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Digest: People vs. Castillo

G.R. No. 186533. August 9, 2010
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. EFREN CASTILLO, Accused-Appellant.



In a Complaint, appellant was charged by AAA, assisted by her mother, BBB, with the crime of rape.

At the pre-trial conference, both the prosecution and the defense failed to make any stipulation of facts.

The prosecution presented the following witnesses: AAA, the private offended party; Dr. Thessa Marie Antillon-Malimas (Dr. Antillon-Malimas),  the doctor in Gingoog District Hospital who examined AAA; BBB, the mother of AAA, who was also presented as rebuttal witness; and Myrna delos Reyes-Villanueva, the Guidance Psychologist at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center who conducted psychological tests on AAA to determine her mental capacity.

RTC Convicted the appellant and CA affirmed.

Appellant contends that the records are bereft of any evidence that would conclusively show that AAA was suffering from mental retardation. BBB’s declaration that AAA is a slow thinker does not sufficiently establish AAA’s mental retardation. Further, the "expert witness qualification" of the prosecution’s supposed expert witness is highly questionable because she had not acquired any doctorate degree in the field of psychology or psychiatry. More so, the psychological tests administered by her on AAA were inadequate to establish AAA’s mental capacity.

Appellant anchors his argument for acquittal on the alleged failure of the prosecution to establish AAA’s mental retardation to make him guilty of rape under Article 266-A, par. 1(b), of the Revised Penal Code. Appellant concludes that his guilt has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt.




We reject appellant’s position.

In People v. Dalandas, citing People v. Dumanon, this Court held that mental retardation can be proven by evidence other than medical/clinical evidence, such as the testimony of witnesses and even the observation by the trial court.

Section 50, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence explicitly provides:

SEC. 50. Opinion of ordinary witnesses. – The opinion of a witness for which proper basis is given, may be received in evidence regarding-

(a) x x x

(b) x x x

(c) The mental sanity of a person with whom he is sufficiently acquainted.

The witness may also testify on his impressions of the emotion, behavior, condition or appearance of a person. [Emphasis supplied].

Accordingly, it is competent for the ordinary witness to give his opinion as to the sanity or mental condition of a person, provided the witness has had sufficient opportunity to observe the speech, manner, habits, and conduct of the person in question. Commonly, it is required that the witness details the factors and reasons upon which he bases his opinion before he can testify as to what it is. As the Supreme Court of Vermont said: "A non-expert witness may give his opinion as to the sanity or insanity of another, when based upon conversations or dealings which he has had with such person, or upon his appearance, or upon any fact bearing upon his mental condition, with the witness’ own knowledge and observation, he having first testified to such conversations, dealings, appearance or other observed facts, as the basis for his opinion." 

The mother of an offended party in a rape case, though not a psychiatrist, if she knows the physical and mental condition of the party, how she was born, what she is suffering from, and what her attainments are, is competent to testify on the matter. Thus, even though the Guidance Psychologist who examined AAA may not qualify as an expert witness, though the psychological tests conducted by her on AAA may not be accurate to determine AAA’s mental capacity, such circumstance is not fatal to the prosecution’s cause.

In the same way, though the Guidance Psychologist who examined AAA may not be qualified as an expert witness, her observations, however, as regards the appearance, manner, habits and behavior of AAA, is also admissible in evidence as an ordinary witness’ testimony. Even before the Guidance Psychologist administered the psychological tests on AAA, she already noticed that AAA lacked personal hygiene. While conversing with AAA, she observed that AAA has low level mental functioning as she has difficulty understanding simple things, has a vague concept of big numbers and time ─ like days of the week, and has regressed behavior that is not congruent to her age, i.e., 21 years old at the time of her examination. She also stated that she was not able to administer the Purdue Non-Language Test, which is an Intelligence Quotient Test, on AAA due to the latter’s inability to identify the items therein.

This Court, in People v. Dalandas, clarified that a mental retardate, in general, exhibits a slow rate of maturation, physical and/or psychological, as well as impaired learning capacity. Further, the mental retardation of persons and the degrees thereof may be manifested by their overt acts, appearance, attitude and behavior. The dentition, manner of walking, ability to feed oneself or attend to personal hygiene, capacity to develop resistance or immunity to infection, dependency on others for protection and care and inability to achieve intelligible speech may be indicative of the degree of mental retardation of a person. All these may be testified on by ordinary witnesses who come in contact with an alleged mental retardate.

It bears stressing that the deprivation of reason contemplated by law need not be complete; mental abnormality or deficiency is sufficient. Thus, it is clear from the foregoing that AAA’s impaired learning capacity, lack of personal hygiene and difficulty in answering simple questions, as testified to by her mother and the Guidance Psychologist who had an opportunity to observe her appearance, manner, habits and behavior, are indicative that she is truly suffering from some degree of mental retardation.

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