San Miguel man gets long jail time for molesting niece

An abaca stripper from San Miguel town has been found guilty of molesting the minor daughter of his own brother twice.

For the first case, the Regional Trial Court sentenced Rolly “Kuwa” Bernal to a prison term ranging from 10 years to 17 years, and to pay the victim P150,000 as civil indemnity, moral and exemplary damages.

He was likewise given another 12 to 15 years in prison for the second offense, for which he would pay the victim another P150,000 as damages.

Information filed before the Court stated that in the early morning of March 20, 2020 at around 1 AM, the 12-year old victim was sleeping beside her younger brother since their parents were stripping abaca in the mountains at sitio Inabanga in barangay Katipunan.

She was awakened when she felt someone holding her thighs.

It turned out to be her uncle Rolly, who had no shirt and smelled of liquor.

The accused moved her brother and positioned himself between the latter and his niece, after which he hugged and kissed her cheek many times.

He tried to remove her short pants but she held on to it tightly, eventually getting up and telling him to leave or she would go and tell her grandmother who was their neighbor.

It was during the investigation of this case that the victim informed that she was first molested by her uncle in June 2019 in Cabugao, Bato during the eve of the barangay fiesta.

She claimed that she and her eight-year old cousin were asleep inside the house of another uncle when she felt someone lying between her legs.

When she awoke, her legs were already on Rolly’s shoulders and he was trying to lower her shorts.

She told him to leave but, instead, he went nearer, hugged her and kissed her cheek.

The commotion awakened her cousin, who told the accused to leave but he stayed inside the room, prompting the two kids to move further away.

Bernal went to their location, removed the blanket around his niece and continued kissing her many times.

The cousin repeatedly asked him to leave the room but the accused ignored it, with the former eventually falling asleep.

With the victim crying and trembling out of fear, the accused only left when her sister came back from the dance at the plaza.

In his defense, Bernal said that during the June 12, 2019 incident, he was at the abaca plantation in San Miguel, and during the March 20, 2020 incident, he entered the house at 5 AM only to awaken his brother.

The Court, however, was not convinced, with Judge Lelu P. Contreras citing the Supreme Court’s ruling that denial could not overcome the positive testimony of the victim.

It likewise held that the almost two-month delay in the reporting of the second incident was satisfactorily explained as it was during the pandemic and the parents were afraid to travel due to the restrictions.

Quoting the social case study report, Judge Contreras said that the victim did not feel secure after the incident and had difficulty trusting people, and that she suffered trauma, had disturbed sleep and nightmares.

There is no iota of doubt that the evidence has proven the lascivious acts of the accused, which debased, degraded and demeaned her intrinsic worth and dignity as a human being, the RTC stressed.

During the trial, it was learned that Bernal had been previously convicted for acts of lasciviousness in a case filed by another victim but he escaped tougher punishment by entering into a plea bargain agreement.

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