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Lesser degree

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The


Philippine Star) - September 12, 2018 - 12:00am

Having sexual intercourse with a woman through force and intimidation is a


crime of rape punishable under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code.
Force in rape is relative, depending on the age, size and strength of the
parties. In the same manner, intimidation must be viewed in the light of the
victim’s perception and judgment at the time of the commission of the
crime. This is explained in this case of Helena.

Helena was a mentally retarded woman about 38 years old with the mind of
a 10-year-old child. She was living with her parents, Bong and Sol, in a
remote town among a row of houses occupied by neighbors whom she was
well acquainted particularly Dindo and Junior.

One evening at about 11 p.m., Helena was on her way home after watching
a parade of gays. She passed by Junior who was sitting on a bench
apparently drunk. Suddenly Junior blocked her way, then pulled her and
brought her to a nearby deserted house, stripped off her clothes, removed
her underwear and succeeded in having sexual intercourse with her. After
satisfying his lust Junior ran away.

A few minutes later, while Helena was dressing up, Dindo who was also
drunk entered the house, pulled her down, undressed her and had sexual
intercourse with her also, then ran away. So when Helena went home she
told her mother Sol what Dindo and Junior did to her.

Sol therefore filed a complaint for rape against Dindo and Junior before the
Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of their town. The MTC found a prima facie
case against the two and thus ordered their arrest without bail but they still
tried to prevent the filing and trial of the case in the Regional Trial Court
(RTC). Eventually however the provincial prosecutor filed the complaint of
rape thru violence and intimidation taking advantage of nighttime before the
RTC.

At the trial, Helena testified and narrated what happened to her despite her
mental condition. Sol and Eddie also testified and reiterated the events
involving them. Only Dindo testified for the defense as Junior opted not to
take the witness stand. Dindo claimed that he and Helena, a distant cousin,
were lovers. He admitted seeing Helena that night and bringing her to the
vacant house of their neighbor where they voluntarily had sexual
intercourse.

But the RTC still found Dindo and Junior guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of rape and sentenced them both to reclusion perpetua. The RTC
Judge noted that even if Helena was a mongoloid who has difficulty in
understanding the questions, she was still able to prove convincingly that
she was raped by Dindo and Junior. It gave full credence to her testimony
because it was supported by the medical findings and was really overcome
with shock, fear and intimidation. On the other hand, the RTC characterized
Dindo’s version as simply out of this world, because Helena is a mental
retardate who could not give a valid consent. This decision was affirmed by
the Court of Appeals.

Dindo and Junior still appealed to the Supreme Court, contending that the
trial court erred in convicting them of rape on a mental retardate when the
Information accuses them of rape with the use of force and intimidation.
Besides they claimed that in the absence of a medical expert on her mental
condition, Helena cannot be considered a mental retardate. The denied
also that there was no force and intimidation in the sexual acts between
them and Helena.

But the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that even if there was no expert
testimony to prove Helena’s mental capacity, such expert testimony is not
important here because the trial court found them guilty of rape through the
use of force and intimidation and not of rape of a mental retardate with a
mental age of a child below 12 years old. For purposes of determining
whether Helena is mentally normal or not, the personal observation of the
trial judge would suffice as a measure of determining the impact of the
force and intimidation foisted by Dindo and Junior on Helena.

The SC also ruled that Helena was indeed raped by means of force and
intimidation based on Helena’s narration about the blocking, holding of her
hand and pulling her towards the uninhabited house, the removal of her
panty and the fact that Dindo and Junior were drunk. Such narration shows
enough force and intimidation considering her mental state. Furthermore,
the hematoma found on Helena’s left thigh is physical evidence of force in
the sexual intercourse. Force in rape depends on the age, size and
strength of the parties. In the same manner intimidation must be viewed in
the light of the victim’s perception and judgment. When the victim is a
retardate, the force and intimidation required to overcome her is of a lesser
degree than that against a normal adult. Thus the degree of force which
may not suffice when the victim is a normal person may be more than
enough when employed against a retardate. (People vs. Dumanon and
Labrador, G.R.123096, December 18, 2000).