Criminal Law

People of the Philippines vs Rene Siao

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G.R. No. 126021 – 383 Phil. 988 – Criminal Law – Book I – Aggravating Circumstances – Ignominy – Principal by Inducement

Remedial Law – Criminal Procedure – Information; All aggravating circumstances must be alleged

Political Law – Constitutional Law – Bill of Rights – Right to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation

Reylan Gimena and Estrella Raymundo (14 years old) are house helpers of Rene Siao. One afternoon in May 1994, Rene Siao ordered Reylan to pull Estrella into the maids quarter. Siao pointed a gun at Reylan and ordered him to do sexual acts against Estrella. Siao also pointed a gun at Estrella telling her to suck his private part. Thereafter, still pointing a gun at both of them, Siao ordered Reylan to have sex with Estrella using the “dog-style” position.

Eventually, Estrella was able to inform the police about what happened. In the Information filed against Siao, no aggravating circumstances were alleged. During trial, Estrella and Reylan testified against Siao. In 1996, Siao was convicted for rape as principal by inducement and was sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The court considered the aggravating circumstance of use of deadly weapon against Siao. Reylan was acquitted.

ISSUE: What are the aggravating circumstances in the case at bar.

HELD: It was proven that Siao used his gun to consummate the crime but under existing jurisprudence, aggravating circumstances that will change the nature of the crime (or the so called qualifying circumstances) must be alleged in the Information in order to be appreciated against the accused. Otherwise, his right to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation against him will be violated. Had it been alleged, Siao would have been liable for qualified rape. Since there was no allegation, then he is only liable for simple rape.

The penalty for simple rape is reclusion perpetua.

On the other hand, the trial court overlooked the appreciation of the ordinary aggravating circumstance of ignominy. “It has been held that where the accused in committing the rape used not only the missionary position, i.e. male superior, female inferior but also the dog position as dogs do, i.e. entry from behind, as was proven like the crime itself in the instant case, the aggravating circumstance of ignominy attended the commission thereof.” (People vs Saylan, 130 SCRA 159).

Nevertheless, since the law on rape provides that the penalty for simple rape is reclusion perpetua regardless of the presence of any aggravating or mitigating circumstances, the penalty of reclusion perpetua as held by the trial court is sustained.

NOTE: The point here is that (at that time), qualifying circumstances must be alleged in the Information to be appreciated against the accused. Ordinary mitigating circumstances may not be alleged but may be appreciated if proven in court. However, under the Rules of Criminal Procedure which became effective in December 2000 (this case was promulgated in March 2000), all aggravating circumstances MUST be alleged to be appreciated against the accused.

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