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Trivial and immaterial.

Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus," false in one thing, false in everything, is maxim that relates to the credibility of witnesses which however does not amount to a rule of law but one of prudence in the shifting and weighing of evidence. This is what the accused tried to use in this case but did not succeed.

The accused here was Police Corporal (P/Cpl) Serrano, a member of a city police force. One evening on the way to his house and carrying his gun and a flashlight, he chanced upon two lovers, a 17-year-old laundry woman named Pining and his boyfriend Dario, a simple grocery bagger, inside the City Sports Complex.

He focused his flashlight and pointed his gun on them and forced them to perform sexual acts against their will. Then he extorted money from them and asked Dario to buy him a cigarette outside the complex as he forced Pining to masturbate his penis.

Afterwards, he allowed Pining and Dario to leave and at gun point threatened them with harm if they reported the incident to anyone.The following morning, Pining and Dario went to another town and stayed there for several days to recuperate and to decide what action to take.

With the help of relatives, they reported the matter to the police. And so three charges of Grave Coercion were filed against P/Cpl Serrano before the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) first, for forcing Pining and Dario to perform sexual acts at gunpoint, second, for forcing Dario to buy him a cigarette and for forcing Pining to masturbate him.

For his defense, P/Cpl Serrano denied the charges and claimed that he merely confronted Pining and Dario and directed them to go home as the place was dangerous. But Pining allegedly screamed at him and told him that he has no business telling people what to do as they were in a public place.

He also claimed that even if he insisted that the lovers leave the place, the latter refused and continued calling him names. So to avoid further altercation he said he just left and headed home.

But the MTC still found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the three charges of Grave Coercion and sentenced him to imprisonment of six months for each count plus a fine of P500 and to pay Pining and Dario P5,000 as damages and the cost of suit.These decisions were affirmed by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) and subsequently by the Court of Appeals (CA).

But SPO1 Serrano still questioned these decisions before the Supreme Court (SC) insisting that when he saw Pining and Dario at the Sports complex, he merely directed them to go home. He contended that the conclusions of law drawn from the facts established during the trial are gravely erroneous because of the many contradictions and inconsistencies in the testimonies of Pining and Dario and in their affidavits.

He argued that Pining and Dario lied and contradicted their statements many times, so they also lied about their other statements and testimonies (falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus).element-invisibleOpinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1But the SC still found him guilty.

When a conviction hinges on the credibility of witnesses, the assessment of the trial court is accorded the highest degree of respect. Factual conclusions reached by the lower court, which had opportunity to observe and evaluate the demeanor of the witnesses while on the witness stand should not be disturbed.

The inconsistencies and contradictions in the testimonies of the complainants as to the length of time they have been sweethearts and their stay in another place are too trivial and immaterial, and do not detract from the fact that they were indeed forced by the accused to copulate. These inconsistencies do not affect their credibility, but rather are strong indicia that their testimonies are unrehearsed and indeed true.

So the maxim of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus could not be used by the accused in this case.The several days delay in reporting the incident is not necessarily against human experience and complainants could not faulted for it especially because Serrano threatened complainants who are both unschooled with harm if they reported the matter to anyone.

(Sarabia vs. People, G.

R. 14204, July 20, 2011).

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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Date:Jan 30, 2018
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