If rapist doesn't know mental defect, only simple rape

In the case of People v. Obogne (G.R. No. 199740, March 24, 2014), the Supreme Court said that the trial court correctly ruled that “AAA’s” mental disability could not be considered as a qualifying circumstance because the Information failed to allege that appellant knew of such mental condition at the time of the commission of the crime. As held in People v. Limio:[1]

By itself, the fact that the offended party in a rape case is a mental retardate does not call for the imposition of the death penalty, unless knowledge by the offender of such mental disability is specifically alleged and adequately proved by the prosecution.

For the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, now embodied in Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) expressly provides that the death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with the qualifying circumstance of ‘(10) when the offender knew of the mental disability, emotional disorder and/or physical handicap of the offended party at the time of the commission of the crime.’ Said knowledge x x x qualifies rape as a heinous offense. Absent said circumstance, which must be proved by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt, the conviction of appellant for qualified rape under Art. 266-B (10), RPC, could not be sustained, although the offender may be held liable for simple rape and sentenced to reclusion perpetua.[2] xxx[T]he mere fact that the rape victim is a mental retardate does not automatically merit the imposition of the death penalty. Under Article 266-B (10) of the Revised Penal Code, knowledge by the offender of the mental disability, emotional disorder, or physical handicap at the time of the commission of the rape is the qualifying circumstance that sanctions the imposition of the death penalty. As such this circumstance must be formally alleged in the information and duly proved by the prosecution.

Rule 110 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure requires both qualifying and aggravating circumstances to be alleged with specificity in the information. xxx But in the absence of a specific or particular allegation in the information that the appellant knew of her mental disability or retardation, as well as lack of adequate proof that appellant knew of this fact, Article 266-B (10), RPC, could not be properly applied xxx

Hence, the appellant can only be convicted of simple rape, as defined under Article 266-A of the [Revised] Penal Code, for which the imposable penalty is reclusion perpetua.[3]

[1] 473 Phil. 659 (2004).
[2] Id. at 661-662.
[3] Id. at 675-676.

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