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Espleta v Avelino (1975)

J. Fernando
Shells counsel Bellaflor forwarded an oral motion for the revocation of appearance
of Espletas witness Montano for cross-examination and the conlusion of her
testimony. She was unable to appear in one of the trials due to her an audit for a job
in the Department of Local Government at the day she was supposed to finish her
testimony and cross-examination. Judge Avelino accepted this proposal and even
allowed Shell to present its rebuttal witness for Espeletas testimony. The judge
granted this request to the prejudice of Espeleta. The magistrate also did not
consider Espeletas counsels letter for postponement. The judge told parties to
submit documentary evidence afterwards but rejected the ones from Montanos
testimony due to her being stricken from the records.
In essence, there was partiality on the part of the judge.
Whether the concept of fairness that is basic to procedural due process would be
satisfied if the right to be heard of petitioner was revoked by the respondent Judge?
Held: No. Petition for certiorari granted
Espeleta presented Montano as an accountant to testify for the reduced balance to
Shell in the form of 14,000 from Shells proposed amount of 22,000. The deductions
included payment for damage due to gasoline leakages.
Under the circumstances, the stress on the absence of procedural due process is
understandable for as a result of the order of respondent Judge now sought to be
set aside, there is more than just a probability that petitioner would be condemned
to pay before he had been fully heard. The trial didnt satisfy the standard for a
judicious inquiry, because there was a mockery of the requirement that the litigants
should be given full opportunity to sustain their claims and have their evidence
considered and weighted. The petitioner can assert due process.
By saying that the postponement of the counsel was a delay on the administration
of justice was not in line with Justice Carsons saying that a sound discretion in this
regard should be exercised by the trial judge, and the highly commendable desire
for the dispatch of business should not be permitted to turn the scales of justice
rather than accede to a reasonable request for a continuance.
Due heed must be paid to procedural due process mandate.

Ching Hong So- when a party litigant without malice or fault is not prepared for trial,
the court can exceed the discretion on it by law in denying to him the opportunity to
prepare and obtain due process
However, the controlling doctrine can be seen Capitol Subdivision v Negros where
liberality must be exercised in postponing trial to obtain material evidence and
prevent miscarriage of justice
The discretion for denying motions is allowed but such must be exercised with a
view to substantial justice.
In Luciano v Tan, procedural due process requires the infirmity consisting in a refusal
to grant postmonet then subsequently cured by the court reopening the case to
comply with such a requirement.
The judge in this case must have reconsidered the denial.
Bellaflors pleadings displayed a total lack of awareness of due process in the
implications of his petition because of his assertion that the constitional question
was essential factual.