People of the Philippines vs. Joseph Orilla, G.R. Nos. 148939-40, February 13, 2004, 467 Phil. 253

Facts:
In September 12, 1996 at around 3:00 o’clock in the morning, 15-year-old Remilyn Orilla was sound asleep inside one of the rooms of their house when she was suddenly awakened by a heavy weight pressing on her body and found her brother, Joseph Orilla on top of her. Remilyn Orilla noticed that she was naked from waist down. Joseph Orilla continuously pinned down Remilyn Orilla’s body with his own. She struggled to free herself from appellant but her efforts proved futile. Appellant held both hands of Remilyn Orilla with one hand holding a knife with his other hand. He then forced Remilyn’s legs apart and inserted his penis into her vagina. Remilyn felt pain. She also felt some warm matter enter her vagina. Appellant remained on top of Remilyn Orilla and, after a few minutes, she again felt the same substance enter her vagina. Joseph Orilla was charged with two (2) counts of Rape, both Information is identical and reads:

xxx the above-accused, by means of force or intimidation, armed with a knife, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual intercourse with REMILYN R. ORILLA, younger sister of accused, against her will and consent. xxx

The trial court found Joseph Orilla guilty of only one (1) crime of QUALIFIED RAPE and imposed on him the death penalty because while appellant ejaculated twice in Remilyn’s vagina, the first and second ejaculations occurred during one single body connection. However, instead of dismissing the second case, the trial court considered it as a qualifying circumstance for the purpose of imposing the death penalty.

Issue:
Whether the Regional Trial Court gravely erred when it imposed the death penalty based on the following grounds:
1) Relationship;
2) Minority;
3) Use of deadly weapon; and
4) Second ejaculation

Held:
The Supreme Court ruled in the affirmative.

Relationship – Article 14 does not include relationship as an aggravating circumstance. Relationship is an alternative circumstance under Article 15 of the Revised Penal Code. The list of aggravating circumstances in Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code is thus exclusive. Based on a strict interpretation, alternative circumstances are thus not aggravating circumstances per se. The Revised Penal Code is silent as to when relationship is mitigating and when it is aggravating. Jurisprudence considers relationship as an aggravating circumstance in crimes against chastity. However, rape is no longer a crime against chastity for it is now classified as a crime against persons. The determination of whether an alternative circumstance is aggravating or not to warrant the death penalty cannot be left on a case-by-case basis. The law must declare unequivocally an attendant circumstance as qualifying to warrant the imposition of the death penalty. The Constitution expressly provides that the death penalty may only be imposed for crimes defined as heinous by Congress. Any attendant circumstance that qualifies a crime as heinous must be expressly so prescribed by Congress.

Minority – Amended Information did not allege Remilyn’s minor age. The prosecution’s failure to allege specifically Remilyn’s minor age prevents the transformation of the crime to its qualified form. Since the Amended Information failed to inform appellant that the prosecution was accusing him of qualified rape, the court can convict appellant only for simple rape and the proper penalty is reclusion perpetua and not death. The information must allege every element of the offense to enable the accused to prepare properly for his defense. The law assumes that the accused has no independent knowledge of the facts that constitute the offense

Use of Deadly Weapon – When the accused commits rape with the use of a deadly weapon, the penalty is not death but the range of two indivisible penalties of reclusion perpetua to death.

Second Ejaculation – It is not the number of times that appellant ejaculated but the penetration or touching that determines the consummation of the sexual act. Thus, appellant committed only one count of rape. Second ejaculation is not also of one of the qualifying circumstances of Rape. Therefore, it has no basis in law.

Proper Penalty – To determine the proper penalty, we apply Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code. Article 63 states that the greater penalty, which is death, will be applied when in the commission of rape there is present one aggravating circumstance. The Supreme Court held that the aggravating circumstance that is sufficient to warrant the imposition of the graver penalty of death must be that specifically enumerated in Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code. Since it is only relationship that is alleged and proven in this case, and it is not an aggravating circumstance per se, the proper penalty is the lower penalty of reclusion perpetua.

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