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[ GR No. 96249, Feb 19, 1997 ]



335 Phil. 988


[ G.R. No. 96249, February 19, 1997 ]




Charged with and prosecuted for the rape of Ederliza Pepito were herein appellants Alipio Quiamco and Eddie Agipo. The information reads:
"That on July 12, 1985, at about 10:00 o'clock in the evening, at Sitio Ponong, Daan Lungsod, Placer, Masbate, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused conspiring together and helping one another and taking advantage of nighttime forcibly entered the dwelling of the complainant, Ederliza Pepito, and once inside did then and there wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously, by the use of force and intimidation, and armed with a scythe (sangot), wrestle the hands of the said complainant and drag her to her kitchen with accused Alipio Quiamco placing the scythe on her neck telling her not to shout otherwise her neck will be cut, and once in the kitchen accused Eddie Aquipo forcibly removed the underwear of the complainant and insert his finger into her genital organ (vagina) and when she was already lieing (sic) down accused Eddie Agipo place the scythe on her neck telling her not to shout and resist while accused Alipio Quiamco had sexual intercourse with the complainant and when he was through accused Eddie Agipo followed and has sexual intercourse twice with the complainant and due to the pains that complainant felt she became unconscious and accused Alipio Quiamco and Eddie Agipo left her."[1]
The respective versions of the prosecution and defense had been aptly summarized by the trial court, viz:

"For the prosecution, it appears that on July 12, 1985 at about 10:00 in the evening, at Sitio Ponong-Daan Lungsod, Placer, Masbate, while Maria Pepito and her two children were sleeping in the house of complainant Ederliza, Pepito whose husband was out fishing at Naro, Cawayan, Masbate, they were awakened by shouts of 'Eddie we know you are upstairs and that if you will not open the door we will spray you with bullets and your house are (sic) already surrounded with my men and I am Commander Potiokan.' Ederliza Pepito crawled to her main door and peeped. She saw accused Eddie Agipo and Alipio Quiamco pushing her door until it was forcibly opened. Thereupon, accused Alipio Quiamco and Eddie Agipo entered and wristled (sic) her hands. She was hauled to the kitchen. Accused Alipio Quiamco pointed a scythe at her neck while Eddie Agipo removed her underwear and touch her private parts. She was sexually abused by accused Alipio Quiamco. When accused Alipio Quiamco finished his physical sexual contact with her, Eddie Agipo took his turn, by placing his body over her body and similarly abused her. After the rape, she was threatened by both accused not to report the matter to the police authorities, otherwise, they will cut her neck as well as that of her children. The accused left. Because of pains, she lost consciousness. When she recovered, she found Maria Pepito helping her.

Maria Pepito corroborated the testimony of Ederliza Pepito. She positively identified accused Eddie Agipo and Alipio Quiamco. who were her neighbors for so long a time, as the authors of the crime.

For the defense, Accused Alipio Quiamco averred that on July 12, 1985, he went fishing by a Baby Trawl with Dorotheo Jubay at the sea waters of Esperanza, Masbate, by some 20 kilometers away and negotiated for about an hour by a pumpboat to Placer, Masbate. They returned home at Placer, Masbate at around 7:00 o'clock the following morning. The motive of the complainant in filing this rape case against them was because she got mad when he took a bath at her well, and the bath-water he used fell into the said well.

Accused Eddie Agipo testified that on July 12, 1985, he went to Domorog, Taingan, Masbate to plant rice some 19 kilometers away from Placer and a one hour trip by truck, bus or Jeepneys. He stayed at the house of Edgar Carillo and he returned to Placer, Masbate on July 16, 1985. However, he did not know the motive of the complainant in filing rape case against him."[2]
Judgment of conviction was thereafter rendered against appellants, the decretal portion of which reads:
    "WHEREFORE, the guilt of both accused Eddie Agipo and Alipio Quiamco for the offense charged was established beyong (sic) reasonable doubt, for which they are hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty each of reclusion perpetua together with the accessory penalties provided for by law; to indemnify Ederliza Pepito in the sum of P25,000.00 (Peo. vs. Lualhate, GR 66638, 3-16-89, first Div., Griño-Aquino, J) without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; with four-fifths (4/5th) of their preventive imprisonment to their credit (Art. 29, RRC)."[3]
Before us, appellants plead for their acquittal by raising the following errors:


The court a quo erred in lending credence to the testimonies of prosecution witnesses Ederliza Pepito and Maria Pepito in the face of their marked inconsistencies, improbabilities and implausibilities apart from the fact that these testimonies do not corroborate each other on substantial points.


The court a quo erred in convicting the accused-appellants of the crime charged despite failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt much less their complicity therein by proof beyond reasonable doubt.


The court a quo erred in disregarding the testimonies of the defense witnesses.

The appeal has no merit.

It is appellants' position that victim Ederliza's story of rape is unworthy of belief, considering her testimony to the effect that "when she saw appellants allegedly force open her door or at anytime prior thereto, she did not cry for help despite her awareness that her in-laws' house is just 50 meters away (pp. 17-18, Tsn., May 23, 1986) and that there were four of them inside the house at the time (pp. 11-12, Tsn., Feb. 10, 1988)."[4] They also put stress on the absence of telltale signs of force employed on Ederliza or struggle on her part, and that she did not sustain any injury resulting from the alleged rape.[5]

We do not subscribe to appellants' view. Ederliza could not have dared risk her life by screaming for help inasmuch as appellants immediately pressed a scythe on her neck after barging into her house. As testified to by Ederliza:

"Q: Now, you said the door was forcibly opened by those people outside. Were you able to recognize those persons who forcibly opened your door?
A: When they were able to open the door, because I was standing near the entrance, I came to know them and they pulled me by my hands and pointed a scythe on my neck.
Q: And what else did these persons do?
A: That they told me not to shout because if I will shout they will cut my neck.
Q: Who were those persons who pulled you and pointed a scythe at you?
A: Alipio Quiamco and Eddie Agipo".[6]

Appellants never let go of the scythe poised at Ederliza's neck as they then took turns in sexually abusing her. Ederliza recounts:

"Q: You said you were held by your hands by both accused and a scythe was pointed to you. Who pointed that scythe to you?
A: Olipio (sic) Quiamco.
Q: And how about Eddie Agipo, what did he do?
A: Eddie Agipo removed my panty and touched my private part.
Q: How was your private part touched by Eddie Agipo, while this Alipio Quiamco was pointing that scythe on your neck?
A: He squeezed it and put his finger inside.
Q: After this Eddie Agipo placed his finger inside your private part or vagina, what else did he do?
A: Then he got the scythe from Olipio (sic) Quiamco and Olipio (sic) Quiamco lay on top of me and have a sexual intercourse with me.
Q: While this Alipio Quiamco was having a sexual intercourse with you, what was Eddie Agipo doing?
A: He was still pointing the scythe on my neck.
Q: Then how long did this Alipio Quiamco have a sexual intercourse with you over that situation that Eddie Agipo was still placing his scythe on your neck
A: It did not take long.
Q: After Alipio Quiamco was through having sexual intercourse with you, what happened if any?
A: Then Olipio (sic) Quiamco was the one who held the scythe and Eddie Agipo was the one who lay on top of me and was the one who has sexual intercourse with me.
Q: How long did it take Eddie Agipo to have a sexual intercourse with you while Olipio (sic) Quiamco was placing the scythe on your neck?
A: It took a long time.
Q: And after the sexual intercourse made by Eddie Agipo on you, what else happened?
A: Then Eddie Agipo took the scythe from Olipio (sic) Quiamco and Olipio (sic) Quiamco lay on top of me and have a sexual intercourse with me again.
Q: You mean to tell this Honorable Court that Alipio Quiamco had sexual intercourse with you twice?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: After the sexual intercourse for the second time by Alipio Quiamco on you, what else happened?
A: They threatened me not to report to the police because if I will report to the police they will kill me and my two (2) children and also the policemen because they are traitors."[7]

And contrary to appellants' claim that testimonies of Ederliza and defense witness Maria Pepito do not corroborate each other on substantial points, we note that Maria Pepito's story was very much consistent with Ederliza's account. Thus,

Q: When Alipio Quiamco shouted addressing his shout to Ederliza Pepito, what did Ederliza do?
A: She did not open.
Q: Because Ederliza did not open the door, what did the accused do if any?
A: They pushed the door.
Q: What happened to the door after pushing?
A: They point a scythe to Ederliza Pepito.
Q: So, the accused in this case were able to enter the house of Ederliza?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: To whom did they point the scythe?
A: At the neck of Ederliza.
Q: After the accused pointed the scythe towards the neck of Ederliza, what happened next?
A: Undressed Ederliza.
FISCAL:Q: Who undressed Ederliza?
A: Eddie Agipo.
Q: When Eddie Agipo undressed Ederliza, what did Alipio Quiamco do?
A: He was pointing the scythe in the neck of Ederliza.
Q: What particular wear, did Eddie Agipo undressed Ederliza?
A: Panty.
Q: After Eddie Agipo removed the panty of Ederliza, what did Eddie Agipo do?
A: Eddie Agipo pointed also the scythe at the neck of Ederliza.
Q: What happened next?
A: Alipio Quiamco let Ederliza lay down.
A: Laid down.
FISCAL:Q: What did (sic) Ederliza doing during that time?
A: She did not do anything because they pointed the scythe at the neck of Ederliza.
Q: After Ederliza laid down, what did Eddie Agipo do to Ederliza?
A: Alipio Quiamco laid down at Ederliza and Eddie Agipo pointed the scythe to the neck of Ederliza.
Q: At what particular part of Ederliza did Alipio Quiamco lay?
A: Below.
Q: Will you state what particular part of Ederliza (sic) body below?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: What part?
Witness pointing from the breast down.
FISCAL:Q: Did Eddie Agipo undress during that time?
ATTY. BAILON:Leading, Your Honor.
Q: What did Eddie Agipo do when the body of Ederliza was already naked?
ATTY. BAILON:We object, Your Honor.
Q: After Eddie Agipo remove the panty of Ederliza, what did Eddie Agipo do next?
A: Alipio Quiamco pointed the scythe to Ederliza and Eddie Agipo laid on top of Ederliza.
Q: Was Eddie Agipo wearing anything during that time?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: How about his pants, was he wearing?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Was the organ of Eddie Agipo during that time already out?
ATTY. BAILON:No basis.
Q: When Eddie Agipo was on top of Ederliza, what did Eddie Agipo do next, if any?
A: It was Alipio Quiamco, who laid down.
Q: Who was the first one to laid (sic) down with Ederliza?
A: Alipio Quiamco.
Q: Was this incident followed by Eddie Agipo?
ATTY. BAILON:Leading, Your Honor.
Q: After Alipio Quiamco laid down Ederliza, what did said accused do if any?
A: Alipio Quiamco pointed the scythe to Ederliza.
Q: When Eddie Agipo laid down with Ederliza, what did Eddie Agipo actually doing with Ederliza?
ATTY. BAILON:We will object to that line of question because they assume facts which was not done. There is no basis for that, Your Honor.
COURT:Witness may answer.
WITNESS:A: Alipio Quiamco pointed scythe to the neck of Ederliza.
FISCAL:If Your Honor please, the answer is not responsive to the question.
COURT:Answer the question, witness.
WITNESS:A: He laid on top.
FISCAL:Q: What particular act did Eddie Agipo do with Ederliza?
ATTY. BAILON:No basis, Your Honor.
COURT:Answer the question.
ATTY. BAILON:We would like to go on record that this is the third time the question has been asked.
FISCAL:If your Honor please, it seems that the witness could not fully grasp the question. So, we request Your Honor, that the same be translated in such a way that the witness may understand the question that was asked to her.
COURT:Let the witness answer the question.
WITNESS:A: He laid with his stomach on top of Ederliza.
Q: What else did you see if any?
ATTY. BAILON:No basis for that question, Your Honor.
FISCAL:There is basis, Your Honor, considering that the accused Eddie Agipo was lying on top. Our question is trying to clarify something which Eddie Agipo did on the pursuant (sic) of the crime.
COURT:Witness may answer
.WITNESS:A: Yes, sir.
Q: What did you see?
A: Alipio Quiamco laid on top again on Ederliza and Eddie Agipo again pointed the scythe on the neck of Ederliza.

Q: After the two accused laid on top of Ederliza, what did they do?

A: They went away."[8]
The continuing intimidation employed on Ederliza certainly cowed her into submitting, in bitter silence, to appellants' lechery. The fact that no struggle was even put up by Ederliza is immaterial. Physical resistance, as this Court has consistently ruled, need not be established in rape when intimidation is exercised upon the victim and the latter submits herself, against her will, to the rapist's embrace because of fear for life and personal safety.[9] Neither does the absence of injuries on Ederliza belie her charge of rape. Likewise settled is that the absence of external signs or physical injuries on the victim does not negate the commission of rape because this crime can also be committed through intimidation which includes the moral kind such as threatening the victim with a knife,[10] or in this case, a scythe.

We also do not agree with appellants' claim that victim Ederliza's failure to present any medical certificate issued by her examining physician is a "fatal flaw in the prosecution's cause".[11] A medical certificate is not indispensable to prove the commission of rape. It is merely corroborative evidence. We therefore reiterate the rule that the non-presentation of the medical certificate, which is merely corroborative, does not give rise to the presumption that if presented, it would be adverse to the prosecution.[12]

Appellants would also harp on the fact that the judge who rendered the now-assailed decision, Judge Sinforoso S. Nano, admittedly had no opportunity to see the witnesses' demeanor during their testimony. As explained by Judge Nano himself:
"This case was heard by Hon. Judge Protacio C. Sto. Tomas, Hon. Judge Henry B. Basilia, and Hon. Judge Ricardo B. Butalid during their respective incumbency in this Court. Evidently, the undersigned had no opportunity to see the demeanor of the witnesses at the witness stand and thus, he relied on the records of this case."[13]
To this, we need only to recall the Court's pronouncement in "People vs. Rayray"[14] that:
"x x x it is now well recognized that the fact that the judge who heard the evidence is not himself the one who prepared, signed and promulgated the decision, but some other judge in his place, constitutes no compelling reason to jettison his findings and conclusions and does not per se render it-erroneous. The trial judge's assessment of the credibility of a testimony is not to be anchored solely on how the witness conducted himself on the witness stand. Aside from the danger of being misled by appearances inherent in such a case, a judge is supposed to render a decision on the basis of the evidence before him, i. e., records and all. Although an undeniable tool in arriving at the correct decision, the failure of the trial judge to observe the witnesses testify on the stand in no way affects the validity of the judgment rendered or ipso facto condemns it as erroneous more so where the judgment appears to be fully supported by the evidence on record as in the case at bench."[15]
Going now to the alibi interposed by appellants, it cannot be given any credence in the face of victim Ederliza's testimony, as corroborated by Maria Pepito (as earlier quoted), positively identifying appellants as the perpetrators of her defilement. The pervading rule is that alibi, being the weakest of all defenses as it is easy to fabricate and difficult to disprove, cannot prevail over and is worthless in the face of the positive identification of the accused.[16] Victim Ederliza and Maria Pepito could not have been mistaken with their identification of appellants considering that as testified to by Maria Pepito, a kerosene lamp illuminated Ederliza's house at that time. Thus,


Q:   Was that time lighted?
A:    Yes, sir.

Q:   What was the light?
A:    A lamp with kerosene."[17]

We have ruled that the illumination produced by a kerosene lamp, like a "gasera" or "lampara", is sufficient for the identification of persons.[18] And finally, there is also no merit in appellants' claim that victim Ederliza charged them with rape simply to get back at appellant Alipio Quiamco who, on a previous occasion "contaminated" the water of Ederliza's well while taking a bath nearby. So settled is that proof of motive is not crucial where the identity of the accused, such as here, has been amply established.[19] Besides, as aptly observed by the Solicitor General:
"It is hard to believe that (sic) young mother would ruin her reputation, bring embarrassment to herself and family, and undergo the rigors of trial for such a petty reason."[20]
WHEREFORE, except for the modification increasing the trial court's P25,000.00 award of indemnity to P50,000.00 in line with recent rulings,[21] the assailed decision dated April 27, 1990 convicting appellants of the crime of rape is hereby AFFIRMED in all other respects.

Narvasa, C.J., (Chairman), Davide, Jr., Melo, and Panganiban, JJ., concur.

[1] Record, p. 1.

[2] Decision p. 2, Record, p. 195.

[3] Decision, pp. 3-4, Record, pp. 196-197.

[4] Brief for Accused-Appellants, p. 7.

[5] Ibid, p. 9.

[6] TSN of May 23, 1986, p. 5.

[7] TSN of May 23, 1986, pp. 6-7.

[8] TSN of February 10, 1988, pp. 5-10.

[9] People v. Angeles, 222 SCRA 451, citing People v. Arengo, 181 SCRA 344.

[10] People vs. Vallena, 244 SCRA 685, citing People v. Hortillano, 177 SCRA 729 and People vs. Villamayor, 199 SCRA. 472.

[11] Brief for Accused-Appellants, p. 8.

[12] People vs. Gapasan, 243 SCRA 53.

[13] Decision. p. 1.

[14] 241 SCRA 1.

[15] Ibid, pp. 8-9.

[16] People vs. Laurente, 255 SCRA 543; People vs. Ferrer, 255 SCRA 19; People vs. Baclayo, 244 SCRA 521.

[17] TSN of February 10, 1988, p. 5.

[18] People vs. Quinevista, Jr., 244 SCRA 586, citing People vs. Ching, G.R. No. L-103800, January 19, 1995.

[19] People vs. Lapura, 255 SCRA 85, citing People vs. Flores, 237 SCRA 653.

[20] Brief for the Appellee, p. 20.

[21] People vs. Ramos, 245 SCRA 405.