[ G.R. No. L-60665, October 26, 1983 ]
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. CIRILO FLORES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
D E C I S I O N
About 12:00 noon of December 12, 1980, 14-year old Edna Flores who was living with her father and step-mother in barrio Sta. Rita, Macabebe, Pampanga, went to the house of her cousin Abad Flores to get some Kamias fruits to be used for cooking "sinigang." The house of Abad Flores was some five houses away from theirs. Arriving at the yard of Abad Flores, Edna saw accused, Cirilo Flores, and she asked him for some kamias fruits. The latter answered that he did not have any. Nonetheless, Edna went to see and gather kamias fruits herself. At that juncture, Cirilo held her by the arms, covered her mouth with one hand, held her neck with the other and forcibly dragged her towards a shed which housed the automatic water pump some meters away but within the yard of Abad Flores. Once inside the shed Cirilo forced Edna to lie down on the ground floor but the latter fought back and shouted causing Cirilo to place his hand again over her mouth. Cirilo then removed her panties and placed himself on top of her until he succeeded in having sexual intercourse with her. Thereafter, Cirilo slapped Edna on the face and warned her that she would suffer more and even kill her if she will reveal the incident to her parents.
Edna put on her panties and went home crying without the kamias. Afraid to report what had happened to her, upon reaching home, when her step-mother Felisa asked about the kamias, she was no longer crying.
The following day, December 13, Edna saw appellant driving a tricycle and the latter taunted her with his fingers. Thereafter, everytime Cirilo would meet her he would taunt her.
Edna became pregnant and because she could no longer hide her condition, on August 18, 1981, she was forced to tell her father what Cirilo Flores had done to her. When asked why she did not tell him earlier, Edna replied that she did not want him to be involved in a fight. The following day, Edna's father brought her to the Central Luzon General Hospital where she was examined by Dr. Danilo S. Yumul who issued a medical certificate confirming her pregnancy. Dr. Yumul issued medical certificate (Exhibit "A") with the following findings:
"I. Mentality - normal
II. Head & Neck - normal
Breast - well developed
Areola - brownish
Nipple - presence of milk upon expression
IV. Abdomen - globularly enlarged compatible to 8 months size man; FB -left; FHB - RLQ, Cephalic, floating
Pubic hair scanty
Labia Minora & majora coaptated
Hymenal opening - admits one finger easily, 2 fingers with difficulty
Hymenal lacerations - Superficial healed laceration at 4, 7, 9, 12 o'clock.
- Deep healed laceration at 6 o'clock.
VI. Smear for spermatozoa - negative
VII. Gravindex test -positive
LMP - December 3, 1980
PMP - November 3, 1980."
On August 27, 1981, or eight and a half months after she was abused by Cirilo Flores, Edna gave birth to a baby girl who was named Estrella Flores.
On October 23, 1981, Cirilo Flores was charged with the crime of rape described in the complaint as follows:
"That on or about the 12th day of December 1980, in the municipality of Macabebe, Province of Pampanga, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused CIRILO FLORES, by means of force, threats and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously with leud designs have carnal knowledge of the complainant Edna Flores against her will and consent.
"All contrary to law. x x x." (p. 41, Rollo)
On March 12, 1982, a decision finding Cirilo Flores guilty of the crime charged was rendered by the trial court, the dispositive portion of which reads:
"WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing discussion, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Cirilo Flores guilty beyond all reasonable doubt of the felony of rape as charged in the Criminal Complaint, and the Court imposes upon accused Cirilo Flores the penalty of reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment) with the accessories of the law; to pay Edna Flores moral damages in the amount of P5,000.00; to support the offspring Estrella Flores; and to pay the costs." (p. 57, Rollo)
On appeal to Us, Cirilo Flores submitted that the trial court erred in giving weight to the incredible testimony of Edna Flores and in convicting him on the basis thereof; and that the evidence adduced failed to overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence.
Appellant testified that prior to December 12, 1980 he used to drive complainant to the movies in his tricycle and would advise her not to mingle with boys inside the movie houses. Edna countered that he was only jealous. On December 12, 1980 he was in the workshop of his uncle, Abad Flores, talking with some of the workers thereat. He was not working at the time because he suffered an accident and his left hand was injured. Edna approached him and offered to apply medicine on his injured left hand. She applied guava leaves and, thereafter, he told her to go home because his wife might see her. She did not leave and, instead, went inside the water pump shed. He followed her inside and she immediately started to kiss and hold his hand. He left her and went home.
The testimony of appellant was corroborated by Eduardo Tulod Salongsong who was working in the shop of Abad Flores that morning of December 12, 1980. He saw the two - appellant and complainant - talking to each other although he did not know what they were talking about.
We cannot sustain appellant's conviction. At the outset, We note significant facts from the evidence of the prosecution which raise serious doubts at its veracity. By complainant's own admission, appellant was not armed at all when she was allegedly dragged towards the shed, few meters away from the workshop of Abad Flores. How easily could she have shouted to arouse the attention of the people therein had she wanted to. The fact that she did nothing at all before, during and after the alleged rape strongly negates commission thereof. Besides, complainant's conduct immediately after the alleged abuse on her chastity, is very revealing. She went home to tell her step-mother that there was no kamias and the latter did not notice anything unusual about her. Days passed into weeks, weeks into months and according to Edna she kept her harrowing experience to herself because of fear that Cirilo would make good his threat to kill her. It was only in August 1981, or after eight and a half months, when she took the courage to tell her father about the alleged rape.
In the case of People vs. Romero, Jr., 117 SCRA 897, complainant, a 17-year old maiden, also remained silent for eight months after she had lost her precious virginity. The Court said, "[n]eedless to state, such conduct runs counter to the natural reaction of an outraged maiden despoiled of her honor. The aphorism that evidence to be believed must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness, but it must be credible in itself in conformity with the common experience and observation of mankind it nowhere of more relevance than in cases involving prosecution for rape. In fine, the complainant's testimony in the instant case lacks that stamp of absolute truth and candor necessary to overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence."
Indeed, the silence of the alleged rape victim for eight and a half months rendered doubtful the truth of her charge. In fact, if complainant in the case at bar did not become pregnant she would not reveal the incident at all to anyone.
It is argued, however, that on December 12, 1980, Edna was only 14 years old, a country lass and a sixth grader, and therefore, was not capable of making false statements against her abuser. The contention would be true two generations ago but not anymore these days when teenagers are sex conscious, outgoing, frank and aggressive.
WHEREFORE, on reasonable doubt, the judgment of conviction is REVERSED and appellant is hereby ACQUITTED.
SO ORDERED.Teehankee, (Chairman), Melencio-Herrera, Plana, and Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., concur.errHH