Aman was convicted beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape punishable under the Revised Penal Code. The victim, a 39-year-old woman, was mentally retarded. She suffered from “moderate mental retardation with a mental age of (6) six years and (8) months and an IQ of (41) forty-one.”
One afternoon, as the victim was standing outside her house and holding her dog, a man approached her and gave her P200.00 to buy some junk food from the sari-sari store. Afterwards, he convinced her to accompany him to his house, located near a cemetery in Caloocan City. Once inside his house, he told the girl to lay down on the floor and remove her clothes. After raping her, he told her to dress herself. To make matters worse, he took her cellphone, and used the money he earned from selling it to buy drinks for his friends who were already drinking outside his house.
During trial, the victim was able to positively identify the man who raped her and clearly communicate what happened to her that day. The accused, of course, denied the rape and said that he was drinking with his friends at the time of occurrence. In addition, he was not aware of the mental state of the accused even if she lived with him for four months in the past. Lastly, the victim’s sole testimony, the accused argued, cannot convict a man for rape beyond reasonable doubt, especially when she was a mental retardate.
The Supreme Court (SC) found the victim’s testimony straightforward, clear, and concise. Also, the victim never wavered in her assertion that the accused raped her. More importantly, the Court held that a mental retardate can be a credible witness so long as she could clearly account and communicate the crime committed –
The fact of AAA’s mental retardation did not impair the credibility of her testimony. Mental retardation per se does not affect credibility. A mentally retarded may be a credible witness. The acceptance of her testimony depends on the quality of her perceptions and the manner she can make them known to the court.
The SC also clarified that under the crime of rape, as provided in Art. 266-A and Art. 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, “when rape is committed by an assailant who has knowledge of the victim’s mental retardation, the penalty is increased to death.” This circumstance must be alleged in the information to change the nature of the offense from simple to qualified rape.
Despite the accused’s denial of knowing about the victim’s mental condition, the SC ruled that he had voluntarily informed the court that the victim had lived with him for four (4) months in his house. Thus, it was logical to assume that the accused was fully aware of victim’s mental condition.
Lastly, when qualified rape is committed and sufficiently proven in court, the penalty provided by law is the death penalty. However, RA No. 9346 has prohibited the imposition of the death penalty. Thus, the SC imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole. Moreover, the Court reiterated the rule that qualified rape entitles the victim to an award of moral and exemplary damages (People v. Rosales, G.R. No. 197537, 24 July 2013, J. Perez).