Husband jailed for calling wife tanga, mukhang pera

THIRD DIVISION
[ G.R. No. 234520, February 28, 2018 ]
ALLAN SAN JUAN VILLALON VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the January 11, 2017 Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) and its October 2, 2017 Resolution in CA-G.R. CR No. 37052. There, the CA affirmed in toto the Decision dated June 27, 2014 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Las Piñas City, Branch 199 in Criminal Case No. 11-0494.

The facts of the case, as found by the CA, are as follows:

Petitioner was charged with violation of Section 5 (i) of Republic Act No. 9262, otherwise known as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004. The Information reads:


That sometime during the period of August 28, 2008 and subsequent thereto in the City of Las Piñas, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused being then the husband of complainant AAA, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously commit psychological violence against complainant by repeatedly shouting/uttering contemptuous and insulting words to her like: "Gago, Maarte, Tanga, Bobo, Hindi Marunong Umintindi, Mukhang Pera, Mandarambong ang Pamilya, Putang-Ina, Walang Laman ang Utak" and other words of similar import and by his public display of relationship with one CCC., thereby causing AAA mental and emotional anguish.

CONTRARY TO LAW.
Upon arraignment, petitioner pleaded "Not Guilty" to the charge. At pre-trial, the parties stipulated on the jurisdiction of the RTC, the identity of petitioner, the marriage of the parties and their common child.

Prosecution's version

AAA and petitioner got married on January 10, 1998. They then lived in Makati but later moved to the house of petitioner's parents sometime in the year 2000. At first, their marriage went smoothly until petitioner's behavior changed after meeting CCC. AAA believed that petitioner had an affair with CCC after seeing a text message in his cellular phone which said "good morning x xx, I love you." From then on, they would always argue and petitioner would hurl invectives at her, such as ang bobo mo naman, hindi kamarunong umintindi" He would make an issue on the slightest mistakes that she would commit. These notwithstanding, she put up with him for the sake of their child. She even begged him to just show her respect and not to leave them.[2]

Petitioner admitted to his in-laws that he was having an affair with another woman but promised to end it and focus his attention to his family. This, however, did not happen as he abandoned them on October 31, 2008.[3]

In 2009, petitioner told AAA that he will go back to their family. They reconciled on April 21, 2010 and started living together again as husband and wife. He assured her that he already left his mistress. Unfortunately, not long after, they quarreled and argued on the same issues as before. BBB would say hurtful words to her such as "gago," "maarte," "tanga," "bobo," "hindi marunong umintindi," "mukhang pera," "mandarambong ang pamilya," "putang-ina," and "walang laman ang utak." Two months after their reconciliation, petitioner left AAA and returned to his mistress.[4]

Additionally, AAA saw in petitioner's Facebook account his intimate relation with his mistress as shown in pictures of them embracing each other and in their exchange of sweet messages.[5]

Version of the defense

Petitioner insists that he was the victim of abuse by his wife. After their marriage, they lived together but in November 2008, upon the advice of her doctor, AAA and their child stayed with her parents. He regularly supported them in all their needs and was in constant communication with them.[6]

Then, in 2010, they decided to rent a house where they could establish their home. Unfortunately, it did not last long since AAA returned to her old ways of being demanding and continuously accusing him of things that he has not done. He would just keep quiet whenever she would berate and embarrass him in the presence of their family, neighbors and friends.[7]

In June 2010, during their quarrel, AAA insulted him and threw objects, hitting and destroying their appliances in the process. He tried to calm her since they were already creating a scene in their neighborhood but to no avail. He felt so embarrassed that he decided to leave. When he returned, he asked her for forgiveness and pleaded to fix their marriage. She acceded but on the condition that they would seek a marital encounter seminar being sponsored by her boss. He disagreed and told her they should fix their problems by themselves before resorting to marriage counseling. She got angry and assaulted him verbally and physically, forcing him to move out of the house. The following day, AAA filed the instant criminal case.[8]

On June 27, 2014, the RTC rendered a Decision finding petitioner guilty of violation of Sec. 5 (i) in relation to Sec. 3 (c) of RA 9262, disposing of the case in this wise:


WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, this court finds accused x xx GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for Violation of Sec. 5 (I) in relation to sec. 3 (c) of Republic Act 9262 and hereby imposes an indeterminate penalty of SIX (6) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of PRISION CORRECCIONAL as minimum to EIGHT (8) YEARS and ONE (1) day of PRISION MAYOR as its maximum with the accessory penalty of the law.

In addition, accused shall indemnify the private complainant moral damages in the amount of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (Php50,000.00) and exemplary damages in the amount of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (Php50,000.00).

In addition, accused is likewise directed to pay a FINE in the amount of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (Php 100,000.00) and to undergo psychological counselling and shall report compliance with the court.

The period during which the accused has remained under detention shall be credited to him in full provided mat he complies with the terms and conditions of the City Jail.

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the prosecution, the private complainant, the accused as well as their counsel for their information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.
Immediately thereafter, petitioner's counsel withdrew his appearance and his new counsel filed an Omnibus Motion for New Trial and/or Reconsideration. In said Omnibus Motion, it was alleged that petitioner's former counsel failed to show that the instant case was filed based on ill motive or leverage on the part of AAA. He insists that prior to the filing of the case, his mother filed a B.P. 22 case against AAA's mother. In addition, his previous counsel failed to present before the RTC that three (3) years prior to the filing of the case, petitioner instituted a Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage on April 11, 2011 wherein the psychological report states that the breakdown of the marriage was due to AAA's narcissistic personality disorder. Moreover, he asserted that AAA's claim of psychological abuse was unsubstantiated and was not backed by an expert witness.[9]

On September 1, 2014, the RTC denied the Omnibus Motion, prompting him to elevate the case to the CA via an appeal.

Agreeing with the RTC, the CA dismissed the appeal in this manner, to wit:
WHEREFORE, the Appeal is hereby DISMISSED. The   assailed Decision dated June 27, 2014 of the Regional Trial Court of Las Piñas City, Branch 199 in Criminal Case No. 11-0494 is hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.[10]
The CA held that the trial court correctly ruled that the alleged mistake of petitioner's former counsel is not a ground for the issuance of a decree for new trial. Too, the CA pointed out that the pieces of evidence that his former counsel failed to present are not exculpatory in nature.[11]

As for the RTC's finding of guilt, the CA found no error thereon. It ruled that the prosecution indeed sufficiently proved petitioner's violation of RA 9262, Section 5(i) by inflicting upon AAA psychological violence through repeated verbal abuse and public display of marital infidelity.[12] The CA likewise noted that petitioner even admitted that the photographs showing him find CCC taken from his Facebook account were genuine and that he was the person therein.[13]

Lastly, as regards petitioner's assertion that the alleged psychological suffering of AAA was not corroborated by an expert witness, the appellate court ruled that such is immaterial.[14]

His motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioner now seeks recourse from this Court, raising the following issues:


  1. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN  UPHOLDING PETITIONER'S CONVICTION FOR VIOLATION  OF RA 9262 (ALLEGED MARITAL INFIDELITY) BASED ON  TESTIMONY WHICH IS SELF-INCRIMINATORY IN NATURE  AND INADMISSIBLE SINCE IT WAS NOT AUTHENTICATED  IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RULES ON ELECTRONIC  EVIDENCE
  2. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN  UPHOLDING THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT (sic) ERROR IN  NOT GRANTING A NEW TRIAL CONSIDERING THAT THE  GROSS NEGLIGENCE OF FORMER COUNSEL IN NOT  PRESENTING/TACKLING ALL FACTUAL ISSUES RESULTED  INTO (sic) PETITIONER'S OUTRIGHT DEPRIVATION OF  LIBERTY WITHOUT DUE PROCESS OF LAW
  3. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN  UPHOLDING THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT'S  CONVICTION OF THE PETITIONER BASED ON A QUANTUM  OF PROOF ("LIKELY TO CAUSE") WHICH IS LOWER THAN  THAT REQUIRED BY THE 1987 CONSTITUTION ("GUILT  BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT"); THUS THE PETITIONER  WAS MERELY CONVICTED BASED ON SPECULATION
Petitioner insists that his self-incriminatory testimony should have been stricken off the record at the trial court level since his constitutional right against self-incrimination was timely raised by his former counsel. Too, the Facebook pictures were not properly authenticated in accordance with the Rule on Electronic Evidence.[15]

As for the CA's affirmance of the RTC's denial of his motion for new trial, petitioner asserts that the CA failed to consider his Certification of Conversion to Islam which shows that way back June 5, 2009, he converted to Islam, making the provision on Presidential Decree No. 1083 which allows one to have multiple wives applicable to him.[16]

Furthermore, petitioner insists that his former counsel was grossly negligent in failing to show the legal strife between his mother and AAA's mother and his filing of a petition for declaration of nullity of his marriage.[17]

Lastly, he avers that the prosecution failed to prove the existence of emotional/mental anguish,[18] saying that if it were true, AAA would have cried while testifying. He also emphasizes that AAA's testimony was not corroborated by an expert witness.[19] He, thus, maintains that his conviction was based merely on speculation[20]  since the trial court failed to specify in what manner or how AAA suffered mental and emotional anguish.[21]

The petition must be denied.

Anent the first issue, it must be stated that the right against self-incrimination is not an absolute right, nor does it operate as a bar to any self-incriminating testimony. The case of People v. Ayson[22] laid down the rule:


The right against self-incrimination is not self-executing or automatically operational. It must be claimed. If not claimed by or in behalf of the witness, the protection does not come into play. It follows that the right may be waived, expressly, or impliedly, as by a failure to claim it at the appropriate time. In this particular case, petitioner had the option NOT to answer the questions propounded, but chose to answer them anyway, in spite of claiming that his right against self-incrimination was raised at the time the questions were asked. This operates as a waiver of his right, and his answers must stand.

As to his supposed conversion to Islam, the same is neither established nor relevant. It is noteworthy that it is only in the present petition that petitioner raises his supposed conversion to Islam in 2009 as an issue. It was not raised at the trial court, nor was it brought up at the CA. Further, there is only the attached annex in the present petition to show his supposed conversion, nothing more. If petitioner had truly converted to Islam in 2009, and believed that the same is a defense in his case, nothing prevented him from presenting it as an issue at the trial court, considering that the charge against him was filed in 2011.

Moreover, even if We accept for the sake of argument his supposed conversion to Islam, the same does not relieve him of liability for his acts. Even if under P.D. No. 1083, he can possibly have more than one wife, said law is not a license for him to commit acts of violence or abuse against the complainant. There is a glaring lapse in logic for him to use religion as a defense for his actions.

Anent the third issue, his former counsel's supposed gross negligence in failing to present the court actions between his mother and his mother-in-law and his filing a petition for the declaration of nullity of his marriage to complainant, the same are irrelevant as the elements for the violation of Section 5(i) of RA No. 9262 have been duly established.

That said elements have been duly established also disposes of the last issue raised, that the emotional/mental anguish suffered by the complainant was not proven. As found by the trial and appellate courts, the elements are all present; thus, petitioner's contention that his conviction was based on mere conjecture has already been evaluated and been found to be without merit. It has long been established that this Court is not a trier of facts. Factual findings of the RTC are conclusive and binding on this Court when affirmed by the CA. It is not the place for the petitioner to insist on a review of the factual findings of the trial courts, without showing that it falls under the exceptions.

WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals, the Court DENIES the petition.

SO ORDERED.

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