his right hand poked at the right
chest of AAA, appellant ordered her to undress. Appellant Ramirez then started
kissing AAA and afterwards got on top of her and ravished her on the floor of the
shanty (TSN, August 2, 1989, pp. 2-8). It was at this point when AAA saw her brother
pretending to be asleep (Ibid., p. 29; see also TSN, July 12, 1989, p. 7 and TSN,
September 21, 1989, p. 61).
He warned AAA not to complain to the police because he would kill her and her
family. After consummating his lustful desires on AAA and reiterating his threat,
appellant stepped out of the shanty. Likewise, AAA went out of the house to fetch
water and afterwards cooked rice for dinner (TSN, AUGUST 2, 1989, pp. 8-10).
When AAA got out of the shanty, she was approached by a female neighbor, Ate
Laki. Ate Laki whispered to AAA that through a hole on the wall of the shanty, she
(Ate Laki ) saw the appellant on top of AAA. This notwithstanding, AAA just kept
her mouth shut (TSN, August 99, 1989, pp. 7-9).
The following morning, AAA approached her mother, BBB, to report the dastardly
act of appellant Ramirez. She was with DDD who told their mother, thus: 'Nanay,
akala mo sina Ate nakita ko nagpapatungan ' Instead of getting mad at her common-
law-husband, BBB surprisingly slapped AAA and defended appellant (TSN,
September 21, 1989, pp. 50 & 61).
Angered by their mother's reaction, AAA and her younger brother DDD decided to go
to the police station, with the help of a man and a woman, both unidentified. however,
they got lost along the way.
Subsequently thereafter, AAA finally found her way to the police station, this time
with her paternal grandmother, FFF (TSN, August 9, 1989, pp. 9-10). In the Police
Station, she narrated her sexual ordeal with her stepfather, appellant Ramirez, to
police investigator Pat. Rodolfo Estrebel. After a lengthy investigation, she was asked
to sign her sworn statement (Exh. 'E') assisted by her grandmother, FFF. Afterwards,
she was also asked to sign the Complaint with Criminal Case No. 89-71802 for Rape
(Exh. 'F') against Enrique Ramirez y Antonio.
On March 15, 1989 AAA was examined at the NBI by Dr. Valentin Bemales,
Medico-Legal Officer. Dr. Bernales thereafter summarized his findings in his Report
Living Case No. MG-89-185 (Exh. 'A')
[8]

On March 21, 1989, police from the Western Police Department went to the house of
the appellant to invite the latter for questioning. They were met instead BBB who
fetched her common-law husband, appellant Ramirez, from the construction site
where he was working. As soon as the appellant arrived, the policemen then asked
him to go with them to the police station for investigation. At the police station, he
was properly identified by AAA as the person who sexually abused her. On Basis of a
'Booking . Sheet and Arrest Report' (Exh. 'B') which, together with an endorsement
letter (Exh. 'D') of Capt. Cresencio Cabasal, was forwarded to the City Prosecutor for
further proceedings."
The findings of Dr. Valentin Bernales as stated in his report
[9]
are as follows:
"GENERAL PHYSICAL EXAMlNATION:
Height: 138 0 cms. Weight: 36.8 kgs.
Normally developed, fairly developed, conscious, coherent, cooperative ambulatory
subject.
Breasts, developing, conical, firm. Areolae, light brown, 2.5 cm. in diameter. Nipples,
light brown, slightly protruding, 0.3 cm. in diameter.
No extragenital physical injury noted.
GENITAL EXAMlNATION:
Pubic hairs, fully grown, scanty. Labia Majora, gaping. Labia minora, coaptated.
Fourchette, lax. Vestibule, pinkish. Hymen, originally annular, tall, thick, with an old-
healed complete laceration at 2:00 o'clock position corresponding to the face of a
watch, edges of which are rounded, non-coaptable, base, retracted. Hymenal orifice,
admits a tube, 2.8 cm. in diameter. Vaginal walls, moderately tight. Rugosities,
moderately prominent.
CONCLUSIONS:
1. No evident sign of extragenital physical injury noted on the body of the
subject at the time of examination.
2. old-healed Hymenal laceration present."
Version of the Defense
In the main, the defense is one of denial and alibi. The defense's version is as
follows:
"Evidence for the defense shows that during the month of March 1989, accused-
appellant was employed as a construction worker at Pavia, Tondo. During the said
month he left home before 8:00 o'clock A.M. daily and returned home at past 5:00
o'clock in the afternoon. At that time, BBB, AAAs mother, was always at home as it
was her schedule when accused-appellant was working. She went out to sell her wares
only when appellant stayed home. Under this set-up, it was quite impossible for the
alleged rape upon AAA to have ever taken place.
Enrique Ramirez denied having anything to do with the raping of AAA, whom he
treated as his very own daughter. There was ill motive on the part of FFF and AAA in
filing the rape charge. FFF nurtured a long standing grudge against BBB and the
accused-appellant as BBB left CCC and preferred to live-in with Enrique Ramirez,
AAA likewise harbored ill-feelings towards appellant and filed the rape case in
retaliation for appellant's having hit her on the head when she failed to return home
when she was sent on an errand. AAAs defloration should rather be attributed to the
well known fact that she is a flirt as per the admission of her close relatives and she
usually spent her idle time outside the house and at a beer garden in the
neighborhood."
[10]

The Error Assigned
Appellant posits the sole error that allegedly:
"The court a quo gravely erred in convicting the accused-appellant of the crime
charged despite the absence of evidence required to prove his guilt beyond reasonable
doubt."
[11]

As the Court sees it, the crux of this case is the credibility of AAAs testimony and
the weight and sufficiency of the prosecution's total evidence.
The appellant based his assigned error on the following arguments: 1. " x x x. (t)he
prosecution's failure to present DDD and Ate Laki as witnesses during the trial, when
both allegedly were eyewitnesses to the supposed sexual assault committed upon AAA
by herein appellant, gives raise to the presumption that the testimonies of these two
persons were evidently suppressed as these would be damaging to the complainant's
case. x x x"
[12]
(2.) the "(e)xistence of ill-motive on the part of complainant's paternal
grandmother, FFF was amply shown by defense evidence which remains unrebutted.
FFF merely utilized her grandchild AAA, who likewise resented the appellant, in order to
exact vengeance from the appellant and BBB."
[13]
and (3.) "x x x (i)n the instant case, as
the evidence of the prosecution is not sufficient to establish the guilt of the appellant of
the crime charged beyond reasonable doubt, he must therefore be acquitted."
[14]

The Court's Ruling
Credibility of the Witness
In deciding this appeal, the Court notes certain guiding principles in reviewing rape
cases, to wit:
"(a) an accusation of rape can be made with facility and while the accusation is
difficult to prove, it is even more difficult for the person accused, though
innocent, to disprove the charge;
(b) considering that, in the nature of things, only two (2) persons are
usually involved in the crime of rape, the testimony of the complainant should be
scrutinized with great caution; and
(c) the evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merit, and
cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the
defense."
[15]

The general rule in assessing credibility of. witnesses is well-settled: "the trial court's
evaluation as to the credibility of witnesses is viewed as correct and entitled to the
highest respect because it is more competent to so conclude, having had the
opportunity to observe the witnesses' demeanor and deportment on the stand, and the
manner in which they gave their testimonies. The trial judge therefore can better
determine if such witnesses were telling the truth, being in the ideal position to weigh
conflicting testimonies. Therefore, unless the trial judge plainly overlooked certain facts
of substance and value which, if considered, might affect the result of the case, his
assessment on credibility must be respected."
[16]

After a thorough scrutiny of this case, the Court finds no error in the ruling of the
court a quo giving full credence to the testimony of AAA and convicting accused-
appellant Enrique Ramirez of rape. We reiterate that, "when an alleged victim of rape
says that she was violated, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape has
been inflicted on her and so long as her testimony meets the test of credibility accused
may be convicted on the basis thereof."
[17]

In this case, AAA was unequivocal and unswerving in charging the accused-
appellant with rape. Her account of the rape was straightforward, detailed, consistent on
all material points and convincing both in her sworn statement and. testimony. The
relevant portion of her sworn statement
[18]
is as follows:
"07 T: Bakit ka naman naririto sa aming opisina at nagbibigay ng salaysay:
S: Irereklamo ko po iyong step father ko dahil ni-rape po niya ako.
08 T Kailan ka ni-rape ng step father mo kung natatandaan mo, anong oras at
saang lugar?
S: Marami na pong beses niya akong ni-rape, pero ang natatandaan ko, and. huli
niyang ginawa sa akin ay nuong nakaraan pong linggo, Huwebes po, .Ito lang
pong Marso 1989, duon niya ako ni-rape sa bahay namin 'sa Tondo sa squatters
area, sa XXX St., XXX, Tondo, Manila, kadalasan kung gahasain po ako ng step
father ko ay tanghali at gabi kung wala po ang nanay ko sa amin at nanonood po
ng T.V. sa kapitbahay.
09 T Isalaysay mo nga sa akin kung papaano ka nire-rape ng iyong step father?
S Ano po iyon, nuong isang taon po iyon nuong, hindi ko na matandaan and petsa
pero magpapasko po nuon ng una niya akong nirape, dumating po.ang step father
ko bandang ala-una ng tanghali, tapos pinalabas po niya yung mga bata sa loob
ng bahay namin at sinarado niya yung pintuan ng bahay namin at bintana ng
bahay namin, tapos po ay inilabas niya iyong beinte nueve niya (balisong at
tinutukan niya ako, at sabi niya ay huwag daw po akong magsusumbong sa nanay
ko at sa pulis, kundi ay papatayin niya kaming lahat. Tapos po ay pinaghubad niya
po ako ng damit ko at panty at naghubad din po siya at pinahiga niya ako sa sahig
at pinatungan niya ako. x x x (graphical description of act of rape omitted) at
pinagbihis na niya ako ng damit at pinagbantaan niya akong muli na papatayin
daw niya kaming lahat pag nagsumbong ako sa Nanay ko at sa mga Pulis. At
simula nuon ay halos araw araw ay nire-rape niya ako, at ang huli nga po ay
nuong nakaraang linggo po nitong Marso 1989, at dahil hindi ko na po matiis and
ginagawa 'niya sa akin ay tumakas po ako sa amin at nagsumbong na po ako sa
Pulis, tapos po ay pumunta po ako sa Lola ko at ipinagtapat ko ang ginagawa sa
akin ng step-father.
ko."
10 T: Iligid mo nga ang iyong mga paningin .sa loob' ng opisinang ito, narinto ba
ang taong iyong sinasabing nang-rape sa iyo ng maraming beses?
S: Nandito po siya, ayan po ang step-father ko. (Declarant pointing to the person of
ENRIQUE RAMIREZ y ANTONIO, 34 years old, laborer x x x)"
The salient portion of her testimony is as follows:
"FISCAL FORMOSO: Where were you on the second week of March, 1989?
WITNESS: I was in the house, sir.
[19]

xxx xxx xxx
FISCAL FORMOSO: While there on that time and date, was there any usual
incident that took place.
WITNESS: Yes, sir.
FISCAL FORMOSO: And what was that?
WITNESS: Ni raped po ako.
FISCAL FORMOSO: Who raped you?
WITNESS: That person there, sir.
INTERPRETER: The witness pointed to a person, when asked of his name he stated
Enrique Ramirez.
xxx xxx xxx
FISCAL FORMOSO: How was the accused able to do this rape against you?
WITNESS He kissed me and then he laid on top of me, sir.
[20]

xxx xxx xxx
FISCAL FORMOSO: Before the accused laid on top of your (sic), did he ever utter
any word?
WITNESS: Yes, sir.
FISCAL FORMOSO: What were those?.
WITNESS: He told me not to complain to the police because if I will do so, he will
kill me and all of us, sir.
FISCAL FORMOSO: When he uttered those words, was he holding anything?
WITNESS: Yes, sir.
FISCAL FORMOSO: What was that?
WITNESS: He was holding a viente nueve, sir.
FISCAL FORMOSO: How big is that knife?
WITNESS: About four inches in length, sir.
[21]

xxx xxx xxx
FISCAL FORMOSO: And what did you do after you were asked to remove your
clothing and while the knife was being poked in your neck?
WITNESS: He lay on top of me, sir. 'Pinatungan niya ako.'
FISCAL FORMOSO: You stated that you were asked by the accused to remove
your clothes. What did you do? Were you able to remove your clothes?
WITNESS: Yes, sir.
FISCAL FORMOSO: What else did you remove after removing your clothes?
WITNESS: My panty, sir.
FlSCAL FORMOSO: After removing your panty, what did you do after that?
WITNESS: He lay on top of me, sir
FISCAL FORMOSO: What exactly in the place did he lie on top of you? Was it on
,the bed, on the floor or what?
WITNESS: It was on the floor, sir.
FISCAL FORMOSO: When the accused lay on top of you, what did he do after
that?
WITNESS: 'Pinasok niya ang ari', sir. He inserted his organ. and after that he
made a movement, sir.
INTERPRETER: Witness is demonstrating by moving her buttocks forward, backward.
FISCAL FORMOSO: You stated that the accused there inserted his sex organ Where
did he insert that?
WITNESS: He inserted that sex organ in my private part, sir.x x x.
xxx xxx xxx
FISCAL FORMOSO: And what did you (feel) while the accused here inserted his
sex organ in your sex organ at the same time swinging his body forward and
backward?
WITNESS: I felt pain, sir. 'Masakit po'.
xxx xxx xxx
FISCAL FORMOSO: Did you notice anything in your sex. organ or on your thighs?
xxx xxx xxx
WITNESS: A white substance, sir, I just do not know what was that."
[22]

We deem it highly unlikely that AAA "x x x with all her childhood naivet and
innocence would make up stories against appellant x x x"
[23]
And "considering that the
victim was of tender years and not exposed to the ways of the world, it is most
improbable that she would impute a crime as serious as rape to any man if it were not
true."
[24]
It is a truism that "no woman especially one who is of tender age would concoct
a story of defloration, allow an examination of her private parts and thereafter permit
herself to be subjected to a public trial, if she is not motivated solely by the desire to
have the culprit apprehended and punished."
[25]

Furthermore; even appellant's own testimony shows that AAA was just an innocent
child who could not have been capable of weaving such an intricate web of deceit as
the one the appellant would have this Court believe she did:
"WITNESS: "My wife and I, Your Honor, we have been talking about AAA and
my wife told me also to extend patience to this AAA because this AAA has a
thinking of the child 'isip bata' x x x "
[26]

Weight and Sufficiency of Evidence
In fine, this Court finds that AAAs testimony is replete with spontaneity and
directness so overwhelming as to be impervious to a mere denial by the accused. "It is
a well settled, rule that an affirmative testimony is far stronger than, a negative
testimony, especially so when it comes from the, mouth of a credible witness x x x"
[27]

Accused-appellant argues that the non-presentation of DDD and Ate Laki signifies a
willful suppression of their testimonies as the same would have been adverse presented
in court. We are not persuaded. Their additional testimonies are not needed because
"(t)ruth is established not by the number of witnesses but by the quality of their
testimonies"
[28]
and "the lone testimony of the victim in the crime of rape if credible is
sufficient to sustain a conviction."
[29]
It is axiomatic that "witnesses are to be weighed, not
numbered."
[30]
For "after all, there is no law which requires that the testimony of a single
witness needs corroboration except when the law so expressly requires."
[31]
The
pronouncement of this Court in People vs. Martinez through Mr. Chief Justice Andres
Narvasa aptly elucidates on this point:
"Over the years, certain principles have been laid down in decisions involving the
analysis and assessment of evidence in cases of rape; and, having been so often
invoked and applied, have become so familiar and prosaic as to seem platitudinous.
Such propositions as that rape is not normally perpetrated in the presence of third
persons; hence, in prosecutions therefor, the only evidence, against the accused is
usually the testimony of the offended woman herself, her sole testimony being
sufficient for conviction if it rings true and is otherwise credible x x x "
[32]

No False Accusation of Rape
The allegation of appellant Ramirez that the complaint against him was false and
made only because complainant AAA was instigated and used by her paternal
grandmother FFF as an instrument of revenge against Ramirez is bereft of merit. The
Court observes that AAA was raised and cared for by her grandmother FFF from
infancy to her early teens and was therefore a "grandma's girl." Naturally, it is only to be
expected that FFF would have for her grandchild AAA all the love and protectiveness of
a true parent. Hence, it would be very unlikely for FFF to subject AAA to the indignities
of executing her sworn statement at the police station before a male police officer,
examination of her private parts by a male doctor at the National Bureau of Investigation
and the embarrassment of having to answer very personal and embarrassing questions
at a public trial, all just to spite Ramirez. Thus, this allegation of the appellant is
disregarded by the Court. We have held that "(i)t is unnatural for a parent to use her off
spring as an engine of malice, especially if it will subject a daughter to embarrassment
and even stigma. No mother would stoop so low as to subject her daughter the physical
hardship and shame concomitant to a rape prosecution just to assuage her own hurt
feelings."
[33]

Based on the foregoing discussion, our conscience rests easy upon the moral
certainty that accused-appellant Enrique Ramirez is indeed guilty of rape.
Moral and Exemplary Damages
The trial court correctly awarded moral and exemplary damages to the victim. An
award of moral damages for rape is mandated by Art. 2219 in relation to Art. 2217 both
of the Civil Code. We appreciate the presence of alternative or aggravating
circumstance of relationship in this case, as "the relationship of stepfather or stepmother
and stepson or stepdaughter is included by analogy as similar to that of ascendant and
descendant."
[34]
Thus, the award of exemplary damages is likewise proper.
[35]
Moreover,
the amount of P50,000.00 as indemnity, apart from moral and exemplary damages,
should have been awarded by the trial court.
[36]

One last point. The evidence points to several counts of rape committed by the
accused against his stepdaughter. However, we could not impose multiple penalties
because the Complaint charged, only one count. In the future, prosecutors and the
police are enjoined to file as many complaints/information as the evidence in their hands
may warrant so that as many separate penalties could be imposed by courts.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED and the Decision of the trial court finding
appellant Enriquez Ramirez y Antonio guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
rape committed against his own stepdaughter AAA and imposing on him the penalty
of reclusion perpetua is hereby AFFIRMED subject to the modification that he shall
indemnify the victim in the amount of eighty thousand pesos (P80,000.00) broken down
as follows: fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) by way of indemnity; plus thirty thousand
pesos (P30,000.00) as moral and exemplary damages.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Davide, Jr., Melo, and Francisco, JJ., concur.