You are on page 1of 30

[G.R. No. 132577. August 17, 1999]!

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. HUBERT JEFFREY P. WEBB, respondent.!


D E C I S I O N!
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:!

Challenged in this petition for review on certiorari is the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. SP No. 45399 entitled Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb v. Hon. Amelita Tolentino, in her capacity as
Presiding Judge of Branch 274 of the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque, People of the Philippines
and Lauro Vizconde which set aside the order of respondent judge therein denying herein
respondent Hubert Jeffrey P. Webbs request to take the depositions of five (5) citizens and
residents of the United States before the proper consular officer of the Philippines in Washington
D.C. and California, as the case may be.!

!
The factual and procedural antecedents are matters of record or are otherwise uncontroverted.!
!

Respondent Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb is one of the accused in Criminal Case No. 95-404 for Rape
with Homicide entitled People of the Philippines v. Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb, et al. presently pending
before Branch 274 of the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque, presided by Judge Amelita G.
Tolentino.!

During the course of the proceedings in the trial court, respondent filed on May 2, 1997, a Motion
To Take Testimony By Oral Deposition[1] praying that he be allowed to take the testimonies of the
following:!

1.] Steven Bucher!


Acting Chief, Records Services Branch!
U.S. Department of Justice!
Immigration and Naturalization Service!
425 Eye Street, N.W.!
Washington D.C. 20536!
U.S.A.!

2.] Debora Farmer!


Records Operations, Office of Records!
U.S. Department of Justice!
Immigration and Naturalization Service!
Washington D.C.!
U.S.A.!

3.] Jaci Alston!


Department of Motor Vehicles!
Sacramento, California!
U.S.A.!

4.] Ami Smalley!


Department of Motor Vehicles!
Sacramento, California!
U.S.A.!

5.] John Pavlisin!


210 South Glasell, City of Orange!
California, 92666!
U.S.A.!

before the general consul, consul, vice-consul or consular agent of the Philippines in lieu of
presenting them as witnesses in court alleging that the said persons are all residents of the United
States and may not therefore be compelled by subpoena to testify since the court had no
jurisdiction over them.!

Respondent further alleged that the taking of the oral depositions of the aforementioned individuals
whose testimonies are allegedly material and indispensable to establish his innocence of the crime
charged is sanctioned by Section 4, Rule 24 of the Revised Rules of Court which provides that:!

SEC. 4. Use of depositions. At the trial or upon the hearing of a motion or an interlocutory
proceeding, any part or all of a deposition, so far as admissible under the rules of evidence, may
be used against any party who was present or represented at the taking of the deposition or who
had due notice thereof, in accordance with any one of the following provisions:!

(a) Any deposition may be used by any party for the purpose of contradicting or impeaching the
testimony of the deponent as a witness;!

(b) The deposition of a party or of any one who at the time of taking the deposition was an officer,
director, or managing agent of a public or private corporation, partnership, or association which is a
party may be used by an adverse party for any purpose;!

(c) The deposition of a witness whether or not a party, may be used by any party for any purpose if
the court finds: (1) that the witness is dead; (2) that the witness is out of the province and a greater
distance than fifty (50) kilometers from the place of trial or hearing, or is out of the Philippines,
unless it appears that his absence was procured by the party offering the deposition; or (3) that the
witness is unable to attend or testify because of age, sickness, infirmity, or imprisonment; or (4)
that the party offering the deposition has been unable to procure the attendance of the witness by
subpoena or (5) upon application and notice, that such exceptional circumstances exist as to make
it desirable in the interest of justice and with due regard to the importance of presenting the
testimony of witnesses orally in open court, to allow the deposition to be used;!

(d) If only part of a deposition is offered in evidence by a party, the adverse party may require him
to introduce all of it which is relevant to the part introduced and any party may introduce any other
parts. (italics supplied).!

The prosecution thereafter filed an opposition to the said motion averring that: 1.] Rule 24, Section
4 of the Rules of Court, contrary to the representation of respondent-accused, has no application in
criminal cases; 2.] Rule 119, Section 4 of the Rules of Court on Criminal Procedure, being a mode
of discovery, only provides for conditional examination of witnesses for the accused before trial not
during trial; 3.] Rule 119, Section 5 of the Rules of Court on Criminal Procedure does not sanction
the conditional examination of witnesses for the accused/defense outside Philippine jurisdiction.[2]!

In an Order dated June 11, 1997, the trial court denied the motion of respondent on the ground that
the same is not allowed by Section 4, Rule 24 and Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 119 of the Revised
Rules of Court.[3]!

A motion for reconsideration[4] thereto on the grounds that: 1.] The 1997 Rules of Court expressly
allows the taking of depositions, and 2.] Section 11 of Rule 23 of the 1997 Rules of Court expressly
allows the taking of depositions in foreign countries before a consul general, consul, vice-consul or
consular agent of the Republic of the Philippines, was likewise denied by the trial court in an order
dated July 25, 1997.[5]!

Dissatisfied, respondent elevated his cause to the Court of Appeals by way of a petition for
certiorari[6] naming as respondents therein the Presiding Judge Amelita G. Tolentino, the People
and private complainant Lauro Vizconde. In the petition, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 45399,
respondent Webb argued that: 1.] The taking of depositions pending action is applicable to criminal

proceedings; 2.] Depositions by oral testimony in a foreign country can be taken before a consular
officer of the Philippine Embassy in the United States; and, 3.] He has the right to completely and
fully present evidence to support his defense and the denial of such right will violate his
constitutional right to due process.!

Commenting[7] on the petition, the People contended that the questioned orders of the Presiding
Judge are well within the sphere of her judicial discretion and do not constitute grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction and that if at all, they may be considered
merely as errors of judgment which may be corrected by appeal in due time because: a.] The
motion failed to comply with the requirements of Section 4, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court; b.] The
conditional examination must be conducted before an inferior court; and c.] The examination of the
witnesses must be done in open court.!

In his Comment,[8] private respondent Lauro Vizconde sought the dismissal of the petition
contending that:!

1.] The public respondent did not commit grave abuse of discretion in denying petitioner [now
herein respondent] Webbs motion to take testimony by oral deposition dated 29 April 1997 as well
as petitioners motion for reconsideration dated 23 June 1997 for not being sanctioned by the Rules
of Court.!

a.] The public respondent correctly held that Rule 23, Section 1 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil
Procedure finds no application in criminal actions such as the case at bar.!

b.] The public respondent correctly ruled that Rule 119, Section 4 of the Rules of Criminal
Procedure only provides for conditional examination of witnesses before trial but not during trial.!

c.] The public respondent correctly ruled that Rule 119 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure does
not sanction the conditional examination of witnesses for the accused/defense outside of Philippine
jurisdiction.!

2.] The public respondent did not commit any grave abuse of discretion in denying petitioner
Webbs motion to take testimony by oral deposition considering that the proposed deposition tends
only to further establish the admissibility of documentary exhibits already admitted in evidence by
the public respondent.!

On February 6, 1998, the Fourth Division[9] of the Court of Appeals rendered judgment,[10] the
dispositive portion of which reads:!

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The orders of respondent judge dated 11 June 1997
(Annex A of the Petition) and 25 July 1997 (Annex B of the Petition) are hereby ANNULLED and
SET ASIDE. It is hereby ordered that the deposition of the following witnesses be TAKEN before
the proper consular officer of the Republic of the Philippines in Washington D.C. and California, as
the case may be:!

(a) Mr. Steven Bucher;!


(b) Ms. Deborah Farmer;!
(c) Mr. Jaci Alston;!
(d) Ms. Ami Smalley; and!
(e) Mr. John Pavlisin.!

!
SO ORDERED.!
!

From the foregoing, the People forthwith elevated its cause to this Court by way of the instant
petition dispensing with the filing of a motion for reconsideration for the following reasons: 1.] The
rule that the petitioner should first file a motion for reconsideration applies to the special civil action

of certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure and there is no similar requirement
in taking an appeal from a final judgment or order[11] such as the present appeal by certiorari; 2.]
Section 4, Rule 45 in requiring a petition for review on certiorari which indicates that when a motion
for new trial or reconsideration, if any, was filed implies that petitioner need not file a motion for
reconsideration; 3.] The questions being raised before the Court are the same as those which were
squarely raised before the Court of Appeals;[12] 4.] The issues being raised here are purely legal;
[13] 5.] There is an urgent need to resolve the issues considering that the trial of the accused in the
criminal case is about to end; and, 6.] The nature of this case requires a speedy and prompt
disposition of the issues involved.[14]!

What are challenged before this Court are interlocutory orders and not a final judgment. The
respondent has filed his Comment[15] which We treat as an Answer. The petitioner, in turn, filed a
Reply.[16] The petition is ripe for decision.!

In urging this Tribunal to exercise its power of review over the assailed decision of the Appellate
Court, petitioner asserts that the Court of Appeals committed serious and reversible error!

!
I!
!

IN RULING THAT RULE 23 OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE IS APPLICABLE TO


CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS.!

!
II!
!

IN RULING THAT THE DEPOSITION MAY BE TAKEN BEFORE A CONSULAR OFFICER OF THE
PHILIPPINES WHERE THE PROSPECTIVE WITNESSES RESIDE OR ARE OFFICIALLY
STATIONED.!

!
III!
!

IN RULING THAT RESPONDENT WAS DEPRIVED OF DUE PROCESS OF LAW BY THE TRIAL
COURT.!

which can be reduced to the primordial issue of whether or not the trial judge gravely abused her
discretion in denying the motion to take testimony by oral depositions in the United States which
would be used in the criminal case before her Court.!

In setting aside the order of the trial judge, the Appellate Courts Fourth Division reasoned, inter
alia, thus:!

Settled is the rule that the whole purpose and object of procedure is to make the powers of the
court fully and completely available for justice. Thus, as the Supreme Court has ruled in Manila
Railroad Co. vs. Attorney General and reiterated in subsequent cases:!

x x x The most perfect procedure that can be devised is that which give the opportunity for the
most complete and perfect exercise of the powers of the court within the limitations set by natural
justice. It is that one which, in other words, gives the most perfect opportunity for the powers of the
court to transmute themselves into concrete acts of justice between the parties before it. The
purpose of such a procedure is not to restrict the jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter,
but to give it effective facility in righteous action. It may be said in passing that the most salient
objection which can be urged against procedure today is that it so restricts the exercise of the
courts powers by technicalities that part of its authority effective for justice between the parties is
many times an inconsiderable portion of the whole. The purpose of procedure is not to thwart
justice. Its proper aim is to facilitate the application of justice to the rival claims of the contending
parties. It was created not to hinder and delay but to facilitate and promote the administration of
justice. It does not constitute the thing itself which the courts are always striving to secure the

litigants. It is designed as the means best adapted to obtain that thing. In other words, it is a means
to an end. It is the means by which the powers of the court are made effective in just judgments.
When it loses the character of the one and takes on the other [,] the administration of justice
becomes incomplete and unsatisfactory and lays itself open to grave criticism.[17]!

In the light of the foregoing judicial precedent, this Court finds that the public respondent gravely
abused her discretion in denying the motion to take the deposition of the witnesses for petitioner.
While petitioner had invoked Rule 23, Section 1 of the Rules of Court, which is found under the
general classification of Civil Procedure, it does not prevent its application to the other
proceedings, provided the same is not contrary to the specific rules provided therein. Indeed, the
Rules of Court is to be viewed and construed as a whole, and if the Supreme Court had
compartmentalized the same into four divisions, it was, as petitioner had claimed, for the purpose
of organization and expediency and not, for exclusivity.!

To be sure, a reading of the rules on criminal procedure, specifically Section 4, Rule 119 vis--vis
Section 1, Rule 23 would reveal no inconsistency so as to exclude the application of the latter rule
in criminal proceedings. Section 4, Rule 119 refers to the conditional examination of witnesses for
the accused before trial, while Section 1, Rule 23 refers to the taking of deposition witnesses
during trial. x x x!

!
x x x x x x x x x!
!

While the taking of depositions pending trial is not expressly provided [for] under the Rules on
Criminal Procedure, we find no reason for public respondent to disallow the taking of the same in
the manner provided for under Section 1 of Rule 23 under the circumstances of the case. To
disallow petitioner to avail of the specific remedies provided under the Rules would deny him the
opportunity to adequately defend himself against the criminal charge of rape with homicide now
pending before the public respondent and, further, [it] loses sight of the object of procedure which
is to facilitate the application of justice to the rival claims of contending parties.!

!
x x x x x x x x x!
!

Even granting arguendo that Rule 23 is to be exclusively applied to civil actions, the taking of the
deposition of petitioners US-based witnesses should be still allowed considering that the civil
action has been impliedly instituted in the criminal action for rape with homicide. Since public
respondent has jurisdiction over the civil case to recover damages, she exercised full authority to
employ all auxillary writs, processes and other means to carry out the jurisdiction conferred and [to]
adopt any suitable process or mode of proceeding which includes the application of the rule on
depositions pending action under Rule 23 in the case pending before her.!

Second. Depositions obtained during trial in a foreign state or country may be taken before a
consular officer of the Republic of the Philippines where the deponent resides or is officially
stationed.[18] Section 5, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court is thus clearly inapplicable in the instant
case since the same relates to the examination of witnesses under Section 4 thereof and not
Section 1 of Rule 23. Consistent with the procedure provided [for] under Rule 23, the deposition of
the petitioners witnesses, which include four (4) officials of the United States government, will be
taken before a consular officer of the Philippines where these witnesses reside or are officially
stationed, as the case may be.!

The denial of petitioners right to present his witnesses, who are residing abroad, based on a very
shaky technical ground, is tantamount to depriving him of his constitutional right to due process.
This Court recognizes the impossibility of enforcing the right of petitioner to secure the attendance
of the proposed witnesses through compulsory process considering that they are beyond the
jurisdiction of Philippine Courts. Petitioner, however, is not without any remedy and he correctly
sought to secure the testimonies of his witnesses through the process of taking their depositions
pending the trial of Criminal Case No. 95-404 in the court below under Rule 23 of the Rules of

Court. In any event, the prosecution would have the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses for
accused Hubert Webb (petitioner herein) since they will be given the opportunity to cross-examine
the deponents as in accordance with Sections 3 to 18 of Rule 132.[19]!

Furthermore, no prejudice would be suffered in the taking of the depositions of petitioners USbased witness[es]. On the other hand, a denial of the same would be prejudicial to petitioneraccused since he would be denied an opportunity to completely present his evidence, which strikes
at the very core of the due process guarantee of the Constitution. To reiterate, it is not the function
of this Court to second-guess the trial court on its ruling on the admissibility of the pieces of
documentary evidence as well as the latters witnesses,[20] but it is definitely within this courts
inherent power to scrutinize, as it does in the case at bench, the acts of respondent judge and
declare that she indeed committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the questioned Orders.!

In the final analysis, this Court rules that the denial of the deposition-taking amounts to the denial
of the constitutional right to present his evidence and for the production of evidence in his behalf.
The denial is not justified by the flimsy reason that Sec. 1 of Rule 23 of the Rules of Court is not
applicable to criminal proceedings. To rule that petitioner cannot take the testimony of these
witnesses by deposition is to put [a] premium on technicality at the expense of the constitutional
rights of the accused, which this court is not inclined to do. Particularly where the issue of the guilt
or innocence of petitioner is bound to hinge heavily upon the testimonies of his US-based
witnesses, it behooves upon public respondent not only to guarantee that accused is given a
reasonable opportunity to present his evidence, but also to allow him a certain latitude in the
presentation of his evidence, lest he may be so hampered that the ends of justice may eventually
be defeated or appear to be defeated. Finally, even if respondents contention is correct, it cannot
be denied that the case at bar includes the recovery of the civil liability of the accused, which
normally is done through a civil case.!

!
We disagree.!
!
As defined, a deposition is -!
!

"The testimony of a witness taken upon oral question or written interrogatories, not in open court,
but in pursuance of a commission to take testimony issued by a court, or under a general law or
court rule on the subject, and reduced to writing and duly authenticated, and intended to be used in
preparation and upon the trial of a civil or criminal prosecution. A pretrial discovery device by which
one party (through his or her attorney) asks oral questions of the other party or of a witness for the
other party. The person who is deposed is called the deponent. The deposition is conducted under
oath outside of the court room, usually in one of the lawyers offices. A transcript - word for word
account - is made of the deposition. Testimony of [a] witness, taken in writing, under oath or
affirmation, before some judicial officer in answer to questions or interrogatories x x x.[21]!

and the purposes of taking depositions are to: 1.] Give greater assistance to the parties in
ascertaining the truth and in checking and preventing perjury; 2.] Provide an effective means of
detecting and exposing false, fraudulent claims and defenses; 3.] Make available in a simple,
convenient and inexpensive way, facts which otherwise could not be proved except with great
difficulty; 4.] Educate the parties in advance of trial as to the real value of their claims and defenses
thereby encouraging settlements; 5.]Expedite litigation; 6.] Safeguard against surprise; 7.] Prevent
delay; 8.] Simplify and narrow the issues; and 9.] Expedite and facilitate both preparation and trial.
[22] As can be gleaned from the foregoing, a deposition, in keeping with its nature as a mode of
discovery, should be taken before and not during trial. In fact, rules on criminal practice particularly on the defense of alibi, which is respondents main defense in the criminal proceedings
against him in the court below - states that when a person intends to rely on such a defense, that
person must move for the taking of the deposition of his witnesses within the time provided for filing
a pre-trial motion.[23]!

It needs to be stressed that the only reason of respondent for seeking the deposition of the foreign
witnesses is to foreclose any objection and/or rejection of, as the case may be, the admissibility of
Defense Exhibits 218 and 219. This issue has, however, long been rendered moot and academic
by the admission of the aforementioned documentary exhibits by the trial court in its order dated
July 10, 1998.[24]!

In fact, a circumspect scrutiny of the record discloses that the evidence to be obtained through the
deposition-taking would be superfluous or corroborative at best. A careful examination of Exhibits
218 and 219 readily shows that these are of the same species of documents which have been
previously introduced and admitted into evidence by the trial court in its order dated July 18, 1997
which We noted in Webb, et al. v. People of the Philippines, et al.[25] wherein We pointed out,
among others, [t]hat respondent judge reversed this erroneous ruling and already admitted these
132 pieces of evidence after finding that the defects in (their) admissibility have been cured though
the introduction of additional evidence during the trial on the merits.[26]!

Indeed, a comparison of Exhibit 218-A which is a U.S. Department of State Certification issued by
Joan C. Hampton, Assistant Authenticating Officer of the said agency, for and in the name of
Madeleine K. Albright, stating that the documents annexed thereto were issued by the U.S.
Department of Justice as shown by seal embossed thereon,[27] with other exhibits previously
offered as evidence reveals that they are of the same nature as Exhibits 42-H[28] and 42-M.[29]
The only difference in the documents lies in the fact that Exhibit 218-A was signed by Joan C.
Hampton for and in behalf of the incumbent Secretary of State, Madeleine K. Albright whereas,
Exhibits 42-H and 42-M were signed by Authenticating Officer Annie R. Maddux for and in behalf of
former Secretary of State Warren Christopher.[30]!

A comparison of Exhibit 218-B[31] with the other documentary exhibits offered by respondent,
likewise discloses that its contents are the same as Exhibits 42-I[32] and 42-N.[33] The only
difference in the three exhibits, which are actually standard issue certification forms issued by the
U.S. Department of Justice with blanks to be filled up, is that Exhibit 218-B is dated February 5,
1997 and signed by one of the U.S. Attorney Generals several Deputy Assistant Attorneys for
Administration for and in her behalf, while Exhibits 42-I and 42-N are both dated September 21,
1995 with another of the said deputies signing both documents.[34]!

Still comparing respondents Exhibit 218-F,[35] which is likewise a standard issue U.S. Department
of Justice Certification Form, with other documents previously introduced as evidence reveals that
it is the same as Exhibits 39-D[36] and 42-C.[37] The only differences in these documents are that
Exhibit 218-F is dated October 13, 1995 and is signed by Debora A. Farmer while Exhibits "-39-D
and 42-C are both dated August 31, 1995 and signed by Cecil G. Christian, Jr., Assistant
Commissioner, Officer of Records, INS.[38]!

Still further scrutinizing and comparing respondents Exhibit 218-G[39] which was also introduced
and admitted into evidence as Defense Exhibit 207-B[40] shows that the document has been
earlier introduced and admitted into evidence by the trial court an astounding seven (7) times,
particularly as Exhibits 34-A, 35-F, 39-E, 42-D, 42-P, 50 and 50-F.[41] The only difference in these
documents is that they were printed on different dates. Specifically, Exhibits 218-G as with Exhibits
34-A, 35-F, 50, and 52-F were printed out on October 26, 1995[42] whereas Exhibit 207-B as with
Exhibits 39-E, 42-D and 42-F were printed out on August 31, 1995.[43]!

In fact, the records show that respondents: a.] application for Non-Commercial Drivers License; b.]
Documentary records based on Clets Database Response; c.] Computer-generated thumb-print;
d.] Documentary records based on still another Clets Database Response, and e.] The Certification
issued by one Frank Zolin, Director of the State of Californias Department of Motor Vehicles, were
already introduced and admitted into evidence as Defense Exhibits 66-J, 66-K, 66-H, 66-I and 66L, respectively.[44]!

It need not be overemphasized that the foregoing factual circumstances only serves to underscore
the immutable fact that the depositions proposed to be taken from the five U.S. based witnesses
would be merely corroborative or cumulative in nature and in denying respondents motion to take
them, the trial court was but exercising its judgment on what it perceived to be a superfluous
exercise on the belief that the introduction thereof will not reasonably add to the persuasiveness of
the evidence already on record. In this regard, it bears stressing that under Section 6, Rule 113 of
the Revised Rules of Court:!

SEC. 6. Power of the court to stop further evidence. - The court may stop the introduction of further
testimony upon any particular point when the evidence upon it is already so full that more
witnesses to the same point cannot be reasonably expected to be additionally persuasive. But this
power should be exercised with caution. (emphasis and italics supplied.)!

Needless to state, the trial court can not be faulted with lack of caution in denying respondents
motion considering that under the prevailing facts of the case, respondent had more than ample
opportunity to adduce evidence in his defense. Certainly, a party can not feign denial of due
process where he had the opportunity to present his side.[45] It must be borne in mind in this
regard that due process is not a monopoly of the defense. Indeed, the State is entitled to due
process as much as the accused.[46] Furthermore, while a litigation is not a game of technicalities,
it is a truism that every case must be prosecuted in accordance with the prescribed procedure to
insure an orderly and speedy administration of justice.[47]!

The use of discovery procedures is directed to the sound discretion of the trial judge.[48] The
deposition taking can not be based nor can it be denied on flimsy reasons.[49] Discretion has to be
exercised in a reasonable manner and in consonance with the spirit of the law. There is no
indication in this case that in denying the motion of respondent-accused, the trial judge acted in a
biased, arbitrary, capricious or oppressive manner. Grave abuse of discretion x x x implies such
capricious, and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, or, in other
words where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or
personal hostility, and it must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or
to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act all in contemplation of law.[50]!

Certiorari as a special civil action can be availed of only if there is concurrence of the essential
requisites, to wit: (a) the tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial functions has acted without or
in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess or
jurisdiction, and (b) there is no appeal, nor any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary
course of law for the purpose of annulling or modifying the proceeding. There must be a capricious,
arbitrary and whimsical exercise of power for it to prosper.[51]!

To question the jurisdiction of the lower court or the agency exercising judicial or quasi-judicial
functions, the remedy is a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. The
petitioner in such cases must clearly show that the public respondent acted without jurisdiction or
with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Grave abuse of
discretion defies exact definition, but generally refers to capricious or whimsical exercise of
judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be patent and gross
as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or
to act at all in contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic
manner by reason of passion and hostility.!

It has been held, however, that no grave abuse of discretion may be attributed to a court simply
because of its alleged misappreciation of facts and evidence. A writ of certiorari may not be used to
correct a lower tribunal's evaluation of the evidence and factual findings. In other words, it is not a
remedy for mere errors of judgment, which are correctible by an appeal or a petition for review
under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.!

In fine, certiorari will issue only to correct errors of jurisdiction, not errors of procedure or mistakes
in the findings or conclusions of the lower court. As long as a court acts within its jurisdiction, any
alleged errors committed in the exercise of its discretion will amount to nothing more than errors of
judgment which are reviewable by timely appeal and not by special civil action for certiorari.[52]!

Whether or not the respondent-accused has been given ample opportunity to prove his innocence
and whether or not a further prolongation of proceedings would be dilatory is addressed, in the first
instance, to the sound discretion of the trial judge. If there has been no grave abuse of discretion,
only after conviction may this Court examine such matters further. It is pointed out that the defense
has already presented at least fifty-seven (57) witnesses and four hundred sixty-four (464)
documentary exhibits, many of them of the exact nature as those to be produced or testified to by
the proposed foreign deponents. Under the circumstances, We sustain the proposition that the trial
judge commits no grave abuse of discretion if she decides that the evidence on the matter sought
to be proved in the United States could not possibly add anything substantial to the defense
evidence involved. There is no showing or allegation that the American public officers and the
bicycle store owner can identify respondent Hubert Webb as the very person mentioned in the
public and private documents. Neither is it shown in this petition that they know, of their own
personal knowledge, a person whom they can identify as the respondent-accused who was
actually present in the United States and not in the Philippines on the specified dates.!

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The Decision of the
Court of Appeals dated February 6, 1998 in CA-G.R. SP No. 45399 is hereby REVERSED and
SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court of Paraaque City is ordered to proceed posthaste in the trial
of the main case and to render judgment therein accordingly.!

!
SO ORDERED.!
!
!

Republic of the Philippines!


SUPREME COURT!
Manila!

!
SECOND DIVISION!
!
!
!
G.R. No. 108229!
August 24, 1993!
!

DASMARIAS GARMENTS, INC., petitioner, !


vs.!
HON. RUBEN T. REYES, Judge, Regional Trial Court, Manila, Branch 50, and AMERICAN
PRESIDENT LINES, LTD., respondents.!

!
Sobrevias, Diaz, Haudini & Bodegon Law Offices for petitioner.!
!
Tan, Manzano & Velez Law Offices for private respondent.!
!
!
!
R E S O L U T I O N!
!
NARVASA, C.J.:!
!

Sometime in September, 1987, in the Regional Trial Court of Manila, the American President Lines,
Ltd. sued Dasmarias Garments, Inc. to recover the sum of US $53,228.45 as well as an amount
equivalent to twenty-five percent (25%) thereof as attorney's fees and litigation expenses.!

In its answer dated December 1, 1987, Dasmarias Garments, Inc. (hereafter, simply Dasmarias)
specifically denied any liability to the plaintiff (hereafter simply APL), and set up compulsory
counterclaims against it.!

The case was in due course scheduled for trial on April 27, 1988. On that date APL presented its
first witness whose testimony was completed on November 12, 1988. The case was reset to May
3, 1989 for reception of the testimony of two (2) more witnesses in APL's behalf.!

At the hearing of May 3, 1989, instead of presenting its witnesses, APL filed a motion praying that it
intended to take the depositions of H. Lee and Yeong Fang Yeh in Taipei, Taiwan and prayed that
for this purpose, a "commission or letters rogatory be issued addressed to the consul, vice-consul
or consular agent of the Republic of the Philippines in Taipei . . . " Five (5) days later APL filed an
amended motion stating that since the Philippine Government has no consulate office in Taiwan in
view of its "one China policy," there being in lieu thereof an office set up by the President "presently
occupied by Director Joaquin Roces which is the Asia Exchange Center, Inc.," it was necessary
and it therefore prayed "that commission or letters rogatory be issued addressed to Director
Joaquin Roces, Executive Director, Asian Executive Exchange Center, Inc., Room 901, 112
Chunghsiao, E. Road, Section 1, Taipe, Republic of China, to hear and take the oral deposition of
the aforenamed persons . . . ."!

The motion was opposed by Dasmarias. It contended that (a) the motion was "fatally defective in
that it does not seek . . . that a foreign court examine a person within its jurisdiction;" (b) issuance
of letters rogatory was unnecessary because the witnesses "can be examined before the
Philippine Court;" and !
(c) the Rules of Court "expressly require that the testimony of a witness must be taken orally in
open court and not by deposition."!

Extensive argument on the matter thereafter followed, through various pleadings filed by the
parties, in the course of which APL submitted to the Trial Court (a) the letter received by its counsel
from Director Joaquin R. Roces of the Asian Exchange Center, Inc., dated November 20, 1989,
advising that "this Office can only take deposition upon previous authority from the Department of
Foreign Affairs," this being "in consonance with the Supreme Court Administrative Order requiring
courts or judicial bodies to course their requests through the Department of Foreign Affairs;" and
(b) a letter sent by "fax" to the same counsel by a law firm in Taipei, Lin & Associates Maritime Law
Office, transmitting information inter alia of the mode by which, under the "ROC Civil Procedure
Code," "a copy or an abridged copy" of documents on file with a Taiwan Court may be obtained.!

By Order dated March 15, 1991, the Trial Court resolved the incident in favor of APL, disposing as
follows:!

ACCORDINGLY, the motion to take testimonies of plaintiff's Taiwanese witnesses, Kenneth H. Lee
and Yeong Fah Yeh, by deposition (upon written interrogatories) is hereby GRANTED. The Asian
Exchange Center, Inc. thru Director Joaquin R. Roces is hereby COMMISSIONED to take down
the deposition. Compliance with the Rules on the taking of testimony by deposition upon written
interrogatories under Sections 25-29 of Rule 24, Rules of Court is enjoined.!

Let this Order be coursed through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila, pursuant to Supreme
Court Administrative Circular No. 4 dated April 6, 1987.!

The Court opined that "the Asian Exchange Center, Inc. being the authorized Philippine
representative in Taiwan, may take the testimonies of plaintiff's witnesses residing there by
deposition, but only upon written interrogatories so as to give defendant the opportunity to crossexamine the witnesses by serving cross-examination."!

Dasmarias sought reconsideration by motion filed June 25, 1991 on the following grounds: (1)
authority of the Asian Exchange Center, Inc. (AECI) to take depositions has not been established, it
not being one of those so authorized by the Rules of Court to take depositions in a foreign state;
(2) AECI's articles of incorporation show that it is not vested with any such authority; (3) to permit
deposition-taking by commission without the authority of the foreign state in which deposition is
taken constitutes infringement of judicial sovereignty; and (4) depositions by written interrogatories
have inherent limitations and are not suitable to matters dependent on the credibility of witnesses;
oral testimony in open court remains the "most satisfactory method of investigation of facts'" and
"'affords the greatest protection to the rights and liberties of citizens."!

By Order dated July 5, 1991, the motion for reconsideration was denied because "filed out of time"
and being a mere rehash of arguments already passed upon. In the same Order, APL was directed
"to take the necessary steps to implement the order authorizing the . . . (deposition-taking) of its
witnesses not later than the end of this month, otherwise the Court will consider inaction or lack of
interest as waiver to adduce additional evidence by deposition."!

Dasmarias instituted a special civil action of certiorari in the Court of Appeals to nullify the orders
of the Trial Court just described. Said Appellate Court restrained enforcement of the orders of
March 15, 1991 and July 5, 1991 "in order to maintain the status quo and to prevent the infliction of
irreparable damage and injury upon the petitioner."!

After due proceedings, the Court of Appeals (Third Division) rendered judgment on September 23,
1992 denying Dasmarias petition for certiorari and upholding the challenged orders of the Trial
Court. Once again, Dasmarias sought reconsideration of an adverse disposition, and once again,
was rebuffed. Its motion for reconsideration was denied in a Resolution of the Court of Appeals
dated December 11, 1992.!

Once again Dasmarias has availed of the remedy of appeal. It has come to this Court and prays
for the reversal of the Appellate Court's Decision of September 23, 1992 and Resolution dated
December 11, 1992. Once again, it will fail.!

!
Dasmarias ascribes to the Court of Appeals the following errors, to wit:!
!

1)!
"in holding that a party could, during the trial of the case, present its evidence by taking the
deposition of its witnesses in a foreign jurisdiction before a private entity not authorized by law to
take depositions in lieu of their oral examination in open Court considering that:!

a)!
the taking of deposition is a mode of pretrial discovery to be availed of before the action
comes to trial;!

b)!
no urgent or compelling reason has been shown to justify the departure from the accepted
and usual judicial proceedings of examining witnesses in open court where their demeanor could
be observed by the trial judge;"!

2)!
"in disregarding the inherently unfair situation in allowing private respondent, a foreign
entity suing in the Philippines, to present its evidence by mere deposition of its witnesses away
from the 'penetrating scrutiny' of the trial Judge while petitioner is obligated to bring and present its
witnesses in open court subject to the prying eyes and probing questions of the Judge;" and!

3)!
"in sanctioning the deposition taking of . . . (APL's) witnesses in Taipei, Taiwan, a foreign
jurisdiction not recognized by the Philippines in view of its 'one-China policy,' before the AECI, a
private entity not authorized by law to take depositions."!

Depositions are chiefly a mode of discovery. They are intended as a means to compel disclosure of
facts resting in the knowledge of a party or other person which are relevant in some suit or
proceeding in court. Depositions, and the other modes of discovery (interrogatories to parties;

requests for admission by adverse party; production or inspection of documents or things; physical
and mental examination of persons) are meant to enable a party to learn all the material and
relevant facts, not only known to him and his witnesses but also those known to the adverse party
and the latter's own witnesses. In fine, the object of discovery is to make it possible for all the
parties to a case to learn all the material and relevant facts, from whoever may have knowledge
thereof, to the end that their pleadings or motions may not suffer from inadequacy of factual
foundation, and all the relevant facts may be clearly and completely laid before the Court, without
omission or suppression.!

Depositions are principally made available by law to the parties as a means of informing
themselves of all the relevant facts; they are not therefore generally meant to be a substitute for
the actual testimony in open court of a party or witness. The deponent must as a rule be presented
for oral examination in open court at the trial or hearing. This is a requirement of the rules of
evidence. Section 1, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court provides:!

Sec. 1.!Examination to be done in open court. The examination of witnesses presented in a trial
or hearing shall be done in open court, and under oath or affirmation. Unless the witness is
incapacitated to speak, or the question calls for a different mode of answer, the answers of the
witness shall be given orally.!

Indeed, any deposition offered to prove the facts therein set out during a trial or hearing, in lieu of
the actual oral testimony of the deponent in open court, may be opposed and excluded on the
ground that it is hearsay; the party against whom it is offered has no opportunity to cross-examine
the deponent at the time that his testimony is offered. It matters not that that opportunity for crossexamination was afforded during the taking of the deposition; for normally, the opportunity for
cross-examination must be accorded a party at the time that the testimonial evidence is actually
presented against him during the trial or hearing.!

However, depositions may be used without the deponent being actually called to the witness stand
by the proponent, under certain conditions and for certain limited purposes. These exceptional
situations are governed by Section 4, Rule 24 of the Rules of Court.!

Sec. 4.!Use of depositions. At the trial or upon the hearing of a motion of an interlocutory
proceeding, any part or all of a deposition, so far as admissible under the rules of evidence, may
be used against any party who was present or represented at the taking of the deposition or who
had due notice thereof, in accordance with any of the following provisions:!

(a)!
Any deposition may be used by any party for the purpose of contradicting or impeaching
the testimony of deponent as a witness;!

(b)!
The deposition of a party or of any one who at the time of taking the deposition was an
officer, director, or managing agent of a public or private corporation, partnership, or association
which is a party may be used by an adverse party for any purpose;!

(c)!
The deposition of a witness, whether or not a party, may be used by any party for any
purpose if the court finds: (1) that the witness is dead; or (2) that the witness if out of the province
and at a greater distance than fifty (50) kilometers from the place of trial or hearing, or is out of the
Philippines, unless it appears that his absence was procured by the party offering the deposition;
or (3) that the witness is unable to attend to testify because of age, sickness, infirmity, or
imprisonment; or (4) that the party offering the deposition has been unable to procure the
attendance of the witness by subpoena; or (5) upon application and notice, that such exceptional
circumstances exist as to make it desirable, in the interest of justice and with due regard to the
importance of presenting the testimony of witnesses orally in open court, to allow the deposition to
be used;!

(d)!
If only part of a deposition is offered in evidence by a party, the adverse party may require
him to introduce all of it which is relevant to the part introduced, and any party may introduce any
other parts.!

The principle conceding admissibility to a deposition when the deponent is dead, out of the
Philippines, or otherwise unable to come to court to testify, is consistent with another rule of
evidence, found in Section 47, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.!

Sec. 47.!
Testimony or deposition at a former proceeding. The testimony or deposition of a
witness deceased or unable to testify, given in a former case or proceeding, judicial or
administrative, involving the same parties and subject matter, may be given in evidence against the
adverse party who had the opportunity to cross-examine him.!

It is apparent then that the deposition of any person may be taken wherever he may be, in the
Philippines or abroad. If the party or witness is in the Philippines, his deposition "shall be taken
before any judge, municipal or notary public" (Sec. 10, Rule 24, Rules of Court). If in a foreign state
or country, the deposition "shall be taken: (a) on notice before a secretary or embassy or legation,
consul general, consul, vice-consul, or consular agent of the Republic of the Philippines, or (b)
before such person or officer as may be appointed by commission or under letters rogatory" (Sec.
11, Rule 24).!

Leave of court is not necessary where the deposition is to be taken before "a secretary or embassy
or legation, consul general, consul, vice-consul, or consular agent of the Republic of the
Philippines," and the defendant's answer has already been served (Sec. 1 Rule 24). After answer,
whether the deposition-taking is to be accomplished within the Philippines or outside, the law does
not authorize or contemplate any intervention by the court in the process, all that is required being
that "reasonable notice" be given "in writing to every other party to the action . . . (stating) the time
and place for taking the deposition and the name and address of each person to be examined, if
known, and if the name is not known, a general description sufficient to identify him or the
particular class or group to which he belongs. . . . " (Sec. 15, Rule 24). The court intervenes in the
process only if a party moves (1) to "enlarge or shorten the time" stated in the notice (id.), or (2)
"upon notice and for good cause shown," to prevent the deposition-taking, or impose conditions
therefor, e.g., that "certain matters shall not be inquired into" or that the taking be "held with no one
present except the parties to the action and their officers or counsel," etc. (Sec. 16, Rule 24), or!
(3) to terminate the process on motion and upon a showing that "it is being conducted in bad faith
or in such manner as unreasonably to annoy, embarrass, or oppress the deponent or party" (Sec
18, Rule 24).!

Where the deposition is to be taken in a foreign country where the Philippines has no "secretary or
embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice-consul, or consular agent," then obviously it may
be taken only "before such person or officer as may be appointed by commission or under letters
rogatory. Section 12, Rule 24 provides as follows:!

Sec. 12.!
Commission or letters rogatory. A commission or letters rogatory shall be issued
only when necessary or convenient, on application and notice, and on such terms and with such
directions as are just and appropriate. Officers may be designated in notices or commissions either
by name or descriptive title and letters rogatory may be addressed "To the Appropriate Judicial
Authority in (here name the country)."!

A commission may be defined as "(a)n instrument issued by a court of justice, or other competent
tribunal, to authorize a person to take depositions, or do any other act by authority of such court or
tribunal" (Feria, J., Civil Procedure, 1969 ed., p. 415, citing Cyclopedic Law Dictionary, p. 200).
Letters rogatory, on the other hand, may be defined as "(a)n instrument sent in the name and by
the authority of a judge or court to another, requesting the latter to cause to be examined, upon
interrogatories filed in a cause pending before the former, a witness who is within the jurisdiction of
the judge or court to whom such letters are addressed" (Feria, J., op. cit., citing Cyclopedic Law

Dictionary, p. 653). Section 12, Rule 24 just quoted states that a commission is addressed to
"officers . . . designated . . . either by name or descriptive title," while letters rogatory are
addressed to some "appropriate judicial authority in the foreign state." Noteworthy in this
connection is the indication in the Rules that letters rogatory may be applied for and issued only
after a commission has been "returned unexecuted" as is apparent from Form 21 of the "Judicial
Standard Forms" appended to the Rules of Court, which requires the inclusion in a "petition for
letters rogatory" of the following paragraph, viz.:!

!
xxx!
!

xxx!

xxx!

3.!
A commission issued by this Court on the ______ day of ______, 19__, to take the
testimony of (here name the witness or witnesses) in (here name the foreign country in which the
testimony is to be taken), before _________________ (name of officer), was returned unexecuted
by __________________ on the ground that ____________, all of which more fully appears from
the certificate of said __________ to said commission and made a part hereof by attaching it
hereto (or state other facts to show commission is inadequate or cannot be executed) (emphasis
supplied).!

In the case at bar, the Regional Trial Court has issued a commission to the "Asian Exchange
Center, Inc. thru Director Joaquin R. Roces" "to take the testimonies of . . . Kenneth H. Lee and
Yeong Fah Yeh, by deposition (upon written interrogatories) . . . ." It appears that said Center may,
"upon request and authority of the Ministry (now Department) of Foreign Affairs, Republic of the
Philippines" issue a "Certificate of Authentications" attesting to the identity and authority of Notaries
Public and other public officers of the Republic of China, Taiwan (eg., the Section Chief,
Department of Consular Affairs of the latter's Ministry of Foreign Affairs) (Annex B of Annex N of
the petition for review on certiorari) a prima facie showing not rebutted by petitioner.!

It further appears that the commission is to be coursed through the Department of Foreign Affairs
conformably with Circular No. 4 issued by Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee on April 6, 1987,
pursuant to the suggestion of the Department of Foreign Affairs directing "ALL JUDGES OF
THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL TRIAL
COURTS IN CITIES, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS AND MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURTS"
"to course all requests for the taking of deposition of witnesses residing abroad through the
Department of Foreign Affairs" to enable it and "the Philippine Foreign Service establishments to
act on the matter in a judicious and expeditious manner;" this, "in the interest of justice," and to
avoid delay in the deposition-taking.!

!
Petitioner would however prevent the carrying out of the commission on various grounds.!
!

The first is that the deposition-taking will take place in "a foreign jurisdiction not recognized by the
Philippines in view of its 'one-China policy.'" This is inconsequential. What matters is that the
deposition is taken before a Philippine official acting by authority of the Philippine Department of
Foreign Affairs and in virtue of a commission duly issued by the Philippine Court in which the action
is pending, and in accordance, moreover, with the provisions of the Philippine Rules of Court
pursuant to which opportunity for cross-examination of the deponent will be fully accorded to the
adverse party.!

Dasmarias also contends that the "taking of deposition is a mode of pretrial discovery to be
availed of before the action comes to trial." Not so. Depositions may be taken at any time after the
institution of any action, whenever necessary or convenient. There is no rule that limits depositiontaking only to the period of pre-trial or before it; no prohibition against the taking of depositions
after pre-trial. Indeed, the law authorizes the taking of depositions of witnesses before or after an
appeal is taken from the judgment of a Regional Trial Court "to perpetuate their testimony for use
in the event of further proceedings in the said court" (Rule 134, Rules of Court), and even during
the process of execution of a final and executory judgment (East Asiatic Co. v. C.I.R., 40 SCRA
521, 544).!

Dasmarias further claims that the taking of deposition under the circumstances is a "departure
from the accepted and usual judicial proceedings of examining witnesses in open court where the
demeanor could be observed by the trial judge;" that it is "inherently unfair" to allow APL, "a foreign
entity suing in the Philippines, to present its evidence by mere deposition of its witnesses away
from the 'penetrating scrutiny' of the trial Judge while petitioner is obligated to bring and present its
witnesses in open court subject to the prying eyes and probing questions of the Judge."!

Of course the deposition-taking in the case at bar is a "departure from the accepted and usual
judicial proceedings of examining witnesses in open court where their demeanor could be
observed by the trial judge;" but the procedure is not on that account rendered illegal nor is the
deposition thereby taken, inadmissible. It precisely falls within one of the exceptions where the law
permits such a situation, i.e., the use of deposition in lieu of the actual appearance and testimony
of the deponent in open court and without being "subject to the prying eyes and probing questions
of the Judge." This is allowed provided the deposition is taken in accordance with the applicable
provisions of the Rules of Court and the existence of any of the exceptions for its admissibility
e.g., "that the witness if out of the province and at a greater distance than fifty (50) kilometers from
the place of trial or hearing, or is out of the Philippines, unless it appears that his absence was
procured by the party offering the deposition; or . . . that the witness is unable to attend to testify
because of age, sickness, infirmity, or imprisonment, etc." (Sec. 4 Rule 24, supra, emphasis
supplied) is first satisfactorily established (See Lopez v. Maceren, 95 Phil. 754).!

The Regional Trial Court saw fit to permit the taking of the depositions of the witnesses in question
only by written interrogatories, removing the proponent's option to take them by oral examination,
i.e., by going to Taipei and actually questioning the witnesses verbally with the questions and
answers and observations of the parties being recorded stenographically. The imposition of such a
limitation, and the determination of the cause thereof, are to be sure within the Court's discretion.
The ostensible reason given by the Trial Court for the condition that the deposition be taken
"only upon written interrogatories" is "so as to give defendant (Dasmarias) the opportunity to
cross-examine the witnesses by serving cross-interrogatories." The statement implies that
opportunity to cross-examine will not be accorded the defendant if the depositions were to be taken
upon oral examination, which, of course, is not true. For even if the depositions were to be taken
on oral examination in Taipei, the adverse party is still accorded full right to cross-examine the
deponents by the law, either by proceeding to Taipei and there conducting the cross-examination
orally, or opting to conduct said cross-examination merely by serving cross-interrogatories.!

One other word. In its Order of July 5, 1991 denying Dasmarias motion for reconsideration of
the earlier order dated March 15, 1991 (allowing the taking of deposition by commission) one of
the reasons adduced by the Regional Trial Court for the denial was that the motion had been "filed
out of time." Evidently, the Trial Court reached this conclusion because, as the record discloses,
the motion for reconsideration was filed by Dasmarias on June 25, 1991, twenty-five (25) days
after notice (on May 20, 1991) of the Order of March 15, 1991 sought to be reconsidered. Denial of
the motion on such a ground is incorrect. In the first place, it appears that there was a motion for
extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration, ending on June 25, 1991 which was however
not acted on or granted by the Court. More importantly, the order sought to be reconsidered is an
interlocutory order, in respect of which there is no provision of law fixing the time within which
reconsideration thereof should be sought.!

PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Court Resolved to DISMISS the petition for review on certiorari.
Costs against petitioner.!

!
SO ORDERED.!
!
!
!

SUPREME COURT!

Manila!

!
EN BANC!
!
!
!
G.R. No. 88809!
!

July 10, 1991!

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, (PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT),


petitioner, !
vs.!
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN (FIRST DIVISION) AND EDUARDO COJUANGCO, JR.,
respondents.!

!
G.R. No. 88858!
!

July 10, 1991!

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, (PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT),


petitioner, !
vs.!
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN (FIRST DIVISION) AND EDUARDO COJUANGCO, JR.,
respondents.!

!
Estelito P. Mendoza for private respondent.!
!
R E S O L U T I O N!
!
!
!
BIDIN, J.:p!
!

These petitions for certiorari assail the resolution of respondent Sandiganbayan dated May 9,
1989, allowing respondent Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr., to inspect the corporate records of United
Coconut Planters Bank, the dispositive portion of which reads:!

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the respondent UCPB and its corporate secretary shall respond
to petitioner Eduardo Cojuangco's request for examination and copying of corporate records in a
manner consistent with its duties to all its other registered stockholders as described in the
Corporation Code and under specific laws governing banking institutions such as said respondent
UCPB. (Rollo, pp. 3640, G.R. No. 88858)!

and its resolution dated May 18, 1989, likewise allowing respondent Cojuangco to examine the
corporate records of San Miguel Corporation. It reads:!

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition filed by Petitioner Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr., to examine
the records of the San Miguel Corporation is granted within the confines of Sec. 74 of the
Corporation Code. (Rollo, pp. 36-40; G.R. No. 88809)!

!
The facts that gave rise to the instant petitions are as follows:!
!
In G.R. No. 88809:!
!

On December 26, 1988, private respondent-stockholder requested the San Miguel Corporation
(SMC) and its corporate secretary the production, inspection, examination/verification and/or
photocopying of the SMC corporate records to inform him of the decisions, policies, acts and
performance of the management of the SMC under the PCGG-Board.!

Since the shares of private respondent in the SMC have been sequestered by the PCGG, the
former (SMC) sought advice from the latter on the effect of such sequestration. Subsequently,
private respondent was informed by the SMC that all requests for the examination, inspection and
photocopying of its corporate records should be coursed through the PCGG.!

!
In G.R. No. 88858:!
!

The facts set forth in G.R. No. 88809 are substantially similar in G.R. No. 88858 except that in the
latter case, private respondent as stockholder of record seeks authority to inspect and examine the
corporate records of United Coconut Planters Bank.!

The request of private respondent for the inspection/examination of SMC's corporate records was
denied by the PCGG (Rollo, p. 44, G.R. No. 88809). As regards the corporate records of URPB,
private respondent was likewise advised to course his request through the PCGG (Rollo, pp.
45-46, GR No. 88858).!

Thereafter, private respondent filed two separate petitions for prohibition and mandamus before the
Sandiganbayan seeking to enforce his stockholder's right to inspect the corporate records of SMC
and the UCPB. Subsequently, respondent Sandiganbayan rendered the assailed resolutions
aforequoted.!

Hence, the instant petitions for certiorari with prayer for the issuance of temporary restraining
orders. On June 13, 1989 and July 20, 1989, the Court issued a temporary restraining order in
G.R. Nos. 88809 and 88858, respectively.!

!
Petitioner argues, among others, that:!
!

1)!
respondent Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over the petition filed by respondent
Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr.;!

!
2)!
!

the PCGG may validly refuse private respondent's right to inspection; and!

3)!
the petition filed by private respondent before the Sandiganbayan is barred by the doctrine
of state immunity from suit.!

!
We find the petition devoid of merit.!
!

Nothing is more settled than this Court's pronouncement in PCGG v. Pea (159 SCRA 556 [1988]),
where We held that:!

. . . Under Section 2 of the President's Executive Order No. 14 issued on May 7, 1986, all cases of
the Commission regarding "the Funds, Moneys, Assets, and Properties Illegally Acquired or
Misappropriated by Former President Ferdinand Marcos, Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos, their
Close Relatives, Subordinates, Business Associates, Dummies, Agents, or Nominees," civil or
criminal, are lodged within the "exclusive and original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan" and all
incidents arising from, incidental to, or related to, such cases necessarily fall likewise under the
Sandiganbayan's exclusive and original jurisdiction, subject to review on certiorari exclusively by
the Supreme Court.!

!
xxx!
!

xxx!

xxx!

. . . Executive Order No. 14, which defines the jurisdiction over cases involving the ill-gotten wealth
of former President Marcos, his wife, Imelda, members of their immediate family, close relatives,
subordinates, close and/or business associates, dummies, agents and nominees, specifically
provides in section 2 that "the Presidential Commission on Good Government shall file all such
cases, whether civil or criminal, with the Sandiganbayan which shall have exclusive and original

jurisdiction thereof. "Necessarily, those who wish to question or challenge the Commission's acts
or orders in such cases must seek recourse in the same court, the Sandiganbayan, which is vested
with exclusive and original jurisdiction. . . . (Emphasis supplied)!

The above ruling was reiterated in Soriano v. Yuson (164 SCRA 226 [1988]) and accompanying
cases.!

All matters of sequestration being within the exclusive and original jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan, it follows that the propriety of petitioner's action in denying Cojuangco's right of
inspection, ostensibly based on the order of sequestration, may be challenged before the
respondent court.!

Neither may the doctrine of state immunity be properly invoked by petitioner in the case at bar. For
one thing, the petition filed by respondent Cojuangco, Jr., before the Sandiganbayan demanded no
affirmative performance by the State in its political capacity which would otherwise call for the
application of immunity from suit. (See Republic v. Sandiganbayan, 184 SCRA 382 [1990] and
cases cited therein).!

As regards the might of inspection, it is the submission of petitioner that the request of respondent
Cojuangco, Jr., for the examination of the corporate records of SMC and UCPB may be validly
refused pending judicial determination of respondent's sequestered shares, i.e., whether the same
are ill-gotten or not (Rollo, p. 14, GR No. 88809; citing EO Nos. 1 & 2). It is further argued that
respondent's purpose in examining the corporate records of SMC and the UCPB is merely to
satisfy his curiosity regarding the performance of said corporations (Rollo, p. 16, GR No. 88809;
Rollo, p. 17, GR No. 88858).!

!
Does sequestration automatically deprive a stockholder of his right of inspection?!
!
We rule in the negative.!
!

The right of a stockholder to inspect and/or examine the records of a corporation is explicitly
provided in Section 74 of the Corporation Code, the pertinent portion of which reads:!

!
Sec. 74.!
!
xxx! xxx!
!

Books to be kept; stock transfer agent.!


xxx!

The records of all business transactions of the corporation and the minutes of any meeting shall be
open to the inspection of any director, trustee, stockholder or member of the corporation at
reasonable hours on business days and he may demand, in writing, for a copy of excerpts from
said records or minutes, at his expense.!

Petitioners argue, however, that the Corporation Code has to give way to, as having been
amended by, Executive Orders Nos. 1, 2, 14 and related issuances as well as the pronouncement
laid down by this Court in Bataan Shipyard and Engineering Corporation v. Presidential
Commission on Good Government (150 SCRA 181 [1987]) on the effects of sequestration (Rollo,
p. 12, GR No. 88809; Rollo, p. 13, GR No. 88858). There is mischief in this argument. We have
examined the extent of Executive Orders Nos. 1, 2 and 14 on sequestration as well as the
BASECO case relied upon by petitioner. Nevertheless, the Court finds nothing therein to indicate
that the Corporation Code has been deemed amended, much less an implied modification of a
stockholder's right to inspection as guaranteed by Sec. 74 thereof. Moreover, what is clear in the
case of BASECO, supra, is the following:!

One thing is certain, and should be stated at the outset: the PCGG cannot exercise acts of
dominion over property sequestered, frozen or provisionally taken over. As already earlier stressed
with no little insistence, the act of sequestration; freezing or provisional takeover of property does

not import or bring about a divestment of title over said property; does not make the PCGG the
owner thereof. In relation to the property sequestered, frozen or provisionally taken over, the
PCGG is a conservator, not an owner. . . .!

The PCGG does not become, ipso facto, the owner of the shares just because the same have
been sequestered; nor does it become the stockholder of record by virtue of such sequestration.!

Just recently, We ruled that the PCGG cannot vote the sequestered shares of respondent
Cojuangco, Jr., in San Miguel Corporation (Cojuangco, Jr., et al., v. Roxas, et al., GR No. 91925,
April 16, 1991; Cojuangco, Jr., et al., v. Azcuna, et al., GR No. 93005, April 16, 1991). If the PCGG
cannot vote the sequestered shares of private respondent, with much more reason it cannot
restrain or prevent private respondent, as stockholder from inspecting the corporate records of the
SMC and the UCPB at reasonable hours on business days. The law grants respondent/stockholder
such authority.!

Petitioner, in seeking to bar private respondent from exercising his statutory right of inspection, lays
emphasis on the argument that respondent's express purpose is to "supervise" PCGG's
management, if not to gratify his curiosity regarding the performance of the SMC and the UCPB.!

Again, the argument is devoid of merit. Records indicate that private respondent is the ostensible
owner of a substantial number of shares and is a stockholder of record in SMC and UCPB. * Being
a stockholder beyond doubt, there is therefore no reason why private respondent may not exercise
his statutory right of inspection in accordance with Sec. 74 of the Corporation Code, the only
express limitation being that the right of inspection should be exercised at reasonable hours on
business days; 2) the person demanding to examine and copy excerpts from the corporation's
records and minutes has not improperly used any information secured through any previous
examination of the records of such corporation; and 3) the demand is made in good faith or for a
legitimate purpose. The latter two limitations, however, must be set up as a defense by the
corporation if it is to merit judicial cognizance. As such, and in the absence of evidence, the PCGG
cannot unilaterally deny a stockholder from exercising his statutory right of inspection based on an
unsupported and naked assertion that private respondent's motive is improper or merely for
curiosity or on the ground that the stockholder is not in friendly terms with the corporation's officers.!

Explaining the rationale behind a stockholder's right to inspection, this Court in the case of
Gokongwei, Jr., v. Securities and Exchange Commission (89 SCRA 336 [1979]) held that:!

The stockholder's right of inspection of the corporation's books and records is based upon their
ownership of the assets and property of the corporation. It is, therefore, an incident of ownership of
the corporate property, whether this ownership or interest be termed an equitable ownership, a
beneficial ownership, or a quasi-ownership. This right is predicated upon the necessity of selfprotection. It is generally held by majority of the courts that where the right is granted by statute to
the stockholder, it is given to him as such and must be exercised by him with respect to his interest
as a stockholder and for some purpose germane thereto or in the interest of the corporation. In
other words, the inspection has to be germane to the petitioner's interest as a stockholder, and has
to be proper and lawful in character and not inimical to the interest of the corporation. (citing
Fletcher Cyc, Private Corporations, Vol. 5, 1976 Rev. Ed., Secs. 2213, 2218 & 2222)!

While it may be true that the right of inspection granted by Sec. 74 of the Corporation Code is not
absolute, as when the stockholder is not acting in good faith and for a legitimate purpose
(Gonzales v. PNB, 122 SCRA 489 [1983]); or when the demand is purely speculative or merely to
satisfy curiosity (Grey v. Insular Lumber Co., 40 O.G., No. 31st Supp. 1 [1939]; See also State ex
rel. Thiele v. Cities Service Co. (115 A. 773 [1922]), the same may not be said in the case of private
respondent. This is because:!

. . . the "impropriety of purpose such as will defeat enforcement must be set up (by) the corporation
defensively if the Court is to take cognizance of it as a qualification. In other words, the specific

provisions take from the stockholder the burden of showing impropriety of purpose or motive.
(Gokongwei, Jr., v. Securities and Exhange Commission, supra; citing State v. Monida &
Yellowstone Stage Co., 110 Minn. 193, 124 NW 791; State v. Cities Service Co., 114 A 463.)!

In the case at bar, petitioner failed to discharge the burden of proof to show that private
respondent's action in seeking examination of the corporate records was moved by unlawful or illmotivated designs which could appropriately call for a judicial protection against the exercise of
such right. Save for its unsubstantiated allegations, petitioner could offer no proof, nay, not even a
scintilla of evidence that respondent Cojuangco, Jr., was motivated by bad faith; that the demand
was for an illegitimate purpose or that the demand was impelled by speculation or idle curiosity.
Surely, respondent's substantial shareholdings in the SMC and UCPB cannot be an object of mere
curiosity.!

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Court Resolved to DISMISS the instant petition for lack of
merit. The temporary restraining orders issued are hereby LIFTED and SET ASIDE. This
Resolution is immediately executory.!

!
SO ORDERED.!
!
!
FIRST DIVISION!
!
G.R. No. L-34341!
!

August 22, 1988!

PRISCILLA SUSAN PO, petitioner, !


vs.!
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. JUDGE JULIAN LUSTRE, AND JOSE P. MANANZAN,
respondents.!

!
Panganiban, Linsangan & Associates for petitioner.!
!
Antonio M. Chavez and Benjamin C. Santos & Fortunato Gupit, Jr. for respondents.!
!
!
!
GRIO-AQUINO, J.:!
!

This case demonstrates the adage that sometimes "haste makes waste." Seventeen (17) years
after the petitioner Priscilla Susan Po filed a motion for summary judgment in the damage suit
which she filed against the private respondent, her refusal to abide by the trial court's order and the
Appellate Court's resolution denying her motion, has kept her complaint waiting in the wings to be
called for pre-trial. Had she been less intransigent, the case might have been finished long ago.!

The petitioner filed in 1971 a complaint for P35,000 damages against the private respondent Jose
P. Mananzan as operator of a banca service for shooting the rapids at Pagsanjan Falls, arising
from an accidental spill into the water, which she and her friend suffered when the banca in which
they were riding capsized during their trip back to town. After Mananzan had answered the
complaint, petitioner served upon him a request for admission.!

On February 27, 1971, Mananzan asked for an extension of time to answer the request for
admission. The petitioner opposed the motion for extension of time on account of alleged defects
in the notice of hearing.!

On March 4, 1971, the petitioner filed a motion for summary judgment on the ground that there
exists no genuine or substantial controversy on any issue of fact raised in the complaint because

the defendant, by failure to answer her request for admission within the reglementary period (Sec.
2, Rule 26, Rules of Court) is deemed to have admitted the facts set forth in the request.!

Mananzan answered the request for admission and sent a copy of his answer to the petitioner. He
filed an opposition to the petitioner's motion for summary judgment.!

On April 16, 1971, respondent Judge Lustre denied the motion for summary judgment, observing
that "the interrogatories ... are nothing but a reiteration of a portion of the plaintiffs allegations in the
complaint, which have already been answered and denied by the defendant in his answer" hence,
they "need not be answered again if asked in the form of interrogatories." (p. 10, Brief for
Respondents, p. 151, Rollo.)!

After the trial court had denied her motion for reconsideration of its order, the petitioner elevated
the matter to the Court of Appeals on a petition for certiorari (CA-G.R. No. 00220-R entitled,
"Priscilla Susan Po vs. Hon. Julian Lustre, et al.") which the Court of Appeals likewise denied on
September 23, 1971 for lack of merit. The pertinent observations of the Court of Appeals are
quoted hereunder:!

... With the absolute denial of private respondent in his answer to the complaint, petitioner's
subsequent request for admission of the same facts already denied does not serve the purpose of
Rule 26 as a mode of discovery. As aptly stated by respondent Judge, Rule 26 contemplates
interrogatories that would clarify and tend to show light on the truth or falsity of the allegations of
the complaint, and does not refer to a mere reiteration of what has been alleged in the complaint
and unconditionally denied in the answer. Petitioner's request constitutes an utter redundancy and
a useless, pointless process which private respondent should not be subjected to and which the
lower court should not countenance as the respondent Judge rightfully did. Respondent Judge did
not commit any grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction nor has he unlawfully
deprived petitioner of any right in concluding that petitioner's request for admission does not fall
under Rule 26 and that therefore the same need not be answered by private respondent. The
allegations of facts in the complaint remain to have been controverted by the answer of private
respondent to the complaint. There being genuine issues between the parties, respondent Judge
correctly denied petitioner's Motion for Summary Judgment. Unless it is shown that respondent
Judge has committed a palpable grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack of jurisdiction, this
Court will not issue the writs prayed for. (pp. 19-20, Rollo.)!

!
Nothing daunted, the petitioner appealed to this Court.!
!

An examination of petitioner's complaint and her request for admission confirms Judge Lustre's
finding (which the Court of Appeals upheld) that the "fact" set forth in the request for admission,
including the amount of damages claimed, are the same factual allegations set forth in her
complaint which the defendant either admitted or denied in his answer.!

A party should not be compelled to admit matters of fact already admitted by his pleading and
concerning which there is no issue (Sherr vs. East, 71 A2d 752, Terry 260, cited in 27 C.J.S. 91),
nor should he be required to make a second denial of those already denied in his answer to the
complaint. A request for admission is not intended to merely reproduce or reiterate the allegations
of the requesting party's pleading but should set forth relevant evidentiary matters of fact, or
documents described in and exhibited with the request, whose purpose is to establish said party's
cause of action or defense. Unless it serves that purpose, it is, as correctly observed by the Court
of Appeals, "pointless, useless," and "a mere redundancy."!

WHEREFORE, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed with costs against the petitioner.
This decision is immediately executory, hence no motion for extension of time to file a motion for
reconsideration will be entertained.!

SO ORDERED.!

FIRST DIVISION!

!
G.R. No. 147143
!

March 10, 2006!

HYATT INDUSTRIAL MANUFACTURING CORP., and YU HE CHING, Petitioners, !


vs.!
LEY CONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT CORP., and PRINCETON DEVELOPMENT CORP.,
Respondents.!

!
D E C I S I O N!
!
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:!
!

Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the nullification of the Decision dated
May 4, 2000 of the Court of Appeals (CA) then Seventh Division in CA-G.R. CV No. 57119, which
remanded Civil Case No. 94-1429 to the trial court and directed the latter to allow the depositiontaking without delay;1 and the CA Resolution dated February 13, 2001 which denied petitioners
motion for reconsideration.2!

!
The facts are as follows:!
!

On April 8, 1994, respondent Ley Construction and Development Corporation (LCDC) filed a
complaint for specific performance and damages with the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch
62 (RTC), docketed as Civil Case No. 94-1429, against petitioner Hyatt Industrial Manufacturing
Corporation (Hyatt) claiming that Hyatt reneged in its obligation to transfer 40% of the pro indiviso
share of a real property in Makati in favor of LCDC despite LCDCs full payment of the purchase
price of P2,634,000.00; and that Hyatt failed to develop the said property in a joint venture, despite
LCDCs payment of 40% of the pre-construction cost.3 On April 12, 1994, LCDC filed an amended
complaint impleading Princeton Development Corporation (Princeton) as additional defendant
claiming that Hyatt sold the subject property to Princeton on March 30, 1994 in fraud of LCDC.4 On
September 21, 1994, LCDC filed a second amended complaint adding as defendant, Yu He Ching
(Yu), President of Hyatt, alleging that LCDC paid the purchase price of P2,634,000.00 to Hyatt
through Yu.5!

Responsive pleadings were filed and LCDC filed notices to take the depositions of Yu; Pacita Tan
Go, Account Officer of Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC); and Elena Sy, Finance
Officer of Hyatt. Hyatt also filed notice to take deposition of Manuel Ley, President of LCDC, while
Princeton filed notice to take the depositions of Manuel and Janet Ley.6!

!
On July 17, 1996, the RTC ordered the deposition-taking to proceed.7!
!

At the scheduled deposition of Elena Sy on September 17, 1996, Hyatt and Yu prayed that all
settings for depositions be disregarded and pre-trial be set instead, contending that the taking of
depositions only delay the resolution of the case. The RTC agreed and on the same day ordered
all depositions cancelled and pre-trial to take place on November 14, 1996.8!

LCDC moved for reconsideration9 which the RTC denied in its October 14, 1996 Order, portion of
which reads:!

This Court has to deny the motion, because: 1) as already pointed out by this Court in the
questioned Order said depositions will only delay the early termination of this case; 2) had this
Court set this case for pre-trial conference and trial thereafter, this case would have been
terminated by this time; 3) after all, what the parties would like to elicit from their deponents would
probably be elicited at the pre-trial conference; 4) no substantial rights of the parties would be
prejudiced, if pre-trial conference is held, instead of deposition.10!

On November 14, 1996, the scheduled date of the pre-trial, LCDC filed an Urgent Motion to
Suspend Proceedings Due to Pendency of Petition for Certiorari in the Court of Appeals.11 The
petition, which sought to annul the Orders of the RTC dated September 17, 1996 and October 14,
1996, was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 4251212 and assigned to the then Twelfth Division of the
CA.!

Meanwhile, pre-trial proceeded at the RTC as scheduled13 and with the refusal of LCDC to enter
into pre-trial, Hyatt, Yu and Princeton moved to declare LCDC non-suited which the RTC granted in
its Order dated December 3, 1996, thus:!

On September 17, 1996, this Court noticing that this case was filed as early (as) April 4, 199414
and has not reached the pre-trial stage because of several depositions applied for by the parties,
not to mention that the records of this case has reached two (2) volumes, to avoid delay, upon
motion, ordered the cancellation of the depositions.!

On September 24, 1996, plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration, seeking to reconsider and set
aside the order dated September 17, 1996, which motion for reconsideration was denied in an
order dated October 14, 1996, ruling among others that "after all, what the parties would like to
elicit from these deponents would probably be elicited at the pre-trial conference", and, reiterated
the order setting this case for pre-trial conference on November 14, 1996.!

On the scheduled pre-trial conference on November 14, 1996, a petition for certiorari was filed with
the Court of Appeals, seeking to annul the Order of this Court dated September 17, 1996 and
October 14, 1996, furnishing this Court with a copy on the same date.!

At the scheduled pre-trial conference on November 14, 1996, plaintiff orally moved the Court to
suspend pre-trial conference alleging pendency of a petition with the Court of Appeals and made it
plain that it cannot proceed with the pre-trial because the issue on whether or not plaintiff may
apply for depositions before the pre-trial conference is a prejudicial question. Defendants objected,
alleging that even if the petition is granted, pre-trial should proceed and that plaintiff could take
deposition after the pre-trial conference, insisting that defendants are ready to enter into a pre-trial
conference.!

This Court denied plaintiffs motion to suspend proceedings and ordered plaintiff to enter into pretrial conference. Plaintiff refused. Before this Court denied plaintiffs motion to suspend, this Court
gave Plaintiff two (2) options: enter into a pre-trial conference, advising plaintiff that what it would
like to obtain at the deposition may be obtained at the pre-trial conference, thus expediting early
termination of this case; and, terminate the pre-trial conference and apply for deposition later on.
Plaintiff insisted on suspension of the pre-trial conference alleging that it is not ready to enter into
pre-trial conference in view of the petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals. Defendants
insisted that pre-trial conference proceed as scheduled, manifesting their readiness to enter into a
pre-trial conference.!

When plaintiff made it clear that it is not entering into the pre-trial conference, defendants prayed
that plaintiff be declared non-suited. x x x!

!
x x x x!
!
In the light of the foregoing circumstances, this Court is compelled to dismiss plaintiffs complaint.!
!
WHEREFORE, for failure of plaintiff to enter into pre-trial conference without any valid reason,
plaintiffs complaint is dismissed. Defendants counterclaims are likewise dismissed.!

!
SO ORDERED.15!
!

LCDC filed a motion for reconsideration16 which was denied however by the trial court in its Order
dated April 21, 1997.17 LCDC went to the CA on appeal which was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No.
57119 and assigned to the then Seventh Division of the CA.18!

On July 24, 1997, the CAs then Twelfth Division,19 in CA-G.R. SP No. 42512 denied LCDCs
petition for certiorari declaring that the granting of the petition and setting aside of the September
17, 1996 and October 14, 1996 Orders are manifestly pointless considering that the complaint itself
had already been dismissed and subject of the appeal docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 57119; that
the reversal of the said Orders would have practical effect only if the dismissal were also set aside
and the complaint reinstated; and that the dismissal of the complaint rendered the petition for
certiorari devoid of any practical value.20 LCDCs motion for reconsideration of the CA-G.R. SP
No. 42512 decision was denied on March 4, 1998.21 LCDC then filed with this Court, a petition for
certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 133145 which this Court dismissed on August 29, 2000.22!

On May 4, 2000, the CAs then Seventh Division issued in CA-G.R. CV No. 57119 the herein
assailed decision, the fallo of which reads:!

WHEREFORE, premises considered, finding the appeal meritorious, this case is remanded to the
court a quo for further hearing and directing the latter to allow the deposition taking without delay.!

!
SO ORDERED.23!
!

The CA reasoned that: LCDC complied with Section 1, Rule 23 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure which expressly sanctions depositions as a mode of discovery without leave of court
after the answer has been served; to unduly restrict the modes of discovery during trial would
defeat the very purpose for which it is intended which is a pre-trial device, and at the time of the
trial, the issues would already be confined to matters defined during pre-trial; the alleged intention
of expediting the resolution of the case is not sufficient justification to recall the order to take
deposition as records show that the delay was brought about by postponement interposed by both
parties and other legal antecedents that are in no way imputable to LCDC alone; deposition-taking,
together with the other modes of discovery are devised by the rules as a means to attain the
objective of having all the facts presented to the court; the trial court also erred in dismissing the
complaint as LCDC appeared during the pre-trial conference and notified it of the filing of a petition
before the CA; such is a legitimate justification to stall the pre-trial conference, as the filing of the
petition was made in good faith in their belief that the court a quo erred in canceling the deposition
scheduled for no apparent purpose.24!

Hyatt and Princeton filed their respective motions for reconsideration which the CA denied on
February 13, 2001.25!

Hyatt and Yu now come before the Court via a petition for review on certiorari, on the following
grounds:!

!
I!
!

THE COURT OF APPEALS, SEVENTH DIVISION, COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF


DISCRETION, ACTUALLY AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION, IN HOLDING IN EFFECT
INVALID THE ORDERS OF THE LOWER COURT DATED SEPTEMBER 17, 1996 AND
OCTOBER 14, 1996 WHICH ARE NOT RAISED OR PENDING BEFORE IT, BUT IN ANOTHER
CASE (CA-G.R. SP. No. 42512) PENDING BEFORE ANOTHER DIVISION OF THE COURT OF
APPEALS, TWELFTH DIVISION, AND WHICH CASE WAS DISMISSED BY THE SAID DIVISION
OF THE COURT OF APPEALS AND FINALLY BY THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT IN G.R.
NO. 133145.!

!
II!
!

THE COURT OF APPEALS, SEVENTH DIVISION, COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF


DISCRETION AND SERIOUS ERRORS OF LAW IN REVERSING THE LOWER COURTS
ORDER DATED DECEMBER 3, 1996 AND APRIL 21, 1997 HOLDING RESPONDENT NONSUITED FOR FAILURE TO ENTER INTO PRE-TRIAL.26!

Anent the first issue, petitioners claim that: the validity of the RTC Order dated September 17,
1996 which set the case for pre-trial, as well as its Order dated October 14, 1996 denying LCDCs
motion for partial reconsideration are not involved in CA-G.R. CV No. 57119 but were the subject
of CA-G.R. SP No. 42512, assigned to the then Twelfth Division, which dismissed the same on
July 24, 1997 and which dismissal was affirmed by this Court in G.R. No. 133145; in passing upon
the validity of the Orders dated September 17, 1996 and October 14, 1996, the CAs then Seventh
Division in CA-G.R. CV No. 57119 exceeded its authority and encroached on issues taken
cognizance of by another Division.27!

On the second issue, petitioners claim that: the CAs then Seventh Division should have outrightly
dismissed the appeal of LCDC as the same did not involve any error of fact or law but pertains to a
matter of discretion which is properly a subject of certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of
Court; conducting discovery thru deposition is not a condition sine qua non to the holding of a pretrial and the fact that LCDC wanted to take the deposition of certain persons is not a valid ground
to suspend the holding of pre-trial and subsequently the trial on the merits; the persons whose
depositions were to be taken were listed as witnesses during the trial; to take their depositions
before the lower court and to present them as witnesses during the trial on the merits would result
in unnecessary duplicity; the fact that LCDC has a pending petition for certiorari with the CAs then
Twelfth Division docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 42512 is not a ground to cancel or suspend the
scheduled pre-trial on November 14, 1996 as there was no restraining order issued; LCDCs
availment of the discovery procedure is causing the undue delay of the case; it is only after LCDC
has filed its complaint that it started looking for evidence to support its allegations thru modes of
discovery and more than two years has already passed after the filing of the complaint yet LCDC
still has no documentary evidence to present before the lower court to prove its allegations in the
complaint.28!

Petitioners then pray that the Decision dated May 4, 2000 and the Resolution dated February 13,
2001 of the CAs then Seventh Division in CA-G.R. CV No. 57119 be annulled and set aside and
the validity of the Orders dated December 3, 1996 and April 21, 1997 of the RTC of Makati, Branch
62 in Civil Case No. 94-1429 be sustained.29!

In its Comment, LCDC argues that the petitioners erred in claiming that the CAs then Seventh
Division overstepped its authority as this Court has ruled in G.R. No. 133145 that the issue of
whether LCDC has been denied its right to discovery is more appropriately addressed in the
appeal before the then Seventh Division in CA-G.R. CV No. 57119 below rather than by the then
Twelfth Division in the certiorari proceeding in CA-G.R. SP No. 42512; and while the appeal of the
final Order of the RTC dated December 3, 1996 also questioned the Orders dated September 17,
1996 and October 14, 1996, it does not render the appeal improper as this Court in G.R. No.
133145 held that the subsequent appeal constitutes an appropriate remedy because it assails not
only the Order dated December 3, 1996, but also the two earlier orders.30!

On the second issue, LCDC contends that: the mere fact that a deponent will be called to the
witness stand during trial is not a ground to deny LCDC the right to discovery and does not cause
"unnecessary duplicity", otherwise no deposition can ever be taken; a deposition is for the purpose
of "discovering" evidence while trial is for the purpose of "presenting" evidence to the court; if
petitioners concern was the delay in the disposition of the case, the remedy is to expedite the
taking of the depositions, not terminate them altogether; petitioners have nothing to fear from
discovery unless they have in their possession damaging evidence; the parties should be allowed
to utilize the discovery process prior to conducting pre-trial since every bit of relevant information
unearthed through the discovery process will hasten settlement, simplify the issues and determine
the necessity of amending the pleadings; the trial court erred in not suspending the pre-trial

conference pending the petition for certiorari before the then Twelfth Division of the CA since
considerations of orderly administration of justice demanded that the trial court accord due
deference to the CA; not only was LCDCs petition for certiorari filed in good faith, the CA found it
meritorious, vindicating LCDCs insistence that the pre-trial be suspended; the undue delay in the
disposition of the case was not attributable to LCDCs deposition-taking but to the flurry of
pleadings filed by defendants below to block LCDCs depositions and prevent it from gaining
access to critical evidence; the critical evidence that LCDC needs to obtain through discovery is
evidence that is totally within the knowledge and possession of petitioners and defendant Princeton
and is not available elsewhere.31!

On September 17, 2001, the Court required the parties to file their respective memoranda.32 Hyatt
and Yu on the one hand and LCDC on the other filed their respective memoranda reiterating their
positions.33!

On January 2, 2002, Princeton filed a "Comment" which this Court considered as its Memorandum
in the Resolution dated January 30, 2002.34!

In said memorandum, Princeton averred that: it is not true that Princeton failed to comply with any
discovery orders as all information requested of Princeton was duly furnished LCDC and there are
no pending discovery orders insofar as Princeton is concerned; LCDC is seeking to dictate its
procedural strategies on the RTC and the opposing parties; LCDC was not deprived due process
as it was given all the opportunity to prepare for its case and to face its opponents before the court;
LCDC admits to the probability of forum shopping as it filed a petition for certiorari with the then
Twelfth Division of the CA and later an appeal with the then Seventh Division of the CA; the RTC
did not bar LCDC from presenting witnesses or discovering any evidence, as all it did was to
transfer the venue of the testimony and discovery to the courtroom and get on with the case which
LCDC did not want to do; that discovery proceedings need not take place before pre-trial
conference; trial court judges are given discretion over the right of parties in the taking of
depositions and may deny the same for good reasons in order to prevent abuse; the trial court did
not err in not granting LCDCs motion to suspend proceedings due to the pendency of a petition for
certiorari with the CA since there was no order from said court and there was no merit in the
petition for certiorari as shown by the dismissal thereof by the then Twelfth Division; there was
proper and legal ground for the trial court to declare LCDC non-suited; appearance at the pre-trial
is not enough; there is no evidence to support LCDCs claim that Hyatt surreptitiously transferred
title to Princeton.35!

The Court is in a quandary why Hyatt and Yu included Princeton as respondent in the present
petition when Princeton was their co-defendant below and the arguments they raised herein
pertain only to LCDC. With the failure of petitioners to raise any ground against Princeton in any of
its pleadings before this Court, we shall treat Princetons inclusion as respondent in the present
petition as mere inadvertence on the part of petitioners.!

Now to the merits. The issues that need to be resolved in this case may be simplified as follows:
(1) Whether the CAs then Seventh Division exceeded its authority in ruling upon the validity of the
Orders dated September 17, 1996 and November 14, 1996; and (2) Whether the CA erred in
remanding the case to the trial court and order the deposition-taking to proceed.!

!
We answer both questions in the negative.!
!

Petitioners assert that the CAs then Twelfth Division in CA-GR SP No. 42512 and this Court in
G.R. No. 133145 already ruled upon the validity of the Orders dated September 17, 1996 and
November 14, 1996, thus the CAs then Seventh Division in CA G.R. CV No. 57119 erred in ruling
upon the same.!

A cursory reading of the decisions in CA-GR SP No. 42512 and G.R. No. 133145, however,
reveals otherwise. The CAs then Twelfth Division in CA-G.R. SP No. 42512 was explicit in stating
thus:!

x x x Any decision of ours will not produce any practical legal effect. According to the petitioner, if
we annul the questioned Orders, the dismissal of its Complaint by the trial [court] will have to be
set aside in its pending appeal. That assumes that the division handling the appeal will agree with
Our decision. On the other hand, it may not. Also other issues may be involved therein than the
validity of the herein questioned orders.!

We cannot pre-empt the decision that might be rendered in such appeal. The division to [which] it
has been assigned should be left free to resolve the same. On the other hand, it is better that this
Court speak with one voice.36!

!
This Court in G.R. No. 133145 also clearly stated that:!
!

x x x First, it should be stressed that the said Petition (CA-G.R. SP No. 42512) sought to set aside
only the two interlocutory RTC Orders, not the December 3, 1996 Resolution dismissing the
Complaint. Verily, the Petition could not have assailed the Resolution, which was issued after the
filing of the former.!

Under the circumstances, granting the Petition for Certiorari and setting aside the two Orders are
manifestly pointless, considering that the Complaint itself had already been dismissed. Indeed, the
reversal of the assailed Orders would have practical effect only if the dismissal were also set aside
and the Complaint reinstated. In other words, the dismissal of the Complaint rendered the Petition
for Certiorari devoid of any practical value.!

Second, the Petition for Certiorari was superseded by the filing, before the Court of Appeals, of a
subsequent appeal docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 57119, questioning the Resolution and the two
Orders. In this light, there was no more reason for the CA to resolve the Petition for Certiorari.!

!
x x x x!
!

In this case, the subsequent appeal constitutes an adequate remedy. In fact, it is the appropriate
remedy, because it assails not only the Resolution but also the two Orders.!

!
x x x x!
!
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Resolutions AFFIRMED. x x x.37!
!

With the pronouncements of the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 42512 and by this Court in G.R. No.
133145 that the subsequent appeal via CA-G.R. CV No. 57119 constitutes as the adequate
remedy to resolve the validity of the RTC Orders dated September 17, 1996 and November 14,
1996, the arguments of petitioners on this point clearly have no leg to stand on and must therefore
fail.!

On the second issue, the Court finds that the CA was correct in remanding the case to the RTC
and ordering the deposition-taking to proceed.!

A deposition should be allowed, absent any showing that taking it would prejudice any party.38 It is
accorded a broad and liberal treatment and the liberty of a party to make discovery is well-nigh
unrestricted if the matters inquired into are otherwise relevant and not privileged, and the inquiry is
made in good faith and within the bounds of law.39 It is allowed as a departure from the accepted
and usual judicial proceedings of examining witnesses in open court where their demeanor could
be observed by the trial judge, consistent with the principle of promoting just, speedy and
inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding;40 and provided it is taken in accordance

with the provisions of the Rules of Court, i.e., with leave of court if summons have been served,
and without such leave if an answer has been submitted; and provided further that a circumstance
for its admissibility exists (Section 4, Rule 23, Rules of Court).41 The rules on discovery should not
be unduly restricted, otherwise, the advantage of a liberal discovery procedure in ascertaining the
truth and expediting the disposal of litigation would be defeated.42!

Indeed, the importance of discovery procedures is well recognized by the Court. It approved A.M.
No. 03-1-09-SC on July 13, 2004 which provided for the guidelines to be observed by trial court
judges and clerks of court in the conduct of pre-trial and use of deposition-discovery measures.
Under A.M. No. 03-1-09-SC, trial courts are directed to issue orders requiring parties to avail of
interrogatories to parties under Rule 45 and request for admission of adverse party under Rule 26
or at their discretion make use of depositions under Rule 23 or other measures under Rule 27 and
28 within 5 days from the filing of the answer. The parties are likewise required to submit, at least 3
days before the pre-trial, pre-trial briefs, containing among others a manifestation of the parties of
their having availed or their intention to avail themselves of discovery procedures or referral to
commissioners.43!

Since the pertinent incidents of the case took place prior to the effectivity of said issuance,
however, the depositions sought by LCDC shall be evaluated based on the jurisprudence and rules
then prevailing, particularly Sec. 1, Rule 23 of the 1997 Rules of Court which provides as follows:!

SECTION 1. Depositions pending action, when may be taken.--- By leave of court after jurisdiction
has been obtained over any defendant or over property which is the subject of the action, or
without such leave after an answer has been served, the testimony of any person, whether a party
or not, may be taken, at the instance of any party, by deposition upon oral examination or written
interrogatories. The attendance of witnesses may be compelled by the use of a subpoena as
provided in Rule 21. Depositions shall be taken only in accordance with these Rules. The
deposition of a person confined in prison may be taken only by leave of court on such terms as the
court prescribes. (Emphasis supplied).!

As correctly observed by the CA, LCDC complied with the above quoted provision as it made its
notice to take depositions after the answers of the defendants have been served. LCDC having
complied with the rules then prevailing, the trial court erred in canceling the previously scheduled
depositions.!

While it is true that depositions may be disallowed by trial courts if the examination is conducted in
bad faith; or in such a manner as to annoy, embarrass, or oppress the person who is the subject of
the inquiry, or when the inquiry touches upon the irrelevant or encroaches upon the recognized
domains of privilege,44 such circumstances, however are absent in the case at bar.!

The RTC cites the delay in the case as reason for canceling the scheduled depositions. While
speedy disposition of cases is important, such consideration however should not outweigh a
thorough and comprehensive evaluation of cases, for the ends of justice are reached not only
through the speedy disposal of cases but more importantly, through a meticulous and
comprehensive evaluation of the merits of the case.45 Records also show that the delay of the
case is not attributable to the depositions sought by LCDC but was caused by the many pleadings
filed by all the parties including petitioners herein.!

The argument that the taking of depositions would cause unnecessary duplicity as the intended
deponents shall also be called as witnesses during trial, is also without merit.!

!
The case of Fortune Corp. v. Court of Appeals46 which already settled the matter, explained that:!
!
The availability of the proposed deponent to testify in court does not constitute "good cause" to
justify the courts order that his deposition shall not be taken. That the witness is unable to attend

or testify is one of the grounds when the deposition of a witness may be used in court during the
trial. But the same reason cannot be successfully invoked to prohibit the taking of his deposition.!

The right to take statements and the right to use them in court have been kept entirely distinct. The
utmost freedom is allowed in taking depositions; restrictions are imposed upon their use. As a
result, there is accorded the widest possible opportunity for knowledge by both parties of all the
facts before the trial. Such of this testimony as may be appropriate for use as a substitute for viva
voce examination may be introduced at the trial; the remainder of the testimony, having served its
purpose in revealing the facts to the parties before trial, drops out of the judicial picture.!

x x x [U]nder the concept adopted by the new Rules, the deposition serves the double function of a
method of discovery - with use on trial not necessarily contemplated - and a method of presenting
testimony. Accordingly, no limitations other than relevancy and privilege have been placed on the
taking of depositions, while the use at the trial is subject to circumscriptions looking toward the use
of oral testimony wherever practicable.47!

Petitioner also argues that LCDC has no evidence to support its claims and that it was only after
the filing of its Complaint that it started looking for evidence through the modes of discovery.!

!
On this point, it is well to reiterate the Courts pronouncement in Republic v. Sandiganbayan48:!
!

What is chiefly contemplated is the discovery of every bit of information which may be useful in the
preparation for trial, such as the identity and location of persons having knowledge of relevant
facts; those relevant facts themselves; and the existence, description, nature, custody, condition,
and location of any books, documents, or other tangible things. Hence, "the deposition-discovery
rules are to be accorded a broad and liberal treatment. No longer can the time-honored cry of
fishing expedition serve to preclude a party from inquiring into the facts underlying his opponents
case. Mutual knowledge of all the relevant facts gathered by both parties is essential to proper
litigation. To that end, either party may compel the other to disgorge whatever facts he has in his
possession. The deposition-discovery procedure simply advances the stage at which the
disclosure can be compelled from the time of trial to the period preceding it, thus reducing the
possibility, of surprise.49!

It also does not escape this Courts attention that the trial court, before dismissing LCDCs
complaint, gave LCDC two options: (a) enter into a pre-trial conference, advising LCDC that what it
would like to obtain at the deposition may be obtained at the pre-trial conference, thus expediting
early termination of the case; and (b) terminate the pre-trial conference and apply for deposition
later on. The trial court erred in forcing LCDC to choose only from these options and in dismissing
its complaint upon LCDCs refusal to choose either of the two.!

The information LCDC seeks to obtain through the depositions of Elena Sy, the Finance Officer of
Hyatt and Pacita Tan Go, an Account Officer of RCBC, may not be obtained at the pre-trial
conference, as the said deponents are not parties to the pre-trial conference.!

!
As also pointed out by the CA:!
!

x x x To unduly restrict the modes of discovery during trial, would defeat the very purpose for which
it is intended, as a pre-trial device. By then, the issues would have been confined only on matters
defined during pre-trial. The importance of the modes of discovery cannot be gainsaid in this case
in view of the nature of the controversy involved and the conflicting interest claimed by the parties.
50!

Deposition is chiefly a mode of discovery, the primary function of which is to supplement the
pleadings for the purpose of disclosing the real matters of dispute between the parties and
affording an adequate factual basis during the preparation for trial.51!

Further, in Republic v. Sandiganbayan52 the Court explained that:!

The truth is that "evidentiary matters" may be inquired into and learned by the parties before the
trial. Indeed, it is the purpose and policy of the law that the parties - before the trial if not indeed
even before the pre-trial - should discover or inform themselves of all the facts relevant to the
action, not only those known to them individually, but also those known to their adversaries; in
other words, the desideratum is that civil trials should not be carried on in the dark; and the Rules
of Court make this ideal possible through the deposition- discovery mechanism set forth in Rules
24 to 29. The experience in other jurisdictions has been the ample discovery before trial, under
proper regulation, accomplished one of the most necessary ends of modern procedure; it not only
eliminates unessential issues from trials thereby shortening them considerably, but also requires
parties to play the game with the cards on the table so that the possibility of fair settlement before
trial is measurably increased.!

As just intimated, the deposition-discovery procedure was designed to remedy the conceded
inadequacy and cumbersomeness of the pre-trial functions of notice-giving, issue-formulation and
fact revelation theretofore performed primarily by the pleadings.!

The various modes or instruments of discovery are meant to serve (1) as a device, along with the
pre-trial hearing under Rule 20, to narrow and clarify the basic issues between the parties, and (2)
as a device for ascertaining the facts relative to those issues. The evident purpose is, to repeat, to
enable the parties, consistent with recognized privileges, to obtain the fullest possible knowledge of
the issues and facts before civil trials and thus prevent that said trials are carried on in the dark.53
(emphasis supplied)!

In this case, the information sought to be obtained through the depositions of Elena and Pacita are
necessary to fully equip LCDC in determining what issues will be defined at the pre-trial. Without
such information before pre-trial, LCDC will be forced to prosecute its case in the dark --- the very
situation which the rules of discovery seek to prevent. Indeed, the rules on discovery seek to make
trial less a game of blind mans bluff and more a fair contest with the basic issues and facts
disclosed to the fullest practicable extent. 54!

Considering the foregoing, the Court finds that the CA was correct in remanding the case to the
trial court and ordering the depositions to proceed.!

!
WHEREFORE, the petition is denied for lack of merit.!
!
Costs against petitioner.!
!
SO ORDERED.