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IN RE: THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS FOR REYNALDO DE VILLA (detained at the New

Bilibid Prisons, Muntinlupa City) REYNALDO DE VILLA, petitioner, JUNE DE VILLA,


petitioner-relator, vs. THE DIRECTOR, NEW BILIBID PRISONS, respondent.
G.R. No. 158802. November 17, 2004
Ponente: Ynares-Santiago, J.
CRIME INVOLVED: Qualified Rape
FACTS: At about 10 in the morning, 12-year old Aileen Mendoza woke up to find De Villa on top
of her. She was unable to call for help because De Villa covered her mouth with a pillow and
threatened to kill her. He then proceeded to rape her and eventually Aileen became pregnant.
Her mother noticed the pregnancy and confronted her about it, and Aileen eventually admitted
that she was raped by De Villa. A criminal complaint was then filed against the petitioner by
Aileens parents. Aileen was examined by Dr. Cosidon, who confirmed her pregnancy (she was
already 8 months pregnant at that time), and found healed lacerations in her hymen. During the
trial, De Villa pleaded not guilty because at the time of the alleged rape, he was already 67
years old, and was incapable of an erection. He also interposed an alibi that he was not in the
scene of the crime at the time of the rape. De Villa was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt
by the trial court for the rape of Aileen Mendoza, his niece by affinity, and was sentenced to
suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, as well as the payment of civil indemnity, moral
damages, costs of the suit, and support for Leahlyn Corales Mendoza the putative child born
of the rape. Three years after the decision, June (the son of Reynaldo) alleged that during the
trial of the case, he was unaware that there was a scientific test that could determine whether
Reynaldo was Leahlyns father. They sought for DNA testing to resolve the issue of paternity,
but the same was denied. At the petitioners insistence, they gathered samples from Leahlyn,
from the grandchildren of Reynaldo, and from Reynaldo himself and was submitted to the DNA
Laboratory. The DNA Laboratory rendered a preliminary report showing that there was no
match between the DNA samples.
ISSUE: Was the DNA result a valid basis for habeas corpus, new trial, and acquittal?
RULING: NO TO ALL COUNTS. (1) As to Habeas Corpus: The most basic criterion for the
issuance of the writ, therefore, is that the individual seeking such relief be illegally deprived of
his freedom of movement or placed under some form of illegal restraint. If an individual's liberty
is restrained via some legal process, the writ of habeas corpus is unavailing. In the recent case
of Feria v. Court of Appeals, the court ruled that review of a judgment of conviction is allowed in
a petition for the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus only in very specific instances, such as
when, as a consequence of a judicial proceeding, (a) there has been a deprivation of a
constitutional right resulting in the restraint of a person; (b) the court had no jurisdiction to
impose the sentence; or (c) an excessive penalty has been imposed, as such sentence is void
as to such excess. This Court stated the general rule that the writ of habeas corpus is not a writ
of error, and should not be thus used.
As to new trial: A motion for new trial based on newly-discovered evidence may be granted only
if the following requisites are met: (a) that the evidence was discovered after trial; (b) that said
evidence could not have been discovered and produced at the trial even with the exercise of
reasonable diligence; (c) that it is material, not merely cumulative, corroborative or impeaching;
and (d) that the evidence is of such weight that, if admitted, it would probably change the
judgment. Petitioner-relator's claim that he was "unaware" of the existence of DNA testing until
the trial was concluded carries no weight with this Court. Lack of knowledge of the existence of
DNA testing speaks of negligence, either on the part of petitioner, or on the part of petitioner's
counsel. In either instance, however, this negligence is binding upon petitioner.

As to acquittal: Even with all of the compelling and persuasive scientific evidence presented by
petitioner and his counsel, we are not convinced that Reynaldo de Villa is entitled to outright
acquittal. As correctly pointed out by the Solicitor General, even if it is conclusively proven that
Reynaldo de Villa is not the father of Leahlyn Mendoza, his conviction could, in theory, still
stand, with Aileen Mendozas testimony and positive identification as its bases. The Solicitor
General reiterates, and correctly so, that the pregnancy of the victim has never been an element
of the crime of rape. Therefore, the DNA evidence has failed to conclusively prove to this Court
that Reynaldo de Villa should be discharged. Although petitioner claims that conviction was
based solely on a finding of paternity of the child Leahlyn, this is not the case. The courts
conviction was based on the clear and convincing testimonial evidence of the victim, which,
given credence by the trial court, was affirmed on appeal.