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752

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Go vs. Court of Appeals
*

G.R.No.114791.May29,1997.

NANCY GO AND ALEX GO, petitioners, vs. THE


HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, HERMOGENES
ONGandJANEC.ONG,respondents.
Marriages; Husband and Wife; In our society, the importance of
a wedding cerem ony cannot be overestimated as it is the matrix of
the family, and therefore, an occasion worth reliving in the
succeeding years.No less than the Constitution commands us to
protect marriage as an inviolable social institution and the
foundation of the family. In our society, the importance of a
wedding ceremony cannot be underestimated as it is the matrix of
the family and, therefore, an occasion worth reliving in the
succeedingyears.
Same; Contracts; Where the contract entered into is one of
service, that is, for the video coverage of a wedding, it can hardly be
said that the object of the contract was the video equipment
used.Petitioners argument that s ince the video equipment used
belonged to Lim and thus the contract was actually entered into
between private respondents and Lim is not deserving of any
seriousconsideration.Intheinstantcase,thecontractenteredinto
is one of service, that is, for the video coverage of the wedding.
Consequently,itcanhardlybesaidthattheobjectofthecontract
was the video equipment used. The use by petitioners of the video
equipmentofanotherpersonisofnoconsequence.
Contracts; Agency; Evidence; Witnesses; Where a party fails to
present a vital witness, it would not be unwarranted to assum e that
such failure would have an adverse result on the case.Itmustalso
______________
* SECONDDIVISION.

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VOL.272,MAY29,1997

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Go vs. Court of Appeals


benotedthatinthecourseoftheprotractedtrialbelow,petitioners
did not even present Lim to corroborate their contention that they
were mere agents of the latter. It would not be unwarranted to
assumethattheirfailuretopresentsuchavitalwitnesswouldhave

hadanadverseresultonthecase.
Same; Marriages; It is contrary to human nature for any new
lywed couple to neglect to claim the video coverage of their
wedding.As correctly observed by the Court of Appeals, it is
contrary to human nature for any newlywed couple to neglect to
claim the video coverage of their wedding; the fact that private
respondents filed a case against petitioners belies such as sertion.
Clearly, petitioners are guilty of actionable delay for having failed
to proces s the video tape. Considering that private respondents
wereabouttoleavefortheUnitedStates,theytookcaretoinform
petitioners that they would just claim the tape upon their return
two months later. Thus, the erasure of the tape after the lapse of
thirtydayswasunjustified.
Same; Damages; Those who in the performance of their
obligations are guilty of fraud, negligence or delay, and those who
in any manner contravene the tenor thereof, are liable for
damages.In this regard, Article 1170 of the Civil Code provides
thatthosewhointheperformanceoftheirobligationsareguiltyof
fraud, negligence or delay, and those who in any manner
contravenethetenorthereof,areliablefordamages.Intheinstant
case, petitioners and private respondents entered into a contract
whereby, for a fee, the former undertook to cover the latters
wedding and deliver to them a video copy of said event. For
whatever reason, petitioners failed to provide private respondents
withtheirtape.Clearly,petitionersareguiltyofcontraveningtheir
obligation to s aid private respondents and are thus liable for
damages.
Same; Same; QuasiDelicts; While generally moral damages
cannot be recovered in an action for breach of contract, the sam e
may be recovered where the breach was palpably wanton, reckless,
malicious or in bad faith, oppressive or abusive, such as when a
partys act or omission in recklessly erasing the video coverage of a
couples wedding was precisely the cause of the suffering the latter
had to undergo.Generally,moraldamagescannotberecoveredin
anactionforbreachofcontractbecausethiscaseisnotamongthose
enumerated in Article 2219 of the Civil Code. However, it is also
acceptedinthisjurisdictionthatliabilityforaquasidelictmaystill
existdespitethepresenceofcontractualrelations,thatis,theact
754

754

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Go vs. Court of Appeals

which violates the contract may also cons titute a quasidelict.


Consequently, moral damages are recoverable for the breach of
contract which was palpably wanton, reckless, malicious or in bad
faith, oppressive or abusive. Petitioners act or omiss ion in
recklessly erasing the video coverage of private respondents
wedding was precisely the cause of the suffering private
respondentshadtoundergo.
Same; Same; The award of exemplary damages is justified
where there was an attendant wanton negligence committed by the
guilty party.Considering the attendant wanton negligence
committedbypetitionersinthecaseatbar,theawardofexemplary

damages by the trial court is justified to s erve as a warning to all


entities engaged in the same business to obs erve due diligence in
theconductoftheiraffairs.
Same; Obligations; Joint and Several Liability; Husband and
Wife; Since the wife may exercise any profession, occupation or
engage in business without the consent of the husband, the
husband may not be held jointly and severally liable with his wife
for breach of a contract that the latter had entered into.Finally,
petitioner Alex Go questions the finding of the trial and appellate
courts holding him jointly and severally liable with his wife Nancy
regarding the pecuniary liabilities imposed. He argues that when
hiswifeenteredintothecontractwithprivaterespondent,shewas
acting alone for her sole interest. We find merit in this contention.
Under Article 117 of the Civil Code (now Article 73 of the Family
Code), the wife may exercise any profession, occupation or engage
in business without the consent of the husband. I n the instant
case, we are convinced that it was only petitioner Nancy Go who
enteredintothecontractwithprivaterespondent.Consequently,we
rulethatsheissolelyliabletoprivaterespondentsforthedamages
awarded below, pursuant to the principle that contracts produce
effectonlyasbetweenthepartieswhoexecutethem.

PETITIONforreviewofadecisionoftheCourtofAppeals.
ThefactsarestatedintheopinionoftheCourt.
Veronico R. Sardoncilloforpetitioners.
Saleto J. Eramesforprivaterespondents.
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VOL.272,MAY29,1997

755

Go vs. Court of Appeals


ROMERO,J.:
No less than the Constitution commands us to protect
marriage as an inviolable
social institution and the
1
foundationofthefamily. Inoursociety,theimportanceofa
wedding ceremony cannot be underestimated as it is the
matrix of the family and, therefore, an occasion worth
relivinginthesucceedingyears.
It is in this light that we narrate the follow ing
undisputedfacts:
PrivaterespondentsspousesHermogenesandJaneOng
were married on June 7, 1981, in Dumaguete City. The
videocoverageoftheweddingwasprovidedbypetitioners
atacontractpriceofP1,650.00.Threetimesthereafter,the
newlywedstriedtoclaimthevideotapeoftheirwedding,w
hich they planned to show to their relatives in the United
States where they were to spend their honeymoon, and
thrice they failed because the tape was apparently not yet
processed. The parties then agreed that the tape would be
readyuponprivaterespondentsreturn.
When private respondents came home from their
honeymoon,however,theyfoundoutthatthetapehadbeen
erased by petitioners and therefore, could no longer be
delivered.
Furiousatthelossofthetapewhichwassupposedtobe

the only record of their wedding, private respondents filed


onSeptember23,1981acomplaintforspecificperformance
and damages against petitioners before the Regional Trial
Court, 7th Judicial District, Branch 33, Dumaguete City.
Afteraprotractedtrial,thecourta quorenderedadecision,
towit:
WHEREFORE,judgmentisherebygranted:
1. Ordering the rescission of the agreement entered into
between plaintiff Hermogenes Ong and defendant Nancy
Go;
2. Declaring defendants Alex Go and Nancy Go jointly and
severally liable to plaintiffs Hermogenes Ong and Jane C.
Ongforthefollowingsums:
______________
1Section2,ArticleXV,1987Constitution.

756

756

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Go vs. Court of Appeals
a) P450.00,thedownpaymentmadeatcontracttime;
b) P75,000.00,asmoraldamages;
c) P20,000.00,asexemplarydamages;
d) P5,000.00,asattorneysfees;and
e) P2,000.00,aslitigationexpenses;

Defendantsarealsoorderedtopaythecosts.
SOORDERED.

Dissatisfiedwiththedecision,petitionerselevatedthecase
to the Court of Appeals which, on September 14, 1993,
dismissedtheappealandaffirmedthetrialcourtsdecision.
Hence,thispetition.
Petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals erred in
notappreciatingtheevidencetheypresentedtoprovethat
they acted only as agents of a certain Pablo Lim and, as
such, should not have been held liable. In addition, they
aver that there is no evidence to show that the erasure of
thetapewasdoneinbadfaithsoastojustifytheawardof
2
damages.
Thepetitionisnotmeritorious.
Petitionersclaimthatforthevideocoverage,thecamera
manwasemployedbyPabloLimwhoalsoownedthevideo
equipmentused.Theyfurtherassertthattheymerelygeta
3
commissionforallcustomerssolicitedfortheirprincipal.
ThiscontentionisprimarilypremisedonArticle1883of
theCivilCodewhichstatesthus:
ART.1883.Ifanagentactsinhisownname,theprincipalhasno
right of action against the persons with whom the agent has
contracted;neitherhavesuchpersonsagainsttheprincipal.
In such case the agent is the one directly bound in favor of the
personwithwhomhehascontracted,asifthetransactionwerehis
own, except when the contract involves things belonging to the

principal.
xxxxxxxxx.
_______________
2Rollo,pp.1523.
3Ibid.,p.7.

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VOL.272,MAY29,1997

757

Go vs. Court of Appeals


Petitionersargumentthatsincethevideoequipmentused
belongedtoLimandthusthecontractwasactuallyentered
intobetweenprivaterespondentsandLimisnotdeserving
of any serious consideration. In the instant case, the
contractenteredintoisoneofservice,thatis,forthevideo
coverage of the wedding. Consequently, it can hardly be
saidthattheobjectofthecontractwasthevideoequipment
used. The use by petitioners of the video equipment of
anotherpersonisofnoconsequence.
Itmustalsobenotedthatinthecourseoftheprotracted
trial below, petitioners did not even present Lim to
corroboratetheircontentionthattheyweremereagentsof
thelatter.Itwouldnotbeunwarrantedtoassumethattheir
failure to present such a 4vital witness would have had an
adverseresultonthecase.
As regards the award of damages, petitioners would
impress upon this Court their lack of malice or fraudulent
intent in the erasure of the tape. They insist that since
privaterespondentsdidnotclaimthetapeafterthelapseof
thirty days, as agreed upon in their contract, the erasure
wasdoneinconsonancewithconsistentbusinesspracticeto
5
minimizelosses.
Wearenotpersuaded.
As correctly observed by the Court of Appeals, it is
contrary to human nature for any newlywed couple to
neglecttoclaimthevideocoverageoftheirwedding;thefact
that private respondents filed a case against petitioners
belies such assertion. Clearly, petitioners are guilty of
actionabledelayforhavingfailedtoprocessthevideotape.
Considering that private respondents were about to leave
for the United States, they took care to inform petitioners
that they would just claim the tape upon their return two
monthslater.Thus,theerasureofthetapeafterthelapseof
thirtydayswasunjustified.
______________
4Section3(e),Rule131oftheRulesofCourtstates,(t)hatevidence

willfullysuppressedwouldbeadverseifproduced.
5Rollo,p.19.

758

758

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Go vs. Court of Appeals

Inthisregard,Article1170oftheCivilCodeprovidesthat
thosewhointheperformanceoftheirobligationsareguilty
offraud,negligenceordelay,andthosewhoinanymanner
contravenethetenorthereof,areliablefordamages.
In the instant case, petitioners and private respondents
entered into a contract whereby, for a fee, the former
undertooktocoverthelattersweddinganddelivertothem
avideocopyofsaidevent.Forwhateverreason,petitioners
failed to provide private respondents w ith their tape.
Clearly, petitioners are guilty of contravening their
obligationtosaidprivaterespondentsandarethusliablefor
damages.
The grant of actual or compensatory damages in the
amount of P450.00 is justified, as reimbursement of the
6
downpaymentpaidbyprivaterespondentstopetitioners.
Generally, moral damages cannot be recovered in an
actionforbreachofcontractbecausethiscaseisnotamong
those enumerated in Article 2219 of the Civil Code.
However,itisalsoacceptedinthisjurisdictionthatliability
for a quasidelict may still exist despite the presence of
contractual relations, that is, the act which
violates the
7
contract may also constitute a quasidelict. Consequently,
moral damages are recoverable for the breach of contract
which was palpably wanton,
reckless, malicious or in bad
8
faith,oppressiveorabusive.
Petitioners act or omission in recklessly erasing the
video coverage of private respondents wedding was
preciselythecauseofthesufferingprivaterespondentshad
toundergo.
Astheappellatecourtaptlyobserved:
Considering the sentimental value of the tapes and the fact that
the event therein recordeda wedding which in our culture is a
significantmilestonetobecherishedandrememberedcouldno
_______________
6Article2200,CivilCodeofthePhilippines.
7 PARAS, Civil Code of the Philippines, V, 1990, pp. 995996; Singson v.

BankofthePhilippineIslands,23SCRA1117(1968).
8TOLENTINO,COMMENTARIES&JURISPRUDENCEONTHECIVIL

CODEOFTHEPHILIPPINES,V,1995,p.656.

/
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VOL.272,MAY29,1997

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Go vs. Court of Appeals


longerbereenactedandwaslostforever,thetrialcourtwascorrect
in awarding the appellees moral damages albeit in the amount of
P75,000.00,whichwasagreatreductionfromplaintiffsdemandin
the complaint, in compensation for the mental anguish, tortured
feelings,sleeplessnightsandhumiliationthattheappelleessuffered
and which under the circumstances could be awarded as allowed
9
underArticles2217and2218oftheCivilCode.

Consideringtheattendantwantonnegligencecommittedby
petitioners in the case at bar, the award
of exemplary
10
damages by the trial court is justified to serve as a
warning to all entities engaged in the same business to
observeduediligenceintheconductoftheiraffairs.
Theawardofattorneysfeesandlitigationexpensesare
11
likewise proper, consistent with Article 2208 of the Civil
Code.
Finally, petitioner Alex Go questions the finding of the
trialandappellatecourtsholdinghimjointlyandseverally
liable with his wife Nancy regarding the pecuniary
liabilities imposed. He argues that when his wife entered
into the contract with private
respondent, she was acting
12
aloneforhersoleinterest.
Wefindmeritinthiscontention.UnderArticle117ofthe
CivilCode(nowArticle73oftheFamilyCode),thewifemay
exercise any profession, occupation or engage in business
withouttheconsentofthehusband.Intheinstantcase,we
are convinced that it was only petitioner Nancy Go who
entered into the contract with private respondent.
Consequently, we rule that she is solely liable to private
respondents for the damages awarded below, pursuant to
theprinci
______________
9Rollo,p.37.
10Article2232,CivilCodeofthePhilippines.
11

ART. 2208. In the absence of stipulation, attorneys fees and

expenses of litigation, other than judicial costs, cannot be recovered,


except:
(1)Whenexemplarydamagesareawarded;
xxxxxxxxx
12Rollo,p.23.

760

760

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
People vs. Soriano

plethatcontractsproduceeffectonlyasbetweentheparties
13
whoexecutethem.
WHEREFORE, the assailed decision dated September
14,1993isherebyAFFIRMEDwiththeMODIFICATION
that petitioner Alex G o is absolved from any liability to
privaterespondentsandthatpetitionerNancyGoissolely
liable to said private respondents for the judgment award.
Costsagainstpetitioners.
SOORDERED.
Regalado (Chairman), Puno, Mendoza and Torres,
Jr., JJ.,concur.
Judgment affirmed with modification.
Note.Secret marriage is a legally nonexistent
phrase but ordinarily used to refer to a civil marriage

celebrated without the knowledge of the relatives and/or


friendsofeitherorbothofthecontractingparties.(Republi c
vs. Court of Appeals,236SCRA257[1994])
o0o
*

G.R.No.114901.May29,1997.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff appellee, vs.


LITOSORIANOYSAGUCIOaliasLORETOSORIANOY
SAGUCIO,accusedappellant.
Evidence; Witnesses; Factual findings of trial courts are
accorded the highest respect as they are in the best situation to
observe the deportment and demeanor of witnesses and to assess
their credibility.It is doctrinally entrenched that factual findings
of trial courts are accorded the highest res pect as they are in the
bestsitua
_______________
13Article1311,CivilCodeofthePhilippines.
* FIRSTDIVISION.

761

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761

People vs. Soriano


tion to observe the deportment and demeanor of witnesses and to
assess their credibility. Their factual findings are disturbed only if
there is abuse of discretion. But we are unable to discern any
committedbythetrialcourt.
Criminal Law; Rape; The absence of spermatozoa does not
negate rape.Thentoo,thedefenseharpsonthefactthatnosperm
was found on Hilda thus disproving her testimony that appellant
allegedly raped her. But the absence of spermatozoa does not
negaterape.Forinrapeofthisnature,itisonlynecessarytoprove
carnal knowledge by using force and intimidation, which the
prosecutioninthiscasehasmorethansufficientlyestablished.
Same; Same; Since normally only two (2) persons are privy to
the commission of rape, the evaluation of the evidence presented
therein ultimately revolves around the credibility of the
complaining witness.If there is any testimony that is incredible
andcontradictory,itisthatofappellant.Hisdenialsareselfserving
and do not deserve any credence at all, especially when assayed
against the positive and candid testimony of Hilda. Since normally
only two (2) persons are privy to the commission of rape, the
evaluation of the evidence presented therein ultimately revolves
around the credibility of the complaining witness. It is Hildas
accountofthecasethatwearemostinclinedtoaccept.
Same; Same; There is absolutely no nexus between the
reputation of a rape victim and the odious deed committed against

her.The above narration cannot inspire belief. For if indeed the


accused caught his girlfriend in flagrante with another man, he
wouldnothavereactedasmildlyashedid.Again,appellantlostno
effort in describing Hilda as a woman of loose morals. But this
serves no useful purpose at all. For the character of a rape victim
will not disprove rape. There is absolutely no nexus between the
reputation of a rape victim and the odious deed committed against
her.

APPEALfromadecisionoftheRegionalTrialCourtof
Bangui,IlocosNorte,Br.19.
ThefactsarestatedintheopinionoftheCourt.
The Solicitor Generalforplaintiffappellee.
Public Attorneys Officeforaccusedappellant.
762

762

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
People vs. Soriano

BELLOSILLO,J.:
LITO SORIANO Y SAGUCIO alias Loreto Soriano y
Saguciowasfoundbythecourta quotohaverapedHilda
Acio. The evidence confirms his culpability; hence, we
affirm.
On 22 March 1991 Hilda Acio and Lesley Oania, a
neighborandfriend,attendedthefoundationanniversaryof
theirschool.Ataroundeightthirtyintheeveningtheyleft
the festivities and proceeded to the house of Hildas
grandmother Mercedes de la Cruz in Bgy. Lanao, Bangui,
Ilocos Norte, to pass the night there. When they arrived
Mercedes and Hildas tw in sisters w ere already asleep in
thesala.Hildahadtouseherownkeytoenterthehouse.
HildaandLesleythensleptwiththem.
At around onethirty the following morning, Hilda was
awakenedwhenshefeltsomebodyslegsontopofhers.She
immediatelyswitchedonthelight.ShesawLitoSorianoy
SagucioaliasLoretoSorianoySaguciosittingbyherside
with a long bolo on hand. He was reeking of liquor. Then
LesleyOania,thetwinsandthe70yearoldMercedesalso
woke up. Mercedes asked Lito why he was inside their
house. He answered that he was just seeking refuge as he
had killed somebody. He warned them not to disclose his
presenceinthehouseorhewouldkillallofthem.
LitosatonthesofaandorderedHildatositathisside.
Gripped with fear, she obeyed; she had no recourse. Lito
placedhisboloontopofherthighsandstartedkissingher
on the lips and cheeks, at the same time mashing her
breasts.Shepushedhishandsaway.Thisannoyedhim.He
stood up and poised to strike Mercedes on the neck. He
returnedtothesofaandcontinuedkissingHilda,mashing
her breasts and touching her thighs. She parried him off.
Thisallthemoreangeredhim.Hestoodupandsmothered
Mercedesfacewithapillow.HecommandedHildatoopen
the main door and said that he would only leave the
premisesifshewouldkisshim.
Hildarefused;surprisingly,hedidnotinsist.Instead,he

asked Hilda to fetch him a glass of water and to open the


kitchen door. Hilda offered to open the main door for him
but
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VOL.272,MAY29,1997

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People vs. Soriano


he said he preferred to pass through the kitchen door
becausehisNPAcompanionswerewaitingforhimoutside
thekitchen.
When the kitchen door was opened Lito immediately
pulledHildaandpinnedheragainsttheconcretewallofthe
kitchen. He removed his shorts and briefs and started
kissing her again. She struggled so he boxed her on the
stomach.Thisvisiblyweakenedher.Ashedraggedhershe
held on to her shorts in an effort to thwart his sexual
assault. But all her resistance proved futile. Lito forcibly
removedherpanty,laidontopofher,insertedhispenisinto
hervaginaandhadintercoursewithher.Hekissedherfrom
the face down to her most coveted part. After slaking his
lust, Lito got up and put on his clothes. Hilda seized that
opportunity to escape. She immediately gathered her
clothesandrantowardsthekitchen.Onceinside,shelocked
the door. He lingered outside the house for awhile but left
soonafter.
Hildalostnotimeinnarratingherharrowingexperience
to Lesley. Even without being told, Mercedes sensed that
Lito had offended Hilda. At around five oclock that same
morning, the incident was relayed to Victoria de la Cruz,
aunt of Hilda, who in turn asked someone to report the
mattertothepolice.HildawasthenbroughttotheBangui
DistrictHospitalwhereshewasexaminedbyDr.DiosdadoI.
Garvida.ThemedicolegalexaminationdisclosedthatHilda
sufferedabrasionsontherightsideofherneck;anotherjust
below the mandible; and still another, on the level of the
larynx. She also sustained a contusion on the right buccal
area,andanerythemaatthevaginalorifice.Shewasalso
foundtohaveanoldhymenallacerationat3:00oclockand
1
9:00oclockpositions.
LitoSorianowasapprehendedandbroughttothepolice
stationforinvestigation.On25March1991HildaAciofiled
a complaint against Soriano with the Municipal Circuit
2
Trial Court of BanguiPagudpudAdamsDumalneg. After
preliminary examination, the investigating judge found a
prima facie
______________
1Exh.B,FolderofExhibits.
2DocketedasCrim.CaseNo.4049B.

764

764

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
People vs. Soriano

case against the accused, and on 13 May 1991 he was


formallychargedwithrapebeforetheRegionalTrialCourt
3
ofBangui,IlocosNorte.
Lito Soriano told a different story. At the pretrial
conference he admitted having sexual intercourse with
Hilda. However his admission was later withdrawn for
having purportedly been made improvidently. O n the
witness stand he claimed that since 15 August 1988 until
the alleged rape he and Hilda were sweethearts. On 17
March 1991, or three (3) days before the incident, he saw
HildahavingsexualintercoursewithherboyfriendJoemer
Rumbaoa.Hefeltbadaboutit.On22March1991,whilehe
was having a snack at Hildas store, she approached him
andaskedifshecouldtalktohimlaterathergrandmothers
house. So, at around eightthirty that evening, he went to
theirtrystandthenandthereendedtheirrelationship.He
stayed there for only thirty (30) minutes and then left for
homeandslept.Thefollowingmorninghewaspickedupby
thepoliceandtakentothemunicipaljail.
On 16 November 1993, after trial, the Regional Trial
CourtfoundLitoSorianoySagucioaliasLoretoSorianoy
Sagucio guilty of rape and sentenced him to suffer the
penalty of reclusion perpetua,4 to indemnify Hilda Acio
P50,000.00,andtopaythecosts.
Accusedappellant imputes the following errors to the
court a quo: (1) in holding that force and intimidation
attended the carnal act between accusedappellant and
privatecomplainant;(2)infindingaccusedappellantguilty
of rape despite the incredible testimony of private
complainant;and,(3)infindingaccusedappellantguiltyof
the crime charged despite the failure of5 the prosecution to
provehisguiltbeyondreasonabledoubt.
Itisdoctrinallyentrenchedthatfactualfindingsoftrial
courts are accorded the highest respect as they are in the
best situation to observe the deportment and demeanor of
wit
______________
3DocketedasCrim.CaseNo.83319.
4Decision,RTCBr.19,Bangui,IlocosNorte,p.17;Rollo,p.42.
5AppellantsBrief,pp.12;Rollo,pp.8990.

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People vs. Soriano


nessesandtoassesstheircredibility.Theirfactualfindings
aredisturbedonlyifthereisabuseofdiscretion.Butweare
unabletodiscernanycommittedbythetrialcourt.
Accusedappellant contends that the testimony of Hilda
Acioisincredibleandunworthyofbelief.Weholdotherwise.
Hildahadnoillmotiveinfilingthiscaseagainstappellant
6
who himself acknowledged this fact. Hilda successfully
weatherednotonlythedirectandredirectexaminationsbut
alsothegruelingandprobingcrossandrecrossquestions.
Notforamomentdidshecontradictherself.Shecriedonthe

witness stand when she recalled her horrendous ordeal in


the hands of appellant. The lapse of two (2) years did not
stophertearsfromfallingagainwhenshetookthewitness
standasarebuttalwitness.
AccusedappellanttheorizesthatHildacouldhaveeasily
resistedthesexualassaultonherpersonhadshewantedto.
Her failure to do so could only mean that she voluntarily
submittedtothesexualcongress.Buttheevidenceathand
confutesthisassertion.FromtheverystartHildaparriedoff
the improper advances of appellant, but every tim e he
countered by threatening to strike her grandmother and
twinsisters.HeevenboxedHildaonthestomach.Whatis
more, he had a long bolo on hand which he brandished
wheneversheresisted.
Thentoo,thedefenseharpsonthefactthatnospermwas
found on Hilda thus disproving her testimony that
appellant allegedly raped her. But the absence of
spermatozoa does not negate rape. For in rape of this
nature, it is only necessary to prove carnal knowledge by
usingforceandintimidation,whichtheprosecutioninthis
casehasmorethansufficientlyestablished.
If there is any testimony that is incredible and
contradictory, it is that of appellant. His denials are self
serving and do not deserve any credence at all, especially
whenassayedagainstthepositiveandcandidtestimonyof
Hilda.Sincenormallyonlytwo(2)personsareprivytothe
commissionof
______________
6TSN,3March1993,p.83.

766

766

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
People vs. Soriano

rape, the evaluation of the evidence presented therein


ultimately revolves around the credibility of the
complainingwitness.ItisHildasaccountofthecasethatwe
aremostinclinedtoaccept.
Accusedappellants persistent avowal that Hilda has
been his sweetheart since 27 October 1988 appears
farfetched. Hilda was born on 8 February 1975 and this
makes her only thirteen (13) years old when she allegedly
became romantically linked to him, who by then was
already twentyeight (28) years old. Furthermore, he was
living in w ith a certain Evelyn Ramos. Lito also testified
thathewasnotHildasfirstboyfriend.Thus
Atty.Reyes:

Now,youmentionedacertainLandoAguinaldoand
JoemerRumbaoaassweetheart(s)ofHildaAcio,doyou
knowwhowasthefirstamong(sic)thesetwo(2)persons
(tobe)thesweetheartofHildaAcio?
xxxx

A. OrlandoAguinaldo,sir.

Q. Aresidentofthatplace?
A. Yessir,weareneighbors.
Q. Doyouknowwhytheybroketherelationship?
A. BecauseOrlandodiedduringtheNPAandPNP
encounterinDumalneg,sir.
Q. Doyouknowhowlongtherelationshipwenton?

xxxx

A. Idonotknowhowmanyyearstheywerestayingwith
eachother,sir.
Q. Butverylong?
A. Perhapsaboutthreeyears,sir.
Q. Andimmediatelyafterthatrelationship(you)became
sweethearts?
A. Yes,sir.
Q. AtwhatmomentdidJoemerRumbaoabecomethe
sweetheartofHildaAcio?
A. OnMarch17,1991,sirxxxx

AssumingthatOrlandoLandoAguinaldowasHildasfirst
boyfriendandthattherelationshiplastedforaboutthree
______________
7TSN,17February1993,pp.7677.

767

VOL.272,MAY29,1997

767

People vs. Soriano


years, this would make Hilda only ten (10) or eleven (11)
yearsoldatthestartofthesupposedrelationship.Thisby
itselfbegscredibilitywhichcanonlyleadtotheconclusion
thatalltheseareonlytheproductoftheaccusedsdistorted
imagination.
Accusedappellantclaimsthaton17March1991hesaw
JoemerRumbaoaandHildaindulginginsexualintercourse
insidethelattersstore.IftheaccusedwasHildasboyfriend
atthattime,ashewouldhaveusbelieve,hisreactiontothe
incidentwouldbenolessthanatypical:
Atty.
Reyes:

AtwhatmomentdidJoemerRumbaoabecome
thesweetheartofHildaAcio?

Lito
OnMarch17,1991,sir,whenIwenttobuy
Soriano: cigarettesatthestoreofHildaAcio,Iheard
somebodymoaning,andwhenIpeepedthrough
theholeonthewall,IsawHildaandaman
inside.ThemanwasontopofHilda.Atthemom
entIhadnotyetrecognizedJoemerRumbaoa.
AfterawhileIknockedonthesmallwindowof
thestoreandHildaAcioaskedwhoisthat;I
simplyanswered,itisme,thenHildaopenedthe
smallwindowandIlookedinsideandIsaw
JoemerRumbaoawhowasputtingonhispants

andlefttheplaceinahurry.

Atty.
Reyes:

xxxx
WillyoudescribeHildaandJoemeratthefirst
timeyousawthematthestoreonMarch17,
1991?

Lito
Bothofthemwerenaked,sir.Joemerwasontop
Soriano: ofHildaAcio,andtheywerekissingeachother.
Q.

HowwereyouabletorecognizeJoemerRumbaoa
andHildaAciointhatcondition?

A.

WhenHildaAcioopenedthewindowIpeeped
throughit,Isawthemandthereis(sic)alsoa
smallbulbwhichwaslightedneartheimageof
VirginMarysir.

Q.

Wherewas(sic)HildaandJoemerlyingwhenyou
sawthem?

A.

Onafoldingbed,sir.

Q.

Whatwasyourreactionwhenyousawthem?

xxxx

Lito
OfcourseIfeltbadaboutit,andIdidnotexpect
Soriano: Hildatodothat,sir.
768

768

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
People vs. Soriano

Atty.
WereyouabletotalktoHildaimmediatelyafter
Reyes: yousawtheminthatsituation?
A.

Ididnottalktoheraftershehandedthecigarettes
Iwentalready,sir.

Q.

WereyouabletotalktoJoemerRumbaoa?

A.

No,sir,wetalkedthefollowingday.

Q.

Wheredidyoutalk?

A.

Onthestreetwhenwechanceduponeachother,
sir.

Q.

Whatdidyouconverseabout?

A.

Wetalkedaboutwhathappenedtothem.Itold
JoemerRumbaoatomarryHildaAciootherwiseI
wouldreporttothefatherofHilda,butJoemer
declinedbecausehesaidhefoundoutthatHilda
wasnolongeravirginwoman,sir.

xxxx

Q.

Afterthatincident,didyouhaveachancetotalkto
HildaAcio?

A.

OnMarch22,1991,sir.

Q.

WheredidyoutalkwithHildaAcio?

A.

WhenIwenttotakemeriendaatthestoreatabout
4:00oclockintheafternoon,sir.

Q.

Didshecallforyouatthestore?

A.

Shetoldme,Wouldyoumindtocomeatthehouse
8
ofmygrandmother?

Theabovenarrationcannotinspirebelief.Forifindeedthe
accused caught his girlfriend in flagrante with another
man,hewouldnothavereactedasmildlyashedid.Again,
appellant lost no effort in describing Hilda as a woman of
loose morals. But this serves no useful purpose at all. For
thecharacterofarapevictimwillnotdisproverape.There
is absolutely no nexus between the reputation of a rape
victimandtheodiousdeedcommittedagainsther.
But if there be any doubt still on the culpability of
appellant,hislettertoHildaandherparents(Exhs.Cand
C1) should dispel that doubt and clinch the case for the
prosecution.Intheletter,appellantrepeatedly admitted the
wrong he committed against Hilda and begged for her
forgiveness and
_______________
8 Id.,pp.7780.

769

VOL.272,MAY29,1997

769

People vs. Soriano


that of her parents, brothers, sisters and grandmother.The
letter which appellant admitted to have w ritten on 19
December 1991
in the Ilocano dialect and now translated
9
intoEnglish pertinentlyreads
DearestUncle,AuntieandAdingko(ayoungerperson)
Hilda,
I hope to God that your family is fine x x x x I truly
repent from the grave sin I have committed against you.
AndI will never stop from asking forgiveness from you
andfromprayingtotheLordGod(italicssupplied).
Uncle, Auntie and particularly to you ading ko
Hilda, Leslie O., Josie, Joseph, Jacky, Merie Flor, and
MerieJaneandLolaMerced,do forgive m e now from
that grave sin I have comm itted against your whole
familyxxxxItrulyrepentfromhavingoffendedyou,
forIwasheavilydrunkatthattimeanddidnotknow
what I was doing at that day. And I promise and I
swear to you that I will never commit any sin againxxx
xDo forgive me now,Uncle,Auntieandespeciallyyou,
adingkoHilda.AndI promise and swear to you again
that I will not sin again and please give me another
chance to change and atone (for) my offense agains t
you(italicssupplied).
DoforgivemenowUncle,AuntieandadingkoHilda
xxxxforIcannolongersleepthinkingandprayingto
ourLordGod,asking with all my heart forgiveness from
you x x x x Yes, Uncle, Auntie and ading ko Hilda, I
again ask your forgiveness and I promise and swear
that I will never commit any sin again.Notanymorefor
I have come to realize the gravity of my offense against

you. Yes, Uncle and Auntie, do forgive me now and if


possibleletussettlethiscase(italicssupplied).
IknowthatourLordGodunderstandsandforgives
allsinnerslikeme.
Tillnow,myregardstoallofyouandmaytheLord
ourGodgrantyoupeaceandansweryourprayers.
Askingyourforgiveness,
(Sgd.)LITHO SORIANO
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the court a quo finding
accusedappellant LITO SORIANO Y SAGUCIO alias
Loreto
_______________
9Exh.C2,Records,p.178.

770

770

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Paterno vs. Court of Appeals

SorianoySagucioGUILTYofRAPEandsentencinghimto
suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua with all the
accessorypenaltiesprovidedbylaw,topayHildaAciomoral
damagesintheamountofP50,000.00andtopaythecosts,
isAFFIRMED.
SOORDERED.
Vitug, KapunanandHermosisima, Jr., JJ.,concur.
Padilla (Chairman), J.,Onleave.
Judgment affirmed.
Notes.Clothesofthevictimarenotessentialandneed
notbepresentedastheyarenotindispensableevidenceto
proverape.(People vs. Budol,143SCRA241[1986])
It is not uncommon for young girls to conceal for some
time the assaults on their virtue because of the rapists
threats on their lives. (People vs. Errojo, 229 SCRA 50
[1994])
o0o

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