Statutory rape regardless of victim's age


After a careful review of the records of the case and the issues submitted by the parties, the Court finds no error committed in the Decision[1] dated August 17, 2017 of the Court of Appeals, Tenth Division (CA), in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 06385. The facts, as borne out by the records, sufficiently support the conclusion that accused-appellant Ruben Labordo y Salvamante (accused-appellant) is indeed guilty of the crimes, of two (2) counts of Rape charged against him. The issues and matters raised before the Court, the same ones as those raised in the CA, there being no supplemental briefs filed, were sufficiently addressed and correctly ruled upon by the CA.

In this connection, the CA did not err in ruling that the Informations filed against the accused-appellant sufficiently informed him of the cause of the accusation against him. The Informations, when read as a whole, sufficiently allege private complainant AAA's[2] mental retardation. The Informations allege that, on the dates in question, the accused-appellant took advantage "of the credulity, minority and childish mentality of complainant-victim, AAA, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have x x x carnal knowledge of said victim, as shown by the m[e]dical certificates issued by Dra. Imelda C. Escuadra, Medical Specialist II, Bicol Medical Center, Naga City, and Dra. Jane Perpetua F. Fajardo, National Bureau of Investigation, Naga City, hereto attached as Annexes 'A' and 'B' respectively [to the Informations] x x x."[3]

While the phrase "childish mentality" may not, by itself, sufficiently allege that AAA was suffering from mental retardation, it bears pointing out that the medical certificate issued by Dr. Imelda C. Escuadra (Dr. Escuadra) was made a part of the Informations. In turn, Dr. Escuadra's diagnosis, as reflected in the said medical certificate, was that AAA was suffering from "rape with major depression secondary to mental retardation-moderate."[4]

AAA's mental retardation was thus sufficiently alleged in the Informations filed against the accused-appellant.

It is also worth noting that AAA's mental retardation was proved during the trial. Ms. Corazon Alipante, a prosecution witness, administered standard examinations on AAA, and found that the latter only had an intelligence quotient of 43, which is classified as moderate mental retardation with a mental age of that of a seven (7)-year old.[5]

Given that the prosecution was able to prove the two incidents of rape through the victim's testimony, along with the accused-appellant's admission that he indeed had sexual intercourse with AAA on August 10, 2006, it is therefore without doubt that the crimes were really committed. As the Court in People v. Quintos[6] explained:
We are aware that the terms, "mental retardation" or "intellectual disability," had been classified under "deprived of reason." The terms, "deprived of reason" and "demented", however, should be differentiated from the term, "mentally retarded" or "intellectually disabled." An intellectually disabled person is not necessarily deprived of reason or demented. This court had even ruled that they may be credible witnesses. However, his or her maturity is not there despite the physical age. He or she is deficient in general mental abilities and has an impaired conceptual, social, and practical functioning relative to his or her age, gender, and peers. Because of such impairment, he or she does not meet the "socio-cultural standards of personal independence and social responsibility."

Thus, a person with a chronological age of 7 years and a normal mental age is as |in|capable of making decisions and giving consent as a person with a chronological age of 35 and a mental age of 7. Both are considered incapable of giving rational consent because both are mot yet considered to have reached the level of maturity that gives them the capability to make rational decisions, especially on matters involving sexuality. Decision-making is a function of the mind. Hence, a person's capacity to decide whether to give consent or to express resistance to1 an adult activity is determined not by his or her chronological age but by his or her mental age. Therefore, in determining whether a person is "twelve (12) years of age" under Article 266-A(l)(d), the interpretation should be in accordance with either the chronological age of the child if he or she is not suffering from intellectual disability, or the mental age if intellectual disability is established.[7] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
In addition, the Court in People v. Deniega[8] held that it is "a settled rule that sexual intercourse with a woman who is a mental retardate, with a mental age below 12 years old, constitutes statutory rape."

Considering the foregoing, the Court therefore affirms the accused-appellant's conviction.

However, the Court modifies the nomenclature of the crime imposed by the CA, and the amount of damages it imposed. The accused-appellant is thus held guilty of two (2) counts of Statutory Rape, and the amount of damages imposed is modified in accordance with the prevailing jurisprudence.[9] The award of civil indemnity, moral damages and exemplary damages should therefore be increased to P75,000.00 each for each count of Rape. The legal interest is also modified to six percent (6%) per annum from the finality of this Resolution until full satisfaction.[10]

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court hereby ADOPTS the findings of fact and conclusions of law in the Decision dated August; 17,2017 of the Court of Appeals, Tenth Division in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 06385. The Decision finding accused-appellant Ruben Labordo y Salvamante guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two (2) counts of Statutory Rape under Article 266-A, paragraph l(d) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. He is ordered to pay the private complainant SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P75,000.00) as civil indemnity, SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P75,000.00) as moral damages, and SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P75,000.00) as exemplary damages for each count of Rape. All monetary awards shall earn interest at the legal rate of six percent (6%) per annum from the date of finality of this Resolution until fully paid.

SO ORDERED. (HERNANDO, J., designated additional Member per S.O. No. 2630 dated December 18, 2018)

[1] Rollo, pp. 2-11. Penned by Associate Justice Jhosep Y. Lopez, with Associate Justices Ramon M. Bato, Jr. and Samuel H. Gaerlan concurring.
[2] The real name of the victim, her personal circumstances and other information which tend to establish or compromise her identity, as well as those of her immediate family, or household members, shall not be disclosed to protect her privacy, and fictitious initial shall, instead, be used, in accordance with People v. Cabalquinto (533 Phil. 703 [2006]) and Amended Administrative Circular No. 83-2015 dated September 5, 2017.
[3] Rollo, p. 3.
[4] Id. at 5.
[5] id.
[6] 746 Phil. 809(2014).
[7] Id. at. 830-831.
[8] 811 Phil. 712,721 (2017).
[9] People v. Jugueta, 783 Phil. 806 (2016).
[10] Id.