SC orders man to pay 130K for raping 8yo daughter

THIRD DIVISION [ G.R. No. 212159, April 20, 2016 ] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. GEORGE SANTILLAN Y VELEZ.

This is an appeal from the Decision[1] dated January 23, 2014 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 01112 affirming the conviction of George Santillany Velez (Santillan) for the crime of Rape as defined and penalized under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8353, otherwise known as The Anti-Rape Law of 1997.

Factual Background

An Information dated January 6, 2003 was filed against Santillan at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro City, Branch 22, charging him with the crime of rape allegedly committed against AAA,[2] his 8-year old biological daughter, on January 1, 2004, at about 2:00 a.m., at Parola, Macabalan, Cagayan de Oro City.[3]

When arraigned, Santillan pleaded "not guilty". Trial on the merits, thereafter, ensued.[4]

It was proved during the trial that on January 1, 2004, at around 2:00 a.m., AAA's mother, BBB, and father, Santillan, were quarrelling. AAA went to the rear portion of their house in Parola, Macabalan until BBB left the house. She went back inside to drink water but Santillan suddenly grabbed her and removed her panty. Santillan beastly pulled AAA to a bed and mashed her vagina. He removed his pants and fingered her genitalia until he inserted his penis and did a pumping motion. AAA felt pain but could not offer resistance because Santillan was too strong. She could not shout for help because he covered her mouth. After he successfully ejaculated, Santillan threatened AAA not to tell her mother about the incident or he will cut their heads and be thrown to the sea of Punta Gorda. AAA walked away and disclosed the incident to BBB. They then went to her Uncle Bobong and proceeded to the police precinct at Macabalan where AAA's statement was taken by a policewoman. The physical examination conducted on AAA showed a healed laceration at 6:00 o'clock position in the hymen and that she was only 8 years old.[5]

Santillan denied the charge against him and testified that on December 31, 2003, at about 6:00 p.m., he and BBB visited his daughter Floramae Santillan (Floramae) and her family for the new year's celebration which was about 100 meters away from his house. They had a drinking spree and, at about past 7:00 p.m., he asked BBB to fetch AAA but the former failed to return until the following day. When the party was finished after dawn, he went to the seashore and slept in his pump boat. At past 10:00 a.m., AAA and BBB awakened him so he could eat breakfast but he declined and went back to sleep. He woke up at 3:00 p.m. and ate at Floramae's house then returned to the seashore to paint the boat of his companion. While painting, five police officers drew close to him. They pointed their guns at him and asked if he was Mr. Santillan to which he replied "Yes." They then invited him to the police station allegedly for having mauled BBB, his wife, on a previous night. He saw the very drunk BBB at the Police Precinct 5 and asked her why she was in the police station to which she replied, "I don't know." The following day, he got charged for rape not by BBB but by her brother Romeo Paalisbo because he refused to give him the pump boat.[6]Ruling of the RTC

On August 17, 2012, the RTC found Santillan guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape.[7]

In ruling for conviction, the RTC accorded great weight and merit to . the candid and straightforward testimony of AAA about the sexual ordeal she had gone through and her positive identification of Santillan as her molester. AAA's testimony was further bolstered by Medico-Legal Report Number MG-04-01 which showed hymenal laceration at 6:00 o'clock position. On the contrary, the defenses of denial and alibi raised by Santillan were brushed aside for not being supported by any clear and convincing evidence. Santillan was, accordingly, sentenced to suffer reclusion perpetua and ordered to pay AAA P75,000.00 as civil indemnity, P75,000.00 as moral damages and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages.[8]

Ruling of the CA

In a Decision dated January 23, 2014, the CA affirmed the conviction based on the following: (1) AAA's categorical narration of the sexual assault and her positive and unwavering identification of Santillan as her rapist;[9] (2) the RTC aptly evaluated on the truthfulness of AAA's testimony as supported by the record even if the evaluation was made by the "inheriting" judge;[10] (3) that "[r]ape can be committed even in places where people congregate, in parks, along the roadside, within school premises, inside a house where there are other occupants, and even in the same room where other members of the family are also sleeping;"[11] (4) the typographical error (that the examination was conducted a year earlier on January 1, 2003) does not affect the merits of the case;[12] and (5) no satisfactory showing that the RTC overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied certain facts or circumstances which could affect the result of the case.[13] The CA further affirmed the penalty of reclusion perpetua and the amounts of civil indemnity, moral and exemplary damages awarded and additionally imposed a six percent interest (6%) per annum on all such damages awarded.[14]

Hence, this petition.

Ruling of the Court

There is no cogent reason to deviate from the findings of the RTC, as affirmed by the CA.

It is well-settled that factual findings of the RTC, especially on the credibility of the rape victim, are accorded great weight and respect and will not be disturbed on appeal.[15] And, when the RTC's factual findings have been affirmed by the CA, said findings are generally conclusive and binding upon the Court, and may no longer be reviewed on Rule 45 petitions.[16]

"[T]he gravamen of rape is sexual congress with a woman by force and without consent."[17] In statutory rape, it is the carnal knowledge of a woman below 12 years of age. Proof of force, intimidation or consent is unnecessary as they are not elements of statutory rape, considering that the absence of free consent is conclusively presumed when the victim is below the age of 12.[18] When a daughter is raped by her father, the moral and physical dominion of the father is sufficient to cow the victim into submission to his beastly desires. When a father commits the odious crime of rape against his own daughter, his moral ascendancy or influence over the latter substitutes for violence and intimidation. The absence of violence or offer of resistance would not affect the outcome of the case because the overpowering and overbearing moral influence of the father over his daughter takes the place of violence and offer of resistance required in rape cases committed by an accused who did not have blood relationship with the victim.[19]

Here, the findings of the RTC, as affirmed by the CA, correctly showed that the prosecution competently and convincingly established the essential elements for statutory rape in view of the carnal knowledge Santillan committed against his 8-year-old daughter, AAA, who spontaneously narrated the sexual molestation she underwent. Absent any clear and convincing evidence that she was falsely motivated to testify against Santillan, her testimony stands.

The Court affirms the penalty of reclusion perpetua imposed by the RTC, as affirmed by the CA, including the amount of exemplary damages of P30,000.00 in favor of the victim. However, the civil indemnity and moral damages awarded are modified in line with latest jurisprudence[20] which reduced the amounts from P75,000.00 to P50,000.00 each.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision dated January 23, 2014 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 01112 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. George Santillan y Velez is ordered to pay the victim P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages.

(Jardeleza, J., no part in view of his participation in the Office of the Solicitor General; Brion, J., designated additional Member per Raffle dated November 10, 2014.)

[1] Penned by Associate Justice Edgardo T. Lloren, with Associate Justices Marie Christine Azcarraga-Jacob and Edward B. Contreras concurring; CA rollo, pp. 65-74.

[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 initials shall, instead, be used, in accordance with People v. Cabalquinto (533 Phil. 703 [2006]), and A.M. No. 04-11-09-SC dated September 19, 2006.

[3] CA rollo, p. 66.

[4] Id.

[5] Id. at 25.

[6] Id. at 25-26.

[7] Rendered by Judge Richard D. Mordeno; id. at 24-30.

[8] Id. at 27-30.

[9] Id. at 70-71.

[10] Id. at 71-72.

[11] Id. at 72.

[12] Id. at 72-73.

[13] Id. at 73.

[14] Id. at 74.

[15] People v. Ayuda, 459 Phil. 173, 182 (2003).

[16] Medulla v. Laxa, 679 Phil. 457, 461 (2012).

[17] People v. Osma, Jr., 693 Phil. 580, 594 (2012).

[18] People v. Cadano, Jr., G.R. No. 207819, March 12, 2014, 719 SCRA 234, 244.

[19] People v. Fragante, 657 Phil. 577, 592 (2011).

[20] People of the Philippines v. Enrique Galvez, G.R. No. 212929, July 29, 2015.

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