G.R. No. 202697. August 23, 2017

THIRD DIVISION: [G.R. No. 202697, August 23, 2017] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, V. WILLIAM VARGAS Y MOLOD, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.


After a judicious review of the records, the Court RESOLVES TO DISMISS the appeal for failure of the accused-appellant to show that the Court of Appeals (CA) committed any reversible error in promulgating its assailed decision on March 15, 2012[1] affirming his conviction for qualified rape committed against AAA, then a five-year old lass,[2] under the judgment handed down by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 16, in Tabaco City, Albay.[3]

In his appeal, the accused-appellant has merely rehashed his contentions about the unreliability of the evidence of his guilt, and about the unwarranted rejection of his denial and alibi. However, the factual findings and conclusions of the RTC and the CA were fully supported by the trial records. He had been positively identified as the person who committed sexual intercourse against AAA, then only five years in age, in November 2005. His doing so constituted statutory rape under the law. It appears that because of the sexual intercourse she even contracted gonorrhea. In contrast, his denial and alibi, being negative by nature, were weak for being uncorroborated; hence, the RTC and the CA justifiably rejected such defenses in the face of AAA's positive identification of him as the perpetrator of the crime.

AAA was only five years old at the time the rape was committed. Pursuant to Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for statutory rape when the victim is a child below seven years old is death, which the RTC should have dutifully meted. But the accused-appellant would be saved from the supreme penalty of death only as the consequence of the intervening passage of Republic Act No. 9346,[4] a law that prohibits the imposition of the death penalty. Under Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9346, the penalty of reclusion perpetua to be meted on him is instead imposed but without eligibility for parole. We note in this regard that the CA accordingly qualified the penalty of reclusion perpertua.

The awards of civil indemnity, moral damages and exemplary damages are increased to P100,000.00 each, to bear interest of 6% per annum from the finality of this resolution until full satisfaction, conformably with prevailing judicial policy.[5]

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on March 15, 2012, subject to the MODIFICATION that: (a) accused WILLIAM VARGAS MOLOD shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole; and (b) he is ORDERED TO PAY to AAA P100,000.00 as civil indemnity; P100,000.00 as moral damages; and P100,000.00 as exemplary damages, plus interest of 6% per annum on the awards reckoned from the finality of this resolution until full satisfaction.

The accused-appellant shall further pay the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.

[1] Rollo, pp. 2-16; penned by Associate Justice Ramon A. Cruz, with the concurrence of Associate Justice Rosalinda Asuncion-Vicente and Associate Justice Antonio L. Villamor.

[2] Pursuant to Republic Act No. 9262, otherwise known as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, and its implementing rules, the real names of the victim and of her immediate family members are withheld, and fictitious initials are instead used to represent her, to protect her privacy. See People v. Cabalquinto, 502 SCRA 419, 425.

[3] CA rollo, pp. 41-49; penned by Judge William B. Volante.

[4] An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty Law in the Philippines (approved June 24, 2006).

[5] People v. Jugueta, G.R. No. 202124, April 5,2016,788 SCRA 331, 381-382.

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