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[G.R.No.123140.

September23,2003]

PEOPLEOFTHEPHILIPPINES,appellee,vs.BERNARDOCORTEZANOandJOEL
CORTEZANO,appellants.
DECISION
CALLEJO,SR.,J.:

This is an appeal from the Decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court of Camarines Sur, Libmanan,
Branch56,inCriminalCasesNos.L1679andL1680,convictingappellantsBernardoCortezanoand
Joel Cortezano with four counts of rape and sentencing them to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua for each count and ordering each of them to pay damages to the victim as
follows:P200,000asmoraldamagesandP200,000asexemplarydamagesinallthecases.
TheIndictments
OnNovember22,1994,twoseparateInformationsforrapewerefiledagainsttheappellants.The
firstInformationdocketedasCriminalCaseNo.L1679reads:
Thatonoraboutthe6thdayofMay,1990,intheafternoonatBgy.(sic)Azucena,MunicipalityofSipocot,
ProvinceofCamarinesSur,Philippines,andwithinthejurisdictionofthisHonorableCourt,theabovenamed
accused,withlewddesign,conspiring,confederatingtogetherandmutuallyhelpingoneanother,taking
advantageoftheirsuperiorstrengthwithforce,intimidationandwithgraveabuseofconfidence,didthenand
therewilfully(sic),feloniouslyandunlawfullyhavecarnalknowledgeoneaftertheotherwithLeahC.
Cortizano(sic),7yearsold,minor,againstherwillandtheoffendedpartysuffereddamages.
ACTSCONTRARYTOLAW.[2]
ThesecondInformationdocketedasCriminalCaseNo.L1680reads:
Thatonoraboutthe10thdayofJune,1990,intheafternoonatBgy.(sic)Azucena,MunicipalityofSipocot,
ProvinceofCamarinesSur,Philippines,andwithinthejurisdictionofthisHonorableCourt,theabovenamed
accused,withlewddesign,conspiring,confederatingtogetherandmutuallyhelpingoneanother,taking
advantageoftheirsuperiorstrengthwithforce,intimidationandwithgraveabuseofconfidence,didthenand
therewilfully(sic),unlawfullyandfeloniouslyhavecarnalknowledgeoneaftertheotherwithLeahC.
Cortezano,7yearsold,minor,againstherwillandtheoffendedpartysuffereddamages.
ACTSCONTRARYTOLAW.[3]
On arraignment, the accused entered their plea of not guilty. A consolidated trial of the two
criminalcasesthenensued.
TheCasefortheProsecution

SometimeinMarch1990,LourneyCortezanodecidedtotakealeaveofabsencefromherpart
time job in Cubao, Quezon City, to spend her vacation with her three children: eightyearold Leah,
threeyearoldLeahLou,andLionel,whowasbarelyayearold.Lourneydecidedtostayinthehouse
of her parentsinlaw, Santiago and Nita Cortezano, located at Barangay Azucena, Sipocot,
CamarinesSur.LionelwasalsosickwithasthmasoLourneycouldrelyonhermotherinlawtotake
careofhimwhileshewasatwork.Lourneyshusband,Elmer,remainedintheirresidenceinCaloocan
City.
The Cortezano residence was located at an isolated patch of land.Nita and Santiago slept in a
roomseparatedfromthesalabyacurtain.Theirchildren,theaccusedBernardo(Butchoy)Cortezano,
whowasthentwelveyearsoldtheaccusedJoelCortezano,whowasthenonlythirteenTinggang,
who was six years old, and Boyet Orcine, their sixyearold nephew, also lived with the couple. At
night,Lourneyandherchildren,aswellasJoel,BernardoandTinggang,sleptbesideeachotherina
roomnearthekitchen,besidethecouplesroom.BymidAprilof1990,LourneyreturnedtoCaloocan
City,leavingherchildreninthecareofherparentsinlaw.
EarlyintheafternoonofMay6,1990,JoelandBernardoorderedtheirnieceLeahtosleepintheir
parents room. Leah protested because it was hot in that room. Joel threatened to whip her if she
refused.Leahhadnochoiceshewenttotheroomandslept.Leahsuddenlyawokewhenshesensed
pressureonherarmsandlegs.Whensheopenedhereyes,shesawherunclesJoelandBernardo
they were holding her hands and feet as she was being undressed. Leah struggled but was easily
overpowered by her uncles. She threatened to shout, but she was told that nobody would hear
her. Joel and Bernardo wet her vagina with their saliva. Bernardo then held her hands as Joel
mountedher.Joelinsertedhispenisintohervagina,whileBernardostoodbythewindowtoserveas
alookout.Leah felt something slippery inside her vagina. After Joel dismounted, Bernardo went on
top of Leah and inserted his penis into her vagina. It was Joels turn to stand by the window as a
lookout.Leahoncemorefeltsomethingslipperyinhervagina.Bernardothenstoodup.
Momentarily,BoyetOrcinearrivedandinquiredwhatJoelandBernardoweredoingtoLeah.Joel
andBernardoorderedBoyettorapeLeahandthreatenedtoboxhimifherefused.JoelandBernardo
laughedasBoyetwashavinghisturnwithLeah.JoelandBernardothencalledLeahLouandLionel
intotheroom,lettingthemseetheirsisternaked.
JoelandBernardothreatenedtokillherandthemembersofthefamilyifshetoldanyoneabout
what happened to her.Joel, Bernardo and Boyet left the room together.Leah went out of the room
andwashedhervagina.
Petrified,Leahdidnotrevealtohergrandparentswhathappenedtoher.Afterthatfirstharrowing
incident,JoelandBernardosubjectedhertosexualabusedaily.Aftereverysexualintercoursethey
had with Leah, Joel and Bernardo would threaten to kill her and her family if she told anyone what
theyhadbeendoingtoher.
OnJune10,1990,JoelandBernardoagainorderedLeahtogotohergrandparentsroom.She
did as she was told. Joel and Bernardo undressed her. Leah was told to lie down, and Joel and
Bernardoagainwethervaginawiththeirsaliva.Joel then laidon top ofher, holding herhandsand
pinningherlegswithhis,asheinsertedhispenisintohervagina.Bernardostoodbythewindowasa
lookout.LeahtriedtofightJoel,butthelatterwasenraged.Shewasabouttoshout,butJoeltoldher
thatitwouldbefutiletodosobecausetheirneighborswerefaraway.JoeldismountedandBernardo
hadhisturn,withJoelstandingbythewindowtoseeifanyonewascoming.JoelandBernardoagain
threatenedtokillLeahifshetoldanyoneabouttheincident.
Thenextday,June11,1990,wasLionelsbirthday.LourneyarrivedatBrgy.Azucenaandbrought
herchildrenbacktoCaloocanCity,intimeforLeahsenrollmentattheKalayaanElementarySchoolin
Brgy. Silang, Caloocan City. Because of the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her uncles,
Leahfeltpaininherlowerabdomen(puson).Everynowandthen,shewouldfeelnumbnessonthe
leftsideofherbody.

SometimeinMarch1993,LionelandLeahLouonceagainstayedwiththeirgrandparentsinBrgy.
Azucena.OnMay21,1993,ElmerarrivedinSipocotandstayedwithhisparents.Lourney followed
her family to Sipocot on June 20, 1993. Leah remained in Caloocan City to continue her
schooling.HerstudieswerefinancedbytheDepartmentofSocialWelfareandDevelopment.
On August 23, 1993, Elmer had a quarrel with his parents and left Brgy. Azucena. Since then,
Lourney did not hear from her husband and did not know where he was. On September 20, 1993,
LourneyleftBrgy.AzucenaandbroughtherchildrentoPili,CamarinesSur.
OnMay27,1994,LourneylearnedfromBoyetOrcinethatherdaughterLeahhadbeensexually
abusedbyJoelandBernardowaybackin1990.BoyettoldLourneythatLeahLouhadsufferedthe
samefateasLeah.[4]LourneyimmediatelycontactedacertainMrs.Monares,asocialworkeratthe
DSWD of Pili, Camarines Sur, and inquired whether the information relayed to her by Boyet Orcine
could be true. Mrs. Monares advised Lourney to ask Leah herself. Lourney left Pili and arrived in
CaloocanCityonJune1,1994.SheaskedLeahifsherecalledanythingthathappenedtoherwhile
onvacationinSipocotin1990.LeahtoldhermotherthatJoelandBernardohadwhippedherandshe
didnotwanttoreturntoSipocot.WhenLourneyaskedherdaughter,thelatterrepliedthatJoeland
Bernardohadrapedher.
Lourney brought Leah to the PNP Crime Laboratory in Camp Crame, Quezon City. Dr. Ma.
Cristina B. Freyra examined Leah and submitted MedicoLegal Report No. M080794, with the
followingfindings:
FINDINGS:
GENERALANDEXTRAGENITAL:
Fairlydeveloped,fairlynourishedandcoherentfemalechild.Breastsareconicalwithpalebrownareolaand
nipplesfromwhichnosecretionscouldbepressedout.Abdomenisflatandsoft.
GENITAL:
Thereisabsenceofpubichair.Labiamajoraarefull,convexandcoaptatedwiththepinkishbrownlabiaminora
presentinginbetween.Onseparatingthesamedisclosedanelastic,fleshytypehymenwithdeephealed
lacerationsat3,7and9oclock.Externalvaginalorificeoffersstrongresistancetotheintroductionofthe
examiningindexfinger.[5]
On June 16, 1994, Lourney and Leah arrived in the Criminal Investigation Field Office in Naga
CitywheretheygavetheirrespectiveswornstatementstoPO3ElmerV.Caceres.[6]
TheCasefortheAccused
Bernardo was born on January 22, 1978. He denied the charges. He admitted that he was
charged with raping Leah Lou on April 21, 1994 inPeople v. Bernardo Cortezano,[7] filed with the
RegionalTrialCourtofPili,CamarinesSur,andthathepleadedguiltyonhisarraignment.Hetestified
thatonMarch28,1990,hearrivedinBagadiong,Libmanan,CamarinesSur,tohelphiscousin,Alvin
Reoval,toplowandharrowhisricefieldandplantpalay.Hehadlosthisschoolbag,andhisfather,
Santiago, had punished him for it. He had nowhere to go except to his cousins house. Barangay
BagadiongwasadjacenttoBarangayBusak,andonewouldtakefourandhalfhoursbycarabaoto
traverse Busak from Bagadiong.There were, however, many passenger jeepneys and buses plying
the BusakSipocot route. When Bernardo thought that his parents were no longer mad at him, he
returned to Sipocot on April 5, 1993. He received P3,150 for his services. He met his sisterinlaw
Lourneyonlyin1994,whenshechargedhimwiththerapeofLeahLou.

Joel Cortezano testified that he was born on November 1, 1976. He and his mother arrived in
Manila on May 6, 1990 and stayed in the house of his aunt Concordia Hernandez in San Andres,
Manila.OnMay9,1990,hewenttothePhilippineGeneralHospital(PGH)fortreatmentofleukemia
andstayedthereforthreedays.Thereafter,hewasadvisedbythedoctornottoleavethehospital,as
heneededbloodtransfusion.Joelstayedinthehospitalforoneweek.Joelwasdischargedfromthe
hospitalandstayedinthehouseofhisaunt,ConcordiaHernandez,inSanAndres,Manila,forabout
amonthandhelpedthelattermanageherstore.Everynowandthen,hereturnedtothehospitalfor
checkups.
InAugust1990,JoelsmotherfetchedhimfromSanAndresandbroughthimtoNovalichesfortwo
days.Thereafter,hereturnedtoSipocot,CamarinesSur.
When asked about his medical certificate regarding his treatment at the PGH during the period
stated,Joeltestifiedthathelostthesameduringatyphoon.Heclaimedthateffortstosecurecopies
of the said medical certificates proved futile, as the employees who released the certificates were
busy.JoeldeniedrapinghisnieceLeah.
Nita Cortezano testified that she left Sipocot on May 6, 1990 for Manila to accompany her son
JoeltothePGH,asthelatterwassufferingfromleukemiaandneededbloodtransfusion.Theystayed
inthehospitalforabouttwoweeks.TheydidnotimmediatelyreturntoSipocotastheywereordered
bytheattendingphysiciantostayinManila.OnMay28,1990,sheandJoelwenttoElmershousein
CaloocanCitywheretheysawLeah.ItwouldhavethusbeenimpossibleforLeahtobeinSipocoton
May 6, 1990 to June 10, 1990. Nita further testified that it was only in 1991 when Leah and her
siblingswerefirstbroughttoSipocotbyLourney.Thesecondinstancewasin1992,butitwastheir
fatherElmerwhowaswiththechildrenatthetime.
SantiagoCortezanocorroboratedinparthiswifestestimony.HetestifiedthatbetweenMay6and
June 10, 1990, Leah and her siblings indeed spent their vacation in Sipocot. However, during that
time, Joel was brought to Manila for a checkup at the PGH. Bernardo, on the other hand, left the
householdinJune1990.Asidefromthis,hisdaughtersMelanieandTeresita,whowere16yearsold
and 10 years old, respectively, and his grandson Boyet (Bulilit) stayed in his house. His son Elmer
alsoarrivedinSipocotduringthistime.
SanchoCortezanotestifiedthathewenttothehouseofhisolderbrotherElmerinCaloocanCity
onMay10,1990toinformthelatterofhismarriage.ElmerwasnotinhishousebutLourneyandher
children, including Leah, were there. Sancho left on May 11, 1990 for Cebu where he got married
sevendayslater.OnJune3,1990,SanchoreturnedtoManilaandwhenhewenttovisitElmerathis
house,onlyLourneyandthechildrenwerethere.
BoyetOrcinetestifiedthatonMay6,1990,hewasinthehillswithhismotherEmerlinaCortezano
in Barangay Tulay, which was very far from the house of the Cortezanos in Barangay Azucena,
Sipocot.Hereturnedfromthehillsonlyin1993.Hetestifiedthathedidnothingwhilehewasaway.
On rebuttal, the prosecution presented two letters from Mrs. Fe B. Baes, Chief of the Medical
RecordsDivisionofthePGH,thatasanoutpatient,JoelconsultedthehospitalonAugust16,1989,
November2,1989andApril6,1990,andthathewasneverconfinedatthePGHin1990.Thesaid
lettersreadasfollows:
InconnectionwiththeletterreceivedbythisofficerequestingforarecordofacertainJoelCortezano,whether
ornothewashospitalizedinthishospitalwayback1989,pleasebeinformedthatasperhospitalrecords,a
certainJoelCortezanoconsultedonanoutpatientbasissometimeonAugust16,1989,November2,1989and
April6,1990.[8]
InreplytoyourletterdatedAugust15,1995re:JOELCORTEZANO,mayIinformyouthathewasnever
confinedinthishospitalanytimein1990.HeonlyconsultedonApril6,1990onanoutpatientbasis.[9]

After trial, the court rendered a decision convicting the appellants of four counts of rape, the
dispositiveportionofwhichreadsasfollows:
WHEREFORE,inviewoftheaforecitedconsiderations,thisCourtfindstheaccused,JOELCORTEZANOand
BERNARDOCORTEZANO,GUILTYbeyondreasonabledoubtofthetwocrimesofRapeasdefinedand
punishedunderArticle335,oftheRevisedPenalCode,asamended.Theyaresentencedtosufferthepenalty
ofFOURRECLUSIONPERPETUAeach,inbothcriminalcases,consideringthattheyactedinconspiracyin
thecommissionoftheact,andtoindemnifytheoffendedpartyFiftyThousandPesos(P50,000.00)each,as
moraldamagesineachcriminalcase,andanotherFiftyThousandPesos(P50,000.00)eachineachcase,as
exemplarydamages,andtopaythecostsofthissuit.Theperiodoftheirrespectivepreventivedetentionis
consideredintheserviceoftheirsentence.
SOORDERED.[10]
Hence,thisappeal.
Joel and Bernardo, now the appellants, note, citing People v. Batis,[11]that there are three (3)
settled principles to warrant a conviction for rape, namely: (1) an accusation for rape can be made
with facility it is difficult to prove, but more difficult for the person accused, though innocent, to
disprove(2)inviewoftheintrinsicnatureofthecrimewhereonlytwopersonsareusuallyinvolved,
thetestimonyofthecomplainantmustbescrutinizedwithgreatcautionand(3)theevidenceforthe
prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits, and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the
weaknessoftheevidenceofthedefense.
TheappellantsassertthatLeahstestimonyisincrediblehence,barrenofprobativeweight.Inher
sworn statement to the police authorities, she claimed that she was raped thirtysix times, but her
testimony in the trial court tends to show that she claimed to have been raped only on May 6 and
June 10, 1990. Boyets denial that he had sexual intercourse with Leah belied the latters testimony
thatshewaslikewiserapedbyhim.IfLeahsclaimthathersisterLeahLouandherbrotherLionelsaw
her naked had any ring of truth to it, the two would surely have immediately reported the matter to
their parents. The fact that they did not do so raises serious doubts as to the veracity of Leahs
testimony.
The appellants also claim that although their defense of alibi is inherently weak, it is incumbent
upontheprosecutiontoestablishtheirguiltbeyondreasonabledoubtbeforeajudgmentofconviction
could be rendered against them. Considering the prosecutions evidence, tattered as it is, their
defenseassumesimportanceandisevendecisiveoftheoutcomeofthecase.
TheCourtfindstheappealwithoutmerit.
ThisCourtinPeoplev.Guanson,[12]ruled:
Wellentrenchedinourjurisprudenceisthedoctrinethatassessmentofthecredibilityofwitnesseslieswithin
theprovinceandcompetenceoftrialcourts.Thematterofassigningvaluestodeclarationsonthewitnessstand
isbestandmostcompetentlyperformedbythetrialjudgewho,unlikeappellatemagistrates,couldweighsuch
testimonyinlightofthedeclarantsdemeanor,conductandattitudeatthetrialandistherebyplacedinamore
competentpositiontodiscriminatethetruthagainstfalsehood.Thus,appellatecourtswillnotdisturbthe
credence,orlackofit,accordedbythetrialcourttothetestimoniesofwitnesses,unlessitbeclearlyshownthat
thelattercourthadoverlookedordisregardedarbitrarilythefactsandcircumstanceofsignificance.[13]
Inthiscase,thetrialcourtgavecredenceandfullprobativeweighttothetestimonyofthevictim,
intandemwiththoseoftheotherwitnessesoftheprosecution:
Whateverinconsistenciesorlapsestherewere,thesamerelatetotrivialmattersanddonotinanymanneraffect
hercredibilityandtheveracityofherstatements.Furthermore,suchminorlapsesaretobeexpectedwhena
personisrecountingdetailsofhumiliatingexperiencewhicharepainfultorecall.(Pp.V.Olivar,215SCRA
759)Infact,thoughhowlengthyandrigidthecrossexaminationwas,Leahsdeclarationsremainedconsistent,

firmandundisturbed.Leahscategorical,spontaneous,emphatic,andstraightforwardanswersduringthecross
examinationstrengthenedandexplainedwhatevermissingfactstherewereondirectexamination.Themedico
legalfindings,moreover,corroboratedLeahstestimonythatshewasindeedraped.Althoughtherearenofresh
hymenallacerations,theincidenthavinghappenedthree(3)yearsbeforetheexamination,yettherearehealed
lacerationsevidencingthesexualattack.Afreshlybrokenhymenisnotanessentialelementofrape.(Pp.V.
Cura,GR112529,January18,1995)[14]
ThebestialdeflorationwasmirroredinLeahsbeing,asshecringedandtrembledwheneversheseesthe
accused.Duringthetrial,theInterpreterhadtoshieldLeahslineofvisionuponadviceofthePresidingJudge,as
shewasuncontrollablyshakingandcrying,whentheaccusedwouldcomewithinherview.Hertearsand
statementswerenotcontrivedbutborneoutofagenuinefeelingofbitterness.Shesobbedbitterlyasshe
narratedhernauseatingexperienceinthehandsofherunclesandeveneloquentlydeclaredinaloudvoice:
hindikokailanganangpera,ang
kailangankoaykatarungan!
(p.9,TSNdatedJanuary27,1995)[15]
ThisCourtruledinPeoplev.Dy[16]thatthevictimsactofcryingduringhertestimonybolstersthe
credibilityoftherapechargewiththeveritybornoutofhumannatureandexperience.
Indeed,ascanbegleanedfromLeahstestimony,sherecounted,withtearscascadingfromher
eyes,thesordiddetailsonhowtheappellantsravishedherandsatiatedtheirbestialproclivities,thus:
Q:OnMay6,1990toJune10,1990,doyouknowanyunusualincidentthattookplaceinvolvingthat
person?
A:Yes,Sir.
Q:TelltheHonorableCourt,whatisthatallabout?
A:Thatoccur[r]encewasdonetomebymytwoTitos.
Q:Whatspecificoccur[r]ence?
A:Theraped(sic)thattheydidtome,Sir.(Pagsasamantala)
Q:They,towhomareyoureferringto?
A:Mytwouncles,Sir,JoelandBernardo.
Q:Whatisthesurname?
A:Cortezano,Sir.
Q:CanyoupossiblytelltheHonorableCourt,howthisrapingincidentwasdonetoyou?
A:Yes,Sir.
Q:FeelfreetotelltheCourt.
A:(Witnesscrying)ThatvacationmamaleftusatSipocot,becauseshewastogobacktoworkin
Manila.Shetoldme,thatsheistoleaveonMay5,1990.Thenextday,afterlunch,Joeland
Bernardodidsomethingbadtome.Afterlunch,hetoldmetogoinsidetheroom,whenIrefused,
heheldthebroomattemptingtowhipme.Becauseoffear,Iwentinsidetheroom,while
complainingtothemwhyaskmetosleepinthatroom,whenitistoohotinthatroom.Hetoldmeto
obeyotherwise,hewillwhipme.Islept,andwhenIwokeupInoticedthattheyweredoing
somethingbadtome.ThefirstthingIsawwasTitoJoelwas(sic)doingtome.Iwascryingthe
(sic),Iwasstrangling(sic),mytwohandswerebeingheldandmylegspinneddown.Icouldnot
movebecausethey(sic)weretwoofthem,onewaswatchingoutside.TheytoldmethatifIshoutit
willbeuselessbecausenoonewillhearmebecausethehousewasreallyfarfromneighbors.Our
houseissituatedinasecludedplace.Then,afterthatmygrandmotherarrive(sic),andsheaskedif
therewassomethingbadhappened.Itoldhertherewasnone.Iwasabouttorelaytoherthe
incident,butIjustcouldnotbecausethetwoofthemwerewatchingme.Theystoppeddoingthisto
mewhenmymotherarrive[d]onJune10,1990.

Whenwewereabouttoleave,theywereplanningtodosomethingbadtome.Theysaid,letsdoitinthe
grassland.TheykickedmefromwhereIwasstanding,andIwasthrownwithmybottoms(sic)
hittingthemudfirst,ItoldthemIdontlikeitanymore,andIrun(sic)andwhentheyovertookme,
theystrippedoffmypanties.Theyplacedsalivainmyvaginaandinsertedtheirpenisinmy
vagina.Whenmymamaaskedme,whatwastheabrasionsinmyarmsallabout,Itoldherthatmy
armswas(sic)strucked(sic)bywire.(Thewitnessshowedthescratchesthatwerealready
healed)WhenwereachedManilamyfatheraskedmeaboutwhathappenedandwetoldhim,that
theywerewhippingus.
(Thewitnesscried.)[17]
Q:Ms.Witness,asfarasyoucanrecallwhenwas(sic)thisincidenthappened?
A:OnMay6,1990untilJune10,1990.
Q:Howmanytimeswereyouforcedtoliewiththeaccusedinthiscasefromthatperiod?
A:Thirtysixtimes.
Q:WhattimedidthisincidentonMay6,1990tookplace?
A:Afterlunchtime.
Q:TelltheHonorableCourtwhatwastheparticipationoftheaccusedJoelandBernardoCortezanoin
thisincidentofMay6,1990?
A:Iwasorderedtogetinsidetheroomtogetherwithmybrotherandsister,andIwasorderedtoget
insidetheroomofmylola.
Q:Onthebasisofthatinstruction,whatdidyoudo,ifany?
A:Iobeyedeveniftheroomwashot.
Q:WhatwastheanswerofJoelinrelationtoyourcomplain[t]thattheroomwashot?
A:Ibetterobey,otherwisehewillwhipmewiththebroom(walistingting).
Q:Andsowhathappenednext?
A:IsleptandwhenIwokeuptheyweredoingsomethingbadon(sic)mealready.
Q:Whenyousaidthey,towhomareyoureferringto?
A:JoelCortezanoandBernardoCortezano.
Q:Whatisthatbadyouarereferringtowhenyousaythattheaccuseds(sic)inthiscaseweredoing
badthingstoyouwhenyouwokeup?
A:Iwasbeingraped,theyundressme.
Q:Therearetwoaccusedinthiscase,whowasthefirstonetorapeyou?
A:JoelCortezano.
Q:Whenyousayrape,justwhatdoyoumean,canyoupossiblyexplainfurthertotheHonorableCourt
howwasitdone?
A:WhenIwokeuptheywerealreadyundressingme,theyheldmyhandandmylegsandIcouldnot
moveandTitoJoey[18]insertedhispenistomyvaginaandTitoButchoy[19]wasstandingbythe
windowandwatching.
(Witnessiscrying).
Q:Andso,whatdidyoufeel,ifany?
A:Ifeltsomethingslipperywasleftinsidemyvagina.
Q:Andso,aftertheaccusedJoelCortezanodidthistoyou,whathappenednext?
A:Theyleftthehouseandwereatthesampaloctree.
Q:Howoldare(sic)youthenduringthatincidentasrelatedonMay6,1990?

A:Iwassevenyearsold.
Q:Whatelsehappened,ifany,withregardstoBernardoCortezanobesideshiswatchinginthewindow
asyousay?
A:AfterTitoJoeldidthattome,BernardoCortezanoalsodidittomeandafterthat,Boyet,acousinof
minewheninsidetheroomandaskwhattheyweredoingandTitoJoelanswered,youalsohaveto
dowhatwearedoing,otherwisewewillhurtyou,soBoyetdidthesamethingtome.
Q:Youtestify(sic)thatoneoftheaccuseds(sic),BernardoCortezano,afterJoelCortezanodidthe
samethingto(sic),telltheHonorableCourtwhatisthisthingthatBernardoCortezanodidtoyou,if
any?
A:TitoJoelwentbesidethewindowandwatchwhileBernardoCortezanoalsoinsertedhispenistomy
vagina.
Q:WhenBernardoCortezanoinsertedhispenisintoyourvagina,whatdidyoufeel,ifany?
A:Ifeelthattherewassomethingslipperyagainwasleftinsidemyvagina.
Q:Andso,afterBernardoCortezanodidthistoyou,whathappenednext,ifany?
A:BoyetwentinsidetheroomfollowedbyTitoJoelwhowentinsideagainandtoldBoyettodowhat
theyweredoingotherwisehewillhurtBoyetandsinceBoyetwasfrightened,healsodidthesame
thingtome.
Q:WhatisthatsamethingBoyetdidtoyou,ifany?
A:Healsoheldmyarmsandinsertedhispenisintomyvagina.
Q:Andsoafterthat,whathappenednext?
A:Theylaughedatmeandthentheycalledbybrotherandsisterandtoldthemtopeepatmeandthey
sawmenaked.
Q:AtthetimewhentheseaccusedJoelandBernardoCortezanostartedmakingadvances,didyounot
resisttheiradvances?
A:Ifoughtbackbuttheyweretoostrongforme,oneheldmyarmsandtheotherwasontopofme
whileheinsertedhispenis,IwanttoshoutbutJoeltoldmenottobecausenobodycanhearme.
Q:NowwecometotheincidentofJune10,1990,asfarasyoucanrecall,wherewereyouonJune10,
1990.
A:Iwasatthehouseofmylola.
Q:WhileyouwereatthehouseofyourLola,whatincidenttookplace,ifany?
A:OnJune10,1990itwasthelasttimetheydidittome.
Q:Whattimewasthatalready?
A:Itwasafterlunchtime,theywarnedmenottotellanybodyotherwisetheywillkillmeandmyfamily.
Q:Whenyousaythey,towhomareyoureferringto?
A:JoelandBernardoCortezano.
Q:Iftheyareinsidethecourtroom,willyoupleasepointtothem?
A:(Witnesspointingtoamanwearingstripe[d]polowhoidentify(sic)himselfasBernardoCortezano
andthemanwearingagraypolowhoidentify(sic)himselfasJoelCortezano).
Q:PleasetelltheHonorableCourtwhatisthatsamethingyouarereferringtowhichwasdonetoyou
bytheaccusedsinthiscaseonJune10,1990?
A:Theyremove(sic)mypantyandtheyplacesalivainmyvaginaandthentheyheldmyarmsand
pinnedmylegsandthenkissmeonthelips.
Q:Whokissedyouonthelips?
A:JoelCortezano.

Q:Andafterkissingyouonthelips,whathappenednext,ifany?
A:Theylefttheroomandwenttothesampaloctreeandtheylaughedatme,thenIwentoutoftheroom
andwashmylips.[20]

LeahwasbroughtbyhermothertoSipocottospendhervacationwithhergrandparents,onlyto
be waylaid and enslaved by the appellants, her own uncles. Wellsettled is the rule that the
testimoniesofyoungvictimsdeservefullcredenceandshouldnotbesoeasilydismissedasamere
fabrication.[21]AsemphasizedbythisCourtinPeoplev.Quezada:[22]
Nowoman,especiallyoneoftenderage,wouldconcoctastoryofdefloration,allowanexaminationofher
privatepartsandthereafterpermitherselftobesubjectedtoapublictrial,unlesssheismotivatedsolelybythe
desiretohavetheculpritapprehendedandpunished.Consideringthattheyoungvictimhadnotbeenexposedto
thewaysoftheworld,itismostimprobablethatshewouldimputeacrimesoseriousasrapetoanyman,ifthe
chargewerenottrue.[23]
InPeoplev.DeGuzman,[24]weheld:
Wellestablishedistherulethattestimoniesofrapevictims,especiallychildvictims,aregivenfullweightand
credit.Itbearsemphasisthatthevictimwasbarelysevenyearsoldwhenshewasraped.Inalitanyofcases,we
haveappliedthewellsettledrulethatwhenawoman,moresoifsheisaminor,saysshehasbeenraped,she
says,ineffect,allthatisnecessarytoprovethatrapewascommitted.Courtsusuallygivegreaterweighttothe
testimonyofagirlwhoisavictimofsexualassault,especiallyaminorparticularlyincasesofincestuousrape,
becausenowomanwouldbewillingtoundergoapublictrialandputupwiththeshame,humiliationand
dishonorofexposingherowndegradationwereitnottocondemnaninjusticeandtohavetheoffender
apprehendedandpunished.[25]
Thebarefacedfactthatthepublicprosecutoroptedtochargetheappellantswithonlyfourcounts
ofrapeonMay6andJune10,1990,butLeah,inherswornstatementtothepoliceauthorities,stated
thatshehadbeenrapedbytheappellantsonadailybasisandtestifiedthereon,doesnotrenderher
testimonyimplausible.Eventhemunicipaltrialcourtwhichconductedthepreliminaryinvestigationof
thecasesfoundprobablecauseagainsttheappellantsforthirtysixcountsofrape:
Fromtheevidenceoftheprosecution,itisclearthatstatutoryrapewascommittedtovictimLeahCedilla
Cortezanoforthirtysix(36)timesbyaccusedJoelCortezanoandBernardoCortezano,andtherapeswere
committedinthehouseofthepaternalgrandparentsofvictimLeahCedillaCortezanolocatedinBarangay
Azucena,Sipocot,CamarinesSur,fromMay6,1990,untilJune10,1990.
WHEREFORE,foralltheforegoingconsiderations,itisrespectfullyrecommendedthatTHIRTYSIX(36)
complaintsforrapeshouldbefiledintheRegionalTrialCourtagainstaccusedJOELCORTEZANOand
BERNARDOCORTEZANO.
ForwardthiscaseanditsentirerecordstotheHonorableSenenC.Lirag,theProvincialProsecutorofCamarines
Sur,CamarinesSurHallofJustice,NagaCity,forappropriateaction.
SOORDERED.[26]
The provincial prosecutor may have opted to file only four counts of rape instead of thirtysix
countsofrapeforreasonsotherthantheimplausibilityofLeahstestimony.NeitherisLeahstestimony
enfeebledbyhersiblingsfailuretoreporttotheirparentsorgrandparentsthattheysawhernakedon
May6,1990.Atthetime,LeahLouwasbarelythree,whileLionelwasonlyayearold.Thechildren
were too young to realize the importance of reporting such an incident to their parents or
grandparents.
In the present recourse, the appellants defense of alibi deserves scant consideration. As
consistentlyheldbythisCourt:

[A]libiistheweakestofalldefenses.Itisasettledrulethatforanalibitoprevail,thedefensemustestablishby
positive,clearandsatisfactoryproofthatitwasphysicallyimpossiblefortheaccusedtohavebeenatthescene
ofthecrimeatthetimeofitscommission,andnotmerelytheaccusedwassomewhereelse.[27]
Foralibitoprosper,thefollowingmustbeestablishedwithclearandconvincingevidence:(a)the
presence of the appellant in another place at the time of the commission of the offense and, (b)
physicalimpossibilityforhimtobeatthesceneofthecrime.[28]Alibicannotprevailoverthepositive,
straightforwardandspontaneoustestimonyofthevictimidentifyingtheappellantsasthemalefactors
andhowtheyconsummatedthecrimescharged.
BernardofailedtoshowthatitwasphysicallyimpossibleforhimtohavebeeninSipocotonMay6
andJune10,1990.BernardoeventestifiedthatitwaspossibleforhimtohavereturnedtoSipocotif
he wanted to, as there were passenger jeepneys and buses plying the route four times a day.
[29]
There is no evidence that his running away from their house was even reported to the police
authorities. The appellant merely relied on his testimony and that of his father to prove his
defense.HeevenfailedtopresenthiscousinAlvinReovaltocorroboratehistestimony.
Appellant Joel Cortezano likewise failed to substantiate his alibi.He failed to prove that he was
treatedatthePGHandwasconfinedthereatonMay6andJune10,1990.Whenaskedtoproduce
anycertificationtoprovehisclaim,hefailedtoproduceany,onhisincredibleclaimthattheperson
releasing the certification was very busy and could not issue a certification. This was belied by the
certificationsissuedbythePGHthattheappellanthadconsultedthePGHasanoutpatientonlyon
August16,1989,November2,1989andApril6,1990,butwasneverconfinedinthesaidhospital.[30]
Boyet Orcines bare denial that he was forced by the appellants to have sexual intercourse with
LeahcannotprevailoverLeahspositiveandcategoricaltestimony.Theappellantsfailedtoadducea
morselofevidencetoprovethatLeahhadanyillmotivetoimplicatehercousinBoyet.
TheappellantsclaimthatthechargesagainstthemwereinstigatedbyLourneytohitbackather
husbandandhisfamilydeservesscantconsideration.Nomotherinherrightmindwouldsubjecther
child, who is of tender age, to go through the rigors of undergoing a rape case just to exact
revenge.Inthislight,thisCourthadtheoccasiontosay:
Indeed,itisaccusedappellantsclaimthattherapechargeagainsthimwasmerelyfabricatedbycomplainants
motherinordertogetbackathim,whichwefindtobeimplausible.Asthetrialcourtwellobserved,itwouldbe
contrarytohumannatureforamotherlikeLucitatoexposeherdaughterofsixyearstotherigorsofatrialof
rapewhichmayleaveherstigmatizedforlife,and,inaddition,involveanotherdaughterascorroborative
witness,justsoshecouldexactherpoundoffleshagainstaccusedappellant.Inseveralrapecases,thisCourt
hasuniformlyrejectedsimilardefensesonthegroundthatitisunbelievable.[31]
ThisCourtalsoheldinPeoplev.DeGuzman[32]that:
Alltold,theprofferedalibiofaccusedappellantcannotstandagainstthepositiveidentificationbythe
complainantthatheisthedefilerofherwomanhood.Indeed,therevelationofaninnocentgirlnotevenintoher
teenswhosechastityhasbeenabuseddeservesfullcredit,asthewillingnessofcomplainanttofacepolice
investigationandtoundergothetroubleandhumiliationofapublictrialiseloquenttestimonyofthetruthofher
complaint.Inshort,itismostimprobableforaninnocentandguilelessgirlofsevenyearsashereinoffended
party,tobrazenlyimputeacrimesoseriousasrapetoanyman,letaloneheruncle,ifitwerenottrue.[33]
The Court notes that the appellants were still minors when they committed the offense. At the
time, Joel was 13 years and 6 months old, while Bernardo was 12 years and 4 months
old.Nevertheless,theyarenotexemptfromcriminalliability.
Article12,paragraph3oftheRevisedPenalCodeprovides:
Article12.Circumstances,whichexemptfromliability.Thefollowingareexemptfromcriminalliability:

3.Apersonovernineyearsofageandunderfifteen,unlessheactedwithdiscernment,inwhichcase,such
minorshallbeproceededagainstinaccordancewiththeprovisionsofArticle80ofthisCode.
Aminorwhoisovernineyearsoldandunderfifteenyearsoldatthetimeofthecommissionof
thecrimesisexemptfromcriminalliabilityonlywhenthesaidminoractedwithoutdiscernment.It is
theburdenoftheprosecutiontoprovethataminoractedwithdiscernmentwhenhecommittedthe
crime charged. In determining if such a minor acted with discernment, the Courts pronouncement
inValentinv.Duquea[34]isinstructive:
Thediscernmentthatconstitutesanexceptiontotheexemptionfromcriminalliabilityofaminorunderfifteen
yearsofagebutovernine,whocommitsanactprohibitedbylaw,ishismentalcapacitytounderstandthe
differencebetweenrightandwrong,andsuchcapacitymaybeknownandshouldbedeterminedbytakinginto
considerationallthefactsandcircumstancesaffordedbytherecordsineachcase,theveryappearance,thevery
attitude,theverycomportmentandbehaviorofsaidminor,notonlybeforeandduringthecommissionofthe
act,butalsoafterandevenduringthetrial.
In this case, the evidence on record shows beyond cavil that the appellants acted with
discernment when they raped the victim, thus: (a) they wetted the victims vagina before they raped
her(b)oneofthemactedasalookoutwhiletheotherwasrapingthevictim(c)theythreatenedtokill
thevictimifshedivulgedtoherparentswhattheydidtoher(d)theyforcedBoyettorapethevictim
(e)theylaughedasBoyetwasrapingthevictim(f)theyorderedLeahLouandLioneltolookattheir
sisternakedaftertheappellantshadrapedher.
TheProperPenalties
The imposable penalty for rape committed by two or more persons under Article 335 of the
RevisedPenalCodewasreclusionperpetuatodeath.[35]Sincetheappellantswerebothminorsatthe
time they committed the offenses, they are entitled to the benefits of the privileged mitigating
circumstanceofminorityunderArticle68(1)oftheRevisedPenalCodewhichreads:
Art.68.Penaltytobeimposeduponapersonundereighteenyearsofage.Whentheoffenderisaminorunder
eighteenyearsandhiscaseisonecomingundertheprovisionsoftheparagraphnexttothelastofArticle80of
thisCode,thefollowingrulesshallbeobserved:
1.Uponapersonunderfifteenbutovernineyearsofage,whoisnotexemptedfromliabilitybyreasonofthe
courthavingdeclaredthatheactedwithdiscernment,adiscretionarypenaltyshallbeimposed,butalwayslower
bytwodegreesatleastthanthatprescribedbylawforthecrimewhichhecommitted.
Twodegreeslowerthanreclusionperpetuatodeathisprisionmayor,whichhasarangeof6years
and 1 day to 12 years. The maximum of the indeterminate penalty shall be taken from the proper
periodofthesaidpenalty,dependinguponthepresenceorabsenceofmodifyingcircumstances.The
minimum of the indeterminate penalty shall be taken from the full range of the penalty, one degree
lowerthanprisionmayor,prisioncorreccional,whichhasarangeof6monthsand1dayto6years.
Inthesecases,thecrimeswerenotaggravatedbyabuseofsuperiorstrengthbecausethesaid
circumstance is already considered in the penalty imposed by the law for the crimes. However, the
crimes were aggravated by relationship, pursuant to the second paragraph of Article 15 of the
RevisedPenalCode,asamended.[36]Theappellantsaretheunclesofthevictim.Thecrimecharged
inCriminalCaseNo.L1679wasaggravatedbytheappellants,addingignominytothenaturaleffects
ofthecrime.[37]InPeoplev.Fuertes,[38]thisCourtruled:
Ignominyisacircumstancepertainingtothemoralorderwhichaddsdisgraceandobloquytothematerialinjury
causedbythecrime.TheclauseWhichaddignominytothenaturaleffectsoftheactcontemplatesasituation

wherethemeansemployedorthecircumstancestendtomaketheeffectsofthecrimemorehumiliatingortoput
theoffendedpartytoshame.
IgnominywasattendantwhentheappellantsforcedBoyetOrcinetorapethevictim,andlaughed
asthelatterwasbeingrapedbyBoyet,andwhentheyorderedLeahLouandLioneltolookattheir
naked sister after the appellants had raped her. However, the aforementioned modifying
circumstances cannot aggravate the crimes and the penalties therefor because the same were not
alleged in the Information as mandated by Section 9, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure. Although the crimes were committed before the effectivity of the said Rule, it shall be
appliedretroactivelybecauseitisfavorabletotheappellants.[39]
CivilLiabilitiesoftheAppellants
ThetrialcourtawardedP50,000asmoraldamagesandP50,000as exemplarydamages tothe
victim in each case.The court did not award civil indemnity in both cases. The decision of the trial
courtshallthusbemodified.
The trial court convicted the appellants of two counts of rape in each case. However, Leah is
entitledtocivilindemnityofP50,000andmoraldamagesofP50,000foreverycrimecommittedbythe
appellants.[40]Theappellantsarealsoliabletothesaidvictimforexemplarydamagesforeachcount
ofrapeintheamountofP25,000.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Libmanan,
Camarines Sur, Branch 56, in Criminal Cases Nos. L1679 and L1680, finding the appellants
Bernardo Cortezano and Joel Cortezano guilty beyond reasonable doubt of four counts of rape is
AFFIRMEDWITHMODIFICATIONS.
InCriminalCaseNo.L1679,theappellantsaresentencedtosufferanindeterminatesentenceof
imprisonment(twocounts)ofnine(9)yearsandone(1)dayofprisionmayorinitsmediumperiod,as
maximum, to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional in its medium period, as
minimum. Each of the appellants is ordered to pay the offended party Leah Cortezano P50,000 as
civilindemnityP50,000 as moral damages and P25,000 as exemplary damages for each count of
rape.Thus,eachoftheappellantsshallpaytheoffendedpartythetotalamountofP100,000ascivil
indemnityP100,000asmoraldamagesandP50,000asexemplarydamages.
In Criminal Case No. L1680, the appellants are sentenced to suffer an indeterminate sentence
(twocounts)ofnine(9)yearsandone(1)dayofprisionmayorinitsmediumperiod,asmaximum,to
four(4)yearsandtwo(2)monthsofprisioncorreccionalin its medium period, as minimum.Each of
the appellants is ordered to pay the offended party Leah Cortezano P50,000 as civil
indemnityP50,000asmoraldamagesandP25,000 as exemplary damages for each count of rape.
Thus, each of the appellants shall pay the offended party the total amount of P100,000 as civil
indemnityP100,000asmoraldamagesandP50,000asexemplarydamages.
SOORDERED.