Title
People v. Rojas
Case
G.R. No. 125292
Ponente
MENDOZA, J :
Decision Date
2000-04-12

EN BANC

G.R. No. 125292. April 12, 2000.

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ANDY ROJAS y DE DIOS, accused-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Public Attorney's Office for accused-appellant.

SYNOPSIS

In an information for rape, appellant was alleged to have carnal knowledge of complainant against her will and consent. Appellant pleaded not guilty and interposed the defense of alibi claiming that he was in his rented room two blocks away from the crime scene when the crime was committed. Appellant was identified by Rowena, the victim, as her attacker. According to Rowena, it was drizzling in that early morning when appellant, armed with a gun, dragged her to a grassy area, illuminated by an electric post, and forcibly had carnal knowledge of her. The trial court rendered judgment of conviction and sentenced appellant to death. Hence, this appeal.

The Court ruled that positive identification will prevail over the defense of alibi and denial; that alibi cannot prosper where appellant failed to show that it was not physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime at the approximate time of its commission; and that where the information failed to allege that accused-appellant used a gun in committing the rape, the crime committed is simple rape punishable by reclusion perpetua, not death. HDITCS

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; ALIBI AND DENIAL; CANNOT PREVAIL OVER POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION OF THE ACCUSED; CASE AT BAR. Rowena identified accused-appellant twice as her attacker; first, at the barangay hall when accused-appellant was presented together with several men in the morning after the incident; and second, inside the police station during the line-up of seven male persons, among whom was accused-appellant. It does not appear that in identifying accused-appellant, Rowena acted on cue of Valiente Sales, the one who arrested accused-appellant. Rowena did not even know who among the men in front of her had been arrested by Valiente. Nor was there a need to show that the men who were in the line-up had similar features as accused-appellant's. The fact that, at first, Rowena identified accused-appellant among 20 men, and then among seven persons, makes her identification certain. Rowena could not have been mistaken twice. Amidst the sea of faces before her, she readily pointed out accused-appellant will prevail over the defense of alibi and denial of accused-appellant.

2. ID.; ID.; ALIBI; WHEN IT MAY PROSPER. For the defense of alibi to prosper, accused-appellant must show that it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime at the approximate time of its commission.

3. CRIMINAL LAW; SIMPLE RAPE; THAT RAPE WAS COMMITTED WITH THE USE OF GUN WAS NOT ALLEGED IN THE INFORMATION. Although it was shown that accused-appellant used a gun in committing the rape, this fact was not alleged in the information. Thus, the crime committed was simple rape, for which the penalty is reclusion perpetua.

D E C I S I O N

MENDOZA, J p:

This case is here on automatic appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 224, Quezon City finding accused-appellant, Andy Rojas, guilty of rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of death and to pay the victim the amount of P50,000.00 as indemnity. cda

The complaint against accused-appellant reads:

The undersigned accuses ANDY ROJAS Y DE DIOS of the crime of RAPE, committed as follows:

That on or about the 19th day of July, 1994 in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused by means of force and intimidation, to wit: by then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously undressed the undersigned, thereafter kissed her lips and neck and forced her to put his organ inside her mouth, and thereafter have carnal knowledge with the undersigned complainant against her will and without her consent.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

Quezon City, Philippines, July 21, 1994.

(Sgd.) ROWENA AGUSTIN Y COLOMA
Complainant

The above complaint was treated as an information after the Assistant City Prosecutor approved and certified it.

The facts are as follows:

On July 19, 1994, at around 5:00 a.m., Rowena Agustin, complainant herein, was walking back to the house of her employer, Aurora Sales Duque, in Lagro, Novaliches, Quezon City, after buying bread from a nearby bakery store. As there was a slight drizzle Rowena carried an umbrella. Suddenly, someone from behind her pulled her hair and poked a gun at her right temple. By the light coming from an electric post in front of them, Rowena saw the face of her attacker whom she later identified to be accused-appellant.

Rowena fought off accused-appellant, but he fired his gun hitting her umbrella. Because of this, Rowena got scared.

Accused-appellant dragged Rowena to a grassy area nearby and made her undress and lie down, threatening to kill her if she refused.

Thereafter, accused-appellant went on top of Rowena and forced his organ into her mouth. Rowena got hold of her umbrella and tried to hit accused-appellant, but the latter snatched the umbrella and threw it away.

As accused-appellant was inserting his penis into her vagina, Rowena kicked him. This made accused-appellant angry and he slapped her. Accused-appellant succeeded in having sexual intercourse with Rowena.

About five minutes later, accused-appellant got up. He warned Rowena not to tell anyone what happened otherwise he would kill her. After the incident, Rowena dressed up and ran home.

Upon reaching the house of her employer, Rowena recounted between sobs what she had gone through. She was drenched and had grasses clinging to her skin. When asked by her employer, she described his attacker as tall, thin, with mustache, and with long hair.

Aurora Sales Duque then went to the house of her brother, Valiente Sales, to seek assistance. They went to the area where the incident took place looking for the assailant and, not finding him, they fetched Rowena from the house of Aurora and went to the barangay captain to report the incident.

The barangay captain of Lagro accompanied Rowena, Aurora, and Valiente to the police station where their statements were taken. When asked if they had a suspect, Valiente answered in the affirmative. Based on Rowena's description of her attacker, Valiente thought of accused-appellant who was renting a room in his house. Hence, with two police officers and the barangay captain, Valiente went to the place where accused-appellant was staying to invite the latter for questioning. However, accused-appellant was not there. They therefore proceeded to the place where accused-appellant was working. Although other construction workers denied that accused-appellant was there, he was later found in the vicinity and taken for questioning.

At 8:00 a.m. on the same day, accused-appellant was brought to the barangay hall and Rowena was summoned from the police precinct to identify her attacker from among a number of men. As Rowena surveyed the faces of the men before her, her gaze fell on accused-appellant who asked her "Bakit nawawala ka ba?", Rowena cried and asked that she be allowed to return to the police station.

In the police station, Rowena told her employer and the investigator that the person who said "Bakit nawawala ka ba?" was her attacker and that she was certain he was the one. cdll

Rowena was later taken to Camp Crame where Dr. Florante F. Baltazar conducted a medical examination on her. His report showed the following:

FINDINGS:

Fairly developed, fairly nourished and coherent female subject. Breasts are conical with dark brown areola and nipples from which no secretion could be pressed out. Abdomen is flat and tight. The following injuries are noted at the lower extremity:

1) Abrasion, anterior middle 3rd right thigh, measuring 6 by 1 cm, 4 cm. medial to its anterior midline.

2) Abrasion, anterior middle 3rd right thigh, measuring 3 by 1 cm, 5 cm. medial to its anterior midline.

3) Abrasion, anterior distal 3rd right thigh, measuring 4 by 6 cm, 6 cm lateral to its anterior midline.

GENITAL:

There is scanty growth of pubic hair. Labia majora are full, convex and coaptated with the dark brown labia minora presenting in between. On separating the same are disclosed a fresh laceration at the posterior commissure and an elastic, fleshy type hymen with deep fresh lacerations at 4 and 9 and shallow, fresh laceration at 10 o'clock. External vaginal orifice offers strong resistance to the introduction of the examining index finger. Vaginal canal is narrow with prominent rugosities. Cervix is normal in size, color and consistency with moderate amount of whitish secretion.

Vaginal and peri-urethral smears are negative for gram-negative diplococci and for spermatozoa.

CONCLUSION

Subject is in non-virgin state physically.

Barring unforeseen complications it is estimated that the above injuries will resolve in 4 to 7 days.

At around 9:40 that night, Rowena identified accused-appellant in a line-up of seven male persons at Station 5 of the Central Police District.

During trial, accused-appellant denied raping Rowena and presented an alibi as his defense. According to him, on July 19, 1994, he was in the room he was renting from Valiente Sales which adjoined the house of the latter and which was around two blocks away from the house of Aurora Sales Duque where Rowena was staying.

Accused-appellant testified he woke up at 8 in the morning on that day and went to work at 8:30. He claimed he was surprised when Valiente Sales poked a gun at him. He was then told to proceed to the barangay hall where Rowena identified him as her attacker. Accused-appellant claims Rowena had been made to accuse him of rape by her employer, Aurora Sales Duque, because he refused to construct the latter's house for free.

The trial court found accused-appellant guilty of rape. The dispositive portion of its decision reads:

Accordingly, therefore, the Court finds accused ANDY ROJAS GUILTY of the crime of Rape beyond reasonable doubt and hereby sentences the accused to suffer the penalty of DEATH and to indemnify the complainant, Rowena Agustin, the amount of P50,000.00.

It is also ordered that the accused Andy Rojas be committed to the national Penitentiary immediately upon promulgation of this Decision.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Accused-appellant assigns two errors as having been allegedly committed by the trial court:

I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE COMPLAINANT VICTIM ROWENA AGUSTIN HAD POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED THE ACCUSED AS HER RAPIST.

II. ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE ACCUSED IS GUILTY, THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN IMPOSING THE DEATH PENALTY.

We find the first assignment of error untenable.

Rowena clearly saw the face of accused-appellant during the attack. The place where the incident took place was lighted by a nearby lamp post. She gave an accurate description of accused-appellant. She testified:

Q Did you see the accused at the time whether he is the person who pulled your hair from your back?

A Yes, sir.

Q How did you identify him?

A I saw his face when he pulled my hair, sir.

Q You mean to say before he pulled your hair you saw him face to face first?

A He was able to got hold of my hair when I saw his face, sir.

Q He pulled your hair at the back, is that correct?

A He was on my side, sir.

Q What side of your body?

A On my right side, sir. A little bit behind.

Q You saw the face of the accused when he pulled your hair on the right side of your body?

A Yes, sir.

Q How?

A I was able to take a good look at his face when he pulled my hair.

xxx xxx xxx

RE-DIRECT EXAMINATION BY

ATTY. GALIMBA

Q You said that at the time the accused pulled your hair from behind, you were able to recognize him. Now, will you kindly tell again why you were able to recognize him?

A When he pulled my hair, I was able to take a good look at his face, sir.

Q At the place when the accused pulled your hair from behind, was it also dark?

A It was lighted, sir.

Q Where was this light coming from?

A On the electric post in front of us, sir.

Q How far was your place when your hair was pulled from that light from the post?

A Very near, sir.

Q From your place where you are seated, will you look around and tell us how far was that post where the light was?

A From this place up to that door, sir. (Around five (5) meters).

Q Now, in the place where he had forced himself or his penis to your mouth, was it also dark at that point and time?

xxx xxx xxx

A It was not so dark and there was enough light to recognize a person, sir.

Indeed, Rowena identified accused-appellant twice as her attacker first, at the barangay hall when accused-appellant was presented together with several men in the morning after the incident; and second, inside the police station during the line-up of seven male persons, among whom was accused-appellant. It does not appear that in identifying accused-appellant, Rowena acted on cue of Valiente Sales, the one who arrested accused-appellant. Rowena did not even know who among the men in front of her had been arrested by Valiente. Nor was there a need to show that the men who were in the line-up had similar features as accused-appellant's. The fact that, at first Rowena identified accused-appellant among 20 men, and then among seven persons, makes her identification certain. As she testified:

Q Was he alone when you first pointed and identified the accused while he was at the Barangay Hall?

A There were many, sir.

Q More or less how many were with him?

A About twenty (20) persons, sir.

Q At the time you first pointed and identified the accused at the Barangay Hall where exactly were you?

A I was beside the door of the police precinct.

Q For the record, Miss Witness, would you be able to tell us how far is the Barangay Hall from the police precinct or police station?

A It was near, sir.

Q From your place, would you be able to point anywhere else how far is the police precinct from the Barangay Hall?

A From this place up to the door of the courtroom, sir. (About ten (10) meters).

Q Tell us Rowena why were you at the police station at the time you saw and identified the accused for the first time that was around 8:00 o'clock in the morning?

A For me to point to the person who raped me, sir.

xxx xxx xxx

Q When you identified the accused for the second time, was he alone?

A There were many, sir.

Q More or less how many?

A About seven (7), sir.

xxx xxx xxx

Q My question to you Rowena is, when you pointed to him and identified to him for the second time, where exactly is the accused that time?

A He was inside the police station, sir.

Q And he was with around seven (7) persons that time, is that what you mean?

A Yes, sir.

Rowena could not have been mistaken twice. Amidst the sea of faces before her, she readily pointed out accused-appellant as her attacker. This positive identification of accused-appellant will prevail over the defense of alibi and denial of accused-appellant.

Besides, for the defense of alibi to prosper, accused-appellant must show that it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime at the approximate time of its commission. This he failed to establish.

On the other hand, we find merit in accused-appellant's second assigned error. Although it was shown that accused-appellant used a gun in committing the rape, this fact was not alleged in the information. Thus, the crime committed was simple rape, for which the penalty is reclusion perpetua.

The trial court correctly ordered accused-appellant to pay P50,000.00 to the victim as indemnity. However, an additional amount of P50,000.00 should likewise be imposed as moral damages which is automatically granted to rape victims without need of any proof.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 224, Quezon City is AFFIRMED with the modification that accused-appellant is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and is ordered to pay complainant P50,000.00 as moral damages, in addition to the P50,000.00 indemnity ordered by the trial court. LLjur

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Kapunan, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, Ynares-Santiago and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

Vitug, J., is on official business.

Footnotes

1. Per Judge Emilio L. Leachon, Jr.

2. Rollo, pp. 5-6.

3. TSN, pp. 2-3, Sept. 7, 1994.

4. Id. at 3.

5. Id. at 4.

6. TSN, pp. 10-11, Nov. 8, 1994.

7. TSN, p. 4; Sept. 7, 1994.

8. TSN, pp. 15-16, Nov. 8, 1994.

9. TSN, pp. 3-4, Nov. 22, 1994.

10. Id. at 4-5.

11. TSN, pp. 6-11, Dec. 12, 1994.

12. TSN (Rowena Agustin), p. 19, Nov. 8, 1994; TSN (Aurora Duque), pp. 7-8, Nov. 22, 1994; TSN (Valiente Sales), p. 12, Dec. 12, 1994.

13. Records, p. 74.

14. Id., p. 9.

15. TSN, p. 3, Feb. 21, 1995.

16. Id. at 4-24.

17. Rollo, p. 27.

18. Id., p. 123.

19. TSN, pp. 9-10, 17-19, Nov. 8, 1994.

20. Id., at 19-22.

21.

22. Ibid.

23.

24. , 301 SCRA 265 (1999).