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G.R. No.

138471

October 10, 2002

&he prosecution presented five itnesses, hose testimonies can be summed up as follo s5 .ac=ueline #on"ales, the mother of !I%E&&E, testified that on 6 .anuar( +//0, at /56A a.m., she as fetching ater from the artesian ell located ten meters a a( from her house, hile !I%E&&E as defecating at the bac* of the house of their neighbor #loria &olentino. .ac=ueline then carried her pail of ater and ent bac* to her house. Since !I%E&&E as not home (et, .ac=ueline headed to ard the place here the former as moving her bo el. She loo*ed for !I%E&&E but did not find her. It as hen .ac=ueline as alread( returning to her house that she sa !I%E&&E from behind -- red-faced, cr(ing, and appeared to be ver( frightened. Bhen as*ed here she came from, !I%E&&E ans ered that she as brought b( a certain @7o(@ to the grass( area at the bac* of #loria)s house here she as se:uall( molested $or @*inantot@ in the &agalog dialect'. !I%E&&E then pulled her mother and led her to the house of 234NA, hich as about eight meters a a( from their house. 234NA, the onl( one *no n in their communit( as @7o(,@ as not there. .ac=ueline forth ith re=uested her mother-in-la to report the matter to the police, hile .ac=ueline and !I%E&&E ent to the 7ataan 2rovincial 9ospital.> .ac=ueline further declared that at the time of the alleged rape, !I%E&&E as 6 (ears old, but at the time .ac=ueline testified on +- October +//0, !I%E&&E as < (ears old. !I%E&&E)s last birthda( as on +/ April +//0./ !I%E&&E testified that she *ne 234NA hom he called @7o(.@ She pointed to him inside the courtroom. According to her, 234NA laid her do n in a grass( area and inserted his penis into her vagina. Bhen the presiding 8udge as*ed her hether she *ne that it is a sin to tell a lie, she ans ered in the affirmative. +A Dr. Emelita Cuiro", an obstetrician and g(necologist at the 7ataan 2rovincial 9ospital, testified that on 6 .anuar( +//0, she conducted a complete ph(sical e:amination on !I%E&&E and too* et smear specimen from her vaginal all through scraping. &he specimen as sent to the laborator( for anal(sis b( a medical technologist. Durther, she re=uested a urinal(sis for !I%E&&E.++ &he 1edico-!egal 3eport+, prepared b( Dr. Cuiro" reveals the follo ing findings5 Essentiall( normal 2E-Dindings Infantile areola E nipples Dlat breasts $-' hematoma $-' pubic hair !abia minora and ma8ora F ell coaptated 9(menal ring intact $G' h(peremia $-' laceration $Haginal Opening' !A7O3A&O3I 3ES4!&5

BE& S1EA35 JO9 - Negative for &-Haginalis NSS- Negative for fungi

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. MANUEL PRUNA RAMIRE! or ERMAN PRUNA appellant. DECISION "A#I"E, $R., C.J.:

RAMIRE!, accused-

S2E31 ANA!ISIS -2OSI&IHE for sperm cells #ram staining-fe , epithelial cells seen, no other microorganism 43INA!ISIS5 37C-6---Khpf epithelial cells Ffe . B7C-A-, Although not stated in the 1edico-!egal 3eport of Dr. Cuiro", the urinal(sis report+6 includes a positive finding for @sperm cells.@ Dr. Cuiro" e:plained that the presence of sperm cells in the vaginal canal signified that se:ual intercourse and e8aculation had occurred on the person of the patient. &here as no laceration; but there as h(peremia, hich means reddening of the tissue around the vaginal opening. Among the causes of h(peremia is the insertion of a hard ob8ect li*e penis and finger.+< &eresita 1agtagnob, the medical technologist ho conducted the laborator( e:aminations and prepared the corresponding reports, +0 testified that sperm cells ere found in the et smear specimen and urine ta*en from !I%E&&E.+? S2O, 3omeo D. 7unso(, a member of the 2hilippine National 2olice assigned at the 2ilar 1unicipal Station, testified that on 6 .anuar( +//0 the parent of the minor rape victim filed a complaint against 234NA. 9e referred the matter to the des* officer to have it blottered. 4pon his advise, the minor as brought to the hospital for e:amination. Bhen the( returned from the hospital, he too* their statements. !ater, he conducted an ocular inspection and investigation at the alleged place of the incident and caused the place to be photographed, hich sho ed that the grasses ere flattened. 9e in=uired from the people in the neighborhood, and one of them ans ered that he sa the minor being brought b( 234NA to the place here the minor as found. Bhen 234NA as brought to their station b( four baranga( tanods of 2anilao, 2ilar, 7ataan, S2O, 7unso( tried to converse ith him, but the former did not give an( repl(. +On the part of the defense, Carlito 7ondoc and 234NA too* the itness stand. Carlito testified that on 6 .anuar( +//0, he fetched ater at the public artesian ell together ith .ac=ueline. After having dra n ater from the ell, .ac=ueline called her daughter, ho as then defecating on the road near the river; and the( both ent home. After a hile, the parents of !I%E&&E shouted that their daughter as raped, and then the( proceeded to the house of 234NA and accused him of having raped the child. Carlito asserted that 234NA could not have raped !I%E&&E because he $234NA' as in his house from the time that !I%E&&E as moving her bo el up to the time that her mother ent to the house of 234NA. Carlito *ne that 234NA as at home because the former as also in the latter)s house to have coffee. Carlito and the Sulit famil( thereafter brought 234NA to the baranga( hall. Since the baranga( captain as not around, the( brought 234NA to the municipal building to prove that he as innocent. +>

A rosebud that had been snuffed out of its fragrance long before it could even blossom into a flo er. Such is the case of !i"ette Arabelle #on"ales $hereafter !I%E&&E', ho had been defiled at a ver( tender age. She as at the time voiding her bod( aste at their neighbor)s bac*(ard, but that did not deter herein appellant from imposing his lecher( on her. Indeed, lust is no respecter of time and place.+ On ,- .anuar( +//0, an information, for rape as filed against accused-appellant 1anuel 2runa ( 3amire" or Erman 2runa ( 3amire" $hereafter 234NA', the accusator( portion of hich reads5 &hat on or about .anuar( 6, +//0 at Sitio &abing-ilog, 7rg(. 2anilao, 2ilar, 7ataan, 2hilippines, and ithin the 8urisdiction of this 9onorable Court, the said accused thru force and intimidation, did then and there illfull(, unla full( and feloniousl( lie and succeed to have se:ual intercourse ith the offended part(, !i"ette Arabelle #on"ales, a 6-(ear-old minor girl, against the ill and consent of the latter, to her damage and pre8udice. 4pon motion of 234NA)s counsel, the 2ublic Attorne()s Office $2AO', the Information as amended changing the name of the accused from 1anuel 2runa ( 3amire" to Erman 2runa ( 3amire", hich as the name reflected in his birth certificate.6 9o ever, hen he testified in court, he stated that his name as 1anuel 2runa; and in the minutes of the court proceedings, he signed the name 1anuel 2runa. On ,- November +//0, upon the 1otion to 2ut the Accused 4nder 2s(chiatric or 1ental E:amination < filed b( 234NA)s counsel on the ground that he could not secure from 234NA a coherent ans er to even simple =uestions, the trial court ordered that the accused be brought to the National 1ental 9ospital in 1andalu(ong Cit( for ps(chiatric or mental e:amination. 0 Accordingl(, the trial as suspended, and 234NA as sent to the National Center for 1ental 9ealth $NC19', 1andalu(ong Cit(. On ,> .une +//?, the trial court received a telegram? from the NC19 stating that 234NA as in @fair condition.@ &he NC19 later submitted to the trial court a report- on the ps(chiatric evaluation of 234NA ith a recommendation to put him bac* to 8ail for the resumption of court proceedings. &he report also stated that 234NA narrated that hile he and his friends ere under the bridge sniffing rugb( and drin*ing alcohol, the( sa a 6-(ear-old girl defecating in the river ban*; that the( called her; and, upon the order of his friends he placed her on his lap and attempted to caress her sensitive parts. Said report as not, ho ever, offered in evidence b( the prosecution or the defense.

234NA denied having raped !I%E&&E. 9e claimed that in the morning of 6 .anuar( +//0, he as in his house preparing coffee for Carlito. After Carlito left, several men arrived and bo:ed him for reasons not *no n to him. Carlito and the latter)s friend then brought him to the baranga( hall. &here, !I%E&&E)s father bo:ed him. 9e as thereafter brought to the 2ilar 1unicipal .ail. &here, the mother of the child thre at him the lid cover of a *ettle. 9e as also as*ed b( the police to ta*e off his clothes and lie flat; then he as mauled. &hereafter, he as told to put his feet bet een the grills, and he as made to masturbate. Borse, his testes ere burned ith cigarette butts. Ever( night, he as as*ed to *neel on a chair and as hit ith a ,@: ,@ piece of ood. +/ After trial, 234NA as convicted b( the trial court of the crime of rape in its =ualified form and sentenced to suffer the supreme penalt( of death and to indemnif( the victim in the sum of 20A,AAA, plus costs.,A 9ence, this automatic revie . In his Appellant)s 7rief,,+ 234NA attributed to the trial court the follo ing errors5 I L IN 3E!IIN# ON &9E &ES&I1ONI OD .ACC4E!INE S. #ON%A!ES, &9E 1O&9E3 OD &9E C9I!D, &9A& &9E !A&&E3 BAS &93EE $6' IEA3S O!D B9EN &9E A!!E#ED 3A2E OCC433ED B9EN &9E 7ES& EHIDENCE &9E3EDO3 IS &9E 7I3&9 CE3&IDICA&E OD &9E C9I!D. II

are as follo s5 $+' Bhether !I%E&&E as a competent and credible itness considering that she as allegedl( onl( 6 (ears old hen the alleged rape occurred and 0 (ears old hen she testified; $,' Bhether .ac=ueline)s testimon( as to the declarations of !I%E&&E is hearsa(; $6' Bhether the failure of the prosecution to present #loria &olentino as a itness is fatal; $<' Bhether appellant)s guilt has been proved be(ond reasonable doubt; $0' Bhether the =ualif(ing circumstance of minorit( has been dul( proved as to 8ustif( the imposition of the death penalt(. Be shall resolve these issues in seriatim. I. !I%E&&E)s Competenc( and Credibilit( as a Bitness Appellant disputes the competenc( of !I%E&&E to testif( b( reason of her tender age. Bhen !I%E&&E as called to testif(, his counsel interposed a vigorous ob8ection to the admission of her testimon( because of her tender age. &he trial court noted the ob8ection and allo ed her to testif(; thus5 DI3EC& EOA1INA&ION 7I

Bhat did 1anuel 2runa or 7o( do to (ouP A @Inihiga ni(a a*o@ and inserted his penis to m( vagina, sir. C And in hat place did he do this to (ouP A In the grass( area, sir. C After he inserted his penis to (our vagina, hat happened ne:tP A&&I. 7A!4IO&5 &he itness for =uite sometime could not ans er the =uestion. 23OS. !41A7AS5 I thin* that ill be all for the itness.,, After hich, the defense counsel manifested that he ould not crosse:amine her and that he intended to file a motion for her dis=ualification as a itness.,6 &he court then proceeded to as* her a fe =uestions, thus5 CO43& 5 Do (ou *no A @Sa lupa.@ C Do (ou *no that it is a sin to tell a lieP A Ies, sir. C &he itness is e:cused considering the manifestation of Att(. 7alu(ot that he ill be filing a ritten motion for the stri*ing out of the testimon( of the itness considering her tender age.,< No such motion is e:tant on the records. At the ne:t hearing, the defense counsel cross-e:amined !I%E&&E, as follo s5 A&&I. 7A!4IO&5 On .anuar( 6, +//0, in the morning here ere (ouP hat ill happen to a child if she is not telling the truthP

L IN 3E!IIN# ON &9E 9EA3SAI &ES&I1ONI OD .ACC4E!INE S. #ON%A!ES AS &O &9E A!!E#ED 3A2E OD 9E3 C9I!D. III L IN AD1I&&IN# AND 3E!IIN# ON &9E &ES&I1ONI OD CO12!AINAN&M N C9I!D B9O BAS ON!I &93EE $6' IEA3S O!D B9EN &9E A!!E#ED 3A2E OCC433ED EHEN AS S9E BAS ON!I DIHE $0' IEA3S O!D B9EN S9E &ES&IDIED. IH L IN CONHIC&IN# &9E ACC4SED ON D47IO4S EHIDENCE. &he Office of the Solicitor #eneral $hereafter OS#' see*s the affirmation of the trial court)s decision ith the modification that an additional a ard of 20A,AAA as moral damages be granted in favor of the offended part(. As culled from the arguments of the parties, the issues to be resolved in this case

23OS. !41A7AS5 Do (ou *no 1anuel 2runaP A Ies, sir. C 9o do (ou call 1anuel 2runaP A 7o(, sir. C Bhere is heP A &here, sir. $Bitness pointing to a person earing blue &-shirt, ho hen as*ed, gave his name as 1anuel 2runa' L

A I as in the grass( area, sir. 23OS. !41A7AS5 C In that grass( area there ere other children ith (ou pla(ingP

A None, sir. C Iou ere then removingMsicN (our bo el, is it notP

C Could (ou tell the 9onorable Court ho long did it ta*e (ou to discharge (our bo elP L

A Ies, sir. A Dor a short period of time, sir. C &hen hile removing (our bo el (ou sa (our mother passM N b(, is it notP A Ies, sir. C She as then carr(ing a pail to fetch some ater, is it notP A Ies, sir. C &he ater from here she ill fetch is MsicNL a fe meterMsN a a( from (ou, is it notP A Near, sir. L A&&I. 7A!4IO&5 Considering that the grass( place here (ou ere then discharging (our bo el is beside a streetP A Ies, sir. C And (ou sa (our mother bringing a pail of ater to ards (our house after her pumping from the ell, is it notP A Ies, sir. C Bhen she passed b( she li*e ise sa (ou, is it notP A Ies, sir. C &hen ho far ere (ou from (our house hen (ou ere discharging (our bo elP 2lease demonstrate the distanceP A 4p to that door, sir. C Drom that position (ou ere at the grass (ou could see (our house, is it notP A Ies, sir. Section ,+ of 3ule +6A of the 3ules on Evidence enumerates the persons ho are dis=ualified to be itnesses. Among those dis=ualified are @McNhildren hose mental maturit( is such as to render them incapable of perceiving the facts respecting hich the( are e:amined and relating them truthfull(.@ lawphil.net No precise minimum age can be fi:ed at hich children shall be e:cluded from testif(ing. &he intelligence, not the age, of a (oung child is the test of the competenc( as a itness.,- It is settled that a child, regardless of age, can be a competent itness if he can perceive and, in perceiving, can ma*e *no n his perception to others and that he is capable of relating truthfull( the facts for hich he is e:amined.,> In determining the competenc( of a child itness, the court must consider his capacit( $a' at the time the fact to be testified to occurred such that he could receive correct impressions thereof; $b' to comprehend the obligation of an oath; and $c' to relate those facts trul( to the court at the time he is offered as a itness.,/ &he e:amination should sho that the child has some understanding of the punishment hich ma( result from false s earing. &he re=uisite appreciation of conse=uences is disclosed here the child states that he *no s that it is rong to tell a lie, and that he ould be punished if he does so, or that he uses language hich is e=uivalent to sa(ing that he ould be sent to hell for false s earing. 6A A child can be dis=ualified onl( if it can be sho n that his mental maturit( renders him incapable of perceiving facts respecting hich he is being e:amined and of relating them truthfull(.6+ &he =uestion of competenc( of a child- itness rests primaril( in the sound discretion of the trial court. &his is so because the trial 8udge sees the proposed itness and observes his manner of testif(ing, his apparent possession or lac* of intelligence, as ell as his understanding of the obligation of an oath. 6, Since man( of the itness) manners cannot be photographed into the record, the finding of the trial 8udge ill not be disturbed or reversed unless from hat is preserved it is clear that such finding as erroneous. 66 In this case, appellant =uestions the competenc( of !I%E&&E as a itness solel( on the ground of her age. 9e failed to discharge the burden of sho ing her mental immaturit(. Drom the above-=uoted testimon(, it can be gleaned that !I%E&&E had the capacit( of observation, recollection, and communication 6< and that she could discern the conse=uence of telling a lie. Be, therefore, sustain the trial court in admitting her testimon( and according it great eight. $Sandali lang po.',0 As a general rule, hen a itness ta*es the itness stand, the la , on ground of public polic(, presumes that he is competent. &he court cannot re8ect the itness in the absence of proof of his incompetenc(. &he burden is, therefore, upon the part( ob8ecting to the competenc( of a itness to establish the ground of incompetenc(.,?

Be are not persuaded b( appellant)s assertion that !I%E&&E should not be allo ed to testif( t o (ears after the alleged rape @ hen the interpla( of frail memor( combines ith the imagination of earlier (ears.@ It must be noted that it is a most natural reaction for victims of criminal violence to have a lasting impression of the manner in hich the crime as committed and the identit( of the person responsible therefor.60 In a string of cases, e have said that the testimon( of a rape victim ho is of (oung or tender age is credible and deserves full credit,6? especiall( here no motive is attributed to the victim that ould ma*e her testif( falsel( against the accused.6- Indeed, a girl of such age as !I%E&&E ould not concoct a stor( of defloration; allo the e:amination of her private parts; and undergo the e:pense, trouble, inconvenience, and the trauma of a public trial unless she as in fact raped.6> II. &he Alleged 9earsa( &estimon( of .ac=ueline #on"ales Contrar( to appellant)s contention, .ac=ueline)s testimon( that !I%E&&E told her that appellant laid her in the grass( area and inserted his penis into her vagina is not covered b( the hearsa( evidence rule, hich finds application hen the declarant does not testif(. &his rule, as enunciated under Section 6?, 3ule +6A of the 3ules on Evidence, provides that a itness can testif( onl( to those facts hich he *no s of his personal *no ledge e:cept as other ise provided in the 3ules of Court. &he term @hearsa(@ as used in the la on evidence, signifies evidence hich is not founded upon the personal *no ledge of the itness from hom it is elicited and hich conse=uentl( does not depend holl( for its credibilit( and eight upon the confidence hich the court ma( have in him; its value, if an(, is measured b( the credit to be given to some third person not s orn as a itness to that fact, and conse=uentl( not sub8ect to cross-e:amination.6/ If one therefore testifies to facts hich he learned from a third person not s orn as a itness to those facts, his testimon( is inadmissible as hearsa( evidence.<A &he reason for the e:clusion of hearsa( evidence is that the part( against hom the hearsa( testimon( is presented is deprived of the right or opportunit( to crosse:amine the person to hom the statements are attributed.<+ 1oreover, the court is ithout opportunit( to test the credibilit( of hearsa( statements b( observing the demeanor of the person ho made them.<,lavvphil.net In the instant case, the declarant $!I%E&&E' herself as s orn as a itness to the fact testified to b( .ac=ueline. &he appellant even cross-e:amined her $!I%E&&E'. 1oreover, the trial court had the opportunit( to observe her manner of testif(ing. 9ence, .ac=ueline)s testimon( on the incident related to her b( her daughter cannot be disregarded as hearsa( evidence. Even assuming that the aforementioned testimon( of .ac=ueline is hearsa(, its non-admission ould not save the da( for the appellant. Such testimon( is not indispensable, as it merel( serves to corroborate !I%E&&E)s testimon( that 234NA laid her do n in the grass and inserted his private organ into hers. As discussed earlier, !I%E&&E)s testimon(, hich as found to be credible b( the trial court, is sufficient basis for conviction. At an( rate, .ac=ueline)s testimon( is proof of the victim)s conduct immediatel(

after the rape. It sho s that !I%E&&E immediatel( revealed to her mother the rape incident and the identit( of her defiler. As ill be discussed later, such conduct is one of the earmar*s of the truth of the charge of rape. III Non-2resentation of #loria &olentino as a Bitness Appellant harps on the prosecution)s failure to put on the itness stand #loria &olentino, ho as listed as a itness and e:ecuted an affidavit on < .anuar( +//0 that she sa the appellant carr(ing and bringing !I%E&&E to a grass( area at the bac* of her house. It is undisputed that at the time the case as called for trial, #loria had alread( moved out of her residence in 2anilao, 2ilar, 7ataan, and could not be found an(more. In an( event, as opined b( the OS#, her intended testimon( could be dispensed ith, as it ould onl( be corroborative of !I%E&&E)s testimon( that 2runa brought her to a grass( area. IH. Sufficienc( of the 2rosecution)s Evidence Against Appellant Bhen !I%E&&E as put in the itness stand, she unhesitatingl( identified 234NA, their neighbor, as the one ho defiled her. A rape victim can easil( identif( her assailant especiall( if he is *no n to her because during the rape, she is ph(sicall( close to her assailant that enables her to have a good loo* at the latter)s ph(sical features.<6 !I%E&&E testified that on 6 .anuar( +//0 234NA, hom she called 7o(, laid her in a grass( area and inserted his penis into her genitalia. Bhen a girl or a oman sa(s that she has been raped she sa(s in effect all that is necessar( to sho that rape as trul( committed.<< She is not e:pected to remember all the ugl( details of the outrage committed against her.<0 And hen her testimon( passes the test of credibilit(, the accused can be convicted on the basis thereof, for in most cases it is the onl( evidence that can be offered to establish his guilt. <? !i*e ise, !I%E&&E)s mother testified that right after the incident !I%E&&E disclosed hat happened to her and readil( identified 234NA as the culprit. She even led her mother to the house of 234NA.<- &hereafter, the t o ent to the police authorities to report the incident, and then to the hospital for !I%E&&E)s medical e:amination. 7( and large, the medical evidence lends credence to !I%E&&E)s testimon( that 234NA inserted his penis into her vagina. &he 1edico-!egal 3eport sho s that there as h(peremia or reddening of the vaginal opening of !I%E&&E. As opined b( Dr. Cuiro", ho as presented as an e:pert itness, h(peremia can be caused b( the insertion of a hard ob8ect li*e penis and finger.<> &he presence of sperm cells in the vaginal canal and urine of !I%E&&E is also a mute testimon( of the se:ual contact that further strengthens !I%E&&E)s claim of rape. &his Court is not oblivious of the finding that no laceration as found in !I%E&&E)s organ despite the fact that she as e:amined immediatel( after she as raped. Be have alread( ruled, ho ever, that the absence of fresh lacerations does not preclude the finding of rape,</ especiall( hen the victim is of tender age.0A Bell- settled is the rule that rape is consummated b( the slightest penile penetration of the labia or pudendum of the female. 0+&he presence of h(peremia in !I%E&&E)s vaginal opening and the e:istence of sperm cells in her vaginal canal

and urine are clear indications that 234NA)s organ indeed touched the labia or pudendum of !I%E&&E. In a nutshell, the follo ing over helmingl( establish the truth of the charge of rape5 $a' the spontaneit( of the identification b( !I%E&&E of 234NA as the rapist; $b' her immediate revelation to her mother of the dastard act committed against her; $c' her act of leading her mother to appellant)s house right after the incident; $d' the prompt filing of the complaint before the authorities; $e' !I%E&&E)s submission to medical e:amination; $f' the h(peremia in her private part; and $g' the presence of sperm cells in her vaginal canal and urine. &he trial court correctl( disregarded the defense of alibi raised b( the accused. Be have consistentl( held that for alibi to prosper, it must be proved that during the commission of the crime, the accused as in another place and that it as ph(sicall( impossible for him to be at the crime scene. .ust li*e denial, alibi is an inherentl( ea* defense; and unless supported b( clear and convincing evidence, the same cannot prevail over the positive declaration of the victim. 0, Be have also held that hen alibi is established onl( b( the accused, his relatives, or close friends, the same should be treated ith strictest scrutin(. 06 Carlito, ho as admittedl( a close friend of appellant)s parents, corroborated 234NA)s testimon( that he $234NA' as in his house during the time that !I%E&&E as raped. It is, ho ever, an established fact that the place here the rape occurred as 8ust a fe meters a a( from the house of 234NA. &hus, there as no ph(sical impossibilit( for 234NA to be in the grass( area to consummate the crime of rape. &he defense, through Carlito, attempted to impute motive to .ac=ueline in filing against 234NA the charge of rape. According to him, !I%E&&E)s grandparents, the Sulits, anted to bu( the place of the 234NA famil(, but the latter refused.0< Aside from the fact that such testimon( as not corroborated, said motive, if at all, is too flims( to be even considered. No mother in her right mind ould use her offspring as an engine of malice. She ould not sub8ect her child to the humiliation, disgrace, and even the stigma attendant to a prosecution for rape unless she is motivated b( the desire to bring to 8ustice the person responsible for her child)s defilement.00 H. Sufficienc( of Evidence of !I%E&&E)s 1inorit( and 2ropriet( of the Imposition of the Death 2enalt( &he commission of the crime of rape b( 234NA having been dul( established b( the prosecution, e no come to the =uestion of the penalt( to be meted upon him. Article 660, seventh paragraph, no. <, of the 3evised 2enal Code, as amended b( 3epublic Act No. -?0/, provides that the death penalt( shall be imposed if the crime of rape is committed against a @child belo seven $-' (ears old.@ Be have held that in such a case the minorit( of the victim must be proved ith e=ual certaint( and clearness as the crime itself. &he failure to sufficientl( establish the victim)s age is fatal and conse=uentl( bars conviction for rape in its =ualified form.0? A person)s age is best proved b( the birth certificate. 7ut is the presentation of the victim)s birth certificate a sine =ua non re=uirement to prove her age for the

appreciation of minorit( either as an element of the crime or as a =ualif(ing circumstanceP 3ecent 8urisprudence has conflicting pronouncements. In the follo ing cases, no birth certificate as presented and this Court ruled that the age of the victim as not dul( proved b( the prosecution5 +. In 2eople v. Hargas,0- the testimonies of the victim and her aunt that the former as +A (ears old at the time of the rape ere not considered proof of her age for being hearsa(. &his Court also observed that the victim could easil( be mista*en for a child belo +, (ears of age, and hence it as not correct to 8udge the victim)s age b( her appearance. Be held5 @&he difference of t o or three (ears in age ma( not al a(s be readil( apparent b( mere ph(sical manifestations or appearance.@ ,. In 2eople v. .avier,0> the victim as alleged to be +? (ears old, and the accused did not contest her age. 3atiocinating that in this age of modernism, there is hardl( an( difference bet een a +?-(ear-old girl and an +>-(ear-old one insofar as ph(sical features and attributes are concerned, this Court held that an independent proof of the actual age of a rape victim is vital and essential so as to remove an iota of doubt that the victim is indeed under +> (ears of age as to fall under the =ualif(ing circumstances enumerated in 3.A. No. -?0/. 6. In 2eople v. 7rigildo,0/ aside from the failure of the prosecution to present the offended part()s birth certificate or other e=uall( acceptable official document concerning her age, the testimonies on record ere not clear as to her e:act age. &he victim declared that she as ++ (ears old hen she testified in court a (ear after the incident, hile her mother claimed that she as around +0 (ears old at the time of the commission of the crime. &he informations even alleged a different age. 9ence, this Court refused to appreciate the =ualif(ing circumstance of minorit( because of the uncertaint( regarding her age. <. In 2eople v. &ipa(,?A the offended part( as alleged in the information to be under +? (ears of age. No @independent@ evidence as presented to prove it. &his Court recogni"ed that the minorit( of a victim ho ma( be belo the age of +A is =uite manifest and ma( be ta*en 8udicial notice of b( the court. 7ut hen the victim is bet een the crucial (ears of +0 and +- here minorit( ma( seem to be dubitable due to oneQs ph(sical appearance, the prosecution should prove the fact of minorit( ith certaint(. &he lac* of ob8ection on the part of the accused concerning the victim)s age does not e:cuse the prosecution from discharging its burden. 0. In 2eople v. Cula,?+ the victim as alleged in the complaint to be +? (ears old hen the rape as committed, but no evidence at all as presented to prove her age. Be held that the failure of the accused to den( such allegation cannot ma*e up for the failure of the prosecution to prove ith certaint( the victim)s minorit(. 7ecause of the lacuna in the prosecution)s evidence, coupled ith the trial court)s failure to ma*e a categorical finding of minorit( of the victim, e declined to consider the =ualif(ing circumstance of minorit(. ?. In 2eople v. Heloso,?, the victim as alleged to be / (ears of age hen she as raped. Citing 2eople v. Hargas, ?6 this Court refused to

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consider the testimonies of the victim and her father as sufficient proof of her age. -. In 2eople v. 2eca(o, ?< the victim simpl( stated during the beginning of her direct e:amination that she as +< (ears old and that she as born on +6 .anuar( +/>6. Be held that the victim)s casual testimon( as to her age is not enough, and that the lac* of denial on the part of the accused does not e:cuse the prosecution from proving her age through competent evidence such as a dul( certified certificate of live birth, baptismal certificate, or some other authentic document sho ing her age. >. In 2eople v. &undag,?0 the victim testified that she as +6 (ears of age hen she as raped, but she did not *no e:actl( hen she as born. 4nable to secure a cop( of her birth certificate, the prosecution moved that 8udicial notice be ta*en of the fact that she as belo +> (ears old at the time of the rape. Despite the admission b( the defense of such fact, this Court held that the age of the victim is not a matter of 8udicial notice, hether mandator( or discretionar(. 4nder Section 6, 3ule +,/ of the 3ules on Evidence, a hearing is re=uired before such fact can be ta*en 8udicial notice of b( courts. /. In 2eople v. #eraban,?? the victim)s testimon( as categorical in declaring that she as +0, but her mother)s testimon( regarding her age as not clear. Be thus declared that the prosecution failed to discharge the burden of proving minorit(. +A. In 2eople v. !iban?- and 2eople v. !landelar,?> the onl( evidence adduced to prove the minorit( of the victims as the victims) bare testimon( that the( ere +A and +? (ears old, respectivel(. &his Court held that hile the declaration of a victim as to her age, being an e:ception to the hearsa( proscription, ould be admissible under the rule on pedigree, the =uestion on the relative eight that ma( be accorded to it is another matter. &he prosecution should present the victim)s birth certificate or, in lieu thereof, an( other documentar( evidence, li*e a baptismal certificate, school records, and documents of similar nature, or credible testimonial evidence that can help establish the age of the victim. Neither the obvious minorit( of the victim nor the absence an( contrar( assertion from the defense can e:onerate the prosecution from its burden. .udicial notice of the issue of age ithout the re=uisite hearing under Section 6 of 3ule +,/ of the 3ules on Evidence ould not be sufficient compliance ith the la . ++. In 2eople v. Alvarado,?/ the victim testified that she as +< (ears old at the time of the rape, and this as confirmed b( the accused, ho as victim)s father. &he victim)s mother, ho ever, testified as to her date of birth hich sho ed that she as +6 (ears of age at the time of the commission of the crime. Dor this doubt as to the victim)s age, the accused as held guilt( of simple rape onl( and meted the penalt( of reclusion perpetua, and not death penalt(. On the other hand, in the follo ing cases, e ruled that the age of the rape victim as sufficientl( established despite the failure of the prosecution to present the birth certificate of the offended part( to prove her age5

+. In 2eople v. 3afales,-A the testimon( of the victim and her mother that the former as onl( +A (ears old hen she as raped, hich as not denied b( the accused, as deemed sufficient to prove her age for the purpose of determining hether the accused could be held guilt( of statutor( rape, hich is carnal *no ledge of a oman belo +, (ears of age. ,. In 2eople v. De la Cru",-+ the testimon( of the mother alone that her t o daughters ere both +< (ears old at the time of the rape incidents as deemed sufficient because there as no reason to doubt the testimon( of the mother, ho had personal *no ledge of the ages of her children. 1oreover, said testimon( as never challenged b( the accused and stood unrebutted b( an( other evidence. 6. In 2eople v. 7ali-balita,-, the victim)s testimon( as to her age, hich as corroborated b( her half-sister, as deemed sufficient. Be noted that the victim testified in court four months after the rape, and hence it as not difficult for the trial court to ta*e 8udicial notice that she as under +> (ears of age. <. In 2eople v. Helasco,-6 the minorit( of the victim as deemed established b( $a' the complainant herself, ho as held to be competent to testif( on her age, as it constituted famil( tradition; $b' the open admission of the accused that the victim as a +,-(ear-old minor; and $c' the categorical finding of the trial court that she as @a minor of a little over t elve (ears.@ 0. In 2eople v. 3emudo, -< the trial court appreciated the =ualif(ing circumstance of minorit( on the strength of $a' the offended part()s testimon( as to the date of her birth, hich sho ed that she as +6 (ears old at the time of the rape, and $b' the admission of said date of birth b( the accused ho as the victim)s brother. ?. In 2eople v. !!anita the onl( evidence presented b( the prosecution to establish that the victim as belo - (ears old at the time of the alleged rape as the victim)s o n testimon(. Although hearsa( because she could not have personal *no ledge of the date of her birth but could onl( ac=uire *no ledge thereof from her parents or relatives, said testimon( as held admissible for being an assertion of famil( tradition regarding pedigree. 9er testimon( and the accused)s admission that she as 0 (ears old during the commission of the crime ere held sufficient to establish her age. -. In 2eople v. Agustin,-? the victim)s testimon( that she as +< (ears old at the time of the rape incidents, coupled ith the e:press admission of her age b( the accused ho as her father, sufficientl( proved her minorit(. >. In 2eople v. Esuela, the testimon( of the victim)s mother that the victim as +6 (ears of age at the time of the rape as held sufficient to establish minorit( for the reason that as a mother she as in the best position to *no hen she delivered her child. Also considered ere the victim)s o n testimon( regarding her age, as ell as the observation of the trial court that she could not have been more than +> (ears old hen she testified. In order to remove an( confusion that ma( be engendered b( the foregoing cases, e hereb( set the follo ing guidelines in appreciating age, either as an element of the crime or as a =ualif(ing circumstance. +. &he best evidence to prove the age of the offended part( is an original or certified true cop( of the certificate of live birth of such
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part(. ,. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, similar authentic documents such as baptismal certificate and school records hich sho the date of birth of the victim ould suffice to prove age. 6. If the certificate of live birth or authentic document is sho n to have been lost or destro(ed or other ise unavailable, the testimon(, if clear and credible, of the victim)s mother or a member of the famil( either b( affinit( or consanguinit( ho is =ualified to testif( on matters respecting pedigree such as the e:act age or date of birth of the offended part( pursuant to Section <A, 3ule +6A of the 3ules on Evidence shall be sufficient under the follo ing circumstances5 a. If the victim is alleged to be belo 6 (ears of age and hat is sought to be proved is that she is less than - (ears old; b. If the victim is alleged to be belo - (ears of age and hat is sought to be proved is that she is less than +, (ears old; c. If the victim is alleged to be belo +, (ears of age and hat is sought to be proved is that she is less than +> (ears old. <. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, authentic document, or the testimon( of the victim)s mother or relatives concerning the victim)s age, the complainant)s testimon( ill suffice provided that it is e:pressl( and clearl( admitted b( the accused.-> 0. It is the prosecution that has the burden of proving the age of the offended part(. &he failure of the accused to ob8ect to the testimonial evidence regarding age shall not be ta*en against him. &he trial court should al a(s ma*e a categorical finding as to the age of the victim. In the present case, no birth certificate or an( similar authentic document, such as a baptismal certificate of !I%E&&E, as presented to prove her age. In imposing the death penalt(, the trial court ratiocinated in this ise5 In the instant case, the victim, !i"ette Arabelle #on"ales, as a 6-(ear-old minor girl as alleged in the information and the defense did not contest her age and as a matter of fact as =uestioning her =ualification to testif( because of her tender age hen she testified t o $,' (ears later in Court. &he victim)s 1edico-!egal Certificate dateMdN .anuar( 6, +//0 L established the fact that at the time of the commission of the rape on .anuar( 6, +//0, the child as onl( 6 (ears old. -/ It thus appears that the trial court)s finding that !I%E&&E as 6 (ears old hen she as raped as based on the 1edico-!egal 3eport prepared b( Dr. Cuiro", as ell as on the fact that the defense did not contest her age and even =uestioned her

=ualification to testif( because of her tender age. 9o ever, the 1edico-!egal 3eport relied upon b( the trial court does not in an( a( prove the age of !I%E&&E, for there is nothing therein hich even mentions her age. Onl( testimonial evidence as presented to establish !I%E&&E)s age. 9er mother, .ac=ueline, testified on +- October +//0 as follo s5 C. No , on .anuar( 6, +//0 at about /56A in the morning, do (ou still recall here (ou ereP A. Ies, sir. C. Bhere ere (ou at that particular date and timeP A. I as fetching ater from an artesian ell beside the house of m( neighbor, sir. L C. Bhere as this daughter of (ours then hen (ou ere fetching aterP A. 1( daughter as discharging her bo el ho as then at the bac* of the house of our neighbor, sir. 9o old is (our daughter !i"ette Arabelle #on"alesP A. &hree (ears old, sir. C. At the time that she as discharging her bo el, ho old M asN sheP

In vie of the uncertaint( of !I%E&&E)s e:act age, corroborative evidence such as her birth certificate, baptismal certificate or an( other authentic document should be introduced in evidence>< in order that the =ualif(ing circumstance of @belo seven $-' (ears old@ is appreciated against the appellant. &he lac* of ob8ection on the part of the defense as to her age did not e:cuse the prosecution from discharging its burden. &hat the defense invo*ed !I%E&&E)s tender age for purposes of =uestioning her competenc( to testif( is not necessaril( an admission that she as belo - (ears of age hen 234NA raped her on 6 .anuar( +//0. Such being the case, 234NA cannot be convicted of =ualified rape, and hence the death penalt( cannot be imposed on him. 9o ever, conformabl( ith no. 6$b' of the foregoing guidelines, the testimon( of !I%E&&E)s mother that she as 6 (ears old at the time of the commission of the crime is sufficient for purposes of holding 234NA liable for statutor( rape, or rape of a girl belo +, (ears of age. 4nder the second paragraph of Article 660, as amended b( 3.A. No. -?0/, in relation to no. 6 of the first paragraph thereof, having carnal *no ledge of a oman under +, (ears of age is punishable b( reclusion perpetua. &hus, the penalt( to be imposed on 234NA should be reclusion perpetua, and not death penalt(. As regards the civil liabilit( of 234NA, the indemnit( in the amount of 20A,AAA a arded b( the trial court is not sufficient. In accordance ith recent 8urisprudence, !I%E&&E should also be a arded moral damages in the amount of 20A,AAA ithout need of pleading or proof because the mental, ph(sical and ps(chological trauma suffered b( her is too obvious.>0 B9E3EDO3E, the decision of the 3egional &rial Court, 7ranch +, 7alanga, 7ataan, in Criminal Case No. ?A<< is hereb( ADDI31ED ith the modification that accused 1anuel 2runa ( 3amire" or Erman 2runa ( 3amire" is held guilt( be(ond reasonable doubt of statutor( rape, and not =ualified rape, and is sentenced to suffer reclusion perpetua and to pa( the victim !i"ette Arabelle #on"ales the sum of 20A,AAA as moral damages in addition to the indemnit( of 20A,AAA. Costs de oficio.

A. &hree (ears old, sir. She is four (ears old no . SO O3DE3ED. C. Bhen as her last birthda(P A. April +/, +//0, sir.>A !i*e ise, !I%E&&E testified on ,A November +//?, or almost t o (ears after the incident, that she as 0 (ears old.>+ 9o ever, hen the defense counsel as*ed her ho old she as on 6 .anuar( +//0, or at the time of the rape, she replied that she as 0 (ears old. 4pon further =uestion as to the date she as born, she could not ans er.>, Dor 234NA to be convicted of rape in its =ualified form and meted the supreme penalt( of death, it must be established ith certaint( that !I%E&&E as belo (ears old at the time of the commission of the crime. It must be stressed that the severit( of the death penalt(, especiall( its irreversible and final nature once carried out, ma*es the decision-ma*ing process in capital offenses aptl( sub8ect to the most e:acting rules of procedure and evidence.>6