Martes, Mayo 08, 2012

Remedial Law Digests 2



Motion to dismiss

ROBERN DEVELOPMENT CORP. VS. QUITAIN
315 SCRA 150 (1999)

Facts: P filed a complaint for eminent domain against D. Instead of filing an answer, D countered with a Motion to Dismiss, alleging, among other things, that the choice of property to be expropriated was improper.

Issue: Whether the Motion to Dismiss should prosper.

Held: No. The issues raised by D are affirmative defenses that should be alleged in an answer, since they require presentation of evidence aliunde. Section 3 of the Rules of Court provides that “if a defendant has any objections to the filing of or the allegations in the complaint, or any objection or defense to the taking of his property,” he should include them in his answer. Naturally, these issues will have to be fully ventilated in a full-blown trial and hearing. Dismissal of an action upon a motion to dismiss constitutes a denial of due process if, from a consideration of the pleadings, it appears that there are issues that cannot be decided without a trial of the case on the merits.


VERGARA VS. CA
319 SCRA 323 (1999)

Facts: A complaint for recovery of sum of money with damages was filed by D against P before the RTC. P filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the complaint states no cause of action. P reasoned out in said motion that the complaint being a money claim against her deceased husband should be filed in accordance with the procedure laid down in Section 1, Rule 87 of the Rules of Court.

Issue: Whether the complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a cause of action.

Held: No. Lack of cause of action, as a ground for a motion to dismiss, must appear on the face of the complaint itself, meaning that it must be determined from the allegations of the complaint and from none other. A perusal of the complaint reveals that it sufficiently alleges an actionable breach of an obligation on the part of P. To sustain a motion to dismiss for lack of cause of action, the complaint must show that the claim for relief does not exist, rather than that a claim has been defectively stated, or is ambiguous, indefinite or uncertain.

Motion for reconsideration

PCI BANK VS. CA
G.R. NO. 120739 (2000)

Facts: The RTC issued an Order. P filed a motion for reconsideration without serving notice of hearing of the motion to the other party.

Issue: Whether the motion for reconsideration should be granted

Held: No. The Rules of Court require that notice of a motion shall be served by the applicant to all parties concerned at least three says before the hearing thereof together with a copy of the motion, and of any affidavits and other papers accompanying it, and that the notice shall be directed to the parties concerned, stating the time and place for hearing the motion. This requirement of notice of hearing equally applies to a motion for reconsideration. A motion without notice of hearing is a mere scrap of paper. A pro forma motion for reconsideration does not suspend the running of the period to appeal.


HEIRS OF ANDREA CRISTOBAL VS. CA
G.R. NO. 135959 (2000)

Facts: The CA promulgated its Decision on 31 August and a copy thereof was received by P’s counsel on 9 September. Instead of filing a motion for reconsideration, P filed on 17 September a motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration.

Issue: Whether the motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration should be granted

Held: No. The Rules of Court provides that a party may file a motion for reconsideration of a decision or resolution within 15 days from notice thereof, without any extension. P, therefore, had 15 days from 9 September or until 24 September within which to file their motion for reconsideration. However, instead of filing the motion, petitioners filed on 17 September a motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration, in violation of the mandatory provision of the Rules.

Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus

VIRGILIO FLORA CARA VS. CA
G.R. NO. 127625 (2000)

Facts: An administrative case was filed by P against D which resulted in D’s dismissal. After exhausting administrative remedies, D filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari and mandamus. The grounds raised in the petition involve an appreciation of the evidence adduced against D in the administrative case instituted against him.

Issue: Whether the petition for certiorari and mandamus should be dismissed.

Held: Yes. Certiorari and mandamus as special civil actions are remedies for the correction of errors of jurisdiction, not errors of judgment.

Petition for review

FELIPE UY VS. LAND BANK
G.R. No. 136100 (2000)

Facts: D filed in the Supreme Court in a petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court denied the petition for (a) lack of certification against forum shopping, and (b) lack of verification. Upon D’s motion for reconsideration, praying that the verification/certification be admitted to cure the defect of the petition, the Supreme Court reinstated the petition.

Issue: Whether the reinstatement of the petition is correct

Held: Yes. Verification is simply intended to secure an assurance that the allegations in the pleading are true and correct and not the product of the imagination or a matter of speculation, and that the pleading is filed in good faith. The court may order the correction of the pleading if verification is lacking or act on the pleading although it is not verified, if the attending circumstances are such that strict compliance with the rules may be dispensed with in order that the ends of justice may thereby be served.
            In some cases, the Court deemed the belated filing of the certification as substantial compliance with the requirement. In those cases where the Court excused non-compliance with the requirements, there were special circumstances or compelling reasons making the strict application of the rule clearly justified. Here, the apparent merits of the substantive aspects of the case should be deemed as a “special circumstance” or “compelling reason” for the reinstatement of the petition.
            In any event, this Court has the power to suspend its own rules when, as in this case, the ends of justice would be served thereby.

Petition for relief from judgment

MERCURY DRUG CORP. VS. CA
G.R. NO. 138571 (2000)

Facts: An adverse judgment was rendered against P. A copy of the judgment was served on P through his counsel on March 3. On March 24, P actually learned of the adverse decision. P filed a Petition for Relief from Judgment on May 15.

Issue: Whether the Petition for Relief from Judgment

Held: No. P’s petition for relief, which was filed over 60 days from notice of their counsel, was filed out of time. The failure of a party’s counsel to notify him on time of the adverse judgment to enable him to appeal therefrom is negligence, which is not excusable. However, notice sent to counsel of record is binding upon the client and the neglect or failure of counsel to inform him of an adverse judgment resulting in the loss of his right to appeal is not a ground for setting aside a judgment valid and regular on its face.

Prejudicial question

ALFREDO CHING VS. CA
G.R. NO. 110844 (2000)

Facts: P was charged before the Makati RTC with Estafa, in relation to the “Trust Receipts Law.” Thereafter, P filed before the Manila RTC for declaration of nullity of documents and for damages. P then filed a petition before the Makati RTC for the suspension of the criminal proceedings on the ground of prejudicial question in a civil action.

Issue: Whether there is a prejudicial question

Held: No. The two essential requisites of a prejudicial question are: (1) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the criminal action; and (2) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed. In the case at bar, the alleged prejudicial question in the civil case for the declaration of nullity of documents and for damages, does not determine the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal action for estafa. Assuming arguendo that the court hearing the civil aspect of the case adjudicates that the transaction entered into between the parties was not a trust receipt agreement, nonetheless the guilt of the accused could still be established and his culpability under penal laws determined by other evidence.

Prescription

JOSEFINA VILLANUEVA-MIJARES VS. CA
G.R. NO. 108921 (2000)

Facts: A left a parcel of land to his 8 children. B, one of the heirs, held the property in trust for his co-heirs. Several years after, the other co-heirs discovered that their shares had been purchased by B. The Deed of Sale was registered in 1971. The co-heirs filed an action for reconveyance of the property in 1975.

Issue: Whether the action is barred by prescription

Held: No. An action for reconveyance of a parcel of land based on implied or constructive trust prescribes in 10 years, the point of reference being the date of registration of the deed or the date of the issuance of the certificate of title of the property. Here the questioned Deed of Sale was registered only in 1971. The co-heirs filed their complaint in 1975, hence well within the prescriptive period.

Prohibition

PILO MILITANTE VS. CA

G.R. NO. 107040 (2000)

Facts: NHA revalidated the demolition clearance to eject the squatters on P’s land. X, the NHA Project Manager, however, refused to implement the clearance to eject the squatters. P filed with the Court of Appeals, among other things, a petition for prohibition.

Issue: Whether P is entitled to a Writ of Prohibition

Held: No. Prohibition is a prohibitive remedy. It seeks for a judgment ordering the defendant to desist from continuing with the commission of an act perceived to be illegal. In the case at bar, petitioner does not pray that X should be ordered to desist from relocating the squatters. What petitioner challenges is X’s refusal to implement the demolition clearance issued by he administrative superiors. The remedy for a refusal to discharge a legal duty is mandamus, not prohibition.

Redemption

YSMAEL V. CA

318 SCRA 215 (199)

Facts:  P obtained judgement in their favor for a sum of money against D in 1980.  Decision remained unexecuted.  In 1989, P filed a case for revival of judgement which was granted by the RTC.  Writ of execution was issued.  D’s parcels of land were levied on execution.  P bought the lands in 25 July 1995, subject to a 1-year period of redemption from date of registration of certificate of sale.  On 16 July 1996, D wrote P to exercise right of redemption.  P did not reply.  D believed that 1-year period ended on 25 July 1996.  When D tried to tender payment to P, P was always not available so D consigned the amount to the Court on 26 July 1996.  P claims 12-month period for redemption has already expired on 19 July 1996.  RTC & CA ruled for D

Issue:  When did the 12-month period expire?

Held:  Considering that 1996 was a leap year, the 12-month period expired on 19 July 1996 (on the 360th day).  However, D committed an honest mistake on a question of law because the certificate of sale stated that the period of redemption will expire 1-year from the date of registration (hence, 25 July 1996).  Further, D informed P gave notice of intention to exercise right on 16 July 1996 (within 12-month period).  Further, D tried to tender payment and upon failure, consigned the amount to the Court.  The tender of payment made on 25 July 1996 is considered as an affirmation of timely notice to redeem, even if such tender was made 6 days after expiration of redemption period.  The rule on redemption must be liberally construed in favor of the original owner of the property. 


REPUBLIC VS. NLRC
318 SCRA 459 (1999)

Facts: An auction sale was held on September 1994 pursuant to an execution sale. One October 1994, the sheriff issued a certificate of sale duly registered to the highest bidder. On October 1995, the owner tendered to the NLRC cashier in redemption of the subject property the amount paid by the highest bidder plus accrued interests and deposit fee.

Issue: Whether the period of redemption in auction sale on execution under Sec. 30, Rule 39 of 1964 Revised Rules of Court is 12 months or 1 year from the date of registration of sale with the Register of Deeds.

Held: 12 months, not one year from date of sale. The phrase “after the sale” really means after the date of registration of the certificate of sale. The question is the computation of “12 months.” Applying Art. 13 of the Civil Code, 12 months consists of 360 days and not 365 days.


ERLINDA VILLANUEVA VS. ANGEL MALAYA
G.R. NO. 94617 (2000)

Facts: X’s property was levied on execution. Based on a Deed of Sale, it appears that X conveyed the property to Z. X died. X’s heirs filed a complaint against Z for annulment of the Deed of Sale (Civil Case 1). Meanwhile the property was sold in a public auction sale. The RTC ruled that Z is X’s successor-in-interest and therefore has a right to redeem the property

Issue: Whether Z has a right to redeem the property

Held: No. In the first place, Z is not a party to the instant case and while his interest in the property is being litigated in Civil Case 1, it is in that case and not herein that such matter should be resolved. Second, in holding Z to be X’s successor-in-interest because of his being a subsequent vendee to the property, the RTC in effect ruled upon the validity of the Deed of Sale, a matter over which it had no jurisdiction to decide and which is properly the subject of the pending Civil Case 1. Third, the RTC based the right to redeem upon the purported transfer of ownership to Z of the property. The right of redemption is explicitly conferred by the Rules on the judgment debtor and his successors-in-interest; it is not conditioned upon ownership of property but by virtue of a writ of execution directed against the judgment debtor.

Real party in interest

ADORABLE VS. CA
319 SCRA 200 (1999)

Facts: P is D’s creditor. P learned that D sold his lot to A. P filed for the annulment of the sale on the ground that the sale was fraudulently prepared or executed.

Issue: Whether P is the real party in interest.

Held: No. As creditors, P do not have material interest as to allow them to sue for rescission of the contract of sale. At the outset, P’s right against D is only a personal right to receive payment for the loan; it is not a real right over the lot subject of the deed of sale.


AGUILA VS. CA
319 SCRA 246 (1999)

Facts: P entered into a deed of sale with D Company, a partnership. Subsequently, P filed a case against X, one of the partners of D company, for the declaration of nullity of a deed of sale. X contends the action should be dismissed because he is not the real party in interest

Issue: Whether the manager of D company is the real party in interest.

Held: No. Rule 3, Sec. 2 of the Rules of Court of 1964, under which the complaint in this case was filed, provided that “every action must be prosecuted and defended in the name of the real party in interest.” A real party in interest is one who would be benefited or injured by the judgment, or who is entitled to the avails of the suit. Any decision rendered against a person who is not a real party in interest in the case cannot be executed. Hence, a complaint filed against such a person should be dismissed for failure to state a cause of action.
            Under the Civil Code, a partnership has a juridical personality separate and distinct from that of each of the partners. The partners cannot be held liable for the obligations of the partnership unless it is shown that the legal fiction is being used for fraudulent, unfair or illegal purposes.

Replevin

SERVICEWIDE SPECIALISTS VS. CA
318 SCRA 493 (1999)

Facts: D purchased on credit a vehicle from P evidenced by a promissory note to be paid on installments, secured by a chattel mortgage over the vehicle. D failed to pay so P demanded possession of vehicle. A, who bought the vehicle from another 3rd party, filed 3rd a party claim contending absolute ownership over the property.
                                                                                 
Issue: Whether the case for replevin may be pursued against A, a third party, without impleading the absconding-mortgagor, D.

Held: Not in this case. Rules 60 requires that an applicant shows that he “is the owner of the property claimed, particularly describing it, or is entitled to the possession. Where the right of the plaintiff to the possession of the specified property is so evident, the action need only be maintained against him who has possession.
            Thus, in default of the mortgagor, the mortgages is thereby constituted as attorney-in-fact of the mortgagor, enabling such mortgagee to act for and in behalf of the owner. That the 3rd party is not privy to the chattel mortagage should be inconsequential. By the fact the object of replevin is traced to his possession, one properly can be a defendant in an action for replevin. It is here assumed that plaintiff’s right to possession is not and cannot be disputed. But if the right to possession of plaintiff is put to great doubt, it could be essential to have other persons involved and impleaded for a complete determination and resolution of the controversy. In a suit for replevin, a clear right of possession must be established. Since the mortgagee’s right of possession is conditioned upon the actual fact of default which itself may be controverted, the inclusion of other parties, like the debtor or the mortgagor himself, may be required to allow full and conclusive determination of the case.
            The debtor in this case, being an indispensable party should have been impleaded. An indispensable party is one whose interest will be affected by the court’s action and without whom no final determination of the case can be had.

Res Judicata

TECSON VS. SANDIGANBAYAN
318 SCRA 80 (1999)

Facts: D filed an administrative case against P. D also filed a complaint with the Ombusdman for violation of the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.” Eventually, the administrative case against P was dismissed. P then moved for the dismissal of the case before the Ombudsman on the ground of res judicata.

Issue: Whether res judicata applies.

Held: No. First, it must be pointed out that res judicata is a doctrine of civil law. It thus has no bearing in the criminal proceedings before the Sandiganbayan. Second, a public officer may be held civilly, criminally, and administratively liable for a wrongful doing. Administrative liability is separate and distinct from the penal and civil liabilities. Thus, the dismissal of an administrative case does not necessarily bar the filing of a criminal prosecution for the same or similar acts, which were the subject of the administrative complaint.


MATA VS. CA
318 SCRA 417 (1999)

Facts: P questions the validity of a Deed of Sale  in this instant case for reconveyance. The issue of the validity of the said Deed of Sale, however, had already been passed upon by the SC in an earlier case.

Issue: Whether res judicata applies.

Held: Yes. The doctrine of res judicata actually embraces 2 concepts: (1) “bar by prior judgment” under par (b) of Rule 39, Sec. 47; and (2) “conclusiveness of judgment” under par (c). “Conclusiveness of judgment” bars the relitigation of particular facts or issues or another litigation between the same parties on a different claim or cause of action.
            Although the action was instituted by P in the lower court in this case (action for reconveyance) is different from the actions he instituted in the earlier cases, the concept of conclusiveness of judgment still applies because under this principle, “the identity of causes of action is not required but merely identity of issues.”


ALADIN CRUZ VS. CA
G.R. NO. 135101 (2000)

Facts: A extrajudicially rescinded its contract with P. P sued A for specific performance. The Pasig RTC ruled in favor of P. Thereafter, P instituted a case for rescission of the same contract with the Manila RTC. P filed a motion to dismiss invoking res judicata.

Issue: Whether there is res judicata

Held: Yes. The test often used in determining whether causes of action are identical is to ascertain whether the same evidence which is necessary to sustain the second action would have been sufficient to authorize recovery in the first, even if the forms or nature of the two actions be different. Here the Manila case for rescission is premised on the claim of P that A did not fulfill their part of the contract. Thus P itemizes all the obligations that A was mandated to do as proof. However this alleged nonperformance on the part of A had already been passed upon in the Pasig case wherein the RTC categorically stated that A had substantially complied with her undertaking in good faith.


JOSE OROSA VS. CA
G.R. No. 111080 (2000)

Facts: The RTC rendered a decision, holding X liable to P for damages. A Supplemental Decision was also rendered, making Y solidarily liable with X. Y filed with the CA a petition for certiorari  to annul the Supplemental Decision. On the other hand, Y appealed the decision of the RTC to the CA.  Y’s petition for certiorari was dismissed by the CA First Division. Meanwhile, in X’s appeal, the CA Eighth Division partially affirmed the ruling of the RTC.

Issue: Whether the decision of the CA First Division constitutes res judicata and thus bars the CA Eighth Division from reviewing the decision of the RTC

Held: No. The two cases involve different subject matters, parties and sekk different reliefs. Y’s petition was for certiorari, alleging that there was grave abuse of discretion when the RTC adjudged it liable for damages without due process. The subject of Y’s petiton was the Supplemental Decision. On the other hand, X’s appeal was filed under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court raising errors of law on the part of the RTC. The subject of X’s appeal was the main decision.

Right to Litigate

INDUSTRIAL INSURANCE CO. VS PABLO SANIDAD
G.R. NO. 136722 (2000)

Facts: X’s car hit and bumped Y’s car which was then at a complete stop due to a flat tire. Due to the severe impact, Y’s car swerved to the left and collided with Z’s car. Z filed a complaint for Damages against X and Y. The RTC exculpated Y and ordered Z to pay him actual, moral and exemplary damages.

Issue: Whether the order of the RTC is correct

Held: Yes. The facts of the case clearly show that Z was motivated by bad faith in impleading Y. Indeed, a person’s right to litigate, as a rule, should not be penalized. This right, however, must be exercised in good faith.

Service of summons

MUSNI VS. MORALES

315 SCRA 85 (1999)

Facts: P filed a case vs. D on October 1996. The process server (S) served the summons only on July 1997 or almost 9 months after the trial court had issued it. S admitted that there was a delay but justified it by claiming it was “in anticipation of the settlement of the parties.”

Issue: Whether S’s excuse is proper.

Held: No. The process server’s task was to serve the summons expeditiously. His duty being ministerial, he has no jurisdiction to postpone it at the behest of a party-litigant. His refusal to serve the summons immediately constituted a clear neglect of duty.


MADRIGAL VS. CA
319 SCRA 332 (1999)

Facts: D brought a Complaint for recovery of possession with damages against P. Summons could not be served on P so the process server resorted to substituted service of summons. D challenges in this Petition for Review on Certiorari the validity of the service of summons. D claims the substituted service effected by the process server was improper, absent any proof of impossibility of personal service as required under Section 6, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court.

Issue: Whether the substituted service of summons was valid.

Held: No. Impossibility of personal service justifying availment of substituted service should be explained in the proof of service; why efforts exerted towards personal service failed. The pertinent facts and circumstances attendant to the service of summons must be stated in the proof of service or Officer’s Return; otherwise, the substituted service cannot be upheld.

Special civil action

YOLANDA ROSELLO-BENTIR VS. MATEO LEANDA
G.R. NO. 128991 (2000)

Facts: P entered into a contract of lease of a parcel of land with D for a period of 20 years starting from 1968. P is the lessee; D is the lessor. In 1989, D sold the leased premises to E. P questioned the sale alleging that it had a right of first refusal. Rebuffed, P filed a case seeking reformation of the expired contract of lease on the ground that its lawyer inadvertently omitted to incorporate in the contract of lease executed in 1968, the verbal agreement between the parties that P has a right of first refusal over the leased property.

Issue: Whether the action for reformation should prosper

Held: No. Since the purpose of an action for declaratory relief is to secure an authoritative statement of the rights and obligations of the parties for their guidance in the enforcement thereof, or compliance therewith and not to settle issues arising from the breach thereof, it may be entertained only before the breach or violation of the law or contract to which it refers. Here, P brought the present action for reformation after an alleged breach or violation of the contract was already committed by D.

Substitution of parties

STATE INVESTMENT HOUSE INC. VS. CA
318 SCRA 47 (1999)

Facts: P filed a collection case against D. D filed its Answer and Counterclaim for damages. P entered into a Deed of Assignment with A, transferring to the latter all its rights, interests, claims, and causes of action arising out of the case against D. A filed a “Motion for Substitution of Party Plaintiff” in lieu of P. D opposed the motion on the ground that it has a counterclaim against P. The RTC granted the motion. The CA, however, ruled that P should continue to be the plaintiff and A should be impleaded as co-plaintiff.

Issue: Whether the ruling of the CA is correct.

Held: Yes. The order of the RTC authorizing the substitution of parties failed to take into account the fact that there is a counterclaim for damages contained in D’s case. Even assuming that A agreed to assume all the obligations of P in the case, the assignment cannot bind or prejudice D who did not consent to the assignment. The counterclaim for actual, moral and other damages should be pursued and enforced against the real party-in-interest, which is P, which cannot be discharged from the case over the opposition of D.

Temporary restraining order

MARCOS-MANOTOC VS. JUDGE AGCAOILI
A.M. NO. RTJ-98-1405 (2000)

Facts: On June 18, P filed a civil case for injunction and for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and TRO against the complainant, D. On the same date, J, the respondent judge, issued a TRO and scheduled the hearing on the application for a preliminary injunction on June 24. However, on June 24, J did not conduct any hearing on the application for a writ of preliminary injunction. Instead, he issued an order extending the effectivity of the TRO. D alleges that the issuance of the TRO and its subsequent extensions constitute a blatant violation of Administrative Circular 20-95.

Issue: Whether the judge violated Administrative Circular 20-95

Held: Yes. First, J did not notify D that an application for the issuance of a TRO has been filed. Second, J did not conduct a summary hearing before granting the TRO. Noteworthy is the fact that the TRO was issued on the same day that the complaint was filed. Third, J extended the TRO twice without conducting a summary hearing therefore.


MARCOS-MANOTOC VS. JUDGE AGCAOILI
A.M. NO. RTJ-98-1405 (2000)

Facts: On June 18, P filed a civil case for injunction and for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and TRO against the complainant, D. On the same date, J, the respondent judge, issued a TRO and scheduled the hearing on the application for a preliminary injunction on June 24. Responding to D’s allegation that he violated the Rules of Court, J answered that he issued a valid 72-hour TRO.

Issue: Whether J issued a valid 72-hour TRO

Held: No. His order did not state that the TRO was effective for 72 hours only. To the contrary, it stated that it “is good until such time that the writ of preliminary injunction shall have been resolved.” Nor was it stated that the order was being issued because of extreme urgency to justify the issuance of a 72-hour TRO. J only stated in his order that “the petition appears to be sufficient in form and substance.”

Writ of possession

ERLINDA VILLANUEVA VS. ANGEL MALAYA
G.R. NO. 94617 (2000)

Facts: X’s property was levied on execution. X died. The property was sold in a public auction sale to Z. Y, X’s successor-in-interest, promptly exercised her right of redemption. The RTC, however, issued a writ of possession ex parte in the execution proceedings against Y and the occupants of the property.

Issue: Whether the writ of possession is valid

Held: No. A writ of possession may issue against occupants of a property subject of execution who derive their right of possession from the judgment debtor upon motion in the execution proceedings and without need of a separate ejectment action, provided that the occupants are afforded an opportunity to explain the nature of their possession, on which basis the writ of possession will be denied or granted. In this case, the RTC’s granting of the writ of possession ex parte violates the occupants’ right to due process.


Evidence

 

Alibi


PEOPLE VS. LACHICA

October 12, 1999

Facts:  A was convicted of murdering X because of W’s identification that A was one of the men who killed X.  A presented documents showing that he was in Capiz at the time of X’s murder in
Zambales.

Issue:  Whether A should be acquitted because of his alibi.

Held:  No.
1.     The defense of alibi cannot prevail over A’s positive identification by W.  Since A was introduced to W prior to the murder, W could not have mistaken A’s identity.
2.     For alibi to prosper, the accused must prove that he was not at the locus delicti when the offense was committed and that it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime at the proximate time of its commission.  None of the documents A presented coincides with the date or even the month when the incident occurred.  Furthermore, with all the modern means of transportation, traveling from Capiz to Zambales could be done with facility.          

 


PEOPLE VS. CULALA

October 13, 1999

Facts:  A was accused of murdering X.  W identified him as the killer of her son, X.  A interposed denial and alibi that he was at a Bell’s Pub house at the time of the killing but he was convicted.  He appealed.

Issue:  Whether the appeal should be granted.

Held:  No.
Alibi is easy to concoct and cannot prevail over the positive identification by the witnesses who were not shown to have been ill-motivated to testify against the accused.  Thus, in the absence of proof of improper motive on the part of W to implicate A in the commission of the malefaction sued upon, there is no cause or ground for not giving due weight and probative value to her testimony.

 

PEOPLE VS. TABUSO

October 26, 1999

Facts:  A was accused of murdering X.  The prosecution claimed that A acted as the lookout while three others killed X.  A is blind.  For his defense, he interposed alibi and denial.  A was convicted because of the alleged conspiracy between A and the three friends.    A appealed. 

Issue:  Whether the appeal should be granted.

Held:  Yes.
A’s utterance that “X is coming” does not automatically make him a lookout.  This plus the fact that he has an eye defect negate the fact that he is a lookout.  Conspiracy was not properly proved.  And although alibi and denial are weak defenses, the burden of proof in criminal cases lies with the prosecution and A’s guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.

 

PEOPLE VS. SUELTO

February 8, 2000

Facts:  A was accused of murder.  During his trial, his friends and family attested to his being in another place at the time of the commission of the crime.  However, the testimonies were inconsistent with one another.

Issue:  Whether such testimonies should be taken in to consideration.

Held:  No.
No credence could be properly accorded to the testimonies of the witnesses for the defense, which were inconsistent and plainly contradictory on material points, not to mention that said witnesses were all family and friends of the accused.  Accordingly, the alibi of the accused is reduced to self-serving evidence undeserving of any weight in law.

 

PEOPLE VS. ENTILA

February 9, 2000

Facts:  A was accused of kidnapping X.  A, however, claimed that X went with him willingly to escape her horrible life with her guardian.  W, a defense witness, corroborated A’s testimony that X went with A willingly.  The court convicted A.

Issue:  Whether the court acted properly.

Held:  No.
In convicting the accused, the trial court relied on the oft-cited rule that denial, like alibi, is a weak defense since it is easily fabricated or concocted.  Where an accused sets up alibi, or denial for that matter, as his line of defense, the courts should not at once look at the same with wary eyes for taken in the light of all the evidence on record, it may be sufficient to reverse the outcome of the case as found by the trial court and thereby rightly set the accused free.  Furthermore, the defense of alibi or denial may assume significance or strength when it is amply corroborated by a credible witness, as in the instant case.

Affidavit


VALENZUELA VS. BELLOSILLO

January 20, 2000

Facts:  P sued D, a judge for gross violation of the Code of Judicial Ethics for pressuring his client to remove him as counsel and to replace him with another of D’s choice.  P presented his client’s affidavit in his complaint but the client was never called to the stand.  The investigating judge dismissed the complaint.

Issue:  Whether the complaint was correctly dismissed.

Held:  Yes.
The affidavit of the client cannot be given credence and is inadmissible without the said affiant placed on the witness stand to give the respondent Judge an opportunity to test the veracity of affiant’s allegations.  An affidavit is hearsay unless the affiant is present for cross-examination.

 

PEOPLE VS. EDGAR CRISPIN

March 2, 2000

Facts: This is a criminal prosecution for murder. The accused was convicted of the crime charged. On appeal, the accused assailed the trial courts’ extensive reference to the sworn statement of one of the witnesses for the prosecution, taken by the police, who claimed to witness the five accused attack and kill the victim. While such witness was named in the Information as one of the principal witnesses, he did not appear when subpoenaed to testify. The accused decried the fact that the trial court gave credence to the allegations of the sworn statement despite prosecution’s failure to present the witness, thus depriving the accused of his right to cross-examine him. 

Issue: Whether the court erred in giving great weight to the affidavit of the witness.

Held: Yes. An affidavit is hearsay and has weak probative value, unless the affiant is placed on the witness stand to testify on it. Being hearsay evidence, it is inadmissible because the party against whom it is presented is deprived of his right and opportunity to cross-examine the person to whom the statement or writing is attributed. The right to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him is a fundamental right of every accused which may not be summarily done away with. Another reason why the right to confrontation is so essential is because the trial judge’s duty to observe and test the credibility of the affiant can only be met by his being brought in the witness stand. That the affidavit formed part of the record of the preliminary investigation does not justify its being treated as evidence because the record of the preliminary investigation does not form part of the record of the case in the RTC. Such record must be introduced as evidence during trial, and the trial court is not compelled to take judicial notice of the same. The prosecution having failed to present the witness on the stand, his sworn statement was patently inadmissible and deserves no consideration at all.

 

PEOPLE VS. MILLIAM

January 31, 2000

Facts:  A was accused of killing X.  W executed an affidavit which is inconsistent with his testimony in court.  The court considered his testimony and convicted A.  A appeals.

Issue:  Whether the court acted properly.

Held:  Yes.
When there is an inconsistency between the affidavit and the testimony of a witness in court, the testimony commands greater weight.  For, oftentimes, affidavits taken ex parte are considered inaccurate as they are prepared by other persons who use their own language in writing the affiant’s statements.  Omissions and misunderstandings by the writer are not infrequent, particularly under circumstances of haste or impatience.  Thus, more often than not, affidavits do not reflect precisely what the declarant wants to impart.  Worse, after the affidavit is mechanically read to the affiant, such document is merely signed even though the affiant does not fully agree with what has been written.

 

PEOPLE VS. LADIT, ET AL

May 11, 2000

Facts: This is a criminal prosecution for murder. The accused was convicted of the crime charged. In his appeal, the accused contended, among others, that the court erred in convicting him based on the testimony of one of the witnesses. He contends that in the affidavit of the witness which was taken prior to his testimony, the latter did not mention the name of the accused as one of the murderers. It was only in the witness’ testimony in open court that the lattter mentioned the name of the accused as one of the perpetrators of the crime

Issue: What is the consequence of an inconsistency between the affidavit and the testimony of a witness?

Held: Affidavits taken ex-parte are generally incomplete and inaccurate and is therefore considered inferior to testimony given in open court.

 

Authentication


CEQUENA VS. BOLANTE

April 6, 2000

Facts: This is a petition for recovery of property. A parcel of land was originally declared for taxation purposes in the name of R. Later, on the basis of an affidavit, the tax declaration was cancelled and subsequently declared in the name of P. P instituted an action for recovery of the property. The trial court rendered judgement ordering R to surrender possession tot he heirs of P. On appeal. the CA reversed the trial court’s finding because the genuineness and due execution of the affidavit allegedly signed by R had not been sufficiently established.

Issue: Whether the affidavit is admissible as evidence of ownership of the property.

Held: No. Before a private document offered as authentic can be received in evidence, its due execution and authenticity must be proved first. And not all notarized documents are exempted from the rule on authentication. Thus, an affidavit does not automatically become a public document just because it contains a notarial jurat.

Best Evidence Rule


PEOPLE VS. BAGO

April 6, 2000

Facts: This is a criminal prosecution for qualified theft. The accused was an employee of A Co. which has a contract with B Co. His job was to go to B Co. to oversee the cutting of the sheets and ensure their delivery to A Co. using A Co’s trucks. On April 21, 1992, the accused loaded from B Co. cold-rolled sheets on a truck owned by A Co. At the gate of A Co., he presented two receipts to the guard covering the materials, both dated April 21, 1992. The guard inspected the materials in the truck, and finding them accounted for, he stamped the two receipts. Afterwards, the accused presented a third receipt bearing another date covering rolled sheets supposed to have been long delivered to A Co. before that date. The guard, though in doubt, stamped the third receipt but reported the matter to the Chief Security Officer. A discreet investigation was conducted. The accused was charged with qualified theft. After trial, he was found guilty as charged. In his appeal, the accused argued that the receipt is the best evidence that should be given more credence than the testimony of the guard.

Issue: Whether the Best Evidence Rule applies in this case.

Held: No. The rule cannot be invoked unless the content of a writing is the subject of judicial inquiry, in which case, the best evidence is the original writing itself. The rule pertains to the admissibility of secondary evidence to prove the contents of a document. In the case at bar, no secondary evidence is offered to prove the content of a document. What is being questioned by the accused is the weight given by the trial court tot he testimony of the guard over the receipt which on its face shows that the materials in question were delivered to A Co’s premises. Clearly, the best evidence rule finds no application on this issue.

Biased Witnesses


HEMEDES VS. CA, R & B INSURANCE CORPORATION VS. CA

October 9, 1999

Facts:  The trial court rendered a decision based on the testimony of D in favor of D and against P.  D claimed that his 80-year old stepmother who was living with him donated the property to him.  P appealed, claiming that D was a biased witness.

Issue:  Whether the trial court erred in relying on D’s testimony.

Held:  Yes.
1.    A witness is said to be biased when his relation to the cause or to the parties is such that he has an incentive to exaggerate or give false color to his statements, or to suppress or to pervert the truth or to state what is false.
2.    At the time the case was filed, the “donor” was 80 years old, suffering from worsening physical infirmities and completely dependent upon her stepson, D, for support.  It is apparent that D could easily influence his stepmother to donate the subject property to him.  The trial court should not have given credence to a witness that was obviously biased and partial to the cause of D.
3.    The rule that the matter of credibility lies within the trial court’s province does not apply when the witness’ credibility has been put in serious doubt, such as when there appears on the record some fact or circumstance of weight and influence, which has been overlooked or the significance of which has been misinterpreted.

 

Character of the Witness


PEOPLE VS. DOCENA

January 20, 2000

Facts:  X claimed that A, her father raped her.  The trial court convicted A.  A appealed saying that the trial court should not have taken X’s testimony into account since X is an obstinate prevaricator.

Issue:  Whether the court should have taken X’s testimony into account.

Held:  Yes.

Even the moral character of the victim is immaterial.  Rape is certainly not confined to single women and children.  Prostitutes have also been victims of rape, so have middle-aged women, married women, mothers and even women who are on the fifth month of pregnancy.  The records reveal that X’s testimony is believable, consistent and straightforward.

 

Circumstantial Evidence


PEOPLE VS. GUARIN
October 22, 1999

Facts:  A and B asked their employer’s permission to go out with C, their employer’s brother’s (X) helper.  A, B and C never returned.  X was later found dead with his things scattered around his apartment.   A, B and C were found with a lot of money in A’s hometown.  They were accused and convicted of killing X.  They appealed claiming that their guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Issue:  Whether the accused were rightfully convicted.

Held:  Yes.
1.    Direct evidence is not the only matrix wherefrom a trial court may draw its conclusion and finding of guilt.  Conviction can be had on the basis of circumstantial evidence if the established circumstances constitute an unbroken chain leading to one fair and reasonable conclusion proving that the accused is the author of the crime to the exclusion of all others.
2.    To justify conviction based on circumstantial evidence, the following has to be present:
a.    There are more than one circumstances
b.    Fact on which the inference of guilt is based must be proved AND
c.    The combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.

 

 

PEOPLE VS. SANTOS

May 31, 2000

Facts: This is a criminal prosecution for murder. The two accused were convicted of the crime charged. In his appeal, the accused contends, among others, that the court erred in convicting him and not giving credence to his defense of alibi considering the failure of the prosecution to present eyewitnesses to the actual killing of the victim.

Issue: Whether the court erred in convicting the accused.

Held: No. The failure of the prosecution to present eyewitnesses to the actual killing of the victim does not ipso facto dispel the accused’s authorship of the felony. Indeed, there are crimes where there are no eyewitnesses at all. Direct evidence of the commission of a crime is not the only matrix wherefrom a trial court may draw its conclusion and finding of guilt. Resort to circumstantial evidence is essential when to insist on direct testimony would result in setting felons free. Conviction may be had even on circumstantial evidence provided the following requisites concur: (1) there is more than one circumstance; (2) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and (3) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.

Credibility of Evidence


PEOPLE VS. CAPCO

November 29, 1999

Facts:  A was one of the four accused of killing X, W’s father.  A was convicted because of W’s testimony that he saw A standing outside their store, the scene of the crime, fifteen minutes after the 3 other accused were already gone.  Considering the fact that A was the barkada of the other 3, the trial court convicted A.

Issue:  Whether A was rightfully convicted.

Held:  No.
W said that A was acting as the lookout of the three other accused.  However, he also testified that he saw A standing outside their store fifteen minutes after the other accused were already gone.  For evidence to be believed it must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness but it must be credible itself.  The 3 accused exited from the store through the same entry point they took getting in – where they supposedly posted A as lookout.  Indeed, it is contrary to human experience that someone, who is allegedly part of a group that conspired to rob a store and kill its owner, would choose to remain at the scene within a considerable period of time when from his vantage point he could naturally see his companions escape.

Delay in Revealing Identity of Offender


PEOPLE VS. MANEGDEG

October 13, 1999

Facts:  X told W, his wife, that A stabbed him just before X died.  Several hours after the incident, barangay officials came to W’s house but she did not tell them who stabbed X.  Later on, she did point to A as the one who stabbed X.  A was accused and convicted of killing X.

Issue:  Whether A was properly convicted notwithstanding W’s delay in revealing the identity of the offender.

Held:  Yes.
1.    W explained that she did not identify the assailant to the police immediately upon X’s advice who feared for their safety in the remote area where their house is situated.
2.    Also, there is no standard behavior for a person confronted with a shocking incident, especially involving a loved one.  One may immediately report the incident to the proper authorities while another, in fear or avoiding involvement in a criminal investigation, may keep to himself what he had witnessed.  It was not incredible nor contrary to human experience for X to advise his wife not to divulge the name of the assailant until after they are in a safe place, and for the wife to take heed of the same.

Dying Declarations


PEOPLE VS. MARAMARA
October 22, 1999

Facts:  X died after receiving 4 penetrating stab wounds.  He was rushed to the hospital and when asked who stabbed him, he replied that it was A.  A was convicted because of X’s statement.

Issue:  Whether A was correctly convicted.

Held:  Yes.
1.    X’s statement certainly qualifies as a dying declaration.  The five requisites were present:
a.    Death is imminent and declarant is conscious of that fact.
b.    The declaration refers to the cause and surrounding circumstances of such death
c.    The declaration relates to facts which the victim is competent to testify to
d.    The declarant thereafter dies
e.    The declaration is offered in a criminal case wherein the declarant’s death is the subject of inquiry.
2.    The degree and seriousness of the wounds suffered by X and the fact that his death supervened shortly thereafter may be considered as a substantial evidence that the declaration was made by him with the full realization that he was in a dying condition.  X’s dying declaration having satisfied all these requisites, it must be considered as an evidence of the highest order because, at the threshold of death, all thoughts of fabrication are stilled.  A victim’s utterance after sustaining a mortal wound may be considered pure emanations of the incident.

 

 

PEOPLE VS. NAAG

January 20, 2000

Facts:  A was convicted of killing X.  One of the bases for his conviction was X’s statement calling his name which was overheard by W.  This statement was treated as a dying declaration by the trial court.  A claimed that mere calling out of a name is an incomplete dying declaration as held in the case of People vs. De Joya since it could not mean that X was pointing to A as the assailant.

Issue:  Whether the dying declaration is admissible.

Held:  Yes.
This case is different from People vs. De Joya, here, the deceased was saying A’s name as she was running away wounded from A.  It is clear that X was fleeing from A to seek refuge from her attacker.  The circumstances in which she was saying A’s name make it clear that she was referring to A as her assailant.

Entries in Official Records – Proof of Lack of Record


PEOPLE VS. LAZARO

October 26, 1999

Facts:  A was accused of illegal possession of firearms.  His lack of license to carry a firearm was proved by a mere certification from the PNP Firearms and Explosive Office that he is not a licensee of any firearm.

Issue:  Whether A’s guilt was proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Held:  Yes.
1.    Either the testimony of a representative of, or a certification from, the PNP Firearms and Explosive Office attesting that a person is not a licensee of any firearm would suffice to prove beyond reasonable doubt the second element of possession of illegal firearm. 
2.    Also, the rule on hearsay evidence admits of several exceptions, one of which is that a certificate of a custodian that he has diligently searched for a document or an entry of a specified tenor and has been unable to find it ought to be as satisfactory an evidence of its non-existence in his office as his testimony on the stand to this effect would be.

Evidentiary Value of Baptismal Certificate

HEIRS OF CABAIS VS. CA

October 8, 1999

Facts:  In one case, the TIRAL COURT ruled against P because it concluded that D is the daughter of A.  The trial court relied on the baptismal certificate presented by D.

Issue:  Whether trial court correctly relied on the baptismal certificate in establishing D’s filiation.

Held:  No.
1.    A birth certificate, being a public document, offers prima facie evidence of filiation and a high degree of proof is needed to overthrow the presumption of truth contained in such public document.  On the contrary, a baptismal certificate, a private document, which, being hearsay, is not a conclusive proof of filiation.  It does not have the same probative value as a record of birth, an official or public document. 
2.    A baptismal certificate, like all documents in general, attests the fact leading to its execution and the date thereof, the administration of the sacrament on the day therein specified, but not to the veracity of the statements therein contained regarding the kinsfolk of the person baptized.

Extrajudicial Confession


PEOPLE VS. CULALA

October 13, 1999

Facts:  A was arrested for Robbery with Homicide.  One of the evidence considered by the court in convicting the accused is his extrajudicial confession made in the presence of the Municipal Attorney. 

Issue:  Whether such extrajudicial confession is admissible in evidence.

Held:  No.
A Municipal Attorney cannot be an independent counsel as required by the Constitution.  As a legal officer of the municipality, he provides legal assistance and support to the mayor and the municipality in carrying out the delivery of basic services to the people, including the maintenance of peace and order.  It is therefore seriously doubted whether he can effectively undertake the defense of the accused without running into conflict of interests.   He is no better than a fiscal or a prosecutor who cannot represent the accused during custodial investigations.  Consequently, for being violative of the Constitution, the extrajudicial confession of the accused is inadmissible.

 

People VS. Damaso Job

March 9, 2000

Facts: Accused, together with four others, were charged and convicted of the crime of kidnapping with ransom. Only the accused appealed.

Issue: Whether the extra-judicial confession of his co-accused is admissible as evidence against him.

Held: As a general rule, an extrajudicial confession by an accused may be given in evidence only against him, but not against his co-accused. This rule, however, admits of exceptions. Where several extrajudicial confessions had been made by several persons charged with the same offense, without the possibility of collusion among them, the fact that the statements are in all material respects identical is conformatory of the confessions of the co-defendants and is admissible against other persons implicated therein. Such confessions are commonly known as interlocking confessions. In the case at bar, the extrajudicial confessions of two of the co-accused are in the nature of interlocking confessions. They were made independently of each other. They contain similar material details which only persons involved in their criminal plot could have known. Therefore, as an exception tot he general rule, these confessions may properly be used in evidence against herein appellant, being one of several persons implicated therein. Moreover, also as an exception to the general rule, the extrajudicial confessions may be used by wa of circumstantial evidence regarding the actual criminal participation of the co-conspirator named in the confession. In this regard, apart from being tagged by his co-conspirator as among those involved in the kidnapping, appellant was found in the kidnappers’ safehouse where the victim was planned to be brought, on the same day the crime was committed. Appellant offered no plausible reason for his presence at the safehouse. 

Factual Findings of Trial Court


PEOPLE VS. SUELTO

October 7, 1999

Facts:  A was convicted of parricide.  He claimed that he accidentally shot his wife while grappling with the gun to prevent his wife from committing suicide.  The trial did not believe his version thus he was convicted.  He asked the SC to reverse the ruling.

Issue:  Whether the SC should reverse the ruling.

Held:  No.
The question of credibility of witnesses is best left to the assessment of the trial court.  Its evaluation of the veracity and the credibility of the witnesses’ testimony is accorded great respect and finality in the absence of any indication that it overlooked certain facts or great respect and finality in the absence of any indication that it overlooked certain facts or circumstances of weight and influence, which if reconsidered, would alter the result of the case.

Flight of the Accused


PEOPLE VS. GUARIN

October 22, 1999

Facts:  A, B and C were accused of robbery with homicide.  They left the place where they were working shortly after the incident and went missing until they were found in A’s hometown with a lot of money.  They were convicted.  They appealed claiming that their guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Issue:  Whether they were properly convicted.

Held:  Yes.

Flight is an evidence of guilt.  In this case, the three accused fled from the city where the crime was committed and never went back to work.  (The court here also considered other circumstantial evidence in convicting the accused.)


Formal Offer Of Evidence


PEOPLE VS. ALICANTE

May 31, 2000

Facts: This is a criminal prosecution for rape. The accused was convicted of seven counts of rape and was sentenced to suffer the penalty of death. Hence, this automatic review by the SC.

Issue: Whether the court erred in appreciating the testimony of one of the witnesses.

Held: On the issue of the prosecution’s failure to formally offer in evidence the testimony of the victim, the applicable provisions are Sections 34 and 35 of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.
SEC 34. Offer of evidence. – The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. The purpose for which the evidence is offered must be specified.
SEC 35. When to make offer. – As regards the testimony of a witness, the offer must be made at the time the witness is called to testify.
Admittedly, the transcripts of the testimonies reveal that the prosecution failed to declare the purpose for which the testimony of the witness was offered. However, this error will not prevent said testimony from being appreciated and made part of the evidence for the prosecution. This is because counsel for the accused failed to seasonable raise an objection thereto. Said objection could have been done at the time when the victim was called to the witness stand, without proper explanation thereof or at anytime before the prosecution rested its case.

 

PEOPLE VS. DEQUITO

May 12, 2000

Facts: This is a criminal prosecution for rape. The accused was convicted of two counts of rape committed on July 1996. On appeal, the accused contended, among others, that the court erred in convicting him for two counts of rape. He based his contention on the prosecutor’s statement that what was being tried was the last rape committed on July 1996.

Issue: Whether the court erred in convicting the accused for two counts of rape.

Held: No. The prosecution offered the victim’s testimony to prove that she was sexually abused several times by the appellant on or about the month of July 1996. The prosecutor’s statement that what was being tried was the last rape committed in July 1996 is an innocuous error that did not prejudice the rights of the appellant. The records show that the victim testified that the accused raped her on the first and last week of July 1996 and the victim was cross-examined on both incidents. The counsel for appellant did not object that the victim cannot testify on the first rape as the prosecutor was presenting her only to prove the second rape in July 1996. The accused therefore cannot complain of surprise. He was able to defend himself from the charge of the complainant.

Guiding Principles in Rape Cases


people vs. reyes

September 30, 1999

Facts:  A was convicted of raping X.  He appealed claiming that the court erred in giving more weight to X’s testimony than his.

Issue:  Whether the SC should grant the appeal.

Held:  No.
1.    Three guiding principles apply in the review of evidence in rape cases:
a.    An accusation for rape can be made with facility; it is difficult to prove but even more difficult for the accused, though innocent, to disprove;
b.    In view of the intrinsic nature of rape where often, only two persons are involved, the complainant’s testimony must be scrutinized with extreme caution; AND
c.    The prosecution’s evidence must stand or fall on its own merits and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the defense.
2.    Doctrinal guidelines in scrutinizing the credibility of witnesses:
a.    The appellate court will not disturb the findings of the lower court unless there is a showing that it had overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some fact or circumstances of weight, and substance that would have affected the result of the case.
b.    The findings of the trial court pertaining to the credibility of witnesses are entitled to great respect and even finality since it had the opportunity to examine their demeanor as they testified on the witness stand AND
c.    A witness who testified in a categorical, straightforward, spontaneous and frank manner and remained consistent on cross-examination is a credible witness.

Handwriting


PEOPLE VS. PAGPAGUITAN

September 17, 1999

Facts:  The judge convicted A for raping X.  One of errors assigned by A in his appeal is that the judge ordered X to write something in open court after A claimed that X is his girlfriend and submitted love letters allegedly written by X.  The judge determined that X did not write those letters.  A contended that such conclusion should have been determined by a handwriting expert and not a judge.

Issue:  Whether the judge acted properly in comparing the handwriting himself.

Held:  Yes.
When a writing in issue is claimed on the one hand and denied upon the other to be the writing of a particular person, any other writing of that person may be admitted in evidence for the purpose of comparison with the writing in dispute.  It is also recognized that a comparison of writing is a rational method of investigation; similarities and dissimilarities thus disclosed have probative value in the search for truth.  Thus, it has been held that, where a comparison is permissible, it may be made by the court, with or without the aid of expert witnesses.  The court may, in the exercise of its sound discretion, order a party to write or sign his signature as a basis for comparison.  For, the handwriting of a person is characteristic of the person himself.  Once admitted, the genuineness of other offered writings alleged to be the work of the same writer becomes a question for the trier of fact who may, but need not, be assisted in this task by experts.

Identification


PEOPLE VS. GAYOMMA

September 30, 1999

Facts:  A was accused of raping X.  X identified A as the rapist through his voice since it was dark when she was raped.  The court convicted A.  A appeals.

Issue:  Whether identification may be made through sound of the voice of a person.

Held:  Yes.
The sound of the voice of a person is an acceptable means of identification where it is established that the witness and the accused knew each other personally and closely for a number of years.  X was a neighbor of A; she was a close friend and playmate of A’s daughter.  A even admitted that X treated him as her own uncle.  All these prove that the victim was indeed familiar with the accused and had been in close contact with him for a long period of time before the incident.  She is therefore more than competent to recognize A by the sound of his voice.

 

PEOPLE VS. RAQUIÑO

September 30, 1999

Facts:  A, B and C were accused of killing X and Y.  X’s son, W, identified them as the three men he saw loitering outside their house just before the incident and the three men running away from the house after gunshots were fired, carrying guns.  The court found them guilty.  They appealed saying that W’s identification was faulty since he did not see them in the act of actually shooting X and Y.

Issue:  Whether they were properly convicted.

Held:  Yes.
Positive identification pertains essentially to proof of identity and not per se to that of being an eyewitness to the very act of the commission of the crime.  A witness may identify a suspect or accused in a criminal case as the perpetrator of the crime as an eyewitness to the very act of the commission of the crime.  This constitutes direct evidence, which the accused here refers to.  There may, however, be instances where, although a witness may not have actually seen the very act of commission of a crime, he may still be able to positively identify a suspect or accused as the perpetrator of a crime, as for instance when the latter is the person or one of the persons last seen with the victim immediately before and right after the commission of the crime.  This second type of positive identification forms part of circumstantial evidence, which, when taken together with other pieces of evidence constituting an unbroken chain, leads to only one fair and reasonable conclusion, which is that the accused is the author of the crime to the exclusion of all others.

Inaccuracies in Testimony


PEOPLE VS. GALLO

November 16, 1999

Facts:  A was convicted of killing X despite disparity between the post-mortem report and the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses on how X was killed.  He appealed.

Issue:  Whether the trial court acted properly in convicting A.

Held:  Yes.
The testimonies of the prosecution witnesses ware admittedly wanting in accuracy.  But his cannot overturn the fact that A was positively identified as one of the armed malefactors who encircled and attacked the victim.  His presence at the locus criminis, not as a mere passive spectator but as an active participant in the cabal, was adequately established by the prosecution.  In fact, the witness was consistent in her testimony that the 5 named assailants surrounded and ganged up on her husband.  In the darkness of the night, the witnesses could no have possibly observed every single detail of the incident.  This is especially so since they were made to recount an event long past.  Such is the limitation of human memory.

Lack of Medico-Legal Report


PEOPLE VS. LASOLA

November 17, 1999

Facts:  A was convicted of raping X, his daughter.  The rape was established by the testimonies of X and W who was X’s mother and A’s wife.  A questions his conviction because of the lack of a medico-legal report.

Issue:  Whether A was correctly convicted despite the absence of the medico-legal report.

Held:  Yes.
A medico-legal report is not indispensable when evidence other than the same point to the inescapable guilt of the accused.  It is merely corroborative evidence, the absence of which would not prevent the prosecution from establishing the fact of rape, which in this case, was proved not just by the lone testimony of the victim but also by another witness in the person of her mother.

Motive

PEOPLE VS. RENATO

October 11, 1999

Facts:  A was accused of killing X.  He was identified by X’s wife who was with X when A killed X.  A claimed that it was B who killed X since B had the motive to kill X.  X allegedly killed B’s father prior to the incident in question.  The trial court convicted A.

Issue:  Whether the trial court acted properly.

Held:  Yes.
Even if B had the motive to kill X, motive only becomes crucial if there is no positive identification of the offender.  The positive identification of A is weightier than his bare denial.

Newly Discovered Evidence


PAULINO VILLANUEVA VS. PEOPLE

April 12, 2000

Facts: This is a criminal prosecution for violation of BP Blg. 22. The accused was convicted of the crime charged. On appeal, the CA affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

Issue: Whether the CA erred when it did not remand the case for new trial based on newly discovered evidence.

Held: No. The Court cannot sustain the contention of the accused that private complainant’s affidavit of desistance is newly discovered evidence which can tip the scales in his favor if a new trial were to be granted. The requisites for newly discovered evidence as a ground for a new trial are: (1) the evidence was discovered after the trial; (2) such evidence could not have been discovered and produced at the trial with reasonable diligence; and (3) that it is material, not merely cumulative, corroborative, or impeaching, and is of such weight that, if admitted, will probably change the judgment. In the instant case, private complainant executed her Affidavit of Desistance only on May 14, 1998 or six years after her testimony and after the CA had affirmed the trial court’s decision and had denied the accused’s motion for reconsideration. It is settled that affidavits of recantation made by a witness after the conviction of the accused deserve only scant consideration. Moreover, there is nothing in said affidavit, which would support a different conclusion. The third requisite is, therefore, lacking.

Non-Flight of the Accused


PEOPLE VS. COSTELO

October 13, 1999

Facts: A, B and C were accused of killing X.  They were convicted.  B claimed that he had nothing to do with the killing and his non-flight was proof of that.

Issue:  Whether the innocence of B was proved by his non-flight.

Held:  No.
B contends that his failure to leave the premises immediately after the crime was committed is a strong indication of his innocence.  This is incorrect, considering the jurisprudence and all the pieces of evidence against B, non-flight is not a conclusive proof of innocence and is thus not enough to exculpate him.

 

Non-Presentation of a Witness


PEOPLE VS. BARELLANO

December 2, 1999

Facts:  X was drinking tuba together with his buddies Y and Z when A shot him.  At the trial, the prosecution presented Y as its witness.  A was convicted.  A now appeals claiming that the court erred since Z was never presented as witness nor had he executed an affidavit.

Issue:  Whether A was properly convicted.

Held:  Yes.

A claimed that the failure of the prosecution to present Z as a witness raises the presumption that if produced his testimony would not be favorable to the prosecution.  However, as held in the case of People vs. Silvestre, the prosecution has the discretion to decide on who to call as witness during trial and its failure to do so did not give rise to the presumption that “evidence willfully suppressed would be adverse if produced” since the evidence was at the disposal of both parties.  Also, Z’s testimony would merely be corroborative of that of the two eyewitnesses.  The adverse evidentiary presumption invoked by A does not apply when testimony of the witness not produced would only be corroborative.  No prejudicial inference can arise against a party who fails to call a witness where the only object of presenting him would be to produce corroborative or cumulative evidence.

 

Paraffin Tests

PEOPLE VS. ABALOS

December 22, 1999

Facts:  A was convicted of murdering X, who was shot.  He was convicted despite the negative result of the paraffin test conducted on him.  He appealed.

Issue:  Whether the accused should be acquitted.

Held:  No.
A witness was able to identify A as the shooter.  Anent the paraffin test, it is true that it produced a negative result but such fact does not Ipso facto merit A’s acquittal.  The absence of powder burns in a suspect’s hand is not conclusive proof that he has not fired a gun.  In fact, the traces of nitrates can easily be removed by the simple act of washing one’s hand.

Police Blotter Entries


PEOPLE VS. SILVA

December 29, 1999

Facts:  A, B and C were charged with the murder of X.  They were convicted because of the testimony of W, X’s mother, who allegedly saw them ganging up on X and shooting him.  A, B and C are W’s neighbors.  They now appeal claiming that W’s identification could not be the basis of conviction since she only “revealed” their identities three months from the incident as evidence by the police blotter entries wherein the felons were described as “three unidentified malefactors”.

Issue:  Whether A, B and C were properly convicted.

Held:  Yes.
Police blotter entries should not be given undue significance or probative value for they are usually incomplete and inaccurate, sometimes from either partial suggestions or for want of suggestions or inquires.  Entries in a  police blotter are merely prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein but they are not conclusive.  Also, W has positively identified the three accused as perpetrators in a crime committed in broad daylight and within her full view.

 

Presumption Of Sanity


PEOPLE VS. RODOLFO VILLA, JR.
April 27, 2000

Facts: Accused was charged with multiple murder. Before the defense could present its evidence, however, counsel de oficio manifested his inability to confer with the accused but moved that a psychiatric examination of the accused be made to determine his mental condition. The motion was granted. After more than a month of psychiatric evaluation, the attending physicians submitted tot he trial court a psychiatric evaluation report, which stated that accused was suffering from Insanity or Psychosis classified as Schizophrenia and that the accused is at that time incompetent to stand trial. When accused’s status had improved enough for him to withstand the rigors of the trial, trial resumed, with the accused now raising insanity as a defense. The trial court convicted the accused of the crime charged.

Issue: Whether the accused’s defense of insanity was properly pleaded.

Held: No. It could be that accused was insane at the time he was examined at the center. But, in all probability, such insanity was contracted during the period of his detention pending trial. Hwe was without contact with friends and relatives most of the time. He was troubled by his conscience, the realization of the gravity of the offenses and the thought of a bleak future for him. The confluence of these circumstances may have conspired to disrupt his mental equilibrium. But, it must be stressed, that an inquiry into the mental state of accused-appellant should related to the period immediately before or an inquiry into the mental state of the accused should relate to the period immediately before or at the precise moment of doing the act which is the subject of the inquiry, and his mental condition after that crucial period or during the trial is inconsequential for purposes of determining his criminal liability. In fine, the Court needs more concrete evidence on the mental condition of the person alleged to be insane at the time of the perpetration of the crimes in order that the exempting circumstance of insanity may be appreciated in his favor. The accused miserably failed to discharge the burden of overcoming the presumption that he committed the crimes freely, knowingly and intelligently.

Recantation

 

PEOPLE VS. LORETO AMBAN

March 1, 2000

Facts: Accused was charged with having raped his 12-year old daughter. It appears that shortly after filing the complaint, the victim was placed in the custody of an institution run by religious sisters. Thereafter, the victim’s mother was granted custody of the victim on the condition that she would return the victim on December 7. However, once in custody of her daughter, the mother refused to return her to DSWD. For her part, after testifying for the prosecution on October 2, the victim testified as a witness for the defense on January 7, the following year. The RTC rendered its decision of conviction. It rejected the victim’s recantation and gave credence to her previous testimony. On appeal, the accused contended that on the basis of the victim’s recantation, he is entitled to an acquittal.

Issue: Whether the court erred in rejecting the victim’s recantation.

Held: No. Mere retraction by a prosecution witness does not necessarily vitiate his original testimony. In this case, the trial court, in giving credence to the victim’s testimony for the prosecution rather than to her testimony for the defense, noted that the victim was full of hesitation when she testified as a recanting witness. In fact when she was made to swear to an oath before the start of her testimony, she was asked three times before she could say yes. Her recanting testimony was halting, half-hearted and vague.

Relationship of Witness


PEOPLE VS. PATALINGHUG

November 16, 1999

Facts:  A was convicted of killing X because of W’s testimony.  A appealed claiming that the trial court should not have taken W’s testimony into account since W is related to X.

Issue:  Whether the court acted properly.

Held:  Yes.
The weight of the testimony of the witness, W is not impaired or in anyway affected by his relationship to the victim, X, when there is no showing of improper motive on the part of the witnesses.

 

Reluctance to Testify


PEOPLE VS. LACHICA

October 12, 1999

Facts:  A was convicted of murdering X because of W’s identification that A was one of the men who killed X.  W was watching from his tricycle when A and two other men stabbed X to death.  A contended that W could not be believed since W was reluctant to testify in the first place and W’s behavior in just watching the murder affects W’s credibility.

Issue:  Whether W’s behavior affects his credibility.

Held:  No.
Witnessing a crime is an unusual experience which elicits different reactions from witnesses.  Therefor, no clear cut standard form of behavior can be drawn.  The fact that W did not help the victim or report the incident to the police is of no moment.  It does not make his reaction less normal under the attendant circumstances.  Thus, his reluctance in getting involved in the case, on the face of the threat on his life by the relatives of the culprits, should not detract from the faith and credit his testimony deserves.

Res Gestae


PEOPLE VS. CARIQUEZ
September 27, 1999

Facts: A and B were convicted of killing X, a two-year old, through maltreatment and continuous beating.  One of the evidence considered by the court in convicting A and B was W’s statement that X told her that A and B beat her repeatedly.  A and B claimed that W’s statement was hearsay and therefore should not be admitted.


Issue:  Whether W’s statement is inadmissible.

Held:  No.
1.    X’s statement as to who inflicted the injuries may have been hearsay because X could not be confronted on that, yet it was part of the res gestae and therefore, an exception to the hearsay rule.
2.    There are three requisites for an statement to be admissible as part of the res gestae:
a.    The principal act, the res gestae, must be a startling occurrence.
b.    The statements were made before the declarant had time to contrive or devised
AND
c.    The statements must concern the occurrence in question and its immediately attending circumstances.
3.    Here, the startling occurrence was the torture inflicted on X, who pointed to A and B as those who caused them.  Although some time may have lapsed between the infliction of the injuries and the disclosure, it must be pointed out that there has been no uniformity as to the interval of time that should separate the occurrence of the startling event from the making of the declarations.

Self-Serving Declarations


PEOPLE VS. CERVETO

September 30, 1999

Facts:  A and B were accused of robbery with homicide.  The policemen who chased after them testified in the trial.  A and B claimed that they were framed and gave alibis.  The trial court convicted them anyway.  They appeal.

Issue:  Whether the court erred in giving more credence to the police’s testimony.

Held:  No.
The defenses of denial, frame-up and alibi are all inherently or most frequently, weak defenses that are correctly rejected by trial court.  Such defenses which belong to the same category require clear and convincing evidence in the face of the presumption that police officer acted in the regular performance of their official duties.  More importantly, there is no showing that the policemen were actuated by improper motive when they arrested accused-appellant.  Those defenses are self-serving negative evidence that cannot be given greater weight than the declarations of credible witnesses who testified on affirmative matters.

Testimony of Sole Witness


PEOPLE VS. AVILLANA

May 12, 2000

Facts: This is a criminal prosecution for murder. The accused was convicted of the crime charged. In this appeal, the accused contended, among others, that the court erred in convicting him considering that the defense presented three witnesses and the prosecution presented only one.

Issue: Whether an accused may be convicted of a crime based only on the testimony of a sole witness.

Held: Yes. It is well-settled that witnesses are to be weighed, not numbered, such that the testimony of a single, trustworthy and credible witness could be sufficient to convict an accused. Criminals are convicted, not on the number of witnesses against them, but on the credibility of the testimony of even one witness who is able to convince the court of the guilt of the accused beyond a shadow of doubt.


Special Proceedings



Extra-Judicial Settlement

 

HEIRS OF TEVES VS. CA

October 13, 1999

Facts:  The heirs of A executed an extrajudicial settlement of A’s estate which was not registered.  One heir who was not satisfied with his share filed a case to declare such settlement ineffective.

Issue:  Whether the extra-judicial settlement is binding among the heirs.

Held:  Yes.
1.    The extra-judicial settlement is valid since the following requisites concurred:
a.    The decedent left no will
b.    The decedent left no debts, or if there were debts left, all had been paid
c.    The heirs are all of age or if they are minors, the latter are represented by their judicial guardian or legal representatives
d.    The partition was made by means of a public instrument or affidavit duly filed with the Register of Deeds.
2.    The requirement that a partition be put in a public document and registered has for its purpose the protection of creditors and at the same time the protection of the heirs themselves against the tardy claims.  The object of the registration is to serve as constructive notice to others.
3.    It follows that the intrinsic validity of partition not executed with the prescribed formalities does not come into play when there are no creditors or the rights of the creditors are not affected.  Where no such rights are involved, it is competent for the heirs of an estate to enter into an agreement for distribution in a manner and upon a plan different from those provided by law.

Habeas Corpus

LUCIEN TRAN VAN NGHIA VS. RODRIGUEZ

January 31, 2000

Facts:  A was deported from the Philippines and was barred from entering the Philippines.   But he re-entered the country using an alias.  He was subsequently caught by immigration agents and charged with violation of §45(d) of the Philippine Immigration Act.  He then filed a petition for habeas corpus.

Issue:  Whether the petition for habeas corpus should be granted.

Held:  No.
The writ of habeas corpus will not issue where the person alleged to be restrained of his liberty is charged with an offense in the Philippines.  Here, A is charged with violation of §45(d) of the Philippine Immigration Act.  He is now detained because of said charge and therefore his petition for release on a writ of habeas corpus is without merit.

Probate Court

 

MODINA VS. CA

October 29, 1999

Facts:  P filed a case for rescission of a sale against D.  The property involved was part of the estate of D’s first husband and the sale was made with prior authority of the probate court.  D claimed that the trial court has no jurisdiction since the sale was made upon prior authority of the probate court.   

Issue:  Whether the trial court may rescind a sale made upon prior authority of the probate court.

Held:  Yes.
An RTC has jurisdiction over a case brought to rescind a sale made upon prior authority of a Probate Court.  This does not constitute an interference or review of the order of a co-equal court since the probate court has no jurisdiction over the question of title to subject properties.  Thus, a separate action may be brought to determine the question of ownership.

 

MALOLES VS. PHILLIPS

January 31, 2000

Facts:  A, during his lifetime, filed a petition for probate of his will in Branch 61, claiming that he had no compulsory heirs and left all his properties to a foundation.  He named D as executrix.  The will was allowed and A subsequently died.  P filed a motion for intervention claiming to be A’s nephew while D filed a motion for issuance of letters testamentary which D later withdrew.  D refiled her motion with Branch 65.  Branch 65 appointed D as special administrator but later ordered the transfer of D’s case to Branch 61.  However, Branch 61 remanded the second case back to Branch 65. 

Issue:  Whether Branch 65 has jurisdiction.

Held:  Yes. 
After Branch 61 allowed the will of A, it had nothing else to do except to issue a certificate of allowance of the will pursuant to Rule 73 §12 of the Rules of Court.  After A’s death, insofar as the venue of the petition for probate of the will of A is concerned, it does not bar other branches of the same court from taking cognizance of the settlement of the estate of the testator after his death.  Thus, Branch 65 has jurisdiction.

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