G.R. No. 208748, February 05, 2014


The Court resolves to NOTE:
the Office of the Solicitor General's Manifestation dated November 25, 2013 that it would no longer file a supplemental brief for appellee considering that it had exhaustively discussed all the issues raised by appellant in its appllee's brief filed before the Court of Appeals;
accused-appellant's Manifestation (in Lieu of Supplemental Brief) dated November 28, 2013 adopting his appellant's brief dated April 3, 2012 as his supplemental brief for the same had adequately discussed all the matters pertinent to appellant's defense: and
the letter dated November 27, 2013 of P/Supt. IV Venancio J. Tesoro, New Bilibid Prison, Muntinlupa City, confirming the confinement therein of accused-appellant since August 19, 2011.
This is an appeal from the April 18, 2013 Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 05164, which affirmed the May 31, 2011 Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 72, Antipolo City (RTC), in Criminal Case No. 02-23294, finding accused-appellant Vicente Gelig y Rivay (Gelig) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape committed against AAA[3].

Gelig was charged with the crime of rape under Article 266-A par. 1(d), in relation to Article 266-b 6th par (10) of the Revised Penal Code. When arraigned, Gelig pleaded not guilty to the offense charged. After pre-trial, trial on the merits ensued.Version of the Prosecution

The People's, version of the incident, as summarized by the Office of the Solicitor General in its Brief,[4] is the following:
Private complainant AAA, diagnosed as mentally challenged, with an intellect of a four (4) to six (6) years old, testified that on 01 January 2002 while she and appellant were at a vacant house, appellant undressed her. After appellant removed his own clothing, he mounted himself on top of her. When appellant inserted his penis inside her vagina, she felt pain. After the incident, she told her elder sister BBB about what appellant did to her. They immediately went to Camp Crame where she was physically examined by Dr. Juan Villacorta. Thereafter, a complaint was filed against appellant.

At around 4:30 in the morning of the same date, the parents of AAA approached Gerry Basas, a barangay tanod at Brgy. Arienda, Taytay, Rizal, and sought his help. Based on the complaint for rape, Basas went to the house of appellant, who was his neighbor and arrested him.[5]
Version of the Defense

Gelig denies the charge against him and presents the following version of events:
Accused Vicente R. Gelig, Jr. testified that he did not know the private complainant prior to this case. He came to know the private complainant only when he read the complaint against him and met her during the hearing.

On December 31, 2001 about 10:00 o'clock in the evening, he, together with his family and some neighbors, were celebrating New Year's eve. They were merrying while drinking and eating and it ended at about 2:00 o'clock of New Year's day of 2002.

After that, he fell asleep. He was roused by his mother at 4:05 o'clock in the morning because barangay tanods were looking for him outside and he was told to go out.

When he went outside, he was invited by the barangay tanods in the barangay hall. He later learned that the complainant is the family of AAA.

While at the barangay hall, he was boxed in the face and when he asked the reason why, he was immediately handcuffed. Thereafter, he was brought to Taytay Jail and turned over to the desk officer. The following day, he was brought for inquest proceedings and he opted to have a preliminary investigation.

He denied the accusations against him and maintained that the complaint against him is in relation to a land dispute between his mother and the private complainant's brother-in-law. The misunderstanding involves a piece of land before the homeowners association wherein his mother refused to give in to the demand of the private complainant's brother-in-law.[6]
The Ruling of the RTC

On May 31, 2011, the RTC rendered a judgment of conviction against Gelig for the crime of rape. The RTC held that the prosecution was able to establish with certitude that Gelig had carnal knowledge of AAA who, although of age, has a mental age only of 4-6 years old. It rejected the defenses of denial and alibi interposed by Gelig declaring that the same were flimsy and unconvincing. The trial court pronounced that AAA's testimony met the test of credibility and that she was motivated solely by the desire to obtain justice for the wrong done against her. The decretal portion of said decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the prosecution having proven the guilt of the accused VICENTE GELIG y RIVAY, beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of Rape under Article 266-A par i(d) in relation to Art. 266-b 6th (par (10) of the Revised Penal Code, he is hereby ordered to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and to pay the amount of P50,000.00 civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages.

Aggrieved, Gelig appealed the RTC's judgment of conviction before the CA.

The Ruling of the CA

The CA affirmed the trial court's findings of guilt of Gelig of the crime charged. It held that the prosecution evidence consisting of: 1] the credible testimony of AAA; 2] the medico-legal report of hymenal lacerations corroborative of her claim of sexual abuse; and 3] the result of the nuero-psychiatric examination stating that she suffered from moderate mental retardation, are sufficient to sustain Gelig's conviction. The CA rejected Gelig's defenses of denial and alibi for want of material corroboration. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant Appeal is DENIED. The Decision dated May 31, 2011, rendered by the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City, Branch 72, in Criminal Case No. 02-23294, is AFFIRMED.

The Issues

Professing innocence, Gelig filed the present appeal and submitted for the Court's review the following:





Gelig's conviction stands.

At the outset, we note that the RTC and the CA incorrectly used the word demented to characterize AAA's mental condition and mistakenly categorized the rape committed by Gelig under subparagraph (d), Article 266-A (1) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, instead of subparagraph (b) thereof. Article 266-A, par. 1 of the Revised Penal Code provides for two (2) circumstances when carnal knowledge of a woman with mental disability is considered rape. Subparagraph (b) thereof refers to rape of a person "deprived of reason" while subparagraph (d) refers to rape of a "demented person."[9] The term demented refers to a person who has dementia, which is a condition of deteriorated mentality, characterized by marked decline from the individual's former intellectual level and often by emotional apathy, madness, or insanity.[10] On the other hand, the phrase deprived of reason has been interpreted to include those suffering from mental abnormality, deficiency, or retardation.[11] Thus, AAA, who was clinically diagnosed to be a mental retardate, can be properly classified as a person who is "deprived of reason," and not one who is "demented."

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the mistake would not exonerate Gelig. His criminal liability remains not under subparagraph (d) of Art. 266-A (1) of the RPC, as amended, but under subparagraph (b) thereof. Neither can it be said that Gelig's right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him was violated. To begin with, he did not even raise this as an objection. More importantly, although the Information charged Gelig with rape of a demented person under par. 1 (d), it is also stated therein that his victim is "a retardate with a mental age of 4 to 6 years old." Such averments sufficiently inform Gelig of the nature of the charge against him and would not bar this Court from convicting him under par. 1 (b).

Settled in this jurisdiction is that carnal knowledge of a woman, who is a mental retardate, is considered rape under subparagraph (b), not subparagraph (d) of Art. 266-A (1) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.[12] Proof of force and intimidation is not necessary because a mentally deficient person is automatically considered incapable of giving consent to a sexual act. Consequently, what needed to be proven are the facts of sexual congress between the accused and the victim, and the victim's mental retardation.[13]

In the earlier case of People v. Dalandas,[14] it was held that mental retardation could be proven by evidence other than clinical/medical evidence, such as the testimonies of the witnesses and even the observation by the trial court. In the case at bench, the prosecution was able to establish that AAA is, indeed, a mental retardate through: 1] the trial court's observation; and 2] the clinical abstract report from the National Center for Mental Health. AAA's seeming difficulty in answering the questions propounded to her during examinations as well as her short/brief answers thereto adequately demonstrated the fact that her mentality was really at par with a 4- to 6-year old child.

The prosecution was also able to establish the fact of sexual intercourse between Gelig and AAA. Despite AAA's mental condition, she narrated before the trial court, in the best way she could, her ordeal at the hands of Gelig. The Court notes that AAA conveyed her ideas by words and demonstrations. AAA recounted how Gelig sexually abused her on that early morning of January 1, 2002; that while she and Gelig were in a vacant house, the latter undressed her; that after Gelig removed his clothes, he mounted her and inserted his penis; that she felt pain; that after the incident, she told her sister Lani about what Gelig did to her; and that they immediately went to Camp Crame where she was physically examined by Dr. Juan Villacorta.

The foregoing testimony of AAA was correctly assessed by the RTC and the CA as credible and coherent. Let it be underscored that the competence and credibility of mentally deficient rape victims as witnesses have been upheld by this Court where it is shown that they can communicate their ordeal capably and consistently. A mental retardate is not, by reason of such handicap alone, disqualified from testifying in court, and if the testimony of such witness is coherent, the same is admissible in court.[15]

The Court lends credence to AAA's testimony who, despite being feeble-minded and guileless, could speak so tenaciously and explicitly on the details of the rape she had suffered at the hands of Gelig. Moreover, it has been jurisprudentially settled that when a woman says she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that she has been raped and her testimony alone is sufficient if it satisfies the exacting standard of credibility needed to convict the accused.[16] Worth stressing also is the fact that during AAA's testimony, she positively identified Gelig as the person who raped her. Thus, the straightforward narration of AAA of what transpired, accompanied by her categorical identification of Gelig as the malefactor, sealed the case for the prosecution.

The allegation of inconsistencies in the testimony of AAA and the absence of freshly healed hymenal lacerations on AAA's vagina could not negate his criminal liability. Evidently, these inconsistencies refer only to trivial and inconsequential matters that do not alter the essential fact of the commission of rape. What is decisive in a rape charge is that the commission of the rape by the accused against the complainant has been sufficiently proven. Inconsistencies and discrepancies as to minor matters which are irrelevant to the elements of the crime cannot be considered grounds for acquittal.[17]

Neither can it be said that AAA was merely coached as a witness because of the land dispute between the victim's brother-in-law and Gelig's mother. The Court finds it inconceivable that a child's future, a mental retardate at that, and a family's reputation would be placed at risk and exposed to possible humiliation and dishonor for the trifling reason that Gelig gave. Furthermore, the imputation lacks corroboration as it is supported only by Gelig's self-serving testimony. For these reasons, it does not merit any evidentiary value. At any rate, family resentment, revenge or feud has never swayed the Court from giving full credence to the testimony of a complainant for rape that she was sexually abused.[18]

Gelig's denial must be rejected as the same cannot prevail over AAA's positive identification of him as the one who sexually abused her. As negative evidence, it pales in comparison with a positive testimony that asserts the commission of a crime and the identification of the accused as its culprit.[19] The Court finds that the facts in this case do not present any exceptional circumstance warranting a deviation from these established rules.

The Court sustains the penalty imposed by the RTC against Gelig as the same is in accordance with law. Under Article 266-B in relation to Article 266-A (1) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, simple rape is punishable by reclusion perpetua. Knowledge of the offender of the mental disability of the victim at the time of the commission of the crime of rape qualifies the crime and makes it punishable by death under Article 266-B, paragraph 10 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. An allegation in the information of such knowledge of the offender is necessary as a crime can only be qualified by circumstances pleaded in the indictment. In the case at bench, while this circumstance was alleged in the Information, no sufficient evidence was adduced to establish the qualifying circumstance of knowledge of Gelig of AAA's mental disability. The RTC and the CA, which did not make any finding on the said qualifying circumstance, correctly convicted said accused of simple rape only for which he should be meted the penalty of reclusion perpetua. Likewise, the RTC is correct in awarding civil indemnity of P50,000.00 and moral damages of P50,000.00 in favor of AAA being in line with the prevailing jurisprudence on the matter.[20]

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the April 18, 2013 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 05164, with MODIFICATION in that, accused-appellant Vicente Gelig y Rivay is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of simple Rape under subparagraph (b) of Article 266-A, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and not under subparagraph (d) thereof, and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The award of civil indemnity in the amount of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) and moral damages in the amount of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00), is maintained.


[1] Penned by Associate Justice Agnes Reyes-Carpio with Associate Justice Rosalinda Asuncion-Vicente and Associate Justice Priscilla J. Baltazar-Padilla, concurring; rollo at 2-16.[2] Penned by Judge Ruth D. Cruz-Santos; CA rollo at 20-26.

[3] Per this Court's Resolution dated 19 September 2006 in A.M. No. 04-11-09-SC, as well as our ruling in People v. Cabalquinto (G.R. No. 167693, 19 September 2006, 502 SCRA 419), pursuant to Republic Act No. 9262 or the "Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004" and its implementing rules, the real name of the victims and their immediate family members other than the accused are to be withheld and fictitious initials are to be used instead. Likewise, the exact addresses of the victims are to be deleted.

[4] Id. at 67-87.

[5] Id. 73-74.

[6] Id. at 41-43.

[7] Id. at 26.

[8] Id. at 15.

[9] People v. Magabo, 402 Phil. 977, 983-984 (2001).

[10] People v. Burgos, 201 Phil. 353, 360 (1982).

[11] People v. Caoile, G.R. No. 203041, June 5, 2013.

[12] People v. Monticalvo, G.R. No. 193507, January 30, 2013.

[13] People v. Dela Paz, G.R. No. 177294, February 19, 2008.

[14] 442 Phil. 688, 697 (2002).

[15] People v. Lubong, 388 Phil. 474, 490 (2000).

[16] People v. Castillo, G.R. No. 186533, August 9, 2010.

[17] People v. Bares, 407 Phil. 747, 764-765.

[18] People v. Viajedor, G.R. No. 148138, April 11, 2003.

[19] People v. Canares, G.R. No. 174065, February 18, 2009.

[20] People v. Caoile, supra Note 11.