[G.R. No. 133385. December 7, 2001]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. PABLITO DELOS REYES, accused-appellant.
D E C I S I O N
Maritess Collo is the third of five children of Evelina Punzalan and Mario Collo. She was born on October 8, 1983 in Biñan, Laguna. She lives with her parents, brothers and sisters in a shanty located in Daang Bakal, Pook, Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Due to Evelina’s illicit relationship with accused-appellant, her husband Mario left them. Accused-appellant eventually moved into Evelina’s house. Maritess was then only nine years old. As she grew up, Maritess regarded accused-appellant as her stepfather, whom she used to call “Kuya Ambo.”
On June 12, 1995, at about 4:00 in the morning, while Maritess was asleep in their living room, she felt accused-appellant’s hand touch her thighs. Her mother, Evelina, was not home at that time having gone to the market.
Maritess tried to resist him but accused-appellant overpowered her. He grabbed her hands tightly and kissed her on the lips and cheek. Then he mounted on top of her. He was clad only in briefs. He fondled her breasts and kissed her all over the body. Maritess pleaded for him to stop, but he ignored her and forcibly removed her shorts and underwear.
Shortly thereafter, Pablito took off his briefs and inserted his penis into Maritess’s vagina. She further pleaded to him, “Tama na po, tama na po.” She felt severe pain which made her cry. When she urinated later, she saw blood come out of her vagina.
Pablito threatened Maritess not to report the incident to anybody, or else he will kill her whole family. Fearing for her life, Maritess kept her harrowing experience to herself. However, the next day, she narrated the incident to her cousin, Eya, who in turn relayed it to her brother, Rey. After some time, Rey confided the incident to Maritess’s father, Mario.
Upon learning of her daughter’s ordeal, Mario brought Maritess to the health center for medical examination. Dr. Soledad Rosanna Cunanan, the Municipal Health Officer of Sta. Rosa, Laguna submitted a medical certificate stating that there was an old healed hymenal laceration in Maritess’s genitalia at 5:00 o’clock position.
Consequently, accused-appellant was charged with the rape of Maritess Collo, under the following Information, docketed as Criminal Case No. 9615-B:
That on or about June 12, 1995, in the Municipality of Sta. Rosa, Province of Laguna, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Pablito delos Reyes y Brasal, with lewd design and by means of force, violence and intimidation, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously have carnal knowledge of the said Marites Collo y Punzalan, a thirteen (13) years of age, against her will and consent, to her damage and prejudice.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Accused-appellant pleaded not guilty when arraigned. After trial, the Regional Trial Court of Biñan, Laguna, Branch XXV, rendered judgment as follows:
WHEREFORE, this Court hereby finds the accused Pablito de los Reyes y Brazal GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of RAPE as charged in the information and there being present the aggravating circumstance of his relationship as stepfather to private complainant, Maritess Collo, hereby sentences him to RECLUSION PERPETUA and to pay said private complainant the sum of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) as moral damages.
Accused-appellant interposed an appeal directly to this Court on the lone assignment of error that the prosecution failed to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. After a careful review of the evidence on record, no sufficient reason exists that would justify the reversal of the assailed decision.
The victim in this case was born on October 8, 1983. At the time of the rape on June 12, 1995, she was below twelve years old. However, the Information alleges that she was thirteen when she was raped. Thus, the crime with which accused-appellant was charged can not be considered statutory rape. However, there is overwhelming evidence on record that accused-appellant employed force and intimidation on the victim.
In her sworn testimony, Maritess categorically stated that:
a. While I was sleeping, I noticed or I felt that there was “gumagapang na kamay sa aking hita”. Later, I came to know that it was Pablito delos Reyes.
q. Now, when you felt that Miss Witness, what did you do?
a. I was surprised, sir.
q. After that what did Pablito delos Reyes do, if any?
a. He held my two (2) hands very tightly, sir.
q. What did you do when Pablito delos Reyes held your both hands tightly?
a. I cried and told him “I do not like, I do not like.” “Ayaw ko, ayaw ko.”
q. Why were you uttering “ayoko, ayoko”?
a. I refused to be molested by him, sir.
q. After holding your both hands tightly, what else did Pablito delos Reyes do, if any?
a. He kissed my lips and cheeks, sir.
q. After Pablito delos Reyes kissed you while he was on top of you, what else did he do to you?
a. He forcibly removed my shorts and panty, sir.
q. Was he able to remove your shorts and panty?
a. Yes, sir.
q. What did you do when Pablito delos Reyes was trying to remove your shorts and panty?
a. I told him “huwag, kuya Ambo” because I called him Kuya Ambo, sir.
q. Did he accede to your pleas?
a. No, sir.
q. Why? What did he do next?
a. He mashed my breasts and kissed all my body and breasts, sir.
q. After that what else did Pablito delos Reyes do to you, if any?
a. After that he removed his briefs and he inserted his penis to my vagina.
q. Was Pablito delos Reyes able to insert his penis to your vagina?
a. Yes, sir.
q. What did you feel when Pablito delos Reyes inserted his penis to your vagina?
a. It was painful, sir.
q. When you felt pain, what did you do?
a. I cried, sir.
q. While the penis of Pablito delos Reyes was inside your vagina, what else did Pablito delos Reyes do, if any?
a. He made an up and down movement, sir, (Witness demonstrating by moving her right hand down and up, down and up.) and “yumuyugyog sa akin.”
q. What did you do when you felt that Pablito delos Reyes was “yumuyugyog?”
a. I told him “tama na po, tama na po.”
q. Did he accede to your pleas?
a. No, sir.
q. What did Pablito delos Reyes do next after that “yumuyugyog”?
a. He removed his penis from my vagina, sir.
q. After removing his penis, what did Pablito delos Reyes do, if any?
a. He threatened me that I should not tell the matter to anybody otherwise, he would kill (sic) of us, sir.
q. What did you feel when Pablito delos Reyes uttered that threatening words to you?
a. Of course, sir, I got scared.
Threat or intimidation employed by rapists against their victims, especially when they are minors, is such as to easily force the latter to succumb to them. Physical resistance need not be established when intimidation is exercised upon the victim and the latter submits herself against her will because of fear of her life and personal safety. Moreover, considering accused-appellant’s moral ascendancy over the victim, it was not difficult for him to threaten the latter.
The foregoing testimony of the victim is by itself sufficient to sustain accused-appellant’s conviction. While it is not required that her statement be corroborated by any evidence, there is in this case other proof, such as the medical report which, though not essential in rape, strengthens the case against accused-appellant. The discovery of an old and healed hymenal laceration in her vagina is indicative of prior sexual coitus. She was also found to be in a non-virgin state. The fact that no fresh lacerations were found in the hymen is no indication that she was not raped. Considering that the victim’s testimony is supported by the medical findings, forced carnal knowledge has thereby been established.
Contrary to accused-appellant’s contention, rape is not rendered impossible simply because the siblings of the victims who were with her in that small room were not awakened during its commission. Lust is no respecter of time and place. Likewise, there is no rule that rape can be committed only in seclusion. In fact, it may be done even in places where people congregate or when there are other occupants of the same room or where other members of the family are also sleeping. Moreover, young children sleep more soundly than grown-ups and they are not easily awakened by adult exertions and suspirations in the night.
Against the foregoing evidence of culpability, accused-appellant merely denies the charges and alleges that he could not molest the victim because he loved her. He also claims that the shanty where the crime was committed had already been demolished on the date of the supposed rape. Denial is an inherently weak defense, which crumbles in the light of positive identification of accused-appellant. It can easily be fabricated and to deserve acquittal, it must be proved by clear and convincing evidence. Accused-appellant’s negative assertions cannot prevail in the light of the affirmative declarations of the victim herself.
On accused-appellant’s contention that the shanty where the crime was committed has been demolished on the date of the supposed rape, suffice it to say that the precise date of the commission of the crime is not an essential element of rape.
The issue of credibility of witness is better left to the trial court because of its unique opportunity to observe the witness firsthand. As discussed above, no significant facts or circumstances were shown to have been overlooked or disregarded by the lower court which if considered might alter the outcome of the case. Accordingly, the assessments and conclusions reached by the trial court is considered binding on this court.
However, the trial court erred when it appreciated the aggravating circumstance of relationship considering that the same was not alleged in the Information.
In addition to the moral damages awarded by the trial court, accused-appellant should likewise be ordered to pay the victim, Maritess Collo, civil indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00. Civil indemnity is automatically awarded to rape victims, which is separate and distinct from moral damages.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision dated January 5, 1998 of the Regional Trial Court of Biñan, Laguna, Branch XXV, in Criminal Case No. 9615-B, finding accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that accused-appellant is ordered to pay the victim, Maritess Collo, civil indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00, in addition to the amount of P50,000.00 awarded by the trial court as moral damages.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Puno, Kapunan, and Pardo, JJ., concur.
 Rollo, p. 7.
 Ibid., p. 26; penned by Judge Pablo B. Francisco.
 Id., p. 56.
 TSN, June 4, 1997, pp. 7-11.
 People v. Gumahob, 332 Phil. 855 (1996); People v. Paranzo, 317 SCRA 367 (1999).
 People v. Docena, 322 SCRA 820 (2000).
 People v. Diasanta, 335 SCRA 218 (2000), citing People v. Tongson, 194 SCRA 257 (1998); People v.v. Dabon, 216 SCRA 656 (1992); People v. Yambao, 193 SCRA 571 (1991). Generalao, Jr., 213 SCRA 380 (1992); People
 People v. Motos, 317 SCRA 96 (1999).
 People v. Catoltol, 332 Phil. 883 (1996).
 People v. Batoon, 317 SCRA 545 (1999). See also People v. Leuterio, 332 Phil. 668 (1996).
 People v. Tan, Jr., 332 Phil. 465 (1996).
 People v. Ignacio, 233 SCRA 1 (1994).
 People v. Lopez 313 SCRA 114 (1999), citing People v. Andal, 344 Phil. 889 (1997); People v. Garcia, 281 SCRA 463 (1997); People v. Abellanosa, 264 SCRA 722 (1996); People v. Alcantara, 240 SCRA 122 (1995).
 People v. Bagcal, G.R. Nos. 107529-30, January 29, 2001.
 People v. Diasanta, supra.
 People v. Alicante, 332 SCRA 440 (2000), citing People v. Bernaldez, 294 SCRA 317 (1998); People v. Bugarin, 273 SCRA 384 (1997); People v. Quinones, 222 SCRA 249 (1993).
 People v. Navarro, G.R. No. 132696, February 12, 2001.
 People v. Garigadi, 317 SCRA 399 (1999), cited in People v. Mendez, 335 SCRA 147 (2000).