People of the Philippines v. Divinagracia

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The appellant was found guilty by the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals of raping his daughter AAA (who was eight at the time), and of acts of lasciviousness against his other daughter BBB (age nine at the time). On appeal, the appellant argued that his guilt was not established beyond reasonable doubt. He pointed to inconsistencies in witness testimonies about when his daughters told their aunt and others about the sexual abuse. The Supreme Court found that such inconsistencies are not related to the elements of the crime and do not diminish the credibility of the victim. Under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code, when the victim is under 12, the elements of rape are sexual congress with a woman by a man. Through the birth records, the age of the victim was clearly under 12, and through AAA’s testimony and physical examinations by the doctor, the element of sexual congress was met. The rule is that factual findings and evaluation of witnesses’ credibility made by the trial court should be respected unless it is shown that the trial court may have overlooked, misapprehended, or misapplied any fact or circumstance of weight and substance. The court refused to find AAA’s failure to tell others immediately as affecting her credibility. The court also reiterated that only the credible testimony of the offended party is necessary to establish the guilt of the accused. With respect to damages, the court overruled the lower courts, which had held that awarding damages would be a miscarriage of justice because the defendant-father was a compulsory heir to his daughters. It awarded BBB a total of P300,000 in civil indemnity, moral damages, and exemplary damages. The court awarded AAA P20,000 civil indemnity, P30,000 moral damages, and P20,000 exemplary damages because of the heinous nature of the crime. The court imposed sentences of reclus​ión perpetua (minimum of 30 years imprisonment) for the rape and 12 – 20 years imprisonment for the crime of lasciviousness.



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