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People v.

Dela Cerna
Summary Cases:
People of the Philippines vs. Ernesto dela Cerna
People v. Dela Cerna
Subject: Degree of culpability; aggravating circumstances; minority of the rape victim
Facts:
Six separate complaints were filed against accused-appellant charging him with rape committed on five
separate instances. rene Dela Cerna recalled that one afternoon when she was only seven years old! her
father! appellant herein! bec"oned her to come inside the room. #ppellant undressed her and made her lie
down. #ppellant then played with her private parts and touched her vagina with his penis. #ppellant did the
same act to rene many times. #fter raping her on separate occasions! appellant cautioned rene not to report
to anybody what happened.
rene eventually revealed the rapes to her two best friends in school! Cheryl and $ernadette. $ernadette!
in turn! told her own mother what rene divulged. $ernadette%s mother brought her to the DS&D. rene
subse'uently executed an affidavit of desistance and explained that she decided to forgive her father for the
sa"e of her mother and her younger siblings who are dependent upon their father for support. t was stated
therein that it was not her voluntary acts as she was only influenced and forced by the people who came to
intercede in her action.
(n )ovember *+! ,++-! the trial court rendered .udgment finding dela Cerna guilty of six counts of rape.
/he accused-appellant assails said decision due to insufficiency of evidence. #ccused-appellant cannot
capitali0e on rene%s affidavit of desistance. Such an affidavit! by and of itself! does not mean that what rene
previously said was false or the recitals of the affidavit itself are true. (n the contrary! the Court has invariably
regarded such affidavits as exceedingly unreliable. /he reason is because affidavits of retraction can all too
easily be secured from poor and ignorant witnesses! usually through intimidation or monetary consideration.
Held
,. &e affirm the trial court%s conviction of accused-appellant for the six counts of rape committed Certain
facets of this case! however! need to be carefully threshed out in order to fully administer .ustice to all
parties concerned1
*. /wo of the six instances of rape - on 2anuary ,3! ,+-+ and December *4! ,++5 6 occurred before the
effectivity of 7# 843+ 9Death Penalty :aw; which too" effect only on December 5,! ,++5. #s correctly
held by the trial court! the imposable penalty is reclusion perpetua for each of these two crimes of rape.
5. <owever! with respect to the four other incidents of rape which were committed after the effectivity of
7# 843+! the trial court imposed the extreme penalty of death.
=. #rticle 553 of the 7evised Penal Code was already the pertinent statutory provision prevailing at the
time of the latter four rape incidents. t categori0ed as a >heinous? offense punishable by death the
rape of a minor by her own father.
3. Said provision reads1 >#rt. 553. /he death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is
committed with any of the following attendant circumstances1 ,. when the victim is under eighteen 9,-;
years of age and the offender is a parent! ascendant! step-parent! guardian! relative by consanguinity
or affinity within the third civil degree! or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim.?
4. $oth circumstances of minority and relationship were alleged in the informations. <owever!
.urisprudence re'uires that the victim%s minority must not only be specifically alleged in the information
but must li"ewise be established beyond reasonable doubt during trial. /he proof of the victim%s age
must be indubitable in order to .ustify the imposition of the death penalty.
8. n this case! the prosecution utterly failed to discharge its burden of proving the minority of the victim
beyond reasonable doubt. )o single independent proof was offered in court to establish the fact that
complainant was below ,- years old at the time of the incidents. rene merely stated during her direct
examination that she was born on #ugust *4! ,+-*. &e find rene%s casual testimony as to her age
insufficient.
-. n sum! the Court affirmed the decision convicting accused-appellant of the crime of rape in the latter
four instances but must reduce the penalty of death to reclusion perpetua on account of the
prosecution%s failure to satisfactorily prove the 'ualifying circumstance of minority of the victim.