Rape; minority, relationship; use of a deadly weapon

In the case of People v. Helim (G.R. No. 194258. January 15, 2014), AAA showed by her testimony that she was indeed raped by accused-appellant. She had been left in his care when her mother started working in Manila in 2003. She had no one else with her other than her younger brother. Appellant would threaten AAA that he would kill her and her brother if she told anybody. Furthermore, the stage of her pregnancy at the time of the medical examination coincided with the first instance of sexual abuse that she narrated.

The criminal Information for rape under Criminal Case No. 3530 alleges the qualifying circumstances of minority, relationship, and the use of a deadly weapon.

Contrary to the allegations of appellant, the minority of AAA was established by the prosecution through the presentation of her Certificate of Live Birth, which stated that she was born on 11 August 1991. As correctly pointed out by the Solicitor General, she was only 13 years old on 30 January 2005.

However, while appellant has admitted that he is married to the mother of AAA and that he is the victim's stepfather, it was still incumbent upon the prosecution to present the marriage contract between appellant and AAA's mother. The declaration of the appellant that he is married to the victim's mother, even if made in the course of the proceedings in the trial court, is not conclusive proof that the two are legally married. An admission alone, without more, does not establish the fact of the stepfather-stepdaughter relationship between appellant and the rape victim.

Nevertheless, the prosecution, through the testimony of AAA, has established the use of a deadly weapon, particularly a 12-gauge shotgun, in the commission of the rape. The record shows that appellant threatened AAA and leveled his gun at her during the rape.

Rape, when committed with the use of a deadly weapon, is punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. Death is imposed when an aggravating circumstance is present in the commission of the crime.It is worth noting that the RTC appreciated the twin circumstances of minority and relationship. When either one of the twin special qualifying circumstances of relationship and minority is omitted or lacking, that which is pleaded in the Information and proved by the evidence may be considered as an aggravating circumstance.

Thus, in People v. Esperanza, the Supreme Court held that the minority of the victim may be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance when pleaded in the Informations and proved by her birth certificate. In this case, AAA's minority was pleaded in the Informations and proven by her Certificate of Live Birth.

Finding that appellant committed rape with the use of a deadly weapon, and appreciating minority as an aggravating circumstance, the Court ruled that the proper penalty to be imposed on appellant is death. Since the imposition of the death penalty has been prohibited by Republic Act No. 9346, the penalty that shall be imposed on appellant is reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole.
ADDITIONAL READINGS:

[1] Rape by qualified minority, relationship - Project Jurisprudence.
[2] People v. Dela Torre, 464 Phil. 23 (2004); People v. Lilo, 444 Phil. 778 (2003).
[33] People v. Santos, 452 Phil. 1046 (2003); People v. De Taza, G.R. Nos. 136286-89, 11 September 2003, 410 SCRA 518; People v. Silvano, 428 Phil. 729 (2002).
[3] People v. Victor, 441 Phil. 798 (2002); People v. Evangelista, 419 Phil. 80 (2001).
[4] REVISED PENAL CODE, Art. 266-B, par. 2.
[5] People v. Bayya, 384 Phil. 519 (2000); People v. EscaƱo, 427 Phil. 162 (2002).
[6] 453 Phil. 54 (2003).
[7] An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines, which took effect on 24 June 2006.
[8] Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9346 states: "Person convicted of offenses punishable with reclusion perpetua or whose sentences will be reduced to reclusion perpetua by reason of this Act, shall not be eligible for parole under Act No. 4103 otherwise known as the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended.
[9] People v. Osma, Jr., G.R. No. 187734, 29 August 2012, 679 SCRA 428; People v. Lauga, G.R. No. 186228, 15 March 2010, 615 SCRA 548.
[10] People v. Vitero, G.R. No. 175327, 3 April 2013, 695 SCRA 54; People v. Amistoso, G.R. No. 201447, 9 January 2013, 688 SCRA 376.
[11] People v. Tan, G.R. No. 191069, 15 November 2010, 634 SCRA 773, 786.

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