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G.R. CV No. 76624 Civil Case No.

T-799 Reynaldo Navales and Nilda Navales met in 1986 in a local bar where Nilda worked as a waitress. The two became lovers and Nilda quit her job, managed a boarding house owned by her uncle and studied Health Aide financed by Reynaldo. Upon learning that Nilda's uncle was prodding her to marry an American, Reynaldo, not wanting to lose her, asked her to marry him. This, despite his knowledge that Nilda was writing her penpals and was asking money from them and that she had an illegitimate son by a man whose identity she did not reveal to him. The two got married on December 29, 1988, before the Municipal Trial Court Judge of San Fernando, Cebu.4 Reynaldo claims that during the first year of their marriage, their relationship went well. Problems arose, however, when Nilda started selling RTWs and cosmetics, since she could no longer take care of him and attend to household chores.5 Things worsened when she started working as an aerobics instructor at the YMCA, where, according to Reynaldo, Nilda's flirtatiousness and promiscuity recurred. She wore tight-fitting outfits, allowed male clients to touch her body, and introduced herself as single. Reynaldo received phone calls from different men looking for Nilda. There was also a time when Nilda chose to ride with another man instead of Reynaldo; and another when Nilda went home late, riding in the car of the man who kissed her. Reynaldo also claims that Nilda refused to have a child with him, as it would destroy her figure.6 On June 18, 1992, Reynaldo left Nilda and never reconciled with her again.7 On August 30, 1999, Reynaldo filed a Petition for Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Marriage and Damages before the RTC, Toledo City, Cebu, docketed as Civil Case No. T-799 claiming that his marriage with Nilda did not cure Nilda's flirtatiousness and sexual promiscuity, and that her behavior indicates her lack of understanding and appreciation of the meaning of marriage, rendering the same void under Article 36 of the Family Code. Reynaldo testified in support of his petition and presented telephone directories showing that Nilda used her maiden name "Bacon" instead of "Navales." Reynaldo presented Leticia Vatanagul, a Clinical Psychologist and Social Worker who drafted a Psychological Assessment of Marriage dated March 28, 2001. In said Assessment, Vatanagul concluded that Nilda is a nymphomaniac, who has a borderline personality, a social deviant, an alcoholic, and suffering from anti-social personality disorder, among others, which illnesses are incurable and are the causes of Nildas psychological incapacity to perform her marital role as wife to Reynaldo. Nilda, for her part, claims that Reynaldo knew that she had a child before she met him, yet Reynaldo continued courting her; thus, their eventual marriage.She claims that it was actually Reynaldo who was linked with several women, who went home very late, kept his earnings for himself, and subjected her to physical harm whenever she called his

attention to his vices. She worked at the YMCA to cope with the needs of life, and she taught only female students. Reynaldo abandoned her for other women, the latest of whom was Liberty Lim whom she charged, together with Reynaldo, with concubinage. Nilda presented a certification from the YMCA dated October 17, 2001 stating that she was an aerobics instructress for a program that was exclusively for ladies. RTC Held: x x x From the testimonies and evidences x x x adduced, it was clearly established that the defendant had no full understanding of [the] effects of marriage and had no appreciation of [the] consequences of marriage as shown by her x x x act of concealing her marital status by using her maiden name "Nilda T. Bacon", augmenting her pretense of being still single through the telephone directories; by her refusal to accompany with [sic] her husband despite of the latter's insistence, but rather opted to ride other man's jeep, whose name her husband did not even know; by her act of allowing a man other than her husband to touch her legs even in her husband's presence; by allowing another man to kiss her even in the full view of her husband; by preferring to loss [sic] her husband rather than losing her job as aerobic instructress and on top of all, by refusing to bear a child fathered by her husband because it will destroy her figure, is a clear indication of the herein defendant's psychological incapacity. Nilda filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which the RTC denied on April 10, 2002. The CA dismissed Nildas appeal, affirming the RTC Decision Nilda now comes before the Court alleging that: Nilda claims that she did not fail in her duty to observe mutual love, respect and fidelity; that she never had any illicit relationship with any man; that no case for inchastity was initiated by Reynaldo against her, and that it was actually Reynaldo who had a pending case for concubinage. She questions the lower courts finding that she is a nymphomaniac, since she was never interviewed by the expert witness to verify the truth of Reynaldo's allegations. There is also not a single evidence to show that she had sexual intercourse with a man other than her husband while they were still living together. Nilda also avers that the guidelines in Republic of the Phillippines. v. Molina25 were not complied with. The RTC resolved the doubt on her motive for using her maiden name in the telephone directory in favor of the dissolution of the marriage instead of its preservation. The expert opinion was given weight, even though it was baseless to establish that petitioner had psychological incapacity to comply with her marital obligations as a wife; and that, assuming that such incapacity existed, it was already existing at the time of the marriage; and that such incapacity was incurable and grave enough to bring about the disability of the wife to assume the essential obligations of marriage.

Simply stated, the issue posed before the Court is whether the marriage between Reynaldo and Nilda is null and void on the ground of Nilda's psychological incapacity. The answer, contrary to the findings of the RTC and the CA, is in the negative. The Court cannot agree with the RTC that said telephone listings show that Nilda represented herself to be single, which in turn manifests her lack of understanding of the consequences of marriage. Reynaldo also presented Clinical Psychologist Vatanagul to bolster his claim that Nilda is psychologically incapacitated. While it is true that the Court relies heavily on psychological experts for its understanding of the human personality, the psychological report lacked specificity, it failed to show the root cause of Nilda's psychological incapacity; and failed to demonstrate that there was a "natal or supervening disabling factor" or an "adverse integral element" in Nilda's character that effectively incapacitated her from accepting, and thereby complying with, the essential marital obligations, and that her psychological or mental malady existed even before the marriage. Reynaldo failed to specify, however, the names of the men Nilda had sexual relationship with or the circumstances surrounding the same. As pointed out by Nilda, there is not even a single proof that she was ever involved in an illicit relationship with a man other than her husband. Indeed, the conclusions drawn by the report are vague, sweeping and lack sufficient factual bases. The standards used by the Court in assessing the sufficiency of psychological reports may be deemed very strict, but that is only proper in view of the principle that any doubt should be resolved in favor of the validity of the marriage and the indissolubility of the marital vinculum. While Reynaldo and Nilda's marriage failed and appears to be without hope of reconciliation, the remedy, however, is not always to have it declared void ab initio on the ground of psychological incapacity. A marriage, no matter how unsatisfactory, is not a null and void marriage.70 And this Court, even as the highest one, can only apply the letter and spirit of the law, no matter how harsh it may be.71 WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals and the Decision of the Regional Trial Court are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The petition for declaration of absolute nullity of marriage and damages, docketed as Civil Case No. T-799, is DISMISSED. Costs against respondent.

G.R. No. 143237

October 28, 2002

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. FRANCIS GAVINA Y QUEBEC, accused-appellant. DECISION QUISUMBING, J.: MILET JURIAL hails from San Jose, Digos, Davao del Sur. She claimed to be only 14 years old at the time of the incident. Despite her tender age, she admitted to having been deflowered by a boy friend in the province. At the invitation of one Erlinda Undang, she came to Manila on October 20, 1998, to work as a saleslady, but wound up as a cook in Malate. Unable to take her employers maltreatment, she fled from her employer on the night of January 18, 1999, with co-employee Susan Yap. They wound up in Luneta Park. They were seated near the Rizal Monument, when appellant approached them. He introduced himself as a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agent investigating cases of missing children and offered to help the two distressed girls. Fearing that their employers security guard might find them, the two girls readily went with him. Appellant brought them to Harrison Street, Manila where his uncle, a policeman, supposedly resided. As the uncle was not there, they went for a stroll at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) complex. Appellant then invited her to buy buko. They left Susan behind. She voluntarily went with appellant, as she believed he would not "touch her." They took a cab to Pasay Rotonda, where they had a meal. He then brought her to Baclaran Church where they stayed until 4:00 A.M. When Milet complained she was sleepy, appellant offered her shelter for the night and brought her to Mahal Kita Motel in Pasay City. Inside the motel room, complainant felt thirsty and asked for a glass of water from appellant. After she drank the water, she felt dizzy, fell on the bed, and slept. When she came to, she found herself naked on the bed with appellant lying on top of her, his penis inside her vagina. She tried to push him aside but he threatened to kill her if she resisted and shouted for help. Appellant succeeded in having carnal knowledge of her. They stayed in the motel until about 12:00 oclock noon. She could not leave as appellant sat near the bedroom door. From the motel, appellant brought Milet to Harrison Plaza where they had lunch. He next brought her to a chapel on the second floor of the mall. He left her at the chapel after telling her he would look for money, but promised to be back for her. After appellant left, she asked for help from one Aldwin Coronel who was also inside the chapel. Aldwin informed her that the man she was with was a pimp. Aldwin accompanied Milet to the office of the mall security force where she revealed that Gavina had raped her. Responding policemen immediately arrested appellant upon his return.6

DR. MARIELLA SUGUE CASTILLO, a doctor at the Child Protection Unit of the UPPhilippine General Hospital, conducted the medico-genital examination on Milet. Her findings were consistent with complainants allegations that she had been sexually abused the day before. However, on cross-examination, the doctor admitted that there were no signs of physical abuse on complainants body, such that the injuries on her genitals could have also been due to consensual sexual intercourse. Appellant FRANCIS GAVINA was the sole witness for the defense. He testified that around 9:00 P.M. of January 18, 1999, he was walking in Luneta when he saw complainant and Susan Yap. The two girls smiled at him. Moments later, a security guard chased the girls who promptly hid among the bushes. When the guard left, the girls came out of their hiding place. They told him that they had run away from their employer who maltreated them and his guard was looking for them. He offered them shelter at a friends house in Malate. They went to Malate but his friend was not around. From there, they proceeded to the PICC site where they had snacks until it began to rain. They took shelter at a nearby building where he sat beside complainant. The latter whispered that she wanted to leave Susan as she was bad company. On the pretext of looking for buko, they left Susan and took a cab to Pasay Rotonda where they again ate. Milet changed attire and put her soiled clothes in appellants bag. She then invited him to go to Baclaran Church. At the church, complainant fell asleep. He woke her up and they went out for coffee. Milet complained that she was sleepy, so he offered to bring her to Mahal Kita Motel. She agreed. According to appellant, complainant knew that the place they were going to was a motel. It was already 4:00 A.M. when they reached the motel. Once inside, Milet took a shower and asked appellant to hang her freshly washed underwear. With only a towel wrapped around her, she lay down on the bed with appellant. They began to kiss and proceeded to have sex for four consecutive times, according to appellant. Thereafter, they slept until noon of January 19, 1999, when Milet woke him up. They then went to Harrison Plaza to eat and visit the mall chapel. After praying, appellant told Milet to wait for him at the chapel while he called up his brother. He wanted her to stay at his brothers house. Unable to reach his brother, he went back to the chapel as promised. To his surprise, the Harrison Plaza security guards apprehended him and brought him, together with Milet, to their office. He was subsequently brought to the Pasay City Police Station. Appellant insisted that Milet went with him freely and voluntarily and that they had consensual sex. He claimed that Milet charged him with rape only because she was influenced by the guards to do so, after Aldwin Coronel informed her that he was a pimp. The lower court found the prosecution version credible, convicted appellant of the charge, and sentenced him to an imprisonment of reclusion perpetua and to pay the victim indemnity of P75,000.00 and P50,000.00 for moral damages. The issue for resolution is whether or not the guilt of appellant, as charged, has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

The trial court indeed has overlooked certain factual circumstances that could lead to a different result. First, note that the information charges rape allegedly committed by means of force or intimidation. Yet, the only finding made by the trial court concerning the element of force and intimidation is a perfunctory sentence that "she pushed him but accused threatened her."14 There was no showing of such compelling fear. Appellant had no weapon with him and used none in the commission of the alleged crime. Nowhere in complainants testimony do we find such degree of intimidation as to cause her to believe that appellant was at that time capable of harming her or killing her had she refused him. We find absent here the element of force or intimidation to support a charge for rape. Where the accused raises doubt as to any material element, but the prosecution is unable to overcome such doubt, we must find that the prosecution has failed to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt and the accused, now appellant, must be acquitted. In rape committed by force or intimidation, it is imperative that the prosecution should establish that voluntariness on the part of the offended party was absolutely lacking. In the present case, complainants conduct before, during, and after the alleged rape, as gleaned from her testimony, tells a different story. It is noteworthy that before the incident, complainant freely and voluntarily went with appellant to several places before they ultimately ended up in a motel. Before tagging along with him, she was with her friend and co-worker whom she had known far longer than appellant. Yet, she chose to leave this companion behind to go with a stranger whom she met only that night. Surprisingly, she developed instant trust and confidence in a man whom she hardly knew at all. It is not inconceivable therefore that, to use the trial courts language, appellant had "sweet-talked" her into going with him to the motel and having sexual relations with him. However, "sweet-talking" a girl into sex is not rape. It could be some other offense. But here, the charge is not for pimping or trafficking in women, much less child abuse, but rape. We are constrained to remain within the parameters of the charge. And the burden of proof, that the crime of rape as charged had been committed, lies squarely upon the prosecution. The record shows that after she was allegedly raped, complainant willingly went with appellant on board a cab to Harrison Plaza, had a long lunch with him, and thereafter, even went to the chapel with him.19 In this instance, they were in a crowded shopping mall, appellant was unarmed, and she had every opportunity to flee from her supposed rapist, and ask for help. Yet she did not. It appears rather unusual and contrary to human experience for a rape victim, if indeed she was, to wait for her ravisher to return. Thus, seen in its totality, complainants conduct sows the seeds of grave doubt concerning her credibility. Second, in convicting appellant, the trial court relied upon a finding that complainant was unconscious when the appellant had carnal knowledge of her. This contradicts the allegation in the information. Appellant was charged with rape committed by means of force or intimidation. The element of unconsciousness on the victims part was not alleged much less specified in the information. It cannot be made the basis of conviction,

without violating appellants right to due process, in particular to be informed of the nature of the accusation against him. The factual circumstances that attended the alleged rape, particularly complainants conduct before, during, and after coitus, in the light of the medical evidence and testimony of the UP-PGH doctor, could lend themselves to different interpretations, including one indicating consensual copulation. The trial court, in holding for conviction, relied on the presumption hominis that a woman who cries rape says all that need to be said, and no young Filipina would cry rape if it were not true. However, its decision totally disregarded the more paramount constitutional presumption that an accused is deemed innocent until proven otherwise. When two or more conflicting presumptions are involved, one tending to show the guilt of the accused and the other to sustain his innocence, it is necessary to examine the basis for each presumption and determine which should logically prevail. A presumption indicating guilt does not by itself destroy the presumption of innocence unless the inculpating presumption, together with all the evidence adduced, suffices to overcome the presumption of innocence by proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Until the appellants guilt is shown in this manner, the presumption of innocence continues and must prevail. WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 109 in Criminal Case No. 99-0295 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Appellant FRANCIS GAVINA Y QUEBEC is ACQUITTED of rape on the ground of reasonable doubt. He is ordered RELEASED forthwith from confinement, unless held for another valid cause. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is further ordered to report to this Court, within five days from notice, compliance with this decision. SO ORDERED. Bellosillo, Acting Chief Justice, (Chairman), Mendoza, and Callejo, Sr., JJ., concur.