People v. Olesco (G.R. No. 174861, April 11, 2011)

663 Phil. 15

FIRST DIVISION

[ G.R. No. 174861, April 11, 2011 ]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, APPELLEE, VS. REYNALDO OLESCO Y ANDAYANG,[1] APPELLANT.

D E C I S I O N


DEL CASTILLO, J.:

"In rape, the `sweetheart' defense must be proven by compelling evidence: first, that the accused and the victim were lovers; and, second, that she consented to the alleged sexual relations. The second is as important as the first, because this Court has held often enough that love is not a license for lust."[2]

On appeal is the May 30, 2006 Decision[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00701 which affirmed in its entirety the September 23, 2003 Decision[4] of the Regional Trial Court of Parañaque City, Branch 258 finding appellant Reynaldo Olesco guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape.

Factual Antecedents

On November 5, 2001, an Information[5] was filed charging appellant with rape committed as follows:

That on or about the 17th day of October 2001, in "BBB,"[6] "CCC," and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by means of force and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual intercourse with the complainant "AAA," 18 years old, against her will and consent.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

During his arraignment, appellant entered a plea of "not guilty."[7] Thereafter, trial ensued.

The facts of the case as narrated in the Decision of the appellate court are as follows:

The evidence for the prosecution shows that on October 17, 2001, at around 10:00 o'clock in the evening, "AAA," accompanied x x x her cousin in going out of "DDD" in "BBB." On her way back home, "AAA" passed by a bakery where Olesco was working. Thereafter, somebody pulled her and covered her mouth with a hanky which caused her to be unconscious. When she regained consciousness at around 11:00 o'clock p.m., "AAA" found herself naked beside Olesco inside a room located near the bakery. Her whole body ached, especially her cheeks, tummy and her private part. "AAA" then slapped the accused three times and asked him why he raped her. Olesco answered that he would kill her should she report the incident to the police. After a while, accused told her to go home. She dressed up immediately and went home running.

When she arrived home, "AAA" told her cousin "EEE" about what happened. After two (2) days, "AAA" reported the incident to the barangay. The barangay officials asked her the whereabouts of the accused which she did not know then as she saw the accused [only] once and knows him only by face since at that time, she was just a week old in "DDD."

"AAA" explained that she was able to report the incident to the barangay officials two days after it happened since when she woke up in the morning of October 18, 200[1], it was already 9:00 o'clock a.m. and she could not stand as her whole body ached.

Thereafter, the barangay officials referred the matter to the police. An investigation was subsequently conducted. Thereafter, "AAA" was referred to the Philippine National Police Crime Division, Camp Crame, Quezon City, for medico-legal examination.

On October 20, 2001, Dr. Jericho Angelito Q. Cordero, a Medico-Legal Officer based at the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory, Camp Crame, Quezon City, conducted a physical and genital examination on "AAA." x x x

x x x x

According to Dr. Cordero, at the time of the examination, "AAA" was in a non-virgin state physically which means that she had a previous intercourse x x x about ten days or maybe a year ago. "AAA" had also a lacerated wound with a healing period of about ten (10) to fifteen (15) days caused by a hard, blunt instrument inserted into her vagina like a finger or an erect penis which would fit and succumb to elasticity or x x x a stick. He also testified that the laceration of the victim was consistent with the time of the alleged commission of the crime. He likewise testified that "AAA" told him that she only discovered the wounds when she woke up [naked] at about 10:00 o'clock in the evening of October 17, 200[1] with Olesco beside her x x x. Aside from his Initial Medico-Legal Report, he likewise made his Final Report No. M-2674-01 (Exhibit "E") whereby he concluded that there are no external signs of any form of trauma on the external genital area which has a deep healed laceration consistent with sexual intercourse.

Olesco denied having raped "AAA" and put up the "sweetheart defense". He testified that he worked as a baker for five (5) months in a bakery inside "FFF," "BBB," owned by Rafael Arimado. Prior to the alleged rape incident, "AAA" used to buy bread in the bakery. He came to know her when "AAA" introduced herself x x x. After three months, he and "AAA" became sweethearts. According to Olesco, there is no truth to the complaint filed against him by "AAA." He alleged that it was "AAA" who went to him at the bakery at around 7:00 o'clock in the evening of October 17, 2001. "AAA" wanted him to go with her [to her] province in Leyte, to which he agreed. The room referred to by "AAA" is for the female workers near the bakery where they talked in the presence of their employer. Che-Che and Alex, his co-workers, Jerry and Annalyn Arimando were also inside the room when they entered but they went out. He further testified that during his second month stay in the bakery, he got attracted to "AAA" whom he used to see every afternoon and they talked even for just a minute until he proposed his love to her x x x. When they became steady, there were occasions that they kissed each other, held hands and x x x even made love in a room beside the bakery prior to October 17, 2001 at around 9:00 o'clock in the evening and thereafter, "AAA" left at 10:00 o'clock. However, on October 18, 2001, "AAA" had him arrested by the barangay tanods [who] brought [him] to the Coastal Police Headquarters.[8]

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

On September 23, 2003, the RTC rendered its Decision disposing as follows:

In fine, the Court finds accused, REYNALDO OLESCO Y ONDAYANG liable for SIMPLE RAPE under Article 266-A, par. 1 3(b) in relation to Art. 266-B of the Revised Penal Code as amended by R.A. 8353 and the penalty to be meted the accused should be RECLUSION PERPETUA in the absence of any aggravating or qualifying circumstance which is from twenty (20) years and one (1) day to forty (40) years of imprisonment.

Moreover, accused has to indemnify the private complainant the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity as well as the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages. This is because "under the present case law, an award of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity is mandatory upon finding of the fact of rape. This is exclusive of the award of moral damages of P50,000.00 without need of further proof as it is now recognized as inherently concomitant with and necessarily proceeds from the appalling crime of rape which per se warrants an award for moral damages. (People v. Caratay, 316 SCRA 251).

WHEREFORE, the prosecution having been able to prove the guilt of accused, REYNALDO OLESCO y ONDAYANG beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of SIMPLE RAPE defined and punished under Art. 266-A, par. 1[,] 3(b) in relation to Art. 266-B of the Revised Penal Code as amended by R.A. 8353[,] accused REYNALDO OLESCO y ONDAYANG is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA.

Pursuant to existing jurisprudence, accused REYNALDO OLESCO y ONDAYANG, is ordered to indemnify "AAA," the private complainant, the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages.

No pronouncement as to cost.

SO ORDERED.[9]

In finding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape, the RTC noted that "AAA" positively identified appellant as the malefactor;[10] that appellant failed to rebut the testimony of the victim[11] or impute ill-motive on her part;[12] and that "AAA's" testimony was brief, clear, and straightforward[13] and supported by the medical findings.[14] Moreover, the RTC observed that appellant's "sweetheart defense" lacked sufficient and convincing proof;[15] neither was it substantiated by any documentary and/or other evidence like mementos, love letters, notes, pictures and the like. Worse, appellant did not present his employer or any of his co-workers to corroborate his claim that he and "AAA" were sweethearts and that "AAA" used to frequent his place.[16] The RTC also held that assuming "AAA" and appellant were sweethearts, it does not serve as license or justification to commit rape.[17]

On September 30, 2003, appellant filed his Notice of Appeal[18] which was given due course by the trial court.[19]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court's Decision in totoviz:

WHEREFORE, the assailed September 23, 2003 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Parañaque City, Branch 258, in Criminal Case No. 01-01193, is hereby AFFIRMED in its entirety.

SO ORDERED.[20]

Hence, this appeal.

The Parties' Arguments

Appellee maintains that appellant's guilt was proven beyond reasonable doubt.

On the other hand, appellant claims that he was denied his right to due process considering that as alleged in the Information, the rape was committed through the use of force and intimidation. However, what was established by the prosecution is the fact that "AAA" was unconscious when she was raped. Appellant also insists that there was nothing in "AAA's" testimony that would indicate that appellant had sexual intercourse with her. Appellant likewise insists that no sufficient evidence was presented to prove his culpability. He argues that "AAA's" testimony is ambiguous and full of discrepancies. He opines that "AAA's" claim that she lost consciousness when her mouth was covered with a drug-laced handkerchief was unbelievable and ridiculous. Moreover, appellant alleges that "AAA's" testimony in open court contradicts her narration in her Sinumpaang Salaysay.

Our Ruling

The appeal lacks merit.

The CA correctly disregarded appellant's claim that he did not use force nor resort to intimidation in the commission of the crime. We agree with the CA that appellant's act of pulling "AAA" and covering her face with drug-laced handkerchief is synonymous with force, to wit:

It has been duly established that when "AAA" passed by the bakery, Olesco immediately pulled her and covered her mouth with a handkerchief. She smelled something like a "snow bear" and lost consciousness. Thereafter, Olesco raped her.

In other words, "AAA" became unconscious after accused employed force on her; that is, pulling her and covering her mouth with a "snow bear" smelling hanky. The act of pulling her and covering her face with a drug-laced hanky is the immediate cause why "AAA" fell unconscious which facilitated accused's bestial desire against "AAA." There is, therefore, no truth to the claim of Olesco that no force was employed upon "AAA" to satisfy his bestial desire. It is a well-established doctrine that for the crime of rape to exist, it is not necessary that the force employed accomplishing it be so great or of such character as could not be resisted; it is only necessary that the force employed by the guilty party be sufficient to consummate the purpose which he had in view x x x. Thus, the use of force and intimidation as alleged in the information has been sufficiently established.[21]

Indeed, "[f]ailure to offer tenacious resistance does not make the submission by the complainant to the criminal acts of the accused voluntary. What is necessary is that the force employed against her be sufficient to consummate the purpose which he has in mind."[22]

Appellant's contentions that "AAA's" testimony is ambiguous and full of discrepancies and that her claim that she lost consciousness when her mouth was covered with a drug-laced handkerchief is unbelievable and ridiculous deserve scant consideration. To be sure, these contentions pertain to the assessment of witness's credibility which is properly within the province of the trial court. In this case, the trial court held that:

Based on the foregoing, the Court in its careful analysis of the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses as compared to that of the defense, found that those of the former carry greater weight and credence for being straightforward, reasonable, clear and categorical which is entirely different from the allegations of the defense. To the Court, the rape was consummated under paragraph 1, 3(b) of Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code.[23]

We find no reason to depart from said findings of the trial court, which were affirmed by the CA. "As a rule, x x x findings [of the trial court] deserve weight and respect. The same is true as regards the evaluation of the credibility of witnesses, because it is the trial judge who hears them and observes their demeanor while testifying. It is only when the trial court has overlooked or misapprehended some facts or circumstances of weight and influence that these matters are re-opened for independent examination and review by appellate courts."[24] "The age-old rule is that the task of assigning values to the testimonies of witnesses in the stand and weighing their credibility is best left to the trial court which forms its first-hand impressions as a witness testifies before it."[25]

Both the trial court and the CA properly disregarded appellant's claim that he and "AAA" were sweethearts. "The `sweetheart theory' or `sweetheart defense' is an oft-abused justification that rashly derides the intelligence of this Court and sorely tests our patience. For the Court to even consider giving credence to such defense, it must be proven by compelling evidence. The defense cannot just present testimonial evidence in support of the theory, as in the instant case. Independent proof is required -- such as tokens, mementos, and photographs. There is none presented here by the defense." [26] Thus:

Q
So, you said you came to know this "AAA" since she used to buy bread at the bakery and you testified that you became steady. Can you remember what particular month or date you became steady with "AAA"?
A
I cannot remember that anymore, ma'am.
x x x x
Q
And do you have any remembrance or anything that will prove that this "AAA" has been your steady or girlfriend?
A
None, ma'am.
Q
And how long did you become steady with this "AAA" before October 17?
A
Three (3) months, ma'am.[27]

"In any event, the claim is inconsequential since it is well-settled that being sweethearts does not negate the commission of rape because such fact does not give appellant license to have sexual intercourse against her will, and will not exonerate him from the criminal charge of rape. Being sweethearts does not prove consent to the sexual act."[28] Thus, having failed to satisfactorily establish that "AAA" voluntarily consented to engage in sexual intercourse with him, the said act constitutes rape on the part of the appellant.

Finally, we note that "AAA" lost no time in reporting the incident to her cousin who in turn immediately relayed the same to the barangay officials which resulted in the arrest of the appellant. On the other hand, appellant failed to rebut "AAA's" testimony that prior to the incident she saw appellant only once considering that "AAA" was new to the place, having stayed thereat for only a week before the rape. Even appellant could not ascribe any ill will on the part of "AAA."[29] More significantly, appellant did not present his employer or any of his co-workers who could supposedly corroborate his claim that he only talked with "AAA" on the night of October 17, 2001.

As regards the award of damages, the trial court, as affirmed by the CA, correctly awarded P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages. "However, in line with current jurisprudence, an additional award of P30,000.00 as exemplary damages should likewise be given, as well as interest of six percent (6%) per annum on all damages awarded from the finality of judgment until fully paid."[30]

WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The May 30, 2006 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00701 which affirmed the September 23, 2003 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Parañaque City, Branch 258 finding appellant Reynaldo Olesco guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and another P50,000.00 as moral damages to "AAA" is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS that an additional award of P30,000.00 as exemplary damages should likewise be given, with interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum on all the damages awarded in this case from the finality of this judgment until fully paid.

SO ORDERED.

Corona, C.J., (Chairperson), Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De Castro, and Perez, JJ., concur.



[1] Also spelled as Ondayang in some parts of the records.

[2] People v. Bautista, G.R. No. 140278, June 3, 2004, 430 SCRA 469, 471.

[3] CA rollo, pp. 107-116; penned by Associate Justice Elvi John S. Asuncion and concurred in by Associate Justices Noel G. Tijam and Mariflor P. Punzalan Castillo.

[4] Records, pp. 132-138; penned by Judge Raul E. De Leon.

[5] Id. at 1.

[6] The identity of the victim or any information which could establish or compromise her identity, as well as those of her immediate family or household members, shall be withheld pursuant to Republic Act No. 7610, An Act Providing for Stronger Deterrence and Special Protection Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination, and for Other Purposes; Republic Act No. 9262, An Act Defining Violence Against Women and Their Children, Providing for Protective Measures for Victims, Prescribing Penalties Therefor, and for Other Purposes; and Section 40 of A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC, known as the Rule on Violence Against Women and Their Children, effective November 5, 2004.

[7] Records, p. 18.

[8] CA rollo, pp. 108-111.

[9] Records, pp. 137-138.

[10] Id. at 135.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Id. at 136.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

[16] Id.

[17] Id.

[18] Id. at 159.

[19] Id. at 160.

[20] CA rollo, p. 116.

[21] Id. at 112.

[22] People v. Bautista, supra note 2 at 488.

[23] Records, p. 144.

[24] People v. Bautista, supra note 2 at 478-479.

[25] People v. Magbanua, G.R. No. 176265, April 30, 2008, 553 SCRA 698, 704.

[26] People v. Baldo, G.R. No. 175238, February 24, 2009, 580 SCRA 225, 232.

[27] TSN, January 30, 2003, p. 12.

[28] People v. Magbanua, supra note 25.

[29] Q Now, you said that on October 17, 2001, you only went with "AAA" to a room and talked for about five (5) minutes and now the following day she is filing a case of rape against you. Do you know of any reason for her filing a case of rape when you said that nothing happened that night?

A I do not understand why she filed a complaint of rape against me, sir.

x x x x

Q So, you are saying now, Mr. Witness, that there is no reason for "AAA" to have filed this rape case because nothing happened. You did not quarrel or there was never a confrontation between you [on the night of] October 17, 2001, am I correct?

A I do not know the reason why, ma'am. (TSN, January 30, 2003, pp. 11 and 15.)

[30] People v. Alverio, G.R. No. 194259, March 16, 2011.

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