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XIII.

A foreign dog trained to sniff dangerous drugs from packages, was hired by FDP Corporation, a
door to door forwarder company, to sniff packages in their depot at the international airport. In
one of the routinary inspections of packages waiting to be sent to the United States of America
(USA), the dog sat beside one of the packages, a signal that the package contained dangerous
drugs. Thereafter, the guards opened the package and found two (2) kilograms of cocaine. The
owner of the package was arrested and charges were filed against him. During the trial, the
prosecution, through the trainer who was present during the incident and an expert in this kind of
field, testified that the dog was highly trained to sniff packages to determine if the contents were
dangerous drugs and the sniffing technique of these highly trained dogs was accepted worldwide
and had been successful in dangerous drugs operations. The prosecution moved to admit this
evidence to justify the opening of the package. The accused objected on the grounds that: (i) the
guards had no personal knowledge of the contents of the package before it was opened; (ii) the
testimony of the trainer of the dog is hearsay; and (iii) the accused could not cross-examine the
dog. Decide. (4%)

ANSWER:

The accused’s objections are overruled.

The objection that the guards had no personal knowledge of the contents of the package
before it was opened is misplaced. The one testifying is the trainer not the guards and he had
personal knowledge of the circumstances since he was present during the incident. Besides there
is no rule of evidence that one cannot testify about the contents of a package if he did not have
prior personal knowledge of its contents before opening it.

The objection that the testimony of the trainer of the dog is hearsay is not valid. Hearsay
is an out-of-court declaration made by a person which is offered for the truth of the matter
asserted.

Here what is involved is a dog who is not a person who can make an out-of-court
declaration. (Lempert & Saltzburg, A MODERN APPROACH TO EVIDENCE 370-371
[1982]). A dog is not treated as a declarant or witness who can be cross-examined. (People v.
Centolella, 305 N.Y.S.2d 279). Hence testimony that the dog sat beside the package is not
testimony about an out-of-court declaration and thus not hearsay.

The objection that the accused could not cross-examine the dog is without merit. Under
the Constitution, the accused’s right of confrontation refers to witnesses. As previously
discussed, a dog is not a witness who can be cross-examined.

Note: It is urged that utmost liberality be exercised in grading this number. The answer
is not found in Philippine law and jurisprudence and even in commentaries by writers on
evidence.

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