Remedial Law

People of the Philippines vs Francisco Ursua

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G.R. No. 218575 – 819 Phil. 467 – 842 SCRA 165 – Remedial Law – Criminal Procedure – Rule 110 – Information – Designation of Offenses – Variance Doctrine – Acts of Lasciviousness; Sec. 5b of R.A. 7610

In 2006, Francisco Ursua was alleged to have raped his 14 year old daughter (AAA) three times for two consecutive days. AAA was able to report the incidents and Ursua was indicted for three counts of rape qualified by relationship. It was alleged that Ursua raped her in the evening of 17 January 2006, dawn of 18 January 2006, and evening of 18 January 2006. During trial however, AAA testified that for the incident that happened in the evening of 18 January 2006, Ursua testified that no penile penetration happened but that Ursua touched her private parts. After trial, Ursua was convicted of three counts of qualified rape.

ISSUE: Whether or not the decision is correct.

HELD: No. It should only be two counts of qualified rape and one count of Sexual Abuse under Sec. 5b of Republic Act No. 7610.

But the Informations specifically charged Qualified Rape? How can Ursua be convicted under a violation of the Anti-Child Abuse Law? Is this not a violation of his right to be informed of the charges against him?

It is perfectly legal for Ursua to be convicted of Sexual Abuse under Sec. 5b of R.A. 7610. Concededly, the failure to designate the offense by statute, or to mention the specific provision penalizing the act, or an erroneous specification of the law violated, does not vitiate the information if the facts alleged clearly recite the facts constituting the crime charged, for what controls is not the title of the information or the designation of the offense, but the actual facts recited in the information. It bears emphasis, however, that the designation in the information of the specific statute violated is imperative to avoid surprise on the accused and to afford him the opportunity to prepare his defense accordingly.

But isn’t it more favorable for the accused to be convicted of Acts of Lasciviousness in relation to Sec. 5b, R.A. 7610?

No. The crime of acts of lasciviousness under Article 336 of the RPC, in relation to Section 5(b ), Article III of R.A. No. 7610, can only be committed against a victim who is less than 12 years old; and (2) that when the victim is aged 12 years old but under 18, or is above 18 years old under special circumstances, the proper designation of the offense is sexual abuse or lascivious conduct under Section 5(b) of R.A. No. 7610. Here, AAA was already 14 years old at the time of the incident.

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