G.R. No. 203457. Jan 15, 2014

[ G.R. No. 203457, January 15, 2014 ]

This is an appeal from the decision[1] dated September 16, 2011 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 04006, affirming the decision[2] dated April 13, 2009 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Las PiƱas City, Branch 254, finding accused-appellant Wilfredo Guy y Dacuyan @ "Boboy" guilty of two counts of rape committed against AAA,[3] his 15-year old stepdaughter.

The RTC Ruling

In its April 13, 2009 decision, the RTC found no flaw nor infirmity in AAA's testimony during the trial as AAA testified in a firm, categorical and straightforward manner, pointing to the accused-appellant as her rapist. AAA's testimony was corroborated by: (1) the testimony of her uncle, Efren Bronto, who saw the sexual abuse that happened on November 20, 2002; (2) the medico-legal's findings; and (3) the fact that AAA got pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy. The RTC rejected the accused-appellant's defense of denial for being self-serving and unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence.

The RTC imposed on the accused-appellant the penalty of reclusion perpetua in each case and to pay AAA P75,000.00 as civil indemnity, P75,000.00 as moral damages, and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages in each case.

The CA Ruling

On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) found no reversible error in the RTC's conclusion that the prosecution duly established the guilt of the accused-appellant beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of rape. It found that the elements of rape were all present, namely: (1) that the accused had carnal knowledge of a woman; and (2) through force and intimidation.The CA found the accused-appellant's argument that the prosecution failed to prove the presence of force and intimidation as an admission that he had carnal knowledge with AAA, which contradicted his denial of having had sex with her. When rape is committed by the stepfather of a child, actual force and intimidation by him are not necessary because of his moral influence or ascendancy over the child.[4]

The CA fully affirmed the RTC decision.

Our Ruling

We dismiss the appeal in this final review.

We see no ground to reverse or modify the findings of the RTC which the CA completely affirmed. The qualifying circumstances of age and relationship were properly alleged in the information and were duly proven during trial. AAA's birth certificate shows that she was 15 years old when she was raped for the first time by her stepfather. She recounted that she felt pain when the accused-appellant inserted his penis into her vagina. He pressed her arms using his two arms and pinned her down to the floor, showing that force and intimidation were also present when the accused-appellant raped her. After that first rape, the accused-appellant raped AAA several more times.

The CA correctly affirmed the penalty of reclusion perpetua imposed on the accused-appellant by the RTC for each count of rape. The presence of the aggravating circumstances of AAA's minority and her relationship with the appellant, which were both alleged in the information and proven during trial, warrants the imposition of the death penalty. However, pursuant to Republic Act No. 9346, the CA should have expressly denied the accused-appellant any eligibility for parole.

WHEREFORE, the decision dated September 16, 2011 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 04006, sentencing accused-appellant Wilfredo Guy y Dacuyan @ "Boboy" to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua for each count of rape, is hereby AFFIRMED WITH THE MODIFICATION that accused-appellant shall not be eligible for parole in accordance with Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9346. We AFFIRM the award of civil indemnity and moral damages in favor of AAA but MODIFY the exemplary damages which we hereby increase to P30,000.00. In line with current jurisprudence, the damages awarded for each case shall earn interest at the rate of 6% per annum computed from the finality of this resolution until their full satisfaction.[5]

[1] Rollo, pp. 2-12; penned by Associate Justice Michael P. Elbinias, and concurred in by Presiding Justice Andres B. Reyes, Jr. and Associate Justice Celia C. Librea-Leagogo.[2] CA rollo, pp. 30-39; penned by Presiding Judge Gloria Butay Aglugub.
[3] The real name, information and personal circumstances are withheld and instead, initials are used to represent the victim (People v. Cabalquinto, 533 Phil. 703 [2006]).
[4] People v. Corpuz, G.R. No. 175836, January 30, 2009, 577 SCRA 465, 473; and People v. Dimanawa, G.R. No. 184600, March 9, 2010, 614 SCRA 770, 779.
[5] Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Monetary Board, Circular No. 799, s. 2013, effective July 1, 2013; Nacar v. Gallery Frames and/or Felipe Bordey, Jr. (G.R. No. 189871) dated August 13, 2013.