People of the Philippines vs. Conrado R. Laog, G.R. No. 178321, October 05, 2011, 674 Phil. 444

Facts:
Appellant Conrado Laog was charged with murder before the RTC of Malolos Bulacan and a crime of rape of AAA. When arraigned, appellant pleaded not guilty to both charges. The two cases were thereafter tried jointly because they arose from the same incident.

AAA testified that at around 6 PM of June 6, 2000, she and her friend, Jennifer Patawaran-Rosal, were walking along the rice paddies on their way to apply for work at a canteen near the National Highway in Sampaloc, San Rafel, Bulacan. Suddenly, appellant, who was holding an ice pick and a lead pipee, waylaid them and forcibly brought them to a grassy area at the back of a concrete wall. Thereafter, appellant struck AAA in the head with the lead pipe causing her to feel dizzy and to fall down. When Jennifer saw this, she cried out for help but appellant also hit her on the head with the lead pipe, knocking her down. Appellant stabbed Jennifer several times with the ice pick and covered her body with thick grass. Appellant then turned to AAA wherein he hit her in the head and stabbed her on the face. While AAA was in such defenseless position, appellant pulled down her jogging pants, removed her panty, and pulled her blouse and bra. He then went on top of her, sucked her breasts and inserted his penis into her vagina. After raping AAA, appellant also covered her with grass. At that point, AAA passed out.

When AAA regained consciousness she crawled until she reached her uncle’s farm at daybreak on June 8, 2000. When she saw him, she waved at him for help. Her uncle, BBB, and a certain Nano then brought her to Carpa Hospital where she stayed for more than 3 weeks.

During cross-examination, AAA explained that she did not try to run away when appellant accosted them because she trusted appellant who was her uncle by affinity.

Appellant died the charges against him. He testified that he was at home cooking dinner around the time the crimes were committed.

The trial court found appellant guilty of the 2 crimes. He was sentenced to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua for the murder of Jennifer and Reclusion Perpetua for the rape he committed to AAA.

Appellant contends that the trial court and CA erred in appreciating the qualifying circumstance of abuse of superior strength. He argues that for abuse of superior strength to be appreciated in the killing og Jennifer, the physical attributes of both the accused and the victim should have been shown in order to determine whether the accused had the capacity to overcome the victim physically or whether the victim was substantially weak and unable to put up a defense.

Issue:
Whether or not the trial court erred in its decision finding the appellant guilty of the 2 separate crimes of Murder and Rape.

Held:
Yes, While we concur with the trial court’s conclusion that appellant indeed was the one who raped AAA and killed Jennifer, we find that appellant should not have been convicted of the separate crimes of murder and rape. The facts alleged and proven clearly show that the crime committed by appellant is rape with homicide, a special complex crime provided under Article 266-B, paragraph 5 of the Revised Penal Code.

A special complex crime, or more properly, a composite crime, has its own definition and special penalty in the RPC. In one case, Justice Regalado explained that composite crimes are “neither of the same legal basis as nor subject to the rules on complex crimes in Article 48 of the RPC, since they do not consist of a single act giving rise to two or more grave or less grave felonies nor do they involve an offense being a necessary means to commit another.

Article 266-B of the RPC, as amended, provides only a single penalty for the composite acts of rape and the killing committed by reason or on the occasion of rape. “When by reason or on the occasion of the rape, homicide is committed, the penalty shall be death.”

Considering that the prosecution in this case was able to prove both the rape of AAA and the killing of Jennifer both perpetrated by appellant, he is liable for rape with homicide under the above provision. There is no doubt that appellant killed Jennifer to prevent her from aiding AAA or calling for help once she is able to run away, and also to silence her completely so she may not witness the rape of AAA, the original intent of the appellant.

The facts established showed that the constitutive elements of rape with homicide were consummated, and it is immaterial that the person killed in this case is someone other than the woman victim of the rape. In the special complex crime of rape with homicide, the term “homicide” is to be understood in its generic sense, and includes murder and slight physical injuries committed by reason or on occasion or the rape. Hence, even if any or all of the circumstances (treachery, abuse of superior strength and evident premeditation) alleged in the information have been duly established by the prosecution, the same would not qualify the killing to murder and the crime committed by appellant is still rape with homicide. As in the case of robbery with homicide, the aggravating circumstance of treachery is to be considered as a generic aggravating circumstance only.

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