Criminal Law,  Legally Yours

People v. Cataytay

Criminal Law. Rape of mentally incapacitated.
People of the Philippines v. Leonardo Cataytay y Silvano
G.R. No. 196315, October 22, 2014
Leonardo-De Castro, J.:

FACTS:
Accused-appellant Cataytay was charged with the crime of rape against a 19 year of age but with a mental age of a minor. The RTC and the CA found the accused guilty of the crime. Hence, the present appeal.

Facts show that BBB, the mother of the victim, left AAA, the victim, in their house. Thirty minutes later, her neighbor brought her to the barangay outpost. There she found her daughter who told her that she was raped which was ended only when a certain Mimi knocked at the door.

In a Psychological Evaluation Report from the DSWD, which was conducted in connection with another rape case, it is stated that AAA had the mental capacity of an eight-year-old child.

Accused-appellant interposed alibi and denial as his defense. He further questions that credibility of BBB’s testimony concerning the details of the commission of the crime and that AAA can be easily influenced.

ISSUE:
Is the guilt of the accused-appellant of the crime of rape proved beyond reasonable doubt?

HELD:
YES, the guilt of the accused was proven beyond reasonable doubt. Despite lacking certain details concerning the manner in which AAA was allegedly raped, the trial court, taking into consideration the mental incapacity of AAA and qualifying her to be a child witness, found her testimony to be credible and convincing. AAA’s mental condition may have prevented her from delving into the specifics of the assault in her testimony almost three years later, unlike the way she narrated the same when she was asked at the barangay outpost merely minutes after the incident. However, as ruled in a litany of cases, when a woman, more so if she is a minor, says she has been raped, she says, in effect, all that is necessary to prove that rape was committed. Youth and, as is more applicable in the case at bar, immaturity are generally badges of truth.

In the case at bar, AAA was clinically diagnosed to have mental retardation with the mental capacity of a seven-year-old child. 34 The prosecution and the defense agreed to stipulate on the conclusion of the psychologist that the “mental age of the victim whose chronological age at the time of the commission of the offense is nineteen (19) years old x x x is that of a seven (7) year old child.” Accused-appellant is therefore criminally liable for rape under paragraph 1(b) of Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code which provides that:

The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is
committed with any of the following aggravating/qualifying
circumstances:
x x x x
10. When the offender knew of the mental disability, emotional
disorder and/or physical handicap of the offended party at the time of the commission of the crime.

Since the accused-appellant’s knowledge of AAA’s mental retardation was alleged in the Information and admitted by the former during the trial, the above special qualifying circumstance is applicable, and the penalty of death should have been imposed. With the passage, however, of Republic Act No. 9346 prohibiting the imposition of the death penalty, the penalty of reclusion perpetua shall instead be imposed.

Hence, the guilt of the accused was proven beyond reasonable doubt.

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