Invoking God to justify rape? No way, says Supreme Court

Published October 13, 2021, 10:02 AM

by Rey Panaligan 

Supreme Court (SC)

Invoking the name of God and some biblical passages in his defense did not deter the Supreme Court (SC) from affirming, with modification, the 40 years maximum imprisonment imposed on a man who sexually abused a 15-year-old girl in Laguna in 2006.

“Parang ginusto po ng Dios. Pinagtagpo kami sa aming bahay. Pag namatay ay muling nabubuhay. Yan ang nabasa ko sa Bibliya. Parang ganun (Maybe it’s God’s will. God allowed us to meet at home. When one dies, he will rise again. These are what I read from the Bible. Seems like that.),” said the convicted felon whose name and the names of the girl and other persons who testified in the case were redacted in the SC resolution.

When asked of the girl’s mental deficiency, the man said during the trial of the case: “Mukha ngang may kulang, ma’am. (As if something is deficient, madam).” But he denied taking advantage of the victim and forcing her to have sexual intercourse with him.

The girl testified that sometime in March 2006 she saw the man along the street when she was buying food. She said the man asked her to come inside his house.

Once inside the house, she said the man locked the door, started molesting her, and thereafter raped her. She said she was asked by the man not to tell anyone what had happened.

The mother of the girl later learned of the rape when her daughter got pregnant. The girl pointed to the man as the rapist. After medical examinations, a case was filed in court.

The man was the lone witness for the defense. He claimed that he and the girl was in a relationship. He even said it was the girl who courted him and had sexual intercourse many times since the girl would be asking for money for her expenses and electric bills.

He then invoked the name of God and some biblical passages when asked why she molested and sexually abused the girl.

Twelve years after the filing of the case in 2006, the trial court, in a decision issued on March 16, 2018, convicted the man and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua, a jail term ranging from 20 years to 40 years. He was also ordered to pay P225,000 in civil indemnity, and moral and exemplary damages with six percent interest until fully paid. He appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA).

Among other things, the man told the CA that that his knowledge of the girl’s mental retardation was not alleged in the criminal charge sheet filed against him. He alleged that because the girl is a mental retardate he could not give a credible testimony. He also assailed the results of the medical examinations as he claimed there should have been fresh lacerations if rape indeed happened.

On Oct. 14, 2019, the CA affirmed the trial court’s decision with modification. It ruled that the man was guilty of qualified rape and imposed a penalty of reclusion perpetual “without eligibility for parole.” The monetary award was increased to P300,000 with six percent interest.

The man elevated his case to the SC. In resolving the petition, the SC, in a resolution promulgated last Sept. 13 and made public last Oct. 3, said:

“Here, We sustain the findings of the courts a quo (trial court and CA) that the girl is a credible witness. In any case, the girl’s mental deficiency does not diminish her credibility as a witness. If a mental retardate is able to perceive and make known her perception to others, her testimony deserves full faith and credit.

“In the case at bar, the girl’s straightforward and categorical testimony is sufficient to support a verdict of conviction. In affirming the contents of her sworn affidavit during trial that accused-appellant indeed raped her, she could not help but cry as she recalled her harrowing experience.

“However, We agree with accused-appellant’s (the man) contention that the qualifying circumstance of knowledge of the girl’s mental condition during the commission of the crime was not alleged in the Information (criminal charge sheet filed by prosecutors).

“Here, there was no allegation in the Information that accused-appellant had knowledge of the girl’s mental condition. Thus, notwithstanding proof that accused-appellant had knowledge of girl’s mental condition, he can only be held liable for Simple Rape.

“Lastly, pursuant to A.M. No. 15-08-02-SC (Guidelines for the Proper Use of the Phrase ‘Without Eligibility for Parole’ in Indivisible Penalties), the Court hereby deletes the phrase ‘without eligibility for parole’ in the penalty to be imposed on accused-appellant.

“In line with recent jurisprudence, the monetary damages shall likewise be modified as follows: P75,000 as civil indemnity; P75,000 as moral damages; and P75,000 as exemplary damages.

“WHEREFORE, the appeal is PARTLY GRANTED. The assailed October 14, 2019 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 11021 is hereby AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION in that accused-appellant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of SIMPLE RAPE under Article 266-A, paragraph 1 ( a) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is ORDERED to PAY the private complainant the amounts of P75,000 as civil indemnity, P75,000 as moral damages, and P75,000 as exemplary damages. In addition, interest is imposed on all damages awarded at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum from date of finality of this Resolution until fully paid. SO ORDERED.”