• Moral ascendancy over victim amounts to force, intimidation in rape cases


    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My best friend alleges that she was raped by the live-in partner of her mother, who is not her biological father. He had been abusing her for many years already. This year, she got pregnant and already disclosed the matter to her mother. Her mother’s live-in partner would insist that he will never be convicted of rape because for the many years that something happened between them, my friend never retaliated. He said no actual force attended the ordeals and he is certain my friend can never prove any. He was telling her mother that everything was consensual and because of this she got pregnant. My best friend is so afraid now. Is her abuser correct in his assessment of the matter?
    Sincerely yours,

    Dear Trinalyn,
    The case of People of the Philippines vs. Tito M. Amor (G.R. No. 216937, June 5, 2017), penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam, can help in enlightening your friend in her situation. It clearly stated:

    “And even assuming arguendo that AAA failed to resist, the same does not necessarily amount to consent to accused-appellant’s criminal acts. It is not necessary that actual force or intimidation be employed; as moral influence or ascendancy takes the place of violence or intimidation. Jurisprudence holds that the failure of the victim to shout for help does not negate rape. Even the victim’s lack of resistance, especially when intimidated by the offender into submission, does not signify voluntariness or consent. In the cases of People v. Ofemaniano and People v. Corpuz, it has been acknowledged that even absent any actual force or intimidation, rape may be committed if the malefactor has moral ascendancy over the victim. Considering that accused-appellant was the common-law spouse of AAA’s mother, and as such, he was exercising parental authority over AAA. Indeed, in this case, moral ascendancy is substituted for force and intimidation.” (Emphasis supplied)

    Obviously, your friend not retaliating for the abuses from her mother’s partner does not mean that she consented to the abuses.

    As clearly stated in the case, his being the common-law husband of her mother entails “moral ascendancy.” As such, even if no actual force or violence attended the situation or that the victim failed to shout during the ordeal, rape may still be committed. Hence, your friend may pursue a rape case against her mother’s partner.

    Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

    We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

    Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net


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