CASE BRIEF 2001-0454

CASE: People of the Philippines vs. Edgar Legaspi y Libao [G.R. Nos. 136164-65 April 20, 2001]

PONENTE: Melo, J.:

SUBJECT:

  1. Evidence:
    i. Credibility
    ii. Alibi
  2. Criminal Law:
    i. Rape – Absence of spermatozoa
    II. Exempting Circumstance – Insanity

Among poor couples with big families living in small quarters, copulation does not seem to be a problem despite the presence of other persons around them.”


FACTS:    On February 17, 1997, Edgar Legaspi was charged with the crimes of rape and robbery in two separate Informations filed with the Regional Trial Court.

At around 2:00 in the morning of February 11, 1997, Honorata was sleeping inside her house with her three daughters. She was awakened by the sound of their door opening. She thought it was her husband. When Honorata opened her eyes, however, she saw a man armed with a knife standing by her feet. More terrifying, the man already had his pants and briefs down on his knees and he was pointing to her eldest daughter.

Alarmed, Honorata told the man not to touch her daughter. The man poked his knife at her and told her to stand up and then was made to lie down on the adjacent sofa. Thereafter, the man removed Honorata’s panties and had sex with her. All this time, he had his knife at Honorata’s neck. Honorata noticed that the man reeked of alcohol. After slaking his lust, Honorata’s assailant stood up then asked for money. Since the man still had his knife pointed at her, Honorata could do nothing but comply. She gave him the only money she had, several bills amounting to P500.00.

After threatening Honorata and her daughters with death if she reports the incident, the man left. Honorata, out of fear, could do nothing but close the door. Later that day, however, Honorata mustered enough courage to narrate her defilement to her sister-in-law.

The trial court found Legaspi guilty of rape and imposed upon him the supreme penalty of death.

The supreme penalty of death having been imposed for the rape, the case was elevated to the Supreme Court on automatic review.

Legaspi prays for his acquittal, raising the following arguments:

  1. The facial features of Legaspi differ from the description of Honorata’s assailant as found in the police blotter.
  2. If Honorata were indeed raped on the sofa of her one-room house, the creaking of the sofa and her moans would have awakened her three sleeping daughters. Strangely, this did not happen.
  3. There is absence of spermatozoa in Honorata’s organ.
  4. Legaspi also avowed that he had been previously convicted of homicide and Roberto Eugenio, the victim therein, was a resident of the exact same address where complainant Honorata was living. Legaspi hinted at the possibility that relatives of Roberto Eugenio had conspired with complainant Honorata to get rid of him.
  5. He was asleep at his house at #86 Manapat Street, Tañong, Malabon at the time of the incident.
  6. Legaspi claims that he is entitled to the exempting circumstance of insanity. To prove his insanity, Legaspi’s counsel points to his confinement at the National Center for Mental Health prior to the incident in question.

ISSUE: Whether the defenses raised by Legaspi are meritorious.

RULING:

A) That the facial features of Legaspi differ from the description of Honorata’s assailant as found in the police blotter do not affect the credibility of Honorata’s testimony. It must be kept in mind that Honorata positively identified Legaspi as her rapist, not only during the investigation conducted by the police on the morning of January 15, but also during the trial.

During the trial Honorata identified Legaspi as the person who sexually violated her. She testified that she was able to recognize Legaspi because the fluorescent lamp inside her house was lit at the time of the incident.

Coupled with the oft-quoted doctrine that entries in police blotters, though regularly done in the course of the performance of official duty, are not conclusive proof of the truth stated in such entries since they are usually incomplete and inaccurate, we hold that any discrepancy in the police blotter entry and the open court testimony of Honorata does not affect her credibility.

It must also be remembered that the entry in the police blotter was made at 6:30 on the morning of February 12, 1997, only a few hours after the rape and robbery. At that time, Honorata may not have yet fully recovered from the traumatic ordeal she had gone through, resulting in an inaccurate entry in the police blotter. Besides, minor lapses are to be expected when a person is recounting details of a traumatic experience too painful to recall (People vs. Sta. Ana, 291 SCRA 188 [1998]).

B) That Honorata’s daughters, all minors, did not wake up during the assault is not as incredible as Legaspi would make it out. The failure of the three children to wake up during the commission of the rape was probably due to the fact that they were sound asleep. It is not unusual for children of tender ages to be moved from their sleeping mats and transferred to another bed without eliciting the least protest from them, much less, awakening them. It is also to be noted that among poor couples with big families living in small quarters, copulation does not seem to be a problem despite the presence of other persons around them. One may also suppose that growing children sleep more soundly than grown-ups and are not easily awakened by adult exertions and suspirations in the night (People vs. Ignacio, 233 SCRA 1 [1994]).

C) The presence or absence of spermatozoa is immaterial in the prosecution of a rape case. It is well-settled that it is penetration, however slight, and not ejaculation, that constitutes rape

D) Legaspi has not presented proof that Honorata knew Roberto Eugenio or his relatives. Neither has he shown that any relative of Eugenio still resides at Honorata’s address, 27-D Rivera Street. Moreover, mere residence at the same address is not proof that Honorata conspired with the relatives of Roberto Eugenio in an attempt to get rid of Legaspi. False testimony or incriminatory machinations must be proved by evidence more substantial than a voter’s registration record.

E) Legaspi’s defense of alibi must, however, be looked upon with suspicion, not only because it is inherently weak and unreliable, but also because it can be easily fabricated and concocted. For alibi to prosper, the accused must prove not only that he was at some other place at the time of the commission of the crime, but also that it was physically impossible for him to be at the locus delicti or within its immediate vicinity.

In the case at bar, Legaspi has failed to meet both requisites. Aside from his testimony that he was asleep at the time of the incident, no other witness came forward to corroborate his version. Moreover, Manapat Street is only two streets away from Rodriguez Street, the scene of the crime. Legaspi even admitted during the trial that this was only a five-minute walk from his residence. Counterbalanced against Honorata’s conduct immediately after the incident and her positive identification of Legaspi as her assailant, Legaspi’s defense of alibi is unavailing.

F) For insanity to be considered, Paragraph 1, Article 12 of the Revised Penal Code requires a complete deprivation of rationality in committing the act, i.e., that the accused be deprived of reason, that there be no consciousness of responsibility for his acts, or that there be complete absence of the power to discern. The defense of insanity or imbecility must be clearly proved, however, for there is a presumption that acts penalized by law are voluntary.

To prove his insanity, Legaspi’s counsel points to his confinement at the National Center for Mental Health prior to the incident in question. Likewise, his counsel claims that when Honorata saw Legaspi, the latter’s pants and briefs were already down on his knees. He takes this to be an indicium of insanity.

Mere prior confinement does not prove that Legaspi was deprived of reason at the time of the incident. Firstly, Legaspi did not submit proof that he was adjudged insane by the National Center for Mental Health, only that he had been confined therein. Note also that Legaspi had already been discharged from the Center prior to the incident. Even if Legaspi were adjudged insane prior to the incident, his discharge implies that he was already considered well. In fact, the psychiatric evaluation report of Legaspi states that his disorder “runs a chronic course with periods of exacerbations and remissions.” If the insanity is only occasional or intermittent in nature, the presumption of its continuance does not arise. He who relies on such insanity proved at another time must prove its existence also at the time of the commission of the offense (People vs. Bonoan, 64 Phil. 87). This, Legaspi has failed to do.

Neither does having one’s pants and briefs on one’s knees indicate deprivation of reason. If anything else, it shows the lechery and depravity of Legaspi. Mental depravity which results not from any disease of the mind, but from a perverted condition of the moral system, where the person is mentally sane, does not exempt one from responsibility for crimes committed under its influence (People vs. Medinasupra). The Court cannot, therefore, appreciate the defense of insanity brought by Legaspi.

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THINGS DECIDED:

A)       Entries in police blotters, though regularly done in the course of the performance of official duty, are not conclusive proof of the truth stated in such entries since they are usually incomplete and inaccurate.

B)       The presence or absence of spermatozoa is immaterial in the prosecution of a rape case. It is well-settled that it is penetration, however slight, and not ejaculation, that constitutes rape

C)      False testimony or incriminatory machinations must be proved by evidence more substantial than a voter’s registration record.

D)      For alibi to prosper, the accused must prove not only that he was at some other place at the time of the commission of the crime, but also that it was physically impossible for him to be at the locus delicti or within its immediate vicinity.

E)       For insanity to be considered, Paragraph 1, Article 12 of the Revised Penal Code requires a complete deprivation of rationality in committing the act, i.e., that the accused be deprived of reason, that there be no consciousness of responsibility for his acts, or that there be complete absence of the power to discern.

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