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EJERCITO VS.

SANDIGANBAYAN Respecting petitioners claim that the money in his


bank accounts is not the subject matter of the
litigation.
FACTS:
As no plunder case against then President Estrada
In the case of People v. Estrada, et al., the Special had yet been filed before a court of competent
Prosecution Panel[1] filed on before the jurisdiction at the time the Ombudsman conducted
Sandiganbayan a Request for Issuance of Subpoena an investigation, petitioner concludes that the
Duces Tecum for the issuance of a subpoena information about his bank accounts were acquired
directing the President of Export and Industry Bank illegally, hence, it may not be lawfully used to
(EIB, formerly Urban Bank) or his/her authorized facilitate a subsequent inquiry into the same bank
representative to produce the following documents accounts.
during the hearings

I. For Trust Account No. 858; ISSUE: WON the extremely-detailed information
II. For Savings Account No. 0116-17345-9 contained in the Special Prosecution Panels requests
Of the petitioner and requested for Issuance of for subpoena was obtained through a prior illegal
Subpoena Duces Tecum/Ad Testificandum directed disclosure of petitioner’s bank accounts, in violation
to the authorized representative of Equitable-PCI of the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine.
Bank to produce statements of account pertaining to
certain accounts in the name of Jose Velarde and to
testify thereon. RULING: NO
Petitioners attempt to make the exclusionary rule
Sandiganbayan: granted both requests by and applicable to the instant case fails. R.A. 1405, it
subpoenas were accordingly issued. bears noting, nowhere provides that an unlawful
examination of bank accounts shall render the
Petitioner, unassisted by counsel, thus filed a evidence obtained therefrom inadmissible in
Motion to Quash Subpoena Duces Tecum/Ad evidence. Section 5 of R.A. 1405 only states that
Testificandum claiming that his bank accounts are [a]ny violation of this law will subject the offender
covered by R.A. No. 1405 (The Secrecy of Bank upon conviction, to an imprisonment of not more
Deposits Law) and do not fall under any of the than five years or a fine of not more than twenty
exceptions stated therein. He further claimed that thousand pesos or both, in the discretion of the
the specific identification of documents in the court.
questioned subpoenas, including details on dates Even assuming arguendo, however, that the
and amounts, could only have been made possible exclusionary rule applies in principle to cases
by an earlier illegal. involving R.A. 1405, the Court finds no reason to
apply the same in this particular case.
The disclosure being illegal, petitioner concluded,
the prosecution in the case may not be allowed to Clearly, the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine
make use of the information. presupposes a violation of law. If there was no
violation of R.A. 1405 in the instant case, then there
would be no poisonous tree to begin with, and, thus,
The subpoenas prayed for in both requests were no reason to apply the doctrine.
issued by the Sandiganbayan
IN SUM, the Court finds that the Sandiganbayan did
Petitioner, this time assisted by counsel, filed an not commit grave abuse of discretion for the
Urgent Motion to Quash Subpoenae Duces following reasons:
Tecum/Ad Testificandum again. Sandiganbayan
issued a Resolution denying petitioners Motion to 1. These accounts are no longer protected by the
Quash. Secrecy of Bank Deposits Law, there being two
exceptions to the said law applicable in this case,
namely: (1) the examination of bank accounts is
upon order of a competent court in cases of bribery
or dereliction of duty of public officials, and (2) the before the RTC .8Meralco alleged that Manoco’s
money deposited or invested is the subject matter of reckless driving resulted in damage to its
the litigation. Exception (1) applies since the properties.
plunder case pending against former President
Estrada is analogous to bribery or dereliction of In defense, Josefa denied that Manoco was his
duty, while exception (2) applies because the money employee when the accident occurred. He also
deposited in petitioners bank accounts is said to maintained that he exercised the diligence of a good
form part of the subject matter of the same plunder father of a family in the selection and supervision of
case. all his employees. complaint.10

2. The fruit of the poisonous tree principle, which “Pablo Manoco” was soon dropped as a party
states that once the primary source (the tree) is defendant in the case for failure to serve him
shown to have been unlawfully obtained, any summons.12
secondary or derivative evidence (the fruit) derived
from it is also inadmissible, does not apply in this A. Evidence for Meralco
case. In the first place, R.A. 1405 does not provide
for the application of this rule. Moreover, there is no During trial, Meralco offered the testimonies of six
basis for applying the same in this case since the witnesses as well as documentary evidence to
primary source for the detailed information substantiate its claim for damages against Josefa:
regarding petitioners bank accounts the
investigation previously conducted by the Juan Fernandez, Meralco’s senior legal
Ombudsman was lawful. investigator, testified that he arrived at the
scene of the accident at around 2:30 p.m. on that
3. At all events, even if the subpoenas issued by the fateful day and saw Meralco employees installing a
Sandiganbayan were quashed, the Ombudsman may new electricity post. He interviewed the people in
conduct on its own the same inquiry into the subject the vicinity who told him that it was the truck that
bank accounts that it earlier conducted last rammed the electricity post.13 He thus proceeded to
February-March 2001, there being a plunder case the police station and talked to SPO2 Alexander
already pending against former President Galang who informed him that the owner of the
Estrada. To quash the challenged subpoenas would, offending vehicle was Josefa.14
therefore, be pointless since the Ombudsman may
obtain the same documents by another Elmer Albio identified himself as the driver of the
route. Upholding the subpoenas avoids an jeepney that was involved in the accident. He
unnecessary delay in the administration of justice. testified that a truck suddenly hit the rear of his
jeepney while he was driving along Ortigas Avenue.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. He thus lost control of the jeepney and hit a Nissan
car on the other lane of the road. Thereafter, the
JOSEFA V. MERALCO truck hit the electricity post.

FACTS: SPO2 Galang stated that one of his functions as a


traffic accident investigator was to record vehicular
A dump truck, a jeepney and a car figured in a accidents in the police blotter book. He identified
vehicular accident along Ortigas Avenue, Pasig and authenticated a certified true copy of the police
City.4 As a result of the accident, a 45-foot wooden blotter but admitted that he neither saw nor
electricity post and other electrical line attachments investigated the accident.19
were damaged.5 Upon investigation, respondent damages that Meralco allegedly suffered.22
(Meralco) discovered that it was the truck registered
in Josefa’s name that hit the electricity post.6 RTC admitted all documentary evidence of
Meralco.
Meralco demanded from Josefa reimbursement for
the replacement cost of the electricity post and its
attachments, but Josefa refused to pay.7Meralco
sued Josefa and Pablo Manoco, the truck driver,
B. Evidence for Josefa only narrated to them by other people who were not
presented in court. Hearsay evidence has no
Upon Meralco’s presentment of evidence, Josefa probative value because it is merely the witness’
filed a demurrer to evidence25, but was denied by recitation of what someone else has told him,
the RTC. The RTC eventually declared the case as whether orally or in writing. A witness can
submitted for decision without Josefa’s evidence- testify only to those facts which are derived
in-chief due to the numerous and unreasonable from his own perception.39
delays that he incurred in the presentation of
evidence.29 Nonetheless, Meralco has sufficiently established
the direct causal link between the truck and the
RTC Ruling: dismissed the complaint for electricity post through Abio’s testimony. Abio
insufficiency of evidence. The RTC held that categorically stated during trial that he saw the
Meralco failed to establish that it was the truck that truck hit the electricity post. We find his first-
hit the electricity post. SPO2 Galang’s account of hand account of the incident during the direct-
the accident was merely hearsay since he did not examination frank and straightforward. More
personally witness the incident. It also did not give importantly, Josefa failed to impeach the veracity of
probative value to the police blotter entry dated Abio’s testimony during the cross-examination.
January 7, 1994 since the accident had long Abio even reiterated that it was Josefa’s truck
occurred in 1991. that rammed the electricity post.4

CA Ruling: reversed the RTC ruling and held that Even without Abio’s testimony, it does not
the RTC erred in disregarding the parties’ escape this Court’s attention that
stipulation at the pre-trial that it was the truck Josefa judicially admitted in his motions and
that hit the electricity post. pleading that his truck hit the electricity post.
The CA concluded that the fact that the truck hit the
electricity post was sufficient to hold Josefa “1. This action was commenced by plaintiff to
vicariously liable regardless of whether Bautista recover actual damages resulting from the
was negligent in driving the truck. vehicular mishap along Ortigas Avenue,
Rosario, Pasig City, Metro Manila,
ISSUES: whereby defendant’s dump truck with plate No.
PAK 874 hit and bumped plaintiff’s 45-foot
(1) WON the truck hit the electricity post. wooden pole;41” (emphasis and underline
ours)
(2) WON Bautista exercised due diligence in
driving when the truck hit the electricity post; Josefa further declared in his motion for
reconsideration:
RULING:
[T]he manner who and why the accident occurred
I. Bautista’s negligence was the was not explained. In the absence of any description
proximate cause of the property on such important aspect, fault or
damage caused to Meralco negligence cannot be properly imputed to Pablo
The truck hit the electricity post Manojo Bautista simply because the truck he
was then driving bumped to electric post.
Contrary to the CA’s finding, the parties did not
stipulate that the truck hit the electricity post. Lastly, Josefa pleaded in his petition before this
The pre-trial order shows that the parties merely Court:
agreed that the truck “was involved in an accident. In the absence of any description on such
important aspect, fault or negligence cannot be
We also agree with Josefa that Fernandez and SPO2 properly imputed to petitioner, simply because
Galang’s testimonies regarding the truck hitting his truck bumped into Meralco’s electricity
the electricity post are hearsay and should not be post. The causal connection between the
given credence. Fernandez and SPO2 Galang petitioner’s supposed negligence and the
merely testified and conveyed to the court matters damage was not shown.
lot was declared for taxation in the name of Juan
These statements constitute deliberate, clear and Gabatan. In the complaint before the RTC,
unequivocal admissions of the causation in fact respondent alleged that she is the sole owner of land,
between the truck and the electricity post. having inherited the same from her deceased
Judicial admissions made by the parties in the mother, Hermogena. Respondent further claimed
pleadings or in the course of the trial or other that her mother, Hermogena, is the only child of
proceedings in the same case are conclusive and do Juan Gabatan and his wife, Laureana. Respondent
not require further evidence to prove them. These alleged that upon the death of Juan Gabatan, the
admissions cannot be contradicted unless land was entrusted to his brother, Teofilo and
previously shown to have been made through Teofilos wife for administration. It was also
palpable mistake or that no such admission was claimed that prior to her death Hermogena
made.44 A party who judicially admits a fact cannot demanded for the return of the land but to no
later challenge this fact for the reason that judicial avail. After Hermogenas death, respondent also did
admissions remove an admitted fact from the field the same but petitioners refused to heed the
of controversy.45 numerous demands to surrender the subject
property.According to respondent, when Teofilo
II. Bautista is presumed to be negligent and his wife died, petitioners took possession of the
in driving the truck under disputed land despite respondents demands for them
the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur Contrary to the to vacate the same.
CA’s opinion, the finding that it was the truck
that hit the electricity post would not In their answer, petitioners denied that respondents
immediately result in Josefa’s liability. It is a mother Hermogena was the daughter of Juan
basic rule that it is essentially the wrongful or Gabatan Petitioners maintained that Juan Gabatan
negligent act or omission that creates the vinculum died single without any issue and that Juan was
juris in extra-contractual obligations.46 In turn, the survived by one brother and two sisters, namely:
employee’s negligence established to be the Teofilo (petitioners predecessor-in-interest),
proximate cause of the damage would give rise Macaria and Justa. These siblings and/or their heirs,
to the disputable presumption that the inherited the subject land from Juan Gabatan and
employer did not exercise the diligence of a have been in actual, physical, open, public, adverse,
good father of a family in the selection and continuous and uninterrupted possession thereof in
supervision of the erring employee.47 the concept of owners for more than fifty (50) years
injured. and enjoyed the fruits of the improvements thereon,
to the exclusion of the whole world including
In his pleadings, Josefa raises the possibility that the respondent. Finally, petitioners contended that the
fault or negligence of the jeepney and/or the car complaint lacks or states no cause of action or, if
drivers may have been the proximate cause of the there was any, the same has long prescribed and/or
damage. As a matter of defense, Josefa should have has been barred by laches.
substantiated this theory considering that the
burden of evidence has shifted against him after
Meralco had established that it was the truck that RTC: in favor of respondent
hit the electricity post. However, Josefa did not
adduce any evidence in support of his defense Declaring them the owner of the land and ordering
during trial. Consequently, we sustain the CA’s the defendants represented by Riorita Gabatan
finding that there is a direct and proximate Tumala to RECONVEY OCT in favor of plaintiff
causal link between the truck and the injury that Lourdes Evero Pacana, free of any encumbrance;
Meralco suffered.
CA: Affirms RTC, respondents claim of filiation
HEIRS OF GABATAN V. CA with Juan Gabatan was sufficiently established
during trial. Thus, the CA echoed a long line of
FACTS: jurisprudence that findings of fact of the trial court
are entitled to great weight and are not disturbed
Subject of the present controversy is a parcel of except for cogent reasons, such as when the findings
land, situated Balulang, Cagayan de Oro City. This of fact are not supported by evidence.
Exhibit 1 was the one of dubious credibility. Verily,
The CA likewise gave weight to the Deed of the certified true copies of the handwritten birth
Absolute Sale[5] executed by Macaria Gabatan de certificate of respondent (petitioners Exhibits 1 and
Abrogar, Teofilo, Hermogena and heirs of Justa 8) were duly authenticated by two competent
Gabatan, wherein Hermogena was identified as an witnesses; namely, (Ms. Vidal), Office of the City
heir of Juan Gabatan: Civil Registrar, and (Ms. Cacho), Archivist of
(NSO). Ms. Vidal, during her testimony, confirmed
that the certified true copy (which was eventually
To the CA, the Deed of Absolute Sale containing marked as Exhibit 1) was a faithful reproduction of
such declaration which was signed by Teofilo and the original.[25]Ms. Vidal likewise categorically
the latters nearest relatives by consanguinity, is a testified that no other copy of respondents birth
tangible proof that they acknowledged Hermogenas certificate exists in their records except the
status as the daughter of Juan Gabatan. handwritten birth certificate.[26] Ms. Cacho, in turn,
testified that the original of respondents handwritten
birth certificate found in the records of the NSO
ISSUES: Manila (from which Exhibit 8 was photocopied)
was the one officially transmitted to their office by
(1)WON the lower court erred in failing to the Local Civil Registry Office of Cagayan de Oro.
appreciate by preponderance of evidence in favor of Thus, between respondents Exhibit A and
the defendants-appellants (petitioners) claim that petitioners Exhibits 1 and 8, the latter documents
they and the heirs of Justa and Macaria both deserve to be given greater probative weight.
surnamed Gabatan are the sole and surviving heirs
of Juan Gabatan and, therefore, entitled to inherit Even assuming purely for the sake of argument that
the land subject matter hereof; the birth certificate presented by respondent
(Exhibit A) is a reliable document, the same on its
(2)WON the lower court erred in not declaring that face is insufficient to prove respondents filiation to
the cause of action of respondent if any, has been her alleged grandfather, Juan Gabatan. All that
barred by laches and/or prescription.[7] Exhibit A, if it had been credible and authentic,
would have proven was that respondents mother
RULING: was a certain Hermogena Clarito Gabatan. It does
(1)YES, we find insufficient and questionable the not prove that same Hermogena Clarito Gabatan is
basis of the RTC in conferring upon respondent the the daughter of Juan Gabatan.
status of sole heir of Juan Gabatan.
To prove the relationship of respondents mother to
It was incumbent upon the respondent to present Juan Gabatan, our laws dictate that the best
preponderant evidence in support of her complaint. evidence was the record of birth appearing in the
Civil Register, or an authentic document or a final
Here, two conflicting birth certificates[19] of judgment. In the absence of these, respondent
respondent were presented at the RTC. Respondent, should have presented proof that her mother
during her direct testimony, presented and identified enjoyed the continuous possession of the status of a
a purported certified true copy of her typewritten legitimate child.
birth certificate which indicated that her mothers
maiden name was Hermogena Clarito Gabatan However, respondents mothers (Hermogenas) birth
Petitioners, on the other hand, presented a certified certificate, which would have been the best
true copy of respondents handwritten birth evidence of Hermogenas relationship to Juan
certificate which differed from the copy presented Gabatan, was never offered as evidence at the RTC.
by respondent. Among the differences was
respondents mothers full maiden name which was Aside from the testimonies of respondents
indicated as Hermogena Calarito in the handwritten witnesses, both the RTC and the CA relied heavily
birth certificate. on a photocopy of a Deed of Absolute
Sale[32] (Exhibit H) presented by respondent.
We cannot subscribe to the trial courts view that
since the entries in Exhibit 1 were handwritten,
However, the admission of this Deed of Absolute the heirs of Juan Gabatan to recover the decedents
Sale, including its contents and the signatures property from third parties or to quiet title to their
therein, cannot uphold the admissibility of the inheritance accrued in 1933. Yet, respondent and/or
same. her mother Hermogena, if they were truly the legal
heirs of Juan Gabatan, did not assert their rights as
Under the best evidence rule, when the subject of such. It is only in 1978 that respondent filed her first
inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence complaint to recover the subject property, docketed
shall be admissible other than the original document as Civil Case No. 5840, against Rita Gabatan, the
itself.[36] Although the best evidence rule admits of widow of Teofilo Gabatan.[43]However, that case
exceptions and there are instances where the was dismissed without prejudice for failure to
presentation of secondary evidence would be prosecute.[44] Again, respondent waited until 1989
allowed, such as when the original is lost or the to refile her cause of action, i.e. the present
original is a public record, the basis for the case.[45] She claimed that she waited until the death
presentation of secondary evidence must still be of Rita Gabatan to refile her case out of respect
established. Thus, in Department of Education because Rita was then already old.[46]
Culture and Sports v. Del Rosario,[37] we held that
a party must first satisfactorily explain the loss of We cannot accept respondents flimsy reason. It is
the best or primary evidence before he can resort to precisely because Rita Gabatan and her
secondary evidence. A party must first present to contemporaries (who might have personal
the court proof of loss or other satisfactory knowledge of the matters litigated in this case) were
explanation for non-production of the original advancing in age and might soon expire that
instrument. respondent should have exerted every effort to
preserve valuable evidence and speedily litigate her
In the case at bar, a perusal of the transcript of the claim.
testimony of Felicisima Nagac Pacana (who
identified the photocopy of the Deed of Absolute WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED.
Sale) plainly shows that she gave no testimony
regarding the whereabouts of the original, whether MARCOS V. HEIRS OF NAVARRO
it was lost or whether it was recorded in any public
office. FACTS:

To begin with, no proof whatsoever was presented Spouses Navarro, Sr. and Concepcion Medina-
by respondent that an original of Exhibit H was Navarro died. They left behind several parcels of land
registered or exists in the records of the local including the (subject lot) located in Masbate.3
assessors office.
The spouses were survived by their daughters Luisa
Even if we are to overlook the lack of proper Navarro Marcos, herein petitioner, and Lydia
authentication of Exhibit H and consider the same Navarro Grageda, and the heirs of their only son
admissible, it still nonetheless would have only Andres Navarro, Jr. The heirs of Andres, Jr. are the
provided proof that a certain Hermogena Gabatan respondents herein.4
was the heir of Juan Gabatan. Exhibit H does not
show the filiation of respondent to either Petitioner and her sister Lydia discovered that
Hermogena Gabatan or Juan Gabatan. As discussed respondents are claiming exclusive ownership of the
above, the only document that respondent produced subject lot. Respondents based their claim on the
to demonstrate her filiation to Hermogena Gabatan Affidavit of Transfer of Real Property where Andres,
(respondents Exhibit A) was successfully put in Sr. donated the subject lot to Andres, Jr.5
doubt by contrary evidence presented by petitioners.
Believing that the affidavit is a forgery, the sisters,
(2) NO, through Assistant Fiscal Andres Marcos, requested a
As for the issue of laches, we are inclined to handwriting examination of the affidavit. The PNP
likewise rule against respondent. According to handwriting expert PO2 Alvarez found that Andres,
respondents own testimony,[42] Juan Gabatan died Sr.’s signature on the affidavit and the submitted
sometime in 1933 and thus, the cause of action of
standard signatures of Andres, Sr. were not discretion must be patent and gross as to amount to
written by one and the same person.6 an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to
perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in
Thus, the sisters sued the respondents for annulment contemplation of law, as where the power is
of the deed of donation before the (RTC) of Masbate. exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by
reason of passion and hostility.18Grave abuse of
discretion arises when a lower court or tribunal
After the pre-trial, respondents moved to disqualify
violates the Constitution or grossly disregards the law
PO2 Alvarez as a witness. They argued that the RTC
or existing jurisprudence.19
did not authorize the handwriting examination of the
affidavit. They added that presenting PO2 Alvarez as
a witness will violate their constitutional right to due we said that a witness must only possess all the
process since no notice was given to them before the qualifications and none of the
examination was conducted.8 Thus, PO2 Alvarez’s
report is a worthless piece of paper and her SEC. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications.–Except as
testimony would be useless and irrelevant.9 provided in the next succeeding section, all
persons who can perceive, and perceiving, can make
RTC: granted respondents’ motion and disqualified known their perception to others, may be witnesses.
PO2 Alvarez as a witness. The RTC ruled that
PO2 Alvarez’s supposed testimony would be Religious or political belief, interest in the outcome
hearsay as she has no personal knowledge of of the case, or conviction of a crime unless otherwise
the alleged handwriting of Andres, Sr. provided by law, shall not be a ground for
disqualification.
CA refused to take judicial notice of the decision of
another CA Division which reinstated Civil Case No. Specific rules of witness disqualification are provided
5215. The CA held that a CA Justice cannot take under Sections 21 to 24, Rule 130 of the Rules on
judicial notice of decisions or matters pending before Evidence. Section 21 disqualifies a witness by reason
another Division of the appellate court where he or of mental incapacity or immaturity. Section 22
she is not a member. disqualifies a witness by reason of marriage. Section
23 disqualifies a witness by reason of death or
ISSUES: insanity of the adverse party. Section 24 disqualifies
a witness by reason of privileged communication.
WON CA erred in not ruling that the RTC committed
grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying PO2 The Rules should not be interpreted to include an
Alvarez as a witness. exception not embodied therein. We said:

RULING: YES The generosity with which the Rule allows people to
testify is apparent. Interest in the outcome of a case,
conviction of a crime unless otherwise provided by
The CA ruling that the dismissal of Civil Case No.
law, and religious belief are not grounds for
5215 has mooted the issue of PO2 Alvarez’s
disqualification.
disqualification as a witness can no longer be
justified. Hence, we reverse the CA ruling. we are
unable to agree with its refusal to take judicial notice There is no provision of the Rules disqualifying
of the Decision16 of another CA Division which parties declared in default from taking the witness
reinstated Civil Case No. 5215. Subsequent stand for non-disqualified parties. The law does not
proceedings were even held in the reinstated Civil provide default as an exception. As a general rule,
Case No. 5215 per Orders17 issued by the RTC which where there are express exceptions these comprise the
were already submitted to the CA. only limitations on the operation of a statute and no
other exception will be implied. x x x The Rules
should not be interpreted to include an exception not
We also agree with petitioner that the RTC
embodied therein. (Emphasis supplied; citations
committed grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying
omitted.)
PO2 Alvarez as a witness. Grave abuse of discretion
defies exact definition, but it generally refers to
capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment as is As a handwriting expert of the PNP, PO2 Alvarez can
equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of surely perceive and make known her perception to
others.1âwphi1We have no doubt that she is FACTS:
qualified as a witness. She cannot be disqualified as a
witness since she possesses none of the Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) sold a parcel of land to the
disqualifications specified under the Rules. spouses Jose and Cristina Yuson. The spouses Yuson
Respondents’ motion to disqualify her should have sold the same to the spouses Alfonso. A Deed of
been denied by the RTC for it was not based on Restrictions was annotated in the TCT, as had been
any of these grounds for disqualification. The required by ALI. The Deed of Restrictions indicated
RTC rather confused the qualification of the witness that: The property shall be used exclusively for the
with the credibility and weight of her testimony. establishment and maintenance thereon of a
preparatory school.
Moreover, Section 49, Rule 130 of the Rules of
Evidence is clear that the opinion of an expert ALI turned over the right and power to enforce the
witness may be received in evidence, to wit: restrictions on the properties in the Ayala Alabang
Village, to the association of homeowners therein, the
SEC. 49. Opinion of expert witness.–The opinion of Ayala Alabang Village Association (AAVA).
a witness on a matter requiring special
knowledge, skill, experience or training which he The spouses Alfonso opened on the same lot The
is shown to possess, may be received in Learning Child Center Pre-school (TLC), a
evidence. preparatory school which initially consisted of nursery
and kindergarten classes. In 1991, TLC was expanded
Thus, we disagree with the RTC that PO2 Alvarez’s to include a grade school program, the School of the
testimony would be hearsay. Under Section 49, Holy Cross, which provided additional grade levels as
Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence, PO2 Alvarez is the pupils who initially enrolled advanced.
allowed to render an expert opinion, as the PNP
document examiner was allowed in Tamani. But the The AAVA filed with the RTC of Makati an action for
RTC already ruled at the outset that PO2 Alvarez’s injunction against TLC and the spouses Alfonso,
testimony is hearsay even before her testimony alleging breach of contract by the defendant spouses
is offered and she is called to the witness stand. of the Deed of Restrictions ordering them to desist
Under the circumstances, the CA should have issued from operating the grade school and from operating
a corrective writ of certiorari and annulled the RTC the nursery and kindergarten classes in excess of the
ruling. two classrooms allowed by the ordinance.5

True, the use of the word "may" in Section 49, Rule It also alleged violation the Comprehensive Zoning
130 of the Rules on Evidence signifies that the use of Ordinance for the National Capital Region classified
opinion of an expert witness is permissive and not Ayala Alabang Village for zoning purposes as a low-
mandatory on the part of the courts.23 Jurisprudence density residential area thereby limiting the use of the
is also replete with instances wherein this Court subject property to the establishment or operation of a
dispensed with the testimony of expert witnesses to nursery and kindergarten school, which should not
prove forgeries.24 However, we have also recognized exceed two classrooms.
that handwriting experts are often offered as expert
witnesses considering the technical nature of the
RTC: Rendered a Decision in favour of AAVA,
procedure in examining forged documents.25 More
emphasizing that the restrictions were in reality an
important, analysis of the questioned signature in the
easement which an owner of a real estate may validly
deed of donation executed by the late Andres
impose under Article 688 of the Civil Code
Navarro, Sr. in crucial to the resolution of the case.
TLC and the spouses Alfonso filed a Motion for
In sum, the RTC should not have disqualified P02
Reconsideration of the said Decision. They alleged in
Alvarez as a witness. She has the qualifications of
the Motion that with the passage of Muntinlupa
witness and possess none of the disqualifications
Zoning Ordinance No. 91-39 reclassifying the subject
under the Rules. property as "institutional," there ceased to be a legal
basis for the RTC to uphold the Deed of Restrictions
LEARNING CHILD, INC V. AYALA on the title of the spouses Alfonso.
ALABANG VILLAGE
RTC agreed with the spouses Alfonso and set aside its 2. Whether or not TLC and the spouses Alfonso should
earlier Decision.1avvphi1 be enjoined from continuing the operation of a grade
school in the subject property.
CA: setting aside RTC Resolution. The earlier
decision of the said court is Reinstated. As regards the third and decisive issue, the parties
further exchanged their views on the following two
While the Motion for Reconsideration of TLC and the sub-issues:
spouses Alfonso was still pending the Municipality of
Muntinlupa, through its Sangguniang Bayan, passed a. Whether or not Muntinlupa Municipal
Resolution No. 94-179 correcting an alleged Ordinance No. 91-39, as allegedly corrected
typographical error in the description of a parcel of by Muntinlupa Resolution No. 91-179, has
land under the heading "Institutional Zone" in the effect of nullifying the provisions of the
Appendix B of Ordinance No. 91-39, adjusting the Deed of Restrictions on the subject property;
description "Lot 25, Block 1, Phase V, Ayala Alabang" and
to "Lot 25, Block 3, Phase V, Ayala Alabang." This is
the same ordinance which was used as basis by the b. Whether or not AAVA is estopped from
Makati RTC, when it reversed its own Decision on enforcing the Deed of Restrictions.
Motion for Reconsideration.
RULING: (1)YES, being a mere corrective issuance,
Municipality of Muntinlupa filed a Petition for the it is not invalidated by the lack of notice and hearing
approval of Muntinlupa Resolution No. 94-179 with as AAVA contends.
the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board
(HLURB). AAVA and the adjacent property owners Both the Official Zoning Map of Muntinlupa and that
filed an Opposition. of the Ayala Alabang Village show that the subject lot
is classified as “institutional.” The official zoning
HLURB: the Resolution was not a mere correction of map is an indispensable and integral part of a
a typo but an actual rezoning of the property into an zoning ordinance, without which said ordinance
institutional area and would require the conduct of would be considered void.
public hearings.
It is clear that there was a typo and the Court is merely
Office of the President Decision: set aside this affirming the correction made by the same entity
conclusion of the HLURB and declared Resolution which committed the error.
No. 94-179 as a valid corrective issuance. It further The authority of the HLURB is subordinate to that of
held that the Deed of Restrictions had lost its force and the Office of the President and the acts of the former
effect in view of the passage of Ordinance No. 91-39. may be set aside by the latter.

CA: rendered its Decision slightly modifying the (2a) YES, Injunction against the operation of the
Decision of the Office of the President: School of the Holy Cross

being merely a rectifying issuance and not a rezoning The contention of TLC and spouses Alfonso:
enactment, the questioned Resolution did not have to Reclassification of properties is a valid exercise of the
comply with the mandatory requirements of notice and state’s police power, with which contractual
hearing. However, the Court of Appeals found the obligations should be reconciled.
Office of the President to have exceeded its authority
when it ruled17 that the Deed of Restrictions had lost Contention of AAVA: Even where the exercise of
its force and effect in view of the passage of Ordinance police power is valid, the same does not operate to
No. 91-39. . automatically negate all other legal relationships in
existence since the better policy is to reconcile the
ISSUES: conflicting rights.

1. Whether or not the Court of Appeals is correct in Study of the pertinent documents yields the conclusion
upholding the validity of Muntinlupa Resolution No. that there is indeed a way to harmonize the seemingly
94-179; opposing provisions in the Deed of Restrictions and
the assailed zoning ordinance.
In the case at bar, as observed by the Court of Appeals, We are not convinced.
the subject property, though declared as an
institutional lot, nevertheless lies within a residential TLC and the spouses Alfonso failed to prove by clear
subdivision and is surrounded by residential lots. and convincing evidence the gravity of AAVA’s acts
Verily, the area surrounding TLC did not undergo a so as to bar the latter from insisting compliance
radical change but rather remained purely residential with the Deed of Restrictions.
to this day. Significantly, the lot occupied by TLC is
located along one of the smaller roads (less than eight
Numbers 3 and 4 are acts allegedly performed by ALI.
meters in width) within the subdivision. It is
AAVA claims that these acts cannot be considered in
understandable why ALI, as the developer, restricted
the case at bar under the res inter alios acta rule, as ALI
use of the subject lot to a smaller, preparatory school
is not a party to the case. Section 28, Rule 130 of the
that will generate less traffic than bigger schools. With
Rules of Court embodies said rule:.
its operation of both a preparatory and grade school,
TLC’s student population had already swelled to
around 350 students at the time of the filing of this Sec. 29. Admission by copartner or agent. — The act
case. Foreseeably, the greater traffic generated or declaration of a partner or agent of the party
by TLC’s expanded operations will affect the within the scope of his authority and during the
adjacent property owners enjoyment and use of their existence of the partnership or agency, may be given
own properties. AAVA’s and ALI’s insistence on in evidence against such party after the partnership or
(1) the enforcement of the Deed of Restrictions or agency is shown by evidence other than such act or
(2) the obtainment of the approval of the affected declaration. The same rule applies to the act or
residents for any modification of the Deed of declaration of a joint owner, joint debtor, or other
Restrictions is reasonable. On the other hand, the then person jointly interested with the party.53(Emphasis
Municipality of Muntinlupa did not appear to have any supplied.)
special justification for declaring the subject lot as an
institutional property. However, the acts of ALI are not at all damaging to the
position of AAVA. The act in number 1 concerns the
(2b) NO, TLC and the spouses Alfonso’s main alleged assent of ALI to the reclassification of the
argument against the enforcement of the Deed of subject property as institutional which, as we have
Restrictions on their property is the AAVA had already ruled, does not amount to a nullification of the
allegedly abrogated said restrictions by its own acts of: Deed of Restrictions. As regards the act in number 2,
the statement in ALI’s July 24, 1991 letter that it
believes the expansion of TLC is a "worthy
1. AAVA Village Manager Frank Roa admitted before
undertaking," it should be pointed out that ALI’s
the trial court that AAVA had previously approved the
purported assent came with conditions:
proposed construction of a school building with 24
classrooms
Insofar as an evaluation of such proposed expansion of
the school is concerned, we believe that it is a worthy
2. While the case was submitted for resolution with the
undertaking that will definitely benefit the community,
Court of Appeals, AAVA, through its president Jesus
and thus interpose no objection to such proposal as
M. Tañedo, authorized through a letter the long as the conditions mentioned below are met.
construction of a new "school building extension."45
It is true that the Ayala Alabang Village Association
3. ALI itself requested the reclassification of the (AAVA) Board does not have the authority on its own
subject property as institutional
to alter the Deed of Restrictions for Ayala Alabang
Village, and the approval of Ayala is an indispensable
TLC and the spouses Alfonso point out that the subject condition precedent to any change in the restrictions.
property was considered institutional in the Official However, we feel that any change in the restrictions
Zoning Map, thereby implying that the submission of for Ayala Alabang should be concurred to by the
the latter constitutes an intent to have the subject AAVA Board on the premise that any change in the
property reclassified as institutional. restrictions affects the general welfare of the
community which is the primary concern of the
4. ALI assented to the reclassification of the subject AAVA Board. On this same premise, we have
property to institutional, as shown by its letter dated imposed as an additional condition to our approval of
July 24, 1991, wherein it stated: the change in restrictions, that such change should be
approved by the residents of the Village or by the
residents of the particular district where the school is
situated, at the option of the Board. We feel that the
concurrence of not only the AAVA Board but also of
the residents of the Village or of the affected district
(as the case may be) is fair and reasonable under the
circumstances. 54 (Emphases supplied.)

As previously stated, a majority of AAVA’s


members, voted to ratify the Board of Governors’
resolutions that the Deed of Restrictions should
be implemented. Therefore, the conditions for
ALI’s approval of the alteration of the Deed of
Restrictions, namely the concurrence of the AAVA
Board and the approval of the affected residents of the
village, were clearly not met.

Finally, a thorough examination of the records of the


case furthermore shows that AAVA consistently
insisted upon compliance with the Deed of
Restrictions. From the foregoing, it cannot be said that
AAVA abrogated the Deed of Restrictions. Neither
could it be deemed estopped from seeking the
enforcement of said restrictions.