Rolando Rivera was accused of raping his 13 year old daughter, Erlanie D. Rivera. The prosecution presented as witness, the complainant Erlanie Rivera, her aunt, Marietta Pagtalunan, and Dr. Demetria Barin, who conducted the physical examination of complainant.
Complainant Erlanie Rivera testified that sometime in March 1997, her younger sister, Zaira, was taken by their parents to the Escolastica Romero Memorial Hospital in Lubao, Pampanga. Complainants mother stayed with her sister in the hospital, but her father, herein accused-appellant, went back home to Santiago, Lubao, Pampanga. At around 11 oclock in the evening of the same day, complainant was awakened as accused-appellant started kissing her and fondling her breasts. Complainant tried to resist by kicking and pushing accused-appellant, but her efforts were to no avail. Accused-appellant removed her shorts and panty, touched her private parts, and then had sexual intercourse with her. After he was through with her, accused-appellant told complainant not to tell anyone what had happened or he would kill complainants mother and sister. Hence, when her mother came home the following day, Erlanie did not tell her what had happened because she was afraid of accused-appellant.
On April 9, 1997, however, Erlanie, in the presence of her mother, told her aunt, Marietta Pagtalunan, and her grandmother, Maxima Payumo, that she had been raped by accused-appellant. For this reason, she was referred to Dr. Barin for physical examination. She also executed a sworn statement before the police of Lubao, Pampanga.
Erlanie testified that she became pregnant as a result of the rape committed against her by accused-appellant, but the pregnancy was aborted. On cross-examination, she said she was 13 years old at the time of her testimony, the second child in the family. She said that her parents were not on good terms with each other and that she knew that her father had a mistress. Atty. Mangalindan, then defense counsel, questioned Erlanie about other supposed acts of molestation committed by accused-appellant against her previous to the rape subject of the present case, but, upon objection of the prosecution, the trial court disallowed the question on the ground that it concerned matters not covered by her direct examination.
The trial court found accused Guilty.
Issue: Whether or not the accused was denied due process when the trial judge refused to allow Atty. Mangalindans questions concerning the other alleged acts of molestation committed by accused-appellant against complainant.
The witness testified only on the rape case. She did not testify anything about acts of lasciviousness committed upon her person. She may not therefore be questioned on this matter because it is not connected with her direct testimony or has any bearing upon the issue. To allow adverse party to cross-examine the witness on the acts of lasciviousness which is pending trial in another court and which the witness did not testify is improper.
Questions concerning acts of lasciviousness will not in any way test the accuracy and truthfulness and freedom from interest or bias or the reverse. On the contrary such questions, if allowed, will unduly burden the court with immaterial testimonies.
Upon the termination of the direct examination, the witness may be cross-examined by the adverse party as to any matters stated in the direct examination, or connected therewith, with sufficient fullness and freedom to test his accuracy and truthfulness and freedom from interest, bias or the reverse and to elicit all important facts bearing upon the issue.
The right of a party to cross-examine a witness is embodied in Art. III, 14(2) of the Constitution which provides that the accused shall have the right to meet the witnesses face to face and in Rule 115, 1(f) of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which states that, in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the right to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him. The cross-examination of a witness is essential to test his or her credibility, expose falsehoods or half-truths, uncover the truth which rehearsed direct examination testimonies may successfully suppress, and demonstrate inconsistencies in substantial matters which create reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused and thus give substance to the constitutional right of the accused to confront the witnesses against him.
The right of the accused to cross-examine a witness is, however, not without limits but is subject to the rules on the admissibility and relevance of evidence.
In this case, accused-appellants counsel argued that his questions to Erlanie on the other acts of lasciviousness supposedly committed by accused-appellant against her were for the purpose of testing her credibility. There was, however, no showing on his part how these questions had any bearing on complainants credibility or on the truth of her claims. One is led to suspect that the purpose of these questions was to confuse complainant into committing mistakes in her answers during cross-examination that accused-appellants counsel could later use to possibly put complainants credibility, not to mention her character, in question.
Accused-appellant insists that his counsel should have been allowed to ask questions in relation to the sworn statement executed by complainant. He cites Rule 132, 17 of the Revised Rules of Evidence which provides that:
When part of an act, declaration, conversation, writing or record is given in evidence by one party, the whole of the same subject matter may be inquired into by the other.
Neither can this rule be invoked to justify the questioning of complainant which the trial court did not allow. As the above provision states, this rule applies to parts of an act, declaration, conversation, writing or record which is given in evidence.