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People vs. Demetrio Salazar Case Digest


A recantation or an affidavit of desistance is viewed with suspicion and reservation. Jurisprudence has invariably regarded such affidavit as exceedingly unreliable, because it can easily be secured from a poor and ignorant witness, usually through intimidation or for monetary consideration. Moreover, there is always the probability that it would later on be repudiated, and criminal prosecution would thus be interminable. By itself, an affidavit of desistance or pardon is not a ground for the dismissal of an action, once it has been instituted in court.


Facts: 

Salazar was charged with two (2) counts of statutory rape committed on May 18 and June 25, 1999 against AAA, a 12-year-old daughter of BBB with whom Salazar was cohabiting. Thereafter,  AAA purportedly  executed  an Affidavit of Desistance wherein she stated that she was not raped by Salazar and that  she  no  longer  intends  to  pursue  the  cases filed  against  Salazar.  During  the hearing, she explained that her own mother forced her to execute the affidavit upon threat of harm. The RTC  convicted  the  accused with  two  counts  of statutory  rape  but the CA  modified  it  by 2 simple  rapes because  AAA  has  failed  to  present evidence  that  she  was  a  minor  when  the crime  was  committed. According to the CA, a baptismal certificate is not sufficient proof of the age of a person. 

Salazar appealed, claiming that the instant case should have been dismissed by the trial court, considering that AAA had executed an affidavit of desistance exonerating him from the crimes charged. 


Issues:

1. Whether or not the Affidavit of Desistance is a sufficient evidence to acquit Salazar

2. Whether or not a baptismal certificate is a sufficient proof of the age of a person

3. Whether or not is guilty of statutory rape


Held:

1. No. As a rule, a recantation or an affidavit of desistance is viewed with suspicion and reservation. Jurisprudence has invariably regarded such affidavit as exceedingly unreliable, because it can easily be secured from a poor and ignorant witness, usually through intimidation or for monetary consideration. Moreover, there is always the probability that it would later on be repudiated, and criminal prosecution would thus be interminable. 

By itself, an affidavit of desistance or pardon is not a ground for the dismissal of an action, once it has been instituted in court. In the present case, private complainant lost the right or absolute privilege to decide whether the rape charge should proceed, because the case had already reached and must therefore continue to be heard by the court a quo.


2. Yes. This Court has ruled in People v. Ramos that in statutory rape cases, a baptismal certificate is sufficient to prove the age of the victim.


3. No. In order for the accused to be found guilty of the crime of statutory rape in this jurisdiction, the Court held in People v. Tampos, that two (2) elements must concur: (1) that the offender had carnal knowledge of the victim; and (2) that the victim is below twelve (12) years old.

Without a doubt, the baptismal certificate of AAA that was presented during the trial of the case coupled with the testimony of DDD, the aunt of AAA, sufficiently established that the victim was twelve years old at the time the crimes were committed. Having been born on April 10, 1987, when the first rape occurred on May 18, 1999, AAA was exactly 12 years, one month, and 8 days old at the first rape incident.

Considering, however, that AAA was already 12 years old when she was raped, the second element for statutory rape that that the victim is below twelve (12) years old is not present. Consequently, the finding of the appellate court for simple rape is correct, not on the ground of the age of AAA not being proved, but on the fact that she was no longer below 12 years of age at the time the crime was committed. (People vs. Demetrio Salazar, G.R. No. 181900, October 20, 2010) 

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