G.R. No. 190176, March 23, 2011


[ G.R. No. 190176, March 23, 2011 ]



Please take notice that the Court, Second Division, issued a Resolution dated 23 March 2011 which reads as follows:

G.R. No. 190176[*] (People of the Philippines v. Jerry Cabrejas).

On March 26, 1999 the city public prosecutor charged accused-appellant Jerry M. Cabrejas with the rape of a minor before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, in Criminal Case 9579-99.[1]At the trial, ZEN[2] testified that at about 7:00 p.m. on March 19, 1999, she and her friend Joralyn went to a disco dance in Barangay XXX,[3] Malaybalay City.[4] With them were Robert Gomez and Ricky Lozada who worked for a traveling carnival then in Barangay XXX for the fiesta celebration.[5] After the dance ended at around 2:00 a.m., the four of them sat on a bamboo bench not far from the disco[6] while the two girls were waiting for a ride home.[7]

At around 5:00 a.m., accused Cabrejas, apparently drunk, approached the group and introduced himself as Ricky Cabrejas.[8] He then touched ZEN's thigh. When the latter pushed his hand away, Cabrejas got mad. The girls hurriedly walked towards the roadside to wait for their ride there. Gomez and Lozada went back to their carnival tent. Because Cabrejas went after ZEN and Joralyn, the two tried to run away.[9] Cabrejas succeeded in grabbing Joralyn but she managed to slip away from him. He, however, got hold of ZEN when she tripped on the road. Cabrejas punched her on the belly and chest and dragged her towards the cornfield.[10]

In the cornfield, Cabrejas ordered ZEN to undress, threatening to beat her further unless she did so.[11] Terrified, she took off her jeans and panty, Cabrejas removed his pants, pulled her down the ground, and ravished her.[12] ZEN could hardly resist Cabrejas because he had grabbed her by the hair and threatened to hurt her. It took him about 10 minutes to satisfy his lust.[13] After sometime, Cabrejas forcibly carried ZEN to another spot in the cornfield and raped her anew.[14] ZEN said that barangay captain Adecer and some soldiers stationed at Barangay XXX came to rescue her [15] but Cabrejas had already fled.[16]

Joralyn corroborated ZEN's testimony. After she got away from Cabrejas,[17] she saw him grab ZEN, beat her, and drag her from the roadside.[18] Joralyn sought Gomez and Lozada and they chanced upon a passing motorcycle rider and reported what happened.[19] The latter drove to get help from the military detachment nearby.[20] When the soldiers arrived, Joralyn led them to the direction where Cabrejas dragged ZEN.[21]

In his defense, accused Cabrejas testified that on March 19, 1999 he was with his cousin Lano Cabrejas at the Barangay XXX plaza to watch a beauty pageant. They stayed for the disco dance and the coronation of the winner.[22] After Lano left, Cabrejas went to the barrio hall where he drank liquor alone. Lano rejoined him briefly but he left again at about 1:00 a.m.[23] At about 5:00 a.m., barangay tanod Nelson Cuevas brought a bottle of beer and joined him. When Cabrejas got sleepy, he looked for a spot where he could lie down.[24] He found a place but two young women and two young men were already asleep there. He woke them up and they left. Shortly after, Cabrejas returned to the barangayhall.

Later, Cabrejas left for home. Along the way, he saw two women and two men walking ahead of him. He could not say, however, if they were the same people he earlier encountered since he was so drunk.[25] As he came near them, Cabrejas stumbled and passed out. When he regained consciousness, the group he saw earlier was no longer there. He continued walking and immediately went to sleep on getting home.[26] Later that day, police authorities came and arrested him.[27]

On December 5, 2000 the Malaybalay RTC found Cabrejas guilty of rape, imposed on him the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and ordered him to pay ZEN civil indemnity of P75,000.00 and moral damages of P50,000.00.

On appeal to the Court of Appeals (CA), the latter rendered judgment on August 7, 2009,[28] affirming the RTC's decision but with modification in that it reduced the indemnity that Cabrejas was to pay from P75,000.00 to P50,000.00. The CA disregarded ZEN's supposed affidavit of recantation, executed after Cabrejas' conviction, saying it cannot entertain the same on appeal.

The issues in this case are whether or not the CA committed error a) in not finding that the prosecution did not sufficiently establish the identity of Cabrejas as ZEN's rapist; b) in not absolving him of the charge of rape given the finding in the medico-legal report that ZEN had neither hymenal laceration nor sperm in her; and 3) in disregarding ZEN's affidavit of recantation.

Cabrejas points out that ZEN said when she testified that it was a certain Ricky Cabrejas who raped her. But ZEN positively pointed to accused Jerry Cabrejas in open court as the man who raped her.[29] ZEN's companion, Joralyn, identified him, too, in open court as the man who harassed the two of them. Joralyn saw accused Cabrejas collar and punch ZEN and drag her off the roadside.[30]

Cabrejas insists that he could not have raped ZEN because the medical report showed that her hymen did not have signs of lacerations nor was semen found in her. But a broken or lacerated hymen[31] or the presence of semen is not essential to conviction for rape. ZEN's credible testimony was sufficient. Here, ZEN clearly testified that Cabrejas forced himself into her.[32]

As for Cabrejas' alibi and denial, his own testimony placed him at or near the place where ZEN was raped. He admitted encountering ZEN and her three companions when he was looking for a place to sleep off his drunkenness. They of course left but he saw them again walking ahead of him on the road in the early morning of March 20, 1999.[33] This negates any notion that it was not possible for him to be there when the crime happened. Cabrejas of course claims that he passed out on the road, lost consciousness, and saw no more of ZEN and her companions. But this claim cannot be believed in the face of ZEN and Joralyn's detailed and substantially consistent testimonies regarding his wicked actions that night.

Cabrejas capitalizes on ZEN's supposed affidavit of recantation[34] as evidence of his innocence. But that recantation was cast in too general terms and does not provide details regarding how some people used her to incriminate him. She said simply, "I was made to wrongly accuse and testify against Jerry Cabrejas by some people who have a grudge against him; x x x I was not raped by Jerry Cabrejas and I am willing to submit to a new trial to prove the said fact." These general statements, compared with her detailed testimony in court, do not inspire belief especially when they were made long after his conviction. The Court has always looked with suspicion at affidavits retracting testimony in court since they tend to make a mockery of the trial and subject the truth to negotiations and compromises.[35]

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC 00331-MIN dated August 7, 2009, which in turn affirmed the Regional Trial Court's judgment of conviction of the crime of rape against the accused Jerry Cabrejas in Criminal Case 9579-99.


Very truly yours,

Clerk of Court


Asst. Clerk of Court

[*] J. Mendoza, on leave. J. Brion. additional member, per Special Order 975 dated March 21, 2011.

[1] Rollo, p.2. 

[2] Consistent with the ruling in People v. Cabalquinto, G.R. No. 167693, September 19, 2006, 502 SCRA 419, the real name of the rape victim is withheld and, instead, fictitious initials are used to represent her. 

[3] Id. at 425-426, the personal circumstances of the victims-survivors or any other information tending to establish or compromise their identities, as well those of their immediate family or household members shall not be disclosed. 

[4] TSN, December 1, 1999, p. 3. 

[5] Id. at 15. 

[6] Id. at 4. 

[7] Supra note 5. 

[8] Id. at 16. 

[9] Id. at 5-6. 

[10] Id. at 7 and 19. 

[11] Id. at 7. 

[12] Id. at 8. 

[13] Id. at 9. 

[14] Supra note 12. 

[15] Id. at 10. 

[16] Id. at 12. 

[17] TSN, November 22, 1999, pp. 3-5. 

[18] Id. at 6. 

[19] Id. at 6-7. 

[20] Id. at 7. 

[21] Id. at 8. 

[22] TSN, May 30, 2000, pp. 4-5. 

[23] Id. at 6. 

[24] Id. at 7. 

[25] Id. at 9. 

[26] Id. at 9-10. 

[27] Id. at 11-12. 

[28] Rollo, pp. 4-19. 

[29] TSN, December 1, 2010, p. 9. 

[30] TSN, November 22, 1999, pp. 6-8. 

[31] People v. Crespo, G.R. No. 180500, September 11, 2008, 564 SCRA 613, 627; People v. Jacob, G.R. No. 177151, August 22, 2008, 563 SCRA 191, 204. 

[32] TSN, December 1, 1999, pp. 8-9. 

[33] TSN, May 30, 2000, pp. 9-10. 

[34] Rollo, p. 87. 

[35] People v. Garcia, 351 Phil. 624, 641 (1998).