Rape accomplice learns what’s reclusion perpetua the hard way
MANILA, Philippines—“What does reclusion perpetua mean?” Erica Bianca Enanoria asked.
Her smirking jail guard, leafing through the documents of her case, put it simply for her: “That’s life imprisonment.”
Enanoria was thus led out of the courtroom sobbing, cupping her mouth with her cuffed hands, after a Makati City judge pronounced her guilty in connection with the rape of a student in Mindanao in February 2008.
The court also declared her ineligible for parole for helping in the abduction of a University of Southern Mindanao student till the victim was delivered to the alleged rapist, then a government official in Kabakan, North Cotabato.
The court said Enanoria was convicted as a “principal suspect by cooperation.”
Two other suspects—the accused rapist and Enanoria’s uncle, Andy Montawal, and another accessory, Jerome Montawal—remain at large with standing warrants for their arrest.
They were reportedly members of an influential clan in North Cotabato, with Andy Montawal heading the association of barangay (village) chairmen in Datu Montawal town at the time of the crime.
“Without [Enanoria’s] participation, the commission of the rape would not have been accomplished,” said Judge Cristina Javalera-Sulit of the Makati Regional Trial Court-Branch 140 in a decision promulgated Tuesday.
“The acts performed by [Enanoria] are necessary and indispensable to the rape of the complainant,” said Sulit, who also ordered Enanoria to pay the victim P250,000 in damages.
Prosecution witnesses said Enanoria fetched the victim from her dormitory room because Andy Montawal “wanted to see her that day (and) because he likes her.” She also threatened the victim that the latter would be “killed” if she would not cooperate.
Aware of the Montawals’ clout in North Cotabato, the victim was forced to go with Enanoria, who then took her to an inn where Andy Montawal was waiting.
In her testimony, the rape victim said Montawal made her sniff methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) but that she refused. Andy Montawal then abused her twice before allowing her to leave.
In the ruling, the court said the public prosecutors were able to prove that the victim was held against her will before she was raped. It also noted the crime could not have been committed without the assistance of Enanoria and Jerome Montawal.
The court also said the prosecution was able to establish the participation of Andy and Jerome Montawal in the crime despite their being fugitives. Their flight, it said, was “an indication of a guilty conscience.”
The court dismissed Enanoria’s version of the incident—that the victim simply needed money for tuition and that she merely implicated Enanoria because she wanted additional payment for sex.
“No one corroborated (Enanoria’s) testimony that she did not abduct the child,” the court said. “Such reasoning (that the victim was just after money) is too shallow to accept.”
The rape victim could not possibly “concoct” such a tale and even “allow the examination of her private parts and subject herself to the humiliation and embarrassment that she would be experiencing during the trial,” the ruling added.
“No Filipina would do that, unless she was in fact, abducted and raped,” it said.