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G.R. No. 131516. March 5, 2003.

* mind would subject her child to the humiliation,


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff- disgrace and trauma attendant to a prosecution for rape
appellee, vs. RONNIE RULLEPA y GUINTO, accused- if she were not motivated solely by the desire to
appellant. incarcerate the person responsible for the child’s
Criminal Law; Rape; Child Witnesses; Accused’s defilement. Courts are seldom, if at all, convinced that a
suggestion that the 3-year old complainant merely mother would stoop so low as to subject her daughter to
imagined the things of which he is accused, perhaps physical hardship and shame concomitant to a rape
getting the idea from television programs, is prosecution just to assuage her own hurt feelings.
preposterous.—Accused-appellant’s suggestion that Cyra Same; Same; Statutory Rape; Elements.—In fine, the
May merely imagined the things of which he is accused, crime committed by accused-appellant is not merely
perhaps getting the idea from television programs, is acts of lasciviousness but statutory rape. The two
preposterous. It is true that “the ordinary child is a elements of statutory rape are (1) that the accused had
‘great weaver of romances,’ ” and her “imagination may carnal knowledge of a woman, and (2) that the woman is
induce (her) to relate something she has heard or read below twelve years of age. As shown in the previous
in a story as personal experience.” But Cyra May’s discussion, the first element, carnal knowledge, had
account is hardly the stuff of romance or fairy tales. been established beyond reasonable doubt. The same is
Neither is it normal TV fare, if at all. This Court cannot true with respect to the second element. The victim’s
believe that a victim of Cyra May’s age could concoct a age is relevant in rape cases since it may constitute
tale of defloration, allow the examination of her private an element of the offense. Article 335 of the Revised
parts, and undergo the expense, trouble, inconvenience, Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659.
not to mention the trauma of public trial. Same; Same; Same; Guidelines in Appreciating Age
Same; Same; Same; That the complainant suffered as Element of the Crime or as a Qualifying
pain in her vagina but not in her anus despite her Circumstance.—Because of the seemingly conflicting
testimony that the accused inserted his penis in both decisions regarding the sufficiency of evidence of the
orifices does not diminish her credibility.—More. That victim’s age in rape cases, this Court, in the recently
Cyra May suffered pain in her vagina but not in her decided case of People v. Pruna, established a set of
anus despite her testimony that accused-appellant guidelines in appreciating age as an element of the
inserted his penis in both orifices does not diminish her crime or as a qualifying circumstance, to wit: 1. The best
credibility. It is possible that accused-appellant’s penis evidence to prove the age of the offended party is an
failed to penetrate her anus as deeply as it did her original or certified true copy of the certificate of live
vagina, the former being more resistant to extreme birth of such party. 2. In the absence of a certificate of
forces than the latter. live birth, similar authentic documents such as
Same; Same; Courts are seldom, if at all, convinced baptismal certificate and school records which show the
that a mother would stoop so low as to subject her date of birth of the victim would suffice to prove age. 3.
daughter to physical hardship and shame concomitant If the certificate of live birth or authentic document is
to a rape prosecution just to assuage her own hurt shown to have been lost or destroyed or otherwise
feelings.—Accused-appellant’s imputation of ill motive unavailable, the testimony, if clear and credible, of the
on the part of Gloria is puerile. No mother in her right victim’s mother or a member of the family either by

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affinity or consanguinity who is qualified to testify on manifest and the court can take judicial notice thereof.
matters respecting pedigree such as the exact age or The crucial years pertain to the ages of fifteen to
date of birth of the offended party pursuant to Section seventeen where minority may seem to be dubitable due
40, Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence shall be sufficient to one’s physical appearance. In this situation, the
under the following circumstances: a. If the victim is prosecution has the burden of proving with certainty
alleged to be below 3 years of age and what is sought to the fact that the victim was under 18 years of age when
be proved is that she is less than 7 years old; b. If the the rape was committed in order to justify the
victim is alleged to be below 7 years of age and what is imposition of the death penalty under the above-cited
sought to be proved is that she is less than 12 years old; provision. (Italics supplied.) On the other hand, a
c. If the victim is alleged to be below 12 years of age and handful of cases holds that courts, without the requisite
what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 18 hearing prescribed by Section 3, Rule 129 of the Rules of
“years old. 4. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, Court, cannot take judicial notice of the victim’s age.
authentic document, or the testimony of the victim’s Same; Same; Same; Same; Words and
mother or relatives concerning the victim’s age, the Phrases; Judicial notice is a phrase sometimes used in a
complainant’s testimony will suffice provided that it is loose way to cover some other judicial action—certain
expressly and clearly admitted by the accused. 5. It is rules of evidence, usually known under other names, are
the prosecution that has the burden, of proving the age frequently referred to in terms of judicial notice; The
of the offended party. The failure of the accused to process by which the trier of facts judges a person’s age
object to the testimonial evidence regarding age shall from his or her appearance cannot be categorized as
not be taken against him. 6. The trial court should judicial notice.—Judicial notice signifies that there are
always make a categorical finding as to the age of the certain “facta probanda” or propositions in a party’s
victim. case, as to which he will not be required to offer
Same; Same; Evidence; Judicial Notice; While evidence; these will be taken for true by the tribunal
several cases suggest that courts may take “judicial without the need of evidence. Judicial notice, however,
notice” of the appearance of the victim in determining is a phrase sometimes used in a loose way to cover some
her age, a handful of cases holds that courts, without the other judicial action. Certain rules of Evidence, usually
requisite hearing prescribed by Section 3, Rule 129 of the known under other names, are frequently referred to in
Rules of Court, cannot take judicial notice of the victim’s terms of judicial notice. The process by which the trier
age.—Several cases suggest that courts may take of facts judges a person’s age from his or her
“judicial notice” of the appearance of the victim in appearance cannot be categorized as judicial notice.
determining her age. For example, the Court, in People Judicial notice is based upon convenience and
v. Tipay, qualified the ruling in People v. Javier, which expediency for it would certainly be superfluous,
required the presentation of the birth certificate to inconvenient, and expensive both to parties and the
prove the rape victim’s age, with the following court to require proof, in the ordinary way, of facts
pronouncement: This does not mean, however, that the which are already known to courts. As Tundag puts it, it
presentation of the certificate of birth is at all times “is the cognizance of certain facts which judges may
necessary to prove minority. The minority of a victim of properly take and act on without proof because they
tender age who may be below the age of ten is quite already know them.” Rule 129 of the Rules of Court,

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where the provisions governing judicial notice are own legal records and textbooks for seven centuries
found, is entitled “What Need Not Be Proved.” When the past.” (Italics supplied.)
trier of facts observes the appearance of a person to Same; Same; Same; Same; Experience teaches that
ascertain his or her age, he is not taking judicial notice corporal appearances are approximately an index of the
of such fact; rather, he is conducting an examination of age of their bearer, particularly for the marked extremes
the evidence, the evidence being the appearance of the of old age and youth.—A person’s appearance, as
person. Such a process militates against the very evidence of age (for example, of infancy, or of being
concept of judicial notice, the object of which is to do under the age of consent to intercourse), is usually
away with the presentation of evidence. regarded as relevant; and, if so, the tribunal may
Same; Same; Same; Same; A person’s appearance, properly observe the person brought before it.
where relevant, is admissible as object evidence, the same Experience teaches that corporal appearances are
being addressed to the senses of the court.—This is not to approximately an index of the age of their bearer,
say that the process is not sanctioned by the Rules of particularly for the marked extremes of old age and
Court; on the contrary, it does. A person’s appearance, youth. In every case such evidence should be accepted
where relevant, is admissible as object evidence, the and weighed for what it may be in each case worth. In
same being addressed to the senses of the court. Section particular, the outward physicalappearance of an
1, Rule 130 provides: SECTION 1. Object as evidence.— alleged minor may be considered in judging his age; a
Objects as evidence are those addressed to the senses of contrary rule would for such an inference be
the court. When an object is relevant to the fact in issue, pedantically over-cautious. Consequently, the jury or
it may be exhibited to, examined or viewed by the court. the court trying an issue of fact may be allowed to judge
“To be sure,” one author writes, “this practice of the age of persons in court by observation of such
inspection by the court of objects, things or persons persons. The formal offer of the person as evidence is
relevant to the fact in dispute, has its roots in ancient not necessary. The examination and cross-examination
judicial procedure.” The author proceeds to quote from of a party before the jury are equivalent to exhibiting
another authority: “Nothing is older or commoner in the him before the jury and an offer of such person as an
administration of law in all countries than the exhibit is properly refused.
submission to the senses of the tribunal itself, whether Same; Same; Same; Same; There can be no question
judge or jury, of objects which furnish evidence. The as to the admissibility of a person’s appearance in
view of the land by the jury, in real actions, of a wound determining his or her age, and as to the weight to
by the judge where mayhem was alleged, and of the accord such appearance, especially in rape cases, People
person of one alleged to be an infant, in order to fix his v. Pruna, 390 SCRA 577 (G.R. No. 138471, 10 October
age, the inspection and comparison of seals, the 2002), laid down the guidelines.—There can be no
examination of writings, to determine whether they are question, therefore, as to the admissibility of a person’s
(‘)blemished,(‘) the implements with which a crime was appearance in determining his or her age. As to the
committed or of a person alleged, in a bastardy weight to accord such appearance, especially in rape
proceeding, to be the child of another, are few cases, Pruna laid down guideline No. 3, which is again
illustrations of what may be found abundantly in our reproduced hereunder: 3. If the certificate of live birth
or authentic document is shown to have been lost or

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destroyed or otherwise unavailable, the testimony, if be not only alleged but likewise proved with equal
clear and credible, of the victim’s mother or a member certainty and clearness as the crime itself. Be it
of the family either by affinity or consanguinity who is remembered that the proof of the victim’s age in the
qualified to testify on matters respecting pedigree such present case spells the difference between life and
as the exact age or date of birth of the offended party death.
pursuant to Section 40, Rule 130 of the Rules on
Evidence shall be sufficient under the following AUTOMATIC REVIEW of a decision of the Regional
circumstances: a. If the victim is alleged to be below 3 Trial Court of Quezon City, Br. 96.
years of age and what is sought to be proved is that she
is less than 7 years old; b. If the victim is alleged to be The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
below 7 years of age and what is sought to be proved is The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
that she is less than 12 years old; c. If the victim is Public Attorney’s Office for accused-appellant.
alleged to be below 12 years of age and what is sought to
be proved is that she is less than 18 years old. Under the CARPIO-MORALES, J.:
above guideline, the testimony of a relative with respect
to the age of the victim is sufficient to constitute proof On complaint of Cyra May Francisco Buenafe,
beyond reasonable doubt in cases (a), (b) and (c) above. accused-appellant Ronnie Rullepa y Guinto was charged
In such cases, the disparity between the allegation and with Rape before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
the proof of age is so great that the court can easily Quezon City allegedly committed as follows:
determine from the appearance of the victim the
veracity of the testimony. The appearance corroborates That on or about the 17th day of November, 1995, in
the relative’s testimony. Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, by means of
Same; Same; Same; Same; As the alleged age force and intimidation, to wit: by then and there
approaches the age sought to be proved, the person’s willfully, unlawfully and feloniously removing her
appearance, as object evidence of her age, loses probative panty, kissing her lips and vagina and thereafter
value, and doubt as to her true age becomes greater, rubbing his penis and inserting the same to the inner
which doubt must be resolved in favor of the accused.— portion of the vagina of the undersigned complainant, 3
As the alleged age approaches the age sought to be years of age, a minor, against her will and without her
proved, the person’s appearance, as object evidence of consent.[1]
her age, loses probative value. Doubt as to her true age
becomes greater and, following Agadas, such doubt Arraigned on January 15, 1996, accused-appellant
must be resolved in favor of the accused. This is because pleaded not guilty.[2]
in the era of modernism and rapid growth, the victim’s From the testimonies of its witnesses, namely Cyra
mere physical appearance is not enough to gauge her May,[3] her mother Gloria Francisco Buenafe, Dr.
exact age. For the extreme penalty of death to be Cristina V. Preyra, and SPO4 Catherine Borda, the
upheld, nothing but proof beyond reasonable doubt of prosecution established the following facts:
every fact necessary to constitute the crime must be
substantiated. Verily, the minority of the victim should

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On November 20, 1995, as Gloria was about to set the her pain and drawing her to cry. She added that
table for dinner at her house in Quezon City, Cyra May, accused-appellant did these to her twice in his bedroom.
then only three and a half years old, told her, Mama, si
Dr. Ma. Cristina V. Preyra, the Medico-Legal Officer
kuya Ronnie lagay niya titi niya at sinaksak sa puwit at
and Chief of the Biological Science Branch of the
sa bibig ko.
Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory who
Kuya Ronnie is accused-appellant Ronnie Rullepa, examined Crya May, came up with her report dated
the Buenafes house boy, who was sometimes left with November 21, 1995,[7] containing the following findings
Cyra May at home. and conclusions:
Gloria asked Cyra May how many times accused-
FINDINGS:
appellant did those things to her, to which she answered
many times. Pursuing, Gloria asked Cyra May what else
GENERAL AND EXTRA GENITAL:
he did to her, and Cyra May indicated the room where
accused-appellant slept and pointed at his pillow.
Fairly developed, fairly nourished and coherent female
As on the night of November 20, 1995 accused- child subject. Breasts are undeveloped. Abdomen is flat
appellant was out with Glorias husband Col. and soft.
Buenafe,[4] she waited until their arrival at past 11:00
p.m. Gloria then sent accused-appellant out on an GENITAL:
errand and informed her husband about their daughters
plaint. Buenafe thereupon talked to Cyra May who There is absence of pubic hair. Labia majora are full,
repeated what she had earlier told her mother Gloria. convex and coaptated with congested and abraded labia
When accused-appellant returned, Buenafe and minora presenting in between. On separating the same
Gloria verified from him whether what Cyra May had is disclosed an abraded posterior fourchette and an
told them was true. Ronnie readily admitted doing those elastic, fleshy type intact hymen. External vaginal
things but only once, at 4:00 p.m. of November 17, 1995 orifice does not admit the tip of the examining index
or three days earlier. Unable to contain her anger, finger.
Gloria slapped accused-appellant several times.
xxx
Since it was already midnight, the spouses waited
until the following morning to bring accused-appellant CONCLUSION:
to Camp Karingal where he admitted the imputations
against him, on account of which he was Subject is in virgin state physically.
detained. Glorias sworn statement[5] was then taken.[6]
Recalling what accused-appellant did to her, Cyra There are no external signs of recent application of
May declared at the witness stand: Sinaksak nya ang titi any form of trauma at the time of examination.
sa pepe ko, sa puwit ko, at sa bunganga, thus causing (Emphasis supplied.)

Page 5 of 187
By Dr. Preyras explanation, the abrasions on a- As I said Mrs. Buenafe got mad at me because
the labia minora could have been caused by friction after I explained to her that I was going with
with an object, perhaps an erect penis. She doubted if her gusband (sic) to the children of the
riding on a bicycle had caused the injuries.[8] husband with a former marriage.[9]
The defenses sole witness was accused-appellant, Finding for the prosecution, Branch 96 of the
who was 28 and single at the time he took the witness Quezon City RTC rendered judgment, the dispositive
stand on June 9, 1997. He denied having anything to do portion of which reads:
with the abrasions found in Cyra Mays genitalia, and
claimed that prior to the alleged incident, he used to be WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding
ordered to buy medicine for Cyra May who had accused RONNIE RULLEPA y GUINTO guilty beyond
difficulty urinating. He further alleged that after he reasonable doubt of rape, and he is accordingly
refused to answer Glorias queries if her husband sentenced to death.
Buenafe, whom he usually accompanied whenever he
went out of the house, was womanizing, Gloria would The accused is ordered to pay CYRA MAE BUENAFE the
always find fault in him. He suggested that Gloria was amount of P40,000.00 as civil indemnity.
behind the filing of the complaint. Thus:
q- According to them you caused the abrasions Costs to be paid by the accused.[10] (Italics in the
found in her genital? original.)

a- That is not true, sir. Hence, this automatic review, accused-appellant


q- If that is not true, what is the truth? assigning the following errors to the trial court:

a- As I have mentioned earlier that before I I


started working with the family I was sent to
Crame to buy medicine for the daughter THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN CONSIDERING AS
because she had difficulty in urinating. ADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE THE ACCUSED-
APPELLANTS ADMISSION.
q- Did you know why the child has difficulty in
urinating? II
a- No, I do not know, sir.
THE COURT A QUO ERRED ON (sic) RULING THAT
q- And how about the present complaint filed THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS SILENCE DURING
against you, the complaint filed by the TRIAL AMOUNTED TO AN IMPLIED ADMISSION OF
mother of the victim? GUILT.
a- I did not do it, sir.
III
q- What is the truth, what can you say about this
present complaint filed against you?
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THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE error for the trial court to take his failure to deny the
GUILT OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR THE statements during the trial as an admission of guilt.
CRIME CHARGED HAS BEEN PROVEN BEYOND
Accused-appellants submission does not persuade.
REASONABLE DOUBT.
The trial court considered his admission merely as
an additional ground to convince itself of his
IV
culpability. Even if such admission, as well as the
implication of his failure to deny the same, were
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN IMPOSING
disregarded, the evidence suffices to establish his guilt
THE SUPREME PENALTY OF DEATH UPON THE
beyond reasonable doubt.
ACCUSED-APPELLANT.[11] (Emphasis supplied.)
The plain, matter-of-fact manner by which Cyra May
Accused-appellant assails the crediting by the trial described her abuse in the hands of her Kuya Ronnie is
court, as the following portion of its decision shows, of an eloquent testament to the truth of her
his admission to Gloria of having sexually assaulted accusations. Thus she testified on direct examination:
Cyra May:
q- Do you recall if Ronnie Rullepa did anything
to you?
In addition, the mother asserted that Rullepa had
admitted Cyra Ma[y]s complaint during the a- Yes, sir.
confrontation in the house. Indeed, according to the
q- What did he do to you?
mother, the admission was even expressly qualified by
Rullepas insistence that he had committed the sexual a- Sinaksak nya ang titi sa pepe ko, sa puwit ko,
assault only once, specifying the time thereof as at sa bunganga
4:00 pm of November 17, 1995. That qualification proved
q- How many times did he do that to you?
that the admission was voluntary and true. An
uncoerced and truthful admission like this should be a- Twice, sir.
absolutely admissible and competent.
xxx
xxx q- Do you remember when he did these things to
you?
Remarkably, the admission was not denied by the
accused during trial despite his freedom to deny it if a- Opo.
untrue. Hence, the admission became conclusive upon q- When was that?
him.[12] (Emphasis supplied.)
a- When my mother was asleep, he put he
To accused-appellant, the statements attributed to removed my panty and inserted his penis
him are inadmissible since they were made out of fear, inside my vagina, my anus and my mouth,
having been elicited only after Cyra Mays parents sir.
bullied and questioned him. He thus submits that it was xxx
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q- After your Kuya Ronnie did those things to q- Which part of his body that titi located?
you what did you feel?
(Witness pointing to her groin area)
a- Sabi nya ganito (Witness putting her finger in
C o u r t:
her lips) Nasaktan po ako at umiyak po ako.
Continue
q- Did you cry because of hurt?
xxx
a- Yes.
q- Why were you in that room?
q- What part of your body hurt?
a- Gusto nya po matulog ako sa kuwarto niya.
a- Pepe ko po. When I went to the bathroom to
urinate, I felt pain in my organ, sir.[13] q- When you were in that room, what did Kuya
Ronnie do to you?
Cyra May reiterated her testimony during cross-
examination, providing more revolting details of her a- Hinubo po niya ang panty ko.
ordeal:
q- And after he remove your panty, what did
q- So, you said that Kuya Ronnie did something Kuya Ronnie do, what did he do to you?
to you what did he do to you on November
17, 1995? a- He inserted his penis to my organ, sir.

a- Sinaksak nga yong titi nya. He inserted his q- Why did kuya Ronnie, was kuya Ronnie
penis to my organ and to my mouth, sir. already naked or he was already wearing
any clothing?
xxx
a- Still had his clothing on, sir.
q- When you said that your kuya Ronnie inserted
his penis into your organ, into your mouth, q- So, where did his penis, saan lumabas ang
and into your anus, would you describe what penis ni Kuya Ronnie?
his penis? a- Dito po, (Witness referring or pointing to her
a- It is a round object, sir. groin area)

C o u r t: xxx

Is this titi of your kuya Ronnie a part of his q- So, thats the and at the time, you did not cry
body? and you did not shout for help?

a- Opo. a- Sabi nya po, not to make any noise because my


mother might be roused from sleep.
q- Was that in the head of kuya Ronnie?
q- How long was kuya Ronnie did that to you?
a- No, sir.
a- Matagal po.
Page 8 of 187
q- After kuya Ronnie scrub his penis to your that she learned of it on November 20, 1995[16] while
vagina, what other things did he do? Cyra May said that immediately after the incident, she
awakened her mother who was in the adjacent room
a- After that he inserted his penis to my mouth,
and reported it:[17] This is a minor matter that does not
and to my anus, sir.
detract from Cyra Mays categorical, material testimony
q- You did not complain and you did not shout? that accused-appellant inserted his penis into her
vagina.
a- I cried, sir.[14]
Accused-appellant goes on to contend that Cyra May
Accused-appellant draws attention to the statement was coached, citing the following portion of her
of Cyra May that he was not in the house on November testimony:
17 (1995), as reflected in the following transcript of her
testimony: q- Yong sinabi mong sinira nya ang buhay mo,
where did you get that phrase?
q- Is it not a fact that you said a while ago that
when your father leaves the house, he [was] a- It was the word of my Mama, sir.[18]
usually accompanied by your kuya Ronnie?
On the contrary, the foregoing testimony indicates that
a- Opo. Cyra May was really narrating the truth, that of hearing
her mother utter sinira niya ang buhay mo.
q- Why is it that Kuya Ronnie was in the house
when you father left the house at that time, Accused-appellants suggestion that Cyra May
on November 17? merely imagined the things of which he is accused,
perhaps getting the idea from television programs, is
a- He was with Kuya Ronnie, sir. preposterous. It is true that the ordinary child is a great
q- So, it is not correct that kuya Ronnie did weaver of romances, and her imagination may induce
something to you because your kuya Ronnie (her) to relate something she has heard or read in a
[was] always with your Papa? story as personal experience.[19] But Cyra Mays account
is hardly the stuff of romance or fairy tales. Neither is it
a- Yes, sir.[15] normal TV fare, if at all.
The above-quoted testimony of Cyra May does not This Court cannot believe that a victim of Cyra Mays
indicate the time when her father Col. Buenafe left their age could concoct a tale of defloration, allow the
house on November 17, 1995 with accused-appellant examination of her private parts, and undergo the
and, thus, does not preclude accused-appellants expense, trouble, inconvenience, not to mention the
commission of rape on the same date. In any event, a trauma of public trial.[20]
young child is vulnerable to suggestion, hence, her
affirmative response to the defense counsels above- Besides, her testimony is corroborated by the
quoted leading questions. findings of Dr. Preyra that there were abrasions in
her labia minora, which she opined, could have been
As for the variance in the claim regarding when caused by friction with an erect penis.
Gloria was informed of the rape, Gloria having testified
Page 9 of 187
This Court thus accords great weight to the More. That Cyra May suffered pain in her vagina but
following assessment of the trial court regarding the not in her anus despite her testimony that accused-
competency and credibility of Cyra May as a witness: appellant inserted his penis in both orifices does not
diminish her credibility. It is possible that accused-
Her very tender age notwithstanding, Cyra Ma(y) appellants penis failed to penetrate her anus as deeply
nonetheless appeared to possess the necessary as it did her vagina, the former being more resistant to
intelligence and perceptiveness sufficient to invest her extreme forces than the latter.
with the competence to testify about her
Accused-appellants imputation of ill motive on the
experience. She might have been an impressionable
part of Gloria is puerile. No mother in her right mind
child as all others of her age are but her narration
would subject her child to the humiliation, disgrace and
of Kuya Ronnies placing his titi in her pepe was
trauma attendant to a prosecution for rape if she were
certainly one which could not be considered as a
not motivated solely by the desire to incarcerate the
common childs tale. Her responses during the
person responsible for the childs defilement.[24] Courts
examination of counsel and of the Court established her
are seldom, if at all, convinced that a mother would
consciousness of the distinction between good and bad,
stoop so low as to subject her daughter to physical
which rendered inconceivable for her to describe a bad
hardship and shame concomitant to a rape prosecution
act of the accused unless it really happened to
just to assuage her own hurt feelings.[25]
her. Needless to state, she described the act of the
accused as bad. Her demeanor as a witness manifested Alternatively, accused-appellant prays that he be
during trial by her unhesitant, spontaneous, and plain held liable for acts of lasciviousness instead of rape,
responses to questions further enhanced her claim to apparently on the basis of the following testimony of
credit and trustworthiness.[21] (Italics in the original.) Cyra May, quoted verbatim, that he merely scrubbed his
penis against her vagina:
In a futile attempt at exculpation, accused-appellant
q- Is it not a fact that kuya Ronnie just made
claims that even before the alleged incident Cyra May
some scrubbed his penis into your vagina?
was already suffering from pain in urinating. He
surmises that she could have scratched herself which a- Yes, sir.
caused the abrasions. Dr. Preyra, however, was quick to
rule out this possibility. She stated categorically that q- And when he did not actually penetrated your
that part of the female organ is very sensitive and vagina?
rubbing or scratching it is painful.[22] The abrasions a- Yes, sir.[26]
could not, therefore, have been self-inflicted.
Dr. Preya, however, found abrasions in the labia
That the Medical-Legal Officer found no external minora, which is directly beneath the labia
signs of recent application of any form of trauma at the majora,[27] proving that there was indeed penetration of
time of the examination does not preclude accused- the vagina, not just a mere rubbing or scrubbing of the
appellants conviction since the infliction of force is penis against its surface.
immaterial in statutory rape.[23]

Page 10 of 187
In fine, the crime committed by accused-appellant is 1. when the victim is under eighteen (18) years of
not merely acts of lasciviousness but statutory rape. age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent,
guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity with the
The two elements of statutory rape are (1) that the
third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the
accused had carnal knowledge of a woman, and (2) that
parent of the victim.
the woman is below twelve years of age.[28] As shown in
the previous discussion, the first element, carnal
x x x.
knowledge, had been established beyond reasonable
doubt. The same is true with respect to the second
4. when the victim is x x x a child below seven (7)
element.
years old.
The victims age is relevant in rape cases since it
may constitute an element of the offense. Article 335 of x x x.
the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act
No. 7659,[29]provides: Because of the seemingly conflicting decisions
regarding the sufficiency of evidence of the victims age
Art. 335. When and how rape is committed. Rape is in rape cases, this Court, in the recently decided case
committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman of People v. Pruna,[30] established a set of guidelines in
under any of the following circumstances: appreciating age as an element of the crime or as a
qualifying circumstance, to wit:
x x x.
1. The best evidence to prove the age of the offended
3. When the woman is under twelve years of age x x x. party is an original or certified true copy of the
certificate of live birth of such party.
x x x.
2. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, similar
The crime of rape shall be punished by reclusion authentic documents such as baptismal certificate and
perpetua. school records which show the date of birth of the
victim would suffice to prove age.
x x x.
3. If the certificate of live birth or authentic document is
Furthermore, the victims age may constitute shown to have been lost or destroyed or otherwise
a qualifying circumstance, warranting the imposition of unavailable, the testimony, if clear and credible, of the
the death sentence. The same Article states: victims mother or a member of thefamily either by
affinity or consanguinity who is qualified to testify on
The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of matters respecting pedigree such as the exact age or
rape is committed with any of the following attendant date of birth of the offended party pursuant to Section
circumstances: 40, Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence shall be sufficient
under the following circumstances:
Page 11 of 187
a. If the victim is alleged to be below 3 years of age and However, the Medico-Legal Report relied upon by the
what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 7 trial court does not in any way prove the age of
years old; LIZETTE, for there is nothing therein which even
mentions her age. Only testimonial evidence was
b. If the victim is alleged to be below 7 years of age and presented to establish LIZETTEs age. Her mother,
what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 12 Jacqueline, testified (that the victim was three years old
years old; at the time of the commission of the crime).

c. If the victim is alleged to be below 12 years of age and xxx


what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 18
years old. Likewise, LIZETTE testified on 20 November 1996, or
almost two years after the incident, that she was 5 years
4. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, authentic old. However, when the defense counsel asked her how
document, or the testimony of the victims mother or old she was on 3 January 1995, or at the time of the
relatives concerning the victims age, the complainants rape, she replied that she was 5 years old. Upon further
testimony will suffice provided that it is expressly and question as to the date she was born, she could not
clearly admitted by the accused. answer.

5. It is the prosecution that has the burden of proving For PRUNA to be convicted of rape in its qualified form
the age of the offended party. The failure of the accused and meted the supreme penalty of death, it must be
to object to the testimonial evidence regarding age shall established with certainty that LIZETTE was below 7
not be taken against him. years old at the time of the commission of the crime. It
must be stressed that the severity of the death penalty,
6. The trial court should always make a categorical especially its irreversible and final nature once carried
finding as to the age of the victim. out, makes the decision-making process in capital
offenses aptly subject to the most exacting rules of
Applying the foregoing guidelines, this Court in procedure and evidence.
the Pruna case held that the therein accused-appellant
could only be sentenced to suffer the penalty In view of the uncertainty of LIZETTEs exact age,
of reclusion perpetuasince: corroborative evidence such as her birth certificate,
baptismal certificate or any other authentic document
x x x no birth certificate or any similar authentic should be introduced in evidence in order that the
document, such as a baptismal certificate of LIZETTE, qualifying circumstance of below seven (7) years old is
was presented to prove her age. x x x. appreciated against the appellant. The lack of objection
on the part of the defense as to her age did not excuse
x x x. the prosecution from discharging its burden. That the
defense invoked LIZETTEs tender age for purposes of
questioning her competency to testify is not necessarily
Page 12 of 187
an admission that she was below 7 years of age when On the other hand, a handful of cases[34] holds that
PRUNA raped her on 3 January 1995. Such being the courts, without the requisite hearing prescribed by
case, PRUNA cannot be convicted of qualified rape, and Section 3, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court,[35] cannot take
hence the death penalty cannot be imposed on him. judicial notice of the victims age.
Judicial notice signifies that there are certain facta
However, conformably with no. 3 (b) of the foregoing
probanda, or propositions in a partys case, as to which
guidelines, the testimony of LIZETTEs mother that she
he will not be required to offer evidence; these will be
was 3 years old at the time of the commission of the
taken for true by the tribunal without the need of
crime is sufficient for purposes of holding PRUNA liable
evidence.[36] Judicial notice, however, is a phrase
for statutory rape, or rape of a girl below 12 years of
sometimes used in a loose way to cover some other
age. Under the second paragraph of Article 335, as
judicial action. Certain rules of Evidence, usually
amended by R.A. No. 7659, in relation to no. 3 of the first
known under other names, are frequently referred to in
paragraph thereof, having carnal knowledge of a
terms of judicial notice.[37]
woman under 12 years of age is punishable by reclusion
perpetua. Thus, the penalty to be imposed on PRUNA The process by which the trier of facts judges a
should be reclusion perpetua, and not death penalty. persons age from his or her appearance cannot be
(Italics in the original.) categorized as judicial notice. Judicial notice is based
upon convenience and expediency for it would certainly
Several cases[31] suggest that courts may take be superfluous, inconvenient, and expensive both to
judicial notice of the appearance of the victim in parties and the court to require proof, in the ordinary
determining her age. For example, the Court, in People way, of facts which are already known to
v. Tipay,[32] qualified the ruling in People v. courts.[38] As Tundag puts it, it is the cognizance of
Javier,[33] which required the presentation of the birth certain facts which judges may properly take and act
certificate to prove the rape victims age, with the on without proof because they already know them. Rule
following pronouncement: 129 of the Rules of Court, where the provisions
governing judicial notice are found, is entitled What
This does not mean, however, that the presentation of Need Not Be Proved. When the trier of facts observes
the certificate of birth is at all times necessary to prove the appearance of a person to ascertain his or her age,
minority. The minority of a victim of tender age who he is not taking judicial notice of such fact; rather, he is
may be below the age of ten is quite manifest and the conducting an examination of the evidence, the
court can take judicial notice thereof. The crucial years evidence being the appearance of the person.Such a
pertain to the ages of fifteen to seventeen where process militates against the very concept of judicial
minority may seem to be dubitable due to ones physical notice, the object of which is to do away with the
appearance.In this situation, the prosecution has the presentation of evidence.
burden of proving with certainty the fact that the victim
This is not to say that the process is not sanctioned
was under 18 years of age when the rape was committed
by the Rules of Court; on the contrary, it does. A persons
in order to justify the imposition of the death penalty
appearance, where relevant, is admissible as object
under the above-cited provision. (Emphasis supplied.)
Page 13 of 187
evidence, the same being addressed to the senses of the worth. In particular, the outward physicalappearance of
court. Section 1, Rule 130 provides: an alleged minor may be considered in judging his age;
a contrary rule would for such an inference be
SECTION 1. Object as evidence. Objects as evidence are pedantically over-cautious.[42] Consequently, the jury or
those addressed to the senses of the court. When an the court trying an issue of fact may be allowed to judge
object is relevant to the fact in issue, it may be exhibited the age of persons in court by observation of such
to, examined or viewed by the court. persons.[43] The formal offer of the person as evidence is
not necessary.The examination and cross-examination
To be sure, one author writes, this practice of of a party before the jury are equivalent to exhibiting
inspection by the court of objects, things him before the jury and an offer of such person as an
or persons relevant to the fact in dispute, has its roots in exhibit is properly refused. [44]
ancient judicial procedure.[39]The author proceeds to
This Court itself has sanctioned the determination
quote from another authority:
of an aliens age from his appearance. In Braca v.
Collector of Customs,[45] this Court ruled that:
Nothing is older or commoner in the administration of
law in all countries than the submission to the senses of
The customs authorities may also determine from the
the tribunal itself, whether judge or jury, of objects
personal appearance of the immigrant what his age
which furnish evidence. The view of the land by the
is. The person of a Chinese alien seeking admission into
jury, in real actions, of a wound by the judge where
the Philippine Islands is evidence in an investigation by
mayhem was alleged, and of the person of one alleged to
the board of special inquiry to determine his right to
be an infant, in order to fix his age, the inspection and
enter; and such body may take into consideration his
comparison of seals, the examination of writings, to
appearance to determine or assist in determining his
determine whether they are ()blemished,() the
age and a finding that the applicant is not a minor based
implements with which a crime was committed or of a
upon such appearance is not without evidence to
person alleged, in a bastardy proceeding, to be the child
support it.
of another, are few illustrations of what may be found
abundantly in our own legal records and textbooks for
This Court has also implicitly recognized the same
seven centuries past.[40] (Emphasis supplied.)
process in a criminal case. Thus, in United States v.
Agadas,[46] this Court held:
A persons appearance, as evidence of age (for
example, of infancy, or of being under the age of consent
Rosario Sabacahan testified that he was 17 years of age;
to intercourse), is usually regarded as relevant; and, if
that he had never purchased a cedula; and that he was
so, the tribunal may properly observe the person
going to purchase a cedula the following
brought before it.[41] Experience teaches that corporal
january. Thereupon the court asked this defendant
appearances are approximately an index of the age of
these questions: You are a pretty big boy for
their bearer, particularly for the marked extremes of old
seventeen. Answer: I cannot tell exactly because I do not
age and youth. In every case such evidence should be
remember when I was born, but 17 years is my
accepted and weighed for what it may be in each case
guess. Court: If you are going to take advantage of that
Page 14 of 187
excuse, you had better get some positive evidence to consideration the marked difference in the penalties to
that effect. Answer: I do not remember, as I already be imposed upon that age, we must, therefore, conclude
stated on what date and in what year I was born. The (resolving all doubts in favor of the appellants) that the
court, in determining the question of the age of the appellants ages were 16 and 14 respectively.
defendant, Rosario Sabacahan, said:
While it is true that in the instant case Rosario testified
The defendant, Rosario Sabacahan, testified that he that he was 17 years of age, yet the trial court reached
thought that he was about 17 years of age, but judging the conclusion, judging from the personal appearance of
by his appearance he is a youth 18 or 19 years old. He Rosario, that he is a youth 18 or 19 years old. Applying
has shown that he has no positive information on the the rule enunciated in the case just cited, we must
subject and no effort was made by the defense to prove conclude that there exists a reasonable doubt, at least,
the fact that he is entitled to the mitigating with reference to the question whether Rosario was, in
circumstance of article 9, paragraph 2, of the Penal fact 18 years of age at the time the robbery was
code, which fact it is held to be incumbent upon the committed. This doubt must be resolved in favor of the
defense to establish by satisfactory evidence in order to defendant, and he is, therefore, sentenced to six months
enable the court to give an accused person the benefit of of arresto mayor in lieu of six years ten months and one
the mitigating circumstance. day of presidio mayor. x x x.

In United States vs. Estavillo and Perez (10 Off. Gaz., There can be no question, therefore, as to
1984) Estavillo testified, when the case was tried in the the admissibility of a persons appearance in
court below, that he then was only 16 years of determining his or her age. As to the weight to accord
age. There was no other testimony in the record with such appearance, especially in rape cases, Pruna laid
reference to his age. But the trial judge said: The down guideline no. 3, which is again reproduced
accused Estavillo, notwithstanding his testimony giving hereunder:
his age as 16 years, is, as a matter of fact, not less than
20. This court, in passing upon the age of Estavillo, held: 3. If the certificate of live birth or authentic document is
shown to have been lost or destroyed or otherwise
We presume that the trial court reached this conclusion unavailable, the testimony, if clear and credible, of the
with reference to the age of Estavillo from the latters victims mother or a member of the family either by
personal appearance. There is no proof in the record, as affinity or consanguinity who is qualified to testify on
we have said, which even tends to establish the matters respecting pedigree such as the exact age or
assertion that this appellant understated his age. * * * It date of birth of the offended party pursuant to Section
is true that the trial court had an opportunity to note 40, Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence shall be sufficient
the personal appearance of Estavillo for the purpose of under the following circumstances:
determining his age, and by so doing reached the
conclusion that he was at least 20, just two years over a. If the victim is alleged to be below 3 years of age and
18. This appellant testified that he was only 16, and this what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 7
testimony stands uncontradicted. Taking into years old;
Page 15 of 187
b. If the victim is alleged to be below 7 years of age and however, testified that she was only three years old at
what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 12 the time of the rape. Cyra Mays testimony goes:
years old;
q- Your name is Cyra Mae is that correct?
c. If the victim is alleged to be below 12 years of age and a- Yes, sir.
what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 18
years old. q- And you are 3 years old?
a- Yes, sir.[48]
Under the above guideline, the testimony of a
relative with respect to the age of the victim is sufficient That of her mother goes:
to constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt in cases (a), Q How old was your daughter when there things
(b) and (c) above. In such cases, the disparity between happened?
the allegation and the proof of age is so great that the
court can easily determine from the appearance of the A 3 and years old.
victim the veracity of the testimony. The appearance Q When was she born?
corroborates the relatives testimony.
A In Manila, May 10, 1992.[49]
As the alleged age approaches the age sought to be
proved, the persons appearance, as object evidence of Because of the vast disparity between the alleged
her age, loses probative value. Doubt as to her true age age (three years old) and the age sought to be proved
becomes greater and, following Agadas, supra, such (below twelve years), the trial court would have had no
doubt must be resolved in favor of the accused. difficulty ascertaining the victims age from her
appearance. No reasonable doubt, therefore, exists that
This is because in the era of modernism and rapid the second element of statutory rape, i.e., that the victim
growth, the victims mere physical appearance is not was below twelve years of age at the time of the
enough to gauge her exact age. For the extreme penalty commission of the offense, is present.
of death to be upheld, nothing but proof beyond Whether the victim was below seven years old,
reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute however, is another matter. Here, reasonable doubt
the crime must be substantiated. Verily, the minority of exists. A mature three and a half-year old can easily be
the victim should be not only alleged but likewise mistaken for an underdeveloped seven-year old. The
proved with equal certainty and clearness as the crime appearance of the victim, as object evidence, cannot be
itself. Be it remembered that the proof of the victims age accorded much weight and, following Pruna, the
in the present case spells the difference between life testimony of the mother is, by itself, insufficient.
and death.[47]
As it has not been established with moral certainty
In the present case, the prosecution did not offer the that Cyra May was below seven years old at the time of
victims certificate of live birth or similar authentic the commission of the offense, accused-appellant cannot
documents in evidence. The victim and her mother, be sentenced to suffer the death penalty. Only the
penalty of reclusion perpetua can be imposed upon him.
Page 16 of 187
In line with settled jurisprudence, the civil
indemnity awarded by the trial court is increased
to P50,000.00. In addition, Cyra May is entitled to an
award of moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00.[50]
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City, Branch 96,
is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Accused-appellant
Ronnie Rullepa y Guinto is found GUILTY of Statutory
Rape, defined and punished by Article 335 (3) of the
Revised Penal Code, as amended, and is sentenced to
suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is ordered to
pay private complainant, Cyra May Buenafe y Francisco,
the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity
and P50,000.00 as moral damages.
SO ORDERED.

Page 17 of 187
G.R. No. 157177. February 11, 2008.* Actions; Evidence; Quantum of Proof; Burden of
BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, Proof; In civil cases, the party having the burden of proof
petitioner, vs. JESUSA P. REYES and CONRADO B. must establish his case by preponderance of evidence, or
REYES, respondents. that evidence which is of greater weight or is more
Appeals; As a rule, the findings of fact of the trial convincing than that which is in opposition to it.—It is a
court when affirmed by the Court of Appeals are final basic rule in evidence that each party to a case must
and conclusive and cannot be reviewed on appeal by the prove his own affirmative allegations by the degree of
Supreme Court, as long as they are borne out by the evidence required by law. In civil cases, the party
record or are based on substantial evidence; having the burden of proof must establish his case by
Exceptions.—The issue raises a factual question. The preponderance of evidence, or that evidence which is of
Court is not a trier of facts, its jurisdiction being limited greater weight or is more convincing than that which is
to reviewing only errors of law that may have been in opposition to it. It does not mean absolute truth;
committed by the lower courts. As a rule, the findings of rather, it means that the testimony of one side is more
fact of the trial court when affirmed by the CA are final believable than that of the other side, and that the
and conclusive and cannot be reviewed on appeal by probability of truth is on one side than on the other.
this Court, as long as they are borne out by the record Same; Same; Witnesses; Where the trial judge did not
or are based on substantial evidence. Such rule however hear the testimonies himself, he would not be in a better
is not absolute, but is subject to well-established position than the Supreme Court to assess the credibility
exceptions, which are: 1) when the inference made is of witnesses on the basis of their demeanor.—For a better
manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; 2) when perspective on the calibration of the evidence on hand,
there is a grave abuse of discretion; 3) when the finding it must first be stressed that the judge who had heard
is grounded entirely on speculations, surmises or and seen the witnesses testify was not the same judge
conjectures; 4) when the judgment of the CA is based on who penned the decision. Thus, not having heard the
a misapprehension of facts; 5) when the findings of facts testimonies himself, the trial judge or the appellate
are conflicting; 6) when the CA, in making its findings, court would not be in a better position than this Court
went beyond the issues of the case, and those findings to assess the credibility of witnesses on the basis of their
are contrary to the admissions of both appellant and demeanor. Hence, to arrive at the truth, we thoroughly
appellee; 7) when the findings of the CA are contrary to reviewed the transcripts of the witnesses’ testimonies
those of the trial court; 8) when the findings of fact are and examined the pieces of evidence on record.
conclusions without citation of specific evidence on Same; Same; Same; Banks and Banking; Great
which they are based; 9) when the CA manifestly evidentiary weight is given to the teller’s tape,
overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the considering that it is inserted into the bank’s computer
parties and which, if properly considered, would justify terminal, which records the teller’s daily transactions in
a different conclusion; and 10) when the findings of fact the ordinary course of business, and there is no showing
of the CA are premised on the absence of evidence and that the same had been purposely manipulated to prove
are contradicted by the evidence on record. We hold the bank’s claim.—The teller’s tape definitely
that this case falls under exception Nos. 1, 3, 4, and 9 establishes the fact of respondent Jesusa’s original
which constrain us to resolve the factual issue. intention to withdraw the amount of P200,000.00, and

Page 18 of 187
not P100,000.00 as she claims, from her savings account, The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
to be transferred as her initial deposit to her new Benedicto, Verzosa, Gealogo, Burkley and
Express Teller account, the insufficiency of her balance Associatesfor petitioner.
in her savings account, and finally the fund transfer of Teresita Gandioco Oledan for respondents.
the amount of P100,000.00 from her savings account to
her new Express Teller account. We give great AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
evidentiary weight to the teller’s tape, considering that
it is inserted into the bank’s computer terminal, which Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under
records the teller’s daily transactions in the ordinary
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to annul the
course of business, and there is no showing that the
same had been purposely manipulated to prove Decision [1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated October 29,
petitioner’s claim. 2002 as well as its Resolution [2] dated February 12, 2003,
Same; Same; Same; Physical evidence is a mute but
eloquent manifestation of truth, and it ranks high in our which affirmed with modification the Decision of the Regional
hierarchy of trustworthy evidence—where the physical Trial Court (RTC) of Makati, Branch 142, in Civil Case No.
evidence on record runs counter to the testimonial 91-3453, [3] requiring Bank of Philippine Islands (petitioner) to
evidence of the prosecution witnesses, the Court has
consistently ruled that the physical evidence should return to spouses Jesusa P. Reyes and Conrado B. Reyes
prevail; To uphold the declaration of the Court of (respondents) the amount of P100,000.00 plus interest and
Appeals that it is unlikely for the bank depositor and her
damages.
daughter to concoct a false story against a banking
institution is to give weight to conjectures and surmises, The conflicting versions of the parties are aptly
which the Court cannot countenance.—Physical summarized by the trial court, to wit:
evidence is a mute but eloquent manifestation of truth,
and it ranks high in our hierarchy of trustworthy On December 7, 1990 at around 2:00
evidence. We have, on many occasions, relied p.m., plaintiff Jesusa Reyes together with her
principally upon physical evidence in ascertaining the daughter, Joan Reyes, went to BPI Zapote
truth. Where the physical evidence on record runs Branch to open an ATM account, she being
counter to the testimonial evidence of the prosecution interested with the ongoing promotions of BPI
witnesses, we consistently rule that the physical entitling every depositor with a deposit
evidence should prevail. In addition, to uphold the amounting to P2,000.00 to a ticket with a car as
declaration of the CA that it is unlikely for respondent its prize to be raffled every month.
Jesusa and her daughter to concoct a false story against
a banking institution is to give weight to conjectures She was accommodated, in lieu of the
and surmises, which we cannot countenance. bank manager Mr. Nicasio, by Cicero Capati
(Pats) who was an employee of the bank and in
PETITION for review on certiorari of the decision and charge of the new accounts and time deposits
resolution of the Court of Appeals. characteristically described as having
homosexual inclinations. They were entertained
Page 19 of 187
by Capati and were made to sit at a table account no. 0235-0767-48 and brought the same
occupied by a certain Liza. to the teller's booth.

Plaintiff informed Capati that they After a while, he returned and handed to
wanted to open an ATM account for the amount the plaintiff her duplicate copy of her deposit to
of P200,000.00, P100,000.00 of which shall be account no. 0235-0767-48 reflecting the amount
withdrawn from her exiting savings account of P200,000.00 with receipt stamp showing
with BPI bank which is account no. 0233-2433- December 7, as the date.
88 and the other P100,000.00 will be given by Plaintiff and daughter then left.
her in cash.
On December 14, 1990, Mrs. Jesusa
Capati allegedly made a mistake and received her express teller card from said bank.
prepared a withdrawal slip for P200,00.00 to be
withdrawn from her existing savings account Thereafter on December 26, 1990,
with said bank and the plaintiff Jesusa Reyes plaintiff left for the United States (Exhs. T, U-
believing in good faith that Capati prepared the U-1) and returned to Manila on January 31,
papers with the correct amount signed the same 1991 (Exhs. V-V-1).
unaware of the mistakes in figures.
When she went to her pawnshop, she was
While she was being entertained by made aware by her statement of account sent to
Capati, her daughter Joan Reyes was filling up her by BPI bank that her ATM account only
the signature cards and several other forms. contained the amount of P100,000.00 with
interest.
Minutes later after the slips were
presented to the teller, Capati returned to where She then sent her daughter to inquire,
the plaintiff was seating and informed the latter however, the bank manager assured her that
that the withdrawable balance could not they would look into the matter.
accommodate P200,000.00.
On February 6, 1991, plaintiff instructed
Plaintiff explained that she is Efren Luna, one of her employees, to update her
withdrawing the amount of P100,000.00 only savings account passbook at the BPI with the
and then changed and correct the figure two (2) folded deposit slip forP200,000.00 stapled at the
into one (1) with her signature super-imposed outer cover of said passbook. After presenting
thereto signifying the change, afterwhich the the passbook to be updated and when the same
amount of P100,000.00 in cash in two bundles was returned, Luna noticed that the deposit slip
containing 100 pieces of P500.00 peso bill were stapled at the cover was removed and validated
given to Capati with her daughter Joan at the back portion thereof.
witnessing the same. Thereafter Capati
prepared a deposit slip for P200,000.00 in the
name of plaintiff Jesusa Reyes with the new
Page 20 of 187
Thereafter, Luna returned with the accommodate the same. Plaintiff thereafter
passbook to the plaintiff and when the latter saw agreed to reduce the amount to be withdrawn
the validation, she got angry. from P200,000.00 to P100,000.00 with plaintiffs
signature superimposed on said corrections;
Plaintiff then asked the bank manager that the original copy of the deposit slip was also
why the deposit slip was validated, whereupon altered from P200,000.00 to P100,000.00,
the manager assured her that the matter will be however, instead of plaintiff signing the same,
investigated into. the clerk-in-charge of the bank, in this case
Cicero Capati, signed the alteration himself for
When no word was heard as to the Jesusa Reyes had already left without signing
investigation made by the bank, Mrs. Reyes sent the deposit slip. The documents were
two (2) demand letters thru her lawyer subsequently machine validated for the amount
demanding return of the missing P100,000.00 of P100,000.00 (Exhs. 2 and 4).
plus interest (Exhs. B and C). The same was
received by defendant on July 25, Defendant claimed that there was
1991 and October 7, 1991, respectively. actually no cash involved with the transactions
which happened on December 7, 1990 as
The last letter prompted reply from contained in the banks teller tape (Exhs.1 to 1-
defendant inviting plaintiff to sit down and C).
discuss the problem.
Defendant further claimed that when
The meeting resulted to the bank they subjected Cicero Capati to a lie detector
promising that Capati will be submitted to a lie test, the latter passed the same with flying colors
detector test. (Exhs. 5 to 5-C), indicative of the fact that he
was not lying when he said that there really was
Plaintiff, however, never learned of the no cash transaction involved when plaintiff
result of said test. Plaintiff filed this instant Jesusa Reyes went to the defendant bank on
case. December 7, 1990; defendant further alleged
that they even went to the extent of informing
Defendant on the other hand claimed that Jesusa Reyes that her claim would not be given
Bank of the Philippine Island admitted that credit (Exh. 6) considering that no such
Jesusa Reyes had effected a fund transfer in the transaction was really made on December 7,
amount of P100,000.00 from her ordinary 1990. [4]
savings account to the express teller account she On August 12, 1994, the RTC issued a Decision [5] upholding
opened on December 7, 1990 (Exhs. 3 to 3-C),
however, it was the only amount she deposited the versions of respondents, the dispositive portion of which
and no additional cash deposit of P100,000.00 reads:
was made. That plaintiff wanted to effect the WHEREFORE, premises considered, the
transfer of P200,000.00 but the balance in her Court finds in favor of the plaintiff Jesusa P.
account was not sufficient and could not Reyes and Conrado Reyes and against defendant
Page 21 of 187
Bank of the Philippine Islands ordering the
latter to: Nonetheless, the award of 14% interest
per annum on the missing P100,000.00 can stand
1. Return to plaintiffs their P100,000.00 with some modification. The interest thereon should
interest at 14% per annum from December be 12% per annum, reckoned from May 12,
7, 1990; 1991, the last day of the five day-grace period
2. Pay plaintiffs P1,000,000.00 as moral given by plaintiff-appellees' counsel under the
damages; first demand letter dated May 6, 1991 (Exhibit
2. Pay plaintiffs P350,000.00 as exemplary B), or counted from May 7, 1991, the date when
damages; defendant-appellant received said letter.
3. Pay plaintiffs P250,000.00 for and Interest is demandable when the obligation
attorney's fees. [6] consist in the payment of money and the debtor
The RTC found that petitioner's claim that respondent Jesusa incurs in delay.

deposited only P100,000.00 instead of P200,000.00 was hazy; Also, we have to reduce the P1 million
that what should control was the deposit slip issued by the award of moral damages to a reasonable sum
of P50,000.00. Moral damages are not intended
bank to respondent, for there was no chance by which to enrich a plaintiff at the expense of a
respondent could write the amount of P200,000.00 without defendant. They are awarded only to enable the
injured party to obtain means, diversion, or
petitioner's employee noticing it and making the necessary
amusements that will serve to alleviate the
corrections; that it was deplorable to note that it was when moral suffering he has undergone, by reason of
respondent Jesusa's bankbook was submitted to be updated the defendant's culpable action. The award of
moral damages must be proportionate to the
after the lapse of several months when the alleged error suffering inflicted.
claimed by petitioner was corrected; that Article 1962 of the
In addition, we have to delete the award
New Civil Code provides that a deposit is constituted from the of P350,000.00 as exemplary damages. The
moment a person receives a thing belonging to another with absence of malice and bad faith, as in this case,
renders the award of exemplary damages
the obligation of safely keeping it and of returning the same;
improper.
that under Article 1972, the depositary is obliged to keep the
thing safely and to return it when required to the depositor or Finally, we have to reduce the award of
attorney's fees to a reasonable sum
to his heirs and successors or to the person who may have of P30,000.00, as the prosecution of this case has
been designated in the contract. not been attended with any unusual difficulty.
Aggrieved, petitioner appealed to the CA which in a Decision WHEREFORE, with the modifications
dated October 29, 2002 affirmed the RTC decision with thus indicated, the judgment appealed from is in
all other respects AFFIRMED. Without costs. [7]
modification as follows:
Page 22 of 187
A. In affirming the decision of the trial court
In finding petitioner liable for the missing P100,000.00, holding BPI liable for the amount
the CA held that the RTC correctly gave credence to the of P100,000.00 representing an alleged
additional deposit of respondents, the
testimonies of respondent Jesusa and Joan Reyes to the effect Honorable Court of Appeals gravely abused
that aside from the fund transfer of P100,000.00 from Jesusa's its discretion by resolving the issue based on
a conjecture and ignoring physical evidence
savings account, Jesusa also made a cash deposit
in favor of testimonial evidence.
of P100,000.00 in the afternoon of December 7, 1990; that it is
unlikely for these two to concoct a story of falsification B. The Court of Appeals gravely abused its
discretion, being as it is contrary to law, in
against a banking institution of the stature of petitioner if holding BPI liable to respondents for the
their claims were not true; that the duplicate copy of the payment of interest at the rate of 12% per
annum.
deposit slip showed a deposit of P200,000.00; this, juxtaposed
with the fact that it was not machine-validated and the C. This Honorable Court gravely abused its
discretion, being as it is contrary to law, in
original copy altered by the bank's clerk from P200,000.00
holding BPI liable for moral damages and
to P100,000.00 with the altered amount validated, is indicative attorney's fees at the reduced amounts
of anomaly; that even if it was bank employee Cicero Capati of P50,000.00 and P30,000.00,
respectively. [8]
who prepared the deposit slip, Jesusa stood her ground and
categorically denied having any knowledge of the alteration
The main issue for resolution is whether the CA erred in
therein made; that petitioner must account for the
sustaining the RTC's finding that respondent Jesusa made an
missing P100,000.00 because it was the author of the loss; that
initial deposit of P200,000.00 in her newly opened Express
banks are engaged in business imbued with public interest
Teller account on December 7, 1990.
and are under strict obligation to exercise utmost fidelity in
dealing with its clients, in seeing to it that the funds therein
The issue raises a factual question. The Court is not a trier of
invested or by them received are properly accounted for and
facts, its jurisdiction being limited to reviewing only errors of
duly posted in their ledgers.
law that may have been committed by the lower courts. [9] As a
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied in a
rule, the findings of fact of the trial court when affirmed by
Resolution dated February 12, 2003.
the CA are final and conclusive and cannot be reviewed on
appeal by this Court, as long as they are borne out by the
Hence, the present petition on the following grounds:
record or are based on substantial evidence. [10] Such rule
Page 23 of 187
however is not absolute, but is subject to well-established side, and that the probability of truth is on one side than on
exceptions, which are: 1) when the inference made is the other. [14]
manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; 2) when there is a Section 1, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court provides t he
grave abuse of discretion; 3) when the finding is grounded guidelines for determining preponderance of evidence, thus:
entirely on speculations, surmises or conjectures; 4) when the SECTION 1. Preponderance of evidence,
how determined.- In civil cases, the party having
judgment of the CA is based on a misapprehension of f acts; 5) the burden of proof must establish his case by a
when the findings of facts are conflicting; 6) when the CA, in preponderance of evidence. In determining
where the preponderance or superior weight of
making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case, and evidence on the issues involved lies the court
those findings are contrary to the admissions of both may consider all the facts and circumstances of
the case, the witnesses' manner of testifying,
appellant and appellee; 7) when the findings of the CA are
their intelligence, their means and opportunity
contrary to those of the trial court; 8) when the findings of of knowing the facts to which they are
fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on testifying, the nature of the facts to which they
testify, the probability or improbability of their
which they are based; 9) when the CA manifestly overlooked testimony, their interest or want of interest, and
certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties and which, if also their personal credibility so far as the same
legitimately appear upon the trial. The court
properly considered, would justify a different conclusion; and may also consider the number of witnesses,
10) when the findings of fact of the CA are premised on the though the preponderance is not necessarily
with the greater number.
absence of evidence and are contradicted by the evidence on
For a better perspective on the calibration of the evidence on
record. [11] We hold that this case falls under exception Nos. 1,
hand, it must first be stressed that the judge who had heard
3, 4, and 9 which constrain us to resolve the factual issue.
and seen the witnesses testify was not the same judge who
It is a basic rule in evidence that each party to a case must
penned the decision. Thus, not having heard the testimonies
prove his own affirmative allegations by the degree of
himself, the trial judge or the appellate court would not be in
evidence required by law. [12] In civil cases, the party having
a better position than this Court to assess the credibility of
the burden of proof must establish his case by preponderance
witnesses on the basis of their demeanor.
of evidence, [13] or that evidence which is of greater weight or
is more convincing than that which is in opposition to it. It
Hence, to arrive at the truth, we thoroughly reviewed the
does not mean absolute truth; rather, it means that the
transcripts of the witnesses' testimonies and examined the
testimony of one side is more believable than that of the other
pieces of evidence on record.

Page 24 of 187
After a careful and close examination of the records and affixing her signature. Significantly, we note that the space
evidence presented by the parties, we find that respondents provided for her signature is very near the space where the
failed to successfully prove by preponderance of evidence that amount of P200,000.00 in words and figures are written; thus,
respondent Jesusa made an initial deposit of P200,000.00 in she could not have failed to notice that the amount
her Express Teller account. of P200,000.00 was written instead of P100,000.00.
Respondent Jesusa and her daughter Joan testified that at the The fact that respondent Jesusa initially intended to transfer
outset, respondent Jesusa told Capati that she was opening an the amount of P200,000.00 from her savings account to her
Express Teller account for P200,000.00; that she was going to new Express Teller account was further established by the
withdraw and transfer P100,000.00 from her savings account teller's tape presented as petitioner's evidence and by the
to her new account, and that she had an testimony of Emerenciana Torneros, the teller who had
additional P100,000.00 cash. However, these assertions are not attended to respondent Jesusa's transactions.
borne out by the other evidence presented. Notably, it is not
refuted that Capati prepared a withdrawal The teller's tape, [17] Exhibit 1 unequivocally shows the
slip [15] for P200,000.00. This is contrary to the claim of following data:
respondent Jesusa that she instructed Capati to make a fund
151159 07DEC90 1370 288A 233324299
transfer of only P100,000.00 from her savings account to the
Express Teller account she was opening. Yet, respondent 151245 07DEC90 1601 288A 233243388
***200000.00 [18]
Jesusa signed the withdrawal slip. We find it strange that she BIG AMOUNT
would sign the withdrawal slip if her intention in the first 151251 07DEC90 1601 288J 233243388
***200000.00
place was to withdraw only P100,000.00 from her savings
151309 07DEC90 1601 288A 233243388
account and deposit P100,000.00 in cash with her. ***200000.00
PB BALANCE ERROR
BAL. 229,257.64
Moreover, respondent Jesusa's claim that she signed the
withdrawal slip without looking at the amount indicated 151338 07DEC90 1601 288A 233243388
***200000.00
therein fails to convince us, for respondent Jesusa, as a BIG AMOUNT
businesswoman in the regular course of business and taking 151344 07DEC90 1601 288J 233243388
***200000.00
ordinary care of her concerns, [16] would make sure that she
151404 07DEC90 1601 288A 233243388
would check the amount written on the withdrawal slip before ***200000.00
Page 25 of 187
TOD The first column shows the exact time of the transactions; the
151520 07DEC90 1601 288A 233320145 second column shows the date of the transactions; the third
***2000.00 column shows the bank transaction code; the fourth column
151705 07DEC90 1789 288A 233324299
***22917.00 shows the teller's code; and the fifth column shows the client's
151727 07DEC90 1601 288A 233243388 account number. The teller's tape reflected various
***100000.00
transactions involving different accounts on December 7,
BIG AMOUNT
151730 07DEC90 1601 288J 233243388 1990 which included respondent Jesusa's Savings Account No.
***100000.00 233243388 and her new Express Teller Account No.
151746 07DEC90 1601 288A 233243388
***100000.00 [19] 235076748. It shows that respondent Jesusa's initial intention
151810 07DEC90 1370 288A 235076748 to withdraw P200,000.00, not P100,000.00, from her Savings
151827 07DEC90 1790 288A 235076748
***100000.00 ***100000.00 [20] Account No. 233324299 was begun at 3 o'clock, 12 minutes
and 45 seconds as shown in Exhibit 1-c.
151903 07DEC90 1301 288A 233282405
151914 07DEC90 1690 288A 235008955
***1778.05 In explaining the entries in the teller's tape, Torneros testified
152107 07DEC90 1601 288A 3333241381 that when she was processing respondent Jesusa's withdrawal
***5000.00
152322 07DEC90 1601 288A 233314374 in the amount of P200,000.00, her computer rejected the
***2000.00 transaction because there was a discrepancy; [21] thus, the
152435 07DEC90 1370 288A 235076764
152506 07DEC90 1790 288A 235076764 word BIG AMOUNT appeared on the tape. Big amount means
***4000.00 ***4000.00 that the amount was so big for her to approve, [22] so she keyed
152557 07DEC90 1601 288A 233069469
in the amount again and overrode the transaction to be able to
***2000.00
152736 07DEC90 1601 288A 233254584 process the withdrawal using an officer's override with the
***2000.00 latter's approval. [23] The letter J appears after Figure 288 in
152849 07DEC90 0600 288A 231017585
***3150.00 686448 the fourth column to show that she overrode the
152941 07DEC90 1790 288A 3135052255 transaction. She then keyed again the amount of P200,000.00
***2800.00 ***2800.00
153252 07DEC90 1601 288A 233098264 at 3 o'clock 13 minutes and 9 seconds; however, her computer
(Emphasis supplied) rejected the transaction, because the balance she keyed in
based on respondent Jesusa's passbook was wrong; [24] thus
appeared the phrase balance error on the tape, and the

Page 26 of 187
computer produced the balance of P229,257.64, and so she seconds, the amount of P100,000.00 was deposited to
keyed in the withdrawal of P200,000.00. [25] Since it was a big respondent Jesusa's new Express Teller Account No.
amount, she again had to override it, so she could process the 235076748.
amount. However, the withdrawal was again rejected for the
reason TOD, overdraft, [26] which meant that the amount to be The teller's tape definitely establishes the fact of respondent
withdrawn was more than the balance, considering that there Jesusa's original intention to withdraw the amount
was a debited amount of P30,935.16 reflected in respondent of P200,000.00, and not P100,000.00 as she claims, from her
Jesusa's passbook, reducing the available balance to savings account, to be transferred as her initial deposit to her
[27]
only P198,322.48. new Express Teller account, the insufficiency of her balance
in her savings account, and finally the fund transfer of the
Torneros then called Capati to her cage and told him of the amount of P100,000.00 from her savings account to her new
insufficiency of respondent Jesusa's balance. [28] Capati then Express Teller account. We give great evidentiary weight to
motioned respondent Jesusa to the teller's cage; and when she the teller's tape, considering that it is inserted into the bank's
was already in front of the teller's cage, Torneros told her computer terminal, which records the teller's daily
that she could not withdraw P200,000.00 because of overdraft; transactions in the ordinary course of business, and there is
thus, respondent Jesusa decided to just no showing that the same had been purposely manipulated to
[29]
withdraw P100,000.00. prove petitioner's claim.
This explains the alteration in the withdrawal slip with the
superimposition of the figure 1 on the figure 2 and the change Respondent Jesusa's bare claim, although corroborated by her
of the word two to one to show that the withdrawn amount daughter, that the former deposited P100,000.00 cash in
from respondent Jesusa's savings account was addition to the fund transfer of P100,000.00, is not established
only P100,000.00, and that respondent Jesusa herself signed by physical evidence. While the duplicate copy of the deposit
the alterations. slip [30] was in the amount of P200,000.00 and bore the stamp
The teller's tape showed that the withdrawal of the amount mark of teller Torneros, such duplicate copy failed to show
of P100,000.00 by fund transfer was resumed at 3 o'clock 17 that there was a cash deposit of P100,000.00. An examination
minutes and 27 seconds; but since it was a big amount, there of the deposit slip shows that it did not contain any entry in
was a need to override it again, and the withdrawal/fund the breakdown portion for the specific denominations of the
transfer was completed. At 3 o'clock 18 minutes and 27

Page 27 of 187
cash deposit. This demolishes the testimonies of respondent deposit of P100,000.00 for respondent Jesusa's new Express
Jesusa and her daughter Joan. Teller account and signed the alteration. Torneros then
machine-validated the deposit slip. Thus, the duplicate copy of
Furthermore, teller Torneros's explanation of why the the deposit slip, which bore Torneross stamp mark and which
duplicate copy of the deposit slip in the amount of P200,000.00 was given to respondent Jesusa prior to the processing of her
bore the teller's stamp mark is convincing and consistent with transaction, was not machine-validated unlike the original
logic and the ordinary course of business. She testified that copy of the deposit slip.
Capati went to her cage bringing with him a withdrawal slip While the fact that the alteration in the original deposit slip
for P200,000.00 signed by respondent Jesusa, two copies of the was signed by Capati and not by respondent Jesusa herself
deposit slip for P200,000.00 in respondent Jesusa's name for was a violation of the bank's policy requiring the depositor to
her new Express Teller account, and the latter's savings sign the correction, [37] nevertheless, we find that respondents
passbook reflecting a balance of P249,657.64 [31] as of failed to satisfactorily establish by preponderance of evidence
[32]
November 19, 1990. Thus, at first glance, these appeared to that indeed there was an additional cash of P100,000.00
Torneros to be sufficient for the withdrawal of P200,000.00 by deposited to the new Express Teller account.
fund transfer. Capati then got her teller's stamp mark,
stamped it on the duplicate copy of the deposit slip, and gave Physical evidence is a mute but eloquent manifestation of
the duplicate to respondent Jesusa, while the original truth, and it ranks high in our hierarchy of trustworthy
copy [33] of the deposit slip was left in her cage. [34] However, as evidence. [38] We have, on many occasions, relied principally
Torneros started processing the transaction, it turned out that upon physical evidence in ascertaining the truth. Where the
respondent Jesusa's balance was insufficient to accommodate physical evidence on record runs counter to the testimonial
the P200,000.00 fund transfer as narrated earlier. evidence of the prosecution witnesses, we consistently rule
that the physical evidence should prevail. [39]
Since respondent Jesusa had signed the alteration in the
withdrawal slip and had already left the teller's counter In addition, to uphold the declaration of the CA that it is
thereafter and Capati was still inside the teller's cage, unlikely for respondent Jesusa and her daughter to concoct a
Torneros asked Capati about the original deposit slip and the false story against a banking institution is to give weight to
[35]
latter told her, Ok naman iyan, and Capati superimposed conjectures and surmises, which we cannot countenance.
the figures 1 on 2 on the deposit slip [36] to reflect the initial

Page 28 of 187
In fine, respondents failed to establish their claim by
preponderance of evidence.
Considering the foregoing, we find no need to tackle the other
issues raised by petitioner.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the
Court of Appeals dated October 29, 2002 as well as its
Resolution dated February 12, 2003 are
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The complaint filed by
respondents, together with the counterclaim of petitioner,
is DISMISSED.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Page 29 of 187
THE CONSOLIDATED BANK AND TRUST trade and that “the best proof that the nature of the
CORPORATION (SOLIDBANK), petitioner, vs. DEL thing will afford is only required.”—The “best evidence
MONTE MOTOR WORKS, INC., NARCISO G. rule,” according to Professor Thayer, first appeared in
MORALES, AND SPOUSE, respondents.
1
the year 1699-1700 when in one case involving a
Actions; Pleadings and Practice; Specific Denials; To goldsmith, Holt, C.J., was quoted as stating that they
deny the genuineness and due execution of an actionable should take into consideration the usages of trade and
document, the defendant must declare under oath that that “the best proof that the nature of the thing will
he did not sign the document or that it is otherwise false afford is only required.” Over the years, the phrase was
or fabricated.—In the case of Permanent Savings and used to describe rules which were already existing such
Loan Bank v. Mariano Velarde, this Court held that—. . . as the rule that the terms of a document must be proved
Respondent also denied any liability on the promissory by the production of the document itself, in preference
note as he allegedly did not receive the amount stated to evidence about the document; it was also utilized to
therein, and the loan documents do not express the true designate the hearsay rule or the rule excluding
intention of the parties. Respondent reiterated these assertions made out of court and not subject to the
allegations in his “denial under oath,” stating that the rigors of cross-examination; and the phrase was likewise
“promissory note sued upon, assuming that it exists and used to designate the group of rules by which testimony
bears the genuine signature of herein defendant, the of particular classes of witnesses was preferred to that
same does not bind him and that it did not truly express of others.
the real intention of the parties as stated in the defenses Same; Same; Same; Same; Rationale; According to
. . . Respondent’s denials do not constitute an effective McCormick, an authority on the rules of evidence, “the
specific denial as contemplated by law. In the early case only actual rule that the ‘best evidence’ phrase denotes
of Songco vs. Sellner, the Court expounded on how to today is the rule requiring the production of the original
deny the genuineness and due execution of an writing”; In light of the dangers of mistransmission,
actionable document, viz.: . . . This means that the accompanying the use of written copies or of recollection,
defendant must declare under oath that he did not sign largely avoided through proving the terms by presenting
the document or that it is otherwise false or fabricated. the writing itself, the preference for the original writing
Neither does the statement of the answer to the effect is justified.—According to McCormick, an authority on
that the instrument was procured by fraudulent the rules of evidence, “the only actual rule that the ‘best
representation raise any issue as to its genuineness or evidence’ phrase denotes today is the rule requiring the
due execution. On the contrary such a plea is an production of the original writing” the rationale being:
admission both of the genuineness and due execution (1) that precision in presenting to the court the exact
thereof, since it seeks to avoid the instrument upon a words of the writing is of more than average
ground not affecting either. importance, particularly as respects operative or
Same; Same; Evidence; Best Evidence Rule; The “best dispositive instruments, such as deeds, wills and
evidence rule,” according to Professor Thayer, first contracts, since a slight variation in words may mean a
appeared in the year 1699-1700 when in one case great difference in rights, (2) that there is a substantial
involving a goldsmith, Holt, C.J., was quoted as stating hazard of inaccuracy in the human process of making a
that they should take into consideration the usages of copy by handwriting or typewriting, and (3) as respects

Page 30 of 187
oral testimony purporting to give from memory the judge’s sacred obligation under his oath of office to
terms of a writing, there is a special risk of error, administer justice without respect to person and do
greater than in the case of attempts at describing other equal right to the poor and the rich. There must be a
situations generally. In the light of these dangers of showing of bias and prejudice stemming from an
mistransmission, accompanying the use of written extrajudicial source resulting in an opinion in the
copies or of recollection, largely avoided through merits on some basis other than what the judge learned
proving the terms by presenting the writing itself, the from his participation in the case.
preference for the original writing is justified. Same; Demurrer to Evidence; Words and Phrases; A
Same; Same; Same; Denials; Where defendant fails to demurrer to evidence abbreviated judicial proceedings, it
deny specifically the execution of the promissory note, being an instrument for the expeditious termination of
there is no need for the plaintiff to present the original of an action; If the defendant’s motion for judgment on
the promissory note—when the defendant fails to deny demurrer to evidence is granted and the order is
specifically and under oath the due execution and subsequently reversed on appeal, judgment is rendered in
genuineness of a document copied in a complaint, the favor of the adverse party because the movant loses his
plaintiff need not prove that fact as it is considered right to present evidence—the reviewing court cannot
admitted by the defendant.—Respondents failed to deny remand the case for further proceeding but render
specifically the execution of the promissory note. This judgment on the basis of the evidence presented by the
being the case, there was no need for petitioner to plaintiff.—A demurrer to evidence abbreviates judicial
present the original of the promissory note in question. proceedings, it being an instrument for the expeditious
Their judicial admission with respect to the termination of an action. Caution, however, must be
genuineness and execution of the promissory note exercised by the party seeking the dismissal of a case
sufficiently established their liability to petitioner upon this ground as under the rules, if the movant’s plea
regardless of the fact that petitioner failed to present for the dismissal on demurrer to evidence is granted
the original of said note. Indeed, when the defendant and the order of dismissal is reversed on appeal, he
fails to deny specifically and under oath the due loses his right to adduce evidence. If the defendant’s
execution and genuineness of a document copied in a motion for judgment on demurrer to evidence is granted
complaint, the plaintiff need not prove that fact as it is and the order is subsequently reversed on appeal,
considered admitted by the defendant. judgment is rendered in favor of the adverse party
Same; Courts; Judges; Bias and Partiality; In order because the movant loses his right to present evidence.
for the Supreme Court to sustain a charge of partiality The reviewing court cannot remand the case for further
and prejudice brought against a judge, there must be proceedings; rather, it should render judgment on the
convincing proof to show that he or she is, indeed, biased basis of the evidence presented by the plaintiff.
and partial.—In order for this Court to sustain a charge
of partiality and prejudice brought against a judge, PETITION for review on certiorari of the decision
there must be convincing proof to show that he or she is, and resolution of the Court of Appeals.
indeed, biased and partial. Bare allegations are not
enough. Bias and prejudice are serious charges which The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
cannot be presumed particularly if weighed against a

Page 31 of 187
Delos Reyes, Banaga, Briones & Associates for
petitioner. order to bind their conjugal partnership of gains.
Eduardo E. Francisco for Narciso Morales. Petitioner, a domestic banking and trust corporation,
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: alleges therein that on 23 April 1982, it extended in

favor of respondents a loan in the amount of One Million


This is a petition for review on certiorari of the
Pesos (P1,000,000.00) as evidenced by a promissory note
Decision[2] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
executed by respondents on the same date. Under the
16886 entitled, The Consolidated Bank & Trust
promissory note, respondents Del Monte Motor Works,
Corporation (SOLIDBANK) v. Del Monte Motor Works,
Inc. (respondent corporation) and Morales bound
Inc., Narciso O. Morales and Spouse promulgated on 25
themselves jointly and severally to pay petitioner the
November 1999 and of the Resolution of the appellate
full amount of the loan through twenty-five monthly
court dated 11 May 2000 denying petitioners motion for
installments of P40,000.00 a month with interest pegged
reconsideration. Said decision and resolution affirmed
at 23% per annum. The note was to be paid in full by 23
the order dated 28 December 1987 of the Regional Trial
May 1984. As respondents defaulted on their monthly
Court (RTC), Branch 27, Manila.
installments, the full amount of the loan became due

and demandable pursuant to the terms of the


The facts of the case are as follows:
promissory note. Petitioner likewise alleges that it made

oral and written demands upon respondents to settle


On 13 June 1984, petitioner filed before the RTC of
their obligation but notwithstanding these demands,
Manila a complaint[3] for recovery of sum of money
respondents still failed to pay their indebtedness which,
against respondents, impleading the spouse of
as of 09 March 1984, stood at P1,332,474.55. Petitioner
respondent Narciso O. Morales (respondent Morales) in
attached to its complaint as Annexes A, B, and C,

Page 32 of 187
Special and Affirmative Defenses
respectively, a photocopy of the promissory note hereinbelow contained;
supposedly executed by respondents, a copy of the 3- ANSWERING FURTHER, and by way of a
first special and affirmative defense,
demand letter it sent respondents dated 20 January
defendant herein states that the promissory
1983, and statement of account pertaining to note in question is void for want of valid
consideration and/or there was no valuable
respondents loan. consideration involved as defendant herein
did not receive any consideration at all;

4- ANSWERING FURTHER, and by way of a


On 31 October 1984, petitioner filed an Ex-Parte Motion second special affirmative defense,
defendant herein alleges that no demand
to Declare the Defendants in Default which was opposed
has ever been sent to nor received by
by the defendants upon the ground that they were never herein defendant and if ever demands were
made, denies any liability as averred
served with copies of the summons and of petitioners therein.

complaint. 5- ANSWERING FURTHER, and by way of a


third special and affirmative defense,
defendant herein avers that the complaint
states no cause of action and has no basis
On 23 November 1984, respondent corporation filed either in fact or in law;
before the trial court a manifestation attaching thereto

its answer to petitioners complaint which states the


VERIFICATION
following: I, JEANETTE D. TOLENTINO, of legal age,
after having been duly sworn to in
accordance with law, depose and state:
2- That it denies generally and specifically
the allegations contained in paragraphs 3, That I am the Controller of Del Monte
4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 thereof for lack of knowledge Motor Works, Inc., one of the defendants in
and information sufficient to form a belief this case.
as to the truth of the matters therein
alleged, the truth being those alleged in the

Page 33 of 187
That for and in behalf of the defendant SPECIAL AND AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES
corporation, I caused the preparation of the
above-narrated answer. 4. He has never signed the promissory note
attached to the complaint in his personal
That I have read the contents thereof and and/or individual capacity as such;
they are true of my own knowledge.
5. That the said promissory note is
(SGD) JEANNETTE D. TOLENTINO[4] ineffective, unenforceable and void for lack
of valid consideration;

6. That even admitting, argumenti gratia,


the validity and execution of the questioned
On 06 December 1984, respondent Morales filed his promissory note, still, defendant herein
cannot be bound personally and
manifestation together with his answer wherein he individually to the said obligations as
banking procedures requires, it being a
likewise renounced any liability on the promissory note,
standard operating procedure of all known
thus: banking institution, that to hold a borrower
jointly and severally liable in his official as
well as personal capacity, the borrower
1. He ADMIT[S] paragraphs 1, 2, and 3 of must sign a Suretyship Agreement or at
the complaint with a qualification in least, a continuing guarranty with that of
paragraph 3 thereof that he has long been the corporation he represent(s) but which
separated from his wife and the system in this case is wanting;
governing their property relations is that of
complete separation of property and not 7. That transaction/obligation in question
that of conjugal partnership of gain[s]; did not, in any way, redound/inure to the
benefit of the conjugal partnership of gain,
2. He [DENIES], generally and specifically, as there is no conjugal partnership of gain
the allegations contained in paragraphs 4, to speak with, defendant having long been
5, 6, 7, and 8 thereof, for lack of knowledge separated from his wife and their property
and information sufficient to form a belief relation is governed by the system of
and as to the truth of the matter therein complete separation of property, and more
averred, the truth being those alleged in importantly, he has never signed the said
the Special And Affirmative Defenses promissory note in his personal and
hereinbelow pleaded; individual capacity as such;

Page 34 of 187
VERIFICATION
respondents obtained the loan, subject of this case, from
That I, NARCISO MORALES, after having
been duly sworn to in accordance with law, petitioner and due to respondents failure to pay a single
hereby depose and declare that:
monthly installment on this loan, petitioner was
I am one of the named defendant[s] in the
above-entitled case;
constrained to send a demand letter to respondents;
I have cause[d] the preparation of the
foregoing Answer upon facts and figures that as a result of this demand letter, Jeannette
supplied by me to my retained counsel;
have read each and every allegations Tolentino (Tolentino), respondent corporations
contained therein and hereby certify that
the same are true and correct of my own controller, wrote a letter to petitioner requesting for
knowledge and information.
some consideration because of the unfavorable business
(SGD) NARCISO MORALES
Affiant[5] atmosphere then buffeting their business operation;

that Tolentino enclosed to said letter a check with a face

value of P220,020.00 to be discounted by petitioner with


On 26 December 1984, the trial court denied petitioners
the proceeds being applied as partial payment to their
motion to declare respondents in default and admitted
companys obligation to petitioner; that after receipt of
their respective answers.[6]
this partial payment, respondents obligation again

became stagnant prompting petitioner to serve


During the trial on the merits of this case, petitioner
respondents with another demand letter which,
presented as its sole witness, Liberato A. Lavarino
unfortunately, was unheeded by respondents. Lavarino
(Lavarino), then the manager of its Collection
also identified the following exhibits for petitioner:
Department. Substantially, Lavarino stated that
Page 35 of 187
photocopy of the duplicate original of the promissory
On 30 September 1985, respondent corporation filed a
note attached to the complaint as Exhibit
manifestation and motion for reconsideration[12] of the
A;[7] petitioners 20 January 1983 demand letter marked
trial courts order admitting into evidence petitioners
as Exhibit B;[8] Tolentinos letter to petitioner dated 10
Exhibit E. Respondent corporation claims that Exhibit E
February 1983 and marked as Exhibit C;[9] and the 09 should not have been admitted as it was immaterial,

March 1984 statement of account sent to respondents irrelevant, was not properly identified and hearsay

marked as Exhibit D.[10] evidence. Respondent corporation insists that Exhibit E

was not properly identified by Lavarino who testified

that he had nothing to do in the preparation and


On 26 September 1985, petitioner made its formal
execution of petitioners exhibits, one of which was
offer of evidence. However, as the original copy of
Exhibit E. Further, as there were markings in Exhibit A
Exhibit A could no longer be found, petitioner instead
which were not contained in Exhibit E, the latter could
sought the admission of the duplicate original of the not possibly be considered an original copy of Exhibit A.

promissory note which was identified and marked as Lastly, respondent corporation claims that the exhibit

Exhibit E. in question had no bearing on the complaint as

Lavarino admitted that Exhibit E was not the original of

Exhibit A which was the foundation of the complaint


The trial court initially admitted into evidence Exhibit
and upon which respondent corporation based its own
E and granted respondents motion that they be allowed
answer.
to amend their respective answers to conform with this

new evidence.[11]
Page 36 of 187
Respondent Morales similarly filed a manifestation with On 08 April 1986, petitioner filed a motion[17] praying

motion to reconsider order admitting as evidence that the presiding judge, Judge Ricardo D. Diaz, of the

Exhibit E[13] which, other than insisting that the due court a quo inhibit himself from this case maintaining

execution and genuineness of the promissory note were that the latter rushed into resolving its motion for

not established as far as he was concerned, essentially reconsideration of the trial courts order of 06 December

raised the same arguments contained in respondent 1985 thereby depriving it the opportunity of presenting

corporations manifestation with motion for proof that the original of Exhibit A was delivered to

reconsideration referred to above. respondents as early as 02 April 1983. Such haste on the

part of the presiding judge, according to petitioner, cast

On 06 December 1985, the trial court granted doubt on his objectivity and fairness. This motion to

respondents motions for reconsideration.[14] Petitioner inhibit was denied by the trial court on 06 August

moved for the reconsideration of this order which was 1987.[18]

denied by the court a quo on 20 December 1985.[15]

In an order dated 28 December 1987,[19] the case before

On 26 December 1985, respondents separately filed their the trial court was dismissed, the dispositive portion of

motions to dismiss on the similar ground that with the which reads:

exclusion of Exhibits A and E, petitioner no longer


WHEREFORE, the instant case against
possessed any proof of respondents alleged defendants Del Monte Motor Works, Inc.
and Narciso O. Morales and spouse, is
indebtedness.[16] hereby DISMISSED, with costs against the
plaintiff.

Page 37 of 187
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS
The trial courts finding was affirmed by the Court of GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT FOUND THAT
PRIVATE RESPONDENTS DENIED THE
Appeals in the assailed decision now before us. The MATERIAL ALLEGATIONS OF
PETITIONER SOLIDBANKS COMPLAINT,
dispositive portion of the appellate courts decision
DESPITE THE PRESENCE OF
reads: INDUBITABLE FACTS CLEARLY
POINTING TO THE FACT THAT SAID
PRIVATE RESPONDENTS ADMITTED THE
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, GENUINENESS AND DUE EXECUTION OF
the decision of the Regional Trial Court, THE SUBJECT PROMISSORY NOTE.
Manila, Branch 27, dated December 28, 1987
dismissing plaintiff-appellant['s] complaint II
is hereby AFFIRMED. Cost against the
plaintiff-appellant.[20] THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS
GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT UPHELD THE
EXCLUSION OF EXHIBIT E, THE SECOND
ORIGINAL OF THE PROMISSORY NOTE,
DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE ORIGINAL
Petitioner thereafter filed a motion for reconsideration OF EXHIBIT A (XEROX COPY OF THE
DUPLICATE ORIGINAL OF THE
dated 14 December 1999 which was denied for lack of PROMISSORY NOTE) WAS ACTUALLY IN
THE POSSESSION OF PRIVATE
RESPONDENTS, THUS WARRANTING THE
merit in a resolution of the Court of Appeals
ADMISSION OF SECONDARY EVIDENCE.
promulgated on 11 May 2000.[21]
III

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS


GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT
Aggrieved by the appellate courts ruling, petitioner now
THE TRIAL JUDGE SHOULD HAVE
INHIBITED HIMSELF FROM TAKING
seeks redress from this Court imputing the following COGNIZANCE OF AND FROM TRYING
AND DECIDING THE INSTANT CASE
errors on the Court of Appeals: CONSIDERING HIS PERCEIVED AND
MANIFEST BIAS AND PARTIALITY IN
FAVOR OF THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS
I
Page 38 of 187
TO THE GRAVE PREJUDICE OF
PETITIONER SOLIDBANK.[22]
We hold otherwise.

The petition is meritorious. The pertinent portion of the Rules of Court on the

In resolving the case against petitioner, the appellate matter provides:

court held that contrary to petitioners stance,


SEC. 8. How to contest such
documents. When an action or defense is
respondents were able to generally and specifically
founded upon a written instrument, copied
in or attached to the corresponding
deny under oath the genuineness and due execution of pleading as provided in the preceding
section, the genuineness and due execution
the promissory note, thus: of the instrument shall be deemed admitted
unless the adverse party, under oath,
specifically denies them and sets forth what
There can be no dispute to the fact that the
he claims to be the facts; but the
allegations in the answer (Record, p. 20, 26-
requirement of an oath does not apply
27), of both defendants, they denied
when the adverse party does not appear to
generally and specifically under oath the
be a party to the instrument or when
genuineness and due execution of the
compliance with an order for an inspection
promissory note and by way of special and
of the original instrument is refused.[24]
affirmative defenses herein states that he
(MORALES) never signed the promissory
note attached to the complaint (Exh. A) in
his personal and/or individual capacity. In the case of Permanent Savings and Loan Bank v.
Moreover, what appears in the record
(Record, p. 20) was an admission of Mariano Velarde,[25] this Court held that
paragraphs 1 & 2 but they deny generally
and specifically the rest of the allegations.
It would be considered that there is a . . . Respondent also denied any liability on
sufficient compliance of the requirement of the promissory note as he allegedly did not
the law for specific denial.[23] receive the amount stated therein, and the
loan documents do not express the true
intention of the parties. Respondent
Page 39 of 187
reiterated these allegations in his denial
under oath, stating that the promissory In this case, both the court a quo and the Court of
note sued upon, assuming that it exists and
bears the genuine signature of herein Appeals erred in ruling that respondents were able to
defendant, the same does not bind him and
specifically deny the allegations in petitioners
that it did not truly express the real
intention of the parties as stated in the complaint in the manner specifically required by the
defenses
rules. In effect, respondents had, to all intents and
Respondents denials do not constitute an
effective specific denial as contemplated by purposes, admitted the genuineness and due execution
law. In the early case of Songco vs.
Sellner,[26] the Court expounded on how to of the subject promissory note and recognized their
deny the genuineness and due execution of
obligation to petitioner.
an actionable document, viz.:

. . . This means that the


defendant must declare under The appellate court likewise sustained the ruling of the
oath that he did not sign the
document or that it is trial court that the best evidence rule or primary
otherwise false or fabricated.
Neither does the statement of evidence must be applied as the purpose of the proof is
the answer to the effect that
the instrument was procured to establish the terms of the writing meaning the alleged
by fraudulent representation promissory note as it is the basis of the recovery of the
raise any issue as to its
genuineness or due execution. money allegedly loaned to the defendants (respondents
On the contrary such a plea is
an admission both of the herein).[28]
genuineness and due execution
thereof, since it seeks to avoid
the instrument upon a ground
not affecting either.[27] The best evidence rule is encapsulated in Rule 130,

Section 3, of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure which

provides:

Page 40 of 187
Sec. 3. Original document must be produced;
exceptions. When the subject of inquiry is of the thing will afford is only required.[29] Over the
the contents of a document, no evidence
shall be admissible other than the original years, the phrase was used to describe rules which were
document itself, except in the following
already existing such as the rule that the terms of a
cases:
document must be proved by the production of the
(a) When the original has been lost or
destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, document itself, in preference to evidence about the
without bad faith on the part of the offeror;
document; it was also utilized to designate the hearsay
(b) When the original is in the custody or
under the control of the party against rule or the rule excluding assertions made out of court
whom the evidence is offered, and the latter
and not subject to the rigors of cross-examination; and
fails to produce it after reasonable notice;
the phrase was likewise used to designate the group of
(c) When the original consists of numerous
accounts or other documents which cannot rules by which testimony of particular classes of
be examined in court without great loss of
time and the fact sought to be established witnesses was preferred to that of others.[30]
from them is only the general result of the
whole; and

(d) When the original is a public record in According to McCormick, an authority on the
the custody of a public officer or is
recorded in a public office. rules of evidence, the only actual rule that the best

evidence phrase denotes today is the rule requiring

the production of the original writing[31] the


The best evidence rule, according to Professor

Thayer, first appeared in the year 1699-1700 when in one rationale being:

case involving a goldsmith, Holt, C. J., was quoted as


(1) that precision in presenting to the court
stating that they should take into consideration the the exact words of the writing is of more
than average importance, particularly as
usages of trade and that the best proof that the nature respects operative or dispositive
Page 41 of 187
instruments, such as deeds, wills and
contracts, since a slight variation in words of consideration of the promissory note. In addition,
may mean a great difference in rights, (2)
that there is a substantial hazard of respondent Morales also claims that he did not sign the
inaccuracy in the human process of making
note in his personal capacity. These contentions clearly
a copy by handwriting or typewriting, and
(3) as respects oral testimony purporting to do not question the precise wording[33] of the promissory
give from memory the terms of a writing,
there is a special risk of error, greater than note which should have paved the way for the
in the case of attempts at describing other
situations generally. In the light of these application of the best evidence rule. It was, therefore,
dangers of mistransmission, accompanying
the use of written copies or of recollection, an error for the Court of Appeals to sustain the decision
largely avoided through proving the terms
of the trial court on this point.
by presenting the writing itself, the
preference for the original writing is
justified.[32]
Besides, the best evidence rule as stated in our Revised

Rules of Civil Procedure is not absolute. As quoted

Bearing in mind that the risk of mistransmission of the earlier, the rule accepts of exceptions one of which is

contents of a writing is the justification for the best when the original of the subject document is in the

evidence rule, we declare that this rule finds no possession of the adverse party. As pointed out by

application to this case. It should be noted that petitioner in its motion to inhibit, had it been given the

respondents never disputed the terms and conditions of opportunity by the court a quo, it would have

the promissory note thus leaving us to conclude that as sufficiently established that the original of Exhibit A

far as the parties herein are concerned, the wording or was in the possession of respondents which would have

content of said note is clear enough and leaves no room called into application one of the exceptions to the best

for disagreement. In their responsive pleadings, evidence rule.

respondents principal defense rests on the alleged lack


Page 42 of 187
under oath of the authenticity of these
Significantly, and as discussed earlier, respondents documents. Under Section 103 of the Code
of Civil Procedure, the authenticity and
failed to deny specifically the execution of the due execution of these documents must, in
that case, be deemed admitted. The effect of
promissory note. This being the case, there was no need
this is to relieve the plaintiff from the duty
for petitioner to present the original of the promissory of expressly presenting such documents as
evidence. The court, for the proper decision
note in question. Their judicial admission with respect of the case, may and should consider,
without the introduction of evidence, the
to the genuineness and execution of the promissory note facts admitted by the parties.[37]

sufficiently established their liability to petitioner

regardless of the fact that petitioner failed to present


Anent petitioners allegation that the presiding judge of
the original of said note.[34]
the court a quo should have inhibited himself from this

case, we resolve this issue against petitioner.


Indeed, when the defendant fails to deny specifically

and under oath the due execution and genuineness of a


In order for this Court to sustain a charge of partiality
document copied in a complaint, the plaintiff need not
and prejudice brought against a judge, there must be
prove that fact as it is considered admitted by the
convincing proof to show that he or she is, indeed,
defendant.[35] In the case of Asia Banking Corporation v.
biased and partial. Bare allegations are not enough.
Walter E. Olsen & Co.,[36] this Court held that
Bias and prejudice are serious charges which cannot be
Another error assigned by the appellant is presumed particularly if weighed against a judges
the fact that the lower court took into
consideration the documents attached to sacred obligation under his oath of office to administer
the complaint as a part thereof, without
having been expressly introduced in justice without respect to person and do equal right to
evidence. This was no error. In the answer
of the defendants there was no denial the poor and the rich.[38] There must be a showing of

Page 43 of 187
bias and prejudice stemming from an extrajudicial A demurrer to evidence abbreviates judicial

source resulting in an opinion in the merits on some proceedings, it being an instrument for the expeditious

basis other than what the judge learned from his termination of an action. Caution, however, must be

participation in the case.[39] exercised by the party seeking the dismissal of a case

In this case, as petitioner failed to proffer any evidence upon this ground as under the rules, if the movants plea

indicating that Judge Diaz was guilty of bias and for the dismissal on demurrer to evidence is granted

prejudice, we affirm the Court of Appeals holding that and the order of dismissal is reversed on appeal, he

there was no cogent reason for him to disqualify himself loses his right to adduce evidence. If the defendants

from this case. motion for judgment on demurrer to evidence is granted

Finally, Rule 33, Section 1, of the Revised Rules of Civil and the order is subsequently reversed on appeal,

Procedure states the rule on the effect of judgment on judgment is rendered in favor of the adverse party

demurrer to evidence. It reads: because the movant loses his right to present

SECTION 1. Demurrer to evidence.- After evidence.[40] The reviewing court cannot remand the
the plaintiff has completed the presentation
of his evidence, the defendant may move for case for further proceedings; rather, it should render
dismissal on the ground that upon the facts
judgment on the basis of the evidence presented by the
and the law the plaintiff has shown no right
to relief. If his motion is denied, he shall plaintiff.[41]
have the right to present evidence. If the
motion is granted but on appeal the order
of dismissal is reversed he shall be deemed
to have waived the right to present Under the promissory note executed by respondents in
evidence.
this case, they are obligated to petitioner in the amount

of One Million Pesos, this being the amount of loan they

obtained on 23 April 1982. In addition, they also bound

Page 44 of 187
themselves to pay the 23% interest per annum on the by respondents to petitioner as partial payment should

loan; and a penalty charge of 3% per annum on the be deducted from the amount due from respondents.

amount due until fully paid. Respondents likewise

agreed to pay attorneys fees equivalent to 10% of the SO ORDERED.

total amount due, but in no case less than P200.00, plus

costs of suit with both these amounts bearing a 1%

interest per month until paid. Costs against

respondents.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court of

Appeals decision dated 25 November 1999 as well as its

Resolution of 11 May 2000, affirming the order of the

Regional Trial Court, Manila, Branch 27, dated 28

December 1987, are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

Respondents are ordered to pay One Million Pesos

(P1,000,000.00) plus 23% interest per annum, penalty

charge of 3% interest per annum, and 10% of the amount

due as attorneys fees together with a 1% interest per

month until fully paid. The sum of P220,020.00 which

was the value of the postdated check given

Page 45 of 187
G.R. No. 152881. August 17, 2004. * party against whom the evidence is offered, and the
ENGR. BAYANI MAGDAYAO, latter fails to produce it after reasonable notice. To
petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, warrant the admissibility of secondary evidence when
respondent. the original of a writing is in the custody or control of
Criminal Law; Batas Pambansa Bilang 22; Essential Elements the adverse party, Section 6 of Rule 130 provides that
for Conviction of B.P. Blg. 22.—To warrant the petitioner’s conviction the adverse party must be given reasonable notice, that
of the crime charged, the prosecution was burdened to prove the he fails or refuses to produce the same in court and that
following essential elements thereof: (1) The making, drawing and the offeror offers satisfactory proof of its existence.
issuance of any check to apply for account or for value; (2) The
knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of issue Same; Same; The offeror must prove that he has done
he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank all in his power to secure the best evidence by giving
for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment; and (3) notice to the said party to produce the document; When
The subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for such party has the original of the writing and does not
insufficiency of funds or credit or dishonor for the same reason had
not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered the bank to stop
voluntarily offer to produce it or refuses to produce it,
payment. secondary evidence may be admitted.—The mere fact
Remedial Law; Evidence; As long as the original evidence can be that the original of the writing is in the custody or
had, the court should not receive in evidence that which is control of the party against whom it is offered does not
substitutionary in nature, such as photocopies, in the absence of any warrant the admission of secondary evidence. The
clear showing that the original writing has been lost or destroyed or
cannot be produced in court.—Section 3, Rule 129 of the Revised offeror must prove that he has done all in his power to
Rules on Evidence specifically provides that when the subject of secure the best evidence by giving notice to the said
inquiry is the contents of the document, no evidence shall be party to produce the document. The notice may be in
admissible other than the original thereof. The purpose of the rule the form of a motion for the production of the original
requiring the production by the offeror of the best evidence is the
prevention of fraud, because if a party is in possession of such
or made in open court in the presence of the adverse
evidence and withholds it and presents inferior or secondary party or via a subpoena duces tecum, provided that the
evidence in its place, the presumption is that the latter evidence is party in custody of the original has sufficient time to
withheld from the court and the adverse party for a fraudulent or produce the same. When such party has the original of
devious purpose which its production would expose and defeat. As the writing and does not voluntarily offer to produce it
long as the original evidence can be had, the court should not
receive in evidence that which is substitutionary in nature, such as or refuses to produce it, secondary evidence may be
photocopies, in the absence of any clear showing that the original admitted.
writing has been lost or destroyed or cannot be produced in court. PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of
Such photocopies must be disregarded, being inadmissible evidence
and barren of probative weight.
the Court of Appeals.
Same; Same; To warrant the admissibility of secondary evidence
when the original of a writing is in the custody or control of the The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
adverse party, Section 6 of Rule 130 provides that the adverse party Paulino R. Ersando for petitioner.
must be given reasonable notice, that he fails or refuses to produce the
same in court and that the offeror offers satisfactory proof of its The Solicitor General for the People.
existence.—Under Section 3(b), Rule 130 of the said Rules, secondary
evidence of a writing may be admitted when the original is in the CALLEJO, SR., J.:
custody or under the control of the

Page 46 of 187
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari filed When the case for trial was called on June 7, 1995 for
by petitioner Engr. Bayani Magdayao of the the prosecution to adduce its evidence, the petitioner
Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. and his counsel were absent. On motion of the
20549 affirming the Decision[2] of the Regional Trial prosecution, the court allowed it to adduce evidence.
Court, Dipolog City, Branch 8, convicting the petitioner The prosecution presented the private complainant,
of violation of Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 22. Ricky Olvis, who testified on direct examination that on
September 30, 1991, the petitioner drew and issued to
him Philippine National Bank (PNB) Check No. 399967
The Antecedents dated September 30, 1991 in the amount of P600,000.00.
The said check was drawn against the latters account
with the PNB, Dipolog City Branch, and issued in
An Information was filed charging petitioner with payment of the petitioners obligation with Olvis. The
violation of B.P. Blg. 22 on September 16, 1993, the latter deposited the check on October 1, 1991 in his
accusatory portion of which reads: account with the BPI-Family Bank, Dipolog City
Branch, but the drawee bank dishonored the check for
On or about September 30, 1991, at Dipolog City, the reason Drawn Against Insufficient Funds stamped
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this on the dorsal portion of the check. Olvis testified that
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, knowing when informed that his check was dishonored, the
fully well that he did not have sufficient funds in or petitioner pleaded for time to pay the amount thereof,
credit with the drawee bank, Philippine National Bank, but reneged on his promise. Olvis then filed a criminal
Dipolog Branch, did then and there willfully, unlawfully complaint against the petitioner for violation of B.P.
and feloniously make, draw, issue and deliver to one Blg. 22 on September 4, 1992, docketed as I.S. No. 92-368.
RICKY OLVIS, in payment of his obligation to the latter, The petitioner again offered to repay Olvis the amount
PNB Check No. 399967 dated September 30, 1991 in the of the obligation by retrieving the dishonored check and
amount of SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS replacing the same with two other checks: one
(P600,000.00), Philippine Currency, which check, for P400,000.00 and another for P200,000.00 payable to
however, when presented for payment with PNB- Olvis. Taking pity on the petitioner, he agreed. He then
Dipolog Branch, was dishonored and refused payment returned the original copy of the check to the petitioner,
for the reason that it was drawn against insufficient but the latter again failed to make good on his promise
funds, and despite repeated demands made by the and failed to pay the P600,000.00.
private complainant on the accused, the latter, failed to
make good the checks value, to the damage and The prosecution wanted Olvis to identify the
prejudice of RICKY OLVIS in the aforestated amount. petitioner as the drawer of the check, but because of the
latters absence and that of his counsel, the direct
CONTRARY TO LAW.[3] examination on the witness could not be terminated.
The prosecution moved that such direct examination of
Olvis be continued on another date, and that the
When arraigned, the petitioner, assisted by counsel,
petitioner be ordered to appear before the court so that
entered a plea of not guilty.
he could be identified as the drawer of the subject
Page 47 of 187
check. The trial court granted the motion and set the the trial court issued an Order denying the petitioners
continuation of the trial on June 13, 1997. In the motion. The petitioners motion for reconsideration
meantime, the prosecution marked a photocopy of PNB thereon was, likewise, denied by the trial court.
Check No. 399967 as Exhibit A, and the dorsal portion
On January 29, 1996, the trial court rendered
thereof as Exhibit A-1.
judgment convicting the petitioner of the crime
After several postponements at the instance of the charged. The fallo of the decision reads:
petitioner, he and his counsel failed to appear before
the court for continuation of trial. They again failed to WHEREFORE, finding the guilt of the accused
appear when the case was called for continuation of established beyond reasonable doubt, the herein
trial on November 21, 1995. The prosecution offered in accused, Engr. Bayani Magdayao is convicted of the
evidence the photocopy of PNB Check No. 399967, which crime charged against him for Violation of Batas
the court admitted. The trial court, thereafter, issued an Pambansa Bilang 22, as principal by direct
Order declaring the case submitted for decision.[4] The participation, and pursuant to Section 1 thereof
petitioner filed a motion for a reconsideration of the sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for a
Order, which the trial court denied on January 26, 1996. period of six (6) months of arresto mayor and to pay the
costs. The accused is further ordered to pay the private
The petitioner then filed an Omnibus Supplemental
complainant the sum of P600,000.00 corresponding to
Motion and to Allow Him to Adduce Evidence
his obligation due to the private offended party.
alleging, inter alia, that:
SO ORDERED.[6]
h) Despite the absence of the original, with only a xerox
copy of the PNB Check worth P600,000.00, and further
On appeal to the Court of Appeals, the petitioner
stressing that the same was paid, the prosecutor
assigned the following errors:
insisted, against the vigorous objection of accused, in
filing the case in Court. Plenty of water passed under I
the bridge since then;[5]
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE
In its Opposition to the said motion, the prosecution ACCUSED OF THE CRIME CHARGED SOLELY ON THE
averred that it dispensed with the presentation of the BASIS OF THE FOLLOWING EVIDENCE:
original of the dishonored check because the same had
been returned to the petitioner. It also pointed out that A. MACHINE OR PHOTOSTATIC COPY OF
the petitioner failed to object to the presentation of the PNB CHECK NO. 399967 DATED
photocopy of the dishonored check. SEPTEMBER 30, 1991;
In a Special Manifestation, the petitioner insisted
that the photocopy of the subject check was B. WORD DAIF AT THE BACK OF THE
inadmissible in evidence because of the prosecutions PHOTOSTATIC COPY OF SAID CHECK;
failure to produce the original thereof. On July 8, 1996,

Page 48 of 187
C. UNCORROBORATED ORAL TESTIMONY On the first three assignments of error, the
OF PRIVATE COMPLAINANT. petitioner avers that the prosecution failed to prove his
guilt beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged
II because of the following: (a) the photocopy of PNB
Check No. 399967, adduced in evidence by the
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE prosecution, is inadmissible in evidence under Rule 129,
ACCUSED WITHOUT HIM BEING POSITIVELY Section 1 of the Revised Rules of Evidence; hence, has
IDENTIFIED BY THE COMPLAINANT OR OTHER no probative weight; b) the prosecution failed to present
WITNESS. the BPI-Family Bank teller to testify on the presentment
of PNB Check No. 399967 and the dishonor thereof; and
III (c) the prosecution failed to prove that it was he who
drew and delivered the dishonored check to the private
THE LOWER COURT ERRED WHEN IT RENDERED complainant, and that he was properly notified of the
THE DECISION WITH ALLEGED FINDINGS OF FACTS dishonor of the said check. The petitioner also asserts
NOT SUFFICIENTLY SUPPORTED BY EVIDENCE. that there was no legal basis for the award of the
amount of P6,000.00 as civil indemnity.
IV We rule against the petitioner.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN AWARDING CIVIL Section 1 of B.P. Blg. 22 for which the petitioner was
INDEMNITY TO PRIVATE COMPLAINANT IN THE charged, reads:
AMOUNT OF SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS.[7]
Section 1. Checks without sufficient funds. Any person
On December 21, 2001, the CA rendered judgment who makes or draws and issues any check to apply on
affirming the decision of the trial court. The appellate account or for value, knowing at the time of issue that he
court also denied the petitioners motion for does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the
reconsideration. drawee bank for the payment of such in full upon
presentment, which check is subsequently dishonored by
In his petition at bar, the petitioner merely the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or
reiterates the errors he ascribed to the RTC in his would have been dishonored for the same reason had not
appeal before the CA, and prays that the decisions of the the drawer without any valid reason, ordered the bank to
trial and appellate courts be set aside. stop payment, shall be punished by imprisonment of not
less than thirty (30) days but not more than one (1) year
or by a fine of not less than but not more than double the
The Ruling of the Court amount of the check which fine shall in no case exceed
Two Hundred Thousand Pesos, or both such fine and
imprisonment at the discretion of the court.
The petition has no merit.

Page 49 of 187
To warrant the petitioners conviction of the crime drawee of such check within five (5) banking days after
charged, the prosecution was burdened to prove the receiving notice that such check has not been paid by
following essential elements thereof: the drawee.

(1) The making, drawing and issuance of any check to We agree with the petitioner that it was incumbent
apply for account or for value; upon the prosecution to adduce in evidence the original
copy of PNB Check No. 399967 to prove the contents
(2) The knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that thereof, more specifically the names of the drawer and
at the time of issue he does not have sufficient funds in endorsee, the date and amount and the dishonor
or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such thereof, as well as the reason for such dishonor. Section
check in full upon its presentment; and 3, Rule 129 of the Revised Rules on Evidence specifically
provides that when the subject of inquiry is the contents
(3) The subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee of the document, no evidence shall be admissible other
bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or dishonor for than the original thereof. The purpose of the rule
the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid requiring the production by the offeror of the best
cause, ordered the bank to stop payment.[8] evidence is the prevention of fraud, because if a party is
in possession of such evidence and withholds it and
The gravamen of the offense is the act of making or presents inferior or secondary evidence in its place, the
issuing a worthless check or a check that is dishonored presumption is that the latter evidence is withheld from
upon presentment for payment.[9] As to the second the court and the adverse party for a fraudulent or
element, knowledge on the part of the maker or drawer devious purpose which its production would expose and
of the check of the insufficiency of the funds in or credit defeat.[10] As long as the original evidence can be had,
with the bank to cover the check upon its presentment the court should not receive in evidence that which is
refers to the state of mind of the drawer; hence, it is substitutionary in nature, such as photocopies, in the
difficult for the prosecution to prove. The law creates absence of any clear showing that the original writing
a prima facie knowledge on the insufficiency of funds or has been lost or destroyed or cannot be produced in
credit, coincidental with the attendance of the two other court. Such photocopies must be disregarded, being
elements. As such, Section 2 provides: inadmissible evidence and barren of probative
weight.[11]
SEC. 2. Evidence of knowledge of insufficient funds. The Furthermore, under Section 3(b), Rule 130 of the
making, drawing and issuance of a check payment of said Rules, secondary evidence of a writing may be
which is refused by the drawee because of insufficient admitted when the original is in the custody or under
funds in or credit with such bank, when presented the control of the party against whom the evidence is
within ninety (90) days from the date of the check, shall offered, and the latter fails to produce it after
be prima facie evidence of knowledge of such reasonable notice. To warrant the admissibility of
insufficiency of funds or credit unless such maker or secondary evidence when the original of a writing is in
drawer pays the holder thereof the amount due thereon, the custody or control of the adverse party, Section 6 of
or makes arrangements for payment in full by the Rule 130 provides that the adverse party must be given
Page 50 of 187
reasonable notice, that he fails or refuses to produce the A Yes, Sir.
same in court and that the offeror offers satisfactory
Q What was the transaction about?
proof of its existence:
A It was about our joint venture in Ipil.
When original document is in adverse partys custody or
control. If the document is in the custody or under the Q What did the accused in this case issue to you?
control of the adverse party, he must have reasonable A He issued me a check worth six hundred
notice to produce it. If after such notice and after thousand pesos (P600,000.00).
satisfactory proof of its existence, he fails to produce the
document, secondary evidence may be presented as in Q If the photostatic copy of the check [would] be
the case of its loss. presented to you, would you be able to
identify it?
The mere fact that the original of the writing is in A Yes, Sir.
the custody or control of the party against whom it is
offered does not warrant the admission of secondary Q I am showing to you a photostatic copy of PNB
evidence. The offeror must prove that he has done all in Dipolog Branch Check # 399967 with a
his power to secure the best evidence by giving notice to maturity date on September 30, 1991 in the
the said party to produce the document.[12] The notice amount of six hundred thousand pesos
may be in the form of a motion for the production of the (P600,000.00), is this the check issued to you?
original or made in open court in the presence of the A Yes, Sir.
adverse party or via a subpoena duces tecum, provided
that the party in custody of the original has sufficient Q Here is a signature at the bottom corner of
time to produce the same. When such party has the this check, whose signature is this?
original of the writing and does not voluntarily offer to A Bayani Magdayao[s].
produce it or refuses to produce it, secondary evidence
may be admitted.[13] Q In other words, this check was issued for a
valuable consideration in connection with
In this case, Olvis, the private complainant, testified the project you have in Ipil?
that after the check was dishonored by the drawee bank
for insufficiency of funds, he returned it to the A Yes, Sir.
petitioner upon the latters offer to pay the amount of Q What did you do with the check?
the check by drawing and issuing two checks, one
for P400,000.00 and the other for P200,000.00. However, A I deposited this in BPI-Family Bank, but it was
the petitioner still failed to satisfy his obligation to drawn against insufficient fund.
Olvis:
Q When did you deposit the check?
Q Sometime in the month of May 1991, do you
A Sometime in October.
remember that (sic) you have any
transaction with the accused? Q October, what year?
Page 51 of 187
A In 1991, Sir. Q It appears that this is merely a photostatic
copy of the check, where is the original of
Q Within a reasonable period from the maturity
the check?
date of the check, you caused it to be
deposited? A Magdayao replaced the original check worth
six hundred thousand pesos (P600,000.00),
A Yes, Sir.
and he gave me another check worth four
Q And this check was dishonored by the hundred thousand pesos (P400,000.00) and
depository bank, that the account to which it two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00).
was drawn does not have sufficient fund, is
Q At the time the accused in this case replaced
that indicated in this check?
this check worth six hundred thousand
A Yes, Sir. (P600,000.00), was the case already pending
before the City Fiscals Office or before this
Q Where is that indication of dishonor for lack of Honorable Court?
sufficient fund?
A Yes, Sir, it is pending.
A Here, Sir.
Q Until now the amount of six hundred thousand
INTERPRETER: Witness pointing to the check. pesos (P600,000.00) has not been paid to you?
ATTY. CO: A Yes, Sir.[14]
We pray, Your Honor, that the photostatic copy In his Motion to Suspend Proceedings in the trial
of the check be marked as Exhibit A. The court, the petitioner admitted that he received the
reason why it was dishonored, found at the original copy of the dishonored check from the private
back of this check, indicated as DAIF complainant[15] and that he caused the non-payment of
meaning to say: Drawn Against Insufficient the dishonored check.[16] The petitioner cannot feign
Fund be marked as Exhibit A-1. ignorance of the need for the production of the original
Q After being informed that the check was copy of PNB Check No. 399967, and the fact that the
dishonored by the drawee bank, what did prosecution was able to present in evidence only a
you do? photocopy thereof because the original was in his
possession. In fact, in the Omnibus Supplemental Motion
A I went to Magdayaos house and asked for dated February 8, 1996, and in his Special Manifestation
payment but he refused to pay. filed on May 28, 1996, the petitioner complained of the
Q When you say Magdayao, are you referring to prosecutions violation of the best evidence rule. The
the accused in this case, Bayani Magdayao? petitioner, however, never produced the original of the
check, much less offered to produce the same. The
A Yes, Sir. petitioner deliberately withheld the original of the
check as a bargaining chip for the court to grant him an
opportunity to adduce evidence in his defense, which he
Page 52 of 187
failed to do following his numerous unjustified The trial court issued an Order on June 7, 1995,
postponements as shown by the records. directing the petitioner, under pain of contempt, to
appear before it to enable Olvis to identify him:
There was no longer a need for the prosecution to
present as witness the employee of the drawee bank
After the declaration of the first and only witness for
who made the notation at the dorsal portion of the
the prosecution, the private prosecutor prayed to set
dishonored check[17] to testify that the same was
the case for continuation of the trial, and ordering the
dishonored for having been drawn against insufficient
defendant to appear to allow the prosecution to
funds. The petitioner had already been informed of such
establish his identity.
fact of dishonor and the reason therefor when Olvis
returned the original of the check to him. In fact, as
Set the case for continuation of the trial on June 13,
shown by the testimony of Olvis, the petitioner drew
1995, ordering the accused to appear personally for
and issued two other separate checks, one
purposes of his identification in court under pain of
for P400,000.00 and the other for P200,000.00, to replace
contempt if he fails to comply unjustifiably with this
the dishonored check.
order. The defense shall be allowed to cross examine the
Because of his dilatory tactics, the petitioner failed witness for the prosecution if desired, otherwise, his
to adduce evidence to overcome that of the right of cross-examination shall be considered waived
prosecutions. completely.
The petitioners contention that Olvis failed to
SO ORDERED.[19]
identify him as the drawer of the subject check is
nettlesome. It bears stressing that Olvis was ready to
identify the petitioner after his direct examination, but The petitioner defied the Order of the court and
the latter and his counsel inexplicably failed to appear. failed to appear as directed, and as gleaned from the
The direct examination of Olvis had to be continued to records
enable him to point to and identify the petitioner as the
drawer of the check. This is shown by the transcript of (14) June 7, 1995 The accused and counsel did not
the stenographic notes taken during the trial, viz: appear; hence, the prosecution was allowed to present
its evidence ex-parte. The private complainant was
ATTY. CO: presented to testify in the direct-examination, reserving
the right of cross-examination on the part of the
accused, and setting the case for the purpose on June
Considering that the accused is not present, Your
13, 1995.
Honor, I would like to manifest that the private
offended party be given the opportunity to identify the
accused for purposes of this case.[18] (15) June 13, 1995 The accused did not appear, but the
defense counsel requested for a resetting of the cross-
examination to be conducted. The request was granted
over the objection of the prosecution, and set the
continuation of the trial to August 31, 1995.
Page 53 of 187
(16) August 31, 1995 As in previous occasions, the thereof, the promulgation of the judgment set on
accused did not appear and defense counsel requested February 19, 1996, was held in abeyance.
for another resetting, and despite the vigorous
opposition by the prosecution, the trial was postponed (21) The defense counsel filed a motion to withdraw as
to October 3, 1995, with the understanding that if the counsel for the accused dated February 27, 1996, and
accused will not appear, it would be taken to mean that which was granted by the order of the court dated
he waived his right to cross-examination and to present March 1, 1996.
evidence in his defense.
[(22)] May 28, 1996 A Special Manifestation dated May
(17) October 3, 1995 Atty. Narciso Barbaso appeared as a 21, 1996 in support of the Omnibus Supplemental Motion
new counsel for the accused but requested that he be filed thru another lawyer appearing as a new counsel
allowed to read first the transcript of the direct for the accused, now under consideration.[20]
testimony of the plaintiffs witness to be cross-examined.
The request was granted, and the trial was reset to Contrary to the petitioners claim, the trial court did
November 21, 1995. not award P6,000.00 as civil indemnity in favor of Olvis;
it ordered the petitioner to pay him P600,000.00, the
(18) November 21, 1995 The accused and his counsel amount of the subject check. Having failed to pay the
both did not appear. The prosecution formally offered amount of the check, the petitioner is liable therefor
Exh. A in evidence, and upon its admission, the and should be ordered to pay the same to the private
prosecution rested its case, and prayed that as stated in complainant in this case.[21]
the previous order of the court dated August 31, 1995,
the case shall be considered submitted for judgment, On the second assigned error, the petitioner faulted
which request was granted. the trial court for imposing a penalty of imprisonment
instead of a penalty of fine, and cites SC Circular No. 12-
2000 to bolster his contention. He suggests that since he
(19) December 7, 1995 The defense filed a motion for
is merely a first offender, he should be sentenced to pay
reconsideration of the order dated November 21, 1995.
a fine double the amount of the check.
The court required the defense to file a supplemental
motion stating the nature of its evidence to be presented The Office of the Solicitor General, on the other
if allowed to enable the court to determine the merit of hand, objects to the petitioners plea on the ground that
the motion for reconsideration, but despite the lapsed when the latter drew and issued the dishonored check
(sic) of the period set by the court, the accused did not to the private complainant, he knew that the residue of
comply; hence, the denial of the motion for his funds in the drawee bank was insufficient to pay the
reconsideration, and set the case for promulgation of amount thereof.
the judgment on February 19, 1996.
Considering the facts and circumstances attendant
in this case, we find the petitioners plea to be barren of
(20) Then came the Omnibus Supplemental Motion, etc.,
merit. Administrative Circular No. 13-2001 provides:
by the accused dated February 8, 1996, and by reason

Page 54 of 187
It is, therefore, understood that:

1. Administrative Circular 12-2000 does not remove


imprisonment as an alternative penalty for violations of
BP 22;

2. The Judges concerned may, in the exercise of sound


discretion, and taking into consideration the peculiar
circumstances of each case, determine whether the
imposition of a fine alone would best serve the interest
of justice, or whether forbearing to impose
imprisonment would depreciate the seriousness of the
offense, work violence on the social order, or otherwise
be contrary to the imperatives of justice;

3. Should only a fine be imposed and the accused be


unable to pay the fine, there is no legal obstacle to the
application of the Revised Penal Code on subsidiary
imprisonment.[22]

The records show that despite the numerous


opportunities given to him by the trial court, the
petitioner refused to adduce any evidence in his behalf.
Moreover, the Court of Appeals found the petitioners
appeal to be devoid of merit. Considering the factual
milieu in this case, there is every reason for the Court to
reject the plea for a penalty of fine and maintain the
penalty of imprisonment the trial court imposed on the
petitioner.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is
DENIED DUE COURSE. The assailed decision of the
Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED. Costs against the
petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

Page 55 of 187
G.R. No. 171702. February 12, 2009.* court while MMC was paying its obligation, even if partially, under
the contracts of sale.
MANILA MINING CORPORATION,
PETITION for review on certiorari of the decision
petitioner, vs.MIGUEL TAN, doing business under
and resolution of the Court of Appeals.
the name and style of MANILA MANDARIN
The facts are stated in the opinion of the
MARKETING, respondent.
Remedial Law; Appeals; Findings of fact of the Court of Appeals Court. Ronald Rex S. Recidoro for petitioner.
especially when they are in agreement with those of the trial court, Bernardo V. Atienza for respondent.
are accorded not only respect but even finality, and are binding on QUISUMBING,** J.:
the Court.—Petitioner poses a question of fact which is beyond this
Court’s power to review. This Court’s jurisdiction is generally
limited to reviewing errors of law that may have been committed by
the Court of Appeals. We reiterate the oft-repeated and fully Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari are the
established rule that findings of fact of the Court of Appeals, Decision[1] dated December 20, 2005 and the
especially when they are in agreement with those of the trial court,
are accorded not only respect but even finality, and are binding on Resolution dated February 24, 2006 of the Court of
[2]

this Court. Barring a showing that the findings complained of were Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 84385. The Court of Appeals
devoid of support, they must stand. For this Court is not expected or
had affirmed the Decision[3] dated October 27, 2004 of
required to examine or refute anew the oral and documentary
evidence submitted by the parties. The trial court, having heard the the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 55, Manila, in
witnesses and observed their demeanor and manner of testifying, is Civil Case No. 01-101786.
admittedly in a better position to assess their credibility. We cannot
weigh again the merits of their testimonies.
Same; Evidence; Best Evidence Rule; Where the existence of the The facts of the case are as follows:
writing or its general purport is all that is in issue, secondary
evidence may be introduced in proof.—As regards respondent’s
failure to present the original documents, suffice it to say that the Miguel Tan, doing business under the name and style of
best evidence rule applies only if the contents of the writing are
directly in issue. Where the existence of the writing or its general Manila Mandarin Marketing, was engaged in the
purport is all that is in issue, secondary evidence may be introduced business of selling electrical materials.
in proof. MMC did not deny the contents of the invoices and
purchase orders. Its lone contention was that Tan did not submit the
original copies to facilitate payment. But we are in agreement that From August 19 to November 26, 1997, Manila
photocopies of the documents were admissible in evidence to prove
the contract of sale between the parties.
Mining Corporation (MMC) ordered and received
Civil Law; Laches; Laches is the neglect to assert a right or various electrical materials from Tan valued
claim which, taken together with lapse of time and other at P2,347,880.MMC agreed to pay the purchase price
circumstances causing prejudice to adverse party, operates as bar in
a court of equity.—Neither is there merit to petitioner’s contention within 30 days from delivery, or be charged interest of
that respondent was guilty of delay in filing the collection case. A 18% per annum, and in case of suit to collect the same, to
careful examination of the records shows that Tan brought suit
pay attorneys fees equal to 25% of the claim.[4]
against MMC less than a year after the latter stopped making partial
payments. Tan is, therefore, not guilty of laches. Laches is the
neglect to assert a right or claim which, taken together with lapse of
time and other circumstances causing prejudice to adverse party,
MMC made partial payments in the amount
operates as bar in a court of equity. Here, Tan had no reason to go to of P464,636. But despite repeated demands, it failed to
Page 56 of 187
give the remaining balance of P1,883,244, which was acknowledgment of my/our receipt of
covered by nine invoices.[5] goods.[10]

On September 3, 2001, Tan filed a collection suit against On October 27, 2004, the RTC ruled for Tan. Its
MMC at the Manila RTC.[6] ruling stated as follows:

After Tan completed presenting evidence, MMC filed a WHEREFORE, premises considered,
judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the
Demurrer to Evidence.[7] On December 18, 2003, the RTC
plaintiff, and against the defendant,
issued an Order, denying the demurrer and directing ordering the defendant to pay the principal
MMC to present evidence.[8] amount of ONE MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED
EIGHTY-THREE THOUSAND TWO
MMC offered as sole witness Rainier Ibarrola, its HUNDRED FORTY-FOUR PESOS
(P1,883,244.00), with interest thereon at the
accountant from year 2000 to 2002. Ibarrola confirmed
rate of eighteen [percent] (18%) per annum
that it was standard office procedure for a supplier to
starting after thirty (30) days from each date
present the original sales invoice and purchase order of delivery of the merchandise sold until
when claiming to be paid. He testified that the absence of finality hereof, and thereafter, at the rate of
stamp marks on the invoices and purchase orders negated twelve percent (12%) per annum, and the
receipt of said documents by MMCs representatives.[9] further sum equal to [twenty five percent]
(25%) of the principal amount as liquidated
damages.
On rebuttal, Tan presented Wally de los Santos, his sales
representative in charge of MMCs account. De SO ORDERED.[11]
los Santos testified that he delivered the originals of the
invoices and purchase orders to MMCs accounting
department. As proof, he showed three customers On November 30, 2004, MMC moved for
acknowledgment receipts bearing the notation: reconsideration, but its motion was denied by the RTC
in an Order dated January 5, 2005.
I/We signed below to signify my/our
receipt of your statement of account with
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the
you for the period and the amount stated
RTCs decision. The decretal portion of the Court of
below, together with the corresponding
original copies of the invoices, purchase Appeals Decision dated December 20, 2005 reads:
order and requisition slip attached for WHEREFORE, premises considered,
purpose of verification, bearing the appeal is DENIED. The Decision of the

Page 57 of 187
RTC dated October 27, 2004 is such party may refuse to proceed with the
hereby AFFIRMED. contract or he may waive performance of
the condition.
SO ORDERED.[12]

Petitioner also assails the probative value of the


Hence, this petition, which raises as sole issue: documentary evidence presented during trial. MMC
claims that the unauthenticated photocopies of invoices
WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONERS
OBLIGATION TO PAY HAD ALREADY and purchase orders did not satisfy the Best Evidence
LEGALLY ACCRUED CONSIDERING THAT Rule,[14] which requires the production of the original
RESPONDENT HAS NOT FULLY writing in court. It adds that by Tans failure to yield the
COMPLIED WITH ALL THE original documents, he was presumed to have suppressed
PREREQUISITES FOR PAYMENT evidence under Section 3(e),[15] Rule 131 of the Rules of
IMPOSED UNDER PETITIONERS Court.
PURCHASE ORDERS, THERE BEING NO
PROOF THAT RESPONDENT
HAD ACTUALLY DONE SO. [13] In its Memorandum dated February 20,
2007, [16] petitioner refutes any liability altogether,
denying that it consented to the sale. MMC maintains
Simply stated, we are now called upon to address that the unmarked documents indicated a mere offer to
the question of whether MMC should pay for the sell, which it did not act upon. MMC also charges Tan
electrical materials despite its allegation that Tan failed with laches for filing his claim nearly four years after
to comply with certain requisites for payment. the transaction.

Petitioner contends that respondents claim for In his Memorandum dated January 30,
payment was premature inasmuch as the original 2007,[17] respondent Tan counters that the petition
invoices and purchase orders were not sent to its presents a factual issue which has already been settled
accounting department. Consequently, Tans claims by the Court of Appeals. He stresses that findings of fact
were not verified and processed. MMC believes that by the appellate court are conclusive on the Supreme
mere delivery of the goods did not automatically give Court and only questions of law may be entertained by
rise to its obligation to pay. It relies on Article 1545 of it.
the Civil Code to justify its refusal to pay:
After serious consideration, we are in agreement that
ART. 1545. Where the obligation of
the petition lacks merit.
either party to a contract of sale is subject
to any condition which is not performed,
Page 58 of 187
Petitioner poses a question of fact which is beyond this the provisions of the law governing the form
Courts power to review. This Courts jurisdiction is of contracts.
generally limited to reviewing errors of law that may
have been committed by the Court of Appeals. We In this case, the purchase orders constituted accepted
reiterate the oft-repeated and fully established rule that offers when Tan supplied the electrical materials to
findings of fact of the Court of Appeals, especially when MMC.[19] Hence, petitioner cannot evade its obligation to
they are in agreement with those of the trial court, are pay by claiming lack of consent to the perfected
accorded not only respect but even finality, and are contracts of sale. The invoices furnished the details of
binding on this Court. Barring a showing that the the transactions.
findings complained of were devoid of support, they must
stand. For this Court is not expected or required to As regards respondents failure to present the
examine or refute anew the oral and documentary original documents, suffice it to say that the best
evidence submitted by the parties.The trial court, having evidence rule applies only if the contents of the writing
heard the witnesses and observed their demeanor and are directly in issue. Where the existence of the writing
manner of testifying, is admittedly in a better position to or its general purport is all that is in issue, secondary
assess their credibility.[18] We cannot weigh again the evidence may be introduced in proof.[20] MMC did not
merits of their testimonies. deny the contents of the invoices and purchase
orders. Its lone contention was that Tan did not submit
Having thoroughly reviewed the records of this case, we the original copies to facilitate payment. But we are in
find no persuasive much less compelling reason to agreement that photocopies of the documents were
overturn the findings and conclusions of the trial court admissible in evidence to prove the contract of sale
and appellate court. We hereby sustain their findings between the parties.
and conclusions.
Neither is there merit to petitioners contention
Worth stressing, Article 1475 of the Civil Code provides that respondent was guilty of delay in filing the
the manner by which a contract of sale is perfected: collection case. A careful examination of the records
shows that Tan brought suit against MMC less than a
ART. 1475. The contract of sale is
year after the latter stopped making partial
perfected at the moment there is a meeting
of minds upon the thing which is the object payments. Tan is, therefore, not guilty of laches.
of the contract and upon the price.
Laches is the neglect to assert a right or claim
From that moment, the parties may which, taken together with lapse of time and other
reciprocally demand performance, subject to
circumstances causing prejudice to adverse party,
Page 59 of 187
operates as bar in a court of equity.[21] Here, Tan had no
reason to go to court while MMC was paying its
obligation, even if partially, under the contracts of sale.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of


merit. The Decision dated December 20, 2005 and
Resolution dated February 24, 2006 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 84385 are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Page 60 of 187
G.R. No. 132214. August 1, 2000. * evidence, i.e., an eyewitness account of the commission
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff- of the crime. There are instances, however, when a
appellee, vs. ZALDY CASINGAL, accused-appellant. witness may not have actually seen the very act of
Criminal Law; Murder; Evidence; Presidential commission of a crime, but he may still be able to
Decree No. 1866; The amendment in Republic Act No. identify the accused as the perpetrator as when the
8294 was that if homicide or murder is committed with latter is the person or one of the persons last seen with
the use of an unlicensed firearm, such use shall be the victim immediately before and right after the
considered as a special aggravating circumstance.—On commission of the crime. In this case, the positive
June 6, 1997, Republic Act 8294 amended P.D. 1866 identification forms part of circumstantial evidence,
which codified the laws on illegal possession of which, when taken together with other pieces of
firearms. Among its amendments was that if homicide or evidence constituting an unbroken chain, leads to a fair
murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed and reasonable conclusion that the accused is the
firearm, such use shall be considered as a special author of the crime to the exclusion of all others.
aggravating circumstance. The amendment meant: first, Otherwise, if circumstantial evidence could not be
the use of an unlicensed firearm in the commission of resorted to in proving the identity of the accused when
homicide or murder shall not be treated as a separate direct evidence is not available, then felons would go
offense, but as a special aggravating circumstance; scot-free and the community would be denied proper
second, as a single crime, is ommitted (i.e., homicide or protection.
murder with the aggravating circumstance of illegal Same; Same; Same; Requisites in order that
possession of firearm), only one penalty shall be circumstantial evidence may sustain the conviction of an
imposed on the accused. accused.—The rules on evidence and jurisprudence
Same; Same; Same; Same; Being favorable to the sustain the conviction of an accused through
accused, Republic Act 8294 should thus be retroactively circumstantial evidence when the following requisites
applied in the present case.—This Court has previously concur: (1) there must be more than one circumstance;
ruled that R.A. 8294 is favorable to the accused, and (2) the inference must be based on proven facts; and (3)
should thus be retroactively applied in the present case. the combination of all circumstances produces a
It was thus error for the trial court to convict the conviction beyond doubt of the guilt of the accused.
accused of two separate offenses, i.e., Murder and Illegal Same; Same; Same; It is well-settled that where there
Possession of Firearm and Ammunitions. The crime for is no evidence that the witness against the accused was
which the accused may be charged is murder, actuated by any improper motive, and absent any
aggravated by illegal possession of firearm. compelling reason to conclude otherwise, his testimony
Same; Same; Same; Positive identification requires will be given full faith and credit.—The trial court noted
essentially proof of identity and not per se an eyewitness in its decision that the testimony of Cruz was “. . . direct,
account of the very act of committing the crime.— frank, unfaltering and straight-forward . . . His
Positive identification requires essentially proof of testimony bore ‘the marks of truth and sincerity,’ having
identity and not per se an eyewitness account of the been delivered spontaneously, naturally and in
very act of committing the crime. A witness may identify straightforward manner.” It also found that there is “. . .
an accused as the perpetrator of the crime by direct nothing in the records which would show any base

Page 61 of 187
motive or vile reason on the part of the witness to Must a man be brought behind bars when no one
falsely implicate the herein accused.” It is well-settled saw him pull the trigger of the carbine that felled his
that where there is no evidence that the witness against fellowman?
the accused was actuated by any improper motive, and
In Criminal Case No. SCC-2411, the accused-
absent any compelling reason to conclude otherwise, his
appellant was charged with the crime of Murder in an
testimony will be given full faith and credit.
Information which states:
Same; Same; Same; Qualifying
Circumstance; Treachery; Requisites to prove
treachery.—To prove treachery, the following must be "That on or about May 8, 1995, in Barangay Sawat,
shown: (1) the employment of means of execution that municipality of Urbiztondo, province of Pangasinan,
gives the person attacked no opportunity to defend Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
himself or to retaliate; and (2) the deliberate and Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with intent
conscious adoption of the means of execution. It is also to kill, with treachery and evident premeditation, did
the running case law that where treachery is alleged, then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
the manner of attack must be proven. Without any shoot one Diosdado Palisoc with a U.S. Carbine cal. 30
particulars as to the manner in which the aggression inflicting upon him the following injuries:
commenced or how the act which resulted in the
victim’s death unfolded, treachery cannot be -Gunshot wound on the left chest
appreciated.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Evident POE: 0.5 cm., anterior shoulder
Premeditation; Requisites to prove evident
premeditation.—There is evident premeditation when POX: 0.5 cm. 5th ICS-L paravertebral line
the following facts are proven: (1) the time when the
accused decided to commit the crime; (2) an overt act - Hypovolemic shock
showing that the accused clung to his determination to
commit the crime; and (3) the lapse of sufficient period which caused the death of said Diosdado Palisoc as a
of time between the decision and the execution of the consequence, to the damage and prejudice of his heirs.
crime, to allow the accused to reflect upon the
consequences of his act. Contrary to Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code:"[1]

APPEAL from a decision of the Regional Trial Court of In Criminal Case No. 2412, he was likewise charged
San Carlos City, Pangasinan, Br. 57. with the crime of Illegal Possession of Firearm and
Ammunition. The Information states:
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee. "That on or about May 8, 1995, in Barangay Sawat,
Public Attorney’s Office for accused-appellant. municipality of Urbiztondo, province of Pangasinan,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
PUNO, J.: Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then

Page 62 of 187
and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in An investigation team was dispatched to the crime
his possession, custody and control one (1) U.S. Carbine scene where some bloodstains, a fired bullet caliber .30
caliber 30 with ammunition, without first securing the and fired caliber .30 cartridge were found.[13] On May 9,
necessary permit and license to possess the same, which 1995, the accused was arrested in the house of one Mimi
he used in the commission of the crime of Murder. Payaoan in Barangay Salavante, Urbiztondo,
Pangasinan. On the same day, pursuant to a search
Contrary to P.D. 1866.[2] warrant, one (1) carbine caliber .30 with serial number
5611988 with one long magazine and 30 rounds of live
The accused pled not guilty to both crimes. Trial ammunition were found in the house of Francisca
proceeded in due course. Galpao.[14] The firearm with the magazine and
ammunitions, as well as the fired bullet and cartridge
The facts of the shooting incident are based mainly were submitted for ballistic examination conducted by
on the narration of prosecution witness Edgardo Mula Police Inspector Pascual G. Mangal-ip.[15]
Cruz. It appears that on the May 8, 1995 local elections,
at about 8:15 p.m., Cruz was near the gate of Sawat Police Inspector Mangal-ip testified that the fired
Elementary School in Barangay Sawat, Urbiztondo, cartridge and slug found at the crime scene were the
Pangasinan, waiting for Palisoc, the victim.[3] Palisoc same with the cartridge and slug found in the house of
went home to get food or "baon" for Cruz and Francisca Galpao and test-fired from the carbine
himself.[4] Cruz was talking with his friends and facing submitted for ballistic examination. He concluded that
the road when he saw Palisoc coming.[5] He heard a the cartridge and slug found at the crime scene came
gunshot, and when he turned his head towards its from carbine caliber .30 with serial number
direction, he saw Palisoc facing the accused and falling 5611988.[16] Chief Inspector Theresa Ann Bugayong Cid
to the ground. Carrying a U.S. carbine caliber .30, the also testified that the paraffin test on the presence of
accused ran towards the house of one Francisca gunpowder nitrates on the hands of the accused and on
Galpao.[6] The area where the shooting incident took said carbine caliber .30 yielded positive results.[17]
place was lighted by an electric bulb near the school
The version of the defense was presented through
gate. Cruz stood seven meters from both the victim and
the sole testimony of the accused. He did not dispute
the accused whom he (Cruz) knew personally as they
that the victim was shot on the night of May 8, 1995 with
were neighbors.[7] After the accused left the crime scene,
the use of carbine caliber .30 with serial number
Cruz sought assistance from the policemen assigned at
5611988.[18] Nor did he deny his presence at the crime
the Sawat Elementary School for the elections.[8] One of
scene.[19] He, however, pointed to another person as the
the policemen brought Palisoc to the Virgen Milagrosa
triggerman.
Medical Hospital.[9] Palisoc expired in the operating
room, the gunshot wound on his chest causing his The accused testified that on May 3, 1995, while in
death.[10] Cruz returned to the Sawat school to act as Baguio City, he received a letter from a certain Ernesto
pollwatcher.[11] The following day, he executed an Payaoan, requesting him to go to Urbiztondo,
affidavit narrating the shooting incident.[12] Pangasinan to help in the local elections.[20] The accused
obliged and arrived in Urbiztondo on May 7, 1995. He
spent the night in the house of Francisca Galpao.[21] The
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next morning, Payaoan came and instructed the accused the accused confided to him that it was Payaoan who
to clean carbine caliber .30 with serial number 5611988 shot Palisoc.[32]
and to fire it to test its condition. The accused did as
The trial court found the accused guilty beyond
instructed and then gave the firearm back to
reasonable doubt of both Murder and Illegal Possession
Payaoan.[22] He asked Payaoan why the gun was being
of Firearm and Ammunitions.[33] Hence, this appeal with
tested and Payaoan revealed that he would kill
the lone assignment of error, viz:
Diosdado Palisoc. The accused tried to stop Payaoan as
Palisoc was his second cousin, but to no avail.[23]
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING
On May 8, 1995, at about 7:30 in the evening, the ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF MURDER AND VIOLATION
accused and Payaoan went to Sawat Elementary OF P.D. 1866 DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE
School. Payaoan brought the carbine with him.[24] When PROSECUTION FAILED TO SUBSTANTIATE HIS
they saw Palisoc, Payaoan shot the victim and passed GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
the firearm to the accused. He ordered the accused to
run and bring the gun to the house of Francisca Prefatorily, we shall discuss the applicable law. On
Galpao.[25] His story was reduced to an affidavit which June 6, 1997, Republic Act 8294 amended P.D. 1866
he executed about seven (7) months after the shooting which codified the laws on illegal possession of
incident or on December 20, 1995.[26] On January 25, firearms. Among its amendments was that if homicide or
1996, he executed another affidavit[27]retracting his murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed
December 20, 1995 affidavit. On February 13, 1996, he firearm, such use shall be considered as a special
made another affidavit[28] recanting his second aggravating circumstance.[34] The amendment
affidavit. The accused likewise claimed that while in meant: first, the use of an unlicensed firearm in the
detention in the Municipal Jail of Urbiztondo, commission of homicide or murder shall not be treated
Pangasinan, he confided to SPO1 Teofilo Garcia that it as a separate offense, but as a special aggravating
was Payaoan who killed Palisoc.[29] circumstance; second, as a single crime is committed
(i.e., homicide or murder with the aggravating
Payaoan testified as a rebuttal witness. He declared
circumstance of illegal possession of firearm), only one
that on May 7 and 8, 1995, he was at the Regional PNP
penalty shall be imposed on the accused.[35]
Command on standby detail because they were on red
alert for election duties.[30] At that time, he was a In its Joint Decision, the trial court convicted the
member of the General Services Group, PNP Recom 1, accused of murder and illegal possession of firearm and
San Fernando, La Union. He buttressed his claim with a ammunitions. It stressed that R.A. 8294 cannot be given
certification that on May 6-9, 1995, he was in the camp retroactive effect for it was enacted in 1997 while the
vicinity in San Fernando, La Union for election crimes charged against the accused were committed in
duties.[31] 1995. It held that to give R.A. 8294 retroactive effect
The prosecution likewise presented SPO1 Teofilo would be prejudicial to the accused and violative of Art.
III, Sec. 22 of the 1987 Constitution which provides that,
Garcia. He confirmed that the accused was a detention
"(n)o ex-post facto law or bill of attainder shall be
prisoner in the Municipal Jail of Urbiztondo,
enacted."[36]
Pangasinan from May up to June 1995, but denied that
Page 64 of 187
We disagree. This Court has previously ruled that proceeded (sic) to the house of Ating Galpaw (sic)
R.A. 8294 is favorable to the accused, and should thus be after Diosdado Palisoc was shot?
retroactively applied in the present case.[37] It was thus
A. There was an electric bulb near the gate, sir.
error for the trial court to convict the accused of two
separate offenses, i.e., Murder and Illegal Possession of Q. How far were you to (sic) Zaldy Casingal when you
Firearm and Ammunitions. The crime for which the saw him holding a firearm proceeding to the
accused may be charged is murder, aggravated by house of Ating Galpaw?
illegal possession of firearm.
A. About seven (7) meters, sir.
We now examine the evidence to determine the guilt
of the accused. The accused makes much of the fact that Q. And how far were you to (sic) Diosdado Palisoc
no one saw him in the act of shooting. It is true that when he was shot?
there was no eyewitness to the shooting of the victim, A. The same, sir.[39]
but the testimony of prosecution witness Cruz is
sufficient to convict the accused as responsible for the xxx
death of Palisoc. He stated in his affidavit executed the Q. You mentioned Zaldy Casingal as a person whom
day after the shooting incident, viz: you saw carrying a firearm/carbine after
"Q. Do you know who shot Diosdado Palisoc? Diosdado Palisoc was shot, do you know this
Zaldy Casingal personally?
A. Yes sir, Zaldy Casingal also resident of Barangay
Salavante, Urbiztondo, Pangasinan.[38] A. Yes, sir.

He likewise testified as follows: Q. Why do you know him?

PROS. SORIANO: A. He is our neighbor, sir.

Q. When he fell down, what did you do? Q. If he is now in (sic) courtroom, will you please
point to him?
A. I called up a police, sir.
A. (Witness pointing to a man with a mustache, and
Q. Before you called up a police, could you tell this when he asked his name he answered Zaldy
Honorable Court the direction where the shot Casingal).[40]
came from?
xxx
A. Yes, sir. When I turned my head where the shot
came from, I saw Zaldy Casingal holding a ATTY. VALDEZ:
carbine going to the house of Ating Galpaw (sic). Q. You said that you did not actually see who shot
xxx Diosdado Palisoc, is that correct?

Q. How were you able to recognize Zaldy Casingal A. Yes, sir.[41]


whom you said was holding a carbine and xxx
Page 65 of 187
ATTY. VALDEZ: of identity and not per se an eyewitness account of the
very act of committing the crime. A witness may identify
Q. After you saw Diosdado Palisoc shot, did you
an accused as the perpetrator of the crime by direct
look to the direction where the shot came from?
evidence, i.e., an eyewitness account of the commission
A. Yes, sir. of the crime. There are instances, however, when a
witness may not have actually seen the very act of
Q. And you saw a person running, is that correct? commission of a crime, but he may still be able to
xxx identify the accused as the perpetrator as when the
latter is the person or one of the persons last seen with
A. There is sir, it was Zaldy Casingal bringing a the victim immediately before and right after the
gun.[42] commission of the crime. In this case, the positive
ATTY. VALDEZ: identification forms part of circumstantial evidence,
which, when taken together with other pieces of
Q. When you said that you saw Zaldy Casingal evidence constituting an unbroken chain, leads to a fair
bringing a gun, how far was he from the place and reasonable conclusion that the accused is the
where you were standing? author of the crime to the exclusion of all
A. At about seven (7) meters, sir. others. Otherwise, if circumstantial evidence could not
be resorted to in proving the identity of the accused
Q. You said that there was an electric bulb in the when direct evidence is not available, then felons would
Sawat Elementary School, is that correct? go scot-free and the community would be denied proper
protection.[44] The rules on evidence and jurisprudence
A. Yes, sir.
sustain the conviction of an accused through
Q. And this electric bulb was installed inside the circumstantial evidence when the following requisites
school room? concur: (1) there must be more than one circumstance;
(2) the inference must be based on proven facts; and (3)
A. It is in (sic) the gate, sir.
the combination of all circumstances produces a
Q. How far is this electric bulb, Mr. witness (sic)? conviction beyond doubt of the guilt of the accused.[45]
A. It is about four (4) meters, sir. In fine, it is not decisive that Cruz did not actually
see the accused shoot the victim. But immediately after
Q. And in the place where you saw Zaldy Casingal the victim was shot, Cruz saw the accused holding the
running with the gun, there was (sic) various carbine which felled the victim, and then accused ran
obstruction on (sic) the illumination of that light, towards the house of Francisca Galpao. The trial court
is that correct? noted in its decision that the testimony of Cruz was ". . .
A. None, sir, because it is a road."[43] direct, frank, unfaltering and straightforward . . . His
testimony bore the marks of truth and sincerity, having
For the accused to be convicted of murder, he must been delivered spontaneously, naturally and in
be positively identified as the assailant of the straightforward manner.[46] It also found that there is . . .
victim. Positive identification requires essentially proof nothing in the records which would show any base
Page 66 of 187
motive or vile reason on the part of the witness to in full view of the people near the crime scene mindless
falsely implicate the herein accused."[47] It is well-settled of the danger that it would incriminate him.
that where there is no evidence that the witness against
However, we hold that the evidence to prove
the accused was actuated by any improper motive, and
treachery or alevosia which will qualify the killing to
absent any compelling reason to conclude otherwise, his
murder is insufficient. To prove treachery, the following
testimony will be given full faith and credit.[48]
must be shown: (1) the employment of means of
Cruzs positive identification of the accused as the execution that gives the person attacked no opportunity
victim's assailant is corroborated by several pieces of to defend himself or to retaliate; and (2) the deliberate
circumstantial evidence. Immediately after Cruz heard and conscious adoption of the means of execution.[51] It
a gunshot, he saw the accused carrying a U.S. carbine is also the running case law that where treachery is
caliber .30 and running towards the house of one alleged, the manner of attack must be proven. Without
Francisca Galpaw. The day after the shooting incident, any particulars as to the manner in which the
carbine caliber .30 with serial number 5611988 with one aggression commenced or how the act which resulted in
long magazine and 30 rounds of live ammunition of the the victim's death unfolded, treachery cannot be
same caliber were seized in the house of Francisca appreciated.[52] In the case at bar, prosecution witness
Galpao. The paraffin test conducted upon the seized Cruz testified on what transpired immediately after the
carbine and upon the accused yielded positive killing of the victim. He had no knowledge of the
results. The ballistic examination also showed that the circumstances before the shooting and the shooting
fired cartridge and slug found at the crime scene were itself. There is therefore no proof that the victim had no
the same with the cartridge and slug that were found in opportunity to defend himself or to retaliate. Nor is
the house of Francisca Galpao and test-fired from the there any evidence to show that the victim was
seized carbine submitted for ballistic unarmed. Even assuming arguendo that the attack is
examination. These pieces of circumstantial evidence sudden, there is no evidence that the means of execution
point to the accused as Palisocs assailant. was deliberately adopted.[53] The finding of the trial
court that the accused shot the victim several times
The defense's attempt to cast doubt upon the
does not find support from the evidence on record.
prosecution's theory by passing the buck to Ernesto
Payaoan is futile for lack of supporting evidence. The Evident premeditation cannot likewise be
accuseds lone testimony that the supposed triggerman, appreciated. There is evident premeditation when the
Ernesto Payaoan, only handed to him the carbine used following facts are proven: (1) the time when the
in killing the victim and that he accepted and ran away accused decided to commit the crime; (2) an overt act
with it is not credible. As held in People v. showing that the accused clung to his determination to
Maliput,[49] "far from bordering merely on the imaginary, commit the crime; and (3) the lapse of sufficient period
captious or plainly being a possible doubt, any of time between the decision and the execution of the
reasonable doubt must be nothing less than a fair doubt crime, to allow the accused to reflect upon the
based on reason and common sense (emphasis consequences of his act.[54] The trial court appreciated
supplied)."[50] Certainly, it is beyond reason and common this aggravating circumstance based on the accused's
sense for the accused to have taken hold of the carbine testimony. A close scrutiny of the accused's testimony,

Page 67 of 187
however, will show that he testified that it was not him the original document itself, except in the following
but Payaoan who planned to kill the victim and clung to cases. . .
his determination to kill, and that there was sufficient
interval of time between the premeditation and the The subject certification does not fall under the
execution of the crime to allow Payaoan to reflect upon exceptions. Hence, we cannot give any evidentiary value
the consequences of his act. There is no proof to the photocopy of the certification.[57] Neither did the
whatsoever with respect to the accuseds plan to kill the prosecution present the testimony of a representative of
victim and when he conceived of such plan. the PNP Firearms and Explosive Unit to establish that
the accused is not licensed to possess carbine caliber .30
There being no circumstance to qualify the killing to
with serial number 5611988. This omission is fatal to the
murder, the accused should be convicted of
prosecution.[58] In fine, the crime of the accused cannot
homicide. The penalty imposed upon the accused should
be qualified as having been committed with an
correspondingly be lowered to reclusion temporal. As
unlicensed, illegally possessed firearm.
there is no aggravating or mitigating circumstance, the
proper imposable penalty is reclusion temporal in its Prescinding from these premises, we have to modify
medium period. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence the pecuniary liabilities imposed by the trial court. As
Law, the minimum term is anywhere within the range the accused is liable only for homicide, he cannot be
of prision mayor, or from six (6) years and one (1) day to ordered to pay a fine of P30,000.00. The award of
twelve (12) years, and the maximum within the range exemplary damages cannot also be given. Under Art.
of reclusion temporal in its medium period, or from 2230 of the Civil Code, "(i)n criminal offenses, exemplary
fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day to damages as a part of the civil liability may be imposed
seventeen (17) years and four (4) months.[55] when the crime was committed with one or more
aggravating circumstances. The evidence on record
We come now to the charge of illegal possession of
does not show any aggravating circumstance. We
firearm. As aforediscussed, the accused cannot be
sustain the award of moral damages as the prosecution
charged separately with this offense. It can only be
was able to prove that the victims death caused the
treated as a special qualifying circumstance. Even then,
latter's family extreme grief, sleepless nights and loss of
the prosecution was not able to prove that the accused
appetite.[59]Funeral and other related expenses are
lacked the license or permit to own or possess the
likewise adequately supported by the evidence on
firearm. While the prosecution presented a photocopy of
record.[60]
a certification issued by the PNP Firearms and
Explosives Unit stating that the accused was not a IN VIEW WHEREOF, the impugned Joint Decision is MODIFIED. The
accused-appellant is found guilty of the crime of Homicide and sentenced to
licensed holder of a firearm of any kind and caliber,[56]it an indeterminate sentence of eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision
failed to submit the original of the same. Rule 130, Sec. 3 mayor medium as minimum, and fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one
of the Rules of Court provides: (1) day of reclusion temporal medium as maximum.The trial court's award
of P50,000.00 for civil indemnity, P20,000.00 for moral damages,
and P25,000.00 for funeral and other related expenses is AFFIRMED.
Sec. 3. Original document must be produced; exceptions. SO ORDERED.
- When the subject of inquiry is the contents of a
document, no evidence shall be admissible other than
Page 68 of 187
G.R. No. 187850. August 17, 2016.* Land Registration; What really defines a piece of land is not
the area but its boundaries laid down, as enclosing the land and
indicating its limits.—We have consistently ruled that what really
ANITA U. LORENZANA, petitioner, vs. RODOLFO defines a piece of land is not the area, calculated with more or less
LELINA, respondent. certainty mentioned in the description, but its boundaries laid down,
Remedial Law; Petition for Review on Certiorari; Questions of as enclosing the land and indicating its limits. Where land is sold for
fact is not within the province of a petition for review on certiorari a lump sum and not so much per unit of measure or number, the
under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court.—The issues raised invite boundaries of the land stated in the contract determine the effects
a redetermination of questions of fact which is not within the and scope of the sale, and not its area.
province of a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Civil Procedure; Money judgments are enforceable only
Revised Rules of Court. Factual findings of the trial court affirmed against the property belonging to the judgment debtor alone.—Money
by the CA are final and conclusive and may not be reviewed on judgments are enforceable only against property unquestionably
appeal. belonging to the judgment debtor alone. If property belonging to any
Same; Same; As an exception, a review of the factual findings third person is mistakenly levied upon to answer for another man’s
may be made when the judgment of the Court of Appeals (CA) is indebtedness, the Rules of Court gives such person all the right to
premised on a misapprehension of facts or a failure to consider challenge the levy through any of the remedies provided for under
relevant facts which would justify a different conclusion.—In certain the rules, including an independent “separate action” to vindicate
cases, we held that as an exception, a review of such factual findings his or her claim of ownership and/or possession over the foreclosed
may be made when the judgment of the CA is premised on a property.
misapprehension of facts or a failure to consider certain relevant Same; Paraphernal property may not be answerable for
facts, which, if properly considered, would justify a different obligations of the husband which resulted in the judgment against
conclusion. him in favor of another person.—As a rule, if at the time of the levy
Same; Best Evidence Rule; The best evidence rule requires that and sale by the sheriff, the property did not belong to the conjugal
when the subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence partnership, but was paraphernal property, such property may not
is admissible other than the original document itself.—The best be answerable for the obligations of the husband which resulted in
evidence rule requires that when the subject of inquiry is the the judgment against him in favor of another person. The levied
contents of a document, no evidence is admissible other than the property being exclusive property of Ambrosia, and Ambrosia not
original document itself except in the instances mentioned in being a party to the collection case, the levied property may not
Section 3, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court. As such, mere answer for Aquilino’s obligations.
photocopies of documents are inadmissible pursuant to the best PETITION for review on certiorari of the
evidence rule. decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals.
Same; Same; Courts are not precluded to accept in evidence a
mere photocopy of a document when no objection was raised when it The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
was formally offered.—Evidence not objected to is deemed admitted Andres, Marcelo, Padernal, Guerrero &
and may be validly considered by the court in arriving at its Paras for petitioner.
judgment. Courts are not precluded to accept in evidence a mere
photocopy of a document when no objection was raised when it was Artuz, Bello, Borja Law Office for respondent.
formally offered.
Same; Civil Procedure; The appellate court may not consider JARDELEZA, J.:
any other ground of objection, except those that were raised at the
proper time.—Moreover, grounds for objection must be specified in
any case. Grounds for objections not raised at the proper time shall
be considered waived, even if the evidence was objected to on some This is a petition for review on certiorari1 under Rule 45
other ground. Thus, even on appeal, the appellate court may not of the Revised Rules of Court filed by Anita U.
consider any other ground of objection, except those that were
Lorenzana (petitioner) from the Court of Appeals' (CA)
raised at the proper time.
Decision2 dated April 30, 2008 (CA Decision) and the
Page 69 of 187
Resolution3 dated April 27, 2009 in CA-G.R. CV No. 86187. TD No. 11-21367-A both in the name of
The CA affirmed the Regional Trial Court (RTC) petitioner. Alerted by the turn of events, respondent
11

Decision4 dated March 7, 2005 (RTC Decision) upholding filed a complaint for quieting of title and cancellation of
Rodolfo Lelina's (respondent) ownership over the half of documents12 on September 24, 1996, with the RTC
the 16,047 square meters (sq. m.) of land claimed by Branch 25, Tagudin, Ilocos Sur, claiming that there
petitioner, and cancelling the Deed of Final Conveyance appears to be a cloud over his ownership and possession
and Tax Declaration in petitioner's of the property.
name.5chanrobleslaw
In her Answer,13 petitioner alleged that she acquired a
Facts land with an area of 16,047 sq. m. through a foreclosure
sale. Petitioner claims that she became the judgment
On April 1, 1975, Ambrosia Lelina (Ambrosia), married creditor in a case for collection of sum of
to Aquilino Lelina (Aquilino), executed a Deed of money14 (collection case) she filed against Aquilino, and
Absolute Sale6 over one-half (1/2) of an undivided parcel the decision in her favor became final on March 20, 1975,
of land covered by Tax Declaration (TD) No. 14324-C with an Entry of Judgment issued on April 10,
(property) in favor of her son, the respondent. The Deed 1975.15 Thereafter, by virtue of a writ of execution to
of Absolute Sale, however, specified only an area of 810 enforce the decision in the collection case, the sheriff
sq. m. as the one-half (1/2) of the property covered by the levied on a land with an area of 16,047 sq. m. covered by
tax declaration.7Nevertheless, the Deed of Absolute Sale the TD No. 11-05370-A16 (levied property) under the
contained the description of the land covered by TD No. name of Ambrosia. Petitioner claimed that she emerged
14324-C, as follows: "[b]ounded on the: North by as the sole and highest bidder when the levied property
Constancio Batac-& National highway[,] East by Cecilio was auctioned. An auction sale was conducted on
Lorenzana, South by Cr[ee]k, and West by Andres September 29, 1977 and a Certificate of Sale was issued
Cuaresma."8] in favor of petitioner. The same Certificate of Sale was
registered with the Register of Deeds on October 18,
Immediately after the execution of the Deed of Absolute 1977.17 No redemption having been made despite the
Sale, respondent took possession of the property. Since lapse of the one year period for redemption, a Deed of
then, the tenants of the property, Fidel Labiano, Final Conveyance18 was issued in her favor on October
Venancio Lagria, and Magdalena Lopez, continued to 9, 1978. The same was registered with the Register of
deliver his share of the produce of the property as well Deeds of Ilocos Sur on October 16, 1978.19chanrobleslaw
as produce of the remaining half of the land covered by
TD No. 14324-C until December 1995.9chanrobleslaw During trial, it was undisputed that the property is
found within the levied property.20 The levied property
Around August 1996,10 respondent and his three tenants has the following boundaries: North by Constancio
were invited at the Municipal Agrarian Office of Batac; East by National Road and heirs of Pedro Mina &
Tagudin, Ilocos Sur for a conference where they were Cecilio Lorenzana; South by Creek; and West by Andres
informed that the property is already owned by Cuaresma, Eladio Ma and Creek.21It was further shown
petitioner by virtue of a Deed of Final Conveyance and that the Deed of Final Conveyance expressly describes

Page 70 of 187
the levied property as registered and owned by
Ambrosia.22 Petitioner testified that she did not The CA affirmed the findings of the RTC and upheld
immediately possess the levied property, but only did so respondent's ownership over the property.32 It ruled
in 1995.23 On the other hand, respondent testified that that the power of the court in the execution of its
sometime in 1975 and prior to the sale of the property to judgment extends only to properties unquestionably
him, the other half of the levied property was owned by belonging to the judgment debtor. Since Ambrosia
Godofredo Lorenzana (Godofredo).24 He also claimed exclusively owned the levied property, the sheriff in the
that he and Godofredo have agreed that he will hold in collection case, on behalf of the court, acted beyond its
trust the latter's share of produce from the other half of power and authority when it levied on the property.
the land.25cralawredchanrobleslaw Consequently, petitioner cannot rely on the execution
sale in proving that she has better right over the
After trial, respondent submitted his property because such execution sale is void.33 Finding
Memorandum26 dated December 16, 2004 where he petitioner's claim over the property as invalid, the CA
explained that the land he was claiming was the one- upheld respondent's right to the removal of the cloud on
half (1/2) of the 16,047 sq. m. formerly covered by TD No. his title.34 The CA deleted the award of litigation
14324-C described in the Deed of Absolute Sale. Thus, he expenses and attorney's fees, there being no finding of
prayed that his title to the property, i.e. the one-half facts in the RTC Decision that warrants the same.35
(1/2) of the levied property, be upheld.
Hence, this petition.
The RTC upheld respondent's ownership over the half of Arguments
the levied property.27 It ruled that the levied
property is exclusively owned by Ambrosia, and could Petitioner argues that respondent's sole basis for his
not be held to answer for the obligations of her husband claim of ownership over the property is the Deed of
in the collection case. As a result, it declared the Deed of Absolute Sale, the original of which was not presented
Final Conveyance dated October 9, 1978, as well as the in court. Since only the photocopy of the Deed
proceedings taken during the alleged auction sale of of Absolute Sale was presented, its contents are
levied property, invalid and without force and effect on inadmissible for violating the best evidence rule. Thus,
Ambrosia's paraphernal property.29 It also cancelled the respondent's claim of ownership should be
TD No. 11-21367-A in the name of petitioner.30] denied. chanrobleslaw
36

Petitioner filed a notice of appeal from the RTC Petitioner next claims that even if the Deed of Absolute
Decision. In her Appellant's Brief,31 petitioner argued Sale be considered in evidence, it only proves
that the trial court erred: (1) in awarding one-half (1/2) respondent's ownership over the 810 sq. m., and not the
of the levied property, which is more than the 810 sq. m. half of the 16,047 sq. m. levied property. Accordingly, the
prayed for in the complaint; (2) in ruling that the Deed area of the lot awarded should be limited to what was
of Final Conveyance in favor of petitioner is invalid; and prayed for in the Complaint.37chanrobleslaw
(3) in awarding litigation expenses and attorney's fees in
favor of respondent. Lastly, petitioner assails the finding that Ambrosia is

Page 71 of 187
the exclusive owner of the levied property. She asserts exception urging us to pass upon anew the RTC and
that at the very least, the levied property is jointly CA's findings, regarding the ownership of the property
owned by the spouses Ambrosia and Aquilino and and levied property which led the lower courts to cancel
therefore, it may be validly held answerable for the the Deed of Final Conveyance and TD No. 11-21367-A
obligations incurred by Aquilino. Accordingly, she under petitioner's name.
asserts that the Deed of Final Conveyance should not
have been totally invalidated but should have been We find no reversible error committed by the RTC and
upheld as to the other half of the levied property.38 In CA in ruling that the Deed of Absolute Sale proves
this connection, she maintains that the lower courts respondent's ownership over the property, and that
should not have ordered the remaining half of the levied petitioner failed to establish a registrable title on the
property be held in trust by respondent because the property and levied property.
alleged landholding of Godofredo was not proven to be
the same or even part of the levied I. Respondent is the owner of half
property.39chanrobleslaw of the levied property.

Issues We affirm the finding that respondent is the owner of


the property equivalent to half of the levied property.
I. Whether respondent is the owner of one-half (1/2)
of the levied property comprising of 16,047 sq. m. A. Waiver of objection to the Best
Evidence Rule.
II. Whether the Deed of Final Conveyance and TD
No. 11- 21367-A, both in the name of petitioner, Petitioner claims that the photocopy of the Deed of
were correctly cancelled. Absolute Sale should not have been admitted in
evidence to prove respondent's ownership over the
property. We disagree.
Ruling
We deny the petition. The best evidence rule requires that when the subject of
The issues raised invite a re-determination of questions inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence is
of fact which is not within the province of a petition for admissible other than the original document itself
review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules except in the instances mentioned in Section 3, Rule 130
of Court. Factual findings of the trial court affirmed by of the Revised Rules of Court. As such, mere
the CA are final and conclusive and may not be photocopies of documents are inadmissible pursuant to
reviewed on appeal.40 In certain cases, we held that as the best evidence rule.42 Nevertheless, evidence not
an exception, a review of such factual findings may be objected to is deemed admitted and may be validly
made when the judgment of the CA is premised on a considered by the court in arriving at its
misapprehension of facts or a failure to consider certain judgment.43 Courts are not precluded to accept in
relevant facts, which, if properly considered, would evidence a mere photocopy of a document when no
justify a different conclusion.41 Petitioner invokes this objection was raised when it was formally

Page 72 of 187
offered.44chanrobleslaw
B. The Deed of Absolute Sale
In order to exclude evidence, the objection sufficiently proves respondent's
to admissibility of evidence must be made at the proper ownership over the property.
time, and the grounds specified.45 Objection to evidence
must be made at the time it is formally offered.46 In case We stress that petitioner does not question the validity
of documentary evidence, offer is made after all the of the sale, but merely the admissibility of the deed.
witnesses of the party making the offer have testified, Having been admitted in evidence as to its contents, the
specifying the purpose for which the evidence is being Deed of Absolute Sale sufficiently proves respondent's
offered.47 It is only at this time, and not at any other, ownership over the property. The deed, coupled with
that objection to the documentary evidence may be respondent's possession over the property since its sale
made. And when a party failed to interpose a timely in 1975 until 1995, proves his ownership.
objection to evidence at the time they were offered in
evidence, such objection shall be considered as Petitioner maintains that without conceding the
waived.48 This is true even if by its nature the evidence correctness of the CA Decision, respondent's ownership
is inadmissible and would have surely been rejected if it of the land should only be limited to 810 sq. m. in
had been challenged at the proper time.49 Moreover, accordance with his complaint and evidence presented.
grounds for objection must be specified in any Thus, the CA went over and beyond the allegations in
case.50 Grounds for objections not raised at the proper the complaint making its finding devoid of factual
time shall be considered waived, even if the evidence basis.57chanrobleslaw
was objected to on some other ground.51 Thus, even on
appeal, the appellate court may not consider any other We note that petitioner actively participated in the
ground of objection, except those that were raised at the proceedings below. During the course of trial she was
proper time.52chanrobleslaw confronted with the issue of ownership of the levied
property, and she admitted that the property is found
In this case, the objection to the Deed of Absolute Sale within the former.58 From the beginning, petitioner was
was belatedly raised. Respondent submitted his Formal apprised of respondent's claim over the half of the land
Offer of Evidence53 on February 12, 2003 which included described in the Deed of Absolute Sale, which has the
the Deed of Absolute Sale as Exhibit A. While petitioner same boundaries as the land described in TD No. 11-
filed a Comment and Objection54 on February 21, 2003, 05730-A. While respondent in his complaint stated a
she only objected to the Deed of Absolute Sale for being claim for an area of only 810 sq. m., he adequately
self-serving. In the Order55 dated February 27, 2003, the clarified his claim for the one-half (1/2) of the levied
RTC admitted the Deed of Absolute Sale, rejecting the property in his Memorandum59 dated December 16, 2004
objection of petitioner. Having failed to object on the before the RTC. Hence, it could not be said that
ground of inadmissibility under the best evidence rule, petitioner was deprived of due process by not being
petitioner is now deemed to have waived her objection notified or given the opportunity to oppose the claim
on this ground and cannot raise it for the first time on over half of the levied property.
appeal.56chanrobleslaw

Page 73 of 187
At any rate, we have consistently ruled that what really name, and petitioner's TD No. 11-21367-A. This
defines a piece of land is not the area, calculated with description should prevail over the area specified in the
more or less certainty mentioned in the description, but Deed of Absolute Sale. Thus, we agree with the courts
its boundaries laid down, as enclosing the land and below that respondent owns half of the levied property.
indicating its limits.60 Where land is sold for a lump sum
and not so much per unit of measure or number, the Respondent having been able to make a prima facie case
boundaries of the land stated in the contract determine as to his ownership over the property, it was incumbent
the effects and scope of the sale, and not its area.61 This upon petitioner to prove her claim of ownership over
is consistent with Article 1542 of the Civil Code which the levied property by preponderance of evidence.
provides: In Dantis v. Maghinang, Jr.,63 citing Jison v. Court of
Appeals,64 we held:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Art. 1542. In the sale of real estate, made for a lump sum
and not at the rate of a certain sum for a unit of Simply put, he who alleges the affirmative of the issue
measure or number, there shall be no increase or has the burden of proof, and upon the plaintiff in a civil
decrease of the price, although there be a greater or case, the burden of proof never parts. However, in the
lesser areas or number than that stated in the contract. course of trial in a civil case, once plaintiff makes out a
prima facie case in his favor, the duty or the burden of
The same rule shall be applied when two or more evidence shifts to defendant to controvert plaintiff’s
immovables are sold for a single price; but if, besides prima facie case, otherwise, a verdict must be returned
mentioning the boundaries, which is indispensable in in favor of plaintiff. Moreover, in civil cases, the party
every conveyance of real estate, its area or number having the burden of proof must produce a
should be designated in the contract, the vendor shall preponderance of evidence thereon, with plaintiff
be bound to deliver all that is included within said having to rely on the strength of his own evidence and
boundaries, even when it exceeds the area or number not upon the weakness of the defendant's. The concept
specified in the contract; and, should he not be able to of "preponderance of evidence" refers to evidence which
do so, he shall suffer a reduction in the price, in is of greater weight, or more convincing, that which is
proportion to what is lacking in the area or number, offered in opposition to it; at bottom, it means
unless the contract is rescinded because the vendee probability of truth.65chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
does not accede to the failure to deliver what has been As correctly found by both the RTC and CA, petitioner
stipulated. (Emphasis supplied.) failed to establish her claim over the levied property.
In this case, the land covered by TD No. 14324-C in the Petitioner has been inconsistent in her versions as to
Deed of Absolute Sale, from where the one-half (1/2) how she acquired ownership over the levied property.
portion belonging to respondent is taken, has the In her Answer, she claims that she is the owner of the
following boundaries: North by Constancio Batac & levied property by virtue of having been the highest
National Highway; East by Cecilio Lorenzana; South by bidder in the public auction to execute the decision in
Creek; and West by Andres Cuaresma.62 This is the same the collection case.66During her testimony, however, she
extent and location of the lot covered in the Deed of contradicts herself by claiming that the levied property
Final Conveyance, TD No. 11-05730-A in Ambrosia's was awarded to her husband by her father-in-law or the

Page 74 of 187
brother of Ambrosia, and the latter's husband Aquilino public auction held on September 29, 1977. Obviously,
was merely appointed as administrator of the respondent already owned the property at the time
land.67 The inconsistencies between these claims are petitioner bought the levied property, and thus cannot
glaring because if the levied property was truly be levied and attached for the obligations of Aquilino in
awarded to her by her father-in-law, she could have just the collection case.
vindicated her claim in an independent action, and not
participate in the public auction. Moreover, this is As to the other half of the levied property, we uphold
inconsistent with her claim that Aquilino was the owner the CA and the RTC's finding that prior to its transfer to
of the levied property which is answerable for respondent and one Godofredo Lorenzana, the levied
Aquilino's debt.68 Thus, the RTC and CA correctly did property was paraphernal property of Ambrosia. The
not give credence to these versions but instead records show that Ambrosia owned the levied property
considered that her claim of ownership is anchored only as evidenced by: (1) TD No. 11-05370-A in her name; (2) a
on the Deed of Final Conveyance. provision in the Deed of Final Conveyance that it is
Ambrosia who exclusively owns the land;71 and (3) an
Petitioner's ownership anchored on this Deed of Final admission from petitioner herself in her Appellant's
Conveyance, however, likewise fails. Brief that Ambrosia is the declared owner of the levied
property.72 These pieces of evidence vis-a¬vis
II. The Deed of Final petitioner's inconsistent theories of ownership,
Conveyance and TD No. undoubtedly have more weight, and in fact had been
11-21367-A were correctly given more weight by the courts below.
cancelled.
As a rule, if at the time of the levy and sale by the
Money judgments are enforceable only against property sheriff, the property did not belong to the conjugal
unquestionably belonging to the judgment debtor partnership, but was paraphernal property, such
alone.69 If property belonging to any third person is property may not be answerable for the obligations of
mistakenly levied upon to answer for another man's the husband which resulted in the judgment against
indebtedness, the Rules of Court gives such person all him in favor of another person.73 The levied property
the right to challenge the levy through any of the being exclusive property of Ambrosia, and Ambrosia not
remedies provided for under the rules, including an being a party to the collection case, the levied property
independent "separate action" to vindicate his or her may not answer for Aquilino's obligations. Even
claim of ownership and/or possession over the assuming that the levied property belonged to the
foreclosed property.70chanrobleslaw conjugal partnership of Ambrosia and Aquilino, it may
still not be levied upon because petitioner did not
The determinative question here is to whom the present proof that the obligation redounded to the
property belongs at the time of the levy and execution benefit of the family. More importantly, Aquilino's
sale. To recall, respondent acquired the property interest over a portion of the levied property as
through the Deed of Absolute Sale dated April 1, 1975, conjugal property is merely inchoate prior to the
while petitioner bought the levied property at the liquidation of the conjugal partnership.74chanrobleslaw

Page 75 of 187
hereby AFFIRMED.
Thus, we find that the levied property may not answer
for the obligations of Aquilino because the latter does SO ORDERED.chanRoblesvirtualLawlib
not own it at the time of the levy. Hence, the Deed of
Final Conveyance and TD No. 11-21367-A were correctly
cancelled for being the outcome of an invalid levy.

A final note.
Petitioner does not have a legal claim of ownership over
the property because her alleged title results from an
invalid levy and execution. Thus, it is of no moment that
respondent never registered the Deed of Absolute Sale,
or that he never declared it for taxation purposes—
petitioner does not have a valid claim over the property
that would benefit from respondent's lapses.

This likewise holds true as to the other half of the levied


property determined to be the property of Godofredo.
Petitioner's claim that there is no basis in ordering
respondent to hold in trust the other half of the levied
property in favor of Godofredo fails. Records show that
the CA gave credence to respondent's testimony that the
other half of the levied property was sold to Godofredo,
and that the latter agreed that respondent shall receive
the proceeds of the produce on behalf of
Godofredo.75 Upon such findings, it became incumbent
upon petitioner to show otherwise by proving her
ownership. This, however, she failed to do. Thus,
petitioner cannot claim that the courts below erred in
not awarding Godofredo's portion to her.

From the foregoing, we uphold respondent's ownership


over the subject property, as well as the cancellation of
Deed of Final Conveyance and TD No. 11-21367-A under
the name of petitioner.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed


Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals are

Page 76 of 187
G.R. Nos. 150613-14. June 29, 2004. * victim sufficiently substitutes for the elements of violence
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, and intimidation.—This Court has previously observed
appellee, vs. MANUEL MANTIS, appellant. that victims of tender age are easily intimidated and
Criminal Law; Rape; Evidence; Consensual sexual cowed into silence even by the mildest threat against
congress as an affirmative defense needs convincing their lives. Appellant himself admits that he had played
proof such as love notes, mementos and credible a father role to Mary Jane since her childhood.
witnesses attesting to the consensual romantic Appellant exercised moral ascendancy and influence
relationship between the offender and his supposed over her. Well established is the rule, that in instances
victim.—Consensual sexual congress as an affirmative of rape committed by a father, or a father’s surrogate,
defense needs convincing proof such as love notes, his moral ascendancy and influence over the victim
mementos, and credible witnesses attesting to the sufficiently substitutes for the elements of violence and
consensual romantic relationship between the offender intimidation.
and his supposed victim. Having admitted to carnal Same; Same; Same; Victims certainly do not cherish
knowledge of the complainant, the burden shifts to the keeping in their memory an accurate account of the
appellant to prove his defense by substantial evidence. dates, number of times, and the manner in which they
In the instant cases, however, we find that other than were sexually violated.—The resulting pregnancy is not
appellant’s preposterous tale, there is no scintilla of an element of rape. In this case, appellant’s contention
evidence whatsoever to support his changed theory is debunked by Mary Jane’s testimony in open court.
based on the victim’s alleged consent. She testified that appellant raped her not only on the
Same; Same; Same; The amount of force required in dates stated in the charge sheets, but also on several
rape cases is relative; It need not be overpowering or other occasions. She could not be faulted if she could
irresistible; All that is necessary is that the force not recall the precise dates of these incidents,
employed as an element of the offense be sufficient to considering her age and the trauma she suffered.
consummate the purpose which the accused had in Victims certainly do not cherish keeping in their
mind.—Appellant’s claim that Mary Jane consented to memory an accurate account of the dates, number of
the sex act, without his use of force or intimidation, is times, and the manner in which they were sexually
not supported by the evidence on record. Mary Jane violated.
categorically and forthrightly testified that she resisted Same; Same; Same; A rape victim cannot be expected
appellant’s advances, but was unsuccessful because the to summon the courage to report a sexual assault
appellant was holding her tightly. The amount of force committed against her person, where the act was
required in rape cases is relative. It need not be accompanied by a death threat.—The OSG stresses that
overpowering or irresistible. All that is necessary is that delay in reporting rape does not undermine the charge
the force employed as an element of the offense be if such delay is satisfactorily explained. Here, the delay
sufficient to consummate the purpose which the is explained by the death threats made by the appellant
accused had in mind. against the victim and her mother. It is not uncommon
Same; Same; Same; Well established is the rule, that for a young girl to be intimidated and cowed into silence
in instances of rape committed by a father, or a father’s and conceal for some time the violation of her honor,
surrogate, his moral ascendancy and influence over the even by the mildest threat against her life. Mary Jane’s

Page 77 of 187
testimony is not discredited simply because she failed to AUTOMATIC REVIEW of a decision of the Regional
immediately report to her mother or the authorities the Trial Court of Guagua, Pampanga, Br. 52.
abuses she suffered in the hands of the appellant. A rape
victim cannot, after all, be expected to summon the The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
courage to report a sexual assault committed against The Solicitor General for appellee.
her person, where the act was accompanied by a death Public Attorney’s Office for appellant.
threat.
Same; Same; Death Penalty; In order to justify the QUISUMBING, J.:
imposition of the death penalty, there must be
independent evidence proving the age of the victim, other
In its judgment1 dated October 24, 2001, the Regional
than the testimonies of witnesses and the absence of
Trial Court of Guagua, Pampanga, Branch 52, found
denial by the accused; A certified true copy of the
appellant, Manuel Mantis, guilty beyond reasonable
certificate of live birth showing the complainant’s age or
doubt of two counts of rape and sentenced him for each
some other authentic document such as a baptismal
count to suffer the penalty of death and to indemnify
certificate or a school record has been recognized as
the victim, Mary Jane L. Balbin, the sum of ₱75,000 as
competent evidence.—But an examination of the
civil indemnity and ₱75,000 as moral damages.
prosecution’s exhibits shows that the prosecution has
failed to present in evidence the original copy of Mary
He was charged in two separate informations, both
Jane’s birth certificate. Further, there is no showing
dated August 25, 1999, by the Office of the Provincial
that the original certificate of birth was lost or
Prosecutor of Pampanga as follows:
destroyed, or was unavailable, without the fault of the
prosecution. Decisions of this Court relating to the rape
(1) Criminal Case No. G-4788 That on or about the
of minors invariably state that in order to justify the
3rd day of April, 1999 in the municipality of
imposition of the death penalty, there must be
Floridablanca, province of Pampanga, Philippines
independent evidence proving the age of the victim,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
other than the testimonies of prosecution witnesses and
Court, the above-named accused, MANUEL
the absence of denial by the accused. A certified true
MANTIS, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully
copy of the certificate of live birth showing the
and feloniously entered (sic) the room of Mary
complainant’s age or some other authentic document
Jane L. Balbin, 12 years old, the daughter of his
such as a baptismal certificate or a school record has
common-law spouse, and by means of force, threat
been recognized as competent evidence. A mere
and intimidation, accused succeeded in having
photocopy of said certificate, however, does not prove
carnal knowledge with Mary Jane L. Balbin,
the victim’s minority, for said photocopy does not
against the latter’s will.
qualify as competent evidence for that purpose. As
repeatedly held by this Court, in a capital case, we are
bound by the standards of strict scrutiny, given the Contrary to law.2
gravity of the death sentence and the irreversibility of
its execution. (2) Criminal Case No. G-4797 That on or about the
16th day of July 1998 in the municipality of
Page 78 of 187
Floridablanca, province of Pampanga, Philippines sick.7 That evening, appellant fetched Mary Jane from
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable the hospital and took her home to Valdez,
Court, the above-named accused, MANUEL Floridablanca.8 A certain George Nanquil remained at
MANTIS, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully the hospital to watch over Mary Jane’s mother.
and feloniously entered (sic) the room of Mary
Jane L. Balbin, 11 years old, the daughter of his Once home, Mary Jane entered her room and was
common-law spouse, and by means of force, preparing for bed, when suddenly the appellant entered
threat, and intimidation, accused succeeded in her room. To her surprise, appellant was wearing
having carnal knowledge with Mary Jane L. nothing but a t-shirt.9 Without further ado, appellant
Balbin, against the latter’s will. grabbed her and removed her shirt, shorts, and panty.
She tried to free herself from his tight embrace, but to
Contrary to law.3 no avail. Appellant then inserted his phallus inside her
private part, causing her much pain.10 When she
With the assistance of counsel, he pleaded not guilty to continued to struggle, appellant threatened to kill her
the foregoing charges. The cases were then jointly heard and her mother should she report what he was doing to
since they involved the same parties and the same her.11 Appellant’s threat cowed her into submission.
evidence . Fearful of what she or her mother might suffer in the
hands of appellant, Mary Jane endured her ordeal in
The evidence for the prosecution established that: silence.

Private complainant Mary Jane L. Balbin was In the months that followed, Mary Jane did not breathe
born on September 28, 1986, as shown by her a single word to anyone about the harrowing experience
testimony and a photocopy of her birth she suffered. Not to the authorities or her mother, not to
certificate.4 She had known the appellant since her friends, not to her classmates or teachers.12 Her
she was six (6) years of age since he was the fearful silence, however, merely emboldened the
common-law husband ("live-in" partner ) of her appellant into repeating his dastardly act.
mother, Merly S. Leona. She had come to consider
him as her own father, calling him "Papa".5 Mary During the wee hours of April 3, 1999, while Mary Jane
Jane lived with her mother, her siblings, and was asleep in her room with her two (2) sisters,
appellant in a three-bedroom house at Valdez, appellant again entered her room.13 Mary Jane was
Floridablanca, Pampanga. At the time of the awakened when she felt him lie beside her. She saw that
incident in Criminal Case No. G-4788, she was a he was wearing nothing but a shirt.14 Appellant swiftly
first year high school student at Guillermo D. stripped her of her clothes and proceeded to forcibly
Mendoza High School in Guagua, Pampanga.6 insert his organ into her vagina.15 She struggled against
the unwanted penile invasion, but her resistance was
Mary Jane testified that in the afternoon of July 16, fruitless as appellant held her very tightly. She did not
1998, she and her godfather, one Antonio Bartolo, shout, despite the fact that her mother was in the
brought her mother to the hospital because she was
Page 79 of 187
garage,16 because she was scared of his threat to kill her sexual encounter in February 1999, which
and her mother. resulted in her pregnancy.18

Living in fear and shame, Mary Jane would have kept After her medical examination, Mary Jane filed a sworn
her silence had she not become pregnant. She then complaint with the police authorities alleging that
divulged to appellant’s employer, one Ruben Cabrera, appellant raped her on July 16, 1998 and on April 3, 1999
what appellant had done to her. as well.19 She likewise attested that prior to April 3,
1999, the appellant had engaged in forcible sex with her
On July 26, 1999, the victim was examined by Dr. Grace several times, but she could no longer recall the dates of
Salinas, medical officer of the Romana Pangan District these incidents.
Hospital in San Jose, Floridablanca, Pampanga. Mary
Jane disclosed to Dr. Salinas that appellant had been On November 29, 1999, Mary Jane gave birth to a baby
sexually abusing her since she was seven (7) years old. girl, whom she named Mary Grace. She identified
Dr. Salinas confirmed that she was indeed enceinte. Dr. appellant as the father.20
Salinas’ findings, as reduced to writing, are as follows:
Appellant raised the defenses of denial and alibi to both
... charges. He testified that he was separated from his
legal spouse, a certain Purisima Gamboa, and started
3. Last menstrual period = February 3rd week living in with the victim’s mother, Merly Leona in
1999 September 27, 1992.21 Mary Jane came to live with him
and Merly sometime in August 1995.
4. Breast = conical
Appellant contended that he could not have raped the
5. Internal examination = vagina admits one victim on the night of July 16, 1998 because he was at
finger with ease, healed hymenal laceration 12, 3, the hospital looking after Merly Leona who was then
6, 9 o’clock confined. He claimed that he stayed in the hospital from
8:30 p.m. of July 16, 1998 to 3:00 p.m. of the following
6. Obstetric ultrasound (7-22-99) day.22 Hence, he could not have raped Mary Jane in
their house at Valdez, Floridablanca, Pampanga, as
Result - a single live fetus in breech presentation claimed by her.
at about 20 weeks and 1 day AOG17
As to the second rape charge, appellant insisted that it
... could not have happened, since on April 3, 1999, he was
at Maligaya Subdivision, Pulungmasle, Guagua,
Dr. Salinas testified that she could not make a Pampanga up to 5:00 p.m.23 He stayed the night at his
determination as to how many times the victim employer’s office as was his wont and only went home at
had been forced to engage in unwanted sexual 6:30 a.m. the following day to have breakfast.24 The
intercourse, but Mary Jane most likely had a appellant explained that he and Merly did not spend
Page 80 of 187
their nights at the house where Mary Jane was staying, WHEREFORE, this court hereby (a) finds accused
since they regularly slept at the office of his employer, Manuel Mantis GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt
Ruben Cabrera, located some 600 meters away from said of the crime of rape as charged in Criminal Case
house.25 He insisted that he never slept one single night No. 4797 and Criminal Case No. 4788; and (b)
in the same house where Mary Jane was sentences the accused as follows:
staying. Instead he allowed Jorge Mercado, Joel
26

Casupanan, and Roderick Manalansan to sleep in the 1. In Criminal Case No. 4797, to suffer the
house where Mary Jane stayed, as she and her siblings penalty of death and to indemnify Mary
had no adult companion at nights.27 He claimed that Jane L. Balbin the amount of ₱75,000.00 and
Casupanan was Mary Jane’s boyfriend.28 He also made to pay her the additional sum of ₱75,000.00
much of the fact that their neighbor, one Rico Pinili, for moral damages; and
was a frequent visitor of Mary Jane’s at night. Appellant
tried to portray the victim as a loose and unchaste 2. In Criminal Case No. 4788, to suffer the
female who could have been made pregnant by any of penalty of death and to indemnify Mary
the men previously mentioned, as any or all of them Jane L. Balbin the amount of ₱75,000.00 and
could have enjoyed her favors. to pay her the additional sum of ₱75,000.00
for moral damages.
In open court, he claimed that he had an ax to grind
against Casupanan, whom he suspected of having an The records of these cases, including the
affair with Merly Leona. He testified that a few days transcript of stenographic notes, are hereby
after he was incarcerated, Merly Leona started living ordered forwarded to the Honorable Supreme
with Casupanan and that he had previously caught Court for automatic review pursuant to Article 47
them kissing and embracing in the kitchen of his of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by
house.29 Republic Act No. 7659.

Further, appellant testified that the rape charges With costs against the accused.
against him were concocted by Mary Jane at her
mother’s behest following a violent scolding he gave SO ORDERED.30
them, which prompted them to leave the house. He
insisted that the fact that Mary Jane only complained of Hence, this automatic review pursuant to Art. VIII, Sec.
the alleged rapes after she became pregnant casts doubt 5 (2d)31 of the Constitution and Rule 122, Sec. 3 (c) and
upon the veracity of her testimony. Sec. 10 of the Rules of Court.32 Before us, appellant
assigns the following errors:
The trial court found the prosecution’s evidence
weighty and convincing. It declared appellant guilty as I
charged. Accordingly, it decreed as follows:
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN
CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF
Page 81 of 187
THE CRIME OF RAPE WHEN HIS GUILT WAS unarmed at the time and there is no showing that he
NOT PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. covered the victim’s mouth to prevent her from
shouting. Appellant submits that the foregoing
II circumstances taken together, far from showing that the
sexual act was committed by means of force, instead
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN show that the complaining witness had voluntarily
IMPOSING THE SUPREME PENALTY OF DEATH consented to the sexual act.
WHEN THE INFORMATION DID NOT STATE
WITH SPECIFICITY THE QUALIFYING For the appellee, the Office of the Solicitor General
CIRCUMSTANCES OF AGE AND (OSG) counters that the appellant’s theory of consensual
RELATIONSHIP. 33 sex is so preposterous as to strain credulity. The OSG
points out that in Criminal Case No. G-4797, the
Simply stated, the issues for our resolution concern: (1) Information charged appellant with ravishing Mary
the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence to establish Jane on July 16, 1998, when she was but eleven (11)
the appellant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt; and (2) years old. In other words, appellant was indicted for
assuming that appellant is guilty as charged, the statutory rape. The Solicitor General stresses that
propriety of the penalties imposed upon him. under prevailing law, sexual intercourse with a woman
below the age of twelve (12) years is statutory rape and
On the first issue, appellant contends that it was error her consent to the intercourse, is conclusively presumed
for the trial court to find him guilty of rape committed by law to be involuntary, as she is considered to have no
"by means of force, threat, or intimidation" in Criminal will of her own.
Case No. G-4788 since a perusal of the prosecution’s
evidence, including the victim’s own testimony, would Anent Criminal Case No. G-4788, the OSG points out that
clearly show that there was no use of force on his part, the evidence on record shows that the victim tried to
and that the victim did not offer the good faith free herself from the appellant’s unwanted clutches, but
resistance required by law and jurisprudence against was unsuccessful as he held her tightly. Nor should she
sexual assault. He avers that a closer examination of the be faulted for her failure to shout, says the OSG. The
private complainant’s statements in open court as to reason she did not shout is that appellant threatened to
what transpired that evening of April 3, 1999, would kill her and her mother if she shouted.
clearly show that she never shouted for help when she
noticed appellant’s presence beside her, The Solicitor General submits that in this case, the
notwithstanding that her two sisters were sleeping jurisprudential rule – that the degree of force required
beside her and her mother was in the garage. Nor did in rape cases is relative and need not be overpowering
she create any commotion of any sort which could have or irresistible – should be applied. All that is necessary
at least caused her sleeping sisters who were in the to show is that the force employed was sufficient to
same room to wake up or cause her mother to rush to consummate the purpose which the accused had in
her room and find out what was wrong. Appellant mind. Furthermore, the law does not impose upon the
insists that this was unusual, considering that he was victim the burden of proving resistance.
Page 82 of 187
We find that the appellant’s last-ditch arguments to sufficient to consummate the purpose which the
persuade us of his innocence are far from convincing. accused had in mind.37
His defense is without merit.
The intimidation employed by the malefactor in rape
Appellant’s change of theory on appeal cannot exculpate must be viewed in the light of the victim’s perception
him. In the proceedings below, appellant raised the and judgment at the time of the offense and not by any
defense of alibi and denied having any sexual relations hard-and-fast rule or standard. All that is required is
with the private complainant. Before us, appellant now that the intimidation be sufficient to produce fear in the
admits having carnal knowledge of her but maintains victim, a fear that if she does not yield to the brute
that it was consensual all along. His shift of theory does demands of the appellant, something injurious would
not, however, aid his cause. happen to her. This Court has previously observed that
victims of tender age are easily intimidated and cowed
Consensual sexual congress as an affirmative defense into silence even by the mildest threat against their
needs convincing proof such as love notes, mementos, lives.38 Appellant himself admits that he had played a
and credible witnesses attesting to the consensual father role to Mary Jane since her childhood. Appellant
romantic relationship between the offender and his exercised moral ascendancy and influence over her.
supposed victim.34 Having admitted to carnal knowledge Well established is the rule, that in instances of rape
of the complainant, the burden shifts to the appellant to committed by a father, or a father’s surrogate, his moral
prove his defense by substantial evidence.35 In the ascendancy and influence over the victim sufficiently
instant cases, however, we find that other than substitutes for the elements of violence and
appellant’s preposterous tale, there is no scintilla of intimidation.39
evidence whatsoever to support his changed theory
based on the victim’s alleged consent. Furthermore, Appellant casts doubt on Mary Jane’s credibility as a
even assuming arguendo, that there was some form of witness when she testified that she was raped on July
amorous relationship, such averment will not 16, 1998 and on April 3, 1999, basing on the expert
necessarily rule out the use of force or intimidation by opinion of Dr. Salinas that the sexual intercourse which
appellant to have sex against her will.36 caused Mary Jane’s pregnancy must have occurred in
February 1999. But for the appellee, the OSG counters
Appellant’s claim that Mary Jane consented to the sex that the medical examination of the rape victim, as well
act, without his use of force or intimidation, is not as the medical certificate which ensues, is merely
supported by the evidence on record. Mary Jane corroborative in character and is not an indispensable
categorically and forthrightly testified that she resisted element for conviction of the rapist. The resulting
appellant’s advances, but was unsuccessful because the pregnancy is not an element of rape. In this case,
appellant was holding her tightly. The amount of force appellant’s contention is debunked by Mary Jane’s
required in rape cases is relative. It need not be testimony in open court. She testified that appellant
overpowering or irresistible. All that is necessary is that raped her not only on the dates stated in the charge
the force employed as an element of the offense be sheets, but also on several other occasions. She could
not be faulted if she could not recall the precise dates of

Page 83 of 187
these incidents, considering her age and the trauma she We agree, however, that the death sentence imposed
suffered. Victims certainly do not cherish keeping in upon him by the trial court in each case is erroneous
their memory an accurate account of the dates, number and ought to be reduced to reclusion perpetua.
of times, and the manner in which they were sexually
violated.40 In these cases, private complainant testified that she
was born on September 28, 1986. Her testimony was
Appellant contends that the private complainant’s delay supported by a photocopy of her "Certificate of Live
in reporting the rape in Criminal Case No. G-4797 for a Birth" showing that she was born in September 1986.
period of one (1) year and six (6) days, and her But an examination of the prosecution’s exhibits shows
admission that she only divulged the rapes because she that the prosecution has failed to present in evidence
discovered she was pregnant and was ashamed to be the original copy of Mary Jane’s birth certificate.
pregnant at such a young age, destroyed her credibility. Further, there is no showing that the original certificate
However, the OSG stresses that delay in reporting rape of birth was lost or destroyed, or was unavailable,
does not undermine the charge if such delay is without the fault of the prosecution. Decisions of this
satisfactorily explained. Here, the delay is explained by Court relating to the rape of minors invariably state
the death threats made by the appellant against the that in order to justify the imposition of the death
victim and her mother. It is not uncommon for a young penalty, there must be independent evidence proving
girl to be intimidated and cowed into silence and the age of the victim, other than the testimonies of
conceal for some time the violation of her honor, even prosecution witnesses and the absence of denial by the
by the mildest threat against her life.41 Mary Jane’s accused. A certified true copy of the certificate of live
testimony is not discredited simply because she failed to birth showing the complainant’s age or some other
immediately report to her mother or the authorities the authentic document such as a baptismal certificate or a
abuses she suffered in the hands of the appellant. A rape school record has been recognized as competent
victim cannot, after all, be expected to summon the evidence.43 A mere photocopy of said certificate,
courage to report a sexual assault committed against however, does not prove the victim’s minority, for said
her person, where the act was accompanied by a death photocopy does not qualify as competent evidence for
threat.42 that purpose. As repeatedly held by this Court, in a
capital case, we are bound by the standards of strict
It bears stressing that the trial court gave full credence scrutiny, given the gravity of the death sentence and the
and probative value to the private complainant’s irreversibility of its execution. Hence, appellant herein
testimony, finding that she testified in a straightforward could be held liable only for two counts of simple rape
and positive manner when she disclosed the details of and the sentence of death imposed upon him for each
her ravishment. Appellant has not come up with any count of rape must be reduced to reclusion perpetua.
justifiable reason for us to overturn the trial court’s
findings. Thus, we sustain the trial court ruling that Further, pursuant to current jurisprudence, the award
appellant’s guilt has been proved in each case by the of civil indemnity ought to be reduced, in each count,
prosecution beyond reasonable doubt. from ₱75,000 to ₱50,000 only. Similarly, the award of
moral damages in each count should also be reduced

Page 84 of 187
from ₱75,000 to ₱50,000 only. But, in each count, by way
of public example in order to protect young children
from molestation and abuse by perverse elders, the
award to the victim of ₱25,000 as exemplary damages is
in order.

WHEREFORE, the decision dated October 24, 2001, of


the Regional Trial Court of Guagua, Pampanga, Branch
52, in Criminal Cases Nos. G-4788 and G-4797, finding
appellant MANUEL MANTIS GUILTY of two counts of
rape is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. The
death sentence imposed upon the appellant for each
count of rape is hereby reduced to reclusion perpetua.
Appellant is DIRECTED to pay the private complainant,
Mary Jane Balbin, the amount of ₱50,000.00 as civil
indemnity, another ₱50,000.00 as moral damages and
₱25,000.00 as exemplary damages for each count of rape.
Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.

Page 85 of 187
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, certificate of live birth is a public record in the custody
appellee, vs. GENARO CAYABYAB y FERNANDEZ, of the local civil registrar who is a public officer.
appellant. Clearly, therefore, the presentation of the photocopy of
Criminal Law; Rape; Rape, such as committed the birth certificate of Alpha Jane is admissible as
against a “child below seven (7) years old,” is a dastardly secondary evidence to prove its contents. Production of
and repulsive crime which merit no less than the penalty the original may be dispensed with, in the trial court’s
of death.—Rape, such as committed against a “child discretion, whenever in the case at hand the opponent
below seven (7) years old,” is a dastardly and repulsive does not bona fide dispute the contents of the document
crime which merit no less than the penalty of death and no other useful purpose will be served by requiring
pursuant to Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code. production. In the case at bar, the defense did not
This special qualifying circumstance of age must be dispute the contents of the photocopied birth
specifically pleaded or alleged with certainty in the certificate; in fact it admitted the same. Having failed to
information and proven during the trial; otherwise the raise a valid and timely objection against the
penalty of death cannot be imposed. presentation of this secondary evidence the same
Same; Same; Evidence; The best evidence to prove the became a primary evidence, and deemed admitted and
age of a person is the original birth certificate or the other party is bound thereby.
certified true copy thereof and in its absence, similar Same; Same; Damages; Moral damages is distinct
authentic documents may be presented such as from exemplary damages, hence must be awarded
baptismal certificates and school records.—To separately.—Anent the award of damages, we sustain
paraphrase Pruna, the best evidence to prove the age of the award of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity consistent
a person is the original birth certificate or certified true with the prevailing jurisprudence that if the crime is
copy thereof; in their absence, similar authentic qualified by circumstances which warrant the
documents may be presented such as baptismal imposition of the death penalty by applicable
certificates and school records. If the original or amendatory laws, the accused should be ordered to pay
certified true copy of the birth certificate is not the complainant the amount of P75,000.00 as civil
available, credible testimonies of the victim’s mother or indemnity. The Court notes that the trial court awarded
a member of the family may be sufficient under certain P50,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages. Moral
circumstances. In the event that both the birth damages is distinct from exemplary damages, hence
certificate or other authentic documents and the must be awarded separately. The award of moral
testimonies of the victim’s mother or other qualified damages is automatically granted in rape cases without
relative are unavailable, the testimony of the victim may need of further proof other than the commission of the
be admitted in evidence provided that it is expressly crime because it is assumed that a rape victim has
and clearly admitted by the accused. actually suffered moral injuries entitling her to such
Same; Same; Same; Best Evidence Rule; A certificate award. However, the award of P50,000.00 must be
of live birth is a public record in the custody of the local increased to P75,000.00 in accord with prevailing
civil registrar who is a public officer, and the jurisprudence. As regards exemplary damages, we held
presentation of a photocopy is admissible as secondary in People v. Catubig that the presence of an aggravating
evidence to prove its contents.—Without doubt, a circumstance, whether ordinary or qualifying, entitles

Page 86 of 187
the offended party to an award of exemplary damages. Her mother, Metchie arrived shortly thereafter and
Conformably, we award the amount of P25,000.00 as Alpha Jane told her what had happened. She
exemplary damages in accord with the prevailing immediately reported the incident to the barangay
jurisprudence. officials and brought Alpha Jane to the Philippine Air
Force General Hospital for medical examination. She
AUTOMATIC REVIEW of a decision of the Regional also sought assistance from the police at the 521st Air
Trial Court of Pasay City, Br. 109. Police Squadron who, after gathering information from
the victim, arrested the appellant at his house.5 Alpha
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. Jane was brought to the PNP Crime Laboratory at
The Solicitor General for appellee. CampCrame the following day,6 and on August 10, 2001,
Public Attorney’s Office for appellant. to the Child Protection Unit (CPU) at UP-PGH7 for
further medical examinations, which both found
PER CURIAM: hymenal abrasions and lacerations, respectively, on the
victim's genitalia.8

On August 10, 2001, appellant was charged with rape


Appellant Genaro Cayabyab y Fernandez was sentenced before the RegionalTrialCourtofPasayCity in an
to death by the RegionalTrialCourtofPasayCity, Branch Information that reads:
109, in Criminal Case No. 01-1311, for rape committed
against six-year-old Alpha Jane Bertiz.1 That on or about the 07th day of August 2001, in Pasay
City, Metro , Philippines and within the jurisdiction of
Alpha Jane was born on November 26, 1994,2 and the this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
eldest among the six children of Conrado and Metchie GENARO CAYABYAB Y FERNANDEZ, did then and
Bertiz.3 She was six years and nine months old when the there wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously by means of
rape was committed on August 7, 2001. force and intimidation have carnal knowledge of
ALPHA JEAN BERTIS Y JONGCO, a minor six (6) years
On that day, at around 6:00 p.m., Alpha Jane was at of age, against her will and consent.
home in Manlunas St., Lagoon Area, Villamor Airbase,
PasayCity, taking care of her younger siblings. Her CONTRARY TO LAW.9
mother went to buy kerosene, while her father was out.
On the guise of teaching arithmetic, appellant went to When arraigned, appellant pleaded not guilty to the
the victim's house and asked her to lie down on her charge. Trial then ensued.
father's bed. When she refused, appellant removed her
clothes and his own clothes, then forced her to lie down Appellant raised the defenses of denial and alibi. He
on the bed and laid on top of her and inserted his penis testified that on August 7, 2001, he was plying his
into her vagina. Alpha Jane shouted in pain which normal route inside the Villamor Airbase as a tricycle
startled the appellant who sprayed her with tear gas driver from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.10 After returning the
and left.4 tricycle to its owner Roberto Gabo at the corner of 14th
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and 15th Sts., Villamor Airbase, he reached home at Supreme Court in cases where the penalty imposed is
around 7:30 p.m and went to sleep after eating death, reclusion perpetuaor life imprisonment, this case
dinner.11 At around 9:30 p.m., he woke up to urinate at was transferred to the Court of Appeals,17 which
the back of their house when three (3) policemen affirmed in toto the decision of the trial court, thus:
arrested and mauled him.12 At the headquarters, he was
forced to admit the rape13 while the victim's father IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the decision of the
asked for money in exchange for his release, which he trial court finding accused-appellant guilty beyond
refused.14 reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and sentencing
him to suffer the supreme penalty of death
The trial court gave credence to the testimonies of the is AFFIRMED intoto, and accordingly certifies the case
prosecution witnesses. It found the victim's testimony and elevate the entire records to the Supreme Court for
consistent with the medical findings of the doctors from review pursuant to Rule124, Section 13[a] of the Revised
the PNP Crime Laboratory and CPU, UP-PGH. Rules on Criminal Procedure, as amended by A.M. No.
Moreover, it applied the rule that an unsubstantiated 00-5-03-SC.
defense of denial and alibi cannot prevail over a positive
and categorical testimony of a minor victim. Finally, it SO ORDERED.18
appreciated the qualifying circumstance of minority
and imposed the penalty of death. The dispositive We have painstakingly reviewed the evidence on record
portion reads: and found no cogent reason to disturb the findings of
the trial court and the appellate court. There is no
In view of all the foregoing, the Court opines that the doubt that appellant raped Alpha Jane on August 7, 2001
prosecution has proven the guilt of the accused Genaro inside their house at Villamor Airbase, PasayCity. This
Cayabyab y Fernandez beyond reasonable doubt for credibility given by the trial court to the rape victim is
rape as defined and penalized under Article 335, an important aspect of evidence19 which appellate
paragraph 3 and 4 as the victim herein is only six (6) courts can rely on because of its unique opportunity to
years old and hereby sentence accused Genaro observe the witnesses, particularly their demeanor,
Cayabyab y Fernandez to DEATH and to pay civil conduct, and attitude, during the direct and cross-
indemnity in the amount of Php 75,000.00 and moral and examination by counsel.
exemplary damages in the amount of Php 50,000.00 with
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. On direct examination, Alpha Jane narrated the
incident and positively identified appellant as her
SO ORDERED.15 assailant, thus:

The case was directly elevated to this Court for Fiscal Barrera:
automatic review. However, pursuant to our decision
in People v. Mateo16 modifying the pertinent provisions Now at around 6:00 p.m. of August 7, 2001 where were
of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure insofar as you?
direct appeals from the Regional Trial Court to the
Page 88 of 187
A. I was inside our house. Q. After that what else happened?

Q. You mean your house at lagoon area, Villamor Air A. He asked me to lie down on my father's bed.
Base, Pasay City?
Q. Did you follow him?
A. Yes, sir.
A. No, sir, I did not follow.
Q. What about you mother and father where were they
on that date and time? Q. And so what else happened?

A. My mother bought gas while my father was A. He removed my clothes 'hinubaran niya ako; he
'naglalakad ng spray gun for painting. removed my shorts and panty.

Q. Who were left in your house on August 7, 2001 at 6:00 Q. After Kuya Jimmy removed your shorts and panty,
p.m. while your mother bought gas and your father was what happened?
walking with his spray gun used for painting?
A. 'Pinatungan po niya ako', he laid on top of me.
A. My brothers and sisters.
Q. What happened when he laid on top of you?
Q. While in your house on said date and time do you
know of any unusual incident that happened to you? A. He inserted his penis inside my private part.

A. Yes, sir. Fiscal Barrera:

Q. What was that unusual incident that happened to What did you do when this Kuya Jimmy inserted his
you? penis to your private part?

A. Kuya Jimmy entered our house. A. I shouted, sir.

Q. After Kuya Jimmy entered your house, what Q. After Kuya Jimmy inserted his penis inside your
happened next? vagina and you shouted, what happened?

A. Kuya Jimmy called for me inside our house. A. 'Pinakawalan niya ako', he released me.

Q. What did you do when Kuya Jimmy called for you? Q. Then what happened?

A. He asked me one plus one and I answered two. A. 'Tinergas niya ako.

Page 89 of 187
Q. After Kuya Jimmy teargas you, what happened? EXAMINATION

A. I run away. Hymen: Tanner Stage 2, hymenal transection at 5


oclock, Type of Hymen: Anullar
Q. Regarding what Kuya Jimmy did to you, did you
report it to your mother? ...

A. Yes, sir. IMPRESSIONS

Q. This Kuya Jimmy whom you said went inside your Evidence of blunt force or penetrating trauma.
house and removed your shorts and panty and
thereafter inserted his penis inside your vagina on (Exh. 'L', p. 8, Records)
August 7, 2001 can you point at him if you see him?
Dr. Baluyut explained that in her findings, the terms
A. Yes, sir. hymenal transection at 5 oclock and laceration at 5
oclock are synonymous (TSN, November 20, 2001, p. 6).
Q. If this Kuya Jimmy Cayabyab is inside the courtroom Dr. Baluyut further explained that there was prior
will you be able to identify him? injury to the victim's hymen which might have been
caused by the insertion of a blunt object such as an
A. Yes, sir. erected penis which was compatible with the victim's
claim that she had been raped (TSN, November 20, 2001,
Q. Is he inside the courtroom? pp. 6-7).21

Interpreter: The trial court correctly imposed the death penalty.

Witness pointed to a person who answered by the name Rape, such as committed against a 'child below seven (7)
of Genaro Cayabyab.20 years old', is a dastardly and repulsive crime which
merit no less than the penalty of death pursuant to
Despite grueling cross-examination by the defense Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code. This special
suggesting extortion by the victim's father, Alpha Jane qualifying circumstance of age must be specifically
remained steadfast and consistent that it was appellant pleaded or alleged with certainty in the information and
who raped her. The victim's testimony was supported by proven during the trial; otherwise the penalty of death
the medico-legal report of the medico-legal experts from cannot be imposed.
the PNP Crime Laboratory and CPU, UP-PGH, to wit:
In the case of People v. Pruna,22 this Court took note of
ANO-GENITAL conflicting pronouncements concerning the
appreciation of minority, either as an element of the
crime or as a qualifying circumstance. There were a
Page 90 of 187
number of cases where no birth certificate was c. If the victim is alleged to be below 12 years of age and
presented where the Court ruled that the age of the what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 18
victim was not duly proved.23 On the other hand, there years old.
were also several cases where we ruled that the age of
the rape victim was sufficiently established despite the 4. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, authentic
failure of the prosecution to present the birth certificate document, or the testimony of the victim's mother or
of the offended party to prove her age.24 Thus, in order relatives concerning the victim's age, the complainant's
to remove any confusion, we set in Pruna the testimony will suffice provided that it is expressly and
following guidelines in appreciating age, either as an clearly admitted by the accused.78
element of the crime or as a qualifying circumstance.
5. It is the prosecution that has the burden of proving
1. The best evidence to prove the age of the offended the age of the offended party. The failure of the accused
party is an original or certified true copy of the to object to the testimonial evidence regarding age shall
certificate of live birth of such party. not be taken against him.25

2. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, similar To paraphrase Pruna, the best evidence to prove the age
authentic documents such as baptismal certificate and of a person is the original birth certificate or certified
school records which show the date of birth of the true copy thereof; in their absence, similar authentic
victim would suffice to prove age. documents may be presented such as baptismal
certificates and school records. If the original or
3. If the certificate of live birth or authentic document is certified true copy of the birth certificate is not
shown to have been lost or destroyed or otherwise available, credible testimonies of the victim's mother or
unavailable, the testimony, if clear and credible, of the a member of the family may be sufficient under certain
victim's mother or a member of the family either by circumstances. In the event that both the birth
affinity or consanguinity who is qualified to testify on certificate or other authentic documents and the
matters respecting pedigree such as the exact age or testimonies of the victim's mother or other qualified
date of birth of the offended party pursuant to Section relative are unavailable, the testimony of the victim may
40, Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence shall be sufficient be admitted in evidence provided that it is expressly
under the following circumstances: and clearly admitted by the accused.

a. If the victim is alleged to be below 3 years of age and In Pruna, no birth certificate or any similar authentic
what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 7 document, such as the baptismal certificate of the
years old; victim was presented to prove her age. The trial court
based its finding that Lizette was 3 years old when she
b. If the victim is alleged to be below 7 years of age and was raped on the Medico-Legal Report, and the fact that
what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 12 the defense did not contest her age and questioned her
years old; qualification to testify because of her tender age. It was
however noted that the Medico-Legal Report never
Page 91 of 187
mentioned her age and only the testimony of her mother (a) When the original has been lost or destroyed, or
was presented to establish Lizette's age. The Court cannot be produced in court, without bad faith on the
found that there was uncertainty as to the victim's exact part of the offeror;
age, hence, it required that corroborative evidence, such
as her birth certificate, baptismal certificate or any (b) When the original is in the custody or under the
other authentic document should be introduced in control of the party against whom the evidence is
evidence in order that the qualifying circumstance of offered, and the latter fails to produce it after
'below seven (7) years old is appreciated. reasonable notice;

Unlike in Pruna, the trial court in this case made a (c) When the original consists of numerous accounts or
categorical finding that Alpha Jane was only 6 years old other documents which cannot be examined in court
at the time she was raped, based not only on the without great loss of time and the fact sought to be
testimonies of the complainant and her mother, but also established from them is only the general result of the
on the strength of the photocopy of Alpha Jane's birth whole; and
certificate. It is well to note that the defense did not
object to the presentation of the birth certificate; on the (d) When the original is a public record in the custody of
contrary it admitted the same 'as to fact of birth. a public officer or is recorded in a public
office. [Emphasis supplied]
We are not unaware of our ruling in People v.
Mantis26 that a mere photocopy of the birth certificate, Without doubt, a certificate of live birth is a public
in the absence of any showing that the original copy was record in the custody of the local civil registrar who is a
lost or destroyed, or was unavailable, without the fault public officer. Clearly, therefore, the presentation of the
of the prosecution, does not prove the victim's minority, photocopy of the birth certificate of Alpha Jane is
for said photocopy does not qualify as competent admissible as secondary evidence to prove its contents.
evidence for that purpose. Production of the original may be dispensed with, in the
trial court's discretion, whenever in the case at hand the
However, there are other exceptions to the 'best opponent does not bona fide dispute the contents of the
evidence rule as expressly provided under Section 3, document and no other useful purpose will be served by
Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, which reads: requiring production.27

Sec. 3. Original document must be produced; exceptions. In the case at bar, the defense did not dispute the
' When the subject of inquiry is the contents of a contents of the photocopied birth certificate; in fact it
document, no evidence shall be admissible other than admitted the same. Having failed to raise a valid and
the original document itself, except in the following timely objection against the presentation of this
cases: secondary evidence the same became a primary
evidence, and deemed admitted and the other party is
bound thereby.28

Page 92 of 187
In fine, we find that the prosecution sufficiently proved appellant is further ordered to pay the victim P75,000.00
that Alpha Jane was only six-years-old, being born on as moral damages and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages.
November 26, 1994, when the rape incident happened on
August 7, 2001. SO ORDERED.

Anent the award of damages, we sustain the award of


P75,000.00 as civil indemnity consistent with the
prevailing jurisprudence that if the crime is qualified by
circumstances which warrant the imposition of the
death penalty by applicable amendatory laws, the
accused should be ordered to pay the complainant the
amount of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity.

The Court notes that the trial court awarded P50,000.00


as moral and exemplary damages. Moral damages is
distinct from exemplary damages, hence must be
awarded separately. The award of moral damages is
automatically granted in rape cases without need of
further proof other than the commission of the crime
because it is assumed that a rape victim has actually
suffered moral injuries entitling her to such
award.29 However, the award of P50,000.00 must be
increased to P75,000.00 in accord with prevailing
jurisprudence.30 As regards exemplary damages, we held
in People v. Catubig31 that the presence of an
aggravating circumstance, whether ordinary or
qualifying, entitles the offended party to an award of
exemplary damages. Conformably, we award the
amount of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages in accord
with the prevailing jurisprudence.32

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court


of Pasay City, Branch 109, in Criminal Case No. 01-1311,
as affirmed in toto by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CR.-H.C. No. 00258, finding appellant Genaro Cayabyab
y Fernandez guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of rape and imposing the penalty
of DEATH33 is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that
Page 93 of 187
G.R. No. 170604. September 2, 2013.* Civil Law; Quieting of Titles; For an action to quiet title to
prosper, two indispensable requisites must concur, namely: (a) the
HEIRS OF MARGARITA PRODON, petitioners, vs. plaintiff or complainant has a legal or an equitable title to or interest
HEIRS OF MAXIMO S. ALVAREZ AND VALENTINA in the real property subject of the action; and (b) the deed, claim,
CLAVE, REPRESENTED BY REV. MAXIMO encumbrance, or proceeding claimed to be casting cloud on his title
must be shown to be in fact invalid or inoperative despite its prima
ALVAREZ, JR., respondents. facie appearance of validity or legal efficacy.—This case involves an
Remedial Law; Evidence; Best Evidence Rule; The Best Evidence action for quieting of title, a common-law remedy for the removal of
Rule stipulates that in proving the terms of a written document the any cloud or doubt or uncertainty on the title to real property by
original of the document must be produced in court.—The Best reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance, or proceeding
Evidence Rule stipulates that in proving the terms of a written that is apparently valid or effective, but is, in truth and in fact,
document the original of the document must be produced in court. invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, and may be
The rule excludes any evidence other than the original writing to prejudicial to said title. In such an action, the competent court is
prove the contents thereof, unless the offeror proves: (a) the tasked to determine the respective rights of the complainant and
existence or due execution of the original; (b) the loss and other claimants to place things in their proper place and to make the
destruction of the original, or the reason for its non-production in one who has no rights to said immovable respect and not disturb the
court; and (c) the absence of bad faith on the part of the offeror to other. The action is for the benefit of both, so that he who has the
which the unavailability of the original can be attributed. right would see every cloud of doubt over the property dissipated,
Same; Same; Same; The primary purpose of the Best Evidence and he can thereafter fearlessly introduce any desired
Rule is to ensure that the exact contents of a writing are brought improvements, as well as use, and even abuse the property. For an
before the court.—The primary purpose of the Best Evidence Rule is action to quiet title to prosper, two indispensable requisites must
to ensure that the exact contents of a writing are brought before the concur, namely: (a) the plaintiff or complainant has a legal or an
court, considering that (a) the precision in presenting to the court equitable title to or interest in the real property subject of the
the exact words of the writing is of more than average importance, action; and (b) the deed, claim, encumbrance, or proceeding claimed
particularly as respects operative or dispositive instruments, such as to be casting cloud on his title must be shown to be in fact invalid or
deeds, wills and contracts, because a slight variation in words may inoperative despite its prima facie appearance of validity or legal
mean a great difference in rights; (b) there is a substantial hazard of efficacy.
inaccuracy in the human process of making a copy by handwriting Same; Same; The action for quieting of title may be based on the
or typewriting; and (c) as respects oral testimony purporting to give fact that a deed is invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable. The
from memory the terms of a writing, there is a special risk of error, terms of the writing may or may not be material to an action for
greater than in the case of attempts at describing other situations quieting of title, depending on the ground alleged by the plaintiff.—
generally. The rule further acts as an insurance against fraud. The action for quieting of title may be based on the fact that a deed
Verily, if a party is in the possession of the best evidence and is invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable. The terms of the
withholds it, and seeks to substitute inferior evidence in its place, writing may or may not be material to an action for quieting of title,
the presumption naturally arises that the better evidence is withheld depending on the ground alleged by the plaintiff. For instance, when
for fraudulent purposes that its production would expose and defeat. an action for quieting of title is based on the unenforceability of a
Lastly, the rule protects against misleading inferences resulting contract for not complying with the Statute of Frauds, Article 1403 of
from the intentional or unintentional introduction of selected the Civil Code specifically provides that evidence of the agreement
portions of a larger set of writings. cannot be received without the writing, or a secondary evidence of
Same; Same; Same; The Best Evidence Rule applies only when its contents. There is then no doubt that the Best Evidence Rule will
the terms of a writing are in issue.—The Best Evidence Rule applies come into play.
only when the terms of a writing are in issue. When the evidence
sought to be introduced concerns external facts, such as the PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of
existence, execution or delivery of the writing, without reference to the Court of Appeals.
its terms, the Best Evidence Rule cannot be invoked. In such a case, The facts are stated in the opinion of the
secondary evidence may be admitted even without accounting for
the original. Court.468

Page 94 of 187
Acosta Law Office for respondents. property taxes due thereon; that they could not locate
BERSAMIN, J.: the owner’s duplicate copy of TCT No. 84797, but the
original copy of TCT No. 84797 on file with the Register
The Best Evidence Rule applies only when the terms of of Deeds of Manila was intact; that the original copy
a written document are the subject of the inquiry. In an contained an entry stating that the property had been
action for quieting of title based on the inexistence of a sold to defendant Prodon subject to the right of
deed of sale with right to repurchase that purportedly repurchase; and that the entry had been maliciously
cast a cloud on the title of a property, therefore, the done by Prodon because the deed of sale with right to
Best Evidence Rule does not apply, and the defendant is repurchase covering the property did not exist.
not precluded from presenting evidence other than the Consequently, they prayed that the entry be cancelled,
original document. and that Prodon be adjudged liable for damages.

The Case The entry sought to be cancelled reads:

This appeal seeks the review and reversal of the ENTRY NO. 3816/T-84797 – SALE W/ RIGHT TO
decision promulgated on August 18, 2005,1 whereby the REPURCHASE IN FAVOR OF: MARGARITA PRODON,
Court of Appeals (CA) reversed the judgment rendered SINGLE, FOR THE SUM OF ₱120,000.00, THE HEREIN
on November 5, 1997 by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), REGISTERED OWNER RESERVING FOR HIMSELF
Branch 35, in Manila in Civil Case No. 96-78481 entitled THE RIGHTS TO REPURCHASE SAID PROPERTY FOR
Heirs of Maximo S Alvarez and Valentina Clave, THE SAME AMOUNT WITHIN THE PERIOD OF SIX
represented by Rev. Maximo S. Alvarez and Valentina MONTH (sic) FROM EXECUTION THEREOF. OTHER
Clave, represented by Rev. Maximo Alvarez, Jr. v. CONDITION SET FORTH IN (DOC. NO. 321, PAGE 66,
Margarita Prodon and the Register of Deeds of the City BOOK NO. VIII OF LISEO A. RAZON, NOT.PUB. OF
of Manila dismissing the respondents’ action for MANILA)
quieting of title.2
DATE OF INSTRUMENT – SEPT. 9, 1975
Antecedents
DATE OF INSCRIPTION – SEPT. 10, 1975,
In their complaint for quieting of title and damages AT 3:42 P.M.4
against Margarita Prodon,3 the respondents averred as
the plaintiffs that their parents, the late spouses In her answer,5 Prodon claimed that the late Maximo
Maximo S. Alvarez, Sr. and Valentina Clave, were the Alvarez, Sr. had executed on September 9, 1975 the deed
registered owners of that parcel of land covered by of sale with right to repurchase; that the deed had been
Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 84797 of the registered with the Register of Deeds and duly
Register of Deeds of Manila; that their parents had been annotated on the title; that the late Maximo Alvarez, Sr.
in possession of the property during their lifetime; that had been granted six months from September 9, 1975
upon their parents’ deaths, they had continued the within which to repurchase the property; and that she
possession of the property as heirs, paying the real
Page 95 of 187
had then become the absolute owner of the property due Primary Entry Book of the Register of Deeds of Manila
to its non-repurchase within the given 6-month period. (Exhibit 4).

During trial, the custodian of the records of the Page 66 of Exhibit 2 discloses, among others, the
property attested that the copy of the deed of sale with following entries, to wit: "No. 321; Nature of Instrument:
right to repurchase could not be found in the files of the Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase; Name of
Register of Deeds of Manila. Persons: Maximo S. Alvarez and Valentina Alvarez
(ack.); Date and Month: 9 Sept." (Exhibit 2-a).
On November 5, 1997, the RTC rendered
judgment,6 finding untenable the plaintiffs’ contention Exhibit 4, on the other hand, also reveals the following
that the deed of sale with right to repurchase did not data, to wit: ‘Number of Entry: 3816; Month, Day and
exist. It opined that although the deed itself could not Year: Sept. 10, 1975; Hour and Minute: 3:42 p.m.; Nature
be presented as evidence in court, its contents could of Contract: Sale with Right to Repurchase; Executed
nevertheless be proved by secondary evidence in by: Maximo S. Alvarez; In favor: Margarita Prodon; Date
accordance with Section 5, Rule 130 of the Rules of of Document: 9-9-75; Contract value: 120,000.’ (Exhibit 4-
Court, upon proof of its execution or existence and of a). Under these premises the Court entertains no doubt
the cause of its unavailability being without bad faith. It about the execution and existence of the controverted
found that the defendant had established the execution deed of sale with right to repurchase.7
and existence of the deed, to wit:
The RTC rejected the plaintiffs’ submission that the late
In the case under consideration, the execution and Maximo Alvarez, Sr. could not have executed the deed of
existence of the disputed deed of sale with right to sale with right to repurchase because of illness and poor
repurchase accomplished by the late Maximo Alvarez in eyesight from cataract. It held that there was no proof
favor of defendant Margarita Prodon has been that the illness had rendered him bedridden and
adequately established by reliable and trustworthy immobile; and that his poor eyesight could be corrected
evidences (sic). Defendant Prodon swore that on by wearing lenses.
September 9, 1975 she purchased the land covered by
TCT No. 84747 (Exhibit 1) from its registered owners The RTC concluded that the original copy of the deed of
Maximo S. Alvarez, Sr. and Valentina Clave (TSN, Aug. 1, sale with right to repurchase had been lost, and that
1997, pp.5-7); that the deed of sale with right to earnest efforts had been exerted to produce it before the
repurchase was drawn and prepared by Notary Public court. It believed Jose Camilon’s testimony that he had
Eliseo Razon (Ibid., p. 9); and that on September 10, handed the original to one Atty. Anacleto Lacanilao, but
1975, she registered the document in the Register of that he could not anymore retrieve such original from
Deeds of Manila (Ibid., pp.18-19). Atty. Lacanilao because the latter had meanwhile
suffered from a heart ailment and had been
The testimony of Margarita Prodon has been confirmed recuperating.
by the Notarial Register of Notary Public Eliseo Razon
dated September 10, 1975 (Exhibit 2), and by the Ruling of the CA
Page 96 of 187
On appeal, the respondents assigned the following The case of the Department of Education Culture and
errors, namely: Sports (DECS) v. Del Rosario in GR No. 146586 (January
26, 2005) is instructive in resolving this issue. The said
A. case held:

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING "Secondary evidence of the contents of a document
THAT THE DUE EXECUTION AND EXISTENCE OF THE refers to evidence other than the original document
QUESTIONED DEED OF SALE WITH RIGHT TO itself. A party may introduce secondary evidence of the
REPURCHASE HAS BEEN DULY PROVED BY THE contents of a written instrument not only when the
DEFENDANT. original is lost or destroyed, but also when it cannot be
produced in court, provided there is no bad faith on the
B. part of the offeror. However, a party must first
satisfactorily explain the loss of the best or primary
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN ADMITTING evidence before he can resort to secondary evidence. A
THE PIECES OF EVIDENCE PRESENTED BY THE party must first present to the court proof of loss or
DEFENDANTS AS PROOFS OF THE DUE EXECUTION other satisfactory explanation for non-production of the
AND EXISTENCE OF THE QUESTIONED DEED OF original instrument. The correct order of proof is as
SALE WITH RIGHT TO REPURCHASE. follows: existence, execution, loss, contents, although
the court in its discretion may change this order if
C. necessary."

THE TRIAL COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN FINDING It is clear, therefore, that before secondary evidence as
THAT THE QUESTIONED DEED OF SALE WITH RIGHT to the contents of a document may be admitted in
TO REPURCHASE HAS BEEN LOST OR OTHERWISE evidence, the existence of [the] document must first be
COULD NOT BE PRODUCED IN COURT WITHOUT THE proved, likewise, its execution and its subsequent loss.
FAULT OF THE DEFENDANT.
In the present case, the trial court found all three (3)
D. prerequisites ha[ve] been established by Margarita
Prodon. This Court, however, after going through the
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN REJECTING records of the case, believes otherwise. The Court finds
THE PLAINTIFFS’ CLAIM THAT THEIR FATHER that the following circumstances put doubt on the very
COULD NOT HAVE EXECUTED THE QUESTIONED existence of the alleged deed of sale. Evidence on record
DOCUMENT AT THE TIME OF ITS ALLEGED showed that Maximo Alvarez was hospitalized between
EXECUTION.8 August 23, 1975 to September 3, 1975 (Exhibit "K"). It was
also established by said Exhibit "L" that Maximo Alvarez
On August 18, 2005, the CA promulgated its assailed suffered from paralysis of half of his body and blindness
decision, reversing the RTC, and ruling as follows: due to cataract. It should further be noted that barely 6
days later, on September 15, 1975, Maximo Alvarez was
Page 97 of 187
again hospitalized for the last time because he died on is sufficient to satisfy the court that the instrument is
October of 1975 without having left the hospital. This indeed lost.
lends credence to plaintiffs-appellants’ assertion that
their father, Maximo Alvarez, was not physically able to However, all duplicates or counterparts must be
personally execute the deed of sale and puts to serious accounted for before using copies. For, since all the
doubt [on] Jose Camilion’s testimony that Maximo duplicates or multiplicates are parts of the writing itself
Alvarez, with his wife, went to his residence on to be proved, no excuse for non-production of the
September 5, 1975 to sell the property and that again writing itself can be regarded as established until it
they met on September 9, 1975 to sign the alleged deed appears that all of its parts are unavailable (i.e. lost,
of sale (Exhibits "A" and "1"). The Court also notes that retained by the opponent or by a third person or the
from the sale in 1975 to 1996 when the case was finally like).
filed, defendant-appellee never tried to recover
possession of the property nor had she shown that she In the case at bar, Atty. Emiliano Ibasco, Jr., notary
ever paid Real Property Tax thereon. Additionally, the public who notarized the document testified that the
Transfer Certificate of Title had not been transferred in alleged deed of sale has about four or five original
the name of the alleged present owner. These actions copies. Hence, all originals must be accounted for before
put to doubt the validity of the claim of ownership secondary evidence can be given of any one. This[,]
because their actions are contrary to that expected of petitioners failed to do. Records show that petitioners
legitimate owners of property. merely accounted for three out of four or five original
copies." (218 SCRA at 607-608)
Moreover, granting, in arguendo, that the deed of sale
did exist, the fact of its loss had not been duly In the case at bar, Jose Camilion’s testimony showed
established. In De Vera, et al. v Sps. Aguilar (218 SCRA that a copy was given to Atty. Anacleto Lacanilao but he
602 1993), the Supreme Court held that after proof of the could not recover said copy. A perusal of the testimony
execution of the Deed it must also be established that does not convince this Court that Jose Camilion had
the said document had been lost or destroyed, thus: exerted sufficient effort to recover said copy. x x x

"After the due execution of the document has been xxxx


established, it must next be proved that said document
has been lost or destroyed. The destruction of the The foregoing testimony does not convince this Court
instrument may be proved by any person knowing the that Jose Camilion had exerted sufficient effort to
fact. The loss may be shown by any person who knew obtain the copy which he said was with Atty. Lacanilao.
the fact of its loss, or by anyone who had made, in the It should be noted that he never claimed that Atty.
judgment of the court, a sufficient examination in the Lacanilao was already too sick to even try looking for
place or places where the document or papers of similar the copy he had. But even assuming this is to be so, Jose
character are usually kept by the person in whose Camilion did not testify that Atty. Lacanilao had no one
custody the document lost was, and has been unable to in his office to help him find said copy. In fine, this
find it; or who has made any other investigation which Court believes that the trial court erred in admitting the
Page 98 of 187
secondary evidence because Margarita Prodon failed to Hence, the heirs of Margarita Prodon (petitioners) have
prove the loss or destruction of the deed. appealed to the Court through petition for review on
certiorari.
In fine, the Court finds that the secondary evidence
should not have been admitted because Margarita Issues
Prodon failed to prove the existence of the original deed
of sale and to establish its loss. In this appeal, the petitioners submit the following as
issues, namely: (a) whether the pre-requisites for the
xxxx admission of secondary evidence had been complied
with; (b) whether the late Maximo Alvarez, Sr. had been
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of physically incapable of personally executing the deed of
the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 35 in Civil sale with right to repurchase;and (c) whether Prodon’s
Case No. 96-78481 is hereby REVERSED and a new one claim of ownership was already barred by laches.12
entered ordering the cancellation of Entry No. 3816/T-
84797 inscribed at the back of TCT No. 84797 in order to Ruling
remove the cloud over plaintiff-appellants’ title.
The appeal has no merit.
SO ORDERED.9
1.
The heirs of Margarita Prodon (who meanwhile died on
March 3, 2002) filed an Omnibus Motion for Substitution Best Evidence Rulewas not applicable herein
of Defendant and for Reconsideration of the
Decision,10 wherein they alleged that the CA erred: (a) in We focus first on an unseemly error on the part of the
finding that the pre-requisites for the admission of CA that, albeit a harmless one, requires us to re-examine
secondary evidence had not been complied with; (b) in and rectify in order to carry out our essential
concluding that the late Maximo Alvarez, Sr. had been responsibility of educating the Bench and the Bar on
physically incapable of personally executing the deed of the admissibility of evidence. An analysis leads us to
sale with right to repurchase; and (c) in blaming them conclude that the CA and the RTC both misapplied the
for not recovering the property, for not paying the Best Evidence Rule to this case, and their
realty taxes thereon, and for not transferring the title in misapplication diverted the attention from the decisive
their names. issue in this action for quieting of title. We shall
endeavor to correct the error in order to turn the case
On November 22, 2005, the CA issued to the right track.
itsresolution,11 allowing the substitution of the heirs of
Margarita Prodon, and denying their motion for Section 3, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court embodies the
reconsideration for its lack of merit. Best Evidence

Rule, to wit:
Page 99 of 187
Section 3. Original document must be produced; before the court,14 considering that (a) the precision in
exceptions. — When the subject of inquiry is the presenting to the court the exact words of the writing is
contents of a document, no evidence shall be admissible of more than average importance, particularly as
other than the original document itself, except in the respects operative or dispositive instruments, such as
following cases: deeds, wills and contracts, because a slight variation in
words may mean a great difference in rights; (b) there is
(a) When the original has been lost or destroyed, a substantial hazard of inaccuracy in the human process
or cannot be produced in court, without bad faith of making a copy by handwriting or typewriting; and (c)
on the part of the offeror; as respects oral testimony purporting to give from
memory the terms of a writing, there is a special risk of
(b) When the original is in the custody or under error, greater than in the case of attempts at describing
control of the party against whom the evidence is other situations generally.15 The rule further acts as an
offered, and the latter fails to produce it after insurance against fraud.16Verily, if a party is in the
reasonable notice; possession of the best evidence and withholds it, and
seeks to substitute inferior evidence in its place, the
(c) When the original consists of numerous presumption naturally arises that the better evidence is
accounts or other documents which cannot be withheld for fraudulent purposes that its production
examined in court without great loss of time and would expose and defeat.17 Lastly, the rule protects
the fact sought to be established from them is against misleading inferences resulting from the
only the general result of the whole; and intentional or unintentional introduction of selected
portions of a larger set of writings.18
(d) When the original is a public record in the
custody of a public officer or is recorded in a But the evils of mistransmission of critical facts, fraud,
public office. and misleading inferences arise only when the issue
relates to the terms of the writing. Hence, the Best
The Best Evidence Rule stipulates that in proving the Evidence Rule applies only when the terms of a writing
terms of a written document the original of the are in issue. When the evidence sought to be introduced
document must be produced in court. The rule excludes concerns external facts, such as the existence, execution
any evidence other than the original writing to prove or delivery of the writing, without reference to its
the contents thereof, unless the offeror proves: (a) the terms, the Best Evidence Rule cannot be invoked.19 In
existence or due execution of the original; (b) the loss such a case, secondary evidence may be admitted even
and destruction of the original, or the reason for its non- without accounting for the original.
production in court; and (c) the absence of bad faith on
the part of the offeror to which the unavailability of the This case involves an action for quieting of title, a
original can be attributed.13 common-law remedy for the removal of any cloud or
doubt or uncertainty on the title to real property by
The primary purpose of the Best Evidence Rule is to reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance,
ensure that the exact contents of a writing are brought or proceeding that is apparently valid or effective, but

Page 100 of 187


is, in truth and in fact, invalid, ineffective, voidable, or to repurchase, duly executed by the late Maximo
unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title. In Alvarez, Sr., had really existed. They alleged in the
such an action, the competent court is tasked to complaint that:
determine the respective rights of the complainant and
other claimants to place things in their proper place xxxx
and to make the one who has no rights to said
immovable respect and not disturb the other. The action 9. Such entry which could have been maliciously and
is for the benefit of both, so that he who has the right deliberately done by the defendant Margarita Prodon
would see every cloud of doubt over the property created cloud and [is] prejudicial to the title of the
dissipated, and he can thereafter fearlessly introduce property subject matter of this case, since while it is
any desired improvements, as well as use, and even apparently valid or effective, but in truth and in fact it
abuse the property. For an action to quiet title to is invalid, ineffective or unenforceable inasmuch that
prosper, two indispensable requisites must concur, the instrument purporting to be a Deed of Sale with
namely: (a) the plaintiff or complainant has a legal or an right of repurchase mentioned in the said entry does not
equitable title to or interest in the real property subject exist.21
of the action; and (b) the deed, claim, encumbrance, or
proceeding claimed to be casting cloud on his title must xxxx
be shown to be in fact invalid or inoperative despite its
prima facie appearance of validity or legal efficacy.20 On her part, Prodon specifically denied the allegation,
averring in her answer that "sometime [o]n September 9,
The action for quieting of title may be based on the fact 1975, deceased Maximo S. Alvarez lawfully entered into
that a deed is invalid, ineffective, voidable, or a Contract of Sale with Right to Repurchase, object of
unenforceable. The terms of the writing may or may not which is the titled lot located at Endaya Street, Tondo,
be material to an action for quieting of title, depending Manila, in favor of defendant."22 In the pre-trial order,
on the ground alleged by the plaintiff. For instance, the RTC defined the issue to be tried as "[w]hether or
when an action for quieting of title is based on the not the alleged document mentioned in the said entry is
unenforceability of a contract for not complying with existing, valid or unenforceable,"23 and did not include
the Statute of Frauds, Article 1403 of the Civil Code the terms of the deed of sale with right to repurchase
specifically provides that evidence of the agreement among the issues.
cannot be received without the writing, or a secondary
evidence of its contents. There is then no doubt that the Apparently, the parties were fully cognizant of the
Best Evidence Rule will come into play. issues as defined, for none of them thereafter ventured
to present evidence to establish the terms of the deed of
It is not denied that this action does not involve the sale with right to repurchase. In the course of the trial,
terms or contents of the deed of sale with right to however, a question was propounded to Prodon as to
repurchase. The principal issue raised by the who had signed or executed the deed, and the question
respondents as the plaintiffs, which Prodon challenged was objected to based on the Best Evidence Rule. The
head on, was whether or not the deed of sale with right RTC then sustained the objection.24 At that point began
Page 101 of 187
the diversion of the focus in the case. The RTC should right to repurchase, the presentation of evidence other
have outrightly overruled the objection because the fact than the original document, like the testimonies of
sought to be established by the requested testimony was Prodon and Jose Camilon, the Notarial Register of
the execution of the deed, not its terms.25 Despite the Notary Eliseo Razon, and the Primary Entry Book of the
fact that the terms of the writing were not in issue, the Register of Deeds, would have sufficed even without
RTC inexplicably applied the Best Evidence Rule to the first proving the loss or unavailability of the original of
case and proceeded to determine whether the requisites the deed.
for the admission of secondary evidence had been
complied with, without being clear as to what secondary 2.
evidence was sought to be excluded. In the end, the RTC
found in its judgment that Prodon had complied with Prodon did not preponderantly establish the existence
the requisites for the introduction of secondary and due execution of the deed of sale with right to
evidence, and gave full credence to the testimony of repurchase
Jose Camilon explaining the non-production of the
original. On appeal, the CA seconded the RTC’s mistake The foregoing notwithstanding, good trial tactics still
by likewise applying the Best Evidence Rule, except that required Prodon to establish and explain the loss of the
the CA concluded differently, in that it held that Prodon original of the deed of sale with right to repurchase to
had not established the existence, execution, and loss of establish the genuineness and due execution of the
the original document as the pre-requisites for the deed.26 This was because the deed, although a collateral
presentation of secondary evidence. Its application of document, was the foundation of her defense in this
the Best Evidence Rule naturally led the CA to rule that action for quieting of title.27 Her inability to produce the
secondary evidence should not have been admitted, but original logically gave rise to the need for her to prove
like the RTC the CA did not state what excluded its existence and due execution by other means that
secondary evidence it was referring to. could only be secondary under the rules on evidence.
Towards that end, however, it was not required to
Considering that the Best Evidence Rule was not subject the proof of the loss of the original to the same
applicable because the terms of the deed of sale with strict standard to which it would be subjected had the
right to repurchase were not the issue, the CA did not loss or unavailability been a precondition for presenting
have to address and determine whether the existence, secondary evidence to prove the terms of a writing.
execution, and loss, as pre-requisites for the
presentation of secondary evidence, had been A review of the records reveals that Prodon did not
established by Prodon’s evidence. It should have simply adduce proof sufficient to show the lossor explain the
addressed and determined whether or not the unavailability of the original as to justify the
"existence" and "execution" of the deed as the facts in presentation of secondary evidence. Camilon, one of her
issue had been proved by preponderance of evidence. witnesses, testified that he had given the original to her
lawyer, Atty. Anacleto Lacanilao, but that he (Camilon)
Indeed, for Prodon who had the burden to prove the could not anymore retrieve the original because Atty.
existence and due execution of the deed of sale with Lacanilao had been recuperating from his heart
Page 102 of 187
ailment. Such evidence without showing the inability to When was this specifically?
locate the original from among Atty. Lacanilao’s
belongings by himself or by any of his assistants or A
representatives was inadequate. Moreover, a duplicate
original could have been secured from Notary Public Sometime the first week of September or about
Razon, but no effort was shown to have been exerted in September 5, 1975, sir.
that direction.
Q
In contrast, the records contained ample indicia of the
improbability of the existence of the deed. Camilon What was the purpose of the spouses Maximo and
claimed that the late Maximo Alvarez, Sr. had twice Valentina in meeting you on that date?
gone to his residence in Meycauayan, Bulacan, the first
on September 5, 1975, to negotiate the sale of the A
property in question, and the second on September 9,
1975, to execute the deed of sale with right to They were selling a piece of land, sir.
repurchase, viz:
xxxx
Q
Q
Do you also know the deceased plaintiff in this case,
Maximo Alvarez, Sr. and his wife Valentina Clave, Mr. At the time when the spouses Maximo Alvarez, Sr. and
Witness? Valentina Clave approached you to sell their piece of
land located at Endaya, Tondo, Manila, what document,
A if any, did they show you?

Yes, sir. A

Q The title of the land, sir.

A xxxx

Q Q

Under what circumstance were you able to know the You said that on the first week of September or
deceased plaintiff Maximo Alvarez, Sr. and his wife? September 5, 1975 spouses Maximo and Valentina
approached you at the time, what did you tell the
When they went to our house, sir. spouses, if any?

Page 103 of 187


A After Margarita Prodon told you that[,] what happened
next, if any?
I asked them to come back telling them that I was going
to look for a buyer, sir. A

xxxx I waited for the spouses Alvarez to bring them to my


aunt, sir.
Q
Q
You said that you told the spouse[s] Alvarez to just come
back later and that you will look for a buyer, what Were you able to finally bring the spouses before
happened next, if any? Margarita Prodon?

A A

I went to see my aunt Margarita Prodon, sir. Valentina Clave returned to our house and asked me if
they can now sell the piece of land, sir.
Q
Q
A
What did you tell Valentina Clave?
What did you tell your aunt Margarita Prodon?
A
I convinced her to buy the lot.
Q
ATTY. REAL
We went to the house of my aunt so she can meet her
Q personally, sir.

What was the reply of Margarita Prodon, if any? And did the meeting occur?

A WITNESS

She agreed, provided that she should meet the spouses, A


sir.
Yes, sir.
Q

Page 104 of 187


ATTY. REAL March 31 – May 19, 1975 • Prostatitis, c
• Arteriosclerotic heart d
• Atrial fibri
Q • Congestive heart f
• CFC III29
What happened at the meeting?
June 2- June 6, 1975 • Chest pains (Atrial F
• Painful urination (Chronic prostatitis)30
A
August 23-September 3, 1975 • Arteriosclerotic heart d
• Congestive heart failure,
I told Valentina Clave in front of the aunt of my wife • Atrial fibri
that they, the spouses, wanted to sell the land, sir. • Cardiac functional capacity III-B31

September 15-October 2, 1975 • Arteriosclerotic heart d


Q • Atrial fibri
• Congestive heart f
• Pneu
What was the reply of your aunt Margarita Prodon at • Urinary tract inf
the time? • Cerebrovascular accident,
• Upper GI bleeding probably secondary to
ulcers32
A

That Valentina Clave should come back with her The medical history showing the number of very serious
husband because she was going to buy the lot, sir.28 ailments the late Maximo Alvarez, Sr. had been suffering
from rendered it highly improbable for him to travel
The foregoing testimony could not be credible for the from Manila all the way to Meycauayan, Bulacan, where
purpose of proving the due execution of the deed of sale Prodon and Camilon were then residing in order only to
with right to repurchase for three reasons.1âwphi1 negotiate and consummate the sale of the property. This
high improbability was fully confirmed by his son,
The first is that the respondents preponderantly Maximo, Jr., who attested that his father had been
established that the late Maximo Alvarez, Sr. had been seriously ill, and had been in and out of the hospital in
in and out of the hospital around the time that the deed 1975.33 The medical records revealed, too, that on
of sale with right to repurchase had been supposedly September 12, 1975, or three days prior to his final
executed on September 9, 1975. The records manifested admission to the hospital, the late Maximo Alvarez, Sr.
that he had been admitted to the Veterans Memorial had suffered from "[h]igh grade fever, accompanied by
Hospital in Quezon City on several occasions, and had chills, vomiting and cough productive of whitish sticky
then been diagnosed with the serious ailments or sputum;"had been observed to be "conscious" but "weak"
conditions, as follows: and "bedridden" with his heart having "faint" sounds,
irregular rhythm, but no murmurs; and his left upper
extremity and left lower extremity had suffered 90%
d of confinement Diagnosis
motor loss.34 Truly, Prodon’s allegation that the deed of

Page 105 of 187


sale with right to repurchase had been executed on properly. Her inaction was an index of the falsity of her
September 9, 1975 could not command belief. claim against the respondents.

The second is that the annotation on TCT No. 84797 of In view of the foregoing circumstances, we concur with
the deed of sale with right to repurchase and the entry the CA that the respondents preponderantly, proved
in the primary entry book of the Register of Deeds did that the deed of sale with right to repurchase executed
not themselves establish the existence of the deed. They by the late Maximo Alvarez, Sr. did not exist in fact.
proved at best that a document purporting to be a deed
of sale with right to repurchase had been registered WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision
with the Register of Deeds. Verily, the registration alone promulgated on August 18, 2005 by the Court of Appeals
of the deed was not conclusive proof of its authenticity in C.A.-G.R. CV No. 58624 entitled Heirs of Maximo S.
or its due execution by the registered owner of the Alvarez and Valentina Clave, represented by Rev.
property, which was precisely the issue in this case. The Maximo Alvarez, Jr. v. Margarita Prodon and the
explanation for this is that registration, being a specie Register of Deeds of the City Manila; and ORDERS the
of notice, is simply a ministerial act by which an petitioners to pay the costs of suit.
instrument is inscribed in the records of the Register of
Deeds and annotated on the dorsal side of the certificate SO ORDERED.
of title covering the land subject of the instrument.35 It
is relevant to mention that the law on land registration
does not require that only valid instruments be
registered, because the purpose of registration is only to
give notice.36

By the same token, the entry in the notarial register of


Notary Public Razon could only be proof that a deed of
sale with right to repurchase had been notarized by
him, but did not establish the due execution of the deed.

The third is that the respondents’ remaining in the


peaceful possession of the property was further
convincing evidence demonstrating that the late
Maximo Alvarez, Sr. did not execute the deed of sale
with right to repurchase. Otherwise, Prodon would have
herself asserted and exercised her right to take over the
property, legally and physically speaking, upon the
expiration in 1976 of the repurchase period stipulated
under the deed, including transferring the TCT in her
name and paying the real property taxes due on the
Page 106 of 187
Decision[3] of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 79,
G.R. No. 179470. April 20, 2010.*
Las Pias City, in Civil Case No. 4542.
NISSAN NORTH EDSA operating under the name
MOTOR CARRIAGE, INC., petitioner, vs. UNITED
PHILIPPINE SCOUT VETERANS DETECTIVE AND The Facts
PROTECTIVE AGENCY, respondent.
Evidence; Documentary Evidence; Best Evidence Rule; The best
evidence rule is the rule which requires the highest grade of evidence Respondent United Philippine Scout Veterans Detective
to prove a disputed fact, however, it applies only when the contents of
a document are the subject of the inquiry.—Nissan’s reliance on the and Protective Agency (United) is a domestic
best evidence rule is misplaced. The best evidence rule is the rule corporation engaged in the business of providing
which requires the highest grade of evidence to prove a disputed
fact. However, the same applies only when the contents of a security services.[4] In 1993, it entered into a contract for
document are the subject of the inquiry. In this case, the contents of
the service contract between Nissan and United have not been put in security services with petitioner[5] Nissan North Edsa
issue. Neither United nor Nissan disputes the contents of the service (Nissan), and beginning 23 April 1993, it was able to post
contract; as in fact, both parties quoted and relied on the same
provision of the contract (paragraph 17) to support their respective 18 security guards within Nissans compound located in
claims and defenses. Thus, the best evidence rule finds no
application here. EDSA Balintawak, Quezon City.[6]
PETITION for review on certiorari of the decision
and resolution of the Court of Appeals. In the morning of 31 January 1996, Nissan informed
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
United, through the latters General Manager, Mr.
Felipe Antonio B. Remollo and Elmar Jay
Martin I. Dejaresco for petitioner. Ricarte Galope (Galope), that its services were being
Cayton, Manzano, Peñalosa & Morante for terminated beginning 5:00 p.m. of that day.[7] Galope
respondent. personally pleaded with the personnel manager of
PEREZ, J.:
Nissan to reconsider its decision.[8] When Nissan failed
The Case
to act on this verbal request, Galope wrote a
Letter[9] dated 5 February 1996, addressed to Nissans

Before us is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the general manager, formally seeking a reconsideration of

Rules of Court assailing the Decision[1] of the Court of its action. As this was likewise ignored, Uniteds

Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 80580. The challenged President and Chairman of the Board wrote a

decision affirmed with modification the Decision[2] of Letter[10] dated 27 February 1996, addressed to Nissans

the Regional Trial Court, Branch 200, Las Pias City, in President and General Manager, demanding payment of

Civil Case No. LP-02-0265 which, in turn, affirmed the the amount equivalent to thirty (30) days of service in

Page 107 of 187


view of Nissans act of terminating Uniteds services supervisor,[16] Nissan nevertheless claimed that its
without observing the required 30-day prior written premises had been exposed to threats in security, which
notice as stipulated under paragraph 17 of their service allegedly constitutes a clear violation of the provisions
contract. of the service contract.[17]

As a result of Nissans continued failure to comply with On 6 April 2001, Nissans counsel withdrew his
Uniteds demands, the latter filed a case for Sum of appearance in the case with Nissans conformity. Despite
Money with damages before the Metropolitan Trial the directive of the trial court for Nissan to hire another
Court of Las Pias City. lawyer, no new counsel was engaged by it. Accordingly,
the case was submitted for decision on the basis of the
In its Answer, Nissan maintained that the above- evidence adduced by respondent United.[18]
mentioned paragraph 17 of the service contract
expressly confers upon either party the power to The Ruling of the Metropolitan Trial Court
terminate the contract, without the necessity of a prior
written notice, in cases of violations of the provisions In its Decision dated 31 July 2002, the Metropolitan
thereof.[11] Nissan alleged that United violated the terms Trial Court ruled in favor of herein respondent United.
of their contract, thereby allowing Nissan to unilaterally The trial court pronounced that Nissan has not adduced
terminate the services of United without prior notice.[12] any evidence to substantiate its claim that the terms of
their contract were violated by United; and that absent
It appears that on 3 November 1995, Uniteds night any showing that violations were committed, the 30-day
supervisor and night security guard did not report for prior written notice should have been observed.[19]
duty.[13] This incident was the subject of a Memorandum
issued by Nissans security officer to Uniteds officer-in- It thus rendered judgment as follows:

charge stationed at its security detachment.[14] Then, on


WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing,
16 January 1996, at noontime, the security supervisor judgment is hereby rendered ordering the
assigned at Nissans premises abandoned his defendant to pay the plaintiff as follows:
post.[15] Although the general manager of United
1. The sum of P108,651.00 plus
directed the immediate replacement of its security legal interest from February 1,
Page 108 of 187
1996 until fully paid as actual rulings of the lower court.[23] It denied the appeal and
damages;
affirmed the decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court.

2. The sum of P20,000.000 as


exemplary damages; Nissan filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision
of the Regional Trial Court but the same was denied in

3. The sum of P30,000.00 as an Order[24] dated 15 October 2003.


attorneys fees and other litigation
expenses; and Nissan further went on an appeal to the Court of
Appeals, citing the same assignment of errors it
4. Costs of suit.[20] presented before the Regional Trial Court.

Nissan appealed to the Regional Trial Court, The Ruling of the Court of Appeals

questioning the award of actual and exemplary


damages, as well as the directive to pay attorneys fees The 14 February 2007 Decision of the Court of Appeals

and litigation expenses. It alleged that there was no affirmed the Decision dated 10 June 2003 and the 15

evidence to support the award of actual damages, as the October 2003 Order of the Regional Trial Court, with the

service contract, upon which the amount of the award modification that the award for exemplary damages was

was based, was never presented nor offered as evidence deleted. The Court of Appeals held that the breach of

in the trial.[21] Furthermore, no evidence was adduced to contract was not done by Nissan in a wanton,

show bad faith on the part of Nissan in unilaterally fraudulent, reckless, oppressive or malevolent

terminating the contract, making the award of manner.[25]

exemplary damages improper.[22]


Nissan sought reconsideration of the decision affirming

The Ruling of the Regional Trial Court the judgment of the lower court but the Court of
Appeals denied the same in a Resolution[26] promulgated

In its Decision dated 10 June 2003, the Regional Trial on 24 August 2007.

Court declared the appeal without merit as there


appears no cogent reason to reverse the findings and Hence, this petition.

Page 109 of 187


defenses. Thus, the best evidence rule finds no
The Issue application here.

Petitioner Nissan insists that no judgment can properly The real issue in this case is whether or not Nissan
be rendered against it, as respondent United failed, committed a breach of contract, thereby entitling
during the trial of the case, to offer in evidence the United to damages in the amount equivalent to 30 days
service contract upon which it based its claim for sum of service.
money and damages. As a result, the decisions of the
lower courts were mere postulations.[27] Nissan asserts We rule in the affirmative.
that the resolution of this case calls for the application
of the best evidence rule.[28] At the heart of the controversy is paragraph 17 of the
The Ruling of the Court service contract, which reads:
However, violations committed by either
party on the provisions of this Contract
The petition is without merit. We thus sustain the ruling shall be sufficient ground for the
of the Court of Appeals. termination of this contract, without the
necessity of prior notice, otherwise a thirty
(30) days prior written notice shall be
Nissans reliance on the best evidence rule is observed.[31]
misplaced. The best evidence rule is the rule which
requires the highest grade of evidence to prove a Nissan argues that the failure of Uniteds security
disputed fact.[29]However, the same applies only when guards to report for duty on two occasions, without
the contents of a document are the subject of the justifiable cause, constitutes a violation of the
inquiry.[30] In this case, the contents of the service provisions of the service contract, sufficient to entitle
contract between Nissan and United have not been put Nissan to terminate the same without the necessity of a
in issue. Neither United nor Nissan disputes the 30-day prior notice.
contents of the service contract; as in fact, both parties
quoted and relied on the same provision of the contract We hold otherwise.
(paragraph 17) to support their respective claims and As the Metropolitan Trial Court of Las Pias City stated
in its decision, Nissan did not adduce any evidence to
Page 110 of 187
substantiate its claim that the terms of the contract
were violated by United.

What Nissan failed to do is to point out or indicate


the specific provisions of the service contract which
were violated by United as a result of the latters lapses
in security. In so failing, Nissans act of unilaterally
terminating the contract constitutes a breach thereof,
entitling United to collect actual damages.

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated 14 February


2007 and the Resolution dated 24 August 2007 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 80580
are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Page 111 of 187


due to bad faith on the part of the proponent/offeror. Proof of the
due execution of the document and its subsequent loss would
G.R. No. 191696. April 10, 2013.* constitute the basis for the introduction of secondary evidence.
ROGELIO DANTIS, petitioner, vs. JULIO In MCC Industrial Sales Corporation v. Ssangyong Corporation, 536
SCRA 408 (2007), it was held that where the missing document is the
MAGHINANG, JR., respondent. foundation of the action, more strictness in proof is required than
Remedial Law; Evidence; Burden of Proof; It is an age-old rule where the document is only collaterally involved.
in civil cases that he who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it Civil Law; Contracts; Contract of Sale; By the contract of sale,
and a mere allegation is not evidence.―It is an age-old rule in civil one of the contracting parties obligates himself to transfer the
cases that he who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and a ownership of, and to deliver, a determinate thing, and the other to pay
mere allegation is not evidence. After carefully sifting through the therefor a price certain in money or its equivalent.―By the contract
evidence on record, the Court finds that Rogelio was able to of sale, one of the contracting parties obligates himself to transfer
establish a prima facie case in his favor tending to show his the ownership of, and to deliver, a determinate thing, and the other
exclusive ownership of the parcel of land under TCT No. T-125918 to pay therefor a price certain in money or its equivalent. A contract
with an area of 5,657 square meters, which included the 352-square of sale is a consensual contract and, thus, is perfected by mere
meter subject lot. From the records, it appears that TCT No. T-125918 consent which is manifested by the meeting of the offer and the
is a derivative of TCT No. T-256228, which covered a bigger area of acceptance upon the thing and the cause which are to constitute the
land measuring 30,000 square meters registered in the name of contract. Until the contract of sale is perfected, it cannot, as an
Emilio Dantis; that Emilio died intestate on November 13, 1952; that independent source of obligation, serve as a binding juridical
Emilio’s five heirs, including Rogelio, executed an extrajudicial relation between the parties. The essential elements of a contract of
partition of estate on December 22, 1993 and divided among sale are: a) consent or meeting of the minds, that is, consent to
themselves specific portions of the property covered by TCT No. T- transfer ownership in exchange for the price; b) determinate subject
256228, which were already set apart by metes and bounds; that the matter; and c) price certain in money or its equivalent. The absence
land known as Lot 6-D-1 of the subdivision plan Psd-031421-054315 of any of the essential elements shall negate the existence of a
with an area of 5,657 sq. m. went to Rogelio, the property now perfected contract of sale.
covered by TCT No. T-125918; and that the property was declared for Same; Same; Same; An agreement anent the manner of payment
realty tax purpose in the name of Rogelio for which a tax declaration goes into the price so much so that a disagreement on the manner of
was issued in his name; and that the same had not been transferred payment is tantamount to a failure to agree on the price.―In Swedish
to anyone else since its issuance. Match, AB v. Court of Appeals, 441 SCRA 1 (2004), the Court ruled
Same; Same; Best Evidence Rule; A secondary evidence is that the manner of payment of the purchase price was an essential
admissible only upon compliance with Rule 130, Section 5, which element before a valid and binding contract of sale could exist.
states that: when the original has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be Albeit the Civil Code does not explicitly provide that the minds of
produced in court, the offeror, upon proof of its execution or existence the contracting parties must also meet on the terms or manner of
and the cause of its unavailability without bad faith on his part, may payment of the price, the same is needed, otherwise, there is no sale.
prove its contents by a copy, or by a recital of its contents in some An agreement anent the manner of payment goes into the price so
authentic document, or by the testimony of witnesses in the order much so that a disagreement on the manner of payment is
stated.―A secondary evidence is admissible only upon compliance tantamount to a failure to agree on the price.
with Rule 130, Section 5, which states that: when the original has
been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, the offeror, PETITION for review on certiorari of the decision
upon proof of its execution or existence and the cause of its and resolution of the Court of Appeals.
unavailability without bad faith on his part, may prove its contents The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
by a copy, or by a recital of its contents in some authentic document,
or by the testimony of witnesses in the order stated. Accordingly, the Vicente D. Millora for petitioner.
offeror of the secondary evidence is burdened to satisfactorily prove Roldan E. Villacorta for respondent.
the predicates thereof, namely: (1) the execution or existence of the MENDOZA, J.:
original; (2) the loss and destruction of the original or its non-
production in court; and (3) the unavailability of the original is not

Page 112 of 187


This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to Trial Court of San Miguel, Bulacan (MTC), but the
reverse and set aside the January 25, 2010 Decision1 and complaint was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and
the March 23, 2010 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals lack of cause of action.
(CA). in CA-G.R. CV No. 85258, reversing the March 2,
2005 Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 18, In his Answer,5 Julio, Jr. denied the material allegations
Malolos, Bulacan (RTC), in an action for quieting of title of the complaint. By way of an affirmative defense, he
and recovery of possession with damages. claimed that he was the actual owner of the 352 square
meters (subject lot) of the land covered by TCT No. T-
The Facts 125918 where he was living; that he had been in open
and continuous possession of the property for almost
The case draws its origin from a complaint4 for quieting thirty (30) years; the subject lot was once tenanted by
of title and recovery of possession with damages filed by his ancestral relatives until it was sold by Rogelio’s
petitioner Rogelio Dantis (Rogelio) against respondent father, Emilio, to his father, Julio Maghinang, Sr. (Julio,
Julio Maghinang, Jr. (Julio, Jr.) before the RTC, Sr.); that later, he succeeded to the ownership of the
docketed as Civil Case No. 280-M-2002. Rogelio alleged subject lot after his father died on March 10, 1968; and
that he was the registered owner of a parcel of land that he was entitled to a separate registration of the
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T- subject lot on the basis of the documentary evidence of
125918, with an area of 5,657 square meters, located in sale and his open and uninterrupted possession of the
Sta. Rita, San Miguel, Bulacan; that he acquired property.
ownership of the property through a deed of
extrajudicial partition of the estate of his deceased As synthesized by the RTC from the respective
father, Emilio Dantis (Emilio), dated December 22, 1993; testimonies of the principal witnesses, their
that he had been paying the realty taxes on the said diametrically opposed positions are as follows:
property; that Julio, Jr. occupied and built a house on a
portion of his property without any right at all; that Plaintiff Rogelio Dantis testified that he inherited 5,657
demands were made upon Julio, Jr. that he vacate the square meters of land, identified as Lot 6-D-1 of
premises but the same fell on deaf ears; and that the subdivision plan Psd-031421-054315, located at Sta. Rita,
acts of Julio, Jr. had created a cloud of doubt over his San Miguel, Bulacan, through an Extrajudicial Partition
title and right of possession of his property. He, thus, of Estate of Emilio Dantis, executed in December 1993
prayed that judgment be rendered declaring him to be which land was titled later on under his name, Rogelio
the true and real owner of the parcel of land covered by Dantis, married to Victoria Payawal, as shown by copy
TCT No. T-125918; ordering Julio, Jr. to deliver the of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-125918, issued by
possession of that portion of the land he was occupying; the Register of Deeds of Bulacan on September 29, 1998,
and directing Julio, Jr. to pay rentals from October 2000 declared for taxation purposes as Tax Declaration with
and attorney’s fees of ₱100,000.00. ARP No. C20-22-043-07-046. According to him, defendant
and his predecessor-in-interest built the house located
He added that he was constrained to institute an on said lot. When he first saw it, it was only a small hut
ejectment suit against Julio, Jr. before the Municipal but when he was about 60 years old, he told defendant
Page 113 of 187
not to build a bigger house thereon because he would RTC did not lend any probative value on the
need the land and defendant would have to vacate the documentary evidence of sale adduced by Julio, Jr.
land. Plaintiff, however, has not been in physical consisting of: 1) an affidavit allegedly executed by
possession of the premises. Ignacio Dantis (Ignacio), Rogelio’s grandfather, whereby
said affiant attested, among others, to the sale of the
Defendant Julio Maghinang, Jr., presented by plaintiff subject lot made by his son, Emilio, to Julio, Sr. (Exhibit
as adverse witness, testified that he has no title over the "3")7; and 2) an undated handwritten receipt of initial
property he is occupying. He has not paid realty taxes downpayment in the amount of ₱100.00 supposedly
thereon. He has not paid any rental to anybody. He is issued by Emilio to Julio, Sr. in connection with the sale
occupying about 352 square meters of the lot. He of the subject lot (Exhibit "4").8 The RTC ruled that even
presented an affidavit executed on September 3, 1953 by if these documents were adjudged as competent
Ignacio Dantis, grandfather of Rogelio Dantis and the evidence, still, they would only serve as proofs that the
father of Emilio Dantis. The latter was, in turn, the purchase price for the subject lot had not yet been
father of Rogelio Dantis. completely paid and, hence, Rogelio was not duty-bound
to deliver the property to Julio, Jr. The RTC found
The affidavit, according to affiant Ignacio Dantis, Julio, Jr. to be a mere possessor by tolerance. The
alleged that Emilio Dantis agreed to sell 352 square dispositive portion of the RTC decision reads:
meters of the lot to Julio Maghinang on installment.
Defendant was then 11 years old in 1952. WHEREFORE, Judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

Defendant Julio Maghinang, Jr. likewise testified for 1. quieting the title and removing whatever cloud over
the defendant’s case as follows: He owns that house the title on the parcel of land, with area of 5,647 sq.
located at Sta. Rita, San Miguel, Bulacan, on a 352 meters, more or less, located at Sta. Rita, San Miguel,
square meter lot. He could not say that he is the owner Bulacan, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-
because there is still question about the lot. He claimed 125918 issued by the Register of Deeds of Bulacan in the
that his father, Julio Maghinang (Sr.), bought the said name of "Rogelio Dantis, married to Victoria Payawal";
lot from the parents of Rogelio Dantis. He admitted that
the affidavit was not signed by the alleged vendor, 2. declaring that Rogelio Dantis, married to Victoria
Emilio Dantis, the father of Rogelio Dantis. The receipt Payawal, is the true and lawful owner of the
he presented was admittedly a mere photocopy. He aforementioned real property; and
spent ₱50,000.00 as attorney’s fees. Since 1953, he has
not declared the property as his nor paid the taxes 3. ordering defendant Julio Maghinang, Jr. and all
thereon because there is a problem.6 persons claiming under him to peacefully vacate the
said real property and surrender the possession thereof
On March 2, 2005, the RTC rendered its decision to plaintiff or latter’s successors-in-interest.
declaring Rogelio as the true owner of the entire 5,657-
square meter lot located in Sta. Rita, San Miguel, No pronouncement as to costs in this instance.
Bulacan, as evidenced by his TCT over the same. The
Page 114 of 187
SO ORDERED.9 Unfazed, he filed this petition for review on certiorari
before this Court.
Julio, Jr. moved for a reconsideration of the March 2,
2005 Decision, but the motion was denied by the RTC in Issues:
its May 3, 2005 Order.10 Feeling aggrieved, Julio, Jr.
appealed the decision to the CA. The fundamental question for resolution is whether
there is a perfected contract of sale between Emilio and
On January 25, 2010, the CA rendered the assailed Julio, Sr. The determination of this issue will settle the
decision in CA-G.R. CV NO. 85258, finding the appeal to rightful ownership of the subject lot.
be impressed with merit. It held that Exhibit "4" was an
indubitable proof of the sale of the 352-square meter lot Rogelio submits that Exhibit "3" and Exhibit "4" are
between Emilio and Julio, Sr. It also ruled that the devoid of evidentiary value and, hence, deserve scant
partial payment of the purchase price, coupled with the consideration. He stresses that Exhibit "4" is
delivery of the res, gave efficacy to the oral sale and inadmissible in evidence being a mere photocopy, and
brought it outside the operation of the statute of frauds. the existence and due execution thereof had not been
Finally, the court a quo declared that Julio, Jr. and his established. He argues that even if Exhibit "4" would be
predecessors-in-interest had an equitable claim over the considered as competent and admissible evidence, still,
subject lot which imposed on Rogelio and his it would not be an adequate proof of the existence of the
predecessors-in-interest a personal duty to convey what alleged oral contract of sale because it failed to provide
had been sold after full payment of the selling price. The a description of the subject lot, including its metes and
decretal portion of the CA decision reads: bounds, as well as its full price or consideration.13

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision appealed Rogelio argues that while reconveyance may be availed
from is reversed. The heirs of Julio Maghinang Jr. are of by the owner of a real property wrongfully included
declared the owners of the 352-square meter portion of in the certificate of title of another, the remedy is not
the lot covered by TCT No. T-125968 where the residence obtainable herein since he is a transferee in good faith,
of defendant Julio Maghinang is located, and the having acquired the land covered by TCT No. T-125918,
plaintiff is ordered to reconvey the aforesaid portion to through a Deed of Extrajudicial Partition of Estate.14 He
the aforesaid heirs, subject to partition by agreement or asserts that he could not be considered a trustee as he
action to determine the exact metes and bounds and was not privy to Exhibit "4." In any event, he theorizes
without prejudice to any legal remedy that the plaintiff that the action for reconveyance on the ground of
may take with respect to the unpaid balance of the implied trust had already prescribed since more than 10
price. years had lapsed since the execution of Exhibit "4" in
1953. It is the petitioner’s stance that Julio, Jr. did not
SO ORDERED.11 acquire ownership over the subject lot by acquisitive
prescription contending that prescription does not lie
The motion for reconsideration12 filed by Rogelio was against a real property covered by a Torrens title. He
denied by the CA in its March 23, 2010 Resolution. opines that his certificate of title to the subject lot
Page 115 of 187
cannot be collaterally attacked because a Torrens title to show his exclusive ownership of the parcel of land
is indefeasible and must be respected unless challenged under TCT No. T-125918 with an area of 5,657 square
in a direct proceeding.15 meters, which included the 352-square meter subject lot.
From the records, it appears that TCT No. T-125918 is a
The Court’s Ruling derivative of TCT No. T-256228, which covered a bigger
area of land measuring 30,000 square meters registered
In the case at bench, the CA and the RTC reached in the name of Emilio Dantis; that Emilio died intestate
different conclusions on the question of whether or not on November 13, 1952; that Emilio’s five heirs, including
there was an oral contract of sale. The RTC ruled that Rogelio, executed an extra-judicial partition of estate on
Rogelio Dantis was the sole and rightful owner of the December 22, 1993 and divided among themselves
parcel of land covered by TCT No. T-125918 and that no specific portions of the property covered by TCT No. T-
oral contract of sale was entered into between Emilio 256228, which were already set apart by metes and
Dantis and Julio Maghinang, Sr. involving the 352- bounds; that the land known as Lot 6-D-1 of the
square meter portion of the said property. The CA was subdivision plan Psd-031421-054315 with an area of 5,657
of the opposite view. The determination of whether sq. m. went to Rogelio, the property now covered by TCT
there existed an oral contract of sale is essentially a No. T-125918; and that the property was declared for
question of fact. realty tax purpose in the name of Rogelio for which a
tax declaration was issued in his name; and that the
In petitions for review under Rule 45, the Court, as a same had not been transferred to anyone else since its
general rule, does not venture to re-examine the issuance.
evidence presented by the contending parties during
the trial of the case considering that it is not a trier of In light of Rogelio’s outright denial of the oral sale
facts and the findings of fact of the CA are conclusive together with his insistence of ownership over the
and binding upon this Court. The rule, however, admits subject lot, it behooved upon Julio, Jr. to contravene the
of several exceptions. One of which is when the findings former’s claim and convince the court that he had a
of the CA are contrary to those of the trial valid defense. The burden of evidence shifted to Julio,
court.16 Considering the incongruent factual conclusions Jr. to prove that his father bought the subject lot from
of the CA and the RTC, this Court is constrained to Emilio Dantis. In Jison v. Court of Appeals,18 the Court
reassess the factual circumstances of the case and held:
reevaluate them in the interest of justice.
Simply put, he who alleges the affirmative of the issue
The petition is meritorious. has the burden of proof, and upon the plaintiff in a civil
case, the burden of proof never parts. However, in the
It is an age-old rule in civil cases that he who alleges a course of trial in a civil case, once plaintiff makes out a
fact has the burden of proving it and a mere allegation prima facie case in his favor, the duty or the burden of
is not evidence.17 After carefully sifting through the evidence shifts to defendant to controvert plaintiff’s
evidence on record, the Court finds that Rogelio was prima facie case, otherwise, a verdict must be returned
able to establish a prima facie case in his favor tending in favor of plaintiff. Moreover, in civil cases, the party

Page 116 of 187


having the burden of proof must produce a admitted to prove the contents of the purported
preponderance of evidence thereon, with plaintiff undated handwritten receipt. The best evidence rule
having to rely on the strength of his own evidence and requires that the highest available degree of proof must
not upon the weakness of the defendant’s. The concept be produced. For documentary evidence, the contents of
of "preponderance of evidence" refers to evidence which a document are best proved by the production of the
is of greater weight, or more convincing, that which is document itself to the exclusion of secondary or
offered in opposition to it; at bottom, it means substitutionary evidence, pursuant to Rule 130, Section
probability of truth.19 322.

Julio, Jr. failed to discharge this burden. His pieces of A secondary evidence is admissible only upon
evidence, Exhibit "3" and Exhibit "4," cannot prevail over compliance with Rule 130, Section 5, which states that:
the array of documentary and testimonial evidence that when the original has been lost or destroyed, or cannot
were adduced by Rogelio. The totality of Julio, Jr.’s be produced in court, the offeror, upon proof of its
evidence leaves much to be desired. execution or existence and the cause of its
unavailability without bad faith on his part, may prove
To begin with, Exhibit "3," the affidavit of Ignacio, is its contents by a copy, or by a recital of its contents in
hearsay evidence and, thus, cannot be accorded any some authentic document, or by the testimony of
evidentiary weight. Evidence is hearsay when its witnesses in the order stated. Accordingly, the offeror of
probative force depends on the competency and the secondary evidence is burdened to satisfactorily
credibility of some persons other than the witness by prove the predicates thereof, namely: (1) the execution
whom it is sought to be produced. The exclusion of or existence of the original; (2) the loss and destruction
hearsay evidence is anchored on three reasons: 1) of the original or its non-production in court; and (3) the
absence of cross-examination; 2) absence of demeanor unavailability of the original is not due to bad faith on
evidence; and 3) absence of oath.20 the part of the proponent/offeror. Proof of the due
execution of the document and its subsequent loss
Jurisprudence dictates that an affidavit is merely would constitute the basis for the introduction of
hearsay evidence where its affiant/maker did not take secondary evidence.23 In MCC Industrial Sales
the witness stand.21 The sworn statement of Ignacio is of Corporation v. Ssangyong Corporation, it was held
24

this kind. The affidavit was not identified and its that where the missing document is the foundation of
averments were not affirmed by affiant Ignacio. the action, more strictness in proof is required than
Accordingly, Exhibit "3" must be excluded from the where the document is only collaterally involved.
judicial proceedings being an inadmissible hearsay
evidence. It cannot be deemed a declaration against Guided by these norms, the Court holds that Julio, Jr.
interest for the matter to be considered as an exception failed to prove the due execution of the original of
to the hearsay rule because the declarant was not the Exhibit "4" as well as its subsequent loss. A nexus of
seller (Emilio), but his father (Ignacio). Exhibit "4," on logically related circumstance rendered Julio, Jr.’s
the other hand, is considered secondary evidence being evidence highly suspect. Also, his testimony was riddled
a mere photocopy which, in this case, cannot be with improbabilities and contradictions which tend to

Page 117 of 187


erode his credibility and raise doubt on the veracity of Q: And you remember what was signed in this receipt.
his evidence. From your memory can you tell the title of this Exhibit
"4"?
First, the claim of Julio, Jr. that Emilio affixed his
signature on the original of Exhibit "4" in 1953 is highly A: What I can say that it is a Sale, Sir.
improbable because record shows that Emilio died even
before that year, specifically, on November 13, 1952. Q: So, when you said that you witnessed an alleged sale
Excerpts from Julio, Jr.’s testimony relative to this you are referring to Exhibit "4"?
matter are as follows:
A: Yes, Sir.25 (Emphasis supplied)
Atty. Vicente Millora
Second, Julio, Jr.’s testimony pertinent to the alleged
(On Cross-examination) loss of the original of Exhibit "4" is laden with
inconsistencies that detract from his credibility. His
Q: You don’t remember how old you were when this testimony bears the earmarks of falsehood and, hence,
according to you you witnessed Emilio Dantis signed not reliable. Julio, Jr. testified in this wise:
this?
Atty. Roldan Villacorta
A: Eleven years old, Sir.
(On Direct examination)
Q: So that was 1953?
Q: Mr. Witness, I noticed that this document marked as
A: Yes, Sir. Exhibit "4" is only a photocopy, where is the original of
this document?
Q: And you were then…?
A: The original was with the safekeeping of my parents
A: I was born October 1942, Sir. because of the lapse of time the original was misplaced,
Sir.26
Q: You were eleven (11) years old?
The above testimony of Julio, Jr. tends to give the
A: Yes, Sir. impression that the original of the document was lost
while it was in the possession of his parents. During
Q: And you mean to say that you witnessed the signing cross-examination, however, he testified that it was lost
allegedly of the original of Exhibit "4" when you were while it was in his possession.
eleven (11) years old?
Atty. Vicente Millora
A: Yes, Sir.
(On Cross-examination)
Page 118 of 187
Q: x x x Where did you keep that document? Atty. Vicente Millora

A: I was the one keeping that document because I live in Q: In other words, it was your sister who lost the
different places, [the said] it was lost or misplaced, Sir. original, is that correct?

Q: In other words, it was lost while the same was in your A: Yes, Sir, when I lent the original.28 (Emphasis
possession?? supplied)

A: Yes, Sir.27 (Emphasis supplied) The Court also notes the confused narration of Julio, Jr.
regarding the last time he saw the original of Exhibit "4."
Still, later, Julio, Jr. claimed that his sister was the one
responsible for the loss of the original of Exhibit "4" Atty. Vicente Millora
after borrowing the same from him. Atty. Vicente
Millora (On Cross-examination)

(On Cross-examination) Q: And when did you last see the original?

Q: So, who is your sister to whom you gave the original? A: When my mother died in 1993 that was the last time I
tried to see the original of the document after her
A: Benedicta Laya, Sir. interment, Sir.

Q: In other words now, you did not lost the document or Q: Where did you see this document?
the original of Exhibit "4" but you gave it to your sister,
am I correct? A: From the safekeeping of my mother, Sir.29

A: I just lent to her the original copy, Sir. xxxx

Q: So, you lent this original of Exhibit "4" to your sister Q: When did you get this Exhibit "4" now, the photocopy
and your sister never returned the same to you? from your sister?

A: Yes, Sir, because it was lost, that was the only one left A: When the interment of my mother in September 1993,
in her custody. Sir.

Interpreter: Q: Now, let us reform. Which one did you get after the
interment of your mother, this Exhibit "4" or the
Witness referring to the xerox copy. original?

Page 119 of 187


A: I asked that xerox copy because I have lost the perfected oral contract for failure of Julio, Jr. to prove
original and I could not find the same, Sir. the concurrence of the essential requisites of a contract
of sale by adequate and competent evidence.
Q: So, from the safe of your mother after her interment,
what used you found and got this Exhibit "4"? By the contract of sale, one of the contracting parties
obligates himself to transfer the ownership of, and to
A: Yes, Sir, from my sister. deliver, a determinate thing, and the other to pay
therefor a price certain in money or its equivalent.32 A
Q: So, not from your mother safe? contract of sale is a consensual contract and, thus, is
perfected by mere consent which is manifested by the
A: The original was taken from the safe of my mother, meeting of the offer and the acceptance upon the thing
Sir. and the cause which are to constitute the
contract.33 Until the contract of sale is perfected, it
Q: So after your mother’s death you never saw the cannot, as an independent source of obligation, serve as
original? a binding juridical relation between the parties.34 The
essential elements of a contract of sale are: a) consent or
A: I did not see it anymore because the original was lost meeting of the minds, that is, consent to transfer
before she died, Sir.30 (Underscoring supplied) ownership in exchange for the price; b) determinate
subject matter; and c) price certain in money or its
Third, it is quite strange that two receipts were equivalent.35 The absence of any of the essential
prepared for the initial payment of ₱100.00 in elements shall negate the existence of a perfected
connection with the sale of the subject lot. The Court contract of sale.36
notes that the contents of Exhibit "4" were similar to
those of Annex "A"31 of Julio, Jr.’s Answer, dated June 9, Seemingly, Julio, Jr. wanted to prove the sale by a
2002. Annex "A," however, was typewritten and the name receipt when it should be the receipt that should further
of the recipient indicated therein was a certain Cornelio corroborate the existence of the sale. At best, his
A. Dantis, whose identity and participation in the testimony only alleges but does not prove the existence
alleged sale was never explained. of the verbal agreement. Julio, Jr. miserably failed to
establish by preponderance of evidence that there was a
Fourth, apart from the lone testimony of Julio, Jr., no meeting of the minds of the parties as to the subject
other witness who knew or read Exhibit "4," much less matter and the purchase price.
saw it executed, was presented. In the absence of any
shred of corroborative evidence, the Court cannot help The chief evidence of Julio, Jr. to substantiate the
but entertain doubts on the truthfulness of Julio, Jr.’s existence of the oral contract of sale is Exhibit "4." For a
naked assertion. better understanding and resolution of the issue at
hand, Exhibit "4" is being reproduced here:
Assuming, in gratia argumenti, that Exhibit "4" is
admissible in evidence, there will still be no valid and Alamin ng sino mang
Page 120 of 187
Makababasa Court of Appeals,40 where the parties already agreed on
the object of sale and on the purchase price, but not on
Akong si Emilio Dantis may sapat na Gulang may asawa how and when the downpayment and the installment
naninirahan sa Sta Rita San Miguel Bul. ay kusang payments were to be paid, this Court ruled:
nagsasasay ng sumosunod.
Such being the situation, it cannot, therefore, be said
Na ako Tumanggap Kay Julio Maghinang ng ₱100.00 that a definite and firm sales agreement between the
peso cuartang Pilipino, bilang paunang bayad sa Lupa parties had been perfected over the lot in question.
niyang nilote sa akin 400 apat na raan mahigit na metro Indeed, this Court has already ruled before that a
cudrado. definite agreement on the manner of payment of the
purchase price is an essential element in the formation
Testigo Tumangap, of a binding and enforceable contract of sale. The fact,
therefore, that the petitioners delivered to the
Emilio a Dantis respondent the sum of ₱10,000.00 as part of the down-
payment that they had to pay cannot be considered as
A perusal of the above document would readily show sufficient proof of the perfection of any purchase and
that it does not specify a determinate subject matter. sale agreement between the parties herein under Art.
Nowhere does it provide a description of the property 1482 of the new Civil Code, as the petitioners themselves
subject of the sale, including its metes and bounds, as admit that some essential matter - the terms of payment
well as its total area. The Court notes that while Julio, - still had to be mutually covenanted.41
Jr. testified that the land subject of the sale consisted of
352 square meters, Exhibit "4," however, states that it’s The CA held that partial performance of the contract of
more than 400 square meters. Moreover, Exhibit "4" does sale- giving of a downpayment coupled with the delivery
not categorically declare the price certain in money. of the res - took the oral contract out of the scope of the
Neither does it state the mode of payment of the Statute of Frauds. This conclusion arose from its
purchase price and the period for its payment. erroneous finding that there was a perfected contract of
sale. The above disquisition, however, shows that there
In Swedish Match, AB v. Court of Appeals,37 the Court was none. There is, therefore, no basis for the
ruled that the manner of payment of the purchase price application of the Statute of Frauds. The application of
was an essential element before a valid and binding the Statute of Frauds presupposes the existence of a
contract of sale could exist. Albeit the Civil Code does perfected contract.42 As to the delivery of the res, it does
not explicitly provide that the minds of the contracting not appear to be a voluntary one pursuant to the
parties must also meet on the terms or manner of purported sale. If Julio, Jr. happened to be there, it was
payment of the price, the same is needed, otherwise, because his ancestors tenanted the land. It must be
there is no sale.38 An agreement anent the manner of noted that when Julio, Jr. built his house, Rogelio
payment goes into the price so much so that a protested.
disagreement on the manner of payment is tantamount
to a failure to agree on the price.39 Further, in Velasco v.
Page 121 of 187
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed
January 25, 2010 Decision and the March 23, 2010
Resolution of the Court Appeals, in CA-G.R. CV No.
85258, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The March 2,
2005 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos,
Bulacan, Branch 18, in Civil Case No. 280-M-2002, is
REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.

Page 122 of 187


G.R. No. 142641. July 17, 2006. * Same; Same; The 90-day period provided in the law
PACIFICO B. ARCEO, JR., petitioner, vs. PEOPLE is not an element of the offense, neither does it discharge
OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. petitioner from his duty to maintain sufficient funds in
Criminal Law; Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 (B.P. 22); A the account within a reasonable time from the date
person who, having sufficient funds in or credit with the indicated in the check.—In Wong v. Court of Appeals, 351
drawee bank when he makes or draws and issues a SCRA 100 (2001), the Court ruled that the 90-day period
check, shall fail to keep sufficient funds or to maintain a provided in the law is not an element of the offense.
period of ninety (90) days from the date appearing Neither does it discharge petitioner from his duty to
thereon, for which reason it is dishonored by the drawee maintain sufficient funds in the account within a
bank, shall be liable for violating the law on bouncing reasonable time from the date indicated in the check.
checks.—Section 1 of BP 22 provides: SECTION 1. Checks According to current banking practice, the reasonable
without sufficient funds.—Any person who makes or period within which to present a check to the drawee
draws and issues any check to apply on account or for bank is six months. Thereafter, the check becomes stale
value, knowing at the time of issue that he does not have and the drawer is discharged from liability thereon to
sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the extent of the loss caused by the delay.
the payment of such check in full upon its presentment, Same; Same; The presentment of the check to the
which check is subsequently dishonored by the drawee drawee bank 120 days after its issue was still within the
bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or would have allowable period.—Cenizal’s presentment of the check to
been dishonored for the same reason had not the the drawee bank 120 days (four months) after its issue
drawer, without any valid reason, ordered the bank to was still within the allowable period. Petitioner was
stop payment, shall be punished by imprisonment of not freed neither from the obligation to keep sufficient
less than thirty days but not more than one (1) year or funds in his account nor from liability resulting from
by a fine of not less than but not more than double the the dishonor of the check.
amount of the check which fine shall in no case exceed Evidence; Best Evidence Rule; The best evidence rule
Two Hundred Thousand Pesos, or both such fine and applies only where the content of the document is the
imprisonment at the discretion of the court. The same subject of inquiry, and not where the issue is the
penalty shall be imposed upon any person who, having execution or existence of the document or the
sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank when circumstances surrounding its execution.—Petitioner’s
he makes or draws and issues a check, shall fail to keep insistence on the presentation of the check in evidence
sufficient funds or to maintain a credit to cover the full as a condition sine qua non for conviction under BP 22
amount of the check if presented within a period of is wrong. Petitioner anchors his argument on Rule 130,
ninety (90) days from the date appearing thereon, for Section 3, of the Rules of Court, otherwise known as the
which reason it is dishonored by the drawee bank. best evidence rule. However, the rule applies only where
Where the check is drawn by a corporation, company or the content of the document is the subject of the
entity, the person or persons who actually signed the inquiry. Where the issue is the execution or existence of
check in behalf of such drawer shall be liable under this the document or the circumstances surrounding its
Act. execution, the best evidence rule does not apply and
testimonial evidence is admissible.

Page 123 of 187


Same; Same; The gravamen of the offense is the act
of drawing and issuing a worthless check, and not the This petition for review on certiorari assails the April
fact of issuance or execution of the check.—The
gravamen of the offense is the act of drawing and 28, 1999 decision[1] and March 27, 2000 resolution[2] of the
issuing a worthless check. Hence, the subject of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 19601 affirming the
inquiry is the fact of issuance or execution of the check,
not its content. trial courts judgment finding
Criminal Law; Batas Pambansa Blg. 22; The
elements of the offense are: (1) the making, drawing and petitioner Pacifico B. Arceo, Jr. liable for violation of
issuance of any check to apply to account or for value; (2)
knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the Batas Pambansa Blg. (BP) 22, otherwise known as the
time of issue he does not have sufficient funds in or
credit with the drawee bank for the payment of the check Bouncing Checks Law.
in full upon its presentment; and (3) subsequent dishonor
of the check by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds The facts of the case as found by the trial court and
or credit, or dishonor of the check for the same reason
had not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered the adopted by the Court of Appeals follow.
bank to stop payment.—Based on the allegations in the
information, petitioner was charged for violating the On March 14, 1991, [petitioner],
first paragraph of BP 22. The elements of the offense obtained a loan from private
are: 1. the making, drawing and issuance of any check to complainant Josefino Cenizal [] in the
apply to account or for value; 2. knowledge of the amount of P100,000.00. Several weeks
maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of issue he thereafter, [petitioner] obtained an
does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the additional loan of P50,000.00 from
drawee bank for the payment of the check in full upon [Cenizal]. [Petitioner] then issued in favor
its presentment; and 3. subsequent dishonor of the of Cenizal, Bank of the Philippine Islands
check by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or [(BPI)] Check No. 163255, postdated August
credit, or dishonor of the check for the same reason had 4, 1991, for P150,000.00, at Cenizals house
not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered the located at 70 Panay Avenue, Quezon City.
bank to stop payment. When August 4, 1991 came, [Cenizal] did
PETITION for review on certiorari of the decision not deposit the check immediately because
and resolution of the Court of Appeals. [petitioner] promised [] that he would
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. replace the check with cash. Such promise
Edilberto B. Cosca for petitioner. was made verbally seven (7) times. When
his patience ran out, [Cenizal] brought the
The Solicitor General for the People.
check to the bank for encashment. The
CORONA, J.: head office of the Bank of the Philippine
Islands through a letter dated December 5,

Page 124 of 187


1991, informed [Cenizal] that the check
bounced because of insufficient funds. Petitioner claims that the trial and appellate courts

Thereafter, [Cenizal] went to the house of erred in convicting him despite the failure of the
[petitioner] to inform him of the dishonor
prosecution to present the dishonored check during the
of the check but [Cenizal] found out that
[petitioner] had left the place. So, [Cenizal] trial. He also contends that he should not be held liable
referred the matter to a lawyer who wrote
a letter giving [petitioner] three days from for the dishonor of the check because it was presented
receipt thereof to pay the amount of the
check. [Petitioner] still failed to make good beyond the 90-day period provided under the law.
the amount of the check. As a consequence,
[Cenizal] executed on January 20, 1992 Petitioner further questions his conviction since the
before the office of the City Prosecutor
notice requirement was not complied with and he was
of Quezon City his affidavit and submitted
documents in support of his complaint for given only three days to pay, not five banking days as
[e]stafa and [v]iolation of [BP 22] against
[petitioner]. After due investigation, this required by law. Finally, petitioner asserts that he had
case for [v]iolation of [BP 22] was filed
against [petitioner] on March 27, 1992. The already paid his obligation to Cenizal.
check in question and the return slip were
however lost by [Cenizal] as a result of a Petitioners contentions have no merit.
fire that occurred near his residence on
September 16, 1992. [Cenizal] executed an
Affidavit of Loss regarding the loss of the
check in question and the return slip.[3] SIGNIFICANCE OF
THE 90-DAY
PERIOD
FOR PRESENTMEN
After trial, petitioner was found guilty as charged. T OF THE CHECK

Aggrieved, he appealed to the Court of Appeals.

However, on April 28, 1999, the appellate court affirmed Petitioner asserts that there was no violation of BP 22
the trial courts decision in toto. Petitioner sought because the check was presented to the drawee bank
reconsideration but it was denied. Hence, this petition. only on December 5, 1991 or 120 days from the date

Page 125 of 187


ninety (90) days from the date appearing
thereof (August 4, 1991). He argues that this was beyond thereon, for which reason it is dishonored
by the drawee bank.
the 90-day period provided under the law in connection
Where the check is drawn by a corporation,
with the presentment of the check. We disagree.
company or entity, the person or persons
who actually signed the check in behalf of
Section 1 of BP 22 provides: such drawer shall be liable under this Act.

SECTION 1. Checks without sufficient funds. ―


Any person who makes or draws and
issues any check to apply on account or for
In Wong v. Court of Appeals,[4] the Court ruled that the
value, knowing at the time of issue that he
does not have sufficient funds in or credit 90-day period provided in the law is not an element of
with the drawee bank for the payment of
such check in full upon its presentment, the offense. Neither does it discharge petitioner from
which check is subsequently dishonored
by the drawee bank for insufficiency of his duty to maintain sufficient funds in the account
funds or credit or would have been
dishonored for the same reason had not within a reasonable time from the date indicated in the
the drawer, without any valid reason,
ordered the bank to stop payment, shall be check. According to current banking practice, the
punished by imprisonment of not less than
reasonable period within which to present a check to
thirty days but not more than one (1) year
or by a fine of not less than but not more the drawee bank is six months. Thereafter, the check
than double the amount of the check
which fine shall in no case exceed Two becomes stale and the drawer is discharged from
Hundred Thousand Pesos, or both such
fine and imprisonment at the discretion of liability thereon to the extent of the loss caused by the
the court.
delay.
The same penalty shall be imposed upon any
Thus, Cenizals presentment of the check to
person who, having sufficient funds in or
credit with the drawee bank when he the drawee bank 120 days (four months) after its issue
makes or draws and issues a check, shall
fail to keep sufficient funds or to maintain was still within the allowable period. Petitioner was
a credit to cover the full amount of the
check if presented within a period of freed neither from the obligation to keep sufficient
Page 126 of 187
funds in his account nor from liability resulting from
Here, the due execution and existence of the
the dishonor of the check.
check were sufficiently established. Cenizal testified

APPLICABILITY OF that he presented the originals of the check, the return


THE
BEST EVIDENCE slip and other pertinent documents before the Office of
RULE
the City Prosecutor of Quezon City when he executed

his complaint-affidavit during the preliminary


Petitioners insistence on the presentation of the
investigation. The City Prosecutor found a prima
check in evidence as a condition sine qua non for
facie case against petitioner for violation of BP 22 and
conviction under BP 22 is wrong. Petitioner anchors his
filed the corresponding information based on the
argument on Rule 130, Section 3, of the Rules of Court,
documents. Although the check and the return slip were
otherwise known as the best evidence rule. However,
among the documents lost by Cenizal in a fire that
the rule applies only where the content of the document
occurred near his residence on September 16, 1992, he
is the subject of the inquiry. Where the issue is the
was nevertheless able to adequately establish the due
execution or existence of the document or the
execution, existence and loss of the check and the
circumstances surrounding its execution, the best
return slip in an affidavit of loss as well as in his
evidence rule does not apply and testimonial evidence is
testimony during the trial of the case.
admissible.[5]

The gravamen of the offense is the act of drawing and Moreover, petitioner himself admited that he issued the

issuing a worthless check.[6] Hence, the subject of the check. He never denied that the check was presented for

inquiry is the fact of issuance or execution of the check, payment to the draweebank and was dishonored for

not its content. having been drawn against insufficient funds.


Page 127 of 187
Both the trial and appellate courts found that petitioner
PRESENCE OF THE
ELEMENTS OF issued BPI check no. 163255 postdated August 4, 1991 in
THE OFFENSE
the amount of P150,000 in consideration of a loan which

he obtained from Cenizal. When the check was


Based on the allegations in the information,[7] petitioner deposited, it was dishonored by the draweebank for
was charged for violating the first paragraph of BP 22. having been drawn against insufficient funds. There
The elements of the offense are: was sufficient evidence on record that petitioner knew

1. the making, drawing and issuance of the insufficiency of his funds in the drawee bank at
of any check to apply to account or
for value; the time of the issuance of the check. In fact, this was

2. knowledge of the maker, drawer, or why, on maturity date, he requested the payee not
issuer that at the time of issue he does
to encash it with the promise that he would replace it
not have sufficient funds in or credit
with the drawee bank for the with cash. He made this request and assurance seven
payment of the check in full upon its
presentment; and times but repeatedly failed to make good on his

promises despite the repeated accommodation granted

him by the payee, Cenizal.


3. subsequent dishonor of the check
by the drawee bank for insufficiency
of funds or credit, or dishonor of the
check for the same reason had not the
drawer, without any valid cause,
ordered the bank to stop payment.[8]
NOTICE OF
DISHONOR TO
PETITIONER
All these elements are present in this case. AND PAYMENT OF T
HE OBLIGATION
Page 128 of 187
petitioner should have redeemed or taken the check
The trial court found that, contrary to petitioners
back in the ordinary course of business.[10] Instead, the
claim, Cenizals counsel had informed petitioner in
check remained in the possession of the payee who
writing of the checks dishonor and demanded payment
demanded the satisfaction of petitioners obligation
of the value of the check. Despite receipt of the notice of
when the check became due as well as when the check
dishonor and demand for payment, petitioner still failed
was dishonored by the drawee bank.
to pay the amount of the check.

These findings (due notice to petitioner and


Petitioner cannot claim that he was deprived of
nonpayment of the obligation) were confirmed by the
the period of five banking days from receipt of notice of
appellate court. This Court has no reason to rule
dishonor within which to pay the amount of the
otherwise. Well-settled is the rule that the factual
check.[9] While petitioner may have been given only
findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the
three days to pay the value of the check, the trial court
appellate court, are not to be disturbed.[11]
found that the amount due thereon remained unpaid
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.
even after five banking days from his receipt of the
The April 28, 1999 decision and March 27, 2000
notice of dishonor. This negated his claim that he had
resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No.
already paid Cenizal and should therefore be relieved of
19601 are AFFIRMED.
any liability.
Costs against petitioner.

Moreover, petitioners claim of payment was

nothing more than a mere allegation. He presented no SO ORDERED.

proof to support it. If indeed there was payment,

Page 129 of 187


G.R. No. 165487. July 13, 2011.* document must be produced whenever its contents are the subject of
inquiry. The rule is encapsulated in Section 3, Rule 130 of the Rules
COUNTRY BANKERS INSURANCE of Court, as follow: Sec. 3. Original document must be produced;
CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. ANTONIO exceptions.—When the subject of inquiry is the contents of a
LAGMAN, respondent. documents, no evidence shall be admissible other than the original
Insurance Law; Continuing Bond; Rice Storage Business; A document itself, except in the following cases: (a) When the original
continuing bond, as in this case where there is no fixed expiration has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, without
date, may be cancelled only by the obligee, by the Insurance bad faith on the part of the offeror; (b) When the original is in the
Commissioner, and by the court; By law and by the specific contract custody or under the control of the party against whom the evidence
involved in this case, the effectivity of the bond required for the is offered, and the latter fails to produce it after reasonable notice;
obtention of a license to engage in the business of receiving rice for (c) When the original consists of numerous accounts or other
storage is determined not alone by the payment of premiums but documents which cannot be examined in court without great loss of
principally by the Administrator of the National Food Authority time and the fact sought to be established from them is only the
(NFA).—The 1989 Bonds have identical provisions and they state in general result of the whole; and (d) When the original is a public
very clear terms the effectivity of these bonds, viz.: NOW, record in the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a public
THEREFORE, if the above-bounded Principal shall well and truly office. A photocopy, being a mere secondary evidence, is not
deliver to the depositors PALAY received by him for STORAGE at admissible unless it is shown that the original is unavailable.
any time that demand therefore is made, or shall pay the market Same; Same; A party must first present to the court proof of loss
value therefore in case he is unable to return the same, then this or other satisfactory explanation for the non-production of the
obligation shall be null and void; otherwise it shall remain in full original instrument, and when more than one original copy exists, it
force and effect and may be enforced in the manner provided by said must appear that all of them have been lost, destroyed, or cannot be
Act No. 3893 as amended by Republic Act No. 247 and P.D. No. 4. This produced in court before secondary evidence can be given of any
bond shall remain in forceuntil cancelled by the Administrator of one.—Before a party is allowed to adduce secondary evidence to
National Food Authority. This provision in the bonds is but in prove the contents of the original, the offeror must prove the
compliance with the second paragraph of Section 177 of the following: (1) the existence or due execution of the original; (2) the
Insurance Code, which specifies that a continuing bond, as in this loss and destruction of the original or the reason for its non-
case where there is no fixed expiration date, may be cancelled only production in court; and (3) on the part of the offeror, the absence of
by the obligee, which is the NFA, by the Insurance Commissioner, bad faith to which the unavailability of the original can be
and by the court. Thus: In case of a continuing bond, the obligor attributed. The correct order of proof is as follows: existence,
shall pay the subsequent annual premium as it falls due until the execution, loss, and contents. In the case at bar, Lagman mentioned
contract of suretyship is cancelled by the obligee or by the during the direct examination that there are actually four (4)
Commissioner or by a court of competent jurisdiction, as the case duplicate originals of the 1990 Bond: the first is kept by the NFA, the
may be. By law and by the specific contract involved in this case, the second is with the Loan Officer of the NFA in Tarlac, the third is
effectivity of the bond required for the obtention of a license to with Country Bankers and the fourth was in his possession. A party
engage in the business of receiving rice for storage is determined not must first present to the court proof of loss or other satisfactory
alone by the payment of premiums but principally by the explanation for the non-production of the original instrument. When
Administrator of the NFA. From beginning to end, the more than one original copy exists, it must appear that all of them
Administrator’s brief is the enabling or disabling document. have been lost, destroyed, or cannot be produced in court before
Evidence; Best Evidence Rule; Words and Phrases; Under the secondary evidence can be given of any one. A photocopy may not be
best evidence rule, the original document must be produced whenever used without accounting for the other originals.
its contents are the subject of inquiry; A photocopy, being a mere Novation; Requisites; Words and Phrases; Novation is the
secondary evidence, is not admissible unless it is shown that the extinguishment of an obligation by the substitution or change of the
original is unavailable.—Lagman’s insistence on novation depends obligation by a subsequent one which extinguishes or modifies the
on the validity, nay, existence of the allegedly novating 1990 Bond. first, either by changing the object or principal conditions, or by
Country Bankers understandably impugns both. We see the point. substituting another in place of the debtor, or by subrogating a third
Lagman presented a mere photocopy of the 1990 Bond. We rule as person in the rights of the creditor.—Having discounted the existence
inadmissible such copy. Under the best evidence rule, the original and/or validity of the 1990 Bond, there can be no novation to speak
Page 130 of 187
of. Novation is the extinguishment of an obligation by the
substitution or change of the obligation by a subsequent one which
extinguishes or modifies the first, either by changing the object or These are the undisputed facts.
principal conditions, or by substituting another in place of the
debtor, or by subrogating a third person in the rights of the creditor.
Nelson Santos (Santos) applied for a license with
For novation to take place, the following requisites must concur: 1) the National Food Authority (NFA) to engage in the
There must be a previous valid obligation; 2) The parties concerned
must agree to a new contract; 3) The old contract must be
business of storing not more than 30,000 sacks
extinguished; and 4) There must be a valid new contract. of palayvalued at P5,250,000.00 in his warehouse
Insurance Law; Indemnity Agreements; Co-signors to an
Indemnity Agreement bind themselves jointly and severally to the at Barangay Malacampa, Camiling, Tarlac. Under Act
bonding company to indemnify it for any damage or loss sustained on No. 3893 or the General Bonded Warehouse Act, as
the account of the execution of the bond, among others.—The liability
of Lagman is expressed in Indemnity Agreements executed in amended, [3] the approval for said license was
consideration of the 1989 Bonds which we have considered as conditioned upon posting of a cash bond, a bond
continuing contracts. Under both Indemnity Agreements, Lagman, as
co-signor, together with Santos, Ban Lee Lim and Reguine, bound secured by real estate, or a bond signed by a duly
themselves jointly and severally to Country Bankers to indemnify it authorized bonding company, the amount of which shall
for any damage or loss sustained on the account of the execution of
the bond, among others. The pertinent identical stipulations of the be fixed by the NFA Administrator at not less than
Indemnity Agreements state: INDEMNITY:—To indemnify and make thirty-three and one third percent (33 1/3%) of the
good to the COMPANY jointly and severally, any damages, prejudice,
loss, costs, payments advances and expenses of whatever kind and market value of the maximum quantity of rice to be
nature, including attorney’s fees and legal costs, which the received.
COMPANY may, at any time, sustain or incur, as well as to reimburse
to said COMPANY all sums and amounts of money which the
COMPANY or its representatives shall or may pay or cause to be paid Accordingly, Country Bankers Insurance
or become liable to pay, on account of or arising from the execution
of the above-mentioned BOND or any extension, renewal, alteration Corporation (Country Bankers) issued Warehouse Bond
or substitution thereof made at the instance of the undersigned or
No. 03304[4] for P1,749,825.00 on 5 November 1989 and
anyone of them.
PETITION for review on certiorari of the decision Warehouse Bond No. 02355[5] for P749,925.00 on 13
and resolution of the Court of Appeals. December 1989 (1989 Bonds) through its agent, Antonio
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. Lagman (Lagman). Santos was the bond principal,
Velasquez and Associates for petitioner. Lagman was the surety and the Republic of the
Leonides S. Respicio for respondent. Philippines, through the NFA was the obligee. In
PEREZ, J.:
consideration of these issuances, corresponding
Indemnity Agreements[6] were executed by Santos, as
This is a petition for review on certiorari under
bond principal, together with Ban Lee Lim Santos (Ban
Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, assailing
Lee Lim), Rhosemelita Reguine (Reguine) and Lagman,
the Decision[1] and Resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals
as co-signors. The latter bound themselves jointly and
dated 21 June 2004 and 24 September 2004, respectively.
severally liable to Country Bankers for any damages,
Page 131 of 187
prejudice, losses, costs, payments, advances and The bond principals, Santos and Ban Lee Lim, were not
expenses of whatever kind and nature, including served with summons because they could no longer be
attorneys fees and legal costs, which it may sustain as a found.[12] The case was eventually dismissed against
consequence of the said bond; to reimburse Country them without prejudice.[13] The other co-signor, Reguine,
Bankers of whatever amount it may pay or cause to be was declared in default for failure to file her answer.[14]
paid or become liable to pay thereunder; and to pay
interest at the rate of 12% per annum computed and On 21 September 1998, the trial court rendered
compounded monthly, as well as to pay attorneys fees of judgment declaring Reguine and Lagman jointly and
20% of the amount due it.[7] severally liable to pay Country Bankers the amount
of P2,400,499.87.[15] The dispositive portion of the RTC
Santos then secured a loan using his warehouse Decision[16] reads:
receipts as collateral.[8] When the loan matured, Santos
defaulted in his payment. The sacks of palay covered by WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is
hereby rendered, ordering defendants
the warehouse receipts were no longer found in the
Rhomesita [sic] Reguine and Antonio
bonded warehouse.[9] By virtue of the surety bonds, Lagman, jointly and severally liable to pay
Country Bankers was compelled to pay P1,166,750.37.[10] plaintiff, Country Bankers Assurance
Corporation, the amount of P2,400,499.87,
with 12% interest from the date the
Consequently, Country Bankers filed a complaint
complaint was filed until fully satisfied plus
for a sum of money docketed as Civil Case No. 95-73048 20% of the amount due plaintiff as and for
before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila. In his attorneys fees and to pay the costs.
Answer, Lagman alleged that the 1989 Bonds were valid
As the Court did not acquire
only for 1 year from the date of their issuance, as
jurisdiction over the persons of defendants
evidenced by receipts; that the bonds were never Nelson Santos and Ban Lee Lim Santos, let
renewed and revived by payment of premiums; that on 5 the case against them be
November 1990, Country Bankers issued Warehouse DISMISSED. Defendant Antonio Lagmans
counterclaim is likewise DISMISSED, for
Bond No. 03515 (1990 Bond) which was also valid for one
lack of merit.[17]
year and that no Indemnity Agreement was executed for
the purpose; and that the 1990 Bond supersedes,
In holding Lagman and Reguine solidarily liable to
cancels, and renders no force and effect the 1989
Country Bankers, the trial court relied on the express
Bonds.[11]
terms of the Indemnity Agreement that they jointly and

Page 132 of 187


severally bound themselves to indemnify and make good exonerated by the appellate court from liability because
to Country Bankers any liability which the latter may he was not a signatory to the alleged Indemnity
incur on account of or arising from the execution of the Agreement of 5 November 1990 covering the 1990
bonds.[18] Bond. The appellate court rejected the argument of
Country Bankers that the 1989 bonds were continuing,
The trial court rationalized that the bonds remain in finding, as reason therefor, that the receipts issued for
force unless cancelled by the Administrator of the NFA the bonds indicate that they were effective for only one-
and cannot be unilaterally cancelled by Lagman. The year.
trial court emphasized that for the failure of Lagman to
comply with his obligation under the Indemnity Country Bankers sought reconsideration which was
Agreements, he is likewise liable for damages as a denied in a Resolution dated 24 September 2004.[21]
consequence of the breach. Expectedly, Country Bankers filed the instant petition
attributing two (2) errors to the Court of Appeals, to wit:
Lagman filed an appeal to the Court of Appeals,
docketed as CA G.R. CV No. 61797. He insisted that the A.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS
lifetime of the 1989 Bonds, as well as the corresponding
SERIOUSLY ERRED IN DISREGARDING
Indemnity Agreements was only 12 months. According THE EXPRESS PROVISIONS OF SECTION
to Lagman, the 1990 Bond was not pleaded in the 177 OF THE INSURANCE CODE WHEN IT
complaint because it was not covered by an Indemnity HELD THAT THE SUBJECT SURETY
BONDS WERE SUPERSEDED BY A
Agreement and it superseded the two prior bonds.[19]
SUBSEQUENT BOND NOTWITHSTANDING
THE NON-CANCELLATION THEREOF BY
On 21 June 2004, the Court of Appeals rendered the THE BOND OBLIGEE.
assailed Decision reversing and setting aside the
B.
Decision of the RTC and ordering the dismissal of the
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS
complaint filed against Lagman.[20] SERIOUSLY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT
RECEIPTS FOR THE PAYMENT OF
The appellate court held that the 1990 Bond superseded PREMIUMS PREVAIL OVER THE
EXPRESS PROVISION OF THE SURETY
the 1989 Bonds. The appellate court observed that the
BOND THAT FIXES THE TERM
1990 Bond covers 33.3% of the market value of the palay, THEREOF.[22]
thereby manifesting the intention of the parties to make
the latter bond more comprehensive. Lagman was also
Page 133 of 187
Country Bankers maintains that by the express terms of
the 1989 Bonds, they shall remain in full force until Country Bankers calls this Courts attention to the
cancelled by the Administrator of the NFA. As incontestability clause contained in the Indemnity
continuing bonds, Country Bankers avers that Section Agreements which prohibits Lagman from questioning
177 of the Insurance Code applies, in that the bond may his liability therein.
only be cancelled by the obligee, by the Insurance
Commissioner or by a competent court. In his Comment, Lagman raises the issue of novation by
asserting that the 1989 Bonds were superseded by the
Country Bankers questions the existence of a 1990 Bond, which did not include Lagman as
third bond, the 1990 Bond, which allegedly cancelled the party.Therefore, Lagman argues, Country Bankers has
1989 Bonds on the following grounds: First, Lagman no cause of action against him. Lagman also reiterates
failed to produce the original of the 1990 Bond and no that because of novation, the 1989 bonds are neither
basis has been laid for the presentation of secondary perpetual nor continuing.
evidence; Second, the issuance of the 1990 Bond was not
approved and processed by Country Bankers; Third, the Lagman anchors his defense on two (2)
NFA as bond obligee was not in possession of the 1990 arguments: 1) the 1989 Bonds have expired and 2) the
Bond. Country Bankers stresses that the cancellation of 1990 Bond novates the 1989 Bonds.
the 1989 Bonds requires the participation of the bond
obligee. Ergo, the bonds remain subsisting until The Court of Appeals held that the 1989 bonds
cancelled by the bond obligee. Country Bankers further were effective only for one (1) year, as evidenced by the
assert that Lagman also failed to prove that the NFA receipts on the payment of premiums.
accepted the 1990 Bond in replacement of the 1989
Bonds. We do not agree.

Country Bankers notes that the receipts issued for the The official receipts in question serve as proof of
1989 Bonds are mere evidence of premium payments payment of the premium for one year on each surety
and should not be relied on to determine the period of bond. It does not, however, automatically mean that the
effectivity of the bonds. Country Bankers explains that surety bond is effective for only one (1) year. In fact, the
the receipts only represent the transactions between the effectivity of the bond is not wholly dependent on the
bond principal and the surety, and does not involve the payment of premium. Section 177 of the Insurance Code
NFA as bond obligee. expresses:
Page 134 of 187
return the same, then this obligation shall
Sec. 177. The surety is entitled to be null and void; otherwise it shall remain
payment of the premium as soon as the in full force and effect and may be enforced
contract of suretyship or bond is perfected in the manner provided by said Act No.
and delivered to the obligor. No contract of 3893 as amended by Republic Act No. 247
suretyship or bonding shall be valid and and P.D. No. 4. This bond shall remain in
binding unless and until the premium force until cancelled by the Administrator
therefor has been paid, except where the of National Food Authority.[23]
obligee has accepted the bond, in which
case the bond becomes valid and
enforceable irrespective of whether or not This provision in the bonds is but in compliance with
the premium has been paid by the obligor the second paragraph of Section 177 of the Insurance
to the surety: Provided, That if the contract Code, which specifies that a continuing bond, as in this
of suretyship or bond is not accepted by, or case where there is no fixed expiration date, may be
filed with the obligee, the surety shall
collect only reasonable amount, not cancelled only by the obligee, which is the NFA, by the
exceeding fifty per centum of the premium Insurance Commissioner, and by the court. Thus:
due thereon as service fee plus the cost of
stamps or other taxes imposed for the In case of a continuing bond, the
issuance of the contract or bond: Provided, obligor shall pay the subsequent annual
however, That if the non-acceptance of the premium as it falls due until the contract of
bond be due to the fault or negligence of suretyship is cancelled by the obligee or by
the surety, no such service fee, stamps or the Commissioner or by a court of
taxes shall be collected. (Emphasis competent jurisdiction, as the case may be.
supplied)
By law and by the specific contract involved in this case,
The 1989 Bonds have identical provisions and the effectivity of the bond required for the obtention of
they state in very clear terms the effectivity of these a license to engage in the business of receiving rice for
bonds, viz: storage is determined not alone by the payment of
premiums but principally by the Administrator of the
NOW, THEREFORE, if the above-bounded NFA. From beginning to end, the Administrators brief is
Principal shall well and truly deliver to the
the enabling or disabling document.
depositors PALAY received by him for
STORAGE at any time that demand
therefore is made, or shall pay the market The clear import of these provisions is that the
value therefore in case he is unable to surety bonds in question cannot be unilaterally
Page 135 of 187
cancelled by Lagman. The same conclusion was reached the subject of inquiry.[25] The rule is encapsulated in
by the trial court and we quote: Section 3, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, as follow:

As there appears no record of cancellation Sec. 3. Original document must be


of the Warehouse Bonds No. 03304 and No. produced; exceptions. When the subject of
02355 either by the administrator of the inquiry is the contents of a documents, no
NFA or by the Insurance Commissioner or evidence shall be admissible other than the
by the Court, the Warehouse Bonds are original document itself, except in the
valid and binding and cannot be following cases:
unilaterally cancelled by defendant
Lagman as general agent of the plaintiff.[24] (a) When the original has been lost or
destroyed, or cannot be produced in court,
without bad faith on the part of the offeror;
While the trial court did not directly rule on the (b) When the original is in the
existence and validity of the 1990 Bond, it upheld the custody or under the control of the party
1989 Bonds as valid and binding, which could not be against whom the evidence is offered, and
the latter fails to produce it after
unilaterally cancelled by Lagman. The Court of Appeals, reasonable notice;
on the other hand, acknowledged the 1990 Bond as (c) When the original consists of
having cancelled the two previous bonds by numerous accounts or other documents
novation. Both courts however failed to discuss their which cannot be examined in court without
great loss of time and the fact sought to be
basis for rejecting or admitting the 1990 Bond, which, as established from them is only the general
we indicated, is bone to pick in this case. result of the whole; and
(d) When the original is a public
Lagmans insistence on novation depends on the record in the custody of a public officer or
is recorded in a public office.[26]
validity, nay, existence of the allegedly novating 1990
Bond. Country Bankers understandably impugns
both. We see the point. Lagman presented a mere A photocopy, being a mere secondary evidence, is
photocopy of the 1990 Bond. We rule as inadmissible not admissible unless it is shown that the original is
such copy. unavailable.[27] Section 5, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court
states:
SEC.5 When original document is
Under the best evidence rule, the original
unavailable. When the original document
document must be produced whenever its contents are has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be
produced in court, the offeror, upon proof
Page 136 of 187
of its execution or existence and the cause photocopy may not be used without accounting for the
of its unavailability without bad faith on
other originals.[31]
his part, may prove its contents by a copy,
or by a recital of its contents in some
authentic document, or by the testimony of Despite knowledge of the existence and
witnesses in the order stated. whereabouts of these duplicate originals, Lagman
merely presented a photocopy. He admitted that he kept
Before a party is allowed to adduce secondary a copy of the 1990 Bond but he could no longer produce
evidence to prove the contents of the original, the it because he had already severed his ties with Country
offeror must prove the following: (1) the existence or Bankers. However, he did not explain why severance of
due execution of the original; (2) the loss and ties is by itself reason enough for the non-availability of
destruction of the original or the reason for its non- his copy of the bond considering that, as it appears from
production in court; and (3) on the part of the offeror, the 1989 Bonds, Lagman himself is a bondsman. Neither
the absence of bad faith to which the unavailability of did Lagman explain why he failed to secure the original
the original can be attributed. The correct order of from any of the three other custodians he mentioned in
proof is as follows: existence, execution, loss, and his testimony. While he apparently was able to find the
contents.[28] original with the NFA Loan Officer, he was merely
contented with producing its photocopy. Clearly,
In the case at bar, Lagman mentioned during the Lagman failed to exert diligent efforts to produce the
direct examination that there are actually four (4) original.
duplicate originals of the 1990 Bond: the first is kept by
the NFA, the second is with the Loan Officer of the NFA Fueling further suspicion regarding the existence
in Tarlac, the third is with Country Bankers and the of the 1990 Bond is the absence of an Indemnity
fourth was in his possession.[29] A party must first Agreement. While Lagman argued that a 1990 Bond
present to the court proof of loss or other satisfactory novates the 1989 Bonds, he raises the defense of non-
explanation for the non-production of the original existence of an indemnity agreement which would
instrument.[30] When more than one original copy exists, conveniently exempt him from liability. The trial court
it must appear that all of them have been lost, deemed this defense as indicia of bad faith, thus:
destroyed, or cannot be produced in court before
To the observation of the Court,
secondary evidence can be given of any one. A
defendant Lagman contended that being a
general agent (which requires a much

Page 137 of 187


higher qualification than an ordinary the substitution or change of the obligation by a
agent), he is expected to have attended
subsequent one which extinguishes or modifies the first,
seminars and workshops on general
insurance wherein he is supposed to have either by changing the object or principal conditions, or
acquired sufficient knowledge of the by substituting another in place of the debtor, or by
general principles of insurance which he subrogating a third person in the rights of the
had fully practised or implemented from
creditor. For novation to take place, the following
experience. It somehow appears to the
Courts assessment of his reneging liability requisites must concur: 1) There must be a previous
of the bonds in question, that he is still valid obligation; 2) The parties concerned must agree to
short of having really understood the a new contract; 3) The old contract must be
principle of suretyship with reference to
extinguished; and 4) There must be a valid new
the transaction of indemnity in which he is
a signatory. If, as he alleged, that he is well- contract.[33]
versed in insurance, the Court finds no
excuse for him to stand firm in denying his In this case, only the first element of novation
liability over the claim against the bonds
exists. Indeed, there is a previous valid obligation, i.e.,
with indemnity provision. If he insists in
not recognizing that liability, the more that the 1989 Bonds. There is however neither a valid new
this Court is convinced that his knowledge contract nor a clear agreement between the parties to a
that insurance operates under the principle new contract since the very existence of the 1990 Bond
of good faith is inadequate. He missed the
has been rendered dubious. Without the new contract,
exception provided by Section 177 of the
Insurance Code, as amended, wherein non- the old contract is not extinguished.
payment of premium would not have the
same essence in his mind that the Implied novation necessitates a new obligation
agreements entered into would not have
with which the old is in total incompatibility such that
full force or effect. It could be glimpsed,
therefore, that the mere fact of cancelling the old obligation is completely superseded by the new
bonds with indemnity agreements and one.[34] Quite obviously, neither can there be implied
replacing them (absence of the same) to novation. In this case, there is no new obligation.
escape liability clearly manifests bad faith
The liability of Lagman is expressed in Indemnity
on his part.[32] (Emphasis supplied.)
Agreements executed in consideration of the 1989 Bonds
which we have considered as continuing
Having discounted the existence and/or validity of the contracts. Under both Indemnity Agreements, Lagman,
1990 Bond, there can be no novation to speak as co-signor, together with Santos, Ban Lee Lim and
of. Novation is the extinguishment of an obligation by Reguine, bound themselves jointly and severally to
Page 138 of 187
Country Bankers to indemnify it for any damage or loss was necessary or expedient in order to
avoid greater losses or obligations for
sustained on the account of the execution of the bond,
which the COMPANY might be liable by
among others. The pertinent identical stipulations of virtue of the terms of the above-mentioned
the Indemnity Agreements state: Bond, its renewals, extensions, alterations,
or substitutions, shall be final and shall not
INDEMNITY: ─ To indemnify and make be disputed by the undersigned, who
good to the COMPANY jointly and hereby jointly and severally bind
severally, any damages, prejudice, loss, themselves to indemnify [Country Bankers]
costs, payments advances and expenses of of any and all such payments, as stated in
whatever kind and nature, including the preceding clauses.
attorneys fees and legal costs, which the
COMPANY may, at any time, sustain or In case the COMPANY shall have
incur, as well as to reimburse to said paid[,] settled or compromised any liability,
COMPANY all sums and amounts of money loss, costs, damages, attorneys fees,
which the COMPANY or its representatives expenses, claims[,] demands, suits, or
shall or may pay or cause to be paid or judgments as above-stated, arising out of or
become liable to pay, on account of or in connection with said bond, an itemized
arising from the execution of the above- statement thereof, signed by an officer of
mentioned BOND or any extension, the COMPANY and other evidence to show
renewal, alteration or substitution thereof said payment, settlement or compromise,
made at the instance of the undersigned or shall be prima facie evidence of said
anyone of them.[35] payment, settlement or compromise, as well
as the liability of the undersigned in any
and all suits and claims against the
undersigned arising out of said bond or this
Moreover, the Indemnity Agreements also bond application.[36]
contained identical Incontestability Clauses which Lagman is bound by these Indemnity
provide: Agreements. Payments made by Country Bankers by
virtue of the 1989 Bonds gave rise to Lagmans obligation
INCONTESTABILITY OF PAYMENTS to reimburse it under the Indemnity
MADE BY THE COMPANY: ─ Any payment
Agreements. Lagman, being a solidary debtor, is liable
or disbursement made by the COMPANY on
account of the above-mentioned Bond, its for the entire obligation.
renewals, extensions, alterations or
substitutions either in the belief that the WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed
COMPANY was obligated to make such
Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-
payment or in the belief that said payment
Page 139 of 187
G.R. CV No. 61797 are SET ASIDE and the Decision
dated 21 September 1998 of the RTC is
hereby REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.

Page 140 of 187


G.R. No. 170338. December 23, 2008.* stringent direct injury test. David v. Macapagal-Arroyo, 489 SCRA
160 (2006), articulates that a “liberal policy has been observed,
VIRGILIO O. GARCILLANO, petitioner, vs. THE allowing ordinary citizens, members of Congress, and civic
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEES ON organizations to prosecute actions involving the constitutionality or
PUBLIC INFORMATION, PUBLIC ORDER AND validity of laws, regulations and rulings.” The fairly recent Chavez v.
Gonzales, 545 SCRA 441 (2008), even permitted a non-member of the
SAFETY, NATIONAL DEFENSE AND SECURITY, broadcast media, who failed to allege a personal stake in the
INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS outcome of the controversy, to challenge the acts of the Secretary of
TECHNOLOGY, and SUFFRAGE AND ELECTORAL Justice and the National Telecommunications Commission. The
majority, in the said case, echoed the current policy that “this Court
REFORMS, respondents. has repeatedly and consistently refused to wield procedural barriers
G.R. No. 179275. December 23, 2008.* as impediments to its addressing and resolving serious legal
SANTIAGO JAVIER RANADA and OSWALDO D. questions that greatly impact on public interest, in keeping with the
Court’s duty under the 1987 Constitution to determine whether or
AGCAOILI, petitioners, vs. THE SENATE OF THE not other branches of government have kept themselves within the
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, limits of the Constitution and the laws, and that they have not
REPRESENTED BY THE SENATE PRESIDENT abused the discretion given to them.”
Same; Same; Moot and Academic; Court dismissed G.R. No.
THE HONORABLE MANUEL VILLAR, respondent. 170338 for being moot and academic; The exercise by the Court of
MAJ. LINDSAY REX SAGGE, petitioner-in- judicial power is limited to the determination and resolution of
intervention. actual cases and controversies.—The Court, however, dismisses G.R.
No. 170338 for being moot and academic. Repeatedly stressed in our
AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., BENIGNO NOYNOY prior decisions is the principle that the exercise by this Court of
C. AQUINO, RODOLFO G. BIAZON, PANFILO M. judicial power is limited to the determination and resolution of
LACSON, LOREN B. LEGARDA, M.A. JAMBY A.S. actual cases and controversies. By actual cases, we mean existing
conflicts appropriate or ripe for judicial determination, not
MADRIGAL, and ANTONIO F. TRILLANES, conjectural or anticipatory, for otherwise the decision of the Court
respondents-intervenors. will amount to an advisory opinion. The power of judicial inquiry
Remedial Law; Actions; Legal Standing; Concept of legal does not extend to hypothetical questions because any attempt at
standing or locus standi explained in Tolentino vs COMELEC.— abstraction could only lead to dialectics and barren legal questions
In Tolentino v. COMELEC, 420 SCRA 438 (2004), we explained that “ and to sterile conclusions unrelated to actualities. Neither will the
‘[l]egal standing’ or locus standi refers to a personal and substantial Court determine a moot question in a case in which no practical
interest in a case such that the party has sustained or will sustain relief can be granted. A case becomes moot when its purpose has
direct injury because of the challenged governmental act x x x,” thus, become stale. It is unnecessary to indulge in academic discussion of
generally, a party will be allowed to litigate only when (1) he can a case presenting a moot question as a judgment thereon cannot
show that he has personally suffered some actual or threatened have any practical legal effect or, in the nature of things, cannot be
injury because of the allegedly illegal conduct of the government; (2) enforced.
the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action; and (3) the Constitutional Law; Legislative Inquiry; Senate cannot be
injury is likely to be redressed by a favorable action. The gist of the allowed to continue with the conduct of the questioned legislative
question of standing is whether a party has “alleged such a personal inquiry without duly published rules of procedure; The requisite of
stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete publication of the rules is intended to satisfy the basic requirements
adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which of due process.—As to the petition in G.R. No. 179275, the Court
the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult grants the same. The Senate cannot be allowed to continue with the
constitutional questions.” conduct of the questioned legislative inquiry without duly published
Same; Same; Same; In recent cases, Court has relaxed the rules of procedure, in clear derogation of the constitutional
stringent direct injury test.—Considering that locus standi is a mere requirement. Section 21, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution explicitly
procedural technicality, the Court, in recent cases, has relaxed the provides that “[t]he Senate or the House of Representatives, or any
Page 141 of 187
of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of the original) of electronic data messages and/or electronic
legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure.” documents. It does not make the internet a medium for publishing
The requisite of publication of the rules is intended to satisfy the laws, rules and regulations.
basic requirements of due process. Publication is indeed imperative, Same; Same; The recent publication does not cure the infirmity
for it will be the height of injustice to punish or otherwise burden a of the inquiry sought to be prohibited by the instant petitions.—The
citizen for the transgression of a law or rule of which he had no Senate caused the publication of the Senate Rules of Procedure
notice whatsoever, not even a constructive one. What constitutes Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation in the October 31, 2008
publication is set forth in Article 2 of the Civil Code, which provides issues of Manila Bulletin and Malaya. While we take judicial notice
that “[l]aws shall take effect after 15 days following the completion of this fact, the recent publication does not cure the infirmity of the
of their publication either in the Official Gazette, or in a newspaper inquiry sought to be prohibited by the instant petitions. Insofar as
of general circulation in the Philippines.” The respondents in G.R. the consolidated cases are concerned, the legislative investigation
No. 179275 admit in their pleadings and even on oral argument that subject thereof still could not be undertaken by the respondent
the Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Senate Committees, because no published rules governed it, in clear
Legislation had been published in newspapers of general circulation contravention of the Constitution.
only in 1995 and in 2006. With respect to the present Senate of the PUNO, C.J., Dissenting Opinion:
14th Congress, however, of which the term of half of its members Constitutional Law; Legislative Inquiry; A faithful adherence of
commenced on June 30, 2007, no effort was undertaken for the the case at bar to the Neri Ruling would yield the conclusion that the
publication of these rules when they first opened their session.173 “Garci tapes” investigation may be conducted even without the
Same; Same; The absence of any amendment to the rules cannot published Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries, and that only
justify the Senate’s defiance of the clear and unambiguous language those orders and proceedings that result in the violation of the rights
of Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution; The constitutional of the witnesses may be considered null and void.—It will be recalled
mandate to publish the said rules prevails over any custom, practice that in the March 25 Neri Decision, the Court struck down not the
or tradition followed by the Senate.—Respondents justify their non- entire proceedings of the Senate investigation on the NBN-ZTE deal
observance of the constitutionally mandated publication by arguing for want of published Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries, but
that the rules have never been amended since 1995 and, despite that, only the Order dated January 30, 2008, citing petitioner Romulo L.
they are published in booklet form available to anyone for free, and Neri in contempt of the Senate Committees and directing his arrest
accessible to the public at the Senate’s internet web page. The Court and detention (January 30 Contempt Order) as stated in the
does not agree. The absence of any amendment to the rules cannot dispositive portion of the Decision. A faithful adherence of the case
justify the Senate’s defiance of the clear and unambiguous language at bar to the Neri Ruling would yield the conclusion that the “Garci
of Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution. The organic law tapes” investigation may be conducted even without the published
instructs, without more, that the Senate or its committees may Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries, and that only those orders
conduct inquiries in aid of legislation only in accordance with duly and proceedings that result in the violation of the rights of the
published rules of procedure, and does not make any distinction witnesses may be considered null and void. The ponencia did not,
whether or not these rules have undergone amendments or however, show which orders or proceedings resulted in this
revision. The constitutional mandate to publish the said rules violation and, instead, made a blanket prohibition of the conduct of
prevails over any custom, practice or tradition followed by the the “Garci tapes” investigation for want of published Rules of
Senate. Procedure Governing Inquiries.
Same; Same; Statutes; Internet; Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8792, Same; Same; In both the March 25 Neri Decision and the
otherwise known as the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, does not September 4 Neri Resolution, the Court did not invalidate the entire
make the internet a medium for publishing laws, rules and Senate investigation proceedings conducted in accordance with the
regulations.—The invocation by the respondents of the provisions of Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries, which were not published in
R.A. No. 8792, otherwise known as the Electronic Commerce Act of the 14th Congress.—In both the March 25 Neri Decision and the
2000, to support their claim of valid publication through the internet September 4 Neri Resolution, the Court did not invalidate the entire
is all the more incorrect. R.A. 8792 considers an electronic data Senate investigation proceedings conducted in accordance with the
message or an electronic document as the functional equivalent of a Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries, which were notpublished in
written document only for evidentiary purposes. In other words, the the 14th Congress. In fact, the Court ruled on the issue of executive
law merely recognizes the admissibility in evidence (for their being privilege raised in said proceedings. It struck down only the January
Page 142 of 187
30 Contempt Order against therein petitioner Neri for failure to Resolution, the Senate, unlike the House of Representatives, is a
comply with Section 18 of the Rules of Procedure Governing continuing body. Thus, contrary to the holding of the ponencia, the
Inquiries, while at the same time holding these rules as Senate’s Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries, sans amendment,
constitutionally infirm for want of publication. need not be published by the Senate of every Congress and need not
Same; Same; The continuing effectivity of the Senate Rules from also state that they shall “remain in force until they are amended or
one Congress to the next, which the Court acknowledged in its repealed” for them to be effective from one Congress to the next.
September 4 Neri Resolution, evinces the nature of the Senate as a Quite the opposite of the ponencia’s ruling, in the absence of
continuing body governed by its continuing Senate Rules.—The language stating that the Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries
continuing effectivity of the Senate Rules from one Congress to the shall not continue in effect from one Congress to the next, these
next, which the Court acknowledged in its September 4 Neri rules shall have continuing effect.
Resolution, evinces the nature of the Senate as a continuing body Same; Anti-Wiretapping Law; What Republic Act (R.A.) 4200
governed by its continuing Senate Rules. If the Senate were not a penalizes are the acts of secretly overhearing, intercepting or
continuing body, there would be no reason for the Senate Rules to recording private communications by means of the devices
likewise have a continuing effect. In contradistinction, the enumerated therein.—A private communication is characterized as
effectivity of the Rules of Proceedings of the House of such based not on the content of the communication, but on
Representatives (House Rules)—which is admittedly not a the context that it was said in private and not for public
continuing body, as the terms of all congressmen end at the same consumption. That the content or nature of the communication is
time—terminates upon the expiration of one Congress. Thus, Rule 1, immaterial was ruled in Ramirez v. Court of Appeals, 248 SCRA 590
Section 1 of the 14th Congress House Rules adopted on November 20, (1995), viz.: ... the nature of the conversations is immaterial to a
2007 reflects the practice of the House of Representatives of violation of the statute. The substance of the same need not be
adopting rules of proceedings on its first meeting and organization specifically alleged in the information. What R.A. 4200 penalizes are
upon the opening of a succeeding Congress. the acts of secretly overhearing, intercepting or recording private
Same; Same; As a general rule, one-time publication suffices to communications by means of the devices enumerated therein. The
satisfy the due process requirement to inform the public of a rule that mere allegation that an individual made a secret recording of a
would govern it and affect its rights.—As a general rule, one-time private communication by means of a tape recorder would suffice to
publication suffices to satisfy the due process requirement to inform constitute an offense under Section 1 of R.A. 4200.177
the public of a rule that would govern it and affect its rights. It is not
uncommon for laws and rules to provide that they shall take effect Same; Same; Republic Act (R.A.) No. 4200 provides for exceptions
upon a certain date following publication in a newspaper of general when wiretapping is allowed by written order of the court.—R.A. No.
circulation without having to state that they “shall remain in force 4200, however, provides for exceptions when wiretapping is allowed
until they are amended or repealed” for them to have continuing by written order of the court under Section 3, viz.: Section 3. Nothing
effect. These laws and rules are published only once, and yet they contained in this Act, however, shall render it unlawful or
continue to be in force. The Court itself employs this language in its punishable for any peace officer, who is authorized by a written
rules as shown in the recently promulgated Rule on the Writ order of the Court, to execute any of the acts declared to be unlawful
of Habeas Data and Rule on the Writ of Amparo. in the two preceding sections in cases involving the crimes of
Same; Same; The exception to the general rule that one-time treason, espionage, provoking war and disloyalty in case of war,
publication suffices for a law or rule to have continuing effect is when piracy, mutiny in the high seas, rebellion, conspiracy and proposal to
there are circumstances or factors that interrupt this continuity.— commit rebellion, inciting to rebellion, sedition, conspiracy to
The exception to the general rule that one-time publication suffices commit sedition, inciting to sedition, kidnapping as defined by the
for a law or rule to have continuing effect is when there are Revised Penal Code, and violations of Commonwealth Act No. 616,
circumstances or factors that interrupt this continuity. An example punishing espionage and other offenses against national
is the discontinuation of the existence of the House of security: Provided, That such written order shall only be issued or
Representatives as a legislative body, which terminates the granted upon written application and the examination under oath or
effectivity of its published Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries affirmation of the applicant and the witnesses he may produce and a
and requires the publication of these rules in the succeeding showing: (1) that there are reasonable grounds to believe that any of
Congress for them to take effect. As discussed above and in my the crimes enumerated hereinabove has been committed or is being
Dissents to the March 25 Neri Decision and September 4 Neri
Page 143 of 187
committed or is about to be committed: Provided, however, That in
cases involving the offenses of rebellion, conspiracy and proposal to
commit rebellion, inciting to rebellion, sedition, conspiracy to More than three years ago, tapes ostensibly
commit sedition, and inciting to sedition, such authority shall be
granted only upon prior proof that a rebellion or acts of sedition, as
containing a wiretapped conversation purportedly
the case may be, have actually been or are being committed; (2) that between the President of the Philippines and a high-
there are reasonable grounds to believe that evidence will be
obtained essential to the conviction of any person for, or to the ranking official of the Commission on Elections
solution of, or to the prevention of, any of such crimes; and (3) that
there are no other means readily available for obtaining such
(COMELEC) surfaced. They captured unprecedented
evidence. public attention and thrust the country into a
Same; Same; Republic Act (R.A.) No. 4200 makes illegally
wiretapped communications inadmissible in any proceeding.—To controversy that placed the legitimacy of the present
further give teeth to the above prohibition, R.A. No. 4200 makes
administration on the line, and resulted in the near-
illegally wiretapped communications inadmissible in any
proceeding, viz.: Section 4. Any communication or spoken word, or collapse of the Arroyo government. The tapes,
the existence, contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of the
same or any part thereof, or any information therein contained notoriously referred to as the Hello Garci tapes,
obtained or se-cured by any person in violation of the preceding
allegedly contained the Presidents instructions to
sections of this Act shall not be admissible in evidence in any
judicial, quasi-judicial, legislative or administrative hearing or COMELEC Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano to
investigation.
Same; Same; The exception under Section 1 in relation to Section manipulate in her favor results of the 2004 presidential
3 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 4200 does not include the use of illegally
elections. These recordings were to become the subject
wiretapped communication for purposes of prosecuting violations of
R.A. No. 4200 itself.—The exception under Section 1 in relation to of heated legislative hearings conducted separately by
Section 3 of R.A. No. 4200 does not include the use of illegally
wiretapped communication for purposes of prosecuting violations of committees of both Houses of Congress.[1]
R.A. No. 4200 itself as the Court did in Ramirez. Not reading this
exception into the law would impede the prosecution of the acts it
prohibits and contradict the very purpose for adopting the law as In the House of Representatives (House), on June
clearly stated in its title, “An Act to Prohibit and Penalize Wire
Tapping and Other Related Violations of the Privacy of 8, 2005, then Minority Floor Leader Francis G. Escudero
Communication, and for Other Purposes.” Well-settled is the rule in
delivered a privilege speech, Tale of Two Tapes, and set
statutory construction that “where there is ambiguity, such
interpretation as will avoid inconvenience and absurdity is to be in motion a congressional investigation jointly
adopted.” Interpretatio talis in ambiguis semper frienda est, ut
evitatur inconveniens et absurdum. R.A. No. 4200 should be given a conducted by the Committees on Public Information,
sensible construction, so as to give effect to its rationale and intent
Public Order and Safety, National Defense and Security,
and thus avoid an unjust or absurd interpretation. The ineluctable
conclusion is that the use of illegally wiretapped communication Information and Communications Technology, and
must be allowed in a prosecution under R.A. No. 4200 precisely to
deter the commission of illegal wiretapping. Suffrage and Electoral Reforms (respondent House
Committees). During the inquiry, several versions of the
NACHURA, J.: wiretapped conversation emerged. But on July 5, 2005,

Page 144 of 187


National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director directed to desist from further using the recordings in
Reynaldo Wycoco, Atty. Alan Paguia and the lawyer of any of the House proceedings.[5]
former NBI Deputy Director Samuel Ong submitted to
the respondent House Committees seven alleged Without reaching its denouement, the House
original tape recordings of the supposed three-hour discussion and debates on the Garci tapes abruptly
taped conversation. After prolonged and impassioned stopped.
debate by the committee members on the admissibility
and authenticity of the recordings, the tapes were After more than two years of quiescence, Senator
eventually played in the chambers of the House.[2] Panfilo Lacson roused the slumbering issue with a
privilege speech, The Lighthouse That Brought
On August 3, 2005, the respondent House Darkness. In his discourse, Senator Lacson promised to
Committees decided to suspend the hearings provide the public the whole unvarnished truth the
indefinitely. Nevertheless, they decided to prepare whats, whens, wheres, whos and whys of the alleged
committee reports based on the said recordings and the wiretap, and sought an inquiry into the perceived
testimonies of the resource persons.[3] willingness of telecommunications providers to
participate in nefarious wiretapping activities.
Alarmed by these developments, petitioner
Virgilio O. Garcillano (Garcillano) filed with this Court On motion of Senator Francis Pangilinan, Senator
a Petition for Prohibition and Injunction, with Prayer Lacsons speech was referred to the Senate Committee
for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of on National Defense and Security, chaired by Senator
Preliminary Injunction[4] docketed as G.R. No. 170338. Rodolfo Biazon, who had previously filed two
He prayed that the respondent House Committees be bills[6] seeking to regulate the sale, purchase and use of
restrained from using these tape recordings of the wiretapping equipment and to prohibit the Armed
illegally obtained wiretapped conversations in their Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from performing
committee reports and for any other purpose. He electoral duties.[7]
further implored that the said recordings and any
reference thereto be ordered stricken off the records of In the Senates plenary session the following day,
the inquiry, and the respondent House Committees a lengthy debate ensued when Senator Richard Gordon

Page 145 of 187


aired his concern on the possible transgression of
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 4200[8] if the body were to Intervening as respondents,[15] Senators Aquilino
conduct a legislative inquiry on the matter. On August Q. Pimentel, Jr., Benigno Noynoy C. Aquino, Rodolfo G.
28, 2007, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago delivered a Biazon, Panfilo M. Lacson, Loren B. Legarda, M.A.
privilege speech, articulating her considered view that Jamby A.S. Madrigal and Antonio F. Trillanes filed their
the Constitution absolutely bans the use, possession, Comment[16] on the petition on September 25, 2007.
replay or communication of the contents of the Hello
Garci tapes. However, she recommended a legislative The Court subsequently heard the case on oral
investigation into the role of the Intelligence Service of argument.[17]
the AFP (ISAFP), the Philippine National Police or
other government entities in the alleged illegal On October 26, 2007, Maj. Lindsay Rex Sagge, a
wiretapping of public officials.[9] member of the ISAFP and one of the resource persons
summoned by the Senate to appear and testify at its
On September 6, 2007, petitioners Santiago hearings, moved to intervene as petitioner in G.R. No.
Ranada and Oswaldo Agcaoili, retired justices of the 179275.[18]
Court of Appeals, filed before this Court a Petition for
Prohibition with Prayer for the Issuance of a On November 20, 2007, the Court resolved to
Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of consolidate G.R. Nos. 170338 and 179275.[19]
Preliminary Injunction,[10] docketed as G.R. No. 179275,
seeking to bar the Senate from conducting its scheduled It may be noted that while both petitions involve
legislative inquiry. They argued in the main that the the Hello Garci recordings, they have different
intended legislative inquiry violates R.A. No. 4200 and objectivesthe first is poised at preventing the playing of
Section 3, Article III of the Constitution.[11] the tapes in the House and their subsequent inclusion in
the committee reports, and the second seeks to prohibit
As the Court did not issue an injunctive writ, the and stop the conduct of the Senate inquiry on the
Senate proceeded with its public hearings on the Hello wiretapped conversation.
Garci tapes on September 7,[12] 17[13] and October
1,[14] 2007.

Page 146 of 187


The Court dismisses the first petition, G.R. No.
170338, and grants the second, G.R. No. 179275. However, considering that locus standi is a mere
procedural technicality, the Court, in recent cases, has
-I- relaxed the stringent direct injury test. David v.
Macapagal-Arroyo[23] articulates that a liberal policy has
Before delving into the merits of the case, the been observed, allowing ordinary citizens, members of
Court shall first resolve the issue on the parties Congress, and civic organizations to prosecute actions
standing, argued at length in their pleadings. involving the constitutionality or validity of laws,
regulations and rulings.[24] The fairly recent Chavez v.
In Tolentino v. COMELEC,[20] we explained Gonzales[25] even permitted a non-member of the
that [l]egal standing or locus standi refers to a personal broadcast media, who failed to allege a personal stake in
and substantial interest in a case such that the party the outcome of the controversy, to challenge the acts of
has sustained or will sustain direct injury because of the the Secretary of Justice and the National
challenged governmental act x x x, thus, Telecommunications Commission. The majority, in the
said case, echoed the current policy that this Court has
generally, a party will be allowed to litigate repeatedly and consistently refused to wield procedural
only when (1) he can show that he has
personally suffered some actual or barriers as impediments to its addressing and resolving
threatened injury because of the allegedly serious legal questions that greatly impact on public
illegal conduct of the government; (2) the
interest, in keeping with the Courts duty under the 1987
injury is fairly traceable to the challenged
action; and (3) the injury is likely to be Constitution to determine whether or not other
redressed by a favorable action.[21] branches of government have kept themselves within
the limits of the Constitution and the laws, and that
they have not abused the discretion given to them.[26]
The gist of the question of standing is whether a party
has alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the
In G.R. No. 170338, petitioner Garcillano justifies
controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness
his standing to initiate the petition by alleging that he is
which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which
the person alluded to in the Hello Garci tapes. Further,
the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult
his was publicly identified by the members of the
constitutional questions.[22]
Page 147 of 187
respondent committees as one of the voices in the expenditure of public funds involved in the conduct of
recordings.[27] Obviously, therefore, petitioner the questioned hearings.[29]
Garcillano stands to be directly injured by the House
committees actions and charges of electoral fraud. The Given that petitioners Ranada and Agcaoili allege
Court recognizes his standing to institute the petition an interest in the execution of the laws and that
for prohibition. intervenor Sagge asserts his constitutional right to due
process,[30] they satisfy the requisite personal stake in
In G.R. No. 179275, petitioners Ranada and the outcome of the controversy by merely being citizens
Agcaoili justify their standing by alleging that they are of the Republic.
concerned citizens, taxpayers, and members of the IBP.
They are of the firm conviction that any attempt to use Following the Courts ruling in Francisco, Jr. v.
the Hello Garci tapes will further divide the country. The House of Representatives,[31] we find sufficient
They wish to see the legal and proper use of public petitioners Ranadas and Agcaoilis and intervenor
funds that will necessarily be defrayed in the ensuing Sagges allegation that the continuous conduct by the
public hearings. They are worried by the continuous Senate of the questioned legislative inquiry will
violation of the laws and individual rights, and the necessarily involve the expenditure of public funds.[32] It
blatant attempt to abuse constitutional processes should be noted that in Francisco, rights personal to
through the conduct of legislative inquiries purportedly then Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. had been
in aid of legislation.[28] injured by the alleged unconstitutional acts of the
House of Representatives, yet the Court granted
Intervenor Sagge alleges violation of his right to standing to the petitioners therein for, as in this case,
due process considering that he is summoned to attend they invariably invoked the vindication of their own
the Senate hearings without being apprised not only of rightsas taxpayers, members of Congress, citizens,
his rights therein through the publication of the Senate individually or in a class suit, and members of the bar
Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of and of the legal professionwhich were also supposedly
Legislation, but also of the intended legislation which violated by the therein assailed unconstitutional acts.[33]
underpins the investigation. He further intervenes as a
taxpayer bewailing the useless and wasteful

Page 148 of 187


Likewise, a reading of the petition in G.R. No. conclusions unrelated to actualities.[36] Neither will the
179275 shows that the petitioners and intervenor Sagge Court determine a moot question in a case in which no
advance constitutional issues which deserve the practical relief can be granted. A case becomes moot
attention of this Court in view of their seriousness, when its purpose has become stale.[37] It is unnecessary
novelty and weight as precedents. The issues are of to indulge in academic discussion of a case presenting
transcendental and paramount importance not only to a moot question as a judgment thereon cannot have any
the public but also to the Bench and the Bar, and should practical legal effect or, in the nature of things, cannot
be resolved for the guidance of all.[34] be enforced.[38]

Thus, in the exercise of its sound discretion and In G.R. No. 170338, petitioner Garcillano implores
given the liberal attitude it has shown in prior cases from the Court, as aforementioned, the issuance of an
climaxing in the more recent case of Chavez, the Court injunctive writ to prohibit the respondent House
recognizes the legal standing of petitioners Ranada and Committees from playing the tape recordings and from
Agcaoili and intervenor Sagge. including the same in their committee report. He
likewise prays that the said tapes be stricken off the
- II - records of the House proceedings. But the Court notes
The Court, however, dismisses G.R. No. 170338 for that the recordings were already played in the House
being moot and academic. Repeatedly stressed in our and heard by its members.[39] There is also the widely
prior decisions is the principle that the exercise by this publicized fact that the committee reports on the Hello
Court of judicial power is limited to the determination Garci inquiry were completed and submitted to the
and resolution of actual cases and controversies.[35] By House in plenary by the respondent
actual cases, we mean existing conflicts appropriate or committees.[40] Having been overtaken by these events,
ripe for judicial determination, not conjectural or the Garcillano petition has to be dismissed for being
anticipatory, for otherwise the decision of the Court will moot and academic. After all, prohibition is a preventive
amount to an advisory opinion. The power of judicial remedy to restrain the doing of an act about to be done,
inquiry does not extend to hypothetical questions and not intended to provide a remedy for an act already
because any attempt at abstraction could only lead to accomplished.[41]
dialectics and barren legal questions and to sterile

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- III - Legislation had been published in newspapers of
general circulation only in 1995 and in 2006.[45] With
As to the petition in G.R. No. 179275, the Court respect to the present Senate of the 14th Congress,
grants the same. The Senate cannot be allowed to however, of which the term of half of its members
continue with the conduct of the questioned legislative commenced on June 30, 2007, no effort was undertaken
inquiry without duly published rules of procedure, in for the publication of these rules when they first opened
clear derogation of the constitutional requirement. their session.

Section 21, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution Recently, the Court had occasion to rule on this
explicitly provides that [t]he Senate or the House of very same question. In Neri v. Senate Committee on
Representatives, or any of its respective committees Accountability of Public Officers and
may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in Investigations,[46] we said:
accordance with its duly published rules of procedure.
The requisite of publication of the rules is intended to Fourth, we find merit in the
argument of the OSG that respondent
satisfy the basic requirements of due Committees likewise violated Section 21 of
process.[42] Publication is indeed imperative, for it will Article VI of the Constitution, requiring
that the inquiry be in accordance with
be the height of injustice to punish or otherwise burden
the duly published rules of procedure. We
a citizen for the transgression of a law or rule of which quote the OSGs explanation:
he had no notice whatsoever, not even a constructive
The phrase duly
one.[43] What constitutes publication is set forth in
published rules of procedure
Article 2 of the Civil Code, which provides that [l]aws requires the Senate of every
shall take effect after 15 days following the completion Congress to publish its rules of
procedure governing inquiries
of their publication either in the Official Gazette, or in a in aid of legislation because
newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines.[44] every Senate is distinct from
the one before it or after
it. Since Senatorial elections
The respondents in G.R. No. 179275 admit in their are held every three (3) years
pleadings and even on oral argument that the Senate for one-half of the Senates
Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of membership, the composition
of the Senate also changes by
Page 150 of 187
the end of each term. Each
Senate may thus enact a The subject was explained with greater lucidity in
different set of rules as it may
deem fit. Not having published our Resolution[48] (On the Motion for Reconsideration) in
its Rules of Procedure, the the same case, viz.:
subject hearings in aid of
legislation conducted by the
On the nature of the Senate as a continuing
14th Senate, are therefore,
body, this Court sees fit to issue a
procedurally infirm.
clarification. Certainly, there is no debate
that the Senate as an institution is
continuing, as it is not dissolved as an
Justice Antonio T. Carpio, in his Dissenting and entity with each national election or
Concurring Opinion, reinforces this ruling with the change in the composition of its
members. However, in the conduct of its
following rationalization: day-to-day business the Senate of each
Congress acts separately and
The present Senate under the 1987 independently of the Senate of the
Constitution is no longer a continuing Congress before it. The Rules of the Senate
legislative body. The present Senate has itself confirms this when it states:
twenty-four members, twelve of whom are
elected every three years for a term of six RULE XLIV
years each. Thus, the term of twelve UNFINISHED BUSINESS
Senators expires every three years,
leaving less than a majority of Senators to SEC. 123. Unfinished business
continue into the next Congress. The 1987 at the end of the session shall
Constitution, like the 1935 Constitution, be taken up at the next session
requires a majority of Senators to in the same status.
constitute a quorum to do
business. Applying the same reasoning All pending matters and
in Arnault v. Nazareno, the Senate under proceedings shall terminate
the 1987 Constitution is not a continuing upon the expiration of one (1)
body because less than majority of the Congress, but may be taken by
Senators continue into the next the succeeding Congress as if
Congress. The consequence is that present for the first time.
the Rules of Procedure must be republished
by the Senate after every expiry of the term Undeniably from the foregoing, all pending
of twelve Senators.[47] matters and proceedings, i.e., unpassed
bills and even legislative investigations, of
Page 151 of 187
the Senate of a particular Congress are appropriate committee for
considered terminated upon the expiration amendment or revision.
of that Congress and it is merely optional
on the Senate of the succeeding Congress to The Rules may also be
take up such unfinished matters, not in the amended by means of a motion
same status, but as if presented for the first which should be presented at
time. The logic and practicality of such a least one day before its
rule is readily apparent considering that consideration, and the vote of
the Senate of the succeeding Congress the majority of the Senators
(which will typically have a different present in the session shall be
composition as that of the previous required for its approval.
Congress) should not be bound by the acts
and deliberations of the Senate of which RULE LII
they had no part. If the Senate is a DATE OF TAKING EFFECT
continuing body even with respect to the
conduct of its business, then pending SEC. 137. These Rules shall
matters will not be deemed terminated with take effect on the date of their
the expiration of one Congress but will, as a adoption and shall remain in
matter of course, continue into the next force until they are amended
Congress with the same status. or repealed.

This dichotomy of the continuity of the Section 136 of the Senate Rules quoted
Senate as an institution and of the opposite above takes into account the new
nature of the conduct of its business is composition of the Senate after an election
reflected in its Rules. The Rules of the and the possibility of the amendment or
Senate (i.e. the Senates main rules of revision of the Rules at the start
procedure) states: of each session in which the newly elected
Senators shall begin their term.
RULE LI
AMENDMENTS TO, OR REVISIONS OF, However, it is evident that the Senate has
THE RULES determined that its main rules are intended
to be valid from the date of their adoption
SEC. 136. At the start of each until they are amended or repealed. Such
session in which the Senators language is conspicuously absent from
elected in the preceding the Rules. The Rules simply state (t)hese
elections shall begin their term Rules shall take effect seven (7) days after
of office, the President may publication in two (2) newspapers of
endorse the Rules to the general circulation. The latter does not

Page 152 of 187


explicitly provide for the continued available to anyone for free, and accessible to the public
effectivity of such rules until they are
amended or repealed. In view of the at the Senates internet web page.[49]
difference in the language of the two sets of
Senate rules, it cannot be presumed that
The Court does not agree. The absence of any
the Rules (on legislative inquiries) would
continue into the next Congress. The amendment to the rules cannot justify the Senates
Senate of the next Congress may easily defiance of the clear and unambiguous language of
adopt different rules for its legislative
Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution. The organic
inquiries which come within the rule on
unfinished business. law instructs, without more, that the Senate or its
committees may conduct inquiries in aid of
The language of Section 21, Article VI of the
Constitution requiring that the inquiry be legislation only in accordance with duly published rules
conducted in accordance with the duly of procedure, and does not make any distinction whether
published rules of procedure is or not these rules have undergone amendments or
categorical. It is incumbent upon the
Senate to publish the rules for its revision. The constitutional mandate to publish the said
legislative inquiries in each Congress or rules prevails over any custom, practice or tradition
otherwise make the published rules clearly followed by the Senate.
state that the same shall be effective in
subsequent Congresses or until they are
amended or repealed to sufficiently put Justice Carpios response to the same argument
public on notice.
raised by the respondents is illuminating:
If it was the intention of the Senate for its
present rules on legislative inquiries to be The publication of the Rules of
effective even in the next Congress, it could Procedure in the website of the Senate, or
have easily adopted the same language it in pamphlet form available at the Senate, is
had used in its main rules regarding not sufficient under the Taada v.
effectivity. Tuvera ruling which requires publication
either in the Official Gazette or in a
newspaper of general
circulation. The Rules of Procedure even
Respondents justify their non-observance of the
provide that the rules shall take effect
constitutionally mandated publication by arguing that seven (7) days after publication in two (2)
the rules have never been amended since 1995 and, newspapers of general circulation,
precluding any other form of
despite that, they are published in booklet form
Page 153 of 187
publication. Publication in accordance
with Taada is mandatory to comply with
the due process requirement because Very recently, the Senate caused the publication
the Rules of Procedure put a persons liberty of the Senate Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in
at risk. A person who violates the Rules of
Aid of Legislation in the October 31, 2008 issues
Procedure could be arrested and detained
by the Senate. of Manila Bulletin and Malaya. While we take judicial
notice of this fact, the recent publication does not cure
the infirmity of the inquiry sought to be prohibited by
The invocation by the respondents of the
the instant petitions. Insofar as the consolidated cases
provisions of R.A. No. 8792,[50] otherwise known as the
are concerned, the legislative investigation subject
Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, to support their claim
thereof still could not be undertaken by the respondent
of valid publication through the internet is all the more
Senate Committees, because no published rules
incorrect. R.A. 8792 considers an electronic data
governed it, in clear contravention of the Constitution.
message or an electronic document as the functional
equivalent of a written document only for evidentiary
With the foregoing disquisition, the Court finds it
purposes.[51] In other words, the law merely recognizes
unnecessary to discuss the other issues raised in the
the admissibility in evidence (for their being the
consolidated petitions.
original) of electronic data messages and/or electronic
documents.[52] It does not make the internet a medium for
WHEREFORE, the petition in G.R. No. 170338
publishing laws, rules and regulations.
is DISMISSED, and the petition in G.R. No. 179275
is GRANTED. Let a writ of prohibition be issued
Given this discussion, the respondent Senate
enjoining the Senate of the Republic of
Committees, therefore, could not, in violation of the
the Philippines and/or any of its committees from
Constitution, use its unpublished rules in the legislative
conducting any inquiry in aid of legislation centered on
inquiry subject of these consolidated cases. The conduct
the Hello Garci tapes.
of inquiries in aid of legislation by the Senate has to be
deferred until it shall have caused the publication of the
SO ORDERED.
rules, because it can do so only in accordance with its
duly published rules of procedure.

Page 154 of 187


G.R. No. 204894. March 10, 2014.* ABAD, J.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs.
NOEL ENOJAS y HINGPIT,
ARNOLD GOMEZ y FABREGAS, FERNANDO On September 4, 2006 the City Prosecutor of Las Piñas
SANTOS y DELANTAR and ROGER charged appellants Noel Enojas y Hingpit (Enojas),
JALANDONI y ARI, appellants. Arnold Gomez y Fabregas (Gomez), Fernando Santos y
Criminal Law; Aggravating Circumstances; Aid of Armed Men; Delantar (Santos), and Roger Jalandoni y Ari
Use of Unlicensed Firearms; In “aid of armed men,” the men act as (Jalandoni) with murder before the Las Pifias Regional
accomplices only. They must not be acting in the commission of the
crime under the same purpose as the principal accused, otherwise
Trial Court (RTC) in Criminal Case 06-0854.1
they are to be regarded as co-principals or co-conspirators. The use of
unlicensed firearm, on the other hand, is a special aggravating PO2 Eduardo Gregorio, Jr. (P02 Gregorio) testified that
circumstance that is not among the circumstances mentioned in at around 10:30 in the evening of August 29, 2006, he and
Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code as qualifying a homicide to
murder.—In “aid of armed men,” the men act as accomplices only.
P02 Francisco Pangilinan (PO2 Pangilinan) were
They must not be acting in the commission of the crime under the patrolling the vicinity of Toyota Alabang and SM
same purpose as the principal accused, otherwise they are to be Southmall when they spotted a taxi that was
regarded as co-principals or co-conspirators. The use of unlicensed suspiciously parked in front of the Aguila Auto Glass
firearm, on the other hand, is a special aggravating circumstance
shop near the intersection of BF Almanza and Alabang-
that is not among the circumstances mentioned in Article 248 of the
Revised Penal Code as qualifying a homicide to murder. Zapote Roads. The officers approached the taxi and
Consequently, the accused in this case may be held liable only for asked the driver, later identified as accused Enojas, for
homicide, aggravated by the use of unlicensed firearms, a his documents. The latter complied but, having
circumstance alleged in the information. entertained doubts regarding the veracity of documents
Remedial Law; Evidence; Text Messages; Text messages are to be
proved by the testimony of a person who was a party to the same or
shown them, they asked him to come with them to the
has personal knowledge of them.—As to the admissibility of the text police station in their mobile car for further
messages, the RTC admitted them in conformity with the Court’s questioning.2
earlier Resolution applying the Rules on Electronic Evidence to
criminal actions. Text messages are to be proved by the testimony of
a person who was a party to the same or has personal knowledge of
Accused Enojas voluntarily went with the police officers
them. Here, PO3 Cambi, posing as the accused Enojas, exchanged and left his taxi behind. On reaching the 7-11
text messages with the other accused in order to identify and entrap convenience store on the Zapote-Alabang Road,
them. As the recipient of those messages sent from and to the mobile however, they stopped and PO2 Pangilinan went down
_______________
* THIRD DVISION. to relieve himself there. As he approached the store’s
314phone in his
possession, PO3 Cambi had personal knowledge door, however, he came upon two suspected robbers and
of such messages and was competent to testify on them. shot it out with them. PO2 Pangilinan shot one suspect
APPEAL from a decision of the Court of Appeals. dead and hit the other who still managed to escape. But
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. someone fired at PO2 Pangilinan causing his death.
Office of the Solicitor General for appellee.
Public Attorney’s Office for appellants.

Page 155 of 187


On hearing the shots, PO2 Gregorio came around and The prosecution presented the transcripts of the mobile
fired at an armed man whom he saw running towards phone text messages between Enojas and some of his co-
Pilar Village. He saw another man, who came from the accused.5
Jollibbee outlet, run towards Alabang-Zapote Road
while firing his gun at PO2 Gregorio. The latter The victim’s father, Ricardo Pangilinan, testified that
returned fire but the men were able to take a taxi and his son was at the time of his death 28 years old,
escape. PO2 Gregorio radioed for help and for an unmarried, and was receiving police pay of ₱8,000.00 to
ambulance. On returning to his mobile car, he realized ₱10,000.00 per month. Ricardo spent ₱99,999 for burial
that accused Enojas, the taxi driver they had with them expense, ₱16,000.00 for the interment services, and
had fled. ₱50,000.00 for purchase of the cemetery lot.6

P/Insp. Ferjen Torred (Torred), the Chief of Manifesting in open court that they did not want to
Investigation Division of the Las Piñas Police, testified adduce any evidence or testify in the case,7 the accused
that he and PO2 Teoson Rosarito (PO2 Rosarito) opted to instead file a trial memorandum on March 10,
immediately responded to PO2 Gregorio’s urgent call. 2008 for their defense. They pointed out that they were
Suspecting that accused Enojas, the taxi driver who entitled to an acquittal since they were all illegally
fled, was involved in the attempted robbery, they arrested and since the evidence of the text messages
searched the abandoned taxi and found a mobile phone were inadmissible, not having been properly identified.
that Enojas apparently left behind. P/Ins. Torred
instructed PO3 Joel Cambi (PO3 Cambi) to monitor its On June 2, 2008 the RTC rendered judgment,8 finding all
incoming messages.3 the accused guilty of murder qualified by evident
premeditation and use of armed men with the special
The police later ascertained that the suspect whom PO2 aggravating circumstance of use of unlicensed firearms.
Pangilinan had killed was someone named Reynaldo It thus sentenced them to suffer the penalty of reclusion
Mendoza who was armed with a .38 caliber revolver. The perpetua, without the possibility of parole and to
police found spent 9 mm and M-16 rifle shells at the indemnify the heirs of PO2 Pangilinan with ₱165,999.00
crime scene. Follow-up operations at nearby provinces as actual damages, ₱50,000.00 as moral damages,
resulted in finding the dead body of one of the suspects, ₱25,000.00 as exemplary damages, and ₱2,080,000.00 as
Alex Angeles, at the Metro South Medical Center along compensation for loss of earning capacity.
Molino, Bacoor, Cavite.4
Upon review in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. 03377, on June 14, 2012
PO3 Cambi and PO2 Rosarito testified that they the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed the appeal and
monitored the messages in accused Enojas’ mobile affirmed in toto the conviction of the accused.9 The CA,
phone and, posing as Enojas, communicated with the however, found the absence of evident premeditation
other accused. The police then conducted an since the prosecution failed to prove that the several
entrapment operation that resulted in the arrest of accused planned the crime before committing it. The
accused Santos and Jalandoni. Subsequently, the police accused appealed from the CA to this Court.10
were also able to capture accused Enojas and Gomez.
Page 156 of 187
The defense points out that the prosecution failed to 4. The text messages identified "Kua Justin" as one
present direct evidence that the accused Enojas, Gomez, of those who engaged PO2 Pangilinan in the
Santos, or Jalandoni took part in shooting PO2 shootout; the messages also referred to "Kua
Pangilinan dead.11 This may be true but the prosecution Justin" as the one who was hit in such shootout
could prove their liability by circumstantial evidence and later died in a hospital in Bacoor, Cavite.
that meets the evidentiary standard of proof beyond These messages linked the other accused.
reasonable doubt. It has been held that circumstantial
evidence is sufficient for conviction if: 1) there is more 5. During the follow-up operations, the police
than one circumstance; 2) the facts from which the investigators succeeded in entrapping accused
inferences are derived are proven; and 3) the Santos, Jalandoni, Enojas, and Gomez, who were
combination of all the circumstances is such as to all named in the text messages.
produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.12
6. The text messages sent to the phone recovered
Here the totality of the circumstantial evidence the from the taxi driven by Enojas clearly made
prosecution presented sufficiently provides basis for the references to the 7-11 shootout and to the
conviction of all the accused. Thus: wounding of "Kua Justin," one of the gunmen, and
his subsequent death.
1. PO2 Gregorio positively identified accused
Enojas as the driver of the taxicab suspiciously 7. The context of the messages showed that the
parked in front of the Aguila Auto Glass shop. The accused were members of an organized group of
officers were bringing him with them to the police taxicab drivers engaged in illegal activities.
station because of the questionable documents he
showed upon query. Subsequent inspection of the 8. Upon the arrest of the accused, they were found
taxicab yielded Enojas’ mobile phone that in possession of mobile phones with call numbers
contained messages which led to the entrapment that corresponded to the senders of the messages
and capture of the other accused who were also received on the mobile phone that accused Enojas
taxicab drivers. left in his taxicab.13

2. Enojas fled during the commotion rather than The Court must, however, disagree with the CA’s ruling
remain in the cab to go to the police station where that the aggravating circumstances of a) aid of armed
he was about to be taken for questioning, tending men and b) use of unlicensed firearms qualified the
to show that he had something to hide. He killing of PO2 Pangilinan to murder. In "aid of armed
certainly did not go to the police afterwards to men," the men act as accomplices only. They must not be
clear up the matter and claim his taxi. acting in the commission of the crime under the same
purpose as the principal accused, otherwise they are to
3. PO2 Gregorio positively identified accused be regarded as co-principals or co-conspirators. The use
Gomez as one of the men he saw running away of unlicensed firearm, on the other hand, is a special
from the scene of the shooting. aggravating circumstance that is not among the
Page 157 of 187
circumstances mentioned in Article 248 of the Revised WHEREFORE, the Court MODIFIES the Court of
Penal Code as qualifying a homicide to Appeals Decision of June 14, 2012 in CA-G.R. CR-HC
murder.14 Consequently, the accused in this case may be 03377. The Court instead FINDS accused-appellants
held liable only for homicide, aggravated by the use of Noel Enojas y Hingpit, Arnold Gomez y Fabregas,
unlicensed firearms, a circumstance alleged in the Fernando Santos y Delantar, and Roger Jalandoni y Ari
information. GUILTY of the lesser crime of HOMICIDE with the
special aggravating circumstance of use of unlicensed
As to the admissibility of the text messages, the RTC firearms. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the
admitted them in conformity with the Court’s earlier Court SENTENCES each of them to 12 years of prision
Resolution applying the Rules on Electronic Evidence to mayor, as minimum, to 20 years of reclusion temporal,
criminal actions.15 Text messages are to be proved by as maximum. The Court also MODIFIES the award of
the testimony of a person who was a party to the same exemplary damages by increasing it to ₱30,000.00, with
or has personal knowledge of them.16 Here, PO3 Cambi, an additional ₱50,000.00 for civil indemnity.
posing as the accused Enojas, exchanged text messages
with the other accused in order to identify and entrap SO ORDERED.
them. As the recipient of those messages sent from and
to the mobile phone in his possession, PO3 Cambi had
personal knowledge of such messages and was
competent to testify on them.

The accused lament that they were arrested without a


valid warrant of arrest.1âwphi1 But, assuming that this
was so, it cannot be a ground for acquitting them of the
crime charged but for rejecting any evidence that may
have been taken from them after an unauthorized
search as an incident of an unlawful arrest, a point that
is not in issue here. At any rate, a crime had been
committed—the killing of PO2 Pangilinan—and the
investigating police officers had personal knowledge of
facts indicating that the persons they were to arrest had
committed it.17 The text messages to and from the
mobile phone left at the scene by accused Enojas
provided strong leads on the participation and
identities of the accused. Indeed, the police caught them
in an entrapment using this knowledge.

The award of damages by the courts below has to be


modified to conform to current jurisprudence.18
Page 158 of 187
G.R. No. 203302. March 12, 2013.* electronically generated and written in the CF cards when the
ballots are fed into the PCOS machine. The ballot images are the
MAYOR EMMANUEL L. MALIKSI, counterparts produced by electronic recording which accurately
petitioner, vs.COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and reproduce the original, and thus are the equivalent of the original.
HOMER T. SAQUILAYAN, respondents. As pointed out by the COMELEC, “[t]he digital images of the physical
Constitutional Law; Due Process; There is no denial of due ballots are electronically and instantaneously generated by the
process where there is opportunity to be heard, either through oral PCOS machines once the physical ballots are fed into and read by
arguments or pleadings. It is settled that “opportunity to be heard” the machines.” Hence, the ballot images are not secondary evidence.
does not only mean oral arguments in court but also written The official physical ballots and the ballot images in the CF cards
arguments through pleadings.—There is no denial of due process are both original documents. The ballot images in the CF cards have
where there is opportunity to be heard, either through oral the same evidentiary weight as the official physical ballots.
arguments or pleadings. It is settled that “opportunity to be heard”
does not only mean oral arguments in court but also written
arguments through pleadings. Thus, the fact that a party was heard *CASE PDF
on his motion for reconsideration negates any violation of the right
to due process. The Court has ruled that denial of due process
cannot be invoked where a party was given the chance to be heard
on his motion for reconsideration.
Election Law; Automated Election System (AES); The picture
images of the ballots, as scanned and recorded by the Precinct Count
Optical Scan (PCOS), are likewise ‘official ballots’ that faithfully
capture in electronic form the votes cast by the voter, as defined by
Section 2 (3) of R.A. No. 9369; In short, both the ballot images in the
Compact Flash (CF) cards and the printouts of such images have the
same evidentiary value as the official physical ballots filled up by the
voters.—We have already ruled that the ballot images in the CF
cards, as well as the printouts of such images, are the functional
equivalent of the official physical ballots filled up by the voters, and
may be used in an election protest. In the recent consolidated cases
of Vinzons-Chato v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal
and Panotes and Panotes v. House of Representatives Electoral
Tribunal and Vinzons-Chato, 689 SCRA 107 (2013), the Court ruled
that “the picture images of the ballots, as scanned and recorded by
the PCOS, are likewise ‘official ballots’ that faithfully capture in
electronic form the votes cast by the voter, as defined by Section 2
(3) of R.A. No. 9369.” The Court declared that the printouts of the
ballot images in the CF cards “are the functional equivalent of the
paper ballots filled out by the voters and, thus, may be used for
purposes of revision of votes in an electoral protest.” In short, both
the ballot images in the CF cards and the printouts of such images
have the same evidentiary value as the official physical ballots filled
up by the voters.
Same; Same; Evidence; The ballot images are not secondary
evidence. The official physical ballots and the ballot images in the
Compact Flash (CF) cards are both original documents. The ballot
images in the CF cards have the same evidentiary weight as the
official physical ballots.―The ballot images, which are digital, are
Page 159 of 187
G.R. No. 170633. October 17, 2007.* justice, not to shackle the hand that dispenses it.—It should be
MCC INDUSTRIAL SALES CORPORATION, remembered that the Rules were promulgated to set
petitioner, vs. SSANGYONG CORPORATION, respondent. guidelines in the orderly administration of justice, not to
Actions; Pleadings and shackle the hand that dispenses it. Otherwise, the courts
Practice; Attorneys; Judgments; While receipt of a copy of the would be consigned to being mere slaves to technical rules,
decision by one of several counsels on record is notice to all, deprived of their judicial discretion. Technicalities must take
and the period to appeal commences on such date even if the a backseat to substantive rights. After all, it is circumspect
other counsel has not yet received a copy of the decision, the leniency in this respect that will give the parties the fullest
rule may be relaxed where it appears that there is an apparent opportunity to ventilate the merits of their respective causes,
agreement between the counsels that it would be the rather than have them lose life, liberty, honor or property on
collaborating, not the principal, who would file the appeal sheer technicalities.
brief and the subsequent pleadings in the Court of Appeals.—It Same; Same; Motions for Reconsideration; Mere
cannot be gainsaid that in Albano v. Court of Appeals, 362 restatement of arguments in a motion for reconsideration does
SCRA 667 (2001), we held that receipt of a copy of the decision not per se result in a pro forma motion; The pro forma rule will
by one of several counsels on record is notice to all, and the not apply if the arguments were not sufficiently passed upon
period to appeal commences on such date even if the other and answered in the decision sought to be reconsidered.—
counsel has not yet received a copy of the decision. In this Suffice it to say that the mere restatement of arguments in a
case, when Atty. Samson received a copy of the CA decision on motion for reconsideration does not per se result in a pro
September 14, 2005, MCC had only fifteen (15) days within forma motion. In Security Bank and Trust Company, Inc. v.
which to file a motion for reconsideration conformably with Cuenca, 341 SCRA 781 (2000), we held that a motion for
Section 1, Rule 52 of the Rules of Court, or to file a petition for reconsideration may not be necessarily pro forma even if it
review on certiorari in accordance with Section 2, Rule 45. reiterates the arguments earlier passed upon and rejected by
The period should not be reckoned from September 29, 2005 the appellate court. A movant may raise the same arguments
(when Castillo Zamora & Poblador received their copy of the precisely to convince the court that its ruling was erroneous.
decision) because notice to Atty. Samson is deemed notice to Furthermore, the pro forma rule will not apply if the
collaborating counsel. We note, however, from the records of arguments were not sufficiently passed upon and answered in
the CA, that it was Castillo Zamora & Poblador, not Atty. the decision sought to be reconsidered.
Samson, which filed both MCC’s and Chan’s Brief and Reply Same; Same; The Supreme Court has ample authority to
Brief. Apparently, the arrangement between the two counsels go beyond the pleadings when, in the interest of justice or for
was for the collaborating, not the principal, counsel to file the the promotion of public policy, there is a need to make its own
appeal brief and subsequent pleadings in the CA. This findings in order to support its conclusions.—The second issue
explains why it was Castillo Zamora & Poblador which filed poses a novel question that the Court welcomes. It provides
the motion for the reconsideration of the CA decision, and the occasion for this Court to pronounce a definitive
they did so on October 5, 2005, well within the 15-day period interpretation of the equally innovative provisions of the
from September 29, 2005, when they received their copy of the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 (R.A. No. 8792) vis-àvis the
CA decision. This could also be the reason why the CA did not Rules on Electronic Evidence. Although the parties did not
find it necessary to resolve the question of the timeliness of raise the question whether the original facsimile
petitioner’s motion for reconsideration, even as the CA denied transmissions are “electronic data messages” or “electronic
the same. documents” within the context of the Electronic Commerce
Same; Same; Same; Procedural Rules and Act (the petitioner merely assails as inadmissible evidence the
Technicalities; It should be remembered that the Rules were photocopies of the said facsimile transmissions), we deem it
promulgated to set guidelines in the orderly administration of appropriate to determine first whether the said fax

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transmissions are indeed within the coverage of R.A. No. 8792 document.” In order to expedite the reconciliation of the two
before ruling on whether the photocopies thereof are covered versions, the technical working group of the Bicameral
by the law. In any case, this Court has ample authority to go Conference Committee adopted both terms and intended
beyond the pleadings when, in the interest of justice or for the them to be the equivalent of each one. Be that as it may, there
promotion of public policy, there is a need to make its own is a slight difference between the two terms. While “data
findings in order to support its conclusions. message” has reference to information electronically sent,
Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 (R.A. No. stored or transmitted, it does not necessarily mean that it will
8792); Evidence;Rules on Electronic Evidence; Best Evidence give rise to a right or extinguish an obligation, unlike an
Rule; Words and Phrases; To be admissible in evidence as an electronic document. Evident from the law, however, is the
electronic data message or to be considered as the functional legislative intent to give the two terms the same construction.
equivalent of an original document under the Best Evidence Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The “international
Rule, the writing must foremost be an “electronic data origin” mentioned in Section 37 of the Electronic Commerce
message” or an “electronic document.”—The ruling of the Act can only refer to the UNCITRAL Model Law, and the
Appellate Court is incorrect. R.A. No. 8792, otherwise known UNCITRAL’s definition of “data message.”—As further guide
as the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, considers an for the Court in its task of statutory construction, Section 37
electronic data message or an electronic document as the of the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 provides that Unless
functional equivalent of a written document for evidentiary otherwise expressly provided for, the interpretation of this
purposes. The Rules on Electronic Evidence regards an Act shall give due regard to its international origin and the
electronic document as admissible in evidence if it complies need to promote uniformity in its application and the
with the rules on admissibility prescribed by the Rules of observance of good faith in international trade relations. The
Court and related laws, and is authenticated in the manner generally accepted principles of international law and
prescribed by the said Rules. An electronic document is also convention on electronic commerce shall likewise be
the equivalent of an original document under the Best considered. Obviously, the “international origin” mentioned
Evidence Rule, if it is a printout or output readable by sight in this section can only refer to the UNCITRAL Model Law,
or other means, shown to reflect the data accurately. Thus, to and the UNCITRAL’s definition of “data message”: “Data
be admissible in evidence as an electronic data message or to message” means information generated, sent, received or
be considered as the functional equivalent of an original stored by electronic, optical or similar means including, but
document under the Best Evidence Rule, the writing must not limited to, electronic data interchange (EDI), electronic
foremost be an “electronic data message” or an “electronic mail, telegram, telex or telecopy, is substantially the same as
document.” the IRR’s characterization of an “electronic data message.”
Same; Same; Same; Statutory Construction; Words and Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; A construction should be
Phrases; While “data message” has reference to information rejected that gives to the language used in a statute a meaning
electronically sent, stored or transmitted, it does not that does not accomplish the purpose for which the statute was
necessarily mean that it will give rise to a right or extinguish enacted, and that tends to defeat the ends which are sought to
an obligation, unlike an “electronic document,” nevertheless be attained by the enactment.—Congress deleted the phrase,
evident from the law is the legislative intent to give the two “but not limited to, electronic data interchange (EDI),
terms the same construction.—The clause on the electronic mail, telegram, telex or telecopy,” and replaced the
interchangeability of the terms “electronic data message” and term “data message” (as found in the UNCITRAL Model Law)
“electronic document” was the result of the Senate of the with “electronic data message.” This legislative divergence
Philippines’ adoption, in Senate Bill 1902, of the phrase from what is assumed as the term’s “international origin” has
“electronic data message” and the House of Representative’s bred uncertainty and now impels the Court to make an
employment, in House Bill 9971, of the term “electronic inquiry into the true intent of the framers of the law. Indeed,

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in the construction or interpretation of a legislative measure, the “functional equivalent approach” that it espouses. In fact,
the primary rule is to search for and determine the intent and the deliberations of the Legislature are replete with
spirit of the law. A construction should be rejected that gives discussions on paperless and digital transactions. Facsimile
to the language used in a statute a meaning that does not transmissions are not, in this sense, “paperless,” but verily are
accomplish the purpose for which the statute was enacted, paper-based.
and that tends to defeat the ends which are sought to be Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; A facsimile
attained by the enactment. machine, which was first patented in 1843 by Alexander Bain,
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Facsimile is a device that can send or receive pictures and text over a
Transmissions;There is no question that when Congress telephone line, and works by digitizing an image; A fax
formulated the term “electronic data message,” it intended the machine is essentially an image scanner, a modem and a
same meaning as the term “electronic record” in the Canada computer printer combined into a highly specialized
law, which construction of the term “electronic data message,” package.—A facsimile machine, which was first patented in
excludes telexes or faxes, except computergenerated faxes, in 1843 by Alexander Bain, is a device that can send or receive
harmony with the Electronic Commerce Law’s focus on pictures and text over a telephone line. It works by digitizing
“paperless” communications and the “functional equivalent an image—dividing it into a grid of dots. Each dot is either on
approach” that it espouses; Facsimile transmissions are not or off, depending on whether it is black or white.
“paperless” but verily are paper-based.—When the Senate Electronically, each dot is represented by a bit that has a
consequently voted to adopt the term “electronic data value of either 0 (off) or 1 (on). In this way, the fax machine
message,” it was consonant with the explanation of Senator translates a picture into a series of zeros and ones (called a
Miriam Defensor-Santiago that it would not apply “to telexes bit map) that can be transmitted like normal computer data.
or faxes, except computer-generated faxes, unlike the United On the receiving side, a fax machine reads the incoming data,
Nations model law on electronic commerce.” In explaining the translates the zeros and ones back into dots, and reprints the
term “electronic record” patterned after the ECommerce Law picture. A fax machine is essentially an image scanner, a
of Canada, Senator Defensor-Santiago had in mind the term modem and a computer printer combined into a highly
“electronic data message.” This term then, while maintaining specialized package. The scanner converts the content of a
part of the UNCITRAL Model Law’s terminology of “data physical document into a digital image, the modem sends the
message,” has assumed a different context, this time, image data over a phone line, and the printer at the other end
consonant with the term “electronic record” in the law of makes a duplicate of the original document.
Canada. It accounts for the addition of the word “electronic” Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; In a virtual or
and the deletion of the phrase “but not limited to, electronic paperless environment, technically, there is no original copy to
data interchange (EDI), electronic mail, telegram, telex or speak of, as all direct printouts of the virtual reality are the
telecopy.” Noteworthy is that the Uniform Law Conference of same, in all respects, and are considered as originals;
Canada, explains the term “electronic record,” as drafted in Ineluctably, the law’s definition of “electronic data message,”
the Uniform Electronic Evidence Act, in a manner strikingly which, as aforesaid, is interchangeable with “electronic
similar to Sen. Santiago’s explanation during the Senate document,” could not have included facsimile transmissions,
deliberations: x x x There is no question then that when which have an original paper-based copy as sent and a paper-
Congress formulated the term “electronic data message,” it based facsimile copy as received; While Congress anticipated
intended the same meaning as the term “electronic record” in future developments in communications and computer
the Canada law. This construction of the term “electronic technology when it drafted the law, it excluded the early forms
data message,” which excludes telexes or faxes, except of technology, like telegraph, telex and telecopy (except
computer-generated faxes, is in harmony with the Electronic computer-generated faxes, which is a newer development as
Commerce Law’s focus on “paperless” communications and compared to the ordinary fax machine to fax machine

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transmission), when it defined the term “electronic data implementation of a statute is necessarily limited to what is
message.”—In an ordinary facsimile transmission, there exists found in the legislative enactment itself. The implementing
an original paper-based information or data that is scanned, rules and regulations of a law cannot extend the law or
sent through a phone line, and re-printed at the receiving expand its coverage, as the power to amend or repeal a
end. Be it noted that in enacting the Electronic Commerce Act statute is vested in the Legislature. Thus, if a discrepancy
of 2000, Congress intended virtual or paperlesswritings to be occurs between the basic law and an implementing rule or
the functional equivalent and to have the same legal regulation, it is the former that prevails, because the law
function as paper-based documents. Further, in a virtual or cannot be broadened by a mere administrative issuance—an
paperless environment, technically, there is no original copy administrative agency certainly cannot amend an act of
to speak of, as all direct printouts of the virtual reality are the Congress. Had the Legislature really wanted ordinary fax
same, in all respects, and are considered as originals. transmissions to be covered by the mantle of the Electronic
Ineluctably, the law’s definition of “electronic data message,” Commerce Act of 2000, it could have easily lifted without a bit
which, as aforesaid, is interchangeable with “electronic of tatter the entire wordings of the UNCITRAL Model Law.
document,” could not have included facsimile transmissions, Same; Same; Same; Best Evidence Rule; Facsimile
which have an original paper-based copy as sent and a paper- Transmisions; A facsimile transmission cannot be considered
based facsimile copy as received. These two copies are distinct as electronic evidence—it is not the functional equivalent of an
from each other, and have different legal effects. While original under the Best Evidence Rule and is not admissible as
Congress anticipated future developments in communications electronic evidence.—We, therefore, conclude that the
and computer technology when it drafted the law, it excluded terms “electronic data message” and “electronic document,” as
the early forms of technology, like telegraph, telex and defined under the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, do not
telecopy (except computer-generated faxes, which is a newer include a facsimile transmission. Accordingly, a facsimile
development as compared to the ordinary fax machine to fax transmissioncannot be considered as electronic evidence. It is
machine transmission), when it defined the term “electronic not the functional equivalent of an original under the Best
data message.” Evidence Rule and is not admissible as electronic evidence.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Administrative Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Since a facsimile
Law;The power of administrative officials to promulgate rules transmission is not an “electronic data message” or an
in the implementation of a statute is necessarily limited to “electronic document,” and cannot be considered as electronic
what is found in the legislative enactment itself; The IRR went evidence by the Court, with greater reason is a photocopy of
beyond the parameters of the law when it adopted verbatim the such a fax transmission not electronic evidence.—Since a
UNCITRAL Model Law’s definition of “data message,” without facsimile transmission is not an “electronic data message” or
considering the intention of Congress when the latter deleted an “electronic document,” and cannot be considered as
the phrase “but not limited to, electronic data interchange electronic evidence by the Court, with greater reason is a
(EDI), electronic mail, telegram, telex or telecopy.”—Clearly photocopy of such a fax transmission not electronic evidence.
then, the IRR went beyond the parameters of the law when it In the present case, therefore, Pro Forma Invoice Nos. ST2-
adopted verbatim the UNCITRAL Model Law’s definition of POSTS0401-1 and ST2-POSTS0401-2 (Exhibits “E” and “F”),
“data message,” without considering the intention of which are mere photocopiesof the original fax transmittals,
Congress when the latter deleted the phrase “but not limited are not electronic evidence, contrary to the position of both
to, electronic data interchange (EDI), electronic mail, the trial and the appellate courts.
telegram, telex or telecopy.” The inclusion of this phrase in the Actions; Contracts; Breach of Contract; Requisites.—
IRR offends a basic tenet in the exercise of the rule-making Despite the pro forma invoices not being electronic evidence,
power of administrative agencies. After all, the power of this Court finds that respondent has proven by
administrative officials to promulgate rules in the preponderance of evidence the existence of a perfected

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contract of sale. In an action for damages due to a breach of a part, may prove its contents by a copy, or by a recital of its
contract, it is essential that the claimant proves (1) the contents in some authentic document, or by the testimony of
existence of a perfected contract, (2) the breach thereof by the witnesses in the order stated.” Furthermore, the offeror of
other contracting party and (3) the damages which he/she secondary evidence must prove the predicates thereof,
sustained due to such breach. Actori incumbit onus probandi. namely: (a) the loss or destruction of the original without bad
The burden of proof rests on the party who advances a faith on the part of the proponent/offeror which can be shown
proposition affirmatively. In other words, a plaintiff in a civil by circumstantial evidence of routine practices of destruction
action must establish his case by a preponderance of of documents; (b) the proponent must prove by a fair
evidence, that is, evidence that has greater weight, or is more preponderance of evidence as to raise a reasonable inference
convincing than that which is offered in opposition to it. of the loss or destruction of the original copy; and (c) it must
Civil Law; Same; Sales; Elements; In general, contracts be shown that a diligent and bona fide but unsuccessful
are perfected by mere consent, which is manifested by the search has been made for the document in the proper place or
meeting of the offer and the acceptance upon the thing and the places. It has been held that where the missing document is
cause which are to constitute the contract.—In general, the foundation of the action, more strictness in proof is
contracts are perfected by mere consent, which is manifested required than where the document is only collaterally
by the meeting of the offer and the acceptance upon the thing involved. Given these norms, we find that respondent failed to
and the cause which are to constitute the contract. The offer prove the existence of the original fax transmissions of
must be certain and the acceptance absolute. They are, Exhibits “E” and “F,” and likewise did not sufficiently prove
moreover, obligatory in whatever form they may have been the loss or destruction of the originals. Thus, Exhibits “E” and
entered into, provided all the essential requisites for their “F” cannot be admitted in evidence and accorded probative
validity are present. Sale, being a consensual contract, follows weight.
the general rule that it is perfected at the moment there is a Same; Same; Same; Same; Appeals; Evidence not objected
meeting of the minds upon the thing which is the object of the to is deemed admitted and may be validly considered by the
contract and upon the price. From that moment, the parties court in arriving at its judgment; Issues not raised on appeal
may reciprocally demand performance, subject to the are deemed abandoned.—Pro Forma Invoice No. ST2-
provisions of the law governing the form of contracts. The POSTS080-1 (Exhibit “X”), however, is a mere photocopy of its
essential elements of a contract of sale are (1) consent or original. But then again, petitioner MCC does not assail the
meeting of the minds, that is, to transfer ownership in admissibility of this document in the instant petition. Verily,
exchange for the price, (2) object certain which is the subject evidence not objected to is deemed admitted and may be
matter of the contract, and (3) cause of the obligation which is validly considered by the court in arriving at its judgment.
established. Issues not raised on appeal are deemed abandoned.
Same; Same; Same; Evidence; Best Evidence Same; Same; Same; Same; Appropriate conduct by the
Rule; Requisites Before Admission of Secondary Evidence; It parties may be sufficient to establish an agreement, and while
has been held that where the missing document is the there may be instances where the exchange of correspondence
foundation of the action, more strictness in proof is required does not disclose the exact point at which the deal was closed,
than where the document is only collaterally involved.— the actions of the parties may indicate that a binding
Because these documents are mere photocopies, they are obligation has been undertaken.—The logical chain of events,
simply secondary evidence, admissible only upon compliance as gleaned from the evidence of both parties, started with the
with Rule 130, Section 5, which states, “[w]hen the original petitioner and the respondent agreeing on the sale and
document has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced purchase of 220MT of stainless steel at US$1,860.00 per MT.
in court, the offeror, upon proof of its execution or existence This initial contract was perfected. Later, as petitioner asked
and the cause of its unavailability without bad faith on his for several extensions to pay, adjustments in the delivery

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dates, and discounts in the price as originally agreed, the proven with a reasonable degree of certainty. In Villafuerte v.
parties slightly varied the terms of their contract, without Court of Appeals, 459 SCRA 58 (2005), we explained that:
necessarily novating it, to the effect that the original order Actual or compensatory damages are those awarded in order
was reduced to 200MT, split into two deliveries, and the price to compensate a party for an injury or loss he suffered. They
discounted to US$1,700 per MT. Petitioner, however, paid only arise out of a sense of natural justice and are aimed at
half of its obligation and failed to open an L/C for the other repairing the wrong done. Except as provided by law or by
100MT. Notably, the conduct of both parties sufficiently stipulation, a party is entitled to an adequate compensation
established the existence of a contract of sale, even if the only for such pecuniary loss as he has duly proven. It is
writings of the parties, because of their contested hornbook doctrine that to be able to recover actual damages,
admissibility, were not as explicit in establishing a contract. the claimant bears the onus of presenting before the court
Appropriate conduct by the parties may be sufficient to actual proof of the damages alleged to have been suffered.
establish an agreement, and while there may be instances Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; In the absence of
where the exchange of correspondence does not disclose the corroborative evidence, self-serving statements of account are
exact point at which the deal was closed, the actions of the not sufficient basis to award actual damages—the court
parties may indicate that a binding obligation has been cannot simply rely on speculation, conjecture or guesswork as
undertaken. to the fact and amount of damages, but must depend on
Same; Same; Same; It is a well-entrenched rule that the competent proof that the claimant had suffered, and on
failure of a buyer to furnish an agreed letter of credit is a evidence of, the actual amount thereof.—The statement of
breach of the contract between buyer and seller; Damages for account and the details of the losses sustained by respondent
failure to open a commercial credit may, in appropriate cases, due to the said breach are, at best, self-serving. It was
include the loss of profit which the seller would reasonably respondent Ssangyong itself which prepared the said
have made had the transaction been carried out.—With our documents. The items therein are not even substantiated by
finding that there is a valid contract, it is crystal-clear that official receipts. In the absence of corroborative evidence, the
when petitioner did not open the L/C for the first half of the said statement of account is not sufficient basis to award
transaction (100MT), despite numerous demands from actual damages. The court cannot simply rely on speculation,
respondent Ssangyong, petitioner breached its contractual conjecture or guesswork as to the fact and amount of
obligation. It is a well-entrenched rule that the failure of a damages, but must depend on competent proof that the
buyer to furnish an agreed letter of credit is a breach of the claimant had suffered, and on evidence of, the actual amount
contract between buyer and seller. Indeed, where the buyer thereof.
fails to open a letter of credit as stipulated, the seller or Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Nominal damages
exporter is entitled to claim damages for such breach. are recoverable where a legal right is technically violated and
Damages for failure to open a commercial credit may, in must be vindicated against an invasion that has produced no
appropriate cases, include the loss of profit which the seller actual present loss of any kind or where there has been a
would reasonably have made had the transaction been breach of contract and no substantial injury or actual
carried out. damages whatsoever have been or can be shown.—The Court
Same; Same; Same; Evidence; Breach of finds that petitioner knowingly breached its contractual
Contract; Damages; It is axiomatic that actual or obligation and obstinately refused to pay despite repeated
compensatory damages cannot be presumed, but must be demands from respondent. Petitioner even asked for several
proven with a reasonable degree of certainty.—This Court, extensions of time for it to make good its obligation. But in
however, finds that the award of actual damages is not in spite of respondent’s continuous accommodation, petitioner
accord with the evidence on record. It is axiomatic that actual completely reneged on its contractual duty. For such
or compensatory damages cannot be presumed, but must be inattention and insensitivity, MCC must be held liable for

Page 165 of 187


nominal damages. “Nominal damages are ‘recoverable where transmissions.7 Ssangyong would send the pro formainvoices
a legal right is technically violated and must be vindicated containing the details of the steel product order to MCC; if the
against an invasion that has produced no actual present loss latter conforms thereto, its representative affixes his
of any kind or where there has been a breach of contract and signature on the faxed copy and sends it back to Ssangyong,
no substantial injury or actual damages whatsoever have again by fax.8 On April 13, 2000, Ssangyong Manila Office sent,
been or can be shown.’” Accordingly, the Court awards by fax, a letter9 addressed to Gregory Chan, MCC Manager
nominal damages of P200,000.00 to respondent Ssangyong. [also the President10 of Sanyo Seiki Stainless Steel
Attorney’s Fees; In the instant case, the Court finds the award Corporation], to confirm MCC’s and Sanyo Seiki’s order of 220
of attorney’s fees proper considering that the defendant’s metric tons (MT) of hot rolled stainless steel under a
unjustified refusal to pay has compelled the plaintiff to preferential rate of US$1,860.00 per MT. Chan, on behalf of the
litigate and to incur expenses to protect its rights.—As to the corporations, assented and affixed his signature on
award of attorney’s fees, it is well-settled that no premium the conforme portion of the letter.11
should be placed on the right to litigate and not every On April 17, 2000, Ssangyong forwarded to MCC Pro
winning party is entitled to an automatic grant of attorney’s Forma Invoice No. ST2-POSTSO40112 containing the terms
fees. The party must show that he falls under one of the and conditions of the transaction. MCC sent back by fax to
instances enumerated in Article 2208 of the Civil Code. In the Ssangyong the invoice bearing the conformity signature 13 of
instant case, however, the Court finds the award of attorney’s Chan. As stated in the pro forma invoice, payment for the
fees proper, considering that petitioner MCC’s unjustified ordered steel products would be made through an irrevocable
refusal to pay has compelled respondent Ssangyong to litigate letter of credit (L/C) at sight in favor of
and to incur expenses to protect its rights. Ssangyong.14 Following their usual practice, delivery of the
goods was to be made after the L/C had been opened.
PETITION for review on certiorari of the decision and In the meantime, because of its confirmed transaction with
resolution of the Court of Appeals. MCC, Ssangyong placed the order with its steel manufacturer,
Pohang Iron and Steel Corporation (POSCO), in South
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. Korea15 and paid the same in full.
Zamora, Poblador, Vasquez & Bretaña for petitioner. Because MCC could open only a partial letter of credit, the
Donato, Zarate & Rodriguez for respondent. order for 220MT of steel was split into two,16 one
for 110MT covered by Pro Forma Invoice No. ST2-POSTS0401-
NACHURA, J.: 117 and another for 110MT covered by ST2-POSTS0401-
2,18 both dated April 17, 2000.
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari of the On June 20, 2000, Ssangyong, through its Manila Office,
Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 82983and informed Sanyo Seiki and Chan, by way of a fax transmittal,
its Resolution2 denying the motion for reconsideration that it was ready to ship 193.597MT of stainless steel from
thereof. Korea to the Philippines. It requested that the opening of the
Petitioner MCC Industrial Sales (MCC), a domestic L/C be facilitated.19 Chan affixed his signature on the fax
corporation with office at Binondo, Manila, is engaged in the transmittal and returned the same, by fax, to Ssangyong.20
business of importing and wholesaling stainless steel Two days later, on June 22, 2000, Ssangyong Manila Office
products.3 One of its suppliers is the Ssangyong Corporation informed Sanyo Seiki, thru Chan, that it was able to secure a
(Ssangyong),4 an international trading company5 with head US$30/MT price adjustment on the contracted price of
office in Seoul, South Korea and regional headquarters in US$1,860.00/MT for the 200MT stainless steel, and that the
Makati City, Philippines.6 The two corporations conducted goods were to be shipped in two tranches, the first 100MT on
business through telephone calls and facsimile or telecopy that day and the second 100MT not later than June 27, 2000.

Page 166 of 187


Ssangyong reiterated its request for the facilitation of the to US$1,700.00 per MT. As can be gleaned from the
L/C’s opening.21 photocopies of the said August 16, 2000 invoices submitted to
Ssangyong later, through its Manila Office, sent a letter, on the court, they both bear the conformity signature of MCC
June 26, 2000, to the Treasury Group of Sanyo Seiki that it Manager Chan.
was looking forward to receiving the L/C details and a cable On August 17, 2000, MCC finally opened an L/C with
copy thereof that day.22 Ssangyong sent a separate letter of PCIBank for US$170,000.00 covering payment for 100MT of
the same date to Sanyo Seiki requesting for the opening of the stainless steel coil under Pro Forma Invoice No. ST2-
L/C covering payment of the first 100MT not later than June POSTS080-2.34 The goods covered by the said invoice were
28, 2000.23 Similar letters were transmitted by Ssangyong then shipped to and received by MCC.35
Manila Office on June 27, 2000.24 On June 28, 2000, Ssangyong MCC then faxed to Ssangyong a letter dated August 22,
sent another facsimile letter to MCC stating that its principal 2000 signed by Chan, requesting for a price adjustment of the
in Korea was already in a difficult situation25 because of the order stated in Pro Forma Invoice No. ST2-POSTS080-1,
failure of Sanyo Seiki and MCC to open the L/C’s. considering that the prevailing price of steel at that time was
The following day, June 29, 2000, Ssangyong received, by US$1,500.00/MT, and that MCC lost a lot of money due to a
fax, a letter signed by Chan, requesting an extension of time recent strike.36
to open the L/C because MCC’s credit line with the bank had Ssangyong rejected the request, and, on August 23, 2000,
been fully availed of in connection with another transaction, sent a demand letter37 to Chan for the opening of the second
and MCC was waiting for an additional credit line.26 On the and last L/C of US$170,000.00 with a warning that, if the said
same date, Ssangyong replied, requesting that it be informed L/C was not opened by MCC on August 26, 2000, Ssangyong
of the date when the L/C would be opened, preferably at the would be constrained to cancel the contract and hold MCC
earliest possible time, since its Steel Team 2 in Korea was liable for US$64,066.99 (representing cost difference,
having problems and Ssangyong was incurring warehousing warehousing expenses, interests and charges as of August 15,
costs.27 To maintain their good business relationship and to 2000) and other damages for breach. Chan failed to reply.
support MCC in its financial predicament, Ssangyong offered Exasperated, Ssangyong through counsel wrote a letter to
to negotiate with its steel manufacturer, POSCO, another MCC, on September 11, 2000, canceling the sales contract
US$20/MT discount on the price of the stainless steel ordered. under ST2-POSTS0401-1/ST2-POSTS0401-2, and demanding
This was intimated in Ssangyong’s June 30, 2000 letter to payment of US$97,317.37 representing losses, warehousing
MCC.28 On July 6, 2000, another follow-up letter29for the expenses, interests and charges.38
opening of the L/C was sent by Ssangyong to MCC. Ssangyong then filed, on November 16, 2001, a civil action
However, despite Ssangyong’s letters, MCC failed to open a for damages due to breach of contract against defendants
letter of credit.30 Consequently, on August 15, 2000, MCC, Sanyo Seiki and Gregory Chan before the Regional
Ssangyong, through counsel, wrote Sanyo Seiki that if the Trial Court of Makati City. In its complaint,39Ssangyong
L/C’s were not opened, Ssangyong would be compelled to alleged that defendants breached their contract when they
cancel the contract and hold MCC liable for damages for refused to open the L/C in the amount of US$170,000.00 for the
breach thereof amounting to US$96,132.18, inclusive of remaining 100MT of steel under Pro Forma Invoice Nos. ST2-
warehouse expenses, related interests and charges.31 POSTS0401-1 and ST2-POSTS0401-2.
Later, Pro Forma Invoice Nos. ST2-POSTS080-132 and ST2- After Ssangyong rested its case, defendants filed a
POSTS080-233 dated August 16, 2000 were issued by Ssangyong Demurrer to Evidence40 alleging that Ssangyong failed to
and sent via fax to MCC. The invoices slightly varied the present the original copies of the pro forma invoices on which
terms of the earlier pro forma invoices (ST2POSTSO401, ST2- the civil action was based. In an Order dated April 24, 2003,
POSTS0401-1 and ST2-POSTS0401-2), in that the quantity was the court denied the demurrer, ruling that the documentary
now officially 100MT per invoice and the price was reduced evidence presented had already been admitted in the

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December 16, 2002 Order41 and their admissibility finds Poblador entered its appearance as their collaborating
support in Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8792, otherwise known as counsel.
the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000. Considering that both In their Appeal Brief filed on March 9, 2005,46 MCC and
testimonial and documentary evidence tended to substantiate Chan raised before the CA the following errors of the RTC:
the material allegations in the complaint, Ssangyong’s
evidence sufficed for purposes of a prima facie case.42 1. I.THE HONORABLE COURT A QUO PLAINLY ERRED
After trial on the merits, the RTC rendered its IN FINDING THAT APPELLANTS VIOLATED THEIR
Decision43 on March 24, 2004, in favor of Ssangyong. The trial CONTRACT WITH APPELLEE
court ruled that when plaintiff agreed to sell and defendants
agreed to buy the 220MT of steel products for the price of 1. A.THE HONORABLE COURT A QUO PLAINLY ERRED
US$1,860 per MT, the contract was perfected. The subject IN FINDING THAT APPELLANTS AGREED TO
transaction was evidenced by Pro FormaInvoice Nos. ST2- PURCHASE 200 METRIC TONS OF STEEL
POSTS0401-1 and ST2-POSTS0401-2, which were later PRODUCTS FROM APPELLEE, INSTEAD OF ONLY
amended only in terms of reduction of volume as well as the 100 METRIC TONS.
price per MT, following Pro FormaInvoice Nos. ST2-
POSTS080-1 and ST2POSTS080-2. The RTC, however,
1. 1.THE HONORABLE COURT A QUO PLAINLY ERRED
excluded Sanyo Seiki from liability for lack of competent
IN ADMITTING IN EVIDENCE THE PRO
evidence. The fallo of the decision reads:
FORMA INVOICES WITH REFERENCE NOS.
“WHEREFORE, premises considered, Judgment is hereby
ST2POSTS0401-1 AND ST2-POSTS0401-2.
rendered ordering defendants MCC Industrial Sales
Corporation and Gregory Chan, to pay plaintiff, jointly and
severally the following: 1. II.THE HONORABLE COURT A QUO PLAINLY ERRED
IN AWARDING ACTUAL DAMAGES TO APPELLEE.
1. 1)Actual damages of US$93,493.87 representing the
outstanding principal claim plus interest at the rate 1. III.THE HONORABLE COURT A QUO PLAINLY
of 6% per annum from March 30, 2001. ERRED IN AWARDING ATTORNEY’S FEES TO
2. 2)Attorney’s fees in the sum of P50,000.00 plus APPELLEE.
P2,000.00 per counsel’s appearance in court, the same 2. IV.THE HONORABLE COURT A QUO PLAINLY
being deemed just and equitable considering that by ERRED IN FINDING APPELLANT GREGORY CHAN
reason of defendants’ breach of their obligation under JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY LIABLE WITH
the subject contract, plaintiff was constrained to APPELLANT MCC.47
litigate to enforce its rights and recover for the
damages it sustained, and therefore had to engage the On August 31, 2005, the CA rendered its Decision 48affirming
services of a lawyer. the ruling of the trial court, but absolving Chan of any
3. 3)Costs of suit. liability. The appellate court ruled, among others, that Pro
Forma Invoice Nos. ST2-POSTS0401-1 and ST2POSTS0401-
No award of exemplary damages for lack of sufficient basis. 2 (Exhibits “E,” “E-1” and “F”) were admissible in evidence,
SO ORDERED.”44 although they were mere facsimile printouts of MCC’s steel
On April 22, 2004, MCC and Chan, through their counsel of orders.49 The dispositive portion of the appellate court’s
record, Atty. Eladio B. Samson, filed their Notice of decision reads:
Appeal.45 On June 8, 2004, the law office of Castillo Zamora & “WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court holds:

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1. (1)The award of actual damages, with interest, SUFFERED ANY DAMAGES AND THE AMOUNT
attorney’s fees and costs ordered by the lower court is THEREOF.
hereby AFFIRMED. 3. III.THE AWARD OF ACTUAL DAMAGES IN THE
2. (2)Appellant Gregory Chan is hereby ABSOLVED from AMOUNT OF US$93,493.87 IS SIMPLY
any liability. UNCONSCIONABLE AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN AT
LEAST REDUCED, IF NOT DELETED BY THE
SO ORDERED.”50 COURT OF APPEALS.57
A copy of the said Decision was received by MCC’s and Chan’s
principal counsel, Atty. Eladio B. Samson, on September 14, In its Comment, Ssangyong sought the dismissal of the
2005.51 Their collaborating counsel, Castillo Zamora & petition, raising the following arguments: that the CA
Poblador,52 likewise, received a copy of the CA decision on decision dated 15 August 2005 is already final and executory,
September 19, 2005.53 because MCC’s motion for reconsideration was filed beyond
On October 4, 2005, Castillo Zamora & Poblador, on behalf the reglementary period of 15 days from receipt of a copy
of MCC, filed a motion for reconsideration of the said thereof, and that, in any case, it was a pro forma motion; that
decision.54 Ssangyong opposed the motion contending that the MCC breached the contract for the purchase of the steel
decision of the CA had become final and executory on account products when it failed to open the required letter of credit;
of the failure of MCC to file the said motion within the that the printout copies and/or photocopies of facsimile or
reglementary period. The appellate court resolved, on telecopy transmissions were properly admitted by the trial
November 22, 2005, to deny the motion on its merits, 55without, court because they are considered original documents under
however, ruling on the procedural issue raised. R.A. No. 8792; and that MCC is liable for actual damages and
Aggrieved, MCC filed a petition for review attorney’s fees because of its breach, thus, compelling
on certiorari56before this Court, imputing the following errors Ssangyong to litigate.
to the Court of Appeals: The principal issues that this Court is called upon to
THE COURT OF APPEALS DECIDED A LEGAL QUESTION resolve are the following:
NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH JURISPRUDENCE AND
SANCTIONED A DEPARTURE FROM THE USUAL AND 1. I– Whether the CA decision dated 15 August 2005 is
ACCEPTED COURSE OF JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS BY already final and executory;
REVERSING THE COURT A QUO’S DISMISSAL OF THE 2. II– Whether the print-out and/or photocopies of
COMPLAINT IN CIVIL CASE NO. 02124 CONSIDERING facsimile transmissions are electronic evidence and
THAT: admissible as such;
3. III– Whether there was a perfected contract of sale
1. I.THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN SUSTAINING between MCC and Ssangyong, and, if in the
THE ADMISSIBILITY IN EVIDENCE OF THE affirmative, whether MCC breached the said contract;
PROFORMA INVOICES WITH REFERENCE NOS. and
ST2POSTSO401-1 AND ST2-POSTSO401-2, DESPITE 4. IV– Whether the award of actual damages and
THE FACT THAT THE SAME WERE MERE attorney’s fees in favor of Ssangyong is proper and
PHOTOCOPIES OF FACSIMILE PRINTOUTS. justified.
2. II.THE COURT OF APPEALS FAILED TO
APPRECIATE THE OBVIOUS FACT THAT, EVEN -I-
ASSUMING PETITIONER BREACHED THE It cannot be gainsaid that in Albano v. Court of Appeals,58we
SUPPOSED CONTRACT, THE FACT IS THAT held that receipt of a copy of the decision by one of several
PETITIONER FAILED TO PROVE THAT IT
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counsels on record is notice to all, and the period to appeal [W]e cannot look with favor on a course of action which
commences on such date even if the other counsel has not yet would place the administration of justice in a straight jacket
received a copy of the decision. In this case, when Atty. for then the result would be a poor kind of justice if there
Samson received a copy of the CA decision on September 14, would be justice at all. Verily, judicial orders, such as the one
2005, MCC had only fifteen (15) days within which to file a subject of this petition, are issued to be obeyed, nonetheless a
motion for reconsideration conformably with Section 1, Rule non-compliance is to be dealt with as the circumstances
52 of the Rules of Court, or to file a petition for review attending the case may warrant. What should guide judicial
on certiorari in accordance with Section 2, Rule 45. The action is the principle that a party-litigant is to be given the
period should not be reckoned from September 29, 2005 (when fullest opportunity to establish the merits of his complaint or
Castillo Zamora & Poblador received their copy of the defense rather than for him to lose life, liberty, honor or
decision) because notice to Atty. Samson is deemed notice to property on technicalities.
collaborating counsel. The rules of procedure are used only to secure and not
We note, however, from the records of the CA, that it was override or frustrate justice. A six-day delay in the perfection
Castillo Zamora & Poblador, not Atty. Samson, which filed of the appeal, as in this case, does not warrant the outright
both MCC’s and Chan’s Brief and Reply Brief. Apparently, the dismissal of the appeal. In Development Bank of the
arrangement between the two counsels was for the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals, we gave due course to the
collaborating, not the principal, counsel to file the appeal petitioner’s appeal despite the late filing of its brief in the
brief and subsequent pleadings in the CA. This explains why appellate court because such appeal involved public interest.
it was Castillo Zamora & Poblador which filed the motion for We stated in the said case that the Court may exempt a
the reconsideration of the CA decision, and they did so on particular case from a strict application of the rules of
October 5, 2005, well within the 15-day period from September procedure where the appellant failed to perfect its appeal
29, 2005, when they received their copy of the CA decision. within the reglementary period, resulting in the appellate
This could also be the reason why the CA did not find it court’s failure to obtain jurisdiction over the case. In Republic
necessary to resolve the question of the timeliness of vs. Imperial, Jr., we also held that there is more leeway to
petitioner’s motion for reconsideration, even as the CA denied exempt a case from the strictness of procedural rules when
the same. the appellate court has already obtained jurisdiction over the
Independent of this consideration though, this Court appealed case. We emphasize that:
assiduously reviewed the records and found that strong [T]he rules of procedure are mere tools intended to facilitate
concerns of substantial justice warrant the relaxation of this the attainment of justice, rather than frustrate it. A strict and
rule. rigid application of the rules must always be eschewed when
In Philippine Ports Authority v. Sargasso Construction and it would subvert the rule’s primary objective of enhancing
Development Corporation,59 we ruled that: fair trials and expediting justice. Technicalities should never
“In Orata v. Intermediate Appellate Court, we held that where be used to defeat the substantive rights of the other party.
strong considerations of substantive justice are manifest in Every party-litigant must be afforded the amplest opportunity
the petition, this Court may relax the strict application of the for the proper and just determination of his cause, free from
rules of procedure in the exercise of its legal jurisdiction. In the constraints of technicalities.”60
addition to the basic merits of the main case, such a petition Moreover, it should be remembered that the Rules were
usually embodies justifying circumstance which warrants our promulgated to set guidelines in the orderly administration of
heeding to the petitioner’s cry for justice in spite of the justice, not to shackle the hand that dispenses it. Otherwise,
earlier negligence of counsel. As we held in Obut v. Court of the courts would be consigned to being mere slaves to
Appeals: technical rules, deprived of their judicial discretion.
Technicalities must take a backseat to substantive rights.

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After all, it is circumspect leniency in this respect that will R.A. No. 8792, because the law merely admits as the best
give the parties the fullest opportunity to ventilate the merits evidence the original fax transmittal. On the other hand,
of their respective causes, rather than have them lose life, respondent posits that, from a reading of the law and the
liberty, honor or property on sheer technicalities.61 Rules on Electronic Evidence, the original facsimile
The other technical issue posed by respondent is the transmittal of the pro forma invoice is admissible in evidence
alleged pro forma nature of MCC’s motion for reconsideration, since it is an electronic document and, therefore, the best
ostensibly because it merely restated the arguments evidence under the law and the Rules. Respondent further
previously raised and passed upon by the CA. claims that the photocopies of these fax transmittals
In this connection, suffice it to say that the mere (specifically ST2-POSTS0401-1 and ST2-POSTS0401-2) are
restatement of arguments in a motion for reconsideration admissible under the Rules on Evidence because the
does not per se result in a pro forma motion. In Security Bank respondent sufficiently explained the nonproduction of the
and Trust Company, Inc. v. Cuenca,62 we held that a motion original fax transmittals.
for reconsideration may not be necessarily pro forma even if In resolving this issue, the appellate court ruled as follows:
it reiterates the arguments earlier passed upon and rejected
by the appellate court. A movant may raise the same Admissibility of Pro Forma
arguments precisely to convince the court that its ruling was Invoices; Breach of Contract
erroneous. Furthermore, the pro formarule will not apply if by Appellants
the arguments were not sufficiently passed upon and
answered in the decision sought to be reconsidered. Turning first to the appellants’ argument against the
- II - admissibility of the Pro Forma Invoices with Reference Nos.
The second issue poses a novel question that the Court ST2POSTS0401-1 and ST2-POSTS0401-2 (Exhibits “E,” “E-1”
welcomes. It provides the occasion for this Court to and “F,” pp. 215-218, Records), appellants argue that the said
pronounce a definitive interpretation of the equally documents are inadmissible (sic) being violative of the best
innovative provisions of the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 evidence rule.
(R.A. No. 8792) vis-àvis the Rules on Electronic Evidence. The argument is untenable.
Although the parties did not raise the question whether the The copies of the said pro-forma invoices submitted by the
original facsimile transmissions are “electronic data appellee are admissible in evidence, although they are mere
messages” or “electronic documents” within the context of the electronic facsimile printouts of appellant’s orders. Such
Electronic Commerce Act (the petitioner merely assails as facsimile printouts are considered Electronic Documents
inadmissible evidence the photocopies of the said facsimile under the New Rules on Electronic Evidence, which came into
transmissions), we deem it appropriate to determine first effect on August 1, 2001. (Rule 2, Section 1 [h], A.M. No. 01-7-
whether the said fax transmissions are indeed within the 01-SC).
coverage of R.A. No. 8792 before ruling on whether the “(h) ‘Electronic document’ refers to information or the
photocopies thereof are covered by the law. In any case, this representation of information, data, figures, symbols or other
Court has ample authority to go beyond the pleadings when, modes of written expression, described or however
in the interest of justice or for the promotion of public policy, represented, by which a right is established or an obligation
there is a need to make its own findings in order to support extinguished, or by which a fact may be proved and affirmed,
its conclusions.63 which is received, recorded, transmitted, stored, processed,
Petitioner contends that the photocopies of the pro retrieved or produced electronically. It includes digitally
forma invoices presented by respondent Ssangyong to prove signed documents and any printout or output, readable by
the perfection of their supposed contract of sale are sight or other means, which accurately reflects the electronic
inadmissible in evidence and do not fall within the ambit of data message or electronic document. For purposes of these

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Rules, the term ‘electronic document’ may be used law simply provides consequences for the document
interchangeably with ‘electronic data message.’ not being presented or retained in its original form.
An electronic document shall be regarded as the 2. (c)Where the law requires that a document be
equivalent of an original document under the Best Evidence presented or retained in its original form, that
Rule, as long as it is a printout or output readable by sight or requirement is met by an electronic document if—
other means, showing to reflect the data accurately. (Rule 4,
Section 1, A.M. No. 01-7-01-SC) 1. (i)There exists a reliable assurance as to the integrity
The ruling of the Appellate Court is incorrect. R.A. No. of the document from the time when it was first
8792,64 otherwise known as the Electronic Commerce Act of generated in its final form; and
2000, considers an electronic data message or an electronic 2. (ii)That document is capable of being displayed to the
document as the functional equivalent of a written document person to whom it is to be presented: Provided, That
for evidentiary purposes.65 The Rules on Electronic Evi- no provision of this Act shall apply to vary any and all

_______________ For evidentiary purposes, an electronic document shall be the


functional equivalent of a written document under existing
65 Sections 6, 7 and 10 of R.A. No. 8792 read: laws.
Sec. 6. Legal Recognition of Data Messages.—Information shall This Act does not modify any statutory rule relating to the
not be denied legal effect, validity or enforceability solely on admissibility of electronic data messages or electronic
the grounds that it is in the data message purporting to give documents, except the rules relating to authentication and
rise to such legal effect, or that it is merely referred to in that best evidence.
electronic data message. Sec. 10. Original Documents.—(1) Where the law requires
Sec. 7. Legal Recognition of Electronic Documents.— information to be presented or retained in its original form,
Electronic documents shall have the legal effect, validity or that requirement is met by an electronic data message or
enforceability as any other document or legal writing, and— electronic document if:
(a) Where the law requires a document to be in writing,
that requirement is met by an electronic document if the said
1. (a)The integrity of the information from the time when
electronic document maintains its integrity and reliability
it was first generated in its final form, as an
and can be authenticated so as to be usable for subsequent
electronic data message or electronic document is
reference, in that—
shown by evidence aliunde or otherwise; and
2. (b)Where it is required that information be presented,
1. (i)The electronic document has remained complete and that the information is capable of being displayed to
unaltered, apart from the addition of any the person to whom it is to be presented.
endorsement and any authorized change, or any
change which arises in the normal course of
(2) Paragraph (1) applies whether the requirement therein
communication, storage and display; and
is in the form of an obligation or whether the law simply
2. (ii)The electronic document is reliable in the light of
provides consequences for the information not being
the purpose for which it was generated and in the
presented or retained in its original form.
light of all the relevant circumstances.
(3) For the purposes of subparagraph (a) of paragraph (1):

1. (b)Paragraph (a) applies whether the requirement


1. (a)the criteria for assessing integrity shall be whether
therein is in the form of an obligation or whether the
the information has remained complete and

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unaltered, apart from the addition of any original document under the Best Evidence Rule if it is a
endorsement and any change which arises in the printout or output readable by sight or other means, shown to
normal course of communication, storage and display; reflect the data accurately.
and SEC. 2. Copies as equivalent of the originals.—When a
2. (b)the standard of reliability required shall be assessed document is in two or more copies executed at or about the
in the light of the purpose for which the information same time with identical contents, or is a counterpart
was generated and in the light of all relevant produced by the same impression as the original, or from the
circumstances. same matrix, or by mechanical or electronic re-recording, or
by chemical reproduction, or by other equivalent techniques
66A.M. No. 01-7-01-SC, effective on August 1, 2001. which accurately reproduces the original, such copies or
by the Rules of Court and related laws, and is authenticated duplicates shall be regarded as the equivalent of the original.
in the manner prescribed by the said Rules. 67An electronic Notwithstanding the foregoing, copies or duplicates shall
document is also the equivalent of an original document not be admissible to the same extent as the original if:
under the Best Evidence Rule, if it is a printout or output Thus, to be admissible in evidence as an electronic data
readable by sight or other means, shown to reflect the data message or to be considered as the functional equivalent of an
accurately.68 original document under the Best Evidence Rule, the writing
must foremost be an “electronic data message” or an
_______________ “electronic document.”
The Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 defines electronic
67 Rule 3 of the Rules on Electronic Evidence reads: data message and electronic document as follows:
“Sec. 5. Definition of Terms.—For the purposes of this Act, the
RULE 3 following terms are defined, as follows:
ELECTRONIC DOCUMENTS xxx
c. “Electronic Data Message” refers to information
SECTION 1. Electronic Documents as functional equivalent generated, sent, received or stored by electronic, optical or
of paper-based documents.—Whenever a rule of evidence similar means.
refers to the term writing, document, record, instrument, xxx
memorandum or any other form of writing, such term shall be f. “Electronic Document” refers to information or the
deemed to include an electronic document as defined in these representation of information, data, figures, symbols or other
Rules. modes of written expression, described or however
SEC. 2. Admissibility.—An electronic document is represented, by which a right is established or an obligation
admissible in evidence if it complies with the rules on extinguished, or by which a fact may be proved and affirmed,
admissibility prescribed by the Rules of Court and related which is received, recorded, transmitted, stored, processed,
laws and is authenticated in the manner prescribed by these retrieved or produced electronically.”
Rules. The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. No.
68 Rule 4 of the Rules on Electronic Evidence reads: 8792,69 which was signed on July 13, 2000 by the then
Secretaries of the Department of Trade and Industry, the
RULE 4 Department of Budget and Management, and then Governor
BEST EVIDENCE RULE of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, defines the terms as:
“Sec. 6. Definition of Terms.—For the purposes of this Act and
SECTION 1. Original of an Electronic Document.—An these Rules, the following terms are defined, as follows:
electronic document shall be regarded as the equivalent of an xxx

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(e) “Electronic Data Message” refers to information Evident from the law, however, is the legislative intent to give
generated, sent, received or stored by electronic, optical or the two terms the same construction.
similar means, but not limited to, electronic data interchange The Rules on Electronic Evidence promulgated by this
(EDI), electronic mail, telegram, telex or telecopy. Throughout Court defines the said terms in the following manner:
these Rules, the term “electronic data message” shall be “SECTION 1. Definition of Terms.—For purposes of these
equivalent to and be used interchangeably with “electronic Rules, the following terms are defined, as follows:
document.” xxxx
xxxx
(h) “Electronic Document” refers to information or the 1. (g)“Electronic data message” refers to information
representation of information, data, figures, symbols or other generated, sent, received or stored by electronic,
modes of written expression, described or however optical or similar means.
represented, by which a right is established or an obligation 2. (h)“Electronic document” refers to information or the
extinguished, or by which a fact may be proved and affirmed, representation of information, data, figures, symbols
which is received, recorded, transmitted, stored, processed, or other modes of written expression, described or
retrieved or produced electronically. Throughout these Rules, however represented, by which a right is established
the term “electronic document” shall be equivalent to and be or an obligation extinguished, or by which a fact may
used interchangeably with “electronic data message.” be proved and affirmed, which is received, recorded,
The phrase “but not limited to, electronic data interchange transmitted, stored, processed, retrieved or produced
(EDI), electronic mail, telegram, telex or telecopy” in the IRR’s electronically. It includes digitally signed documents
definition of “electronic data message” is copied from the and print-out or output, readable by sight or other
Model Law on Electronic Commerce adopted by the United means, which accurately reflects the electronic data
Nations Commission on International Trade Law message or electronic document. For purposes of these
(UNCITRAL),70 from which majority of the provisions of R.A. Rules, the term “electronic document” may be used
No. 8792 were taken.71 While Congress deleted this phrase in interchangeably with “electronic data message.”
the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, the drafters of the IRR
reinstated it. The deletion by Congress of the said phrase is Given these definitions, we go back to the original question: Is
significant and pivotal, as discussed hereunder. an original printout of a facsimile transmission an electronic
The clause on the interchangeability of the terms data message or electronic document?
“electronic data message” and “electronic document” was the The definitions under the Electronic Commerce Act of
result of the Senate of the Philippines’ adoption, in Senate 2000, its IRR and the Rules on Electronic Evidence, at first
Bill 1902, of the phrase “electronic data message” and the glance, convey the impression that facsimile transmissionsare
House of Representative’s employment, in House Bill 9971, of electronic data messages or electronic documents because
the term “electronic document.”72 In order to expedite the they are sent by electronic means. The expanded definition of
reconciliation of the two versions, the technical working an “electronic data message” under the IRR, consistent with
group of the Bicameral Conference Committee adopted both the UNCITRAL Model Law, further supports this theory
terms and intended them to be the equivalent of each considering that the enumeration “x x x [is] not limited to,
one.73 Be that as it may, there is a slight difference between electronic data interchange (EDI), electronic mail, telegram,
the two terms. While “data message” has reference telex or telecopy.” And to telecopy is to send a document from
to information electronically sent, stored or transmitted, it one place to another via a fax machine.75
does not necessarily mean that it will give rise to a right or As further guide for the Court in its task of statutory
extinguish an obligation,74 unlike an electronic document. construction, Section 37 of the Electronic Commerce Act of
2000 provides that
Page 174 of 187
“Unless otherwise expressly provided for, the interpretation phrase, conveyed a different meaning, as revealed in the
of this Act shall give due regard to its international origin and following proceedings:
the need to promote uniformity in its application and the “x x x x
observance of good faith in international trade relations. The Senator Santiago. Yes, Mr. President. I will furnish a copy
generally accepted principles of international law and together with the explanation of this proposed amendment.
convention on electronic commerce shall likewise be And then finally, before I leave the Floor, may I please be
considered.” allowed to go back to Section 5; the Definition of Terms. In
Obviously, the “international origin” mentioned in this light of the acceptance by the good Senator of my proposed
section can only refer to the UNCITRAL Model Law, and the amendments, it will then become necessary to add certain
UNCITRAL’s definition of “data message”: terms in our list of terms to be defined. I would like to add a
“Data message” means information generated, sent, received definition on what is “data,” what is “electronic record” and
or stored by electronic, optical or similar means including, what is an “electronic record system.”
but not limited to, electronic data interchange (EDI), If the gentleman will give me permission, I will proceed
electronic mail, telegram, telex or telecopy.”76 with the proposed amendment on Definition of Terms, Section
is substantially the same as the IRR’s characterization of an 5.
“electronic data message.” Senator Magsaysay. Please go ahead, Senator Santiago.
However, Congress deleted the phrase, “but not limited to, Senator Santiago. We are in Part 1, short title on the
electronic data interchange (EDI), electronic mail, telegram, Declaration of Policy, Section 5, Definition of Terms.
telex or telecopy,” and replaced the term “data message” (as At the appropriate places in the listing of these terms that
found in the UNCITRAL Model Law ) with “electronic data have to be defined since these are arranged alphabetically,
message.” This legislative divergence from what is assumed as Mr. President, I would like to insert the term DATA and its
the term’s “international origin” has bred uncertainty and definition. So, the amendment will read: “DATA” MEANS
now impels the Court to make an inquiry into the true intent REPRESENTATION, IN ANY FORM, OF INFORMATION OR
of the framers of the law. Indeed, in the construction or CONCEPTS.
interpretation of a legislative measure, the primary rule is to The explanation is this: This definition of “data” or “data” as
search for and determine the intent and spirit of the law. 77 A it is now fashionably pronounced in America—the definition
construction should be rejected that gives to the language of “data” ensures that our bill applies to any form of
used in a statute a meaning that does not accomplish the information in an electronic record, whether these are figures,
purpose for which the statute was enacted, and that tends to facts or ideas.
defeat the ends which are sought to be attained by the So again, the proposed amendment is this: “DATA” MEANS
enactment.78 Interestingly, when Senator Ramon B. REPRESENTATIONS, IN ANY FORM, OF INFORMATION OR
Magsaysay, Jr., the principal author of Senate Bill 1902 (the CONCEPTS.
predecessor of R.A. No. 8792), sponsored the bill on second Senator Magsaysay. May I know how will this affect the
reading, he proposed to adopt the term “data message” as definition of “Data Message” which encompasses electronic
formulated and defined in the UNCITRAL Model records, electronic writings and electronic documents?
Law.79 During the period of amendments, however, the term Senator Santiago. These are completely congruent with
evolved into “electronic data message,” and the phrase “but each other. These are compatible. When we define “data,” we
not limited to, electronic data interchange (EDI), electronic are simply reinforcing the definition of what is a data
mail, telegram, telex or telecopy” in the UNCITRAL Model Law message.
was deleted. Furthermore, the term “electronic data Senator Magsaysay. It is accepted, Mr. President.
message,” though maintaining its description under the
UNCITRAL Model Law, except for the aforesaid deleted

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Senator Santiago. Thank you. The next term is printout would be subject to the rules of admissibility of this
“ELECTRONIC RECORD.” The proposed amendment is as bill.
follows: However, printouts that are used only as paper records and
“ELECTRONIC RECORD” MEANS DATA THAT IS whose computer origin is never again called on are treated as
RECORDED OR STORED ON ANY MEDIUM IN OR BY A paper records. In that case, the reliability of the computer
COMPUTER SYSTEM OR OTHER SIMILAR DEVICE, THAT system that produces the record is irrelevant to its reliability.
CAN BE READ OR PERCEIVED BY A PERSON OR A Senator Magsaysay. Mr. President, if my memory does not
COMPUTER SYSTEM OR OTHER SIMILAR DEVICE. IT fail me, earlier, the lady Senator accepted that we use the
INCLUDES A DISPLAY, PRINTOUT OR OTHER OUTPUT OF term “Data Message” rather than “ELECTRONIC RECORD” in
THAT DATA. being consistent with the UNCITRAL term of “Data
The explanation for this term and its definition is as Message.” So with the new amendment of defining
follows: The term “ELECTRONIC RECORD” fixes the scope of “ELECTRONIC RECORD,” will this affect her accepting of the
our bill. The record is the data. The record may be on any use of “Data Message” instead of “ELECTRONIC RECORD”?
medium. It is electronic because it is recorded or stored in or Senator Santiago. No, it will not. Thank you for reminding
by a computer system or a similar device. me. The term I would like to insert is ELECTRONIC DATA
The amendment is intended to apply, for example, to data MESSAGE in lieu of “ELECTRONIC RECORD.”
on magnetic strips on cards or in Smart cards. As drafted, it Senator Magsaysay. Then we are, in effect, amending
wouldnot apply to telexes or faxes, except computer-generated theterm of the definition of “Data Message” on page 2A, line 31,
faxes, unlike the United Nations model law on electronic to which we have no objection.
commerce. It would also not apply to regular digital telephone Senator Santiago. Thank you, Mr. President.
conversations since the information is not recorded. It would xxxx
apply to voice mail since the information has been recorded in Senator Santiago. Mr. President, I have proposed all the
or by a device similar to a computer. Likewise, video records amendments that I desire to, including the amendment on the
are not covered. Though when the video is transferred to a effect of error or change. I will provide the language of the
website, it would be covered because of the involvement of the amendment together with the explanation supporting that
computer. Music recorded by a computer system on a compact amendment to the distinguished sponsor and then he can feel
disc would be covered. free to take it up in any session without any further
In short, not all data recorded or stored in digital form is intervention. Senator Magsaysay. Before we end, Mr.
covered. A computer or a similar device has to be involved in President, I understand from the proponent of these
its creation or storage. The term “similar device” does not amendments that these are based on the Canadian E-
extend to all devices that create or store data in digital form. commerce Law of 1998. Is that not right?
Although things that are not recorded or preserved by or in a Senator Santiago. That is correct.”80
computer system are omitted from this bill, these may well be Thus, when the Senate consequently voted to adopt the term
admissible under other rules of law. This provision focuses on “electronic data message,” it was consonant with the
replacing the search for originality proving the reliability of explanation of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago that it
systems instead of that of individual records and using would not apply “to telexes or faxes, except computer-
standards to show systems reliability. generated faxes, unlike the United Nations model law on
Paper records that are produced directly by a computer electronic commerce.” In explaining the term “electronic
system such as printouts are themselves electronic records record” patterned after the E-Commerce Law of Canada,
being just the means of intelligible display of the contents of Senator Defensor-Santiago had in mind the term “electronic
the record. Photocopies of the printout would be paper record data message.” This term then, while maintaining part of the
subject to the usual rules about copies, but the original UNCITRAL Model Law’s terminology of “data message,” has

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assumed a different context, this time, consonant with the However, printouts that are used only as paper records,
term “electronic record” in the law of Canada. It accounts for and whose computer origin is never again called on, are
the addition of the word “electronic” and the deletion of the treated as paper records. See subsection 4(2). In this case the
phrase “but not limited to, electronic data interchange (EDI), reliability of the computer system that produced the record is
electronic mail, telegram, telex or telecopy.” Noteworthy is relevant to its reliability.”81
that the Uniform Law Conference of Canada, explains the There is no question then that when Congress formulated the
term “electronic record,” as drafted in the Uniform Electronic term “electronic data message,” it intended the same meaning
Evidence Act, in a manner strikingly similar to Sen. as the term “electronic record” in the Canada law. This
Santiago’s explanation during the Senate deliberations: construction of the term “electronic data message,”
“Electronic record” fixes the scope of the Act. The record is which excludes telexes or faxes, except computer-generated
the data. The record may be any medium. It is “electronic” faxes, is in harmony with the Electronic Commerce Law’s
because it is recorded or stored in or by a computer system or focus on “paperless” communications and the “functional
similar device. The Act is intended to apply, for example, to equivalent approach”82 that it espouses. In fact, the
data on magnetic strips on cards, or in smart cards. As deliberations of the Legislature are replete with discussions
drafted, it would not apply to telexes or faxes (except computer- on paperless and digital transactions. Facsimile transmissions
generated faxes), unlike the United Nations Model Law on are not, in this sense, “paperless,” but verily are paper-based.
Electronic Commerce. It would also not apply to regular A facsimile machine, which was first patented in 1843 by
digital telephone conversations, since the information is not Alexander Bain,83 is a device that can send or receive pictures
recorded. It would apply to voice mail, since the information and text over a telephone line. It works by digitizing an
has been recorded in or by a device similar to a computer. image—dividing it into a grid of dots. Each dot is either on or
Likewise video records are not covered, though when the off, depending on whether it is black or white. Electronically,
video is transferred to a Web site it would be, because of the each dot is represented by a bit that has a value of either 0
involvement of the computer. Music recorded by a computer (off) or 1 (on). In this way, the fax machine translates a
system on a compact disk would be covered. picture into a series of zeros and ones (called a bit map) that
In short, not all data recorded or stored in “digital” form is can be transmitted like normal computer data. On the
covered. A computer or similar device has to be involved in its receiving side, a fax machine reads the incoming data,
creation or storage. The term “similar device” does not extend translates the zeros and ones back into dots, and reprints the
to all devices that create or store data in digital form. picture.84 A fax machine is essentially an image scanner, a
Although things that are not recorded or preserved by or in a modem and a computer printer combined into a highly
computer system are omitted from this Act, they may well be specialized package. The scanner converts the content of a
admissible under other rules of law. This Act focuses on physical document into a digital image, the modem sends the
replacing the search for originality, proving the reliability of image data over a phone line, and the printer at the other end
systems instead of that of individual records, and using makes a duplicate of the original document.85 Thus,
standards to show systems reliability. in Garvida v. Sales, Jr.,86 where we explained the
Paper records that are produced directly by a computer unacceptability of filing pleadings through fax machines, we
system, such as printouts, are themselves electronic records, ruled that:
being just the means of intelligible display of the contents of “A facsimile or fax transmission is a process involving the
the record. Photocopies of the printout would be paper transmission and reproduction of printed and graphic matter
records subject to the usual rules about copies, but the by scanning an original copy, one elemental area at a time,
“original” printout would be subject to the rules of and representing the shade or tone of each area by a specified
admissibility of this Act. amount of electric current. The current is transmitted as a
signal over regular telephone lines or via microwave relay

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and is used by the receiver to reproduce an image of the implementation of a statute is necessarily limited to what is
elemental area in the proper position and the correct shade. found in the legislative enactment itself. The implementing
The receiver is equipped with a stylus or other device that rules and regulations of a law cannot extend the law or
produces a printed record on paper referred to as a facsimile. expand its coverage, as the power to amend or repeal a
x x x A facsimile is not a genuine and authentic pleading. It is, statute is vested in the Legislature.91Thus, if a discrepancy
at best, an exact copy preserving all the marks of an original. occurs between the basic law and an implementing rule or
Without the original, there is no way of determining on its face regulation, it is the former that prevails, because the law
whether the facsimile pleading is genuine and authentic and cannot be broadened by a mere administrative issuance—an
was originally signed by the party and his counsel. It may, in administrative agency certainly cannot amend an act of
fact, be a sham pleading.”87 Congress.92 Had the Legislature really wanted ordinary fax
Accordingly, in an ordinary facsimile transmission, there transmissions to be covered by the mantle of the Electronic
exists an original paper-based information or data that is Commerce Act of 2000, it could have easily lifted without a bit
scanned, sent through a phone line, and re-printed at the of tatter the entire wordings of the UNCITRAL Model Law.
receiving end. Be it noted that in enacting the Electronic Incidentally, the National Statistical Coordination Board
Commerce Act of 2000, Congress intended virtual or Task Force on the Measurement of E-Commerce,93 on
paperless writings to be the functional equivalent and to have November 22, 2006, recommended a working definition of
the same legal function as paper-based documents.88Further, “electronic commerce,” as “[a]ny commercial transaction
in a virtual or paperless environment, technically, there is no conducted through electronic, optical and similar medium,
original copy to speak of, as all direct printouts of the virtual mode, instrumentality and technology. The transaction
reality are the same, in all respects, and are considered as includes the sale or purchase of goods and services, between
originals.89 Ineluctably, the law’s definition of “electronic data individuals, households, businesses and governments
message,” which, as aforesaid, is interchangeable with conducted over computer-mediated networks through the
“electronic document,” could not have included facsimile Internet, mobile phones, electronic data interchange (EDI)
transmissions, which have an original paper-based copy as and other channels through open and closed networks.” The
sent and a paper-based facsimile copy as received. These two Task Force’s proposed definition is similar to the
copies are distinct from each other, and have different legal Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s
effects. While Congress anticipated future developments in (OECD’s) broad definition as it covers transactions made over
communications and computer technology90 when it drafted any network, and, in addition, it adopted the following
the law, it excluded the early forms of technology, like provisions of the OECD definition: (1) for transactions, it
telegraph, telex and telecopy (except computer-generated covers sale or purchase of goods and services; (2) for
faxes, which is a newer development as compared to the channel/network, it considers any computer-mediated
ordinary fax machine to fax machine transmission), when it network and NOT limited to Internet alone; (3) it excludes
defined the term “electronic data message.” transactions received/placed using fax, telephone or non-
Clearly then, the IRR went beyond the parameters of the interactive mail; (4) it considers payments done online or
law when it adopted verbatim the UNCITRAL Model Law’s offline; and (5) it considers delivery made online (like
definition of “data message,” without considering the downloading of purchased books, music or software
intention of Congress when the latter deleted the phrase “but programs) or offline (deliveries of goods).94
not limited to, electronic data interchange (EDI), electronic We, therefore, conclude that the terms “electronic data
mail, telegram, telex or telecopy.” The inclusion of this phrase message” and “electronic document,” as defined under the
in the IRR offends a basic tenet in the exercise of the rule- Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, do not include a facsimile
making power of administrative agencies. After all, the power transmission. Accordingly, a facsimile transmission cannot be
of administrative officials to promulgate rules in the considered as electronic evidence. It is not the functional

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equivalent of an original under the Best Evidence Rule and is exchange for the price, (2) object certain which is the subject
not admissible as electronic evidence. matter of the contract, and (3) cause of the obligation which is
Since a facsimile transmission is not an “electronic data established.101
message” or an “electronic document,” and cannot be In this case, to establish the existence of a perfected
considered as electronic evidence by the Court, with greater contract of sale between the parties, respondent Ssangyong
reason is a photocopy of such a fax transmission not formally offered in evidence the testimonies of its witnesses
electronic evidence. In the present case, therefore, Pro and the following exhibits:
Forma Invoice Nos. ST2-POSTS0401-1 and ST2-POSTS0401-2 Exhibit Description Purpose
(Exhibits “E” and “F”), which are mere photocopies of the
E Pro forma Invoice dated 17 April 2000 To show that
original fax transmittals, are not electronic evidence,
contrary to the position of both the trial and the appellate with Contract No. ST2-POSTS0401- defendants
courts. 1, photocopy contracted with
- III - plaintiff for the
Nevertheless, despite the pro forma invoices not being delivery of 110
electronic evidence, this Court finds that respondent has MT of stainless
proven by preponderance of evidence the existence of a
steel from Korea
perfected contract of sale.
In an action for damages due to a breach of a contract, it is payable by way of
essential that the claimant proves (1) the existence of a an irrevocable
perfected contract, (2) the breach thereof by the other letter of credit in
contracting party and (3) the damages which he/she sustained favor of plaintiff,
due to such breach. Actori incumbit onus probandi. The
among other
burden of proof rests on the party who advances a
proposition affirmatively.95 In other words, a plaintiff in a conditions.
civil action must establish his case by a preponderance of E-1 Pro forma Invoice dated 17 April 2000 To show that
evidence, that is, evidence that has greater weight, or is more with Contract No. ST2- defendants sent
convincing than that which is offered in opposition to it. 96 POSTS0401, contained in their
In general, contracts are perfected by mere
facsimile/thermal paper faxed by confirmation of
consent,97which is manifested by the meeting of the offer and
the acceptance upon the thing and the cause which are to defendants to plaintiff showing the the (i) delivery to
constitute the contract. The offer must be certain and the printed transmission details on the upper it of the specified
acceptance absolute.98 They are, moreover, obligatory in portion of said paper as coming from stainless steel
whatever form they may have been entered into, provided all defendant MCC on 26 Apr 00 08:41AM products, (ii)
the essential requisites for their validity are present.99Sale,
defendants’
being a consensual contract, follows the general rule that it is
perfected at the moment there is a meeting of the minds upon payment thereof
the thing which is the object of the contract and upon the by way of an
price. From that moment, the parties may reciprocally irrevocable letter
demand performance, subject to the provisions of the law of credit in favor
governing the form of contracts.100
of plaintiff,
The essential elements of a contract of sale are (1) consent
or meeting of the minds, that is, to transfer ownership in among other

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Exhibit Description Purpose Exhibit Description Purpose
conditions. G-1 Signature of
E-2 Conforme signature of Mr. Gregory To show that defendant Gregory
Chan, contained in facsimile/thermal defendants sent Chan, contained in
paper faxed by defendants to plaintiff their facsimile/thermal
showing the printed transmission details confirmation of paper.
on the upper portion of said paper as the (i) delivery to H Letter to defendants To prove that defendants were
coming from defendant MCC on 26 Apr 00 it of the total of dated 22 June informed of the successful price
08:41AM 220MT specified 2000, original adjustments secured by plaintiff
stainless steel in favor of former and were
products, (ii) advised of the schedules of its
defendants’ L/C opening.
payment thereof I Letter to defendants To prove that plaintiff
by way of an dated 26 June repeatedly requested defendants
irrevocable letter 2000, original for the agreed opening of the
of credit in favor J Letter to defendants Letters of Credit, defendants’
of plaintiff, dated 26 June failure and refusal to comply
among other 2000, original with their obligations and the
conditions. K Letter to defendants problems of plaintiff is incurring
F Pro forma Invoice dated 17 April To show that dated 27 June by reason of defendants’ failure
2000with Contract No. ST2 defendants 2000, original and refusal to open the L/Cs.
contracted with L Facsimile message to
plaintiff for defendants dated 28
delivery of June 2000, photocopy
POSTSO401- another 110 MT of stainless steel
M Letter from To prove that defendants admit
2, photocopy from Korea payable by way of an
defendants dated 29 of their liabilities to plaintiff,
irrevocable letter of credit in
June 2000, contained that they requested for “more
favor of plaintiff, among other
in facsimile/thermal extension” of time for the
conditions.
paper faxed by
G Letter to defendant To prove that defendants were
defendants to
SANYO SEIKE dated informed of the date of L/C
plaintiff showing opening of the Letter of
20 June opening and
the printed Credit, and begging for
2000, contained in defendant’s conforme/approval
transmission favorable
facsimile/thermal thereof.
details on the understanding and
paper
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Exhibit Description Purpose Exhibit Description Purpose
upper portion of consideration. extension of time
said paper as notwithstanding.
coming from P Letter to
defendant MCC on defendants dated
29 June 00 11:12 06 July
AM 2000, original
M-1 Signature of Q Demand letter to To prove that plaintiff
defendant Gregory defendants dated was constrained to
Chan, contained in 15 Aug engaged services of a
facsimile/thermal 2000, original lawyer for collection
paper faxed by efforts.
defendants to R Demand letter to To prove that
plaintiff showing defendants dated defendants opened the
the printed 23 Aug first L/C in favor of
transmission 2000, original plaintiff, requested for
details on the further postponement
upper portion of of the final L/C and for
said paper as minimal amounts, were
coming from urged to open the final
defendant MCC on L/C on time, and were
June 00 11:12 AM informed that failure to
N Letter to comply will cancel the
defendants dated contract.
29 June S Demand letter to To show defendants’
2000, original defendants dated refusal and failure to
O Letter to To prove that plaintiff 11 Sept open the final L/C on
defendants dated reiterated its request 2000, original time, the cancellation of
30 June for defendants to L/C the contract as a
2000, photocopy opening after the consequence thereof,
latter’s request for and final demand upon
extension of time was defendants to remit its
granted, defendants’ obligations.
failure and refusal to W Letter from To prove that there was
comply therewith plaintiff a perfected sale and
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Exhibit Description Purpose Exhibit Description Purpose
SSANGYONG to purchase agreement US$1,700/ton.
defendant SANYO between the parties for X-1 Notation To prove that the
SEIKI dated 13 220 metric tons of steel “1/2,” photocopy present Pro
April 2000, with fax products at the price of forma Invoice was the
back from US$1,860/ton. first of 2 pro
defendants SANYO forma invoices.
SEIKI/MCC to X-2 Ref. No. ST2- To prove that the
plaintiff POSTS080- present Pro
SSANGYONG, cont 1, photocopy forma Invoice was the
ained in first of 2 pro
facsimile/thermal forma invoices.
paper with back-up X-3 Conformesignature To prove that defendant
photocopy of defendant MCC, acting through
W-1 Conforme signature To prove that Gregory Gregory Chan, agreed
of defendant defendants, acting Chan, photocopy to the sale and purchase
Gregory through Gregory Chan, of the balance of 100
Chan, contained in agreed to the sale and metric tons at the
facsimile/thermal purchase of 220 metric discounted price of
paper with back-up tons of steel products at US$1,700/ton, apart
photocopy the price of from the other order
US$1,860/ton. and shipment of 100
W-2 Name of sender To prove that metric tons which was
MCC Industrial defendants sent their delivered by plaintiff
Sales Corporation conformity to the sale SSANGYONG and paid
and for by defendant MCC.
purchase agreement by DD Letter from To prove that there was
facsimile transmission. defendant MCC to a perfected sale and
X Pro formaInvoice To prove that defendant plaintiff purchase agreement
dated 16 August MCC agreed to adjust SSANGYONG dated between plaintiff
2000, photocopy and split the confirmed 22 August SSANGYONG and
purchase order into 2 2000, contained in defendant MCC for the
shipments at 100 metric facsimile/thermal balance of 100 metric
tons each at the paper with back-up tons, apart from the
discounted price of photocopy other order and
Page 182 of 187
Exhibit Description Purpose greater facility. It, however, failed to explain why the
originals of these documents were not presented.
shipment of 100 metric
To determine whether these documents are admissible in
tons which was evidence, we apply the ordinary Rules on Evidence, for as
delivered by plaintiff discussed above we cannot apply the Electronic Commerce
462 Act of 2000 and the Rules on Electronic Evidence.
SSANGYONG and paid for by Because these documents are mere photocopies, they are
defendant MCC. simply secondary evidence, admissible only upon compliance
with Rule 130, Section 5, which states, “[w]hen the original
DD-1 Ref. No. ST2- To prove that there was a
document has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced
POSTS080- perfected sale and purchase in court, the offeror, upon proof of its execution or existence
1, contained in agreement between plaintiff and the cause of its unavailability without bad faith on his
facsimile/thermal SSANGYONG and defendant part, may prove its contents by a copy, or by a recital of its
paper with back-up MCC for the balance of 100 contents in some authentic document, or by the testimony of
witnesses in the order stated.” Furthermore, the offeror of
photocopy metric tons, apart from the
secondary evidence must prove the predicates thereof,
other order and shipment of namely: (a) the loss or destruction of the original without bad
100 metric tons which was faith on the part of the proponent/offeror which can be shown
delivered by plaintiff by circumstantial evidence of routine practices of destruction
SSANGYONG and paid for by of documents; (b) the proponent must prove by a fair
preponderance of evidence as to raise a reasonable inference
defendant MCC.
of the loss or destruction of the original copy; and (c) it must
DD-2 Signature of To prove that defendant be shown that a diligent and bona fide but unsuccessful
defendant Gregory MCC, acting through search has been made for the document in the proper place or
Chan, contained in Gregory Chan, agreed to the places. It has been held that where the missing document is
facsimile/thermal sale and purchase of the the foundation of the action, more strictness in proof is
required than where the document is only collaterally
paper with back-up balance of 100 metric tons,
involved.103
photocopy apart from the other order Given these norms, we find that respondent failed to prove
and shipment of 100 metric the existence of the original fax transmissions of Exhibits E
tons which was delivered by and F, and likewise did not sufficiently prove the loss or
plaintiff Ssangyong and paid destruction of the originals. Thus, Exhibits E and F cannot be
admitted in evidence and accorded probative weight. It is
for by defendant MCC.102
observed, however, that respondent Ssangyong did not rely
Significantly, among these documentary evidence presented
merely on Exhibits E and F to prove the perfected contract. It
by respondent, MCC, in its petition before this Court, assails
also introduced in evidence a variety of other documents, as
the admissibility only of Pro Forma Invoice
enumerated above, together with the testimonies of its
Nos. ST2POSTS0401-1 and ST2-POSTS0401-2 (Exhibits “E” and
witnesses. Notable among them are Pro Forma Invoice
“F”). After sifting through the records, the Court found that
Nos. ST2-POSTS080-1 and ST2-POSTS080-2 which were issued
these invoices are mere photocopies of their original fax
by Ssangyong and sent via fax to MCC. As already mentioned,
transmittals. Ssangyong avers that these documents were
these invoices slightly varied the terms of the earlier invoices
prepared after MCC asked for the splitting of the original
such that the quantity was now officially 100MT per invoice
order into two, so that the latter can apply for an L/C with
Page 183 of 187
and the price reduced to US$1,700.00 per MT. The copies of agreeing on the sale and purchase of 220MT of stainless steel
the said August 16, 2000 invoices submitted to the court bear at US$1,860.00 per MT. This initial contract was perfected.
the conformity signature of MCC Manager Chan. Later, as petitioner asked for several extensions to pay,
Pro Forma Invoice No. ST2-POSTS080-1 (Exhibit “X”), adjustments in the delivery dates, and discounts in the price
however, is a mere photocopy of its original. But then again, as originally agreed, the parties slightly varied the terms of
petitioner MCC does not assail the admissibility of this their contract, without necessarily novating it, to the effect
document in the instant petition. Verily, evidence not that the original order was reduced to 200MT, split into two
objected to is deemed admitted and may be validly considered deliveries, and the price discounted to US$1,700 per MT.
by the court in arriving at its judgment.104Issues not raised on Petitioner, however, paid only half of its obligation and failed
appeal are deemed abandoned. to open an L/C for the other 100MT. Notably, the conduct of
As to Pro Forma Invoice No. ST2-POSTS080-2(Exhibits “1- both parties sufficiently established the existence of a
A” and “2-C”), which was certified by PCIBank as a true copy contract of sale, even if the writings of the parties, because of
of its original,105 it was, in fact, petitioner MCC which their contested admissibility, were not as explicit in
introduced this document in evidence. Petitioner MCC paid establishing a contract.107 Appropriate conduct by the parties
for the order stated in this invoice. Its admissibility, may be sufficient to establish an agreement, and while there
therefore, is not open to question. may be instances where the exchange of correspondence does
These invoices (ST2-POSTS0401, ST2-POSTS080-1and ST2- not disclose the exact point at which the deal was closed, the
POSTS080-2), along with the other unchallenged documentary actions of the parties may indicate that a binding obligation
evidence of respondent Ssangyong, preponderate in favor of has been undertaken.108
the claim that a contract of sale was perfected by the parties. With our finding that there is a valid contract, it is
This Court also finds merit in the following observations of crystalclear that when petitioner did not open the L/C for the
the trial court: first half of the transaction (100MT), despite numerous
“Defendants presented Letter of Credit (Exhibits “1,” “1-A” to demands from respondent Ssangyong, petitioner breached its
“1-R”) referring to Pro Forma Invoice for Contract No. contractual obligation. It is a well-entrenched rule that the
ST2POSTS080-2, in the amount of US$170,000.00, and which failure of a buyer to furnish an agreed letter of credit is a
bears the signature of Gregory Chan, General Manager of breach of the contract between buyer and seller. Indeed,
MCC. Plaintiff, on the other hand, presented Pro where the buyer fails to open a letter of credit as stipulated,
Forma Invoice referring to Contract No. ST2-POSTS080-1, in the seller or exporter is entitled to claim damages for such
the amount of US$170,000.00, which likewise bears the breach. Damages for failure to open a commercial credit may,
signature of Gregory Chan, MCC. Plaintiff accounted for the in appropriate cases, include the loss of profit which the
notation “1/2” on the right upper portion of the Invoice, that seller would reasonably have made had the transaction been
is, that it was the first of two (2) pro forma invoices covering carried out.109
the subject contract between plaintiff and the defendants. - IV -
Defendants, on the other hand, failed to account for the This Court, however, finds that the award of actual damages
notation “2/2” in its Pro Forma Invoice (Exhibit “1-A”). is not in accord with the evidence on record. It is axiomatic
Observably further, both Pro Forma Invoices bear the same that actual or compensatory damages cannot be presumed,
date and details, which logically mean that they both apply to but must be proven with a reasonable degree of
one and the same transaction.”106 certainty.110 In Villafuerte v. Court of Appeals,111 we explained
Indeed, why would petitioner open an L/C for the second half that:
of the transaction if there was no first half to speak of? “Actual or compensatory damages are those awarded in order
The logical chain of events, as gleaned from the evidence of to compensate a party for an injury or loss he suffered. They
both parties, started with the petitioner and the respondent arise out of a sense of natural justice and are aimed at
Page 184 of 187
repairing the wrong done. Except as provided by law or by of its contents. The steel items indicated in the sales
stipulation, a party is entitled to an adequate compensation contract114 with a Korean corporation are different in all
only for such pecuniary loss as he has duly proven. It is respects from the items ordered by petitioner MCC, even in
hornbook doctrine that to be able to recover actual damages, size and quantity. We observed the following discrepancies:
the claimant bears the onus of presenting before the court List of commodities as stated in Exhibit “V”:
actual proof of the damages alleged to have been suffered, COMMODITY: Stainless Steel HR Sheet in Coil, Slit Edge
thus: SPEC: SUS304 NO. 1
A party is entitled to an adequate compensation for such
pecuniary loss actually suffered by him as he has duly proved. SIZE/Q’TY:
Such damages, to be recoverable, must not only be capable of 2.8MM X 1,219MM X C 8.193MT
proof, but must actually be proved with a reasonable degree 3.0MM X 1,219MM X C 7.736MT
of certainty. We have emphasized that these damages cannot 3.0MM X 1,219MM X C 7.885MT
be presumed and courts, in making an award must point out 3.0MM X 1,219MM X C 8.629MT
specific facts which could afford a basis for measuring
4.0MM X 1,219MM X C 7.307MT
whatever compensatory or actual damages are borne.” 112
In the instant case, the trial court awarded to respondent 4.0MM X 1,219MM X C 7.247MT
Ssangyong US$93,493.87 as actual damages. On appeal, the 4.5MM X 1,219MM X C 8.450MT
same was affirmed by the appellate court. Noticeably, 4.5MM X 1,219MM X C 8.870MT
however, the trial and the appellate courts, in making the 5.0MM X 1,219MM X C 8.391MT
said award, relied on the following documents submitted in
6.0MM X 1,219MM X C 6.589MT
evidence by the respondent: (1) Exhibit “U,” the Statement of
Account dated March 30, 2001; (2) Exhibit “U-1,” the details of 6.0MM X 1,219MM X C 7.878MT
the said Statement of Account); (3) Exhibit “V,” the contract of 6.0MM X 1,219MM X C 8.397MT
the alleged resale of the goods to a Korean corporation; and TOTAL: 95.562MT115
(4) Exhibit “V-1,” the authentication of the resale contract List of commodities as stated in Exhibit “X” (the invoice
from the Korean Embassy and certification from the that was not paid):
Philippine Consular Office. DESCRIPTION: Hot Rolled Stainless Steel Coil SUS 304
The statement of account and the details of the losses
SIZE AND QUANTITY:
sustained by respondent due to the said breach are, at best,
selfserving. It was respondent Ssangyong itself which 2.6 MM X 4’ X C 10.0MT
prepared the said documents. The items therein are not even 3.0 MM X 4’ X C 25.0MT
substantiated by official receipts. In the absence of 4.0 MM X 4’ X C 15.0MT
corroborative evidence, the said statement of account is not 4.5 MM X 4’ X C 15.0MT
sufficient basis to award actual damages. The court cannot
5.0 MM X 4’ X C 10.0MT
simply rely on speculation, conjecture or guesswork as to the
fact and amount of damages, but must depend 6.0 MM X 4’ X C 25.0MT
on competent proof that the claimant had suffered, and on TOTAL: 100MT116
evidence of, the actual amount thereof.113 From the foregoing, we find merit in the contention of MCC
Furthermore, the sales contract and its authentication that Ssangyong did not adequately prove that the items resold
certificates, Exhibits “V” and “V-1,” allegedly evidencing the at a loss were the same items ordered by the petitioner.
resale at a loss of the stainless steel subject of the parties’ Therefore, as the claim for actual damages was not proven,
breached contract, fail to convince this Court of the veracity the Court cannot sanction the award.

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Nonetheless, the Court finds that petitioner knowingly admissible other than the original document itself. (Llemos vs.
breached its contractual obligation and obstinately refused to Llemos, 513 SCRA 128 [2007])
pay despite repeated demands from respondent. Petitioner
even asked for several extensions of time for it to make good
its obligation. But in spite of respondent’s continuous
accommodation, petitioner completely reneged on its
contractual duty. For such inattention and insensitivity, MCC
must be held liable for nominal damages. “Nominal damages
are ‘recoverable where a legal right is technically violated
and must be vindicated against an invasion that has produced
no actual present loss of any kind or where there has been a
breach of contract and no substantial injury or actual
damages whatsoever have been or can be
shown.”117 Accordingly, the Court awards nominal damages of
P200,000.00 to respondent Ssangyong.
As to the award of attorney’s fees, it is well settled that no
premium should be placed on the right to litigate and not
every winning party is entitled to an automatic grant of
attorney’s fees. The party must show that he falls under one of
the instances enumerated in Article 2208 of the Civil
Code.118 In the instant case, however, the Court finds the
award of attorney’s fees proper, considering that petitioner
MCC’s unjustified refusal to pay has compelled respondent
Ssangyong to litigate and to incur expenses to protect its
rights.
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the appeal is
PARTIALLY GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. CV No. 82983 is MODIFIED in that the award of
actual damages is DELETED. However, petitioner is
ORDERED to pay respondent NOMINAL DAMAGES in the
amount of P200,000.00, and the ATTORNEY’S FEES as
awarded by the trial court.
SO ORDERED.
Ynares-Santiago (Chairperson), Austria-
Martinez, ChicoNazario and Reyes, JJ., concur.
Petition partially granted, judgment modified.
Notes.—Only the original document is the best evidence of
the fact as to whether the heirs executed a Deed of Partition
wherein the entire inherited property was conveyed to only
one of them. (Santos vs. Santos, 342 SCRA 753 [2000])
Under Section 3, Rule 130, Rules of Court, the original
documents must be produced and no evidence shall be

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