PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. JUANITO APATTAD

Posted: March 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. JUANITO APATTAD

G.R. No. 193188.  August 10, 2011

By: A. Halina

 

FACTS:

Accused was charged in four (4) separate informations of raping his 10 year-old daughter, AAA in Cagayan. AAA testified that sometime in 2001, while she was sleeping with her sisters, the accused pulled and positioned her just below the feet of her siblings, and right then and there, succeeded in molesting her.  AAA was just seven (7) years old then. It was repeated in 2003 where the accused also threatened to kill her if she reports the incident to her mother. When AAA finally told her mother on June 13, 2003 that she was being abused by her own father, her mother whipped her for not telling her about it immediately. Thereafter, they went to the DSWD office in Peñablanca, Cagayan, where AAA was interviewed by DSWD personnel.  Afterwards, they proceeded to the police station where AAA executed a sworn statement narrating what happened. Dr. Simangan subsequently conducted a physical examination on AAA and discovered that the latter had a healed hymen laceration at 4 and 7 o’clock positions, and that her vagina admitted the tip of the fifth finger easily. She stated that the laceration could have been caused by a blunt object.

The accused denied the accusation of rape hurled against him and claimed that his wife was the one who initiated the criminal complaint against him because she thinks that he has a mistress.

The trial court gave credence to the version of the prosecution and rendered its decision finding the accused guilty of three (3) counts of rape and imposed the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA for each case. Apattad was further ordered to pay AAA the amount of P150,000.00 Pesos as civil indemnity. Accused is acquitted in one of the criminal cases for lack of sufficient evidence. The CA affirmed the judgment of conviction by the trial court with the modification that the civil indemnity awarded should be P75,000.00 for each count of rape. In addition, moral damages and exemplary damages in the amounts of P75,000.00 and Php25,000.00 respectively, for each count of rape were awarded.

ISSUE with regard to DAMAGES: WON the C.A. GRAVELY ERRED IN MODIFYING THE DAMAGES IMPOSED BY THE TRIAL COURT.

HELD: NO. As modified, accused-appellant is ordered to pay AAA for each count of rape, PhP 75,000 as civil indemnity, PhP 75,000 as moral damages, and PhP 30,000 as exemplary damages.

RATIO: In rape cases, when the victim is under 18 years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law-spouse of the parent of the victim, the imposable penalty is death. However, with the enactment of Republic Act No. (RA) 9346 or An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines, the imposition of death penalty is now prohibited. In lieu of the penalty of death, the penalty of reclusion perpetua shall be imposed when the law violated makes use of the nomenclature of the penalties of the RPC.

Consequently, courts can no longer impose the penalty of death. Instead, they have to impose reclusion perpetua. Nonetheless, the principal consideration for the award of damages is “the penalty provided by law or imposable for the offense because of its heinousness, not the public penalty actually imposed on the offender.”

When the circumstances surrounding the crime would justify the imposition of the penalty of death were it not for RA 9346, the award of civil indemnity for the crime of rape should be PhP 75,000 racionating that “this is not only a reaction to the apathetic societal perception of the penal law and the financial fluctuations over time, but also an expression of the displeasure of the Court over the incidence of heinous crimes against chastity.”

Likewise, the award of moral damages in the amount of PhP 75,000 is warranted without need of pleading or proving them. In rape cases, it is recognized that the victim’s injury is concomitant with and necessarily results from the odious crime of rape to warrant per se the award of moral damages.

Further, the Court also awards exemplary damages in the amount of PhP 30,000, despite the lack of any aggravating circumstances, to deter others from committing similar acts or for correction for the public good.

 

MAIN ISSUE: WON THE C.A. GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING APATTAD GUILTY DESPITE THE PROSECUTION’S FAILURE TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.

 

HELD: S.C. sustained accused-appellant’s conviction. The appeal is DENIED. The CA Decision is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS.

 

RATIO: Accused-appellant’s defenses of alibi and denial cannot prosper. Alibis and denials are inherently weak defenses. This is understandably so because said defenses can be easily fabricated by an accused in order to escape criminal liability. An alibi is evidence negative in nature and self-serving, and, thus, cannot attain more credibility than the testimonies of prosecution witnesses who testify on clear and positive evidence. In the present case, AAA positively identified accused-appellant in her testimony as the very perpetrator of the crime of rape committed against her. As correctly observed by the trial court, a distance of three (3) kilometers does not make it physically impossible for accused-appellant to be at the scene of the crime at the time it was committed. Calimag himself admitted during cross-examination that the house of accused-appellant may be reached by jeepney in an hour. Significantly, even if accused-appellant indeed stayed in Calimag’s house on the dates that he committed rape, it was still not physically impossible for accused-appellant to go home and commit the said crime at the time it was said to have been committed.

 

After a careful examination of the records of this case, the S.C. is satisfied that the prosecution’s evidence established the guilt of accused-appellant beyond reasonable doubt. AAA was below twelve (12) years old when the crime was committed. A copy of AAA’s birth certificate to prove her age was duly presented in evidence by the prosecution, indicating that she was indeed born on October 14, 1994. When AAA was called to the witness stand, she gave a detailed narration of how she was sexually molested by her father, which narration is difficult, if not improbable, for a 10-year-old girl to concoct.

Pertinently, “it is settled jurisprudence that the testimony of a child-victim is given full weight and credence, considering that when a woman, specially a minor, says that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape was committed. Youth and immaturity are generally badges of truth and sincerity.” The medical examination conducted and the medical certificate issued is veritable corroborative evidence, which strongly bolster AAA’s testimony.

DISPOSITIVE: WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The CA Decision dated August 28, 2009 in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03173 finding accused-appellant Juanito Apattad guilty of rape is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS. As thus modified, accused-appellant is ordered to pay AAA for each count of rape, PhP75,000 as civil indemnity, PhP75,000 as moral damages, and PhP30,000 as exemplary damages.

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