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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. 117472 June 25, 1996
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
LEO ECHEGARA ! PILO, accused-appellant.

PER CURIAM"p
Amidst the endless debates on whether or not the reimposition of the death penalt is
indeed a deterrent as far as the commission of heinous crimes is concerned and while
the attendant details pertainin! to the e"ecution of a death sentence remain as et
another burnin! issue, we are tas#ed with providin! a clear-cut resolution of whether or
not the herein accused-appellant deserves to forfeit his place in human societ for the
infliction of the primitive and bestial act of incestuous lust on his own blood.
Before us for automatic review is the $ud!ment of conviction, dated %eptember &,
'((), for the crime of Rape, rendered after marathon hearin! b the Re!ional *rial
Court of +ue,on Cit, Branch '-), the dispositive portion of which reads.
/0ERE12RE, $ud!ment is hereb rendered findin! accused 3E2 EC0E4ARA5 5
P632 !uilt beond reasonable doubt of the crime of RAPE as char!ed in the
complaint, a!!ravated b the fact that the same was commited b the accused who is
the father7stepfather of the complainant, he is hereb sentenced to suffer the penalt of
8EA*0, as provided for under RA. No. &9:(, to pa the complainant Rodessa
Eche!ara the sum
of P:-,---.-- as dama!es, plus all the accessor penalties provided b law, without
subsidiar imprisonment in case of insolvenc, and to pa the costs.
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/e note, however, that the char!e had been formulated in this manner.
C O M P L A I N T
*he undersi!ned accuses 3E2 EC0E4ARA5 5 P632 of the crime of RAPE, committed
as follows.
*hat on or about the month of April '((), in +ue,on Cit, Philippines, the above-
named accused, b means of force and intimidation did then and there wilfull,
unlawfull and feloniousl have carnal #nowled!e of the undersi!ned complainant, his
dau!hter, a minor, '- ears of a!e, all a!ainst her will and without her consent, to her
dama!e and pre$udice.
C2N*RAR5 *2 3A/
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;pon bein! arrai!ned on Au!ust ', '((), the accused-appellant, assisted b his
counsel de oficio, entered the plea of <not !uilt.<
*hese are the pertinent facts of the case as summari,ed b the %olicitor-4eneral in his
brief.
*his is a case of rape b the father of his ten-ear old dau!hter.
Complainant R28E%%A EC0E4ARA5 is a ten-ear old !irl and a fifth-!rader, born on
%eptember '', '(=>. Rodessa is the eldest of five siblin!s. %he has three brothers
a!ed 9, : and ?, respectivel, and a >-month old bab sister. 0er parents are Rosalie
and 3eo Eche!ara, the latter bein! the accused-appellant himself. *he victim lives
with her famil in a small house located at No. '(( 1ernande, %t., Baran!a %an
Antonio, %an 1rancisco 8el Monte, +ue,on Cit @pp. :-(, Au!. (, '((), *%NA.
%ometime in the afternoon of April '((), while Rodessa was loo#in! after her three
brothers in their house as her mother attended a !amblin! session in another place,
she heard her father, the accused-appellant in this case, order her brothers to !o out of
the house @pp. '--'', ibidA. As soon as her brothers left, accused-appellant 3eo
Eche!ara approached Rodessa and suddenl dra!!ed her inside the room @p. '?,
ibidA. Before she could Buestion the appellant, the latter immediatel, removed her
pant and made her lie on the floor @p. '>, ibidA. *hereafter, appellant li#ewise removed
his underwear and immediatel placed himself on top of Rodessa. %ubseBuentl,
appellant forcefull inserted his penis into RodessaCs or!an causin! her to suffer
intense pain @pp. ')-':, ibidA. /hile appellant was pumpin! on her, he even uttered.
<Masarap ba, masarap baD< and to which Rodessa answered. <*ama na Papa,
masa#it< @p. '9, ibidA. RodessaCs plea proved futile as appellant continued with his act.
After satisfin! his bestial instinct, appellant threatened to #ill her mother if she would
divul!e what had happened. %cared that her mother would be #illed b appellant,
Rodessa #ept to herself the ordeal she suffered. %he was ver afraid of appellant
because the latter, most of the time, was hi!h on dru!s @pp. '&-'=, ibid.A. *he same
se"ual assault happened up to the fifth time and this usuall too# place when her
mother was out of the house @p. '(, ibid.A. 0owever, after the fifth time, Rodessa
decided to inform her !randmother, Asuncion Rivera, who in turn told Rosalie,
RadessaCs mother. Rodessa and her mother proceeded to the Baran!a Captain
where Rodessa confided the se"ual assaults she suffered. *hereafter, Rodessa was
brou!ht to the precinct where she e"ecuted an affidavit @p. ?', ibid.A. 1rom there, she
was accompanied to the Philippine National Police Crime 3aborator for medical
e"amination @p. ??, ibid.A.
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Rodessa testified that the said se"ual assaults happened onl durin! the time when
her mother was pre!nant. Rodessa added that at first, her mother was on her side.
0owever, when appellant was detained, her mother #ept on tellin! her. <Eawawa
naman an! *ata mo, na#a#ulon!< @pp. >(-)-, ibid.A.
/hen Rodessa was e"amined b the medico-le!al officer in the person of 8ra. Ma.
Cristina B. Prena,
#
the complainant was described as phsicall on a non-vir!in state,
as evidenced b the presence of laceration of the hmen of said complainant @*%N,
Au!. ??, '((:, pp. =-(A.
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2n the other hand, the accused-appellantCs brief presents a different stor.
. . . the defense presented its first witness, Rosalie Eche!ara. %he asserted that the
RAPE char!e a!ainst the accused was onl the fi!ment of her mothers dirt mind.
*hat her dau!hterCs complaint was forced upon her b her !randma and the answers
in the sworn statement of Rodessa were coached. *hat the accusation of RAPE was
motivated b RodessaCs !randmotherCs !reed over the lot situated at the Madri!al
Estate-N0A Pro$ect, Baran!a %an Antonio, %an 1rancisco del Monte, +ue,on Cit,
which her !randmotherCs paramour, Conrado Alfonso !ave to the accused in order to
persuade the latter to admit that Rodessa e"ecuted an affidavit of desistance after it
turned out that her complaint of attempted homicide was substituted with the crime of
RAPE at the instance of her mother. *hat when her mother came to #now about the
affidavit of desistance, she placed her !randdau!hter under the custod of the
Baran!a Captain. *hat her mother was never a real mother to her.
%he stated that her complaint a!ainst accused was for attempted homicide as her
husband poured alcohol on her bod and attempted to burn her. %he identified the
certification issued b the N0A and *a! No. =&-->(> @E"h. ?A. *hat the Certification
based on the Masterlist @E"h. >A indicates that the propert is co-owned b accused
and Conrado Alfonso. *hat Rodessa is her dau!hter sired b Conrado Alfonso, the
latter bein! the paramour of her mother. *hat Conrado Alfonso waived his ri!ht and
participation over the lot in favor of the accused in consideration of the latterCs
acceptin! the fact that he is the father of Rodessa to simulate the love trian!le and to
conceal the nauseatin! se" or!ies from Conrado AlfonsoCs real wife.
Accused testified in his behalf and stated that the !randmother of the complainant has
a ver stron! motive in implicatin! him to the crime of RAPE since she was interested
to become the sole owner of a propert awarded to her live-in partner b the Madri!al
Estate-N0A Pro$ect. *hat he could not have committed the imputed crime because he
considers Rodessa as his own dau!hter. *hat he is a painter-contractor and on the
date of the alle!ed commission of the crime, he was paintin! the house of one 8ivina
An! of Baran!a Fitalis, ParaGaBue, Metro Manila @E"h. )A. *he travel time between
his wor# place to his residence is three @>A hours considerin! the condition of traffic.
*hat the paintin! contract is evidenced b a document denominated <Contract of
%ervices< dul accomplished @see submar#in!s of E"h. )A. 0e asserted that he has a
bi! se"ual or!an which when used to a !irl '' ears old li#e Rodessa, the said female
or!an will be <mawawara#.< *hat it is abnormal to report the imputed commission of
the crime to the !randmother of the victim.
Accused further stated that her @sicA mother-in-law trumped-up a char!e of dru!
pushin! earlier and he pleaded !uilt to a lesser offense of usin! dru!s. *he decretal
portion of the $ud!ment of conviction orderin! the accused to be confined at the
Bicutan Rehabilitation Center ir#ed the !randmother of Rodessa because it was her
wish that accused should be meted the death penalt.
Accused remain steadfast in his testimon peroratin! the stron! motive of RodessaCs
!randmother in implicatin! him in this heinous crime because of her !reed to become
the sole owner of that piece of propert at the National 0ousin! Authorit-Madri!al
Pro$ect, situated at %an 1rancisco del Monte, +ue,on Cit, notwithstandin! ri!id cross-
e"amination. 0e asserted that the imputed offense is far from his mind considerin! that
he treated Rodessa as his own dau!hter. 0e cate!oricall testified that he was in his
paintin! $ob site on the date and time of the alle!ed commission of the crime.
Mrs. Pun,alan was presented as third defense witness. %he said that she is the
laundr woman and part time bab sitter of the famil of accused. *hat at one time,
she saw Rodessa readin! se" boo#s and the Bul!ar newspaper. *hat while han!in!
washed clothes on the vacant lot, she saw Rodessa masturbatin! b tin#erin! her
private parts. *he masturbation too# sometime.
*his se"ual flin! of Rodessa were corroborated b %ilvestra Eche!ara, the fourth and
last witness for the defense. %he stated that she tried hard to correct the flirtin!
tendenc of Rodessa and that she scolded her when she saw Rodessa viewin! an H-
rated tape. Rodessa accordin! to her was fond of !oin! with friends of ill-repute. *hat
@sicA she corroborated the testimon of Mrs. Pun,alan b statin! that she herself saw
Rodessa masturbatin! inside the room of her house.
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6n findin! the accused-appellant !uilt beond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape,
the lower court dismissed the defense of alibi and lent credence to the strai!htforward
testimon of the ten-ear old victim to whom no ill motive to testif falsel a!ainst
accused-appellant can be attributed. *he lower court li#ewise re!arded as
inconseBuential the defense of the accused-appellant that the e"traordinar si,e of his
penis could not have insinuated itself into the victimCs va!ina and that the accused is
not the real father of the said victim.
*he accused-appellant now reiterates his position in his attempt to see# a reversal of
the lower courtCs verdict throu!h the followin! assi!nment of errors.
'. *0E 32/ER C2;R* 1A63E8 *2 APPREC6A*E *0E %6N6%*ER M2*6FE 21
PR6FA*E C2MP3A6NAN*C% 4RAN8M2*0ERD *0A* PREC6P6*A*E8 *0E 1636N4
21 *0E C0AR4E 21 RAPE, 0ENCE 6* ERRE8 6N 02386N4 ACC;%E8 4;63*5 A%
C0AR4E8.
?. *0E C2;R* BE32/ 2FER322EE8 *0E 1AC* *0A* *0E 0EA3E8
3ACERA*62N% A* > AN8 & 2CC32CE C2;38 N2* 0AFE BEEN 8;E *2 *0E
P;MP6N4 21 *0E PEN6% 21 ACC;%E8 *2 *0E FA46NA 21 PR6FA*E
2
C2MP3A6NAN*, 0ENCE 6* ERRE8 6N 02386N4 *0A* ACC;%E8 C2MM6**E8
*0E CR6ME C0AR4E8, N2*/6*0%*AN86N4 FE0EMEN* 8EN6A3.
>. *0E C2;R* A QUO /06M%6CA335 64N2RE8 *0E 8E1EN%E 21 A36B6 *0A*
ACC;%E8 /A% 6N PARAIA+;E 2N *0E 8A*E AN8 *6ME 21 *0E 6MP;*E8
CR6ME 0ENCE, 6* ERRE8 6N 02386N4 *0A* A36B6 6% N2* %;%*A6NAB3E 6N *0E
CA%E A* BAR.
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Considerin! that a rape char!e, in the li!ht of the reimposition of the death penalt,
reBuires a thorou!h and $udicious e"amination of the circumstances relatin! thereto,
this Court remains !uided b the followin! principles in evaluatin! evidence in cases of
this nature. @aA An accusation for rape can be made with facilitJ it is difficult to prove
but more difficult for the accused thou!h innocent to disproveJ @bA 6n view of the
intrinsic nature of the crime of rape where onl two persons are involved, the testimon
of the complainant must be scrutini,ed with e"treme cautionJ and @cA *he evidence for
the prosecution must stand and fall on its own merits, and cannot be allowed to draw
stren!th from the wea#ness of the evidence for the defense.
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Anent the first assi!ned error, no amount of persuasion can convince this Court to tilt
the scales of $ustice in favor of the accused-appellant notwithstandin! that he cries foul
insistin! that the rape char!e was merel concocted and stron!l motivated b !reed
over a certain lot situated at the N0A-Madri!al Estate 0ousin! Pro$ect, Baran!a %an
Antonio, %an 1rancisco del Monte, +ue,on Cit. *he accused-appellant theori,es that
prosecution witness Asuncion Rivera, the maternal !randmother of the victim Rodessa,
concocted the char!e of rape so that, in the event that the accused-appellant shall be
meted out a death sentence, title to the lot will be consolidated in her favor. 6ndeed, the
lot in Buestion is co-owned b the accused-appellant and Conrado Alfonso, the live-in
partner of Asuncion Rivera, accordin! to the records of the National 0ousin! Authorit
@E"h. <><A. *he accused-appellant would want us to believe that the rape char!e was
fabricated b Asuncion Rivera in order to eliminate the accused-appellant from bein! a
co-owner. %o, the live-in partners would have the propert for their own.
$
/e believe, as did the %olicitor-4eneral, that no !randmother would be so callous as
to insti!ate her '--ear old !randdau!hter to file a rape case a!ainst her own father
simpl on account of her alle!ed interest over the disputed lot.
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6t is a well-entrenched $urisprudential rule that the testimon of a rape victim is credible
where she has no motive to testif a!ainst the accused.
1%
/e find no flaws material enou!h to discredit the testimon of the ten-ear old
Rodessa which the trial court found convincin! enou!h and unrebutted b the defense.
*he trial court not surprisin!l noted that RodessaCs narration in detail of her fatherCs
monstrous acts had made her cr.
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2nce a!ain, we rule that.
. . . *he testimon of the victim who was onl '? ears old at the time of the rape as to
the circumstances of the rape must be !iven wei!ht, for testimon of oun! and
immature rape victims are credible @People v. 4uibao, ?'& %CRA 9) K'((>LA. No
woman especiall one of tender a!e, practicall onl a !irl, would concoct a stor of
defloration, allow an e"amination of her private parts and thereafter e"pose herself to a
public trial, if she were not motivated solel b the desire to have the culprit
apprehended and punished @People v. 4uibao, supraA.
12
*he accused-appellant points out certain inconsistencies in the testimonies of the
prosecution witnesses in his attempt to bolster his claim that the rape accusation
a!ainst him is malicious and baseless. 1irstl, RodessaCs testimon that the accused-
appellant was alread na#ed when he dra!!ed her inside the room is inconsistent with
her subseBuent testimon that the said accused-appellant was still wearin! short pants
when she was dra!!ed inside the room. %econdl, RodessaCs sworn statement before
the police investi!ator which indicated that, while the accused was e"ecutin! pumpin!
acts, he uttered the words <Masarap baD<, differ from her testimon in court wherein
she related that, when the accused too# out his penis from her va!ina, the accused
said <Masarap, tapos na.< *hirdl, the victimCs !randmother, Asuncion Rivera,
recounted in her sworn statement that it was the accused who went to see her to
apprise her of the rape committed on her !randdau!hter. 0owever, in her testimon in
court , Asuncion Rivera claimed that she was the one who invited the accused-
appellant to see her in her house so as to tell her a secret.
1#
*hese alle!ed
discrepancies merel pertain to minor details which in no wa pose serious doubt as to
the credibilit of the prosecution witnesses. /hether or not the accused was na#ed
when he dra!!ed Rodessa inside the room where he se"uall assaulted her bears no
si!nificant effect on RodessaCs testimon that she was actuall raped b the accused-
appellant. Moreover, a conflictin! account of whatever words were uttered b the
accused-appellant after he forcefull inserted his penis into RodessaCs private or!an
a!ainst her will cannot impair the prosecutionCs evidence as a whole. A determination
of which version earmar#s the truth as to how the victimCs !randmother learned about
the rape is inconseBuential to the $ud!ment of conviction.
As we have pronounced in the case of People v. Jaymalin.
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*his Court has stated time and a!ain that minor inconsistencies in the narration of the
witness do not detract from its essential credibilit as lon! as it is on the whole
coherent and intrinsicall believable. 6naccuracies ma in fact su!!est that the witness
is tellin! the truth and has not been rehearsed as it is not to he e"pected that he will be
able to remember ever sin!le detail of an incident with perfect or total recall.
After due deliberation, this Court finds that the trial $ud!eCs assessment of the
credibilit of the prosecution witnesses deserves our utmost respect in the absence of
arbitrariness.
/ith respect to the second assi!ned error, the records of the instant case are bereft of
clear and concrete proof of the accused-appellantCs claim as to the si,e of his penis
and that if that be the fact, it could not have merel caused shallow healed lacerations
at >.-- and &.-- oCcloc#.
15
6n his testimon, the accused-appellant stated that he could
not have raped Rodessa because of
the si,e of his penis which could have ruptured her va!ina had he actuall done so.
16

3
*his Court !ives no probative value on the accused-appellantCs self-servin! statement
in the li!ht of our rulin! in the case of People v. Melivo, supra,
1
7 that.
*he va!inal wall and the hmenal membrane are elastic or!ans capable of varin!
de!rees of distensibilit. *he de!ree of distensibilit of the female reproductive or!an is
normall limited onl b the character and si,e of the pelvic inlet, other factors bein!
minor. *he female reprodructive canal bein! capable of allowin! passa!e of a re!ular
fetus, there ou!ht to be no difficult allowin! the entr of ob$ects of much lesser si,e,
includin! the male reproductive or!an, which even in its lar!est dimensions, would still
be considerabl smaller than the full-term fetus.
""" """ """
In te case at benc! te presence of ealed lacerations in various parts of e va"inal
#all! tou" not as e$tensive as appellant mi"t ave e$pected tem to be! indicate
traumatic in%ury to te area #itin te period #en te incidents #ere supposed to
ave occurred. @At pp. '>-'), emphasis suppliedA
6n rape cases, a bro#en hmen is not an essential element thereof.
1$
A mere #noc#in!
at the doors of the pudenda, so to spea#, b the accusedCs penis suffices to constitute
the crime of rape as full entr into the victimCs va!ina is not reBuired to sustain a
conviction.
19
6n the case, 8r. 1rera, the medico-le!al e"aminer, cate!oricall testified
that the healed lacerations of Rodessa on her va!ina were consistent with the date of
the commission of the rape as narrated b the victim to have ta#en place in April, '(().
2%
3astl, the third assi!ned error deserves scant consideration. *he accused-appellant
erroneousl ar!ues that the Contract of %ervices @E"hibit )A offered as evidence in
support of the accused-appellantCs defense of alibi need not be corroborated because
there is no law e"pressl reBuirin! so.
21
6n view of our findin! that the prosecution
witnesses have no motive to falsel testif a!ainst the accused-appellant, the defense
of alibi, in this case, uncorroborated b other witnesses, should be completel
disre!arded.
22
More importantl, the defense of alibi which is inherentl wea# becomes
even wea#er in the face of positive identification of the accused-appellant as
perpetrator of the crime of rape b his victim, Rodessa.
2#
*he Contract of %ervices whereb the accused-appellant obli!ated himself to do some
paintin! $ob at the house of one 8ivina An! in ParaGaBue, Metro Manila, within ?: das
from April ), '((), is not proof of the whereabouts of the accused-appellant at the time
of the commission of the offense.
*he accused-appellant in this case is char!ed with %tatutor Rape on the basis of the
complaint, dated Mul '), '((). *he !ravamen of the said offense, as stated in
para!raph >, Article >>: of the Revised Penal Code, is the carnal #nowled!e of a
woman below twelve ears old.
24
Rodessa positivel identified his father accused-
appellant, as the culprit of %tatutor Rape. 0er account of how the accused-appellant
succeeded in consummatin! his !rievous and odious se"ual assault on her is free from
an substantial self-contradiction. 6t is hi!hl inconceivable that it is rehearsed and
fabricated upon instructions from RodessaCs maternal !randmother Asuncion Rivera as
asserted b the accused-appellant. *he words of Chief Mustice EnriBue M. 1ernando,
spea#in! for the Court, more than two decades a!o, are relevant and worth reiteratin!,
thus.
. . . it is manifest in the decisions of this Court that where the offended parties are
oun! and immature !irls li#e the victim in this case, @Cited cases omittedA there is
mar#ed receptivit on its, part to tend credence to their version of what transpired. 6t is
not to be wondered at. *he state, as parens patria, is under the obli!ation to minimi,e
the ris# of harm to those, who, because of their minorit, are as et unable to ta#e care
of themselves full. *hose of tender ears deserve its utmost protection. Moreover, the
in$ur in cases of rape is not inflicted on the unfortunate victim alone. *he
consternation it causes her famil must also be ta#en into account 6t ma reflect a
failure to abide b the announced concern in the fundamental law for such institution
*here is all the more reason then for the ri!orous application of the penal law with its
severe penalt for this offense, whenever warranted. 6t has been aptl remar#ed that
with the advance in civili,ation, the disruption in public peace and order it represents
defies e"planation, much more so in view of what currentl appears to be a tendenc
for se"ual permissiveness. /here the prospects of relationship based on consent are
hardl minimal, self-restraint should even be more mar#ed.
25
;nder %ection '' of Republic Act No. &9:( often referred to as the 8eath Penalt 3aw,
Art. >>: of the Revised Penal Code was amended, to wit.
*he deat penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with an of
the followin! attendant circumstances.
'. /hen the victim is under ei"tteen &'() years of a"e and the offender is a parent,
ascendant, step-parent, !uardian, relative b consan!uinit or affinit within the third
civil de!ree, or the common*la# spouse of te parent of te victim.
""" """ """
@Emphasis suppliedA
Apparentl, as a last !limpse of hope, the accused-appellant Buestions the penalt
imposed b the trial court b declarin! that he is neither a father, stepfather or
!randfather of Rodessa althou!h he was a confirmed lover of RodessaCs mother.
26
2n
direct e"amination, he admitted that before the char!e of rape was riled a!ainst him,
he had treated Rodessa as his real dau!hter and had provided for her food, clothin!,
shelter and education.
2
7 *he Court notes that Rodessa uses the surname of the
accused-appellant, not Rivera @her motherCs maiden nameA nor Alfonso @her
!randmotherCs live-in partnerA. Moreover, RodessaCs mother stated durin! the cross-
e"amination that she, the accused-appellant, and her five children, includin! Rodessa,
had been residin! in one house onl.
2$
At an rate, even if he were not the father,
stepfather or !randfather of Rodessa, this disclaimer cannot save him from the abss
4
where perpetrators of heinous crimes ou!ht to be, as mandated b law. Considerin!
that the accused-appellant is a confirmed lover of RodessaCs mother,
29
he falls
sBuarel within the aforeBuoted portion of the 8eath Penalt 3aw under the term
<common-law spouse of the parent of the victim.<
*he fact that the ten-ear old Rodessa referred to the accused-appellant as <Papa< is
reason enou!h to conclude that accused-appellant is either the father or stepfather of
Rodessa. *hus, the act of se"ual assault perpetrated b the accused on his oun!
victim has become all the more repulsive and perverse. *he victimCs tender a!e and
the accused-appellantCs moral ascendanc and influence over her are factors which
forced Rodessa to succumb to the accusedCs selfish and bestial cravin!. *he law has
made it inevitable under the circumstances of this case that the accused-appellant face
the supreme penalt of death. /0ERE12RE, we A116RM the decision of the Re!ional
*rial Court of +ue,on Cit, Branch '-).
%2 2R8ERE8.
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