G.R. No. 248245. August 26, 2020 (Case Brief / Digest)

### Title:
People of the Philippines v. HHH

### Facts:
This case involves a father, HHH, accused of sexually assaulting his three daughters identified as AAA, BBB, and CCC, with crimes committed at various dates within their home in Angeles City. Prosecuted under six separate criminal cases, these involve two counts of Rape by Sexual Assault, three counts of Statutory Rape, and an additional count of Rape by Sexual Assault occurring across different dates from 2012 to 2014. The daughters provided testimonies detailing the assaults, leading to HHH’s arrest and subsequent trials. The Regional Trial Court (RTC) found HHH guilty, a decision later affirmed with modifications by the Court of Appeals (CA), increasing the amounts for damages.

### Issues:
1. Were the Informations for Criminal Case Nos. 14-12400, 14-12401, and 14-12402 defective due to the vagueness of the dates alleged?
2. Did the prosecution establish HHH’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt for two counts of Rape by Sexual Assault and one count of Statutory Rape?
3. Did the prosecution establish HHH’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt for two counts of Statutory Rape?
4. Were the penalties and monetary awards imposed by the CA correct?

### Court’s Decision:
1. The Informations were not defective despite vague dates, except for Case No. 14-12402, where the prosecution failed to establish the timing of the event as alleged.
2. The Court found HHH guilty beyond reasonable doubt for two counts of sexual assault and one count of statutory rape, with modifications in the nomenclature of offenses in accordance with applicable laws.
3. Guilt beyond reasonable doubt for two counts of Statutory Rape was established against HHH, with credible testimonies from the victims supported by medical findings.
4. The Court set aside the CA decision partly, affirming HHH’s guilt for sexual assault and statutory rape under modified terms and recalculating penalties and damages according to relevant laws.

### Doctrine:
– Precision in the alleged commission date in Informations is not required when it is not a material ingredient of the offense. The Court places significant weight on the credibility of minor victims’ testimonies in sexual assault cases, recognizing the traumatic impact and the victims’ reluctance to immediately report the crimes.
– The qualifying circumstance of the offender’s relationship to the victims cannot elevate the charges unless explicitly stated in the Informations.

### Class Notes:
– **Statutory Rape**: Committed when (a) the victim is under 12 years old, (b) the offender has carnal knowledge of them, regardless of consent or the victim’s will.
– **Rape by Sexual Assault**: Committed when the offender commits an act of sexual assault through forcible insertion of an object or body part other than the penis into another person’s bodily orifices.
– **Principle of Specificity in Informations**: The need for specific dates in criminal charges is flexible, particularly in sexual offenses where exact times may not be materially relevant.
– **Credibility of Minor Victims**: The testimony of minor victims is given significant weight, especially in the absence of evidence showing any ill motive on their part to falsely testify against the accused.
– **Doctrine of Relationship as a Qualifying Circumstance**: Relationship between the offender and the victim must be explicitly alleged in the Information to qualify the offense and impose a higher penalty.

### Historical Background:
In the context of Philippine jurisprudence, this case reiterates the principles regarding the treatment of minor victims in sexual assault cases, emphasizing the judicial system’s protective stance towards vulnerable witnesses and the flexibility of legal requirements in the interest of justice.


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