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Sec. 20.

Witnesses; their qualifications


G.R. No. 188956 March 20, 2013

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES RETIREMENT AND SEPARATION BENEFITS SYSTEM


vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 assailing the Orders dated February 17, 2009 1 and
July 9, 20092 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City, Branch 68, in Land Registration Case No. N-
11517.

The first Order reconsidered and recalled the Decision 3 of the RTC dated April 21, 2008, which granted the-
application for land registration of petitioner Armed Forces of the Philippines Retirement and Separation
Benefits System. The second Order denied the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the petitioner.

Petitioner was "created under Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 361, 4 as amended, and was designed to establish a
separate fund to guarantee continuous financial support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines military
retirement system as provided for in Republic Act No. 340."5

Petitioner filed an Application for Registration of Title 6 over three parcels of land located in West Bicutan,
Taguig City, before the RTC of Pasig City. The said application was later docketed as LRC Case No. N-11517
and raffled to Branch 68 of the court a quo.

These three parcels of land constitute a land grant by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1218, issued by
former President Fidel V. Ramos on May 8, 1998.7

The application was filed by Mr. Honorio S. Azcueta (Mr. Azcueta), the then Executive Vice President and Chief
Operating Officer of the petitioner, who was duly authorized to do so by the Board of Trustees of the petitioner,
as evidenced by a notarized Secretarys Certificate 8 dated August 18, 2003.

After due posting and publication of the requisite notices, and since no oppositor registered any oppositions after
the petitioner met the jurisdictional requirements, the court a quo issued an order of general default against the
whole world, and the petitioner was allowed to present evidence ex-parte. 9

The petitioner then presented as its witness, Ms. Alma P. Aban (Ms. Aban), its Vice President and Head of its
Asset Enhancement Office. She testified, inter alia, that: among her main duties is to ensure that the properties
and assets of petitioner, especially real property, are legally titled and freed of liens and encumbrances; the
subject properties were acquired by the petitioner through a land grant under Presidential Proclamation No.
1218; prior to Presidential Proclamation No. 1218, the Republic of the Philippines was in open, continuous,
exclusive, notorious, and peaceful possession and occupation of the subject properties in the concept of an owner
to the exclusion of the world since time immemorial; petitioner, after the Republic of the Philippines transferred
ownership of the subject properties to it, assumed open, continuous, exclusive, notorious, and peaceful
possession and occupation, and exercised control over them in the concept of owner, and likewise assumed the
obligations of an owner; petitioner has been paying the real estate taxes on the subject properties; and the subject
properties are not mortgaged, encumbered, or tenanted. 10

Subsequently, petitioner submitted its Formal Offer of Evidence, 11 following which, the court a quo granted the
application in a Decision dated April 21, 2008. The dispositive portion of the said decision reads:

WHEREFORE, finding the Petition meritorious, the Court DECLARES, CONFIRMS AND ORDERS the
registration of AFPRSBS title thereto.
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
As soon as this Decision shall have become final and after payment of the required fees, let the corresponding
Decree be issued in the name of Armed Forces of the Philippines Retirement and Separation Benefits System.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Solicitor General, Land Registration Authority, Land
Management Bureau and the Registry of Deeds, Taguig City, Metro Manila.

SO ORDERED.12

In response, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Motion for Reconsideration 13 dated May 12, 2008,
wherein it argued that the petitioner failed to prove that it has personality to own property in its name and the
petitioner failed to show that the witness it presented was duly authorized to appear for and in its behalf.

On June 2, 2008, petitioner filed its Comment/Opposition.14

On February 17, 2009, the court a quo issued the assailed Order granting the Motion for Reconsideration of the
OSG on the ground that the petitioner failed to prosecute its case. The dispositive portion of the assailed Order
reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the OSGs motion for reconsideration is GRANTED. The Courts Decision
of April 21, 2008 is hereby RECONSIDERED and RECALLED, and a new one issued DISMISSING this
Application for Registration of Title for failure to prosecute.

SO ORDERED.15

The Motion for Reconsideration16 of petitioner was denied by the court a quo in the other assailed Order 17 dated
July 9, 2009. Hence, this petition.

The issue to be resolved in the present case is whether the court a quo acted contrary to law and jurisprudence
when it dismissed petitioners application for land registration on the ground that petitioner failed to prosecute
the subject case.

We answer in the affirmative.

The reason of the court a quo in dismissing petitioners application for land registration on the ground of failure
to prosecute was the lack of authority on the part of Ms. Aban to testify on behalf of the petitioner.

However, Section 3, Rule 17 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, provides only three instances
wherein the Court may dismiss a case for failure to prosecute:

Sec. 3. Dismissal due to fault of plaintiff.If, for no justifiable cause, the plaintiff fails to appear on the date of
the presentation of his evidence in chief on the complaint, or to prosecute his action for an unreasonable length
of time, or to comply with these Rules or any order of the court, the complaint may be dismissed upon motion of
the defendant or upon the courts own motion, without prejudice to the right of the defendant to prosecute his
counterclaim in the same or in a separate action. This dismissal shall have the effect of an adjudication upon the
merits, unless otherwise declared by the court.

Jurisprudence has elucidated on this matter in De Knecht v. CA: 18

An action may be dismissed for failure to prosecute in any of the following instances: (1) if the plaintiff fails to
appear at the time of trial; or (2) if he fails to prosecute the action for an unreasonable length of time; or (3) if he
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
fails to comply with the Rules of Court or any order of the court. Once a case is dismissed for failure to
prosecute, this has the effect of an adjudication on the merits and is understood to be with prejudice to the filing
of another action unless otherwise provided in the order of dismissal. In other words, unless there be a
qualification in the order of dismissal that it is without prejudice, the dismissal should be regarded as an
adjudication on the merits and is with prejudice. (Emphasis supplied.)

Clearly, the court a quos basis for pronouncing that the petitioner failed to prosecute its case is not among those
grounds provided by the Rules. It had no reason to conclude that the petitioner failed to prosecute its case. First,
the petitioner did not fail to appear at the time of the trial. In fact, the Decision of the RTC dated April 21, 2008
ordering the registration of petitioners title to the subject lots shows that the petitioner appeared before the
Court and was represented by counsel. Records would also reveal that the petitioner was able to present its
evidence, and as a result, the RTC rendered judgment in its favor.

Second, the petitioner did not fail to prosecute the subject case considering that it appeared during trial,
presented Ms. Aban, who gave competent testimony as regards the titling of the subject lots, and the court a quo
never held petitioner liable for any delay in prosecuting the subject case.

Third, a perusal of the records would demonstrate that the petitioner did not fail to comply with the Rules or any
order of the court a quo, as there is no ruling on the part of the latter to this effect.

Indeed, there was no basis for the court a quos ruling that the petitioner failed to prosecute the subject case,
because none of the grounds provided in the Rules for dismissing a case due to failure to prosecute is present.
That the RTC dismissed the application for land registration of the petitioner for failure to prosecute after the
petitioner presented all its evidence and after said court has rendered a decision in its favor, is highly irregular.

At this juncture, it would be appropriate to discuss the basis of the court a quo in dismissing the petitioners
application for land registration for failure to prosecute the alleged lack of authority of the witness, Ms. Aban,
to testify on behalf of the petitioner.

The assailed Order held as follows:

With things now stand, the Court believes that OSG was correct in observing that indeed the AFPRSBS did not
present its duly authorized representative to prosecute this case. And the records support the observation since
AFPRSBS presented only one witness Mrs. Aban. In view of the foregoing the Court is left without choice
than to grant OSGs motion for reconsideration.19

However, there is no substantive or procedural rule which requires a witness for a party to present some form of
authorization to testify as a witness for the party presenting him or her. No law or jurisprudence would support
the conclusion that such omission can be considered as a failure to prosecute on the part of the party presenting
such witness. All that the Rules require of a witness is that the witness possesses all the qualifications and none
of the disqualifications provided therein. Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence provides:

SEC. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications.Except as provided in the next succeeding section, all persons who can
perceive, and perceiving, can make known their perception to others, may be witnesses.

xxxx

Cavili v. Judge Florendo20 speaks of the disqualifications:

Sections 19 and 20 of Rule 130 provide for specific disqualifications. Section 19 disqualifies those who are
mentally incapacitated and children whose tender age or immaturity renders them incapable of being witnesses.
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
Section 20 provides for disqualification based on conflicts of interest or on relationship. Section 21 provides for
disqualifications based on privileged communications. Section 15 of Rule 132 may not be a rule on
disqualification of witnesses but it states the grounds when a witness may be impeached by the party against
whom he was called.

x x x The specific enumeration of disqualified witnesses excludes the operation of causes of disability other than
those mentioned in the Rules. It is a maxim of recognized utility and merit in the construction of statutes that an
express exception, exemption, or saving clause excludes other exceptions. (In Re Estate of Enriquez, 29 Phil.
167) As a general rule, where there are express exceptions these comprise the only limitations on the operation
of a statute and no other exception will be implied. (Sutherland on Statutory Construction, Fourth Edition, Vol.
2A, p. 90) The Rules should not be interpreted to include an exception not embodied therein. (Emphasis
supplied.)

A reading of the pertinent law and jurisprudence would show that Ms. Aban is qualified to testify as a witness for
the petitioner since she possesses the qualifications of being able to perceive and being able to make her
perceptions known to others. Furthermore, she possesses none of the disqualifications described above.

The RTC clearly erred in ordering the dismissal of the subject application for land registration for failure to
prosecute because petitioners witness did not possess an authorization to testify on behalf of petitioner. The
court a quo also erred when it concluded that the subject case was not prosecuted by a duly authorized
representative of the petitioner. The OSG and the court a quo did not question the Verification/Certification 21 of
the application, and neither did they question the authority of Mr. Azcueta to file the subject application on
behalf of the petitioner. Case records would reveal that the application was signed and filed by Mr. Azcueta in
his capacity as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the petitioner, as authorized by
petitioners Board of Trustees.22 The authority of Mr. Azcueta to file the subject application was established by a
Secretarys Certificate23 attached to the said application. The asseveration that the subject case was not
prosecuted by a duly authorized representative of the petitioner is thus unfounded.

Interestingly enough, the respondent itself agrees with the petitioner that the dismissal of the subject application
by the court a quo on the ground of failure to prosecute due to lack of authority of the sole witness of the
petitioner is unfounded and without legal basis.24

WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. The Orders of the Regional Trial Court dated
February 17, 2009 and July 9, 2009 are REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Regional Trial
Court dated April 21, 2008, granting the Application for Registration of Title of the petitioner is hereby
REINSTATED and UPHELD.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications

G.R. No. 84450 February 4, 1991

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. GLORIA UMALI y AMADO AND SUZETH UMALI y AMADO

In Criminal Case No. 85-473 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 53, Lucena City, Gloria Umali and Suzeth
Umali were charged for violation of Section 4, Article 1 of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 under an
information which reads:

That on or about the 22nd day of April, 1985, at Recto Street, Poblacion, Municipality of Tiaong,
Province of Quezon, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed
accused, conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping each other, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell, deliver and give marijuana or Indian Hemp, a prohibited drug
to one Francisco Manalo y Arellano, without authority of law.

Contrary to law. (Rollo, pp. 7-8)

Upon arraignment, Gloria Umali entered a plea of "not, guilty" as accused Suzeth Umali remained at large. After
trial, the lower court rendered a decision on September 9, 1987, the dispositive portion thereof states:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court finds accused Gloria Umali guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of violating Sec. 4, Art. 1 (sic) of RA 6425 as amended, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs
Act of 1972, and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua. Accused being a
detention prisoner is entitled to enjoy the privileges of her preventive imprisonment. The case against
Suzeth Umali, her co-accused in this case is hereby ordered ARCHIVED to be revived until the arrest of
said accused is effected. The warrant of arrest issued against her is hereby ordered reiterated.

SO ORDERED. (Rollo, p. 30)

Hence, this appeal from the lower court's decision with the following assignment of errors:
I
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO THE BIASED
TESTIMONY OF FRANCISCO MANALO
II
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN ADMITTING THE PROSECUTION'S EVIDENCE
WHICH WERE OBTAINED IN VIOLATION OF ACCUSED'S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
AGAINST ILLEGAL SEARCH AND SEIZURE
III
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN DECLARING THAT ACCUSED NEVER DISPUTED
THE CLAIM THAT SHE WAS THE SOURCE OF MARIJUANA LEAVES FOUND IN THE
POSSESSION OF FRANCISCO MANALO ON APRIL 5, 1985 AND THAT WHICH WAS USED BY
PIERRE PANGAN RESULTING TO THE LATTER'S DRUG DEPENDENCY
IV
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSED GLORIA 1, GUILTY OF
VIOLATION OF DANGEROUS DRUGS ACT OF 1972 ON THE BASIS OF MERE CONJECTURES
AND NOT ON FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES PROVEN
V
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED
DID NOT PASS THE TEST OF MORAL CERTAINTY. (Rollo, p. 49)

The antecedent facts of this case as recounted by the trial court are as follows:

On April 27, 1985 Pierre Pangan, a minor was investigated by Pat. Felino Noguerra for drug dependency and for
an alleged crime of robbery. In the course of the investigation, the policemen discovered that Pierre Pangan was
capable of committing crime against property, only if under the influence of drug (sic). As Pierre Pangan is a
minor, the police investigators sought the presence of his parents. Leopoldo Pangan, father of the minor was
invited to the police headquarters and was informed about the problem of his son. Mr. Pangan asked the police
investigators if something could be done to determine the source of the marijuana which has not only socially
affected his son, but other minors in the community. Previous to the case of Pierre Pangan was the case of
Francisco Manalo, who was likewise investigated by operatives of the Tiaong, Quezon Police Department and
for which a case for violation of the Dangerous Drug Act was filed against him, covered by Criminal Case No.
85-516 before Branch 60 of the Regional Trial Court of Lucena City. Aside from said case, accused Francisco
Manalo was likewise facing other charges such as concealment of deadly weapon and other crimes against
property. Pat. Felino Noguerra went to the Tiaong Municipal Jail, and sought the help of Francisco Manalo and
told him the social and pernicious effect of prohibited drugs like marijuana being peddled to minors of Tiaong,
Quezon. Manalo although a detention prisoner was touched by the appeal made to him by the policeman and
agreed to help in the identification of the source of the marijuana. In return he asked the policeman to help him
in some cases pending against him. He did not negotiate his case for violating the dangerous drug act, as he has
entered a plea of guilty to the charged (sic) before the sala of Judge Eriberto Rosario.

With the consent of Francisco Manalo, Pfc. Sarmiento, Chief of the Investigation Division gave him four (4)
marked P5.00 bills to buy marijuana from sources known to him. The serial numbers of the money was entered
in the police blotter. The instruction was (sic) for Manalo to bring back the prohibited drug purchased by him to
the police headquarters. Few minutes there after (sic), Manalo returned with two (2) foils of dried marijuana
which lie allegedly bought from the accused Gloria Umali. Thereafter, he was asked by the police investigators
to give a statement on the manner and circumstances of how he was able to purchase two (2) marijuana foils
from accused Gloria Umali. With the affidavit of Francisco Manalo, supported by the two (2) foils of marijuana.
the Chief of the Investigation Division petitioned the Court for the issuance of a search warrant as a justification
for them to search the house of Gloria Umali located at Rector (sic) Street. Poblacion, Tiaong, Quezon. After
securing the same, the police operatives, went to the house of Gloria Umali and served the search warrant on her.
Confiscated from the person of Gloria Umali were the four P5.00 bills with serial numbers BA26943,
DT388005, CC582000 and EW69873, respectively as reflected in the police blotter. Likewise, present in the four
(4) P5.00 bills were the letters T which were placed by the police investigators to further identify the marked
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
four (4) P5.00 bills. The searched (sic) in the house was made in the presence of Brgy. Capt. Punzalan. The
search resulted in the confiscation of a can of milo, containing sixteen (16) foils of dried marijuana leaves which
were placed in a tupperware and kept in the kitchen where rice was being stored. The return of the search
warrant reads as follows:

DATE: 22 April 1985

WHAT: "RAID"

WHERE: Residence of Dr. Emiliano Umali


Poblacion, Tiaong, Quezon

WHO: MBRS. OF TIAONG INP

TIME STARTED/ARRIVED AT SAID PLACE:


221410H Apr '85

SERVED TO: MRS. GLORIA UMALI


MR. EMILIANO UMALI

PERSON APPREHENDED/PROPERTY SEIZED/RECOVERED

Mrs. Gloria Umali 16 Aluminum Foils of

Mr. Emiliano Umali Suspected Marijuana leaves

TIME/DATE LEFT SAID PLACE: 221450H Apr '85

WITNESSES (sic) BY:

1. (Sgd) Reynaldo S. Pasumbal


2. (Sgd) Luisabel P. Punzalan
3. (Sgd) Arnulfo C. Veneracion
4. (Sgd) Isidro C. Capino

Samples of the marijuana leaves confiscated were submitted to the PC Came Laboratory for
examination. Capt. Rosalinda Royales of the PC crime Laboratory took the witness stand, testified and
identified the marijuana submitted to her and in a written report which was marked as Exhibit "G" she
gave the following findings:

Qualitative examination conducted on the specimen mentioned above gave POSITIVE result to
the tests fur marijuana.

In Criminal Case No. 85-516, Francisco Manalo was charged of having in his possession Indian Hemp
on April 5, 1985, in violation of Section 8, Article 11 of Republic Act 6425 as amended, otherwise as the
Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. The Court in rendering against him disposed the case as follows:

In view of the foregoing, the Court hereby finds the accused Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of illegal possession of "Indian Hemp" penalized under Sec. 8 of Article 6425 ( sic); as
amended otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 and the Court hereby sentences
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
him to suffer an imprisonment of two (2) years and four (4) months of prision correccional to six
(6) years and one (1) day of Prision Mayor and to pay a fine of Six Thousand Pesos (P6,000.00).
Let the period of detention of the accused be credited to his sentence.

Accused never disputed the claim of Francisco Manalo that the marijuana found in his possession on
April 5, 1985 in the municipality of Tiaong, Quezon was sold to him by the accused Gloria Umali. The
defense also did not dispute the claim of the prosecution that in the investigation of Pierre Pangan, the
police investigator came to know that Gloria Umali was the source of the marijuana leaves which he
used and smoked resulting in his present drug dependency. (Rollo, pp. 22-27)

The appellant vehemently denied the findings of the lower court and insisted that said court committed
reversible errors in convicting her. She alleged that witness Francisco Manalo is not reputed to be trustworthy
and reliable and that his words should not be taken on its face value. Furthermore, he stressed that said witness
has several charges in court and because of his desire to have some of his cases dismissed, he was likely to tell
falsehood.

However, the plaintiff-appellee through the Solicitor General said that even if Francisco Manalo was then facing
several criminal charges when he testified, such fact did not in any way disqualify him as a witness. "His
testimony is not only reasonable and probable but more so, it was also corroborated in its material respect by the
other prosecution witnesses, especially the police officers." (Rollo, pp. 83-84)

The appellant also claimed that the marked money as well as the marijuana were confiscated for no other
purpose than using them as evidence against the accused in the proceeding for violation of Dangerous Drugs Act
and therefore the search warrant issued is illegal from the very beginning. She stressed that there can be no other
plausible explanation other than that she was a victim of a frame-up.

In relation to this contention, the Solicitor General noted that it is not true that the evidences submitted by the
prosecution were obtained in violation of her constitutional right against illegal search and seizure.

Furthermore, the appellant contended that the essential elements of the crime of which she was charged were
never established by clear and convincing evidence to warrant the findings of the court a quo. She also stressed
that the court's verdict of conviction is merely based on surmises and conjectures.

However, the Solicitor General noted that the positive and categorical testimonies of the prosecution witnesses
who had personal knowledge of the happening together with the physical evidence submitted clearly prove the
guilt beyond reasonable doubt of accused-appellant for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Time and again, it is stressed that this Court is enjoined from casually modifying or rejecting the trial court's
factual findings. Such factual findings, particularly the trial judge's assessment of the credibility of the testimony
of the witnesses are accorded with great respect on appeal for the trial judge enjoys the advantage of directly and
at first hand observing and examining the testimonial and other proofs as they are presented at the trial and is
therefore better situated to form accurate impressions and conclusions on the basis thereof (See People v. Bravo,
G.R. No. 68422, 29 December, 1989,180 SCRA 694,699). The findings of the trial court are entitled to great
weight, and should not be disturbed on appeal unless it is shown that the trial court had overlooked certain facts
of weight and importance, it being acknowledged that the court below, having seen and heard the witnesses
during the trial, is in a better position to evaluate their testimonies (People v. Alverez y Soriano, G.R. No. 70831,
29 July 1988, 163 SCRA 745, 249; People v. Dorado, G.R. No. L-23464, October 31, 1969, 30 SCRA 53; People
v. Espejo, G.R. No. L-27708, December 19, 1970, 36 SCRA 400). Hence, in the absence of any showing that the
trial court had overlooked certain substantial facts, said factual findings are entitled to great weight, and indeed
are binding even on this Court.
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
Rule 130, Section 20 of the Revised Rules of Court provides that:

Except as provided in the next succeeding section, all persons who can perceive, and perceiving can
make known their perception to others may be witnesses.

Religious or political belief, interest in the outcome of the case, or conviction of a crime unless
otherwise provided by law, shall not be a ground for disqualification.

The phrase "conviction of a crime unless otherwise provided by law" takes into account Article 821 of the Civil
Code which states that persons convicted of falsification of a document, perjury or false testimony" are
disqualified from being witnesses to a will." (Paras, RULES OF COURT ANNOTATED, Vol. IV First Ed., p. 44)

Since the witness Francisco Manalo is not convicted of any of the above-mentioned crimes to disqualify him as a
witness and this case does not involve the probate of a will, We rule that the fact that said witness is facing
several criminal charges when he testified did not in any way disqualify him as a witness.

The testimony of a witness should be given full faith and credit, in the absence of evidence that he was actuated
by improper motive (People v. Melgar, G.R. No. 75268,29 January 1988, 157 SCRA 718). Hence, in the absence
of any evidence that witness Francisco Manalo was actuated by improper motive, his testimony must be
accorded full credence.

Appellant's contention that she was a victim of a "frame-up" is devoid of merit.1wphi1 "Courts must be
vigilant. A handy defense in such cases is that it is a frame-up and that the police attempted to extort from the
accused. Extreme caution must be exercised in appreciating such defense. It is just as easy to concoct as a frame-
up. At all times the police, the prosecution and the Courts must be always on guard against these hazards in the
administration of criminal justice." (People v. Rojo, G.R. No. 82737, 5 July 1989, 175 SCRA 119)

The appellant's allegation that the search warrant is illegal cannot also be given any merit. "Where marked peso
bills were seized by the police as a result of the search made on the appellant, the admissibility of these marked
peso bills hinges on the legality of the arrest and search on the person of the appellant" (People v. Paco, G.R. No.
76893, 27 February 1989, 170 SCRA 681). Since the search is predicated on a valid search warrant, absent any
showing that such was procured maliciously the things seized are admissible in evidence.

Appellant argues that the lower court's verdict is based on surmises and conjectures, hence the essential elements
of the crime were never established by clear and convincing evidence.

Conviction cannot be predicated on a presumption or speculation. A conviction for a criminal offense must be
based on clear and positive evidence and not on mere presumptions (Gaerlan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
57876, 6 November 1989, 179 SCRA 20). The prosecution's evidence consisted of the testimony of witness
Manalo and the law enforcers as well as the physical evidence consisting of the seized marked peso bills, the two
(2) foils of marijuana purchased and the can containing sixteen (16) aluminum foils of dried marijuana.

Credence is accorded to the prosecution's evidence more so as it consisted mainly of testimonies of policemen.
Law enforcers are presumed to have regularly performed their duty in the absence of proof to the contrary
(People v. Tejada, G.R. No. 81520, 21 February 1989, 170 SCRA 497). Hence, in the absence of proof to the
contrary, full credence should be accorded to the prosecution's evidence. The evidence on record sufficiently
established that Umali gave two (2) foils of marijuana to witness Manalo for which she was given and received
four (4) marked five peso (P5.00) bills, and fully supports conviction for drug pushing in violation of Section 4
Article II of the Dangerous Drugs Act.
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
Thus, the Court has no option but to declare that the trial court did not err in finding, on the basis of the evidence
on record, that the accused-appellant Gloria Umali violated Section 4, Article II of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Pursuant to recent jurisprudence and law, the case is covered by Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6425 as amended
by Presidential Decree No. 1675, effective February 17, 1980, which raised the penalty for selling prohibited
drugs from life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from twenty to thirty thousand pesos (People v.
Adriano, G.R. No. 65349, October 31, 1984, 133 SCRA 132) Thus, the trial court correctly imposed the penalty
of life imprisonment but failed to impose a fine.

ACCORDINGLY, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED with the modification that a fine of twenty thousand
pesos (P20,000.00) be imposed, as it is hereby imposed, on the accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED.

[G. R. No. 128137. August 2, 2001]


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. MARIO HAMTO y CODERAS, RONALD CUESTA y OVERO,
FERNAN PERVERA
Appellant Mario Hamto y Coderas seeks a reversal of the Decision [2] dated January 29, 1997, in Criminal
Case No. Q 94-57991, of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 107. He was found guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and sentenced to suffer imprisonment of twenty (20) years and one (1) day
to forty (40) years of reclusion perpetua and to pay private complainant the amount of P50,000.00 as damages.
The Complaint[3] against the accused dated July 14, 1994, reads as follows:

That in or about the second week of May 1994, in Quezon City, Philippines, the above-named accused,
conspiring, confederating with another person whose true name and present whereabouts has not as yet been
ascertained, and mutually helping one another, by means of force, violence and intimidation, did then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously take turns in having sexual intercourse with the undersigned MARY
GRACE LABATETE Y JALOS, 24 years of age but mentally retarded, without her consent and against her will,
to her damage and prejudice.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

During arraignment the appellant pleaded not guilty. After trial, the court a quo rendered the assailed
decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, this court finds the accused Mario Hamto y
Coderas and Ronald Cuesta y Overo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and are hereby
sentenced, to wit:

1. For the accused, Mario Hamto y Coderas, to suffer imprisonment of twenty (20) years and one (1)
day to forty (40) years of reclusion perpetua with full credit of his preventive imprisonment in the
service of his sentence;
2. For the accused, Ronald Cuesta y Overo to suffer imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day
to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal with full credit of his preventive imprisonment in the
service of his sentence;
3. For each of the accused to pay the private complainant the amount of P50,000.00; and
4. To pay the costs of this suit.
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
[4]
SO ORDERED.

Only Mario Hamto appealed the decision of the lower court. Hence, our decision now is with respect to
Hamto only.
Appellants main defense consists of denial and alibi. He denied the allegation of rape contending that he
was at another place during the alleged commission of the offense. Before this Court he seeks the reversal of the
trial courts decision on the ground that:

THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR
THE CRIME CHARGED HAS BEEN PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.

Considering the assigned error, the main issue is whether or not the trial court erred in convicting appellant
of the crime of rape and imposing on him the aforestated sentence.
In his brief, appellant contends that the testimony of the private complainant, who is medically diagnosed to
be suffering from moderate mental retardation, is not worthy of any credence or belief. He also argues that his
defense of alibi coupled with the improbabilities of the prosecutions evidence deserves meritorious
consideration.
For the State, the Office of the Solicitor General maintains that the trial court did not err in giving credence
to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, especially that of the victim herself. According to the OSG, the
defense of alibi and denial by the appellant cannot prevail over the positive testimonies of the prosecution
witnesses who clearly identified him as the perpetrator of the crime. The OSG saw no ill motive on the part of
the sister of the private complainant in accusing appellant of rape.
The pertinent facts, presented by the prosecution, are as follows:
On June 12, 1994, Werlinia J. Labatete and her sister Mary Grace, a mental retardate, were at home in
Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal. At around five oclock in the afternoon, Werlinias driver, Fernan Pervera, arrived. The
latter asked Werlinia for his money in the amount of P700.00 because he will stop working for a while as driver
of Werlinia. While they were talking, Werlinia saw her sister Mary Grace peep. When Mary Grace saw Fernan,
she suddenly retreated to the kitchen.[5]
After Fernan left, Werlinia called Mary Grace and asked her why she was frightened upon seeing
Fernan. Mary Grace just said No. Werlinia persistently asked Mary Grace the same question until she
answered, Iniyot ako ni Mario, Fernan and Dondon. (Literally translated: I was fucked by Mario, Fernan and
Dondon.) The persons mentioned by Mary Grace were workers in her stall in Nepa Q-Mart in Cubao, Quezon
City.[6] Werlinia was in the business of selling vegetables, rice and fruits at the Nepa Q-Mart in Cubao, Quezon
City. She owned 2 passenger jeepneys, a nine-seater single-tire jeepney and a fifteen-seater double-tire jeepney,
which she used in going to Baguio City or Pangasinan two to three times a week to buy goods for her
business. Mario Hamto and Fernan Pervera were employed by Werlinia as drivers while Ronald Cuesta,
nicknamed Dondon, was hired as conductor.
Werlinia brought Mary Grace to the police station in Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal and filed a complaint which
was entered in the police blotter. She likewise brought Mary Grace to the National Center for Mental Health for
psychiatric examination. At the Criminal Investigation Section in Camp Crame, Mary Grace, with the assistance
of her sister, gave a statement on the alleged rape. [7]
Mary Grace testified that Fernan, Mario and Ronald raped her in the fifteen-seater double-tire jeepney. They
all smelled of liquor at that time, according to her. It was Mario who raped her first, she said. Mario boxed her
on the chest, covered her mouth and held her hands. Mario then removed her panty. Ronald prevented her from
going out of the jeepney. Mario removed his pants and raped her. Afterwards, Mary Grace said Ayaw ko nang
magpaiyot. [8] The three refused to let her go and raped her again one after another. She felt pain. She did not tell
her Ate Lina (Werlinia) about the incident because she forgot to do so.
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
Dr. Ma. Cristina Freyra, Medico-legal Officer of the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory, also
testified for the prosecution. In her report, she confirmed that Mary Grace had deep-healed lacerations at 3:00
oclock and 6:00 oclock positions indicating that she is no longer a virgin and that the deep-healed lacerations
were inflicted more than seven (7) days prior to the examination. [9]
Dr. Celeste Pea-Vista, a resident physician at the National Center for Mental Health, conducted a
psychiatric examination of Mary Grace and found that Mary Grace was retarded with a mental age of a seven-
year-old. It was also established that she had an IQ level of 35-42 and had diminutive deficit in adoptive
functioning. She was perceptive but had difficulty in interpretation. She could tell what happened but found it
difficult to know the meaning of things.[10]
The version of the defense, presented to the trial court, is as follows:
Appellant Hamto was a stay-in mechanic at the Dominguez Motors shop located at Purdue Street, corner
Ermin Garcia, Cubao, Quezon City. On April 27, 1994, he agreed to work as driver of Werlinias double-tire
jeepney upon their agreement that they would share the profit under a 40-60% sharing arrangement after all the
goods have been sold. In the meantime he stopped working at Dominguez Motors though he regularly went there
to sleep.[11]
On May 2, 1994, his sister Ligaya Santos came to see him at Dominguez Motors and informed him that
their mother died on April 30, 1994 in Atimonan, Quezon. The next day, he went to Atimonan. On May 7, 1994,
his mother was buried. He continued to stay there until after the pasiyam (nine days wake), for he had to take
care of the expenses of the funeral. He returned to the repair shop in the evening of May 14, 1994. He returned to
work for Werlinia on May 15, 1994.[12]
On May 17, 1994, they went to Tanay and proceeded to Baguio to buy vegetables for the market stall. After
the vegetables were sold, Werlinia gave him P1,000.00. To prove that he was in Atimonan, Quezon, he presented
an affidavit executed by the Barangay Secretary and attested to by the Mayor and the Barangay Captain. [13]
On May 22, 1994, he decided to stop working for Werlinia. He told her that his children were going to
enroll in school. He never returned to work after this date. He was told by friends that Werlinia went to the shop
angry and said something bad might happen to him. He testified that Werlinia charged him for rape because he
failed to work for her starting May 22, 1994, which he purposely did because Werlinia failed to give him his
share per their profit agreement.[14]
For his part, co-accused Ronald Cuesta denied the accusation against him. He claimed that on May 7, 1994
he decided to quit working for Werlinia because of his small salary and his difficulty in sleeping at night on the
floor of the jeepney as ordered by Werlinia. He denied raping Mary Grace and denied having seen her in the
double-tire jeepney. He also testified that he did not know whether someone was sleeping in the double-tire
jeepney.[15]
After a meticulous examination of the evidence on record, the trial court rendered its decision, holding that
appellant indeed raped Mary Grace. Her narration as to how the rape was committed, in the courts view, was
straightforward, despite her mental weakness. The trial court found her testimony worthy of belief. [16] As to the
appellants defense of alibi, the trial court found it lacking merit because he failed to establish that he could not
have been physically present at the place of the crime at the time of its commission. Except for the penalty
imposed, we are in agreement with the trial courts judgment.
Although Mary Grace was mentally retarded, her testimony cannot be discredited. All persons who can
perceive, and perceiving can make known their perception to others, may be witnesses. [17] Mere intellectual
weakness of a witness is not a ground to disqualify, or at the very least discredit, a witness. The intellectual
weakness of Mary Grace does not make her incompetent as a witness if, at the time she testified, she had the
mental capacity to distinguish between right and wrong, understand the nature and obligation of an oath, and
give a fairly intelligent and reasonable narrative of the matters about which she testifies. [18]

On the witness stand, Mary Grace testified as follows:


Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
A. On why she filed the case:
ACP GARCIA: (to the witness)
Q- You are accusing Mario Hamto and Ronald Cuesta of having raped you. Now, why do you say so?
A- Yes, sir.
Q- Why do you say so?
A- Because they raped me at the double tire, at the long bench.
ATTY. RIVERA:
The answer is not responsive, Your Honor. The question is, Bakit mo nasabing ni-rape ka? That is the
question. And then the answer is opo, ni-rape po ako. That is not responsive to the question. The
question actually how did she conclude that she was raped.
COURT:
Well, considering her mental ability. Why dont you let her explain why she said that.
ACP GARCIA: (to the witness)
Q- What do you mean by you were raped?
A- I was raped at the double tire.
COURT:
What is that rape?
WITNESS:
Inuyut sa double tire.[19]

B. On the date when the rape occurred:


xxx
ACP GARCIA: (to the witness)
xxx
Q- What is this double tire where you said you were raped. Is that a house or a jeep?
A- It is a vehicle, sir.
Q- Do you know, more or less, when did this rape incident occurred? More or less.
A- When Dondon Cuesta went to buy a gas at Q-Mart.
Q- What month?
A- May, sir.
Q- Do you know what year is this?
A- Last year.[20]

C. On the place where it happened and how it happened:


xxx
FISCAL GARCIA: - Where do you sleep during the night while you were at the store of your sister at Q-
Mart?
A- Double-tire jeep, sir.
xxx
FISCAL GARCIA: Okay, I will reform the question. Sometime in May, 1994, did you sleep at the double tire
jeep of your sister at Q-Mart?
A- Yes, sir.
xxx
Q- By the way, Ms. Witness, was the other accused Mario Hamto present during that night when you were
sleeping at the double tire jeep of your sister?
A- Yes, he was there.
Q- What was he doing?
A- Inayot ako sa double tire, hinubad ang panty ko bago nasira ang panty ko.
Q- Will you again demonstrate what Mario Hamto did to you na inayot, that you said inayot?
A- His organ was inserted to my organ.
xxx
Q- Ms. Witness, after Mario Hamto, you said inayot ka who else nagayot sa iyo?
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
A- Mario Hamto, sir was the first one and he does not want me to pass through the door.
Q- And what did Dondon did to you?
A- He also inayot me and he does not want me to go out of the double-tire, sir.
Q- What do you mean by inayot by Dondon?
A- Hinubad niya ang pantalon niya bago niya ako inayot.
Q- How many times na inayot ka ni Dondon?
A- Several times, sir.
Q- What about Mario Hamto?
A- Mario Hamto inayot me several times and he even boxed me on my chest.
Q- Who boxed you?
A- Mario Hamto (witness pointing to the accused).
Q- What about Dondon, what did he do to you?
A- He also inayot me, sir at the double-tire.
Q- Were you boxed by Dondon?
A- No, sir, he asked katol from Mario but there was no more katol.
Q- After he inayot you, how did you feel?
A- It was already painful (mahapdi) [21]
xxx

D. On the identification of the accused:


COURT: (to the witness)
xxx
Q- Do you know them?
(Court referring to the accused.)
A- Yes, Mario, Your Honor.
Q- Who is Mario?
A- This is Dondon. This is Mario.
(Witness pointing to the two accused.)
Q- Why do you know them?
A- Kasi po sila nag-iyot sa akin. [22]
xxx
ATTY. RIVERA: (to the witness)
xxx
Q- You told us that you were raped by Mario and Dondon.
A- Opo, iniyot po ako.
xxx
Q- What do you mean by iniyot?
A- Pinasok yong titi sa pekpek ko po.
Q- Who.
A- Sila po.
COURT: (to the witness)
Q- Silang dalawa.
A- And also Fernan. They smell liquor, Your Honor.
Q- You said sila.
A- Sila po.
Q- Si Dondon.
A- Si Mario at Dondon.
Q- Sinong una.
A- Si Mario una tapos Dondon.
Q- Sinong may amoy alak.
A- Si Mario. Saka si Fernan.
Q- Si Mario.
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
[23]
A- Yes. They smelled liquor.
ATTY. RIVERA: (to the witness)
xxx
Q- You said Dondon is also a driver of your ate Lina. Aside from Dondon... you said iniyot ka. Sino ang
iniyot sa yo?
A- Mario, sir. I said stop he was holding my hands.
Q- When you said tama na ayoko ng magpa-iyot, naiyot ka na ba ni Fernan at ni Dondon?
A- Yes, sir.
x x x[24]
ATTY. RIVERA: (to the witness)
xxx
Q- When you told Mario ayaw mo na, did he stop?
A- Yes, sir.
Q- When you said ayaw mo na, were you raped by Dondon?
A- He was on top of my body and he was holding my hands.
Q- When you said to Mario, tama na still he did not stop?
A- Yes, he did not stop. Dondon raped me after Mario.[25]

E. On whether somebody taught her what to say in Court:


COURT: (to the witness)
xxx
Q- Has anybody taught you of what you are going to say?
A- None, maam.[26]
ATTY. RIVERA: (to the witness)
xxx
Q- Before you testified in Court did your ate Lina tell you about what you are going to say.
A- No, sir.[27]

A perusal of said testimony would readily show that Mary Grace despite her mental deficiency was able to
testify clearly and persuasively. The psychiatrist who examined her testified that Mary Grace was capable of
being receptive and perceptive. She could tell what happened but found difficulty in interpreting things.
[28]
Hence, we agree with the trial courts finding that Mary Graces credibility commands great weight and
respect.[29]
Worth stressing, if the mental age of woman above twelve years is that of a child below twelve years, even
if she voluntarily submitted to the bestial desires of the accused, or even if the circumstances of force,
intimidation, mental weakness or consciousness of the victim were absent, the offender would still be liable for
rape under the third circumstance of Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code. [30]

ART. 335. When and how rape is committed. Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman under
any of the following circumstances.

1. By using force or intimidation.


2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and
3. When the woman is under twelve years of age or is demented.
xxx
Considering the statutory rule that sexual intercourse with a victim under twelve years of age is rape, then it
should follow that carnal knowledge of a woman whose mental age is that of a child below twelve years would
also constitute rape.[31]
Appellants claim of ill motive on the part of the victims sister in filing the instant case lacks evidentiary
weight. No sister would expose her sibling to the ignominy of a rape trial merely to satisfy her alleged
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
motive. Moreover, no family member would expose a fellow family member to the shame and scandal of having
to undergo such a debasing ordeal if the charge were not true. [32]
Concerning appellants defense of alibi, it is also a well-settled rule that for alibi to prevail, it must be
established by positive, clear and satisfactory proof that it was physically impossible for the accused to have
been at the scene of the crime at the time of its commission, and not merely that the accused was somewhere
else.[33] Appellants claim of being at another place, even if true, did not preclude the possibility of his coming to
the scene of the crime.Noteworthy, appellant failed to establish that he did not leave Atimonan, Quezon during
the period of May 3, 1994 to May 14, 1994. To prosper, alibi must meet the requirements of time and place
strictly.[34]
Appellants defense of bare denial and alibi could not compel credence in the face of his positive and
unwavering identification by the private complainant as one of the rapists. Positive identification, where
categorical and consistent and without any showing of ill motive, prevails over alibi and denial which, if not
substantiated by clear and convincing evidence, are negative allegations and self-serving evidence undeserving
of weight in law.[35]
Nor could his contention, that it was highly improbable for him to commit the crime considering that he
drove everyday to Baguio, be given credence. As pointed out by the Solicitor General, even assuming that the
trip to Baguio was daily, appellant could not have been dead tired upon reaching Manila that he could not have
raped Mary Grace. Appellants empty reasoning merely betrays his hopeless defensive position.
The penalty imposed by the trial court, however, should be modified. Pursuant to Article 335 of the Revised
Penal Code, as amended, the penalty for rape is reclusion perpetua, a single and indivisible penalty, which under
the first paragraph of Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code, must be imposed upon a finding of guilt beyond
reasonable doubt, regardless of any mitigating or aggravating circumstance. [36] Reclusion perpetua is imposed in
its entirety regardless of any mitigating or aggravating circumstances that may have attended the commission of
the crime.[37] Hence in this case, the imposable penalty should be modified to reclusion perpetua. Following
current jurisprudence, appellant should also be held liable for civil indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00 aside
from moral damages and the costs.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 107 in Criminal Case No.
Q94-57991, finding appellant Mario Hamto y Coderas guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of RAPE is
AFFIRMED. He is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay private complainant
P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and another P50,000.00 as moral damages, as well as the costs.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. Nos. 143200-01 August 1, 2002

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. RICHARD R. DEAUNA

Recantations and affidavits of desistance given by rape victims, especially after the trial court has already
convicted the accused, cannot negate or degrade credible and clear testimonies rendered in open court. Solemn
trials and credible declarations in court cannot be mocked and placed at the mercy of out-of-court, uncross-
examined post facto statements.

The Case

Richard R. Deauna appeals the Decision 1 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of San Mateo, Rizal (Branch 76),
dated July 30, 1999, in Criminal Case Nos. 3609 and 3610, finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two
(2) counts of rape and sentencing him to reclusion perpetua for each count. The dispositive portion of the
assailed Decision reads as follows:
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

"1. In Crim. Case No. 3609, finding accused Richard R. Deauna guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of Rape as defined and penalized under Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code as amended, and
sentencing him to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua, and to indemnify the private complainant
Josephine T. Deauna in the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages and to pay the costs.

"2. In Crim. Case No. 3610, finding accused Richard R. Deauna guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of Rape as defined and penalized under Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code as amended, and
sentencing him to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua, and to indemnify private complainant
Josephine T. Deauna in the amount P50,000.00 as moral damages and to pay the costs."2

During his arraignment on July 15, 1998,3 appellant, assisted by his counsel,4 pleaded not guilty.

In two (2) separate Informations both dated May 13, 1998, 5 appellant was accused of raping his daughter as
follows:

In Criminal Case No. 3609-98:

"That in or about the month of July 1997, in the Municipality of Rodriguez, Province of Rizal,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being the
legitimate father of the complainant Josephine Deauna with lewd design and by means of force and
intimidation[,] did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge with said
Josephine Deauna against her will and consent."6

In Criminal Case No. 3610-98:

"That in or about the month of September, 1996, in the Municipality of Rodriguez, Province of Rizal,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being the
legitimate father of the complainant Josephine Deauna with lewd design and by means of force and
intimidation[,] did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge with said
Josephine Deauna against her will and consent."7

The Facts

Version of the Prosecution

In its Brief, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) narrates the two instances of sexual abuse in this manner:

"Sometime in September 1996, victim Josephine Deauna who was 19 years old at that time, was at their house in
Block 10-A, Lot 7 of Nylon Street, Litex Village San Jose, Montalban, Rizal. She was lying down while her
sister Jasmin was already sleeping when a man suddenly held her hand. She recognized the man to be her father,
appellant Richard Deauna. Appellant proceeded to kiss Josephines neck, who was at that time lying on her
stomach. Then appellant touched her breasts. Thereafter, appellant inserted his finger in Josephines vagina and
played with it (Pinaglaruan niya ng kanyang daliri ang aking ari.).

"While Josephine was lying on her stomach, she felt appellant insert his penis in her vagina and felt pain at the
penetration. Josephine, however, could not do anything because she was afraid of her father. When appellant
withdrew, he warned Josephine not to tell her mother about this incident.
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
"In another incident, one evening in July 1997, Josephine was already sleeping when appellant approached her
again. Appellant kissed her neck and started playing with her body, particularly feeling her breasts. Appellant
proceeded to touch her vagina and succeeded in having intercourse with her. Josephine kept her eyes shut and
did not do anything for fear of her father.

"Josephine later told her mother [of] these incidents but the latter refused to believe her. Thus, on August 2,
1997, Josephine went to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to report the two (2) criminal incidents.
There, she gave her sworn statements and the Medico-Legal expert in the person of Dr. Noel Minay subjected
Josephine to a medical genital examination. The expert witness testified as follows:

Q: Now, Dr. per your findings in the genital, it is stated here, may I be allowed to read, your honor,
please? Hymen, thin, wide, with an old healed laceration at 9 oclock position. In laymans language,
doctor, will you please explain what I read in your report?
A: This means that there was an old tear at the virgin head of the subject at 9 oclock position of the
virgin head and the virgin head was also thin, sir.
Q: Do you know how old is this lacerations at 9 oclock position on the private part of the victim?
A: This old tearing of the hymen is compatible with the alleged rape, sir.
Q: And what could have caused this old lacerations [sic] at 9:00 oclock position?
A: Normally, it is produced by sexual relation with a man, sir.
Q: It could have been caused by an erected penis for that matter?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And do you affirm and confirm the truthfulness and correctness of your medico-legal findings,
doctor?
A: I do, sir.
Q: Likewise, in your findings, doctor, it states hymenal orifice admits a tube with this 2.5 cms. in
diameter, will you kindly explain or enlighten us, Doctor, what does it mean?
A: This means that the opening of the virgin head when the glass tube of 2.5 cms. in diameter
readily admits the tube without difficulty, sir.
Q: So, does it mean that the private complainant was already somewhat used?
A: Yes, sir."8

Version of the Defense

On the other hand, appellant advances the theory that complainant was insane when she testified in court, and
that the alleged rape incidents did not actually happen. He presents his version of the facts as follows:

"The defense for its part, offered the testimony of five (5) witnesses:

"1. Dr. Pamela Paredes, 28 years old, married, a psychologist at the NBI and residing at No. 68
Masbate St., Phase II, Horacio dela Costa Homes II, Novaliches, Quezon City, testified that she
personally conducted and administered the battery of examinations and interviews on the private
complainant. After said examinations and interviews, she found out that private complainant Josephine
Deauna was emotionally maladjusted, which means that that there is a difficulty in displaying natural
emotion especially under threatening circumstances. She also testified that the emotion of Josephine
Deauna appears to be less stable, which means that when confronted with a situation that is threatening
to herself, private complainant becomes overwhelmed by the situation. For the subject to be considered a
psychotic, you have to consider other diagnostic criteria, and the result of the diagnostic test done in
favor of private complainant did not reveal any sign of psychosis. During the time of evaluation from
October 23 to 25, 1996, the subject did not manifest symptoms or signs which could indicate psychosis
which mean[s] that she was not insane and was acting normally.
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
"2. Josefa Deauna, 51 years old, married, teacher and residing at Block 10-A, Lot 7, Utex Village,
Montalban, Rizal, testified that she is the wife of the accused Richard Deauna and the mother of the
private complainant[.] Josephine Deauna never complained to her about the alleged sexual abuses
committed by her father and [instead] she went directly to the NBI. The reason why private complainant
lodge[d] her complaint before the NBI, is that she harbored a grudge against her father as she was being
disciplined and whipped (napalo) by her father prior to the filing of the complaint.

"3. Dr. Anne Marie Rios, 33 years old, single, doctor by profession and residing at 1425 Guadalupe,
Bliss 3, Makati City testified that she [was] connected with the National Center for Mental Health as
Medical Officer III and tasked with the evaluation and treatment of mentally ill patients. She also
testified that, it was Dr. Made[l]on Carcereny who first attended to the case of Josephine Deauna. On
January 27, 1999, while she was on 24-hour duty, she was able to confer with Josephine Deauna but
only for a brief moment. Josephine Deauna is now undergoing psychological examination and pending
the submission of the psychological report as well as the reports from the Haven Center, Philippine
Mental Association and University of the East, she [could] not make a conclusive and final report about
the mental state of the subject.

"4. Dr. Jay Madelon Carcenery, 28 years old, married, doctor by profession, and residing at No. 42,
Juan Luna St., San Lorenzo Village, Makati City, testified that he [was] connected with the National
Center for Mental Health as Medical Officer III. That on December 21, 1998, he attended to a patient by
the name of Josephine Deauna. He took the history of the patient and then proceed[ed] with the
medi[c]al status examination. Based on the examination, the history and his observation of the patient,
he concluded that Josephine Deauna was suffering from mental insanity and he prescribed her the
necessary medication on continuing basis.

"During the initial consultation, he noted that the subject (Josephine Deauna) was insane because her
thought processes were loose, there was derailment in the words used, and depersonalization (a strange
sense of the personal self or the body) was evident. Josephine manifested that she was already dead and
was brought back to life. The mental state of Josephine Deauna may be brought about by a situation,
strong enough to bring her to the so called breaking point. There is doubt that when she testified in court,
she was expressing her thoughts or feelings, truthfully or intelligently as her judgment [was] already
clouded. It is possible that she may or may not have been raped. She is also incompetent to stand the
rigors of trial, meaning, when put under pressure, she might give answers that are not true. However, he
[could] not say when the patients insanity started but it [did] not develop within a short period of time.

"5. Richard Deauna, 49 years old, married, small businessman, and presently residing at Blo[c]k 2, Lot
13, Tanguile St., Duraville Homes, Ampid, San Mateo, Rizal testified that there are five (5) reasons why
his daughter accused him of rape. First, he whipped her three (3) times (napalo ko siya ng tatlong beses),
one of which was on October 22, 1996 when he whipped her because she dropped her course after
making down payment and for being rude. Second, she saw a case on a TV Program involving a father
and a child of his, who ha[d] a case and commented that it would be exciting if it happen[ed] in real life.
Third, she wanted to join the PMA course but he forced her to take commerce. Fourth, she wanted her
mother and [her] father [to] be separated. Fifth, because she was insane. He first noticed her odd
behavior in 1995, when she would always have dagger looks whenever she would wake up. Josephine
easily gets angry. During the time that he was detained, his daughter visited him many times and she
even gave him a gift last December 1998. Josephine even asked money from him, kissed him and gave
him a letter.

"He also testified that he went to the NBI on two (2) occasions and referred to the Neuro-Psychiatric
Division because his daughter Josephine Deauna stay[ed] with them and he did not know that there was
a case filed against him by his daughter. He was aware that his daughter Josephine Deauna filed a
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
complaint for rape accusing him of raping her younger sister, Jasmin Jane Deauna. Despite the charges
against him, he was trying to understand his daughter because he knew that she was mentally sick." 9

Ruling of the Trial Court

The trial court rejected the defense that the complainant had been insane or suffering from psychosis when she
testified in court, and that the rape charges had merely been fabricated by reason of such mental illness. It
explained its ruling as follows:

"The defense is primarily anchored on the alleged mental insanity or pyschosis on the part of the private
complainant so as to concoct a story of rape against her own father. This allegation that the private
complainant [was] mentally deranged assumes significance only when shown that at the precise time she
testified in court, she had been clearly shown to be suffering from such illness, so as to undermine her
ability to give statements voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently. On the other hand, on the three
occasions that she testified in Court, her testimonies were consistent, straightforward, and no significant
lapses of memory or thought processes were evident. Moreover, it is not conclusive that the victim was
suffering from psychosis as the different physicians that were presented by the defense had different
diagnosis as to the subjects (Josephine Deaunas) mental state. It is possible that initially, she was
suffering from emotional maladjustment and due to the abuses committed against her by her father, she
reached the so called breaking point making her more prone to psychological or mental relapse. Thus,
the victim in this case would not file a charge as serious as rape against her very own father simply
because she was maltreated; only her desire to seek justice would be compelling enough to implicate her
own flesh and blood."10

Hence, this appeal.11

The Issues

In his Brief, appellant submits the following alleged errors for our consideration:

"I
The court a quo committed reversible error in convicting the accused-appellant of the crime of rape
notwithstanding the prosecutions failure to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
"II
The court a quo erred in according credence and weight to the testimony of the private complainant although her
averments are not in accordance with the medical findings, and are inherently pregnant with material flaws that
belie her credulity."12

The Courts Ruling

The appeal has no merit.

First Issue:
Sufficiency of the Prosecutions Evidence

Appellant claims that the prosecutions evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction. He avers that the
testimony of complainant is uncorroborated and materially inconsistent with the medical findings of the
examining doctor. He adds that her conduct after the alleged rape incident renders her accusations highly
dubious. He points to alleged uncertainty as to the cause of her vaginal lacerations and insists that such
uncertainty should be resolved in his favor. Moreover, he explains that she merely concocted the rape charges,
allegedly because of a grudge against him for having disciplined her.
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
We are not persuaded. As regards the argument that the vaginal lacerations could have been caused by reasons
other than penile penetration, suffice it to say that the presence or the absence of vaginal lacerations is of no
moment. It is settled that a hymenal rupture or any indication of vaginal laceration or genital injury is not
necessary for the consummation of rape. 13 Their absence does not negate a finding of forced sexual
coitus,14 which may still be proven when there are other pieces of evidence on record to establish it. 15

Verily, the accused may be convicted on the basis of the lone uncorroborated testimony of the rape victim,
provided that her testimony is clear, credible, convincing and otherwise consistent with human nature and the
normal course of things.16 When a rape victims testimony is straightforward, unflawed by any material or
significant inconsistency, it deserves full faith and credence and cannot be discarded. 17

Indubitably, the fact of rape and the identity of the perpetrator were sufficiently established by the prosecution on
the basis of the clear, coherent and candid narration by the victim of the sexual abuse she suffered in the hands of
her father. She recounted her sordid experience as follows:

Q: Do you remember of any unusual [incident] that happened to you sometime in September, 1996?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Will you kindly tell this Court what happened to you?
A: Jasmin was then sleeping when suddenly a man held my hand and I recognized him as my papa,
sir.
Q: What is the name of your papa?
A: Richard, sir.
Q: Is he inside the courtroom?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Kindly point to your papa?
A: There, sir.
Interpreter:
Witness pointed to a person who answered by the name of Richard Deauna.
Pros. Ramolete:
Q: And what happened next?
A: I was surprised, sir, because I was then lying face down when suddenly he kissed me on my
neck and touched my breast, sir.
Q: What else happened?
A: Then he inserted his finger on my private part, sir.
Q: After that, what happened?
A: After that he inserted his penis in my vagina, sir.
Q: What else did your father do to you before inserting his penis to your vagina?
A: He played my vagina with his finger, sir (pinaglaruan niya ng kanyang daliri ang aking ari).
Q: How was your father able to insert his penis to your vagina?
A: Nakadapa po ako ng ipinasok niya ang ari niya sa ari ko, sir.
Q: You want to tell this Court that he went on top of you while you were facing down?
A: I sleep that way, sir.
Q: Was he able to insert into your private organ his private part?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: What did you do when your father was doing this to you?
A: None, sir.
Q: Why?
A: Because I was afraid of him, sir.
Q: What did you feel, Miss witness, when your father inserted his penis to your vagina?
A It was painful, sir.
Q And after that, Miss witness, what happened next?
A: My father told me not to tell it to my mother and then he left, sir.
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
xxx xxx xxx
Q: Sometime in July, 1997, did your father again abuse you?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Where at?
A: In Montalban, sir.
Q: Will you kindly tell the Hon. Court what happened then on July, 1997?
A: I was then sleeping when he again approached me, sir.
Q: What time, more or less, was that when he approached you?
A: Night time and sometimes in the morning, sir.
Q: That incident of July 1997 happened in the evening or morning?
A: Evening, sir.
Q: Please continue your statement, Miss witness?
A: He kissed me, sir.
Q: Where?
A: On my neck, sir.
Q: Then what did he do next?
A: He was playing with my body, sir.
Q: When you said he was playing with your body, you mean your breast?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: What part of his body did he use in playing your breast?
A: His hand, sir.
Q: What did he do when he played your breast with his hand?
A: None, sir, I just closed my eyes so that I could not see him.
Q: Aside from that, what else?
A: No more, sir.
Q: Aside from playing your breast, what else did your father do?
A: He was also playing with my vagina, sir.
Q: With what?
A: With his finger, sir.
Q: What else did your father do to you that evening of July, 1997?
A: Thats all, sir.
Q: You said a while ago that this incident that happened [in] September, 1996 was repeated [in]
July, 1997, do you still confirm that?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Did he also insert his penis to your private part?
[TSN does not indicate any answer]
Q: Will you kindly tell this Hon. Court how was your father able to insert his penis into your
private part?
A: He just inserted it, sir.
Q: Will you describe to this Hon. Court how he inserted his penis into your vagina?
A: I did not see it because I closed my eyes but I could only feel it, sir.
Q: Where was he positioned when he inserted his penis into your vagina?
A: I was lying face down and he was behind my back, sir.
Q: What did you do, Miss witness, when your father was doing that to you?
A: None, sir.
Q: Why?
A: Because I was afraid of him, sir."18

As regards the allegation of appellant that his daughter merely fabricated the charges of rape against him in
retaliation for his having whipped her, we find it hard to believe that she would concoct a tale of rape against her
father, simply to take revenge for the physical maltreatment inflicted upon her. This Court has declared that
parental punishment is not a sufficient reason for a daughter to falsely charge her father with rape. 19 Even when
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
chastised or consumed with revenge, a daughter, more so a young woman like the victim, would have to have a
certain amount of psychological depravity to concoct a story that could take the life or the liberty of her father
and drag herself and the rest of the family to shame and humiliation. 20

Indeed, several persons accused of rape have attributed the charges brought against them to family feuds,
resentment or revenge, but such alleged motives have never swayed the Court from lending full credence to the
testimony of a complainant who remains steadfast throughout the entirety of her testimony. 21 Moreover, settled is
the doctrine that no young and decent lass will publicly cry rape, particularly against her father, if such was not
the truth or if justice was not her sole objective. 22

Second Issue:
Credibility of Complainants Testimony

In determining the credibility of the testimony of private complainant, the pivotal question to be resolved is
whether she was insane when she testified in court on the rape incidents. In this connection, we may well note
that during the pendency of the appeal, she submitted to this Court numerous letters 23 and
manifestations24 including an affidavit of desistance,25 essentially stating that her father had not raped her, and
that she had been insane when she testified in court.

The contents of her most recent correspondence 26 to this Court is reproduced hereunder:

"Ako po si JOSEPHINE DEAUNA at malamang ay naalala po ninyo ako dahil marami na po akong ipinadala sa
inyong sulat. Isasalaysay ko po sa iyo ang buong katotohanan sa likod ng rape case ko laban sa father ko and this
letter can send me to jail or to a room in the National Center for Mental Health but for the sake of truth ay OK
lang sa akin.

"Noong 2nd year high school po ako ay may nakita akong libro na nakatago tungkol sa sex at binuklat ko ito
may perma pa nga ito ni papa dito ko nalaman ang ibat-ibang positions at pinaglaruan ko po ang aking ari. May
nakita naman ako sa TV na kapag ipasok mo ang little finger mo sa ari mo at maluwag na ay hindi ka na virgin
kaya nasigurado ko sa sarili ko na hindi na ako virgin pero walang ginawa si papa sa akin na masama. Ang
masama lang niyang ginawa ay ang pagpapaluin ako ng paluin ng sinturon. Sinabi ko sa sarili ko na gaganti ako
sa trato niya saken at naisip ko nga na idemanda siya ng rape dahil may napanood din ako sa TV tungkol dito.
Dahil nga sa hindi na ako virgin ay napaniwala ko silang lahat hanggang sa ngayon na nakokonsensiya na ako
dahil hindi ko maakalang habambuhay na si papa sa kulungan. Sana po ay makalaya na si papa lalo ngayon na
umuunti na ang ipon ng pamilya namin. Siguro ang kasalanan lang ni papa ay ang pagpapaluin ako.

"Humihingi po ako ng tawad sa lahat ng kasinungalingan ko sa korte at nagpapasalamat po ako sa inyo at sa


DSWD na tumutulong sa akin.
"Kayo na po sana ang umintindi ng kalagayan ko.
Lubos na gumagalang,
(SGD.) JOSEPHINE DEAUNA"27

Accordingly, we shall also endeavor to scrutinize and evaluate private complainants declaration that she was
insane when she testified before the trial court, as well as her recantation of her allegations of rape against her
father.

After carefully reviewing the records of the case, we find that her state of mind was normal, and that she was not
suffering from insanity or psychosis when she testified as a prosecution witness. A perusal of her testimony on
September 2, 1998 (during direct examination) and October 7, 1998 (during cross-examination) shows her
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
narration to be rational, sensible and comprehensible. Clearly, there was no indication or sign of insanity on her
part when she narrated the sexual transgressions committed by her father.

However, it appears that she manifested in her deportment and demeanor, some form of insanity or mental
derailment thereafter or during the course of the proceedings, when she again testified in court, this time as a
defense witness. As can be gleaned from her testimony as a defense witness on January 8, 1999, she obviously
gave unsettling and unnatural responses when queried by the trial judge regarding an affidavit of desistance she
had executed. We reproduce the pertinent testimony hereunder:

"COURT:
Q: Can I have the letters? I just want to read it. Josephine, when you copied this letter, did you read
the letter?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Did you understand what was written here?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: If you understood what was written here, there is a portion here which says, I will read it to you.
Na ang paratang ko na rape laban sa papa ko na si Richard Deauna noong September 1996 at July 1997
ay hindi totoo. Did you read this portion?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Did you understand what was written here?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: What you are saying here is that your rape charge against your father is not true?
A: Sexual molestation po.
Q: I am repeating my question again, you are saying in that letter that the rape charge against your
father is not true. Do you confirm that?
A: May itatanong po ako. Kasi po sa legal terms po, hindi ko alam ang ibig sabihin ng or the real
meaning of rape. Halimbawa po ba ang isang babae ginalaw po siya tapos hindi siya pumalag pero
wala siyang magawa. Kasi po, nakapag-aral po ako, second year college po, pero hindi po ako
abogado. Ang mga books po namin ay hindi sinasabi po ang meaning ng ano, ito ang ganyan. Ang
nakikita ko po sa rape ay iyong napapanood ko sa TV iyon tipo bang nagpupumiglas iyong babae, iyong
tipo bang magsasabing ayaw niya, ayaw niya. Kaya lang po ang nangyari po kasi, natatakot po ako
pero hindi po ako lumaban. Kasi ganito po, totoo naman po, pagdating sa mga legal terms, inaamin ko
po ignorante ako doon. Kasi kahit sino naman po, hindi ko po naman speciality ang
Q: So what do you mean by rape?
A: As I understand, iyong inaatake siya ng lalaki tapos nagpupumiglas-pumiglas siya tapos
parang sinasabi niya, ayaw niya, ayaw niya, parang ganoon po.
Q: So what you wrote there is true or not? The portion that I read to you, is that true or not?
A: Hindi ko po masasagot iyan ng oo o hindi, ang gusto ko pong malaman ay kung ano po ang
rape sa legal"28 (Italics supplied)

True enough, the records show that the victim was diagnosed to have been suffering from psychosis or insanity
on December 21, 1998, or just a few weeks before she testified on her affidavit of desistance. The diagnosis was
made by Dr. Jay Madelon Carcenery of the National Mental Hospital, who testified as follows:

Q: Doctor, do you have an occasion to attend to a patient by the name of Josephine Deauna?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: When did she seek medical attendance?
A: On December 21, 1998, sir.
Q: And what happened when she consulted you?
A: I took the history of the informant which was her mother and after that I took the medical status
examination, sir.
Q: In connection with the mental examination, did you reduce that into a written form?
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
A: Yes, sir.
xxx xxx xxx
Q: Now, Ms. Witness, what is your findings in connection with Josephine Deauna?
A: I find the patient to be suffering from mental insanity based on the mental status examination,
the history and observation, sir."29

Appellant relies on this subsequent finding of insanity on the part of the victim. He theorizes that her mental
impairment had already been present even before the alleged rape incidents and was what caused her to file the
rape charges against him. However, the records reveal that it was not yet present at the time of the rape incidents
or immediately thereafter.

One of the defense witnesses, Dr. Pamela Paredes, testified that the victim had not been insane or psychotic at
the time of the first rape on September 1996, as evidenced by a psychological evaluation she conducted on the
victim in October of that year. We quote Dr. Paredes testimony:

Q: In your report it is mentioned here that she thought that she was an outcast. Will you confirm
that finding of yours?
A: As I said, the subject is emotionally maladjusted and it [seems] that she is poor in personal
relation but this alone does not constitute that the subject is psychotic, sir.
Q: With your findings stated in this Exh. 2 will you please tell the Court if this has any relation with
regards [sic] to her mental capability?
A: The impression on the emotional maladjustment, it could be said that emotional maladjustment,
there is a difficulty in thinking, that the subject is psychotic. For the subject to be psychotic, you have to
consider other diagnostic criteria, sir.
Q: Did you conduct any diagnostic examination with regards to the victim Josephine Deauna?
A: The result of the diagnostic test done on the subject did not reveal any sign of psychosis, sir.
xxx xxx xxx
Q: So it is very clear, Madam Witness, that this Josephine Deauna is not psychotic and definitely at
the time of the examination there was no psychotic signs found?
A: A person to be defined or called psychotic, this should constitute that subject getting out of touch
of reality or has a difficulty in her thought processes. However, at the time of evaluation which was on
October 23 to 25, 1996, the subject did not manifest symptoms or signs which could indicate psychosis,
sir.
Q: In laymans language[,] how [would] you describe the victim then?
A: During that period, she was not insane, sir."30 (Italics supplied)

The normal state of mind of the victim was unperturbed even after the foregoing initial mental examination and
remained intact during the early and the middle part of the trial. As mentioned earlier, it was only on December
21, 1998 that she was found to be suffering from insanity or psychosis. This finding is consistent with the official
report dated March 2, 1999, 31 on the mental evaluation of victim showing that she was suffering from psychosis
or insanity and was not fit to stand the rigors of trial.

Although one of the expert witnesses testified that the mental illness of the victim could have existed prior to the
diagnosis made on her on December 28, 1998, no clear and categorical statement to this effect was presented. In
any event, courts are not bound by the opinions of expert witnesses on such matters, especially when they appear
to be merely speculative and conjectural, as in this case.

Generally, expert opinions are regarded, not as conclusive, but as purely advisory in character. A court may place
whatever weight it chooses upon such testimonies. It may even reject them, if it finds that they are inconsistent
with the facts of the case or are otherwise unreasonable. 32
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
Even assuming that the victim was already insane during her earlier testimony, this fact alone will not render her
statements incredible or inadmissible in evidence. Her mental imbalance or abnormal state of mind would not
automatically affect her credibility.33 Indeed, even a mental retardate or feeble-minded person may qualify as a
competent witness, considering that all persons who can perceive and, perceiving, can make known their
perception to others, may be witnesses.34

Unsoundness of mind does not per se render a witness incompetent. One may be insane, yet be capable in law of
giving competent testimony. The general rule is that lunatics or persons affected with insanity are admissible as
witnesses, if they have sufficient understanding to apprehend the obligation of an oath and are capable of giving
correct accounts of the matters that they have seen or heard with respect to the questions at issue. 35

In this case, it is quite evident that the victim was not only competent to testify, but turned out to be a credible
and convincing witness for the prosecution. Verily, sufficient in itself to establish appellants criminal liability
were her detailed accounts of the two (2) rape incidents establishing the fact of rape and identifying her father as
her ravisher, as indicated in the September 2, 1998 and the October 7, 1998 transcripts of stenographic notes.
The longstanding rule is that when a woman says that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary
to show that rape has been committed. If her testimony meets the test of credibility, the accused may be
convicted solely on that basis.36

How then should we evaluate a supposedly insane persons declarations in the letters/manifestations she
submitted to this Court stating that she was insane when she testified on the alleged rape incidents. As confirmed
by the evidence on record, Josephines insanity was diagnosed on December 28, 1998, and a Report released by
the National Mental Hospital dated March 2, 1999 verified this finding. Her unsound mental condition is,
therefore, presumed to continue up to the present until a contrary finding can be established, or a report to the
effect that she is no longer insane can be produced. Considering that appellant has not presented any substantial
proof that his daughter has regained her sanity and is now capable of expressing her thoughts freely,
conscientiously and intelligently, we cannot ascribe much value or credence to her declarations after December
28, 1998. Moreover, it is not impossible that he or his family may have been taken advantage of her lack of
mental fortitude to persuade her to write those letters.

As regards the recantation of the victim, we emphasize that mere retraction by a prosecution witness does not
necessarily vitiate her original testimony.37 If such testimony was sufficiently clear, consistent and credible to
establish the crime beyond reasonable doubt, a conviction may be based on it, notwithstanding its subsequent
retraction. It has long been held that retractions are generally unreliable and are looked upon with considerable
disfavor by the courts.38

Recently, in People v. Nardo,39 the Court gave scant consideration to numerous letters of recantation made by the
victim after the accused had already been convicted by the trial court.

"Be that as it may, recantations are frowned upon by the courts. A recantation of a testimony is exceedingly
unreliable, for there is always the probability that such recantation may later on be itself repudiated. Courts look
with disfavor upon retractions, because they can easily be obtained from witnesses through intimidation or
monetary consideration. A retraction does not necessarily negate an earlier declaration. Especially, recantations
made after the conviction of the accused deserve only scant consideration."40 (Italics supplied)

The Separate Opinion of Mr. Justice Reynato S. Puno in Alonte v. Savellano explains the rationale for rejecting
recantations in these words:

"Mere retraction by a witness or by complainant of his or her testimony does not necessarily vitiate the
original testimony or statement, if credible. The general rule is that courts look with disfavor upon
retractions of testimonies previously given in court. x x x. The reason is because affidavits of retraction
Sec. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications
can easily be secured from poor and ignorant witnesses, usually through intimidation or for monetary
consideration. Moreover, there is always the probability that they will later be repudiated and there
would never be an end to criminal litigation. It would also be a dangerous rule for courts to reject
testimonies solemnly taken before courts of justice simply because the witnesses who had given them
later on changed their minds for one reason or another. This would make solemn trials a mockery and
place the investigation of the truth at the mercy of unscrupulous witnesses." 41 (Italics supplied)

To be sure, recantations made by witnesses must be viewed with utmost caution and circumspection, because the
motivations behind them may not necessarily be in consonance with the truth. Moreover, to automatically uphold
them in any form would allow unscrupulous witnesses to trifle with the legal processes and make a mockery of
established judicial proceedings, to the detriment of the entire justice system.

Civil Liability

Although the RTC correctly granted moral damages to the victim in the amount of P50,00042 for each act of rape,
it erred in not granting her another P50,000 as indemnity ex delicto pursuant to current jurisprudence. 43 She is
likewise entitled to exemplary damages of P25,000, because the aggravating circumstance of father-daughter
relationship was duly proven.44

WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision of the RTC of San Mateo, Rizal (Branch 76) in Criminal Case Nos. 3609
and 3610 is hereby AFFIRMED with the following modification: appellant is further ordered to pay the victim
the additional amounts of P50,000 as indemnity ex delicto and P25,000 as exemplary damages for each act of
rape. Costs against appellant. SO ORDERED.
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
G.R. No. 195244 June 22, 2015

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. ALVIN ESUGON y AVILA

Every child is presumed qualified to be a witness. The party challenging the child's competency
as a witness has the burden of substantiating his challenge.

Under review is the decision promulgated on July 23, 2010, 1 whereby the Court of Appeals (CA)
affirmed with modification the conviction of the appellant for the composite crime of robbery
with homicide handed down by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 211, in Mandaluyong
City through its judgment rendered on January 27, 2006.2

Antecedents

The information charged the appellant with robbery with homicide, alleging as follows:

That on or about the 22nd day of October 2003, in the City of Mandaluyong, Philippines, a place
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with intent to gain,
with the use of a bladed weapon, by means of force and violence, did, then and there, willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously take, steal and carry away cash money amounting to P13,000.00
belonging to JOSEPHINE CASTRO y BARRERA, to the damage and prejudice of the latter; that
by reason or on occasion of said robbery, accused did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously attack, assault and stab with the said bladed weapon said JOSEPHINE CASTRO y
BARRERA, thereby inflicting upon her physical injuries which directly caused her death.

CONTRARY TO LAW.3

The CA adopted the RTCs summation of the evidence of the Prosecution, to wit:

Carl or Muymoy, 5-year old son of the victim, testified that on the night of the incident, he, his
younger sister Cheche, and his mother and father, were sleeping on the ground floor of their
house. He saw appellant, whom he calls "Nonoy," enter their house and stab her mother with a
knife, while he (Carl) peeped through a chair. Although there was no light at the ground floor,
there was light upstairs. After his mother got stabbed, his father chased the appellant. Carl saw
blood come out of his mothers lower chest. His father then brought her to the hospital. Carl
positively identified the appellant, a neighbor who often goes to their house, as the one who
stabbed his mother. On cross-examination, he related that the assailant took money from his
fathers pocket. He likewise admitted that he did not see very well the perpetra tor because there
was no light (TSN, February 24, 2004, pp. 3, 11-23, 28, 30-32).

Upon being asked by the trial court, Carl stated that although there was no light when his mother
was stabbed, he was sure of what he saw since there was light at their second floor, which
illumined the ground floor through the stairway (TSN, February 24, 2004, pp. 33-34).

Insp. Marquez, who autopsied the body, related that the cause of the victims death was
hemorrhagic shock due to stab wound. The wound was located at the epigastric region, measuring
2.8 x 0.5 cm, 4 cm from left of the anterior midline, 13 cm deep, directed posterior and upward,
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
piercing the right ventricle of the hear t, thoracic aorta and lower lobe of the left lung (TSN, April
21, 2004, pp. 1, 6; Exh. "I," Records, p. 103).

Next to testify was Dennis, husband of the victim. He narrated that he and the victim were
married for nine years before the incident and that they have four children: Monica, 11 years old;
Mary Joy, 9 years old; Carl, 5 years old; and Cherry Ann, 7 months old. At about 9 p.m. on
October 21, 2003, he and his wife were sleeping downstairs in their sala, with their baby, while
their other children slept upstairs. Their sala measures 3 by 3 meters. At around 2 a.m., his son
Carl woke up crying and went downstairs to sleep with them. Fifteen to thirty minutes later, he
heard someone shout "magnanakaw!" [H]e turned on the light and saw that their door was open.
He got their bolo and ran outside. When he did not see anybody, he returned and heard his wife
moaning. He embraced and carried her and saw blood on her back. He shouted for help and his
brother-in law helped him bring the victim to the hospital where she eventually died. He
spent P23,000.00 for the funeral and P44,500.00 for the wake and burial. On cross-examination,
he admitted that he has no personal knowledge as to who stabbed his wife since he did not
actually see the perpetrator and that it was his son who saw the appellant (TSN, August 25, 2004,
pp. 3 12; October 6, 2004, pp. 5-6; November 17, 2004, pp. 3-4).

Sharon, sister-in-law of the victim, testified that she and her husband were sleeping upstairs when
they were roused from their sleep at around 2 a.m. of October 22, 2003 by Dennis cry for help.
She saw that there was blood on the victims chest. After the victim was brought to the hospital,
she noticed that the victims children were trembling in fear and were crying. They got outside
and went to the billiard hall in front of their house. She took Carl and had him sit on her lap. Then
Carl said, "Tita, sya pasok bahay namin" pointing to someone but she did not see who it was
since there were many people passing by. Later, the police asked Carl whether he saw somebody
enter their house and he answered yes and demonstrated how his mother was stabbed. Carl also
said that the person who stabbed his mother was present in the vicinity. He then pointed to
appellant and said " siya po yung pumaso k sa bahay namin." As a resident there, appellant often
goes to the billiard hall and sometimes watches the television at the house of the victim (TSN,
February 9, 2005, pp. 3-14).

PO1 Fabela also testified that after it was reported to him that there was a stabbing incident, he
went to the hospital then to the crime scene and interviewed the persons thereat. Later, Carl
pinpointed and positively identified the appellant as the one who stabbed his mother and robbed
them of their money. Appellant was arrested and brought to the police station (TSN, March 16,
2005, pp. 2, 5-6).

PO2 Sazon meanwhile testified that while he was questioning people in the area, Carl pointed to
them the suspect who was one of the bystanders. They were asking Carl questions when he
suddenly blurted out that it was appellant who entered their house and stabbed his mother. They
invited the appellant to the police station but the latter denied having committed the crime. On
cross-examination, the witness admitted that their basis in arresting appellant was the information
relayed by Carl (TSN, April 27, 2005, pp. 2, 12-17; June 15, 2005, p. 5). 4

In turn, the appellant denied the accusation. According to him, he had frequented the victims
billiard hall, which was situated only four houses away from where he lived, and, on the evening
in question, he had been the last to leave the billiard hall at 11 o clock p.m. and had then gone
home. He recalled that he had been roused from slumber by screams for help around two oclock
a.m., prompting him to ask his mother for the key to the door; that he had then gone outside
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
where he learned of the killing of the victim; that police officers had later on approached him to
inquire what he knew about the killing because they told him that Carl, the young son of the
victim, had pointed to him as the perpetrator, making him the primary suspect; that he had replied
that he had had nothing to do with the crime; and that he had assured the police officers that he
had never been involved in any wrongdoing in his years of living in the neighborhood.

The appellants mother corroborated his version. 5

Judgment of the RTC

As mentioned, the RTC pronounced the appellant guilty of the crime charged under its judgment
rendered on January 27, 2006,6 disposing:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, finding the accused ALVIN ESUGON y AVILA @


"NONOY" GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of ROBBERY WITH HOMICIDE
under Article 293 and punished under Article 294 (1) of the Revised Penal Code, the court hereby
sentences him to Reclusion Perpetua and to indemnify the heirs of JOSEPHINE CASTRO y
BARRERA as follows:

1) P50,000.00 civil indemnity;

2) P57,500.00 as actual damages;

3) P50,000.00 as moral damages.

SO ORDERED.7

Decision of the CA

On appeal, the appellant argued that the RTC erred in finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of the composite crime of robbery with homicide based solely on the testimony of Carl, a 5-year
old witness whose recollections could only be the product of his imagination. 8

On July 23, 2010, however, the CA, giving credence to the child witness, and opining that his
inconsistencies did not discredit his testimony, affirmed the conviction of the appellant, 9 ruling
thusly:

WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED for lack of merit. The Decision dated January 27, 2006 of
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 211 of Mandaluyong City in Crim. Case No. MC03-7597, is
hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION in that the award of P57,500.00 as actual damages
should be DELETED and in lieu thereof, temperate damages in the amount of P25,000.00 should
be AWARDED the heirs of Josephine Castro y Barrera.

SO ORDERED.10

Issues
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
In this appeal, the appellant posits that the adverse testimony of the 5-year old Carl, being filled
with inconsistencies, was not credible, but doubtful; that unlike him, his sisters, who were then at
the second floor of the house, were not roused from sleep; that contrary to Carls recollection, the
place was not even dark when the stabbing attack on the victim occurred because his father said
that he had turned the light on upon hearing somebody shouting " Magnanakaw!;" and that his
father had then gotten his bolo, and gone outside the house. 11

Moreover, the appellant maintains that the Prosecution did not prove that violence or intimidation
was employed in the course of the robbery. He argues that he could not be held liable for robbery
by using force upon things considering that the culprit had neither broken any wall, roof, floor,
door or window to gain entry in the house nor entered the house through an opening not intended
for entrance. If at all, he could be liable only for the separate crimes of theft and homicide, not of
the composite crime of robbery with homicide.12

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) counters that the evidence showed that the appellants
principal intent had been to rob the victims house, with the homicide being perpetrated as a mere
incident of the robbery; and that Carl positively identified the appellant as the person who had
stabbed the victim, his identification bearing "all the earmarks of credibility especially when he
has no motive for lying about the identity of the accused." 13

Ruling of the Court

The appeal is bereft of merit.

The most important task of the St ate in the successful prosecution of the accused is his credible
and competent identification as the perpetrator of the crime. Hence, this appeal turns on whether
or not the identification of the appellant as the perpetrator of the robbery with homicide was
credible and competent considering that the identifying witness was Carl, a 5-year old lad, whose
sole testimony positively pointed to and incriminated the appellant as the person who had entered
their home, robbed the family, and killed his mother.

The qualification of a person to testify rests on the ability to relate to others the acts and events
witnessed. Towards that end, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court makes clear who may and may not
be witnesses in judicial proceedings, to wit:

Section 20. Witnesses; their qualifications. - Except as provided in the next succeeding section,
all persons who can perceive, and perceiving, can make known their perception to others, may be
witnesses.

Religious or political belief, interest in the outcome of the case, or conviction of a crime unless
otherwis e provided by law, shall not be a ground for disqualification. (l8 a)

Section 21. Disqualification by reason of mental incapacity or immaturity. - The following


persons cannot be witnesses:

(a) Those whose mental condition, at the time of their production for examination, is such
that they are incapable of intelligently making known their perception to others;
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
(b) Children whose mental maturity is such as to render them incapable of perceiving the
facts respecting which they are examined and of relating them truthfully. (19a)

As the rules show, anyone who is sensible and aware of a relevant event or incident, and can
communicate such awareness, experience, or observation to others can be a witness. Age,
religion, ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, or social stat us are not necessary to qualify a
person to be a witness, so long as he does not possess any of the disqualifications as listed the
rules. The generosity with which the Rules of Court allows people to testify is apparent, for
religious beliefs, interest in the outcome of a case, and conviction of a crime unless otherwise
provided by law are not grounds for disqualification. 14

That the witness is a child cannot be the sole reason for disqualification. The dismissiveness with
which the testimonies of child witnesses were treated in the past has long been erased. Under the
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness (A.M. No. 004-07-SC 15 December 2000), every child
is now presumed qualified to be a witness. To rebut this presumption, the burden of proof lies on
the party challenging the childs competency. Only when substantial doubt exists regarding the
ability of the child to perceive ,remember, communicate, distinguish truth from falsehood, or
appreciate the duty to tell the truth in court will the court, motu proprio or on motion of a party,
conduct a competency examination of a child.15

The assessment of the credibility of witnesses is within the province of the trial court. 16 All
questions bearing on the credibility of witnesses are best addressed by the trial court by virtue of
its unique position to observe the crucial and often incommunicable evidence of the witnesses
deportment while testifying, something which is denied to the appellate court because of the
nature and function of its office. The trial judge has the unique advantage of actually examining
the real and testimonial evidence, particularly the demeanor of the witnesses. Hence, the trial
judges assessment of the witnesses testimonies and findings of fact are accorded great respect on
appeal. In the absence of any substantial reason to justify the reversal of the trial courts
assessment and conclusion, like when no significant facts and circumstances are shown to have
been overlooked or disregarded, the reviewing court is generally bound by the formers findings.
The rule is even more stringently applied if the appellate court has concurred with the trial court. 17

The appellant did not object to Carls competency as a witness. He did not attempt to adduce
evidence to challenge such competency by showing that the child was incapable of perceiving
events and of communicating his perceptions, or that he did not possess the basic qualifications of
a competent witness. After the Prosecution terminated its direct examination of Carl, the appellant
extensively tested his direct testimony on cross-examination. All that the Defense did was to
attempt to discredit the testimony of Carl, but not for once did the Defense challenge his capacity
to distinguish right from wrong, or to perceive, or to communicate his perception to the trial
court. Consequently, the trial judge favorably determined the competency of Carl to testify
against the appellant.

The appellant points to inconsistencies supposedly incurred by Carl. That is apparently not
disputed. However, it seems clear that whatever inconsistencies the child incurred in his
testimony did not concern the principal occurrence or the elements of the composite crime
charged but related only to minor and peripheral matters. As such, their effect on his testimony
was negligible, if not nil, because the inconsistencies did not negate the positive identification of
the appellant as the perpetrator. Also, that Carl did not shout to seek help upon witnessing how
the appellant had stabbed his mother to death did not destroy his credibility. For sure, he could
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
not be expected to act and to react to what happened like an adult. Although children have
different levels of intelligence and different degrees of perception, the determination of their
capacity to perceive and of their ability to communicate their perception to the courts still
pertained to the trial court, because it concerned a factual issue and should not be disturbed on
appeal in the absence of a strong showing of mistake or misappreciation on the part of the trial
court.18

It is true that an appeal in a criminal case like this one opens the record of the trial bare and open.
Even so, the finding of facts by the trial court are still entitled to great respect especially when
affirmed on appeal by the CA. 19This great respect for such findings rests mainly on the trial
courts direct and personal access to the witnesses while they testify in its presence, giving them
the unique opportunity to observe their manner and decorum during intensive grilling by the
counsel for the accused, and to see if the witnesses were fidgeting and prevaricating, or sincere
and trustworthy. With both the RTC and the CA sharing the conviction on Carls credibility, his
capacity to perceive and his ability to communicate his perception, we cannot depart from their
common conclusion. Moreover, according credence to Carls testimony despite his tender age
would not be unprecedented. In People v. Mendiola, 20the Court considered a 6-y ear-old victim
competent, and regarded her testimony against the accused credible. In Dulla v. Court of
Appeals,21 the testimony of the three-year-old victim was deemed acceptable. As such, Carls
testimony was entitled to full probative weight.

Carl positively identified the appellant as the culprit during the investigation and during the trial.
Worthy to note is that the child could not have been mistaken about his identification of him in
view of his obvious familiarity with the appellant as a daily presence in the billiard room
maintained by the childs family. Verily, the evidence on record overwhelmingly showed that the
appellant, and no other, had robbed and stabbed the victim.

The appellant contends that robbery was not proved beyond reasonable doubt; that to sustain a
conviction for robbery with homicide, the robbery itself must be proven as conclusively as the
other essential element of the crime; and that it was not established that the taking of personal
property was achieved by means of violence against or intimidation of any person or by using
force upon things.

The contention lacks persuasion.

To sustain a conviction for robbery with homicide, the Prosecution must prove the concurrence of
the following elements, namely: (1) the taking of personal property belonging to another; (2) with
intent to gain; (3) with the use of violence or intimidation against a person; and (4) the crime of
homicide, as used in the generic sense, was committed on the occasion or by reason of the
robbery.22 A conviction requires certitude that the robbery is the main objective of the malefactor,
and the killing is merely incidental to the robbery.23

The CA has indicated that the appellant carried a long-bladed weapon. The fact that the appellant
was armed with the long-bladed weapon, which was undoubtedly a deadly weapon, competently
proved the presence of violence or intimidation against persons that qualified the offense as
robbery instead of theft. For sure, too, the patent intent of the appellant was originally to commit
robbery, with the homicide being committed only in the course or on the occasion of the
perpetration of the robbery. As the records show, Dennis was awakened by someone shouting "
Magnanakaw!" The shout was most probably made by the victim, whom the appellant then
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
stabbed in order to facilitate his escape. Considering that the original criminal design to rob had
been consummated with the taking of the money amounting to P13,000.00, the killing of the
victim under the circumstances rendered the appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of robbery
with homicide.

Robbery with homicide is a composite crime, also known as a special complex crime. It is
composed of two or more crimes but is treated by law as a single indivisible and unique offense
for being the product of one criminal impulse. It is a specific crime with a specific penalty
provided by law, and is to be distinguished from a compound or complex crime under Article 48
of the Revised Penal Code.24 A composite crime is truly distinct and different from a complex or
compound crime. In a composite crime, the composition of the offenses is fixed by law, but in a
complex or compound crime, the combination of the offenses is not specified but generalized,
that is, grave and/or less grave, or one offense being the necessary means to commit the other. In
a composite crime, the penalty for the specified combination of crimes is specific, but in a
complex or compound crime the penalty is that corresponding to the most serious offense, to be
imposed in the maximum period. A light felony that accompanies the commission of a complex
or compound crime may be made the subject of a separate information, but a light felony that
accompanies a composite crime is absorbed.

The aggravating circumstances of dwelling and nighttime are not appreciated to raise the penalty
to be imposed because the information did not specifically allege them. But they should be
appreciated in order to justify the grant of exemplary damages to the heirs of the victim in the
amount of P30,000.00 in accordance with relevant jurisprudence. 25 Under Article 2230 of the
Civil Code, exemplary damages may be granted if at least one aggravating circumstance attended
the commission of the crime. The aggravating circumstance for this purpose need not be
specifically alleged in the information, and can be either a qualifying or attendant circumstance.
As expounded in People v. Catubig:26

The term "aggravating circumstances" used by the Civil Code, the law not having specified
otherwise, is to be understood in its broad or generic sense.1wphi1 The commission of an
offense has a two-pronged effect, one on the public as it breaches the social order and the other
upon the private victim as it causes personal sufferings, each of which is addressed by,
respectively, the prescription of heavier punishment for the accused and by an award of additional
damages to the victim. The increase of the penalty or a shift to a graver felony underscores the
exacerbation of the offense by the attendance of aggravating circumstances, whether ordinary or
qualifying, in its commission. Unlike the criminal liability which is basically a State concern, the
award of damages, however, is likewise, if not primarily, intended for the offended party who
suffers thereby. It would make little sense for an award of exemplary damages to be due the
private offended party when the aggravating circumstance is ordinary but to be withheld when it
is qualifying. Withal, the ordinary or qualifying nature of an aggravating circumstance is a
distinction that should only be of consequence to the criminal, rather than to the civil, liability of
the offender. In fine, relative to the civil aspect of the case, an aggravating circumstance, whether
ordinary or qualifying, should entitle the offended party to an award of exemplary damages
within the unbridled meaning of Article 2230 of the Civil Code. 27

In line with current jurisprudence,28 we increase the civil indemnity to

P75,000.00, and the moral damages to P75,000.00.


Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
In addition to the damages awarded by the CA, the appellant should be liable to pay the heirs of
the victim interest at the legal rate of 6% per annum on all the monetary awards for damages from
the date of the finality of this decision until the awards are fully paid.

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on July 23, 2010 subject to the
MODIFICATIONS that then accused-appellant ALVIN ESUGON y AVILA shall pay to the heirs
of the late Josephine Castro y Barrera civil indemnity of P75,000.00; moral damages
of P75,000.00; exemplary damages of P30,000.00; temperate damages of P25,000.00; and
interest at the legal rate of 6% per annum on all monetary awards for damages reckoned from the
date of the finality of this decision until the awards are fully paid, plus the costs of suit.

The accused-appellant is ORDERED to pay the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness

G.R. No. 197813 September 25, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. EDWIN IBANEZ y ALBANTE and ALFREDO


(FREDDIE) NULLA y IBANEZ

Before us is an appeal via a Notice of Appeal from the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CR-H.C. No. 04051.1 The appellate court affirmed in toto the Decision 2 of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Branch18, Malolos, Bulacan which convicted accused-appellants Edwin
Ibaez y Albante (Edwin) and Alfredo Nulla y Ibaez (Alfredo) of Murder in Criminal Case No.
3517-M-2004.

Appellants Edwin and Alfredo, with Jesus Monsillo y Taniares (Jesus), were all charged in an
Information for Murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, which reads:

The undersigned Asst. Provincial Prosecutor accuses Jesus Montisillo y Taniares @ Dodong,
Edwin Ibaez y Albante and Alfredo(Freddie) Nulla y Ibaez of the crime of murder, penalized
under the provisions of Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, committed as follows:

That on or about the 29th day of August, 2004, in the municipality of Bocaue, province of
Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, armed with a soil digger (bareta) and with intent to kill one Wilfredo Atendido y
Dohenog, conspiring, confederating and helping one another did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously, with evident premeditation, abuse of superior strength and treachery,
attack, assault and hit with the said soildigger (bareta) the said Wilfredo Atendido y Dohenog,
hitting the latter on his head, thereby inflicting upon him serious physical injuries which directly
caused his death.3

During arraignment, Edwin and Alfredo pleaded not guilty. Jesus, on the other hand, remained at
large; the case against him was archived. Thereafter, trial ensued.
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
The prosecutions version was testified to by the victims wife and daughter, in succession.

On that fateful day, Wilfredo Atendido y Dohenog (Wilfredo) was invited by Alfredo to a
drinking session with Jesus and Edwin making them a party of four. Rachel, Wilfredos daughter,
an adolescent at the time, was underneath the house (silong in the vernacular) of a neighbor, three
(3)meters away from the place where Wilfredo and his companions were ostensibly in
merrymaking.

Rachel saw her father step away from the group to urinate. While Wilfredo relieved himself,
Edwin snatched a t-shirt from a nearby clothesline, and hooded the t-shirt over the head and face
of Wilfredo. Robbed of vision as his head was fully covered, Wilfredo was wrestled and pinned
down by Edwin, while Alfredo boxed the left side of Wilfredos chest. Jesus, armed with a long
iron bar, swung at and hit Wilfredo in the head. Terrified, Rachel stood immobilized as she
watched the attack on father. Thereafter, she saw her mother running out of their house and crying
for help.

On that same auspicious date, 29 August 2004, Rowena, Wilfredos wife and Rachels mother,
was inside their house taking care of their youngest daughter. She heard a commotion coming
from the neighboring house, about eight (8) steps away, so she rushed in that direction. Once
outside their house, she saw Wilfredo prostrate on the ground covered with blood on his face and
forehead. Upon reaching Wilfredo, Rowena saw accused Jesus, standing one meter away from
Wilfredo, holding an iron bar. Edwin and Alfredo stood beside Jesus; Edwin held a white shirt.
Forthwith, Jesus and Alfredo ran away while Edwin went home. Rowena asked for help to bring
Wilfredo to the hospital. However, Wilfredo did not reach the hospital alive and was pronounced
dead on arrival.

Expectedly, the defense mainly of Edwin and Alfredo, proffered an altogether different version of
the events.

The two accused-appellants pointed to Jesus as the sole culprit, proclaimed their innocence and
professed to being at the scene of the crime only because of their curiosity for what had occurred.

Allegedly, on that day, the two buddies were having their regular drinking session at Edwins
house when they heard a commotion outside. Curious about the ruckus, they approached and saw
Wilfredo prostrate on the ground; Jesus, held an iron bar and was being held back by his sister
who was shouting, "Tama na! Tama na!." Edwin then called for a tricycle so Wilfredo could be
brought to a hospital and given medical attention. Alfredo stood by and merely watched as events
transpired.

To corroborate their claim of innocence, the defense called Aniceta Dosil (Aniceta) to the witness
stand who testified as follows:

(1) She sold doormats for a living which she peddled on the road;

(2) On 29 August 2004, Rachel helped her in selling the doormats;

(3) On that day, they finished at around 6:00 p.m. and headed to their respective
residences along the railroad track;
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
(4) Upon arriving at their vicinity, Aniceta witnessed the immediate aftermath of the
purported fight between Jesus and Wilfredo;

(5) At that juncture, Jesus was being embraced by his sister, Marilou, and the two were
two meters away from the body of Wilfredo;

(6) Marilou recounted to Aniceta that Jesus had hit Wilfredo with an iron bar, a
preemptive move because Wilfredo was about to stab Jesus;

(7) While Aniceta and Marilou discussed the incident, Rachel stood and listened to them;

(8) At that time, only the four of them, Jesus, Marilou, Aniceta and Rachel, were at the
place of the incident;

(9) After learning the entirety of what had transpired, Aniceta, who was afraid to get
involved, and Rachel, ran to their respective houses;

(10) For the duration of the day, Aniceta did not step out of her house, neither did she
volunteer information to the police when the case was investigated in the following days;
and

(11) Aniceta only came forward to testify at the request of Adela Ibaez, wife of Edwin.

As previously adverted to, the trial court convicted Edwin and Alfredo of Murder. It disposed of
the case, to wit:

WHEREFORE, accused Edwin Ibaez y Albante and Alfredo (Freddie) Nulla y Ibaez are hereby
found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder and are hereby sentenced to
suffer imprisonment of reclusion perpetua and to indemnify the heirs of Wilfredo D. Atendido in
the amount of:

a) Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as civil indemnity;

b) Twenty-Five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00) as temperate damages;

c) Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as moral damages;

d) Twenty-Five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00) as exemplary damages; and

e) One Million Nine Hundred Forty-Six Thousand and One Hundred Eighty Pesos
(P1,946,180.00) for the unearned income of Wilfredo Atendido. 4

On appeal, Edwin and Alfredo found no reprieve. The Court of Appeals did not deviate from the
RTCs ruling and affirmed in toto its finding of guilt.

In this appeal, Edwin and Alfredo assign the following as errors:

I
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
THE LOWER COURTS GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING FULLWEIGHT AND CREDENCE
TO THE TESTIMONY OF THEALLEGED PROSECUTION EYEWITNESS.

II

THE LOWER COURTS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT GIVINGWEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO


THE DEFENSES EVIDENCE.

III

THE LOWER COURTS GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THEACCUSED-


APPELLANTS WHEN THEIR GUILT WAS NOT PROVENBEYOND REASONABLE
DOUBT.5

In sum, the issue is whether the accused are guilty of murder.

Edwin and Alfredo maintain their innocence and point to Jesus as the sole perpetrator of the
crime. They insist that they were at the scene of the crime only because they wanted to know
what the commotion was all about. They claim that, in fact, Edwin called for a tricycle so
Wilfredo could be brought to a hospital. To discredit the eyewitness testimony of Rachel, they
presented Aniceta who testified that she and Rachel were out on that day selling doormats and
only returned at 6:00 p.m. Thus, Rachel could not have witnessed the murder of Wilfredo.

Both lower courts, however, found the testimony of Rachel credible:

This Court finds the testimony of Rachel clear and convincing. The testimony flows from a
person who was present in the place where the killing occurred. They are replete with details
sufficient to shift the burden of evidence to appellants. We have no reason to doubt Rachels
credibility. Her candid account of the incident, standing alone, clearly established the components
of the crime of murder. Appellants defense of denial, not sufficiently proven, cannot overcome
the conclusions drawn from said evidence. We find no cogent reason to deviate from the findings
and conclusions of the trial court. Rachels testimony was delivered in a firm, candid, and
straightforward manner. There is no showing that Rachel wavered from the basic facts of her
testimony, even when she was subjected to a rigorous examination.

Rachel was only ten (10) years old when she witnessed the murder of the victim. She testified in
open court two (2) years later. Thus, she cannot be expected to give an error-free narration of the
events that happened two years earlier. The alleged inconsistencies between her sworn statement
and testimony referred to by appellants do not affect her credibility. What is important is that in
all her narrations she consistently and clearly identified appellants as the perpetrators of the
crime. Inconsistencies between the sworn statement and the testimony in court do not militate
against witness credibility since sworn statements are generally considered inferior to the
testimony in open court.6

We find no error in the lower courts disposal of the issue.

Well-entrenched in jurisprudence is that the trial court's evaluation of the testimony of a witness
is accorded the highest respect because of its direct opportunity to observe the witnesses on the
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
stand and to determine if they are telling the truth or not. 7 This opportunity enables the trial judge
to detect better that thin line between fact and prevarication that will determine the guilt or
innocence of the accused. That line may not be discernible from a mere reading of the impersonal
record by the reviewing court. Thus, the trial judge's evaluation of the competence and credibility
of a witness will not be disturbed on review, unless it is clear from the records that his judgment
is erroneous.8

We have scrutinized the testimony of lone eyewitness, Rachel. Throughout her testimony, in her
direct, cross and re-direct and re-cross examinations, she candidly recounted the events
surrounding the killing of her father as follows:

PROS. LAGROSA:

Your Honor please, may we invoke the right of the child the provisions (sic) under the child
witness wherein we can ask leading questions and in Tagalog.

COURT:

Anyway, the questions can be interpreted.

PROS. LAGROSA:

Only the leading questions, your Honor.

Q: You said that your father came from sleeping in your house, did you know what time of the
day your father went to sleep?

A: I do not know because I do not know how to read time.

xxxx

Q: But do you know whether or when your father went to sleep? It was morning, noon or
afternoon or nighttime or daytime?

A: "Hapon po." (In the afternoon.)

Q: Early afternoon, late afternoon or mid-afternoon?

A: Late in the afternoon, Your Honor. ("bandang hapon-hapon po.")

Q: Was it already dark?

A: Not yet, your Honor.

PROS. LAGROSA:

Q: According to you, your father went to sleep, where were you when your father went to sleep?
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
A: I was in the house, maam.

xxxx

Q: And when your father woke up, were you still in the house?

A: Yes, maam.

Q: Also inside the house?

A: Yes, maam.

Q: When your father woke up, what did he do?

A: All of us ate rice, maam. ("Kumain po kaming lahat ng kanin.")

Q: Can you tell us if that is already dark or still daytime?

A: It was still daytime, maam.

xxxx

Q: After eating rice, will you tell us what happened, if you still remember?

A: My father was called by his compadre, maam.

Q: And who was that compadre who called your father?

A: Freddie, maam.

Q: Do you know the full name of this Freddie?

A: Freddie Nulla, maam.

Q: Why do you know Freddie Nulla?

A: He is a compadre of my father, maam.

Q: Did you often see him in your place?

A: Yes, maam.

Q: Is Freddie Nulla now here in court?

A: Yes, maam.

Q: Will you look around and point to him?


Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
INTERPRETER:

Witness pointed to a detention prisoner (sic) when asked to identify himself answered FREDDIE
NULLA.Q: Now, you said that Freddie Nulla, the compadre, called your father, do you still
remember how he was called?

A: Yes, maam.

Q: How?

A: "Pare. Pare."

Q: And when your father was called, what did your father do?

A: My father followed Freddie at the back of the house of Kuya Edwin.

Q: At the time your father followed Freddie at the back of the house of your Kuya Edwin, where
were you?

A: I was under the house of Kuya Unyo, maam.

Q: Now, you mentioned that your father followed Freddie at the back of the house of Kuya
Edwin, who is this Kuya Edwin?

INTERPRETER:

Witness pointing to a detention prisoner who identified himself as EDWIN IBAEZ.PROS.


LAGROSA:

Q: You said that at that time you were under the house of Kuya Unyo, what is the full name of
this Kuya Unyo, if you know?

A: I do not know, maam.

Q: What were you doing under the house of Kuya Unyo?

A: I was throwing stones, maam.

Q: And this house of Kuya Unyo, is that near or far from your house?

A: Just near our house, maam.

Q: Can you point a place here where you are now sitted (sic) up to this courtroom to show the
distance between your house and the house of Kuya Unyo?

PROS. LAGROSA
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
The witness pointed up to the wall.

ATTY. MALLILLIN:

Can we estimate, your Honor.

A: Just near, maam, 3 to 4 meters.9

xxxx

Q: Rachel, last time you testified that your father followed Freddie Nulla at the back of the house
of Kuya Unyo and at that time you were under the house of Kuya Unyo, do you remember having
stated that last time?

A: Yes, maam.

Q: While you were at the house of Kuya Unyo, do you remember anything unusual that happened
at that time?

A: When my father was being killed, maam.

Q: You said that your father was being killed or "pinapatay na po si papa ko," who killed your
father?

A: Kuya Edwin, Kuya Freddie and Kuya Dodong, maam.

Q: You said that Kuya Freddie, Kuya Edwin and Kuya Dodong were killing your father, how did
Kuya Edwin, how was he killing your father as you said?

A: "Pinuluputan po sa mukha ng damit ni Kuya Edwin." (Kuya Edwin put around a piece of
cloth).

Q: You said that Kuya Edwin put around a piece of cloth on your papa, in what part of your
fathers body (sic) that cloth being put around by Kuya Edwin?

A: He put it around all over the face and the head, maam.

PROS. LAGROSA:

The witness was demonstrating by making a circling movement or motion of her hand all over
the head and the face.

Q: And then what happened when Kuya Edwin put around that piece of cloth all over the head
and face of your papa?

A: "Itinumba po siya."

Q: You said "itinumba po siya," who caused your father to tumble down?
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
A: After Kuya Edwin had put around the piece of cloth on my father, he tumbled him down.

Q: And when your father tumbled down, what else happened?

A: Kuya Freddie boxed him, maam.

Q: Did you see in what part of your fathers body was he boxed by Kuya Freddie?

A: Yes, maam.

Q: What part of his body was boxed?

A: On the left portion of the shoulder blade, maam.

Q: And how about Kuya Dodong when Kuya Edwin put around a piece of cloth and when Kuya
Freddie boxed your father, where was Kuya Dodong at that time?

A: He was also there, maam.

Q: And what was he doing, if he was doing anything at that time?

A: "Binareta na po yong papa ko sa ulo."

COURT:

Q: What did he use noong" binareta"?

A: It is a long iron bar used in digging soil?

PROS. LAGROSA:

Q: Now, what happened after Kuya Dodong " binareta" (sic) your father on the head?

A: "Nandoon pa po ako sa silong nila Kuya Unyo nakita ko nalang ponandoon na po ang nanay
ko pati po mga kapatid ko tsaka na poako lumabas."10

As the lower courts have done, we accord full faith and credence to Rachels testimony. She was
young and unschooled, but her narration of the incident was categorical, without wavering. It has
no markings of a concocted story, impressed upon her by other people.

The defense, accused-appellants herein, tried to further discredit Rachels testimony by arguing
that Rachel was a mere child who had studied only until the first grade of elementary school and
could barely read, and did not know how to tell time.

We cannot take Rachels testimony lightly simply because she was a mere child when she
witnessed the incident and when she gave her testimony in court. There is no showing that her
mental maturity rendered her incapable of testifying and of relating the incident truthfully.
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
With exceptions provided in the Rules of Court, 11 all persons who can perceive, and perceiving,
can make known their perception to others, may be witnesses. That is even buttressed by the Rule
on Examination of a Child Witness which specifies that every child is presumed qualified to be a
witness. To rebut this presumption, the burden of proof lies on the party challenging the child's
competence. Only when substantial doubt exists regarding the ability of the child to perceive,
remember, communicate, distinguish truth from falsehood, or appreciate the duty to tell the truth
in court will the court, motu proprio or on motion of a party, conduct a competency examination
of a child.12 Thus, petitioners flimsy objections on Rachels lack of education and inability to
read and tell time carry no weight and cannot overcome the clear and convincing testimony of
Rachel as to who killed her father.

We likewise note that the line of questioning of the defense during cross-examination on the
competency of Rachel to read and tell time did not distract her in recollecting how her father was
attacked by accused-appellants. From her position underneath the house of her "Kuya Unyo," she
saw her father, Wilfredo, attacked by accused-appellants. Although she was astonished as the
happening unfolded, her ability to perceive, remember, and make known her perception was not
diminished.

As regards Anicetas version of the events that Jesus was the sole perpetrator of the crime who
attacked Wilfredo only in self-defense, we easily see the fatal flaw: Aniceta arrived after the
supposed fight between Wilfredo and Jesus, and what transpired was merely relayed to her by
Jesus sister, Marilou.

Quite apparent from Anicetas narration of events is that she has no personal knowledge of
Wilfredos killing. Anicetas testimony is mainly hearsay, specially on the purported fight
between Wilfredo and Jesus that ended in Wilfredos death. Anicetas testimony as such carries no
probative weight. At best, Anicetas testimony is an independent relevant statement: offered only
as to the fact of its declaration and the substance of what had been relayed to Aniceta by Marilou,
not as to the truth thereof.13

Section 36 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court explicitly provides:

SEC. 36. Testimony generally confined to personal knowledge; hearsay excluded. A witness can
testify only to those facts which he knows of his personal knowledge; that is, which are derived
from his own perception, except as otherwise provided in these rules.

We detect a clever, albeit transparent ploy, to pin Jesus who had already fled and is temporarily
out of reach of the law. Thus, with Jesus temporarily shielded from punishment, accused-
appellants freely accuse and point to him as the sole perpetrator of the crime. This cannot trump
the solid testimony of Rachel on accused-appellants direct participation in killing Wilfredo.

We likewise affirm the lower courts appreciation of the aggravating circumstance of treachery:

The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack by an aggressor without the
slightest provocation on the part of the victim, depriving the latter of any real chance to defend
himself, thereby ensuring its commission without risk to the aggressor. Treachery attended the
killing of the victim because he was unarmed and the attack on him was swift and sudden. He had
not means and there was no time for him to defend himself. Indeed, nothing can be more sudden
and unexpected than when petitioners Edwin and Alfredo attacked the victim. The latter did not
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
have the slightest idea that he was going to be attacked because he was urinating and his back was
turned from his assailants. The prosecution was able to establish that petitioners attack on the
victim was without any slightest provocation on the latters part and that it was sudden and
unexpected. This is a clear case of treachery.14

Finally, we affirm the lower courts award of damages consistent with


jurisprudence:15 (1) P50,000.00 as civil indemnity; (2) P25,000.00 as temperate damages; and
(3) P50,000.00 as moral damages. Consistent with current jurisprudence, we increase the award
of exemplary damages from P25,000.00 to P30,000.00.16 However, we delete the award
of P1,946,180.00 representing the unearned income of Wilfredo.

To obviate confusion on the award of loss of earning capacity, we reiterate herein that
compensation for lost income is in the nature of damages and as such requires due proof of the
damages suffered; there must be unbiased proof of the deceaseds average income. 17 In this case,
we only had he testimony of Wilfredos spouse, Rowena, who claimed that Wilfredo
earned P400.00 to P500.00 daily as a doormat vendor.

On more than one occasion, we have held that the bare testimony of a deceaseds mother or
spouse as to the income or earning capacity of the deceased must be supported by competent
evidence like income tax returns or receipts. 18

In People v. Caraig,19 we have drawn two exceptions to the rule that "documentary evidence
should be presented to substantiate the claim for damages for loss of earning capacity," and have
thus awarded damages where there is testimony that the victim was either (1) self-employed
earning less than the minimum wage under current labor laws, and judicial notice may be taken of
the fact that in the victim's line of work no documentary evidence is available; or (2) employed as
a daily-wage worker earning less than the minimum wage under current labor laws."

Although Wilfredos occupation as a doormat vendor may fall under the first exception, the
minimum wage for Region III, which includes the province of Bulacan, is below P400.00 as per
the National Wages and Productivity Commission Regional Daily Minimum Wage Rates as of
August 2013.20 Regrettably, except for the bare assertion of Rowena, Wilfredo's spouse, we have
nothing to anchor the award for loss of earning capacity. Thus, we delete the award for loss of
earning capacity in the amount of P1,946,180.00.

WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED. The Decisions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
H.C. No. 04051 and the Regional Trial Court, Branch 18, Malolos, Bulacan in Criminal Case No.
3517-M-2004 are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. The award of exemplary damages is
increased from P25,000.00 to P30,000.00 and we delete the award for loss of earning capacity in
the amount of P1,946, 180.00.

SO ORDERED.