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VOL. 257, JUNE 25, 1996 561


People vs. Echegaray
*
G.R. No. 117472. June 25, 1996.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs.


LEO ECHEGARAY y PILO, accused-appellant.

Criminal Law; Rape; Evidence; Guiding principles in the


evaluation of evidence in rape cases.·Considering that a rape
charge, in the light of the reimposition of the death penalty,
requires a thorough and judicious examination of the circumstances
relating thereto, this Court remains guided by the following
principles in evaluating evidence in cases of this nature: (a) An
accusation for rape can be made with facility; it is difficult to prove
but more difficult for the accused though innocent to disprove; (b) In
view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape where only two
persons are involved, the testimony of the complainant must be
scrutinized with extreme caution; and (c) The evidence for the
prosecution must stand and fall on its own merits, and cannot be
allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the
defense.
Same; Same; Same; Motive; No grandmother would be so
callous as to instigate her 10-year old granddaughter to file a rape
case against her own father simply on account of her alleged interest
over a disputed lot.·We believe, as did the Solicitor-General, that
no grandmother would be so callous as to instigate her 10-year old
granddaughter to file a rape case against her own father simply on
account of her alleged interest over the disputed lot.
Same; Same; Same; Witnesses; It is a well-entrenched
jurisprudential rule that the testimony of a rape victim is credible
where she has no motive to testify against the accused.·It is a well-
entrenched jurisprudential rule that the testimony of a rape victim
is credible where she has no motive to testify against the accused.

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We find no flaws material enough to discredit the testimony of the


ten-year old Rodessa which the trial court found convincing enough
and unrebutted by the defense. The trial court not surprisingly
noted that RodessaÊs narration in detail of her fatherÊs monstrous
acts had made her cry. Once again, we rule that: „x x x The
testimony of the victim who was only 12 years old at the time of the
rape as to the circumstances of the rape must be given weight, for
testimony of

________________

* EN BANC.

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562 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

People vs. Echegaray

young and immature rape victims are credible (People v. Guibao,


217 SCRA 64 [1993]). No woman especially one of tender age,
practically only a girl, would concoct a story of defloration, allow an
examination of her private parts and thereafter expose herself to a
public trial, if she were not motivated solely by the desire to have
the culprit apprehended and punished (People v. Guibao, supra).‰
Same; Same; Same; Same; Minor inconsistencies in the
narration of a witness do not detract from its essential credibility as
long as it is on the whole coherent and intrinsically believable.·
These alleged discrepancies merely pertain to minor details which
in no way pose serious doubt as to the credibility of the prosecution
witnesses. Whether or not the accused was naked when he dragged
Rodessa inside the room where he sexually assaulted her bears no
significant effect on RodessaÊs testimony that she was actually
raped by the accused-appellant. Moreover, a conflicting account of
whatever words were uttered by the accused-appellant after he
forcefully inserted his penis into RodessaÊs private organ against
her will cannot impair the prosecutionÊs evidence as a whole. A
determination of which version earmarks the truth as to how the
victimÊs grandmother learned about the rape is inconsequential to

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the judgment of conviction. As we have pronounced in the case of


People v. Jaymalin: „This Court has stated time and again that
minor inconsistencies in the narration of a witness do not detract
from its essential credibility as long as it is on the whole coherent
and intrinsically believable. Inaccuracies may in fact suggest that
the witness is telling the truth and has not been rehearsed as it is
not to be expected that he will be able to remember every single
detail of an incident with perfect or total recall.‰
Same; Same; In rape cases, a broken hymen is not an essential
element thereof·a mere knocking at the doors of the pudenda, so to
speak, by the accusedÊs penis suffices to constitute the crime of rape.
·In rape cases, a broken hymen is not an essential element
thereof. A mere knocking at the doors of the pudenda, so to speak,
by the accusedÊs penis suffices to constitute the crime of rape as full
entry into the victimÊs vagina is not required to sustain a conviction.
In the case, Dr. Freyra, the medico-legal examiner, categorically
testified that the healed lacerations of Rodessa on her vagina were
consistent with the date of the commission of the rape as narrated
by the victim to have taken place in April, 1994.

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People vs. Echegaray

Same; Same; Alibi; The defense of alibi, which is inherently


weak, becomes even weaker in the face of positive identification of the
accused as perpetrator of the crime by his victim.·Lastly, the third
assigned error deserves scant consideration. The accused-appellant
erroneously argues that the Contract of Services (Exhibit 4) offered
as evidence in support of the accused-appellantÊs defense of alibi
need not be corroborated because there is no law expressly
requiring so. In view of our finding that the prosecution witnesses
have no motive to falsely testify against the accused-appellant, the
defense of alibi, in this case, uncorroborated by other witnesses,
should be completely disregarded. More importantly, the defense of
alibi which is inherently weak becomes even weaker in the face of
positive identification of the accused-appellant as perpetrator of the
crime of rape by his victim, Rodessa.
Same; Same; Death Penalty Law (R.A. 7659); Where the accused

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is a confirmed lover of the victimÊs mother, he falls squarely within


Section 11 of R.A. 7659 under the term „common-law spouse of the
parent of the victim.‰·Apparently, as a last glimpse of hope, the
accused-appellant questions the penalty imposed by the trial court
by declaring that he is neither a father, stepfather or grandfather of
Rodessa although he was a confirmed lover of RodessaÊs mother. On
direct examination, he admitted that before the charge of rape was
filed against him, he had treated Rodessa as his real daughter and
had provided for her food, clothing, shelter and education. The
Court notes that Rodessa uses the surname of the accused-
appellant, not Rivera (her motherÊs maiden name) nor Alfonso (her
grandmotherÊs live-in partner). Moreover, RodessaÊs mother stated
during the cross-examination that she, the accused-appellant, and
her five children, including Rodessa, had been residing in one house
only. At any rate, even if he were not the father, stepfather or
grandfather of Rodessa, this disclaimer cannot save him from the
abyss where perpetrators of heinous crimes ought to be, as
mandated by law. Considering that the accused-appellant is a
confirmed lover of RodessaÊs mother, he falls squarely within the
aforequoted portion of the Death Penalty Law under the term
„common-law spouse of the parent of the victim.‰
Same; Same; Same; The fact that the ten-year old victim
referred to the accused as „Papa‰ is reason enough to conclude that
the accused is either the father or stepfather of the victim.·The fact
that the ten-year old Rodessa referred to the accused-appellant as

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„Papa‰ is reason enough to conclude that accused-appellant is either


the father or stepfather of Rodessa. Thus, the act of sexual assault
perpetrated by the accused on his young victim has become all the
more repulsive and perverse. The victimÊs tender age and the
accused-appellantÊs moral ascendancy and influence over her are
factors which forced Rodessa to succumb to the accusedÊs selfish and
bestial craving. The law has made it inevitable under the
circumstances of this case that the accused-appellant face the

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supreme penalty of death.

AUTOMATIC REVIEW of a decision of the Regional Trial


Court of Quezon City, Br. 104.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.


The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Julian R. Vitug for accused-appellant.

PER CURIAM:

Amidst the endless debates on whether or not the


reimposition of the death penalty is indeed a deterrent as
far as the commission of heinous crimes is concerned and
while the attendant details pertaining to the execution of a
death sentence remain as yet another burning issue, we are
tasked with providing a clear-cut resolution of whether or
not the herein accused-appellant deserves to forfeit his
place in human society for the infliction of the primitive
and bestial act of incestuous lust on his own blood.
Before us for automatic review is the judgment of
conviction, dated September 7, 1994, for the crime of Rape,
rendered after marathon hearing by the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City, Branch 104, the dispositive portion of
which reads:

„WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused LEO


ECHEGARAY Y PILO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
of RAPE as charged in the complaint, aggravated by the fact that
the same was committed by the accused who is the father/step-
father of the complainant, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the

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People vs. Echegaray

penalty of DEATH, as provided for under R.A. No. 7659; to pay the
complainant Rodessa Echegaray the sum of P50,000.00 as damages,
plus all the accessory penalties provided by law, without subsidiary
1
imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs.‰

We note, however, that the charge had been formulated in

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this manner:

„C O M P L A I N T

The undersigned accuses LEO ECHEGARAY Y PILO of the crime of


RAPE, committed as follows:
That on or about the month of April 1994, in Quezon City,
Philippines, the above-named accused, by means of force and
intimidation, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
have carnal knowledge of the undersigned complainant, his
daughter, a minor, 10 years of age, all against her will and without
her consent, to her damage and prejudice.
2
CONTRARY TO LAW.‰

Upon being arraigned on August 1, 1994, the accused-


appellant, assisted by his counsel de oficio, entered the plea
of „not guilty.‰
These are the pertinent facts of the case as summarized
by the Solicitor-General in his brief:

„This is a case of rape by the father of his ten-year old daughter.


Complainant RODESSA ECHEGARAY is a ten-year old girl and
a fifth-grader, born on September 11, 1983. Rodessa is the eldest of
five siblings. She has three brothers aged 6, 5 and 2, respectively,
and a 3-month old baby sister. Her parents are Rosalie and Leo
Echegaray, the latter being the accused-appellant himself. The
victim lives with her family in a small house located at No. 199
Fernandez St., Barangay San Antonio, San Francisco Del Monte,
Quezon City (pp. 5-9, Aug. 9, 1994, TSN).

________________

1 Records, p. 53.
2 Records, p. 1.

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People vs. Echegaray

Sometime in the afternoon of April 1994, while Rodessa was


looking after her three brothers in their house as her mother
attended a gambling session in another place, she heard her father,

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the accused-appellant in this case, order her brothers to go out of


the house (pp. 10-11, ibid.). As soon as her brothers left, accused-
appellant Leo Echegaray approached Rodessa and suddenly
dragged her inside the room (p. 12, ibid.). Before she could question
the appellant, the latter immediately removed her panty and made
her lie on the floor (p. 13, ibid.). Thereafter, appellant likewise
removed his underwear and immediately placed himself on top of
Rodessa. Subsequently, appellant forcefully inserted his penis into
RodessaÊs organ causing her to suffer intense pain (pp. 14-15, ibid.).
While appellant was pumping on her, he even uttered: ÂMasarap ba,
masarap ba?Ê and to which Rodessa answered: ÂTama na Papa,
masakitÊ (p. 16, ibid.). RodessaÊs plea proved futile as appellant
continued with his act. After satisfying his bestial instinct,
appellant threatened to kill her mother if she would divulge what
had happened. Scared that her mother would be killed by appellant,
Rodessa kept to herself the ordeal she suffered. She was very afraid
of appellant because the latter, most of the time, was high on drugs
(pp. 17-18, ibid.). The same sexual assault happened up to the fifth
time and this usually took place when her mother was out of the
house (p. 19, ibid.). However, after the fifth time, Rodessa decided to
inform her grandmother, Asuncion Rivera, who in turn told Rosalie,
RodessaÊs mother. Rodessa and her mother proceeded to the
Barangay Captain where Rodessa confided the sexual assaults she
suffered. Thereafter, Rodessa was brought to the precinct where she
executed an affidavit (p. 21, ibid.). From there, she was
accompanied to the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory for
medical examination (p. 22, ibid.).
Rodessa testified that the said sexual assaults happened only
during the time when her mother was pregnant. Rodessa added
that at first, her mother was on her side. However, when appellant
was detained, her mother kept on telling her: ÂKawawa naman ang
Tatay mo, nakakulongÊ (pp. 30-40, ibid.).
When Rodessa was examined by the medico-legal officer in the
3
person of Dra. Ma. Cristina B. Preyna, the complainant was
described as physically on a non-virgin state, as evidenced by the

________________

3 The name of the medico-legal officer as per Medico-Legal Report No. M-


0980-94 (Exhibit „6‰) reads Ma. Cristina B. Freyra.

567

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VOL. 257, JUNE 25, 1996 567


People vs. Echegaray

presence of laceration of the hymen of said complainant (TSN, Aug.


4
22, 1995, pp. 8-9).‰

On the other hand, the accused-appellantÊs brief presents a


different story:

„x x x the defense presented its first witness, Rosalie Echegaray.


She asserted that the RAPE charge against the accused was only
the figment of her motherÊs dirty mind. That her daughterÊs
complaint was forced upon her by her grandma and the answers in
the sworn statement of Rodessa were coached. That the accusation
of RAPE was motivated by RodessaÊs grandmotherÊs greed over the
lot situated at the Madrigal Estate-NHA Project, Barangay San
Antonio, San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City, which her
grandmotherÊs paramour, Conrado Alfonso gave to the accused in
order to persuade the latter to admit that Rodessa executed an
affidavit of desistance after it turned out that her complaint of
attempted homicide was substituted with the crime of RAPE at the
instance of her mother. That when her mother came to know about
the affidavit of desistance, she placed her granddaughter under the
custody of the Barangay Captain. That her mother was never a real
mother to her.
She stated that her complaint against accused was for attempted
homicide as her husband poured alcohol on her body and attempted
to burn her. She identified the certification issued by the NHA and
Tag No. 87-0393 (Exh. 2). That the Certification based on the
Masterlist (Exh. 3) indicates that the property is co-owned by
accused and Conrado Alfonso. That Rodessa is her daughter sired
by Conrado Alfonso, the latter being the paramour of her mother.
That Conrado Alfonso waived his right and participation over the
lot in favor of the accused in consideration of the latterÊs accepting
the fact that he is the father of Rodessa to simulate the love triangle
and to conceal the nauseating sex orgies from Conrado AlfonsoÊs
real wife.
Accused testified in his behalf and stated that the grandmother
of the complainant has a very strong motive in implicating him to
the crime of RAPE since she was interested to become the sole
owner of a property awarded to her live-in partner by the Madrigal
Estate-NHA Project. That he could not have committed the imputed
crime because he considers Rodessa as his own daughter. That he is

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a painter-contractor and on the date of the alleged

________________

4 Rollo, pp. 87-90.

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People vs. Echegaray

commission of the crime, he was painting the house of one Divina


Ang of Barangay Vitalis, Parañaque, Metro Manila (Exh. 4). The
travel time between his work place to his residence is three (3)
hours considering the condition of traffic. That the painting contract
is evidenced by a document denominated ÂContract of ServicesÊ duly
accomplished (see submarkings of Exh. 4). He asserted that he has
a big sexual organ which when used to a girl 11 years old like
Rodessa, the said female organ will be Âmawawarak.Ê That it is
abnormal to report the imputed commission of the crime to the
grandmother of the victim.
Accused further stated that her (sic) mother-in-law trumped-up a
charge of drug pushing earlier and he pleaded guilty to a lesser
offense of using drugs. The decretal portion of the judgment of
conviction ordering the accused to be confined at the Bicutan
Rehabilitation Center irked the grandmother of Rodessa because it
was her wish that accused should be meted the death penalty.
Accused remain steadfast in his testimony perorating the strong
motive of RodessaÊs grandmother in implicating him in this heinous
crime because of her greed to become the sole owner of that piece of
property at the National Housing Authority-Madrigal Project,
situated at San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City, notwithstanding
rigid cross-examination. He asserted that the imputed offense is far
from his mind considering that he treated Rodessa as his own
daughter. He categorically testified that he was in his painting job
site on the date and time of the alleged commission of the crime.
Mrs. Punzalan was presented as third defense witness. She said
that she is the laundry woman and part time baby sitter of the
family of accused. That at one time, she saw Rodessa reading sex
books and the Bulgar newspaper. That while hanging washed
clothes on the vacant lot, she saw Rodessa masturbating by
tinkering her private parts. The masturbation took sometime.

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This sexual fling of Rodessa were corroborated by Silvestra


Echegaray, the fourth and last witness for the defense. She stated
that she tried hard to correct the flirting tendency of Rodessa and
that she scolded her when she saw Rodessa viewing an X-rated
tape. Rodessa according to her was fond of going with friends of ill-
repute. That (sic) she corroborated the testimony of Mrs. Punzalan
by stating that she herself saw Rodessa masturbating inside the
5
room of her house.‰

_______________

5 Rollo, pp. 45-48.

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People vs. Echegaray

In finding the accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable


doubt of the crime of rape, the lower court dismissed the
defense of alibi and lent credence to the straightforward
testimony of the ten-year old victim to whom no ill motive
to testify falsely against accused-appellant can be
attributed. The lower court likewise regarded as
inconsequential the defense of the accused-appellant that
the extraordinary size of his penis could not have
insinuated itself into the victimÊs vagina and that the
accused is not the real father of the said victim.
The accused-appellant now reiterates his position in his
attempt to seek a reversal of the lower courtÊs verdict
through the following assignment of errors:

„1. THE LOWER COURT FAILED TO APPRECIATE


THE SINISTER MOTIVE OF PRIVATE
COMPLAINANTÊS GRANDMOTHER THAT
PRECIPITATED THE FILING OF THE CHARGE
OF RAPE, HENCE IT ERRED IN HOLDING
ACCUSED GUILTY AS CHARGED.
2. THE COURT BELOW OVERLOOKED THE FACT
THAT THE HEALED LACERATIONS AT 3 AND 7
OÊCLOCK COULD NOT HAVE BEEN DUE TO
THE PUMPING OF THE PENIS OF ACCUSED

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TO THE VAGINA OF PRIVATE COMPLAINANT,


HENCE IT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT
ACCUSED COMMITTED THE CRIME
CHARGED, NOTWITHSTANDING VEHEMENT
DENIAL.
3. THE COURT A QUO WHIMSICALLY IGNORED
THE DEFENSE OF ALIBI THAT ACCUSED WAS
IN PARAÑAQUE ON THE DATE AND TIME OF
THE IMPUTED CRIME HENCE, IT ERRED IN
HOLDING THAT ALIBI6 IS NOT SUSTAINABLE
IN THE CASE AT BAR.‰

Considering that a rape charge, in the light of the


reimposition of the death penalty, requires a thorough and
judicious examination of the circumstances relating
thereto, this Court remains guided by the following
principles in evaluating evidence in cases of this nature: (a)
An accusation for

________________

6 Rollo, p. 49.

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People vs. Echegaray

rape can be made with facility; it is difficult to prove but


more difficult for the accused though innocent to disprove;
(b) In view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape
where only two persons are involved, the testimony of the
complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution; and
(c) The evidence for the prosecution must stand and fall on
its own merits, and cannot be allowed to draw 7strength
from the weakness of the evidence for the defense.‰
Anent the first assigned error, no amount of persuasion
can convince this Court to tilt the scales of justice in favor
of the accused-appellant notwithstanding that he cries foul
insisting that the rape charge was merely concocted and
strongly motivated by greed over a certain lot situated at
the NHA-Madrigal Estate Housing Project, Barangay San
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Antonio, San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City. The


accused-appellant theorizes that prosecution witness
Asuncion Rivera, the maternal grandmother of the victim
Rodessa, concocted the charge of rape so that, in the event
that the accused-appellant shall be meted out a death
sentence, title to the lot will be consolidated in her favor.
Indeed, the lot in question is co-owned by the accused-
appellant and Conrado Alfonso, the live-in partner of
Asuncion Rivera, according to the records of the National
Housing Authority (Exh. „3‰). The accused-appellant would
want us to believe that the rape charge was fabricated by
Asuncion Rivera in order to eliminate the accused-
appellant from being a co-owner. So, 8 the live-in partners
would have the property for their own.
We believe, as did the Solicitor-General, that no
grandmother would be so callous as to instigate her 10-year
old granddaughter to file a rape case against her own
father simply on account of her alleged interest over the
disputed

________________

7 People v. Apolonio Melivo y Valete, G.R. No. 113029, promulgated on


Feb. 8, 1996, citing People v. Matrimonio, 215 SCRA 613 [1992]; People v.
Aldana, 175 SCRA 635 [1989]; People v. Capilitan, 182 SCRA 313 [1990].
8 TSN, August 30, 1994, p. 13.

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People vs. Echegaray

9
lot.
It is a well-entrenched jurisprudential rule that the
testimony of a rape victim is credible 10
where she has no
motive to testify against the accused.
We find no flaws material enough to discredit the
testimony of the ten-year old Rodessa which the trial court
found convincing enough and unrebutted by the defense.
The trial court not surprisingly noted that RodessaÊs
narration
11
in detail of her fatherÊs monstrous acts had made
her cry. Once again, we rule that:

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„x x x The testimony of the victim who was only 12 years old at the
time of the rape as to the circumstances of the rape must be given
weight, for testimony of young and immature rape victims are
credible (People v. Guibao, 217 SCRA 64 [1993]). No woman
especially one of tender age, practically only a girl, would concoct a
story of defloration, allow an examination of her private parts and
thereafter expose herself to a public trial, if she were not motivated
solely by the desire to have the culprit apprehended and punished
12
(People v. Guibao, supra).‰

The accused-appellant points out certain inconsistencies in


the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses in his attempt
to bolster his claim that the rape accusation against him is
malicious and baseless. Firstly, RodessaÊs testimony that
the accused-appellant was already naked when he dragged
her inside the room is inconsistent with her subsequent
testimony that the said accused-appellant was still wearing
short pants when she was dragged inside the room.
Secondly, RodessaÊs sworn statement before the police
investigator which indicated that, while the accused was
executing pumping acts, he uttered the words „Masarap
ba?,‰ differ from her testimony in

_________________

9 Rollo, p. 93.
10 People v. Matamorosa, 231 SCRA 509, 515 [1994], citing People v.
Palicte, 229 SCRA 543 [1994]; and People v. Cabilao, 210 SCRA 326
[1992].
11 RTC Decision, p. 6; Records, p. 50.
12 People v. Espinoza, 247 SCRA 66, 72-73 [1995].

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court wherein she related that, when the accused took out
his penis from her vagina, the accused said „Masarap,
tapos na.‰ Thirdly, the victimÊs grandmother, Asuncion
Rivera, recounted in her sworn statement that it was the
accused who went to see her to apprise her of the rape

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committed on her granddaughter. However, in her


testimony in court, Asuncion Rivera claimed that she was
the one who invited the accused-appellant 13
to see her in her
house so as to tell her a secret. These alleged
discrepancies merely pertain to minor details which in no
way pose serious doubt as to the credibility of the
prosecution witnesses. Whether or not the accused was
naked when he dragged Rodessa inside the room where he
sexually assaulted her bears no significant effect on
RodessaÊs testimony that she was actually raped by the
accused-appellant. Moreover, a conflicting account of
whatever words were uttered by the accused-appellant
after he forcefully inserted his penis into RodessaÊs private
organ against her will cannot impair the prosecutionÊs
evidence as a whole. A determination of which version
earmarks the truth as to how the victimÊs grandmother
learned about the rape is inconsequential to the judgment
of conviction.
As we 14 have pronounced in the case of People v.
Jaymalin:

„This Court has stated time and again that minor inconsistencies in
the narration of a witness do not detract from its essential
credibility as long as it is on the whole coherent and intrinsically
believable. Inaccuracies may in fact suggest that the witness is
telling the truth and has not been rehearsed as it is not to be
expected that he will be able to remember every single detail of an
incident with perfect or total recall.‰

After due deliberation, this Court finds that the trial


judgeÊs assessment of the credibility of the prosecution
witnesses deserves our utmost respect in the absence of
arbitrariness.

_______________

13 Rollo, pp. 53-54.


14 214 SCRA 685, 690-691 [1992], citing People v. Ansing (196 SCRA
374 [1991]).

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VOL. 257, JUNE 25, 1996 573

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People vs. Echegaray

With respect to the second assigned error, the records of the


instant case are bereft of clear and concrete proof of the
accused-appellantÊs claim as to the size of his penis and
that if that be the fact, it could not have merely15caused
shallow healed lacerations at 3:00 and 7:00 oÊclock. In his
testimony, the accused-appellant stated that he could not
have raped Rodessa because of the size of his penis which 16
could have ruptured her vagina had he actually done so.
This Court gives no probative value on the accused-
appellantÊs self-serving statement in 17the light of our ruling
in the case of People v. Melivo, supra, that:

„The vaginal wall and the hymenal membrane are elastic organs
capable of varying degrees of distensibility. The degree of
distensibility of the female reproductive organ is normally limited
only by the character and size of the pelvic inlet, other factors being
minor. The female reproductive canal being capable of allowing
passage of a regular fetus, there ought to be no difficulty allowing
the entry of objects of much lesser size, including the male
reproductive organ, which even in its largest dimensions, would still
be considerably smaller than the full-term fetus.
xxx xxx xxx
In the case at bench, the presence of healed lacerations in various
parts of the vaginal wall, though not as extensive as appellant might
have expected them to be, indicate traumatic injury to the area
within the period when the incidents were supposed to have
occurred.‰ (At pp. 13-14, Italics supplied)

In rape 18cases, a broken hymen is not an essential element


thereof. A mere knocking at the doors of the pudenda, so
to speak, by the accusedÊs penis suffices to constitute the
crime of rape as full entry into 19
the victimÊs vagina is not
required to sustain a conviction. In the case, Dr. Freyra,
the medico-

________________

15 Rollo, p. 58.
16 TSN, August 30, 1994, p. 19.
17 See note No. 7.
18 People v. Salinas, 232 SCRA 274, 278-279 [1994]; People v.

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Madrilano, 227 SCRA 363 [1993].


19 People v. Abella, 228 SCRA 662, 666 [1993]; People v.

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574 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


People vs. Echegaray

legal examiner, categorically testified that the healed


lacerations of Rodessa on her vagina were consistent with
the date of the commission of the rape as 20
narrated by the
victim to have taken place in April, 1994.
Lastly, the third assigned error deserves scant
consideration. The accused-appellant erroneously argues
that the Contract of Services (Exhibit 4) offered as evidence
in support of the accused-appellantÊs defense of alibi need
not be corroborated
21
because there is no law expressly
requiring so. In view of our finding that the prosecution
witnesses have no motive to falsely testify against the
accused-appellant, the defense of alibi, in this case,
uncorroborated
22
by other witnesses, should be completely
disregarded. More importantly, the defense of alibi which
is inherently weak becomes even weaker in the face of
positive identification of the accused-appellant23 as
perpetrator of the crime of rape by his victim, Rodessa.
The Contract of Services whereby the accused-appellant
obligated himself to do some painting job at the house of
one Divina Ang in Parañaque, Metro Manila, within 25
days from April 4, 1994, is not proof of the whereabouts of
the accused-appellant at the time of the commission of the
offense.
The accused-appellant in this case is charged with
Statutory Rape on the basis of the complaint, dated July
14, 1994. The gravamen of the said offense, as stated in
paragraph 3, Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, is the 24
carnal knowledge of a woman below twelve years old.
Rodessa positively

_________________

Tesimo, 204 SCRA 535, 555-556 [1991]; People v. Castillo, 197 SCRA
657, 662 [1991].

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20 TSN, August 22, 1994, pp. 8-9.


21 Rollo, p. 65.
22 People v. Gapasan, 243 SCRA 53, 62 [1995].
23 People v. Torres, 247 SCRA 212, 217 [1995]; People v. Tayco, 235
SCRA 610, 521 [1994]; People v. Molina, 213 SCRA 52, 65 [1992].
24 People v. Samillano, 207 SCRA 50, 53-54 [1992] citing People v.
Alegado, 201 SCRA 37 [1991]; People v. Puedan, 196 SCRA 388 [1991];
People v. Mangalinao, 182 SCRA 329 [1990].

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VOL. 257, JUNE 25, 1996 575


People vs. Echegaray

identified his father accused-appellant, as the culprit of


Statutory Rape. Her account of how the accused-appellant
succeeded in consummating his grievous and odious sexual
assault on her is free from any substantial self-
contradiction. It is highly inconceivable that it is rehearsed
and fabricated upon instructions from RodessaÊs maternal
grandmother Asuncion Rivera as asserted by the accused-
appellant. The words of Chief Justice Enrique M.
Fernando, speaking for the Court, more than two decades
ago, are relevant and worth reiterating thus:

„x x x it is manifest in the decisions of this Court that where the


offended parties are young and immature girls like the victim in
this case, (Cited cases omitted) there is marked receptivity on its
part to lend credence to their version of what transpired. It is not to
be wondered at. The state, as parens patria, is under the obligation
to minimize the risk of harm to those, who, because of their
minority, are as yet unable to take care of themselves fully. Those of
tender years deserve its utmost protection. Moreover, the injury in
cases of rape is not inflicted on the unfortunate victim alone. The
consternation it causes her family must also be taken into account.
It may reflect a failure to abide by the announced concern in the
fundamental law for such institution. There is all the more reason
then for the rigorous application of the penal law with its severe
penalty for this offense, whenever warranted. It has been aptly
remarked that with the advance in civilization, the disruption in
public peace and order it represents defies explanation, much more
so in view of what currently appears to be a tendency for sexual

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permissiveness. Where the prospects of relationship based on


consent are hardly minimal, self-restraint should even be more
25
marked.‰

Under Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659 often referred to


as the Death Penalty Law, Art. 335 of the Revised Penal
Code was amended, to wit:

_______________

25 People v. Baylon, 57 SCRA 114, 120-121 [1974] see also People v.


Cabadas, 208 SCRA 787, 794 [1992]; People v. Sulte, 232 SCRA 421, 425
[1994].

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576 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


People vs. Echegaray

„The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is


committed with any of the following attendant circumstances:
1. When the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the
offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by
consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the
common-law spouse of the parent of the victim.
xxx xxx xxx
(Italics supplied)

Apparently, as a last glimpse of hope, the accused-appellant


questions the penalty imposed by the trial court by
declaring that he is neither a father, stepfather or
grandfather of Rodessa26
although he was a confirmed lover
of RodessaÊs mother. On direct examination, he admitted
that before the charge of rape was filed against him, he had
treated Rodessa as his real daughter and27 had provided for
her food, clothing, shelter and education. The Court notes
that Rodessa uses the surname of the accused-appellant,
not Rivera (her motherÊs maiden name) nor Alfonso (her
grandmotherÊs live-in partner). Moreover, RodessaÊs mother
stated during the cross-examination that she, the accused-
appellant, and her five children,28 including Rodessa, had
been residing in one house only. At any rate, even if he

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were not the father, stepfather or grandfather of Rodessa,


this disclaimer cannot save him from the abyss where
perpetrators of heinous crimes ought to be, as mandated by
law. Considering that the accused-appellant
29
is a confirmed
lover of RodessaÊs mother, he falls squarely within the
aforequoted portion of the Death Penalty Law under the
term „common-law spouse of the parent of the victim.‰
The fact that the ten-year old Rodessa referred to the
accused-appellant as „Papa‰ is reason enough to conclude
that accused-appellant is either the father or stepfather of
Ro-

________________

26 Rollo, p. 38.
27 TSN, August 30, 1994, pp. 13, 15-16.
28 TSN, August 29, 1994, pp. 28-29.
29 Rollo, p. 50.

577

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People vs. Echegaray

dessa. Thus, the act of sexual assault perpetrated by the


accused on his young victim has become all the more
repulsive and perverse. The victimÊs tender age and the
accused-appellantÊs moral ascendancy and influence over
her are factors which forced Rodessa to succumb to the
accusedÊs selfish and bestial craving. The law has made it
inevitable under the circumstances of this case that the
accused-appellant face the supreme penalty of death.
WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the decision of the Regional
Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 104.
SO ORDERED.

Narvasa (C.J.), Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Jr.,


Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza,
Francisco, Hermosisima, Jr., Panganiban and Torres, Jr.,
JJ., concur.

Judgment affirmed.

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Notes.·Complete or full penetration of the


complainantÊs private part is not necessary, nor is the
rupture of the hymen essential, in the crime of rape.
(People vs. Cura, 240 SCRA 234 [1995])
Inconsistencies in the testimonies of witnesses which
refer to minor and insignificant details cannot destroy their
credibility·such minor inconsistencies even guarantee
truthfulness and candor. (People vs. Vallador, 257 SCRA
509 [1996])

··o0o··

578

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