The Regional Trial Court has sentenced a former delivery boy in Virac to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, without eligibility to parole, for each of the four counts of rape committed against his 15-year old stepdaughter in 2019.
In finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt, RTC Branch 43 Presiding Judge Lelu P. Contreras also ordered him to pay the victim P300,000 for each count, or a total of P1.2 million, as civil indemnity, moral damages and exemplary damages.
For violation of Republic Act 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, he was ordered to serve an additional 10 years, two months and 21 days to 18 years, eight months and one day on four counts and to pay the victim an additional P225,000 for each count, or a total of P900,000, as indemnity and damages.
The identities of both the accused and the victim, as well as the name of the barangay where the incident occurred, has been kept under wraps in compliance with existing Supreme Court guidelines on media coverage of cases involving children.
In her testimony before the Court, the victim said that the first sexual abuse was committed against her sometime during the second week of August 2019 when the then 25-year old stepfather forced her to drink with her 37-year old mother inside their house.
When her mother got drunk and went to sleep together with her six other children, he told the victim, who was also drunk, to sleep inside the room where he undressed and sexually abused her.
On Aug. 29, 2019, the drunk stepfather arrived at 7 P.M., as she was lying on a “papag”, and told her to go upstairs where he raped her.
On Sept. 8, 2019, he arrived from work and suggested to the victim and her mother that they will have a drink as he was able to get an advance from his employer. When his live-in partner got drunk, he laid her down to sleep, told his stepdaughter to go to the room and raped her again.
Six days later, on Sept. 14, he invited her to have a drink together with her cousin and her mother.
The mother told her daughter not to drink but he forced her to drink.
When the girl got drunk, she went to sleep but was later awakened by the accused, who told her to get up and go with him.
Out of fear, she heeded her stepfather, who carried her from the house until they reached an area near the seawall where he put her down, removed her clothes and sexually abused her.
After they put on their clothes, she told him that she will disclose to her mother what happened and then ran away while clad in only her T-shirt and underwear.
A close friend saw her running and asked her what happened. When she said that she had been raped by her “Tito,” the friend immediately informed barangay officials, who went to the accused’s house and discovered he was no longer there.
In his defense, the accused denied having raped the victim on Sept. 14, 2019, claiming that after the drinking session, he saw her and her cousin having sexual intercourse inside the bathroom. He just ignored them and left the house to fetch his live-in partner.
He likewise alleged that despite their age gap of 16 years, he had a romantic relationship with the victim’s mother, who he claimed helped him escape that night.
Saying that it is a clear case of flight being an evidence of guilt, the Court stated it is convinced that the victim was, indeed, sexually abused by her stepfather, not only on Sept. 14, 2019 but also during all the other instanced that transpired inside the house.
The acts, it added, demeaned, debased and degraded her dignity and worth as a person.
“This Court finds AAA’s testimony to be spontaneous and frank and she remained steadfast in describing what (he) did to her,” Judge Contreras stressed in the 25-page decision rendered on Jan. 11, 2021.