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SC affirms rape conviction of 2 men

The Supreme Court has affirmed the conviction of two sexual offenders who were both found guilty of committing the crime of incestuous rape, but downgraded the penalty imposed on them from death to life imprisonment.

In an en banc decision penned by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr, the Supreme Court affirmed the July 8, 2003 decision of the Cavite Regional Trial Court, Branch 18, Tagaytay City, finding Florante Ela guilty of rape.

The high court sustained the September 16, 2005 ruling of the Court of Appeals upholding the judgment of the Tagaytay RTC.

“We see no cogent reason why the findings of the trial court should be altered. We have repeatedly ruled that, on the issue of credibility, the testimonies of victims who are of tender are credible," the tribunal ruled.

But with the effectivity of RA No. 9346, the penalty of reclusion perpetua should be imposed, without eligibility for parole, the Supreme Court said.

On April 21, 1997, Ela’s then 13-year old daughter filed a complaint against his father before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Tagaytay City. She alleged that her father raped her in the early morning hours of April 14, 1997 at their own home at Tagaytay City.

The high tribunal, in a separate decision also penned by Velasco, upheld the May 10, 2006 decision of the Court of Appeals, which sustained the May 21, 2001 judgment of the Surigao City Regional Trial Court, Branch 32, that found Carmelito Capwa guilty of sexually abusing his eldest daughter and imposed upon him the death penalty.

The lower court found Capwa guilty beyond reasonable doubt for raping his 15-year-old daughter on the evening of September 4, 1998 at their home in Sitio Maibay, Barangay Sapa, Claver, Surigao del Norte.

The high court also affirmed the imposition of death penalty to the accused because the RTC and the CA correctly appreciated the qualifying circumstance of minority.

In view of the effectivity of Republic Act No. 9346, “An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of the Death Penalty in the Philippines," the death penalty is now reduced to reclusión perpetua, without eligibility for parole, the Supreme Court said.

However, it modified the award of P50,000 to P75,000 as moral damages to the victim.

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