SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 143716      April 5, 2002

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
ROLANDO OBQUIA, accused-appellant.

MENDOZA, J.:

This is an appeal from the decision,1 dated November 22, 1999, of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 2, Tagbilaran City, Bohol, finding accused-appellant Rolando Obquia guilty of rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to indemnify the offended party, Marietta Segovia, the sum of P75,000.00 and to pay the costs.

The information against accused-appellant Rolando Obquia alleged -

That on or about the 1st day of July, 1997 in the municipality of Tubigon, province of Bohol, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a knife, a deadly weapon, with lewd designs, and with the use of force and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously drag the victim, Marietta Segovia, to a secluded place and point at her the said knife warning her not to shout otherwise she would be killed, and, thereafter removed her underwear, laid on top of her and inserted his erect penis into her vagina, thus the said accused succeeded in having carnal knowledge with the said offended party, without her consent and against her will; to the damage and prejudice of the offended party.

Acts committed contrary to the provisions of Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by Republic Act No. 7659.2

A warrant of arrest was issued on October 8, 1997 against accused-appellant, but it was only on March 22, 1999 when he was finally arrested.3 When arraigned, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge and trial thereafter ensued.

The prosecution presented five witnesses, namely: the victim, Marietta Segovia, her father, Nicasio Segovia, her grandmother, Rosario Segovia, her father’s friend, Roger Tapik, and Dr. Aida Ramiro. Their testimonies established the following facts:

Marietta Segovia testified that on June 11, 1997, she worked as a salesgirl in Pedro Obquia’s store in Suba, Tubigon, Bohol. Accused-appellant Rolando Obquia, a nephew of Pedro, also worked in the same store, selling rice and slippers. Marietta said that accused-appellant tried to court her, but she rejected him because she already had a boyfriend.4

According to Marietta, on July 1, 1997, at about 7 o’clock in the evening, she and accused-appellant went out to dispose the garbage at a site near the Suba Public Market. Accused-appellant, however, told her that throwing garbage on that place had already been prohibited and suggested that they take the garbage to another site located after the Tinangnan Bridge.

As they approached the bridge, accused-appellant seized her and dragged her to a place below the bridge, saying that he was forced to do this because she would not accept his offer of love. Marietta said she tried to free herself from accused-appellant’s hold and was going to shout for help, but accused-appellant poked a knife at her neck. He forced her to lie down and removed her shorts and panty. Accused-appellant then pulled down his shorts and succeeded in having sexual intercourse with her. She explained that she felt pain and that her private parts bled because it was the first time she had sexual intercourse. Accused-appellant then stood up after he had finished with her and Marietta tried to run towards the bridge. However, accused-appellant caught up with her and took her to their employer’s house.

Upon their arrival, Marietta told her housemates, Vicky and Manilyn, a niece of accused-appellant, what happened to her. Their employer, Pedro Obquia, was not in the house at that time, but, as soon as he arrived, Manilyn told him about the incident. Pedro said that he would arrange the wedding of Marietta and accused-appellant. Marietta said she did not tell her father about the incident for fear that he might kill accused-appellant.5

On July 4, 1997, Marietta’s father, Nicasio Segovia, and his friend, Roger Tapik, visited Marietta at Pedro Obquia’s store. Roger saw Marietta crying and learned from the latter that she had been raped by accused-appellant. Roger approached accused-appellant and punched him, and then ran away before accused-appellant could hit back. When Nicasio asked him why he boxed accused-appellant, Roger, afraid that if he told the truth Nicasio would become violent and harm accused-appellant, lied and said that it was just out of mischief he punched accused-appellant. Nonetheless, as a result of that incident, a complaint was filed against Marietta’s father, although the same was later dismissed after the police found out that he had no participation in the punching incident.6

Marietta thereafter left Pedro’s employment and went home to her parents and grandmother. On July 8, 1997, accused-appellant, accompanied by his uncle Pedro and three other persons, went to ask for her hand in marriage. Only Marietta and her grandmother Rosario Segovia were at home at that time, but Marietta refused to come out of her room and see the visitors. Pedro informed Marietta’s grandmother that Marietta and accused-appellant had had a sexual relationship and it would be best if they were married. As she did not know that Marietta had actually been raped, Rosario consented to the marriage proposal. Thus, when Marietta’s father Nicasio returned home, they went to the municipal hall to apply for a marriage license for her, but it was disapproved because Marietta was only 17 years old at that time. They, therefore, decided to have the wedding the following year.7

In the evening of the same day, when accused-appellant came to Marietta’s house to render pre-nuptial service in accordance with the custom of the place, Marietta finally told her grandmother what had happened to her and asked her to send accused-appellant away. Upon learning this, her grandmother became angry and told accused-appellant to leave, lest he be killed by Marietta’s father.8

Marietta eventually told her father about the rape incident. On July 10, 1997, they filed a complaint for rape against accused-appellant with the Tubigon police.9 Marietta was then examined at the Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital. 1âwphi1.nęt

The medico-legal certificate of Dr. Aida Ramiro showed that Marietta’s hymen had healed lacerations at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions.10 According to Dr. Ramiro, these lacerations could have been caused by any hard object or sexual intercourse. She later testified that based on the appearance of the lacerations, which were smooth without any redness in the area, these could have been caused more than a week before the medical examination.11

The defense presented three witnesses, namely: accused-appellant Rolando Obquia, his niece, Manilyn Cruzin, and his uncle Pedro’s employee, Andres Miano.

Accused-appellant claimed that Marietta was his girlfriend. He admitted that on the night of July 1, 1997, after disposing of the garbage at Tinangnan, Tubigon, he had sexual intercourse with Marietta at the nearby nipa groves, but he claimed it was consensual. He said that he and Marietta in fact went home that night to their employer’s house and slept together in his room. According to accused-appellant, they had sexual intercourse three more times that night and again at dawn of the following day. Accused-appellant said that Andres Miano, who saw them going inside accused-appellant’s room together, teased Marietta, but the latter good naturedly laughed it off.12

Accused-appellant also admitted that on July 4, 1997, Roger Tapik hit him and then Marietta’s father, Nicasio, asked him, "What did you do with my daughter?" For this reason, they were taken to the police station, where accused-appellant told the police that he and Marietta had sexual intercourse. Accused-appellant said he agreed to marry Marietta because of pressure from Marietta and her family.13

Continuing, accused-appellant said he and his uncle Pedro met with Marietta and her family on July 8, 1997 and went with them to the municipal building to apply for a marriage license.14 That evening, he stayed behind in Marietta’s house to render the traditional pre-nuptial service, but, not knowing why, he was ordered by Marietta’s grandmother to leave the house. Two days later, he was charged with rape. Accused-appellant claimed that Marietta felt so ashamed of the incident that she filed a complaint for rape against him. Accused-appellant surmised that the case was filed against him because Marietta was embarrassed after being teased by Andres for having spent the night with accused-appellant in the latter’s room, and so alleged she had been raped.15

Another defense witness was Manilyn Cruzin, a niece of accused-appellant and Marietta’s roommate, who was also living in Pedro’s house. She confirmed Marietta’s testimony that after coming from the dump site, Marietta said she had been raped by accused-appellant. For this reason, Manilyn said, she reported this incident to Pedro,16 who said, "We will get them married, in that case." Manilyn said, however, that Marietta and accused-appellant had been lovers prior to July 1, 1997.17

The last defense witness was Andres Miano, who also worked in Pedro’s store. Andres stayed in a room adjacent to accused-appellant’s room. Andres claimed that on July 1, 1997, Marietta slept in accused-appellant’s room. According to him, Marietta and accused-appellant were sweethearts and they had been sleeping together in accused-appellant’s room even before July 1, 1997.18

On November 22, 1999, the trial court rendered its decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the Court finds accused Rolando Obquia, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape, defined and penalized under Articles 335, No. 1, of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. 7659 as embraced in the aforequoted information, and hereby sentences the said accused to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA, with the accessory penalties of the law, to indemnify the offended party Marietta Segovia the sum of P75,000.00 and to pay the costs.

The accused who is a detained prisoner is hereby credited in full of the period of his preventive imprisonment in accordance with Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.

SO ORDERED.19

Hence, this appeal. Accused-appellant contends that:

I. THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR THE CRIME CHARGED HAS BEEN PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.

II. THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO THE INCREDULOUS TESTIMONY OF THE PRIVATE COMPLAINANT.20

After reviewing the records of this case, we find no basis for reversing the trial court’s findings.

First. Accused-appellant contends that the prosecution evidence is insufficient to show that he had sexual intercourse with Marietta through force and intimidation. According to him, force and intimidation, if they existed at all, were present only in the beginning because Marietta did not make any outcry even though he was unarmed during the sexual intercourse. Since Marietta did not resist his further advances, she could not later complain of having been raped.21

This contention has no merit. Well-settled is the rule that in order to prove rape, it is not imperative that the force or intimidation employed be so great or that it must be of such character as to be irresistible. It is only necessary that the force or intimidation applied enabled the assailant to consummate his evil intent.22 Physical resistance need not be established in rape when intimidation is exercised upon the victim and the latter submits herself to the rapist’s will because of fear for her life and personal safety.23

The commission of rape with force and intimidation was sufficiently established in this case. The evidence shows that Marietta struggled against accused-appellant, but she was overpowered by him. She wanted to shout, but accused-appellant threatened her with a knife. Indeed, it has been held that there is intimidation where the victim is threatened with a knife and she is brought to submission against her will as a result thereof.24

Second. Accused-appellant contends that complainant’s credibility is doubtful in the light of the testimonies of Manilyn Cruzin and Andres Miano.

To be sure, findings of the trial court concerning the credibility of witnesses are entitled to the highest respect in view of the fact that trial judge is in the best position to observe their demeanor while they are testifying during the trial.25 We agree with the trial court that complainant’s testimony is candid, spontaneous, and straightforward. It, therefore, deserves full faith and credence. It is clear, detailed, and consistent on all material points. What is more, it is corroborated on material points not only by the witnesses for the prosecution but also by the defense witnesses. For instance, accused-appellant’s own niece, Manilyn Cruzin, confirmed that on July 1, 1997, at around 9:45 in the evening, complainant told her that she was molested by Rolando,26 thus corroborating complainant’s testimony that she told Manilyn and Vicky that she had been abused by accused-appellant. In fact, Manilyn said she told her Uncle Pedro what had happened as soon as he arrived. Although as a defense witness Manilyn claimed that complainant and accused-appellant were already lovers prior to the incident, the fact is that Manilyn did not question Marietta when the latter told her she had been raped by accused-appellant. Instead, she reported the matter right away to her uncle. This could only be because Manilyn believed what she had been told.

Indeed, except for this belated claim of accused-appellant that he and Marietta had been sweethearts, there is nothing to substantiate the sweetheart theory of the defense. There are no letters or notes, photographs, mementos, or gifts, such as one would expect lovers to exchange, to prove the alleged love relationship.27

In contrast, the testimonies of the defense witnesses are inconsistent on material points. Manilyn and Andres testified that accused-appellant and complainant were lovers and were already sleeping together in accused-appellant’s room even prior to July 1, 1997.28 But, accused-appellant impliedly admitted during cross-examination that he had his first sexual intercourse with complainant on July 1, 1997, when the latter complained that she was bleeding.29 Furthermore, when asked why they chose the nipa grove for their trysting place, accused-appellant replied it was because he was afraid of his Aunt Penyang and Uncle Pedro.30 And yet he said that he and complainant again engaged in sex three times later the same night right inside the house of his uncle Pedro.31 The apparent contradictions and improbabilities in accused-appellant’s testimony and the testimonies of the other defense witnesses cast grave doubts upon the veracity of their claims.

Third. No improper motive has been shown why complainant should charge accused-appellant with a serious offense. Accused-appellant speculates that complainant must have filed this case because she was embarrassed to know that others saw her in accused-appellant’s room on the night in question. But accused-appellant said that Marietta just laughed off the whole matter when Andres teased her the following day. If so, Marietta could not have filed this case because of shame or embarrassment.

Indeed, it is very unlikely for any young woman in her right mind to fabricate a charge of rape, undergo a medical examination of her private parts, and subject herself to the trauma and scandal of a public trial, unless she was motivated by a strong desire to seek justice for the wrong committed against her.32

For the foregoing reasons, we find no reason to reverse the appealed decision. In line with current rulings, the indemnity awarded to complainant should be reduced to P50,000.00 and, in addition, moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00 should likewise be awarded in her favor. Such award does not require proof to justify making it here.33

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 2, Tagbilaran City, Bohol, finding accused-appellant Rolando Obquia guilty of rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, is AFFIRMED, with the MODIFICATION that the award of indemnity is reduced to P50,000.00 and accused-appellant is ordered to pay the additional amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages.1âwphi1.nęt

SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo, Quisumbing, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.


Footnotes

1 Per Judge Baudilio K. Dosdos.

2 Rollo, pp. 9-10.

3 Records, pp. 9-20.

4 TSN (Marietta Segovia), pp. 6-7, 10, May 17, 1999.

5 Id., pp. 8-14.

6 Id., p. 15; TSN (Marietta Segovia), pp. 36-37, May 18, 1999; TSN (Nicasio Segovia), pp. 5-7, June 22, 1999; TSN (Roger Tapik), pp. 3-7, July 20, 1999.

7 Id., pp. 16-17; TSN (Rosario Segovia), pp. 5-9, May 19, 1999; TSN (Nicasio Segovia), pp. 7-9, June 22, 1999.

8 Id., pp. 18-19; id., pp. 9-11.

9 Id., pp. 19-20; id., pp. 11-12; TSN (Nicasio Segovia), pp. 9-11, June 22, 1999.

10 Exh. B; Exh. 5.

11 TSN (Marietta Segovia), pp. 21-22, May 17, 1999; TSN (Dr. Aida Ramiro), pp. 4-7, June 17, 1999.

12 TSN (Rolando Obquia), pp. 5-12, July 21, 1999.

13 Id., pp. 12-15.

14 See Exh. 1.

15 TSN (Rolando Obquia), pp. 16-22, July 21, 1999.

16 Manilyn Cruzin refers to Pedro, who is the brother of her grandmother, as Papa Pedie.

17 TSN (Manilyn Cruzin), pp. 5-7, 19-20, September 9, 1999.

18 TSN (Andres Miano), pp. 4-6, 14-15, September 16, 1999.

19 Decision, p. 7; Records, p. 105.

20 Brief for the Accused-Appellant, p. 1; Rollo, p. 56.

21 Id., pp. 11-15; id., pp. 66-70.

22 See People v. Itdang, 343 SCRA 624 (2000); People v. Corea, 269 SCRA 76 (1997).

23 People v. Sabalan, G.R. No. 134529, Feb. 26, 2001.

24 People v. Tolentino, G.R. No. 139834, Feb. 19, 2001; People v. Reyes, 315 SCRA 563 (1999); People v. Quiamco, 268 SCRA 516 (1997); People v. Salazar, 258 SCRA 55 (1996); People v. Espinoza, 247 SCRA 66 (1995).

25 People v. Sayao, G.R. No. 124297, Feb. 21, 2001; People v. Tolentino, G.R. No. 139834, Feb. 19, 2001.

26 TSN (Manilyn Cruzin), p. 6, Sept. 9, 1999.

27 People v. Dagpin, G.R. No. 136254, Dec. 4, 2000; People v. Jimenez, 302 SCRA 607 (1999).

28 TSN (Manilyn Cruzin), p. 20, Sept. 9, 1999; TSN (Andres Miano), pp. 6-7, Sept. 16, 1999.

29 TSN (Rolando Obquia), p. 29, July 21, 1999.

30 Id., pp. 28-29.

31 Id., p. 10.

32 People v. Tabion, 317 SCRA 126 (1999); People v. Roman, 314 SCRA 425 (1999); People v. Palma, 308 SCRA 466 (1999); People v. Quiñanola, 306 SCRA 710 (1999).

33 People v. Bohol, G.R. Nos. 141712-13, Aug. 22, 2001; People v. Barrias, G.R. No. 133605, June 28, 2001; People v. Caniezo, G.R. No. 136594, March 13, 2001; People v. Tolentino, G.R. No. 139834, Feb. 19, 2001.


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