On the strength of the eyewitness testimony and that of his five-year old granddaughter, an abaca stripper from Baras town has been convicted of statutory rape by the Regional Trial Court.
The accused, now 58 years old, was sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment, without eligibility of parole, and to pay the victim a total of P300,000 as civil indemnity, moral damages, and exemplary damages, with interest until fully paid.
Information filed by the Provincial Prosecution Office stated that at around 8:50 AM of July 24, 2021 at a coastal village of Baras, the accused had carnal knowledge of the victim, identified only as “AAA”, against her will and without her consent, to her damage and prejudice as well as that of the public.
The prosecution’ main witness, a house helper who took time off to sell “lato” that day in front of the accused’s residence, told the Court that at that time, she heard the girl moaning as if she was being hurt.
Peeping through the door, she saw AAA and the accused both pulling up their shorts but she disregarded it thinking the latter was just playing with his step granddaughter.
After a few minutes, she again heard AAA moaning and, upon peeping, saw the accused putting down AAA and wiping her buttocks before hiding at the side of the wall.
While tending to the seaweeds she was selling, she heard AAA moaning louder and decided to catch what he was doing to her.
When she peeped through the window of the living room, she was shocked to see the shorts of her first cousin and AAA pulled down. The accused had placed AAA against the wall facing him and sitting on his lap wither legs spread apart, with the girl moaning and trying to free herself.
Out of fear, the witness ran to the nearby store and told the owner to get the girl as something happened to her.
At the store, the girl cried continuously, drawing the attention of the barangay captain and a kagawad who were passing by. At the police station, the victim said that her “lolo” did something to her sexual organ.
The girl’s mother, who stayed with the accused together with her baby but left her in his care as she was a stay-in house helper in the poblacion, also found out that her daughter could not urinate because of pain.
In court, the young victim was able to describe what her grandfather did to her using anatomically correct dolls, with the testimony videotaped at the Court’s playhouse.
However, a medico-legal certificate issued by Dr. Shiela Icaranom-Reyes stated that there was no laceration of the victim’s genitalia, only redness at the area between the sex organ and the anus.
The doctor testified that the redness could have been caused not only by sexual abuse but also other medical condition such as poor hygiene.
In his defense, the accused chose not to testify and offered instead that of his fourth child, who claimed, among others, that it would have been impossible for her father to do the deed because he was already old and weak.
She also admitted that she had no personal knowledge of the incident as she was not in the house at the time, having left on board a jeep bound for Virac sometime before 9 PM.
Her testimony, however, could not convince the Court, which noted that on the day of the incident, he was only 57 years and eight months old and could be considered in good health condition since stripping abaca requires physical strength.
In finding the seaweed vendor’s testimony “highly credible,” Judge Contreras noted that her panicked and fearful reaction to the scene she had just witnessed which she had found repulsive.
The Court also said that while the victim had difficulties verbalizing her experience, she was able to answer vital questions and even demonstrated the sexual abuse committed against her using the dolls.