People v. XXX (G.R. No. 224594. Mar 11, 2019)

FIRST DIVISION [G.R. No. 224594, March 11, 2019] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. XXX (CA-GR. CR-HCNO. 01296-MIN)*

After a judicious study of the case, the Court resolves to DISMISS the appeal for failure to sufficiently show that the Court of Appeals (CA) committed any reversible error in the assailed Decision as to warrant the exercise of the Court's appellate jurisdiction.

From the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, the prosecution was able to establish the elements of statutory rape punishable under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code. Statutory rape is committed when: (1) the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age; and (2) the accused had carnal knowledge of her, regardless of whether there was force, threat or intimidation, whether the victim was deprived of reason or consciousness, or whether it was done through fraud or grave abuse of authority. The law presumes that the victim does not and cannot have a will of her own on account of her tender years. What the law punishes in statutory rape is carnal knowledge of a woman below twelve (12) years old. Thus, force, intimidation and physical evidence of injury are not relevant considerations; the only pertinent concern is the age of the woman and whether carnal knowledge indeed took place.[1]

In this case, the prosecution was able to establish beyond reasonable doubt that XXX had carnal knowledge of AAA* on two occassions in 2010, when AAA was just ten (10) years old. In her testimony, AAA narrated how XXX molested her, and described in great detail the incidents subject of the charges against him. Her testimony is supported by the findings of Dr. Sarmen, the doctor who examined her and confirmed the injuries she sustained as a result of her molestation. XXX offered nothing in his defense but plain denial and alibi. As between a positive and categorical testimony which has the right of truth and a bare denial, the former is generally held to prevail.[2]

In line with prevailing jurisprudence, particularly People v. Jugueta,[3] We modify the monetary award imposed by the Regional Trial Court and affirmed by the CA. Civil indemnity, moral damages, and exemplary damages should be increased to P100,000.00.[4] In addition, interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum shall be imposed on all monetary awards from date of finality of this decision until fully paid for each count.[5]

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. HC No. 01296-MIN dated December 4, 2015 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. XXX is hereby ORDERED to PAY AAA the amounts of P100,000.00 as civil indemnity, P100,000.00 as moral damages, and P100,000.00 as exemplary damages for each count of statutory rape. In addition, six percent (6%) interest per annum is imposed on all amounts awarded reckoned from the date of finality of this Resolution until fully paid.SO ORDERED.

* Section 44 of Republic Act No. 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004) requires the confidentiality of all records pertaining to cases of violence against women and their children. Per said section, all public officers and employees are prohibited from publishing or causing to be published in any format the name and other identifying information of a victim or an immediate family member. The penalty of one (1) year imprisonment and a fine of not more than Five Hundred Thousand pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed upon those who violate the provision. Pursuant thereto, in the courts' promulgation of decisions, final resolutions and/or final orders, the names of women and children victims shall be replaced by fictitious initials, and their personal circumstances or any information, which tend to identify them, shall likewise not be disclosed.

[1] People of the Philippines v. Marlon Manson y Resultay, 801 Phil. 130 (2016).
[2] People of the Philippines v. Aurelio Matunhay, 628 Phil. 208 (2010)
[3] 783 Phil. 806 (2016).
[4] Id.
[5] Nacar v. Gallery Frames and/or Felipe Bordey Jr., 716 Phil. 267 (2013).

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