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(A.C. No. 6567. AUGUST 11, 2008]
HIGHER QUANTUM OF EVIDENCE.
Respondent's invocation of the rule of privileged SECOND DIVISION
communication in the present administrative
matter is misplaced. It behooves to state that JOSE C. SABERON, Complainant, vs. ATTY. this defense is peculiar to the criminal case for FERNANDO T. LARONG, Respondent.
libel that respondent faces, which depends on
a totally different and evidently higher quantum SYLLABUS
of evidence than is required in this administrative of the Ruling of the Court
case. Needless to say, this Court's ruling as to
the administrative liability of respondent is not 1. LEGAL ETHICS; ATTORNEYS; THE COURT'S conclusive of his guilt or innocence in the libel RULING THAT THE ASCRIPTION OF
case. "BLACKMAIL" IN THE ANSWER WAS NOT LEGITIMATELY RELATED OR PERTINENT TO
OPINION OF THE COURT
2008, both complainant Jose C. Saberon RESPONDENT PRESENTLY MAINTAINS.Respondent's submission that the Answer
and respondent Atty. Fernando T. Larong containing the allegations of blackmail is seek reconsideration. protected by the mantle of absolute privilege was already pleaded in his Comment to Petition
Complainant's Motion for Reconsiderafor Review triat the allegations were absolutely privileged, like allegations made in any tion? asks this Court to hold respondent complaint or initiatory pleading. There, he also guilty of gross misconduct, instead of simple proffered, as he now maintains in his motion; misconduct, for ascribing blackmail to him the relevancy or pertinency of the questioned statements to the issues being litigated before
in pleadings filed before the Bangko Sentral the BSP. To respondent's contentions, the Court ng Pilipinas (BSP). ruled that the ascription of "blackmail" in the Answer was not legitimately related or pertinent
Respondent's Motion for Reconsiderato the subject matters of inquiry before the BSP, which were the alleged alien citizenship and
tion, while it takes no exception to the majority stockholding of Alfredo Tan Bonpin in P2,000 fine imposed on him and which he the Surigaonon Rural Bank. And it reminded
has paid, “ seeks this Court to declare that respondent that lawyers, though allowed latitude in making a remark or comment in their
the questioned allegations that the case pleadings, should not trench beyond the bounds before the BSP was part of blackmailing of relevancy and propriety. This Court's ruling suits against his clients for financial stands whether the statements are in the nature of a counter-complaint or a counterclaim gain-albeit couched
gain-albeit couched in intemperate embodied in the Answer as respondent presently language-were privileged communication.
maintains. 2. ID.; ID.; RESPONDENT'S INVOCATION OF THE
As to complainant's Motion, his RULE ON PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATION IS arguments therein were amply discussed MISPLACED; THE DEFENSE IS PECULIAR TO and ruled upon in the Decision sought to THE CRIMINAL CASE FOR LIBEL THAT
be reconsidered. The Court thus finds no RESPONDENT FACES WHICH DEPENDS ON A TOTALLY DIFFERENT AND EVIDENTLY ground to set the Decision aside.
On the other hand, respondent's lawyer to possible administrative sanction submission that the Answer containing the for the use of intemperate language under allegations of blackmail is protected by the the Canons of Professional Responsibility, mantle of absolute privilege was already should not strip the pleadings in which they pleaded in his Comment to Petition for made their privileged nature. Reviews that the allegations were absolutely privileged, like allegations made in any
Respondent's invocation of the rule of complaint or initiatory pleading. There, he privileged communication in the present also proffered, as he now maintains in his administrative matter is misplaced. It motion, the relevancy or pertinency of the behooves to state that this defense is questioned statements to the issues being peculiar to the criminal case for libel that litigated before the BSP.
respondent faces, which depends on a
totally different and evidently higher To respondent's contentions, the Court quantum of evidence than is required in this ruled that the ascription of "blackmail" in administrative case. Needless to say, this the Answer was not legitimately related or Court's ruling as to the administrative liability pertinent to the subject matters of inquiry of respondent is not conclusive of his guilt before the BSP, which were the alleged or innocence in the libel case. alien citizenship and majority stockholding of Alfredo. Tan Bonpin in the Surigaonon
complainant's and Rural Bank. And it reminded respondent that respondent's respective Motions for lawyers, though allowed latitude in making Reconsideration are DENIED. a remark or comment in their pleadings,
SO ORDERED. should not trench beyond the bounds of relevancy and propriety.
Quisumbing, Corona, Velasco, Jr., and This Court's ruling stands whether the
Brion, JJ. concur. statements are in the nature of a countercomplaint or a counterclaim embodied in
ATTESTATION the Answer as respondent presently maintains.
I attest that the conclusions in the above
Resolution had been reached in consultation Respondent alternatively contends that before the case was assigned to the writer the questioned allegations fall within the
of the opinion of the Court's Division. ambit of a conditionally or qualifiedly privileged communication under Article 354
(Sgd.) LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING (1)' of the Revised Penal Code. He submits
Associate Justice that the statements, while opening up a
MGA HATOL NG HUKUMAN NG APELASYON
[DECISIONS OF THE COURT OF APPEALS)
GEMMA LETICIA F. TABLATE
COURT OF APPEALS REPORTER
(CR No. 00150. January 4 2005)*
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee
vs. ISIDRO AVESILLA, accused-appellant.
of sexual assault, especially a minor particularly in cases of incestuous rape, because no woman would be willing to undergo a public trial and put up with the shame, humiliation and dishonor of exposing her own degradation were it not to condemn an injustice and to have offender apprehended and punished (People vs. Dionisio Ancheta, G.R. No. 142431, January 14, 2004).
1. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; RAPE; LUST IS NO
RESPECTER OF TIME AND PLACE.-Time-
5. CIVIL LAW; DAMAGES; EXEMPLARY DAMAGES;
IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE IN THE COMMISSION OF THE CRIME, THE CLAIM FOR EXEMPLARY DAMAGES IS BASELESS.-The Court sustains the recommendation of the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) to delete the trial court's award of exemplary damages in view of the absence of any aggravating circumstance in the commission of the crime, pursuant to Article 2230, New Civil Code which provides that exemplary damages as part of civil indemnity may be imposed when the crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances.
2. ID.; ID.; EVIDENCE; WITNESSES; TESTIMONIAL
EVIDENCE; THE CRYING OF A VICTIM
APPEAL from a judgment of the Regional Trial
Court of Aparri, Cagayan, 2nd Judicial
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; THE POSITIVE AND DIRECT
The facts are stated in the opinion of
Office of the Solicitor General for complainant concocted her story only to
Hermenegildo G. Rapanan for motive, ill-will or that her accounts were merely
This is an appeal from the Decision dated 4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; THE TESTIMONY OF A MINOR GIRL VICTIM OF SEXUAL ASSAULT IS
may 2, 2000 in Criminal Cases Nos. 08GIVEN BY COURTS GREATER WEIGHT - 940 and 08-941 of Branch 8, Regional Trial When a woman, more so if she is a minor
Court (RTC), Aparri, Cagayan which says that she has been raped, she says, in
convicted appellant Isidro Avesilla of two effect, all that is necessary to prove that rape was committed. Courts usually give greater (2) counts of rape committed against a weight to the testimony of a girl who is a victim minor.
* Court of Appeals Reports Annotated, Vol. 39.
The case was remanded by the Supreme Court to the Court of Appeals pursuant to the ruling in People vs. Mateo, G.R. Nos. 147678-87, July 7, 2004.
finally found the courage to inform her mother, Imelda
de Guzman, that she (Maidalyn) was being sexually Private complainant Maidalyn de abused by appellant (p. 10, TSN, ibid; p. 8. TSN, Guzman, when she was about twelve (12) November 3, 1999).? years old, was twice raped by appellant.
Hence, in two separate informations both The first rape occurred during the wake of filed on November 18, 1996, appellant was appellant's daughter on December 3, 1994 charged with rape defined and penalized and the second on October 28, 1995 at a
under Article 335, Revised Penal Code, as place near appellant's house. The factual amended by Section 11, of Republic Act details, as summarized by the Office of the No. 7659 (otherwise known as An Act to Solicitor General (OSG), are:
Impose the Death Penalty on Certain Around seven o'clock in the evening of December Heinous Crimes). The two (2) informations 2, 1994, private complainant Maidalyn de Guzman, read: then twelve (12) years old, went to the house of appellant Isidro Avesilla at Binalan, Aparri, Cagayan, Re: Criminal Case No. 11-6634 to attend the wake of Avesilla's daughter, Remedios. Appellant is married to the sister of Maidalyn's paternal
That on or about December 3, 1994, in the grandfather and a neighbor of the de Guzmans (pp.
municipality of Appari, province of Cagayan, and within 11-12, TSN, April 21, 1999).
the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the above
name accused, armed with a knife with lewd design, Around three (3) o'clock of the following morning, by the use of force violence or intimidation, with moral December 3, 1994, while Maidalyn was sleeping beside ascendancy and influence upon the offended party the casket of Remedios in the living room of appellant's (being his grand daughter), did then and there willfully, house, Maidalyn was awakened when appellant laid unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of beside her. Maidalyn tried to shout, but appellant said Maidalyn De Guzman y Urbayo, a woman, under suddenly covered her mouth. Appellant pulled a knife twelve (12) years of age, all against her will and and poked it at the neck of maidalyn, then raised consent. Maidalyn's leg and removed her "garterized" shorts and panty. While appellant and Maidalyn were lying
CONTRARY TO LAW.3 on their sides, appellant pulled out his penis, inserted it into the vagina of Maidalyn and made "push and
Re: Criminal Case No. 11-6635 pull" movements. As Maidalyn was being raped, she
That on or about October 28, 1995, in the heard Jenald, the seven-year old grandson of appellant
municipality of Aparri, province of Cagayan, and within enter the room and say “Apay ni Amang agtigtigerger
the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the abovemetten" (why is it that grandfather was trembling) (pp.
name accused, with lewd design by means of force, 13-14, TSN April 21, 1999). After satisfying himself
violence or intimidation, with moral ascendancy and with her, appellant put back the panty of Maidalyn and
influence upon the offended party (being his grand told her not to report the incident to his family or he
daughter), did then and there willfully, unlawfully and would kill all her family (p. 25, Ibid). Out of fear of
feloniously have carnal knowledge of said Maidelyn appellant, Maidalyn decided to keep the incident to
Guzman y Urbayo, a woman under twelve (12) years herself.
of age, all against her will and consent. On the night of October 28, 1995 Maidalyn was on
CONTRARY TO LAW. her way to buy "cornick" at a nearby store when she was waylaid by appellant. Appellant, who was in his
When arraigned on April 23, 1997, short and 'sando", grabbed Maidalyn's hands and dragged her to the extension of the house of her
appellant pleaded "not guilty" to both grandmother which was just thirty (30) meters away charges (p. 44, Record). Trial ensued from the house of appellant. Once inside a room of wherein the parties presented their the house where Maidalyn was taken, appellant pulled respective evidence. his knife and pushed her to the floor. He grabbed Maidalyn who was lying on the floor, forcibly removed
In a Decision dated May 2, 2000, the her panty and shorts. Appellant then laid on top of her, pulled out his penis inserted it into Maidalyn's
trial court convicted appellant, the decretal vagina and made “push and pull” movements. After portion of which reads: he was through with her, appellant told Maidalyn that he would kill her if she reported the incident to her
WHEREFORE, the court hereby renders judgment parents (pp. 9-11, TSN June 15, 1999, p. 9 TSN,
finding the accused Isidro Avesilla GUILTY beyond August 5, 1999). Aside from these two incidents,
reasonable doubt of the crime of rape in both cases appellant raped Maidalyn on two separate occasions for having sexually abused the private complainant prior to October 28, 1988. However, Maidalyn cannot recall their exact dates (p. 16, TSN, June 15, 1999).
pp. 106-109, Rollo On October 31, 1995 Maidalyn, who could no longer 3 first page, Vol, I, Record withstand the abuses she received from appellant, 4 first page, Vol. II, Record
by appellant or any showing of struggle or resistance made by private complainant. (p. 51, Rollo)
Appellant's self-serving contention that it would be unlikely for him to commit rape during the wake of his daughter, fails to persuade. As the trial court found, when private complainant was sleeping about 3:00 A.M. of December 3, 1994, all the visitors were gone and she was alone near the coffin of the deceased.8 Appellant's bestial desire must have prevailed upon him when he satisfied his lust on the sleeping victim. Indeed, time-honored is the doctrine that lust is no respecter of time and place, and it could be committed even in unlikely places where people congregate, in parks, along roadsides, in school premises, in a house where there are other occupants, in the same room where other members of the family are also sleeping, and even in places which to many would appear unlikely or high risk venues for its commission."
Notably, during her direct examination, private complainant candidly testified as to how appellant sexually abused her on December 3, 1994, when the first rape was committed:
Hence, this appeal, anchored on the following assignment of error:6
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED ON THE BASIS OF THE WEAKNESS OF HIS DEFENSE AND NOT ON THE STRENGTH OF THE EVIDENCE OF THE PROSECUTION.
The assigned error deals with the basic issue of credibility, that is, whether the trial court erred in giving weight and credence to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses.
The Court's Ruling
The appeal is bereft of merit.
Appellant argues that the prosecution failed to adduce direct, competent and convincing evidence to show his culpability for rape as the trial court based its conviction not on the strength of the prosecution evidence but only on the weakness of the defense evidence. Appellant submits that it would have been unlikely for him to have committed the first rape on December 3, 1994 during the wake of his daughter and beside the latter's coffin, as the sexual drive of a person could be contained by events such as the death of a family member.? As regards the second charge of rape on October 28, 1995, appellant contends that there was no evidence of force and intimidation employed