Saturday, March 17, 2012

People vs. Sultan

Facts: At around nine in the evening, Juditha was on her way home. In passing a dark alley, however, she was accosted by an assailant (by the name of Sultan) who announced that it was a “hold up” and forced her to come home with him. Her valuables were taken from her and she was ordered to undress. After which, Sultan ordered her to lie down and commenced violating her sexually by means of holding her hands above her head and inserting his penis into her vagina. After the initial coital encounter, he took a short break and proceeded once again with threat and intimidation to sexually abuse her. He said that he loved her afterwards and offered to elope. In her effort to free herself from him, she agreed. The next day she told her sister who consequently informed their brother who was a policeman. He suggested that Juditha pretend to elope so that he could arrest the assailant with the help of his two companions later on. They were able to do this while Juditha and the accused were inside a bus during heavy traffic. He was tried and convicted of the special complex crime of robbery with rape. He appeals to the SC.

Issue: Whether or not the testimony of the victim can be considered credible on the basis of the alleged robbery and rape.

Held: Yes. Regarding the robbery: while there may have been no effort on the part of the victim to retrieve her personal belongings after the threat had passed, her failure to do so does not necessarily dispute the commission of the robbery.

Article 293 of the RPC provides that: “Any person who, with intent to gain, shall take any personal property belonging to another, by means of violence against or intimidation of persons, or using force upon anything, shall be guilty of robbery.”

All the necessary elements for the execution and accomplishment of the crime were present: (1) personal property belonging to another; (2) unlawful taking; (3) intent to gain; and (4) violence or intimidation.

Regarding the rape- the accused alleges that the requisite force/intimidation was not proved and there was some form of consent because the victim did not put up enough resistance. The court answered that though force may not have been employed by the assailant, intimidation was vividly present in the fear that it produced within the victim. With fear instilled in Juditha’s mind, failure to put up resistance does not mean consent so as to make her a willing participant in the sexual confrontation that transpired.

Article 294, par. 1 of the RPC condemns a person to reclusion perpetua to death when robbery shall have been committed with rape. In the present case, the victim was raped TWICE but since additional rapes committed do not count as aggravating circumstances1 (People v. Regala), the court must construe the penal law to be in favor of the offender. Unless a law is passed providing that additional rape/s or homicide/s may be considered aggravating, this will always be the case because:

Article 63, par. 2 of the same Code explicitly states that when the law prescribes a penalty composed of two indivisible penalties, when there are neither mitigating or aggravating circumstances in the commission of the deed, the lesser penalty shall be applied.

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