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G.R. No. 164457 April 11, 2012 Petitioner pled not guiltyto the offense charged in the information.

At
pre-trial, no stipulation of factswas had, and petitioner did not avail
ANNA LERIMA PATULA vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES herself of plea bargaining. Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued.

In the trial of everycriminal case, a judge must rigidlytest the States The Prosecutions first witness was Lamberto Go, who testified that he
evidence of guilt in order to ensure that such evidenceadheres to the was the branch manager of Footluckers Chain of Stores, Inc.
basic rules of admissibility before pronouncing an accused guilty of the (Footluckers) in Dumaguete City since October 8, 1994; that petitioner
crime charged upon such evidence. Nothing less is demanded of the was an employee of Footluckers, starting as a saleslady in 1996 until
judge; otherwise, the guarantee of due process of law is nullified.The she became a sales representative; that as a sales representative she was
accused need notadduceanythingto rebut evidence that is discredited for authorized to take orders from wholesale customers coming from
failing the test.Acquittal should then follow. different towns (like Bacong, Zamboanguita, Valencia, Lumbangan and
Mabinay in Negros Oriental, and Siquijor), and to collect payments from
Antecedents them; that she could issue and sign official receipts of Footluckers for
the payments, which she would then remit; that she would then submit
the receipts for the payments for tallying and reconciliation; that at first
Petitioner was charged withestafaunder an informationfiled in the
her volume of sales was quite high, but later on dropped, leading him to
Regional Trial Court (RTC) in DumagueteCitythat averred:
confront her; that she responded that business was slow; that he
summoned the accounting clerk to verify; that the accounting clerk
That on or about and during the period from March 16 to 20, 1997 and discovered erasures on some collection receipts; that he decided to
for sometime prior thereto, in the City of Dumaguete, Philippines, and subject her to an audit by company auditor Karen Guivencan; that he
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, being learned from a customer of petitioners that the customers outstanding
then a saleswoman of Footluckers Chain of Stores, Inc., Dumaguete balance had already been fully paid although that balance appeared
City, having collected and received the total sum of P131,286.97 from unpaid in Footluckers records; and that one night later on, petitioner
several customers of said company under the express obligation to and her parents went to his house to deny having misappropriated any
account for the proceeds of the sales and deliver the collection to the money of Footluckers and to plead for him not to push through with a
said company, but far from complying with her obligation and after a case against her, promising to settle her account on a monthly basis; and
reasonable period of time despite repeated demands therefore, and with that she did not settle after that, but stopped reporting to work. 2
intent to defraud the said company, did, then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously fail to deliver the said collection to the said
On March 7, 2002, Gos cross examination, re-direct examination and
company but instead, did, then and there willfully unlawfully and
re-crossexamination were completed.
feloniously misappropriate, misapply and convert the proceeds of the
sale to her own use and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of the said
company in the aforesaid amount of P131,286.97. The only other witness for the Prosecution was Karen Guivencan,
whomFootluckers employed as its store auditor since November 16,
1995 until her resignation on March 31, 2001. She declared that Go had
Contrary to Art. 315, par 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code.1
requested her to audit petitioner after some customers had told him that
they had already paid their accounts but the office ledger had still
reflected outstandingbalances for them; that she first conducted her audit
by going to the customers in places from Mabinay to Zamboanguitain After the Prosecution rested its case, the Defense decided not to file a
Negros Oriental, and then in Siquijor; thatshe discovered in the course demurrer to evidence although it had manifested the intention to do so,
of her audit that the amounts appearing on the original copies of receipts and instead rested itscase.The Prosecution and Defense submitted their
in the possession of around 50 customers varied from the amounts respective memoranda, and submitted the case for decision.6
written on the duplicate copies of the receipts petitioner submitted to the
office; that upon completing her audit, she submittedto Go a written On January 28, 2004, the RTC, stating that inasmuch as petitioner had
report denominated as "List of Customers Covered by Saleswoman opted "not to present evidence for her defense" the Prosecutions
LERIMA PATULA w/ Differences in Records as per Audit Duly evidence remained "unrefuted and uncontroverted,"7rendered its
Verified March 16-20, 1997" marked as Exhibit A; and that based on the decision finding petitioner guilty of estafa, to wit:
report, petitioner had misappropriated the total amount ofP131,286.92.3
Wherefore, in the light of the foregoing facts and circumstances, the
During Guivencans stint as a witness, the Prosecution marked the Court finds ANNA LERIMA PATULA guilty beyond reasonable doubt
ledgers of petitioners various customers allegedly with discrepancies as of the crime of Estafa under Art. 315 par (1b) of the Revised Penal Code
Exhibits B to YYand their derivatives, inclusive. Each of the ledgers had and accordingly, she is hereby sentenced to suffer an
a first column that contained the dates of the entries, a second that INDETERMINATE PENALTY of imprisonment of 8 years and 1 day of
identified the invoices by the number, a third that statedthe debit, a prision mayor as minimum to 18 years and 4 months of reclusion
fourth that noted the credit (or the amounts paid), and a fifth that temporal as maximum with all the accessory penalties provided by law
summed the balances (debit minus credit).Only 49 of theledgerswere and to indemnify private complainant the amount of P131,286.92 with
formally offered and admitted by the RTC because the 50thledger could interest at 12% per annum until fully paid and to pay the costs.
no longer be found.
Pursuant to Sec. 2, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
In the course of Guivencansdirect-examination,petitioners counsel Procedure, the cash bail put up by the accused shall be effective only
interposed a continuing objection on the ground that the figuresentered until the promulgation of this judgment.
in Exhibits B to YYand their derivatives, inclusive, were hearsay
because the persons who had made the entries were not themselves SO ORDERED.8
presented in court.4With that, petitioners counsel did not anymore
cross-examine Guivencan, apparently regarding her testimony to be
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, butthe RTC denied the
irrelevant because she thereby tended to prove falsification, an offense
motion on May 7, 2004.9
not alleged in the information.
Issues
TheProsecution thenformally offered its documentary exhibits, including
Exhibits B to YYand their derivatives (like the originals and duplicates
of the receipts supposedly executed and issued by petitioner), inclusive, Insisting that the RTCs judgment "grossly violated [her] Constitutional
the confirmation sheets used by Guivencan in auditing the accounts and statutory right to be informed of the nature and cause of the
served by petitioner, and Guivencans so-called Summary (Final Report) accusation against her because, while the charge against her is estafa
of Discrepancies.5 under Art. 315, par. 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code, the evidence
presented against her and upon which her conviction was based, was
falsification, an offense not alleged or included in the Information under
which she was arraigned and pleaded not guilty," and that said judgment CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO BE INFORMED OF THE NATURE
likewise "blatantly ignored and manifestly disregarded the rules on AND CAUSE OF THE ACCUSATION AGAINST HER, FOR BEING
admission of evidence in that the documentary evidence admitted by the IRRELEVANT AND IMMATERIAL SINCE THE CHARGE
trial court were all private documents, the due execution and AGAINST THE ACCUSED IS ESTAFA UNDER ART. 315, PAR. 1 (B)
authenticity of which were not proved in accordance with Sec. 20 of OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE.
Rule 132 of the Revised Rules on Evidence," petitioner has directly
appealed to the Court via petition for review on certiorari, positing the 5. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN
following issues, to wit: CONCLUDING THAT THE EVIDENCE OF THE PROSECUTION
"REMAINS UNREFUTED AND UNCONTROVERTED" DESPITE
1. WHETHER THE ACCUSED OR ANY ACCUSED FOR THAT ACCUSEDS OBJECTION THAT SAID EVIDENCE IS
MATTER , CHARGED OF ESTAFA UNDER ART. 315, PAR. 1 (B) OF IMMATERIAL AND IRRELEVANT TO THE CRIME CHARGED.
THE REVISED PENAL CODE CAN BE CONVICTED UPON OR BY
EVIDENCE OF FALSIFICATION WHICH IS EVEN (SIC) NOT 6. WHETHER OR NOT THE DEFENSES NOT CROSS-
ALLEGED IN THE INFORMATION. EXAMINING KAREN GUIVENCAN FOR THE REASON THAT
HER TESTIMONY IS IMMATERIAL AND IRRELEVANT AS IT
2. WHETHER THE ACCUSEDS CONSTITUTIONAL AND TENDED TO PROVE AN OFFENSE NOT CHARGED IN
STATUTORY RIGHT TO BE INFORMED OF THE NATURE AND INFORMATION RESULTED IN THE ADMISSION OF SAID
CAUSE OF THE ACCUSATION AGAINST HER WAS VIOLATED TESTIMONY AS BEING "UNREFUTED AND
WHEN SHE WAS CONVICTED UPON OR BY EVIDENCE OF UNCONTROVERTED", AND WHETHER OR NOT THE
FALSIFICATION CONSIDERING THAT THE CHARGE AGAINST DEFENSES OBJECTION WOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED
HER IS ESTAFA THROUGH MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER ART. WAIVED IF THE DEFENSE CROSS-EXAMINED SAID WITNESS.
315, PAR. 1 (B) OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE.
7. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RULING
3. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN THAT EXHIBIT "A", WHICH IS THE LIST OF CUSTOMERS
ADMITTING IN EVIDENCE, EXHIBITS "B" TO "YY"-"YY-2", ALL COVERED BY SALESWOMAN LERIMA PATULA WITH
PRIVATE DOCUMENTS, THE DUE EXECUTION AND DIFFERENCE IN RECORD IS NOT HEARSAY AND SELF-
AUTHENTICITY OF WHICH WERE NOT PROVED IN SERVING.10
ACCORDANCE WITH SEC. 20, RULE 132 OF THE SAID REVISED
RULES ON EVIDENCE ASIDE FROM THE FACT THAT SAID The foregoing issues are now restatedas follows:
EXHIBITS TEND TO PROVE FALSIFICATION BY THE ACCUSED,
A CRIME NEITHER CHARGED NOR ALLEGED IN THE 1. Whether or not the failure of the information for estafa to allege the
INFORMATION. falsification of the duplicate receipts issued by petitioner to her
customersviolated petitioners right to be informed of the nature and
4. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN cause of the accusation;
ADMITTING THE TESTIMONY OF KAREN GUIVENCAN
DESPITE THE OBJECTION THAT SAID TESTIMONY WHICH
TRIED TO PROVE THAT THE ACCUSED FALSIFIED EXHIBITS
"B" TO "YY"-"YY-2"INCLUSIVE VIOLATED THE ACCUSEDS
2. Whether or not the RTC gravely erred in admitting evidence of the (2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent
falsification of the duplicate receiptsdespite the information not alleging until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by
the falsification; himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the
accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, to
3. Whether or not the ledgers and receipts (Exhibits B to YY, and their meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to
derivatives, inclusive) were admissible as evidence of petitioners guilt secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his
for estafaas charged despite their not being duly authenticated;and behalf. However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding
the absence of the accused provided that he has been duly notified and
4. Whether or not Guivencanstestimony onthe ledgers and receipts his failure to appear is unjustifiable.
(Exhibits B to YY, and their derivatives, inclusive) to prove petitioners
misappropriation or conversion wasinadmissible for being hearsay. Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Court, the rule then in effect when the
information was filed in the RTC, contained the following provisions on
Ruling the proper manner of alleging the nature and cause of the accusation in
the information, to wit:
The petition is meritorious.
Section 8.Designation of the offense. Whenever possible, a complaint
or information should state the designation given to the offense by the
I
statute, besides the statement of the acts or omissions constituting the
same, and if there is no such designation, reference should be made to
Failure of information to allege falsification the section or subsection of the statute punishing it. (7)
did not violate petitioners right to be informed
of thenatureand cause of the accusation
Section 9.Cause of accusation. The acts or omissions complained of as
constituting the offense must be stated in ordinary and concise language
Petitioner contends that the RTC grossly violated her Constitutional without repetition, not necessarily in the terms of the statute defining the
right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation when: (a) offense, but in such form as is sufficient to enable a person of common
it held that the information did not have to allege her falsification of the understanding to know what offense is intended to be charged, and
duplicate receipts, and (b) when it convicted her of estafa under Article enable the court to pronounce proper judgment. (8)
315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Codeby relying on the
evidence on falsification.
The importance of the proper manner of alleging the nature and cause of
the accusation in the informationshould never be taken for granted by
The contentionof petitioner cannot be sustained. the State. An accused cannot be convicted of an offense that is not
clearly charged in the complaint or information. To convict him of an
The Bill of Rights guaranteessome rightsto every person accused of a offense other than that charged in the complaint or information would be
crime, among them the right to be informed of the nature and cause of violative of the Constitutional right to be informed of the nature and
the accusation, viz: cause of the accusation.11 Indeed, the accused cannot be convicted of a
crime, even if duly proven, unless the crime is alleged or necessarily
Section 14. (1) No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense included in the information filed against him.
without due process of law.
The crime of estafacharged against petitioner was defined and penalized trust or on commission, or for administration, or under any other
by Article 315, paragraph 1 (b), Revised Penal Code, viz: obligation involving the duty to make delivery of or to return the same,
even though such obligation be totally or partially guaranteed by a bond;
Article 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall defraud or by denying having received such money, goods, or other property.
another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow shall be punished
by: xxx

1st. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision The elements of the offense charged were as follows:
mayor in its minimum period, if the amount of the fraud is over 12,000
pesos but does not exceed 22,000 pesos, and if such amount exceeds the (a) That the offender received money, goods or other personal property
latter sum, the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its in trust, or on commission, or for administration, or under any other
maximum period, adding one year for each additional 10,000 pesos; but obligation involving the duty to make delivery of, or to return, the same;
the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years.
In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may (b) That the offender misappropriated or converted such money, goods
be imposed under the provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be or other personal property, or denied his part in its receipt;
termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.
(c) That the misappropriation or conversion or denial was to the
2nd. The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium prejudice of another; and
periods, if the amount of the fraud is over 6,000 pesos but does not
exceed 12,000 pesos;
(d) That the offended party made a demand on the offender for the
delivery or return of such money, goods or other personal property.12
3rd. The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision
correccional in its minimum period if such amount is over 200 pesos but
According to the theory and proof of the Prosecution, petitioner
does not exceed 6,000 pesos; and
misappropriated or converted the sums paid by her customers, and later
falsified the duplicates of the receipts before turning such duplicates to
4th. By arresto mayor in its maximum period, if such amount does not her employer to show that the customers had paid less than the amounts
exceed 200 pesos, provided that in the four cases mentioned, the fraud actually reflected on the original receipts. Obviously, she committed the
be committed by any of the following means: falsification in order to conceal her misappropriation or conversion.
Considering that the falsificationwas not an offense separate and distinct
xxx from the estafacharged against her, the Prosecution could legitimately
prove her acts of falsification as its means of establishing her
1. With unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence, namely: misappropriation or conversion as an essential ingredient of the crime
duly alleged in the information. In that manner, her right to be informed
xxx of the nature and cause of the accusation against her was not infringed
or denied to her.
(b) By misappropriating or converting, to the prejudice of another,
money, goods, or any other personal property received by the offender in
We consider it inevitable to conclude that the information herein Through Falsification of Documents is committed when one has to
completely pleaded the estafa defined and penalized under Article 315, falsify certain documents to be able to obtain money or goods from
paragraph 1 (b), Revised Penal Codewithin the context of the another person. In other words, the falsification is a necessary means of
substantive lawand the rules. Verily, there was no necessity for the committing estafa. However, if the falsification is committed to conceal
information to allege the acts of falsification by petitioner because the misappropriation, two separate offenses of estafa and falsification
falsification was not an element of the estafacharged. are committed. In the instant case, when accused collected payments
from the customers, said collection which was in her possession was at
Not surprisingly,the RTC correctly dealt in its decision with petitioners her disposal. The falsified or erroneous entries which she made on the
concern thuswise: duplicate copies of the receipts were contrived to conceal some amount
of her collection which she did not remit to the company xxx.13
In her Memorandum, it is the contention of [the] accused that [the]
prosecutions evidence utterly fails to prove the crime charged. II
According to the defense, the essence of Karen Guivencans testimony
is that the accused falsified the receipts issued to the customers served Testimonial and documentary evidence, being hearsay,
by her by changing or altering the amounts in the duplicates of the did not prove petitioners guilt beyond reasonable doubt
receipts and therefore, her testimony is immaterial and irrelevant as the
charge is misappropriation under Art. 315, paragraph (1b) of the Revised Nonetheless, in all criminal prosecutions, the Prosecution bears the
Penal Code and there is no allegation whatsoever of any falsification or burden to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. In
alteration of amounts in the [i]nformation under which the accused was discharging this burden, the Prosecutions duty is to prove each and
arraigned and pleaded NOT GUILTY. Accused, thus, maintains that the every element of the crime charged in the information to warrant a
testimony of Karen Guivencan should therefore not be considered at all finding of guilt for that crime or for any other crime necessarily included
as it tended to prove an offense not charged or included in the therein.14 The Prosecution must further prove the participation of the
[i]nformation and would violate [the] accuseds constitutional and accused in the commission of the offense.15In doing all these, the
statutory right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation Prosecution must rely on the strength of its own evidence, and not
against her. The Court is not in accord with such posture of the accused. anchor its success upon the weakness of the evidence of the accused.
The burden of proof placed on the Prosecution arises from the
It would seem that the accused is of the idea that because the crime presumption of innocence in favor of the accused that no less than the
charged in the [i]nformation is merely [e]stafa and not [e]stafa [t]hru Constitution has guaranteed.16Conversely, as to his innocence, the
[f]alsification of documents, the prosecution could not prove accused has no burden of proof,17that he must then be acquitted and set
falsification. Such argumentation is not correct. Since the information free should the Prosecution not overcome the presumption of innocence
charges accused only of misappropriation pursuant to Art. 315, par. (1b) in his favor.In other words, the weakness of the defense put up by the
of the Revised [P]enal Code, the Court holds that there is no necessity of accused is inconsequential in the proceedings for as long as the
alleging the falsification in the Information as it is not an element of the Prosecution has not discharged its burden of proof in establishing the
crime charged. commission of the crime charged and in identifying the accused as the
malefactor responsible for it.
Distinction should be made as to when the crimes of Estafa and
Falsification will constitute as one complex crime and when they are Did the Prosecution adduce evidence that proved beyond reasonable
considered as two separate offenses. The complex crime of Estafa doubt the guilt of petitioner for the estafa charged in the information?
To establish the elements of estafaearlier mentioned, the Prosecution her as a witness presently testifying but from the veracity and
presented the testimonies of Go and Guivencan, and various competency of the extrajudicial source of her information.
documentsconsisting of: (a) the receipts allegedly issued by petitioner to
each of her customers upon their payment, (b) the ledgers listing the In case a witness is permitted to testify based on what she has heard
accounts pertaining to each customer with the corresponding notations another person say about the facts in dispute, the person from whom the
of the receipt numbers for each of the payments, and (c) the witness derived the information on the facts in dispute is not in court
confirmation sheets accomplished by Guivencan herself. 18The ledgers and under oath to be examined and cross-examined. The weight of such
and receipts were marked and formally offered as Exhibits B to YY, and testimony thendepends not upon theveracity of the witness but upon the
their derivatives, inclusive. veracity of the other person giving the information to the witness
without oath. The information cannot be tested because the declarant is
On his part, Go essentially described for the trial court the various duties not standing in court as a witness andcannot, therefore, be cross-
of petitioner as Footluckers sales representative. On her part, examined.
Guivencan conceded having no personal knowledge of the amounts
actually received by petitioner from the customersor remitted by It is apparent, too, that a person who relates a hearsay is not obliged to
petitioner to Footluckers.This means that persons other than Guivencan enter into any particular, to answer any question, to solve any
prepared Exhibits B to YY and their derivatives, inclusive,and that difficulties, to reconcile any contradictions, to explain any obscurities, to
Guivencan based her testimony on the entries found in the receipts remove any ambiguities; and that she entrenches herself in the simple
supposedly issued by petitioner and in the ledgers held by Footluckers assertion that she was told so, and leaves the burden entirely upon the
corresponding to each customer, as well as on the unsworn statements of dead or absent author.19 Thus, the rule against hearsay testimony rests
some of the customers. Accordingly, her being the only witness who mainly on the ground that there was no opportunity to cross-examine the
testified on the entries effectively deprived the RTC of the reasonable declarant.20 The testimony may have been given under oath and before a
opportunity to validate and test the veracity and reliability of the entries court of justice, but if it is offered against a party who is afforded no
as evidence of petitioners misappropriation or conversion through opportunity to cross-examine the witness, it is hearsay just the same. 21
cross-examination by petitioner. The denial of that opportunity rendered
theentire proof of misappropriation or conversion hearsay, and thus Moreover, the theory of the hearsay rule is that when a human utterance
unreliable and untrustworthy for purposes of determining the guilt or is offered as evidence of the truth of the fact asserted, the credit of the
innocence of the accused. assertor becomes the basis of inference, and, therefore, the assertion can
be received as evidence only when made on the witness stand, subject to
To elucidate why the Prosecutions hearsay evidence was unreliable and the test of cross-examination. However, if an extrajudicial utterance is
untrustworthy, and thus devoid of probative value, reference is made offered, not as an assertion to prove the matter asserted but without
toSection 36 of Rule 130, Rules of Court, a rule that states that a witness reference to the truth of the matter asserted, the hearsay rule does not
can testify only to those facts that she knows of her personal knowledge; apply. For example, in a slander case, if a prosecution witness testifies
that is, which are derived from her own perception, except as otherwise that he heard the accused say that the complainant was a thief, this
provided in the Rules of Court. The personal knowledge of a witness is a testimony is admissible not to prove that the complainant was really a
substantive prerequisite for accepting testimonial evidence that thief, but merely to show that the accused uttered those words. 22 This
establishes the truth of a disputed fact. A witness bereft ofpersonal kind of utterance ishearsay in character but is not legal hearsay. 23The
knowledge of the disputed fact cannot be called upon for that purpose distinction is, therefore, between (a) the fact that the statement was
because her testimony derives its value not from the credit accorded to
made, to which the hearsay rule does not apply, and (b) the truth of the or bias, or the reverse, and to elicit all important facts bearing upon the
facts asserted in the statement, to which the hearsay rule applies.24 issue. (8a)

Section 36, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court is understandably not the Although the second solution traces its existence to a Constitutional
only rule that explains why testimony that is hearsay should be excluded precept relevant to criminal cases, i.e., Section 14, (2), Article III, of the
from consideration. Excluding hearsay also aims to preserve the right of 1987 Constitution,which guarantees that: "In all criminal prosecutions,
the opposing party to cross-examine the originaldeclarant claiming to the accused shall xxx enjoy the right xxx to meet the witnesses face to
have a direct knowledge of the transaction or occurrence. 25If hearsay is face xxx," the rule requiring the cross-examination by the adverse party
allowed, the right stands to be denied because the declarant is not in equally applies to non-criminal proceedings.
court.26It is then to be stressed that the right to cross-examine the
adverse partys witness, We thus stress that the rule excluding hearsay as evidence is based upon
serious concerns about the trustworthiness and reliability of hearsay
being the only means of testing the credibility of witnesses and their evidence due to its not being given under oath or solemn affirmation and
testimonies, is essential to the administration of justice. due to its not being subjected to cross-examination by the opposing
counsel to test the perception, memory, veracity and articulateness of the
To address the problem of controlling inadmissible hearsay as evidence out-of-court declarant or actor upon whose reliability the worth of the
to establish the truth in a dispute while also safeguardinga partys right out-of-court statement depends.27
to cross-examine her adversarys witness,the Rules of Court offers two
solutions. The firstsolution is to require that allthe witnesses in a judicial Based on the foregoing considerations, Guivencans testimony as well as
trial or hearing be examined only in courtunder oath or affirmation. Exhibits B to YY, and their derivatives, inclusive, must be entirely
Section 1, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court formalizes this solution,viz: rejected as proof of petitioners misappropriation or conversion.

Section 1. Examination to be done in open court. - The examination of III


witnesses presented in a trial or hearing shall be done in open court, and
under oath or affirmation. Unless the witness is incapacitated to speak, Lack of their proper authentication rendered
or the question calls for a different mode of answer, the answers of the Exhibits B to YY and their derivatives
witness shall be given orally. (1a) inadmissible as judicial evidence

The secondsolution is to require that all witnesses besubject to the cross- Petitioner also contends that the RTC grossly erred in admitting as
examination by the adverse party. Section 6, Rule 132 of the Rules of evidence Exhibits B to YY, and their derivatives, inclusive, despite their
Courtensuresthis solutionthusly: being private documents that were not duly authenticated as required by
Section 20, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.
Section 6. Cross-examination; its purpose and extent. Upon the
termination of the direct examination, the witness may be cross- Section 19, Rule 132 of the Rules of Courtdistinguishes between a
examined by the adverse party as to any matters stated in the direct public document and a private document for the purpose of their
examination, or connected therewith, with sufficient fullness and presentation in evidence, viz:
freedom to test his accuracy and truthfulness and freedom from interest
Section 19. Classes of documents. For the purpose of their adverse party;29(c) when thegenuineness and authenticity of the
presentation in evidence, documents are either public or private. document

Public documents are: have been admitted;30 or (d) when the document is not being offered as
genuine.31
(a) The written official acts, or records of the official acts of the
sovereign authority, official bodies and tribunals, and public officers, There is no question that Exhibits B to YY and their derivatives were
whether of the Philippines, or of a foreign country; private documents because private individuals executed or generated
them for private or business purposes or uses. Considering that none of
(b) Documents acknowledged before a notary public except last wills the exhibits came under any of the four exceptions, they could not be
and testaments, and presented and admitted as evidence against petitioner without the
Prosecution dutifully seeing to their authentication in the manner
(c) Public records, kept in the Philippines, of private documents required provided in Section20 of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court,viz:
by law to be entered therein.
Section 20. Proof of private documents. Before any private
All other writings are private. document offered as authentic is received in evidence, its due
execution and authenticity must be proved either:
The nature of documents as either public or private determines how the
documents may be presented as evidence in court. A public document, (a) By anyone who saw the document executed or written; or
by virtue of its official or sovereign character, or because it has been
acknowledged before a notary public (except a notarial will) or a (b) By evidence of the genuineness of the signature or
competent public official with the formalities required by law, or handwriting of the maker.
because it is a public record of a private writing authorized by law, is
self-authenticating and requires no further authentication in order to be Any other private document need only be identified as that which it is
presented as evidence in court.In contrast, a private document is any claimed to be.
other writing, deed, or instrument executed by a private person without
the intervention of a notary or other person legally authorized by which The Prosecution attempted to have Go authenticate the signature of
some disposition or agreement is proved or set forth. Lacking the petitioner in various receipts, to wit:
official or sovereign character of a public document, or the solemnities
prescribed by law, a private document requires authentication in the ATTY. ABIERA:
manner allowed by law or the Rules of Court before its acceptance as
evidence in court. The requirement of authentication of a private
Q. Now, these receipts which you mentioned which do not tally with the
document is excused only in four instances, specifically: (a) when the
original receipts, do you have copies of these receipts?
document is an ancient one within the context of Section 21, 28 Rule 132
of the Rules of Court; (b) when the genuineness and authenticity of an
actionable document have not been specifically denied under oath by the A. Yes, I have a copy of these receipts, but its not now in my
possession.
Q. But when asked to present those receipts before this Honorable ATTY. ABIERA:
Court, can you assure this
Q. Is this the only receipt wherein the name, the signature rather, of
(Next Page) the accused in this case appears?

ATTY ABIERA (continuing): A. That is not the only one, there are many receipts.

Honorable Court that you will be able to present those receipts? ATTY. ABIERA:

A. Yes. In order to save time, Your Honor, we will just be presenting the
original receipts Your Honor, because its quite voluminous, so we will
Q. You are also familiar with the signature of the accused in this just forego with the testimony of the witness but we will just present the
case, Anna Lerima Patula? same using the testimony of another witness, for purposes of
identifying the signature of the accused. We will request that this
A. Yes. signature which has been identified to by the witness in this case be
marked, Your Honor, with the reservation to present the original copy
and present the same to offer as our exhibits but for the meantime, this is
Q. Why are you familiar with the signature of the accused in this
only for the purposes of recording, Your Honor, which we request the
case?
same, the receipt which has just been identified awhile ago be marked as
our Exhibit "A" You Honor.
A. I used to see her signatures in the payroll and in the receipts also.
COURT:
Q. Okay, I have here a machine copy of a receipt which we would
present this,or offer the same as soon as the original receipts can be
Mark the receipt as Exhibit "A".
presented, but for purposes only of your testimony, Im going to
point to you a certain signature over this receipt number FLDT96
20441, a receipt from Cirila Askin, kindly go over the signature and ATTY. ABIERA:
tell the Honorable Court whether you are familiar with the
signature? And the signature be bracketed and be marked as Exhibit "A-1".

A. Yes, that is her signature. (Next Page)

INTERPRETER: COURT:

Witness is pointing to a signature above the printed word "collector". Bracket the signature &mark it as Exh. "A-1". What is the number of
that receipt?
(Next Page)
ATTY. ABIERA: In her case, Guivencans identification of petitioners signature on two
receipts based alone on the fact that the signatures contained the legible
Receipt No. 20441 dated August 4, 1996 the statement that: received family name of Patula was ineffectual, and exposed yet another deep
from Cirila Askin.32 flaw infecting the documentary evidence against petitioner. Apparently,
Guivencan could not honestly identify petitioners signature on the
xxx receipts either because she lacked familiarity with such signature, or
because she had not seen petitioner affix her signature on the receipts, as
the following excerpts from her testimony bear out:
As the excerpts indicate, Gos attempt at authentication of the signature
of petitioner on the receipt with serial number FLDT96 No. 20441 (a
document that was marked as Exhibit A, while the purported signature ATTY. ZERNA to witness:
of petitioner thereon was marked as Exhibit A-1) immediately fizzled
out after the Prosecution admitted that the document was a Q. There are two (2) receipts attached here in the confirmation sheet,
meremachinecopy, not the original. Thereafter, as if to soften its failed will you go over these Miss witness?
attempt, the Prosecution expressly promised to produce at a later date
the originalsof the receipt with serial number FLDT96 No. 20441 and A. This was the last payment which is fully paid by the customer. The
other receipts. But that promise was not even true, because almost in the other receipt is the one showing her payment prior to the last payment.
same breath the Prosecution offered to authenticate the signature of
petitioner on the receiptsthrougha different witness (though then still COURT:
unnamed). As matters turned out in the end, the effort to have Go
authenticate both themachinecopy of the receiptwith serial number Q. Where did you get those two (2) receipts?
FLDT96 No. 20441 and the signature of petitioner on that receipt was
wasteful because the machine copy was inexplicablyforgotten and was
A. From the customer.
no longer evenincluded in the Prosecutions Offer of Documentary
Evidence.
Q. And who issued those receipts?
It is true that the original of the receipt bearing serial number FLDT96
No. 20441was subsequentlypresented as Exhibit Bthrough Guivencan. A. The saleswoman, Miss Patula.
However,the Prosecution did not establishthat the signature appearing
on Exhibit B was the same signature that Go had earliersought to ATTY. ZERNA:
identify to be the signature of petitioner (Exhibit A-1) on the machine
copy (Exhibit A). This is borne out by the fact that the Prosecution We pray, Your Honor, that this receipt identified be marked as Exhibit
abandoned Exhibit A as the marking nomenclature for the machine "B-3", receipt number 20441.
copyof the receipt bearing serial number FLDT96 No. 20441 for all
intents and purposes of this case, and used the same nomenclature to (Next Page)
referinstead toan entirely differentdocument entitled "List of Customers
covered by ANA LERIMA PATULA w/difference in Records as per COURT:
Audit duly verified March 16-20, 1997."
Mark it. COURT:

ATTY. ZERNA: Mark it.33

The signature of the collector be marked as xxx

Q. By the way, there is a signature above the name of the collector, ATTY. ZERNA:
are your familiar with that signature? (shown to witness)
Q. Ms. Witness, here is a receipt colored white, number 26603 issued to
A. Yes. one Divina Cadilig. Will you please identify this receipt if this is the
receipt of your office?
Q. Whose signature is that?
A.Yes.
A. Miss Patula.
Q.There is a signature over the portion for the collector. Whose
Q. How do you know? signature is this?

A. It can be recognized because of the word Patula. A.Ms. Patula.

Q. Are you familiar with her signature? Q.How do you know that this is her signature?

A. Yes. A.Because we can read the Patula.34

ATTY. ZERNA: We also have similar impressions of lack of proper authentication as to


the ledgers the Prosecution presented to prove the discrepancies between
We pray that the signature be bracketed and marked as Exhibit "B-3-a" the amountspetitioner hadallegedly received from the customers and the
amounts she had actually remitted to Footluckers.
Guivencanexclusively relied on the entries of the unauthenticated
COURT:
ledgersto support her audit report on petitioners supposed
misappropriation or conversion, revealing her lack of independent
Mark it. knowledge of the veracity of the entries, as the following excerpts of her
testimony show:
ATTY. ZERNA:
ATTY. ZERNA to witness:
The other receipt number 20045 be marked as Exhibit "B-4" and the
signature as Exhibit "B-4-a".
Q. What is your basis of saying that your office records showed that (Next Page)
this Cecilia Askin has an account of P10,791.75?
ATTY. ZERNA (continuing):
ATTY. DIEZ:
[i]n your office?
The question answers itself, You Honor, what is the basis, office record.
COURT:
COURT:
That was already answered paero, the office has a ledger.
Let the witness answer.
Q. Now, did you bring the ledger with you?
WITNESS:
A. No, Maam.35
A. I made the basis on our ledger in the office. I just copied that and
showed it to the customers for confirmation.

ATTY. ZERNA to witness: (Continuation of the Direct Examination of


Karen Guivencan on August 13, 2002)
Q. What about the receipts?
ATTY. ZERNA to witness:
COURT:

Make a follow-up question and what was the result when you copied
that amount in the ledger and you had it confirmed by the customers, Q. Okay, You said there are discrepancies between the original and the
what was the result when you had it confirmed by the customers? duplicate, will you please enlighten the Honorable Court on that
discrepancy which you said?
WITNESS:
A. Like in this case of Cirila Askin, she has already fully paid. Her
A. She has no more balance but in our office she has still a balance ledger shows a zero balance she has fully paid while in the original
of P10,971.75.
(Next page)
ATTY. ZERNA to witness:
WITNESS (continuing):
Q. Do you have a-whats the basis of saying that the balance of this
customer is still P10,971.75 [r]eceipt she has a balance of Ten Thousand Seven hundred Ninety-
one Pesos and Seventy-five Centavos (10,791.75).
COURT: In the face of the palpable flaws infecting the Prosecutions evidence, it
should come as no surprise that petitioners counsel interposed timely
Q. What about the duplicate receipt, how much is indicated there? objections. Yet, the RTC mysteriously overruled the objections and
allowedthe Prosecutionto present the unauthenticated ledgers, as
A. The customer has no duplicate copy because it was already follows:
forwarded to the Manila Office.
(Continuation of the Direct Examination of
Q. What then is your basis in the entries in the ledger showing that it has Witness Karen Guivencan on September 11, 2002)
already a zero balance?
ATTY. ZERNA:
A. This is the copy of the customer while in the office, in the original
receipt she has still a balance. CONTINUATION OF DIRECT-EXAMINATION

xxx Q Ms. Witness, last time around you were showing us several ledgers.
Where is it now?
ATTY. ZERNA:
A It is here.
The confirmation sheet ---
Q Here is a ledger of one Divina Cadilig. This Divina Cadilig, how
COURT: much is her account in your office?

The confirmation sheet was the one you referred to as the receipt in ATTY. DIEZ:
your earlier testimony? Is that what you referred to as the receipts, the
original receipts? Your Honor please before the witness will proceed to answer the
question, let me interpose our objection on the ground that this
A. This is what I copied from the ledger. ledger has not been duly identified to by the person who made the
same. This witness will be testifying on hearsay matters because the
supposed ledger was not identified to by the person who made the
Q. So where was that(sic) original receipt which you said showed that
same.
that particular customer still has a balance of Ten Thousand something?
COURT:
A. The receipt is no longer here.
Those ledgers were already presented in the last hearing. I think they
Q. You mean the entry of that receipt was already entered in the
were already duly identified by this witness. As a matter of fact, it was
ledger?
she who brought them to court
A. Yes.36
(Next Page) ATTY. DIEZ:

COURT (cont.): Your Honor please, to avoid delay, may I interpose a continuing
objection to the questions profounded(sic) on those ledgers on the
because these were the ledgers on file in their office. ground that, as I have said, it is hearsay.

ATTY. DIEZ COURT:

That is correct, Your Honor, but the person who made the entries is Okey(sic). Let the continuing objection be noted.
not this witness, Your Honor. How do we know that the entries there
is (sic) correct on the receipts submitted to their office. Q (To Witness) The clerk who allegedly was the one who prepared the
entries on those ledgers, is she still connected with Footluckers?
COURT:
A She is no longer connected now, Your Honor,
Precisely, she brought along the receipts also to support that. Let the
witness answer. COURT:

WITNESS: Alright proceed.

A Its the office clerk in-charge. (Next Page)

COURT: ATTY. ZERNA:

The one who prepared the ledger is the office clerk. Your Honor, these are entries in the normal course of business. So,
exempt from the hearsay rule.
ATTY. ZERNA:
COURT:
She is an auditor, Your Honor. She has been qualified and she is the
auditor of Footluckers. Okey(sic), proceed.37

COURT: The mystery shrouding the RTCs soft treatment of the Prosecutions
flawed presentation was avoidable simply by the RTC adhering to the
I think, I remember in the last setting also, she testified where those instructions of the rules earlier quoted, as well as withSection 22 of Rule
entries were taken. So, you answer the query of counsel. 132 of the Rules of Court,which contains instructions on how to prove
the genuineness of a handwriting in a judicial proceeding, as follows:
xxx
Section 22. How genuineness of handwriting proved. The handwriting received by the importer, namely the respondent. Witness Jeanne King,
of a person may be proved by any witness who believes it to be the who was assigned to handle respondents importations, including their
handwriting of such person because he has seen the person write, insurance coverage, has personal knowledge of the volume of steel
or has seen writing purporting to be his upon which the witness has billets being imported, and therefore competent to testify thereon. Her
acted or been charged, and has thus acquired knowledge of the testimony is not hearsay, as this doctrine is defined in Section 36, Rule
handwriting of such person. Evidence respecting the handwriting may 130 of the Rules of Court.However, she is not qualified to testify on
also be given by a comparison, made by the witness or the court, the shortage in the delivery of the imported steel billets. She did not
with writings admitted or treated as genuine by the party against have personal knowledge of the actual steel billets received. Even
whom the evidence is offered, or proved to be genuine to the though she prepared the summary of the received steel billets, she
satisfaction of the judge. (Emphases supplied) based the summary only on the receipts prepared by other persons.
Her testimony on steel billets received was hearsay. It has no
If it is already clear that Go and Guivencan had not themselves seen the probative value even if not objected to at the trial.
execution or signing of the documents,the Prosecution surely did not
authenticate Exhibits B to YY and their derivatives conformably with On the second issue, petitioner avers that King failed to properly
the aforequoted rules. Hence, Exhibits B to YY, and their derivatives, authenticate respondents documentary evidence. Under Section 20,
inclusive, were inescapably bereft of probative value as evidence. That Rule 132, Rules of Court, before a private document is admitted in
was the onlyfair and just result, as the Court held in Malayan Insurance evidence, it must be authenticated either by the person who
Co., Inc. v. Philippine Nails and Wires Corporation:38 executed it, the person before whom its execution was
acknowledged, any person who was present and saw it executed, or
On the first issue, petitioner Malayan Insurance Co., Inc., contends who after its execution, saw it and recognized the signatures, or the
that Jeanne Kings testimony was hearsay because she had no person to whom the parties to the instruments had previously
personal knowledge of the execution of the documents supporting confessed execution thereof. In this case, respondent admits that
respondents cause of action, such as the sales contract, invoice, King was none of the aforementioned persons. She merely made the
packing list, bill of lading, SGS Report, and the Marine Cargo Policy. summary of the weight of steel billets based on the unauthenticated
Petitioner avers that even though King was personally assigned to bill of lading and the SGS report. Thus, the summary of steel billets
handle and monitor the importation of Philippine Nails and Wires actually received had no proven real basis, and Kings testimony on
Corporation, herein respondent, this cannot be equated with personal this point could not be taken at face value.
knowledge of the facts which gave rise to respondents cause of action.
Further, petitioner asserts, even though she personally prepared the xxx Under the rules on evidence, documents are either public or private.
summary of weight of steel billets received by respondent, she did not Private documents are those that do not fall under any of the
have personal knowledge of the weight of steel billets actually shipped enumerations in Section 19, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.Section 20of
and delivered. the same law, in turn, provides that before any private document is
received in evidence, its due execution and authenticity must be proved
At the outset, we must stress that respondents cause of action is either by anyone who saw the document executed or written, or by
founded on breach of insurance contract covering cargo consisting of evidence of the genuineness of the signature or handwriting of the
imported steel billets. To hold petitioner liable, respondent has to prove, maker. Here, respondents documentary exhibits are private
first, its importation of 10,053.400 metric tons of steel billets valued documents. They are not among those enumerated in Section 19,
at P67,156,300.00, and second, the actual steel billets delivered to and thus, their due execution and authenticity need to be proved before
they can be admitted in evidence.With the exception concerning the (a) The person who made the entry must be dead or unable to testify;
summary of the weight of the steel billets imported, respondent
presented no supporting evidence concerning their authenticity. (b) The entries were made at or near the time of the transactions to
Consequently, they cannot be utilized to prove less of the insured which they refer;
cargo and/or the short delivery of the imported steel billets. In sum,
we find no sufficient competent evidence to prove petitioners (c) The entrant was in a position to know the facts stated in the entries;
liability.
(d) The entries were made in his professional capacity or in the
That the Prosecutions evidence was left uncontested because petitioner performance of a duty, whether legal, contractual, moral, or religious;
decided not to subject Guivencan to cross-examination, and did not
tender her contrary evidencewas inconsequential. Although the trial
(e) The entries were made in the ordinary or regular course of business
court had overruled the seasonable objections to Guivencans testimony
or duty.41
bypetitioners counsel due to the hearsay character, it could not be
denied thathearsay evidence, whether objected to or not, had no
probative value.39Verily, the flaws of the Prosecutions evidence were The Court has to acquit petitioner for failure of the State to establish her
fundamental and substantive, not merely technical and procedural, and guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The Court reiterates that in the trial of
were defects that the adverse partys waiver of her cross-examination or every criminal case, a judge must rigidly test the States evidence of
failure to rebutcould not set right or cure. Nor did the trial courts guilt in order to ensure that such evidence adhered to the basic rules of
overruling of petitioners objections imbue the flawed evidence with any admissibility before pronouncing an accused guilty of the crime charged
virtue and value. upon such evidence. The failure of the judge to do so herein nullified the
guarantee of due of process of law in favor of the accused, who had no
obligation to prove her innocence. Heracquittal should follow.
Curiously, the RTC excepted the entries in the ledgers from the
application of the hearsay rule by also terselystating that the ledgers
"were prepared in the regular course of business." 40Seemingly, the RTC IV
applied Section 43, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, to wit:
No reliable evidence on damage
Section 43. Entries in the course of business. Entries made at, or near
the time of the transactions to which they refer, by a person deceased, or Conformably with finding the evidence of guilt unreliable, the Court
unable to testify, who was in a position to know the facts therein stated, declares that the disposition by the RTC ordering petitioner to indemnify
may be received as prima facie evidence, if such person made the entries Footluckers in the amount of P131,286.92 with interest of 12% per
in his professional capacity or in the performance of duty and in the annum until fully paid was not yet shown to be factually founded. Yet,
ordinary or regular course of business or duty. she cannot now be absolved of civil liability on that basis. Heracquittal
has to bedeclared as without prejudice to the filing of a civil action
This was another grave error of the RTC.The terse yet sweeping against her for the recovery of any amount that she may still owe to
mannerof justifying the application of Section 43 was unacceptable due Footluckers.1wphi1
to the need to show the concurrence of the several requisites before
entries in the course of business could be excepted from the hearsay WHEREFORE, the Court SETS ASIDE ANDREVERSESthe decision
rule. The requisites are as follows: convicting ANNA LERIMA PATULAof estafa as charged, and
ACQUITS her for failure of the Prosecution to prove her guilt beyond ERNESTO L. SALAS vs. STA. MESA MARKET CORPORATION
reasonable doubt, without prejudice to a civil action brought against her
for This petition for review on certiorari 1 seeks to set aside the April 30,
2001 decision of the Court Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No.
the recoveryof any amount still owing in favor of Footluckers Chain of 508882 and its April 3, 2003 resolution denying reconsideration.
Stores, Inc.
In a letter-agreement3 dated October 15, 1984, Primitivo E. Domingo
No pronouncement on costs of suit. handed the management of his estate, including the respondent
corporation Sta. Mesa Market Corporation (SMMC), to petitioner
SO ORDERED. Ernesto L. Salas.4 As estate manager, petitioner was primarily tasked to
ensure SMMC's continued viability and profitability by redeveloping the
Sta. Mesa market and restructuring the corporation's
finances.5 Domingo, on the other hand, bound himself to transfer (on or
before June 30, 1985)6 30% of SMMC's subscribed and paid-up capital
stock to petitioner as part of his compensation. But, if petitioner failed to
achieve a monthly market revenue of at least P350,000, he would be
obliged to return the shares of stock of SMMC to Domingo.7

On December 28, 1984, Domingo, as chairman of SMMC, and


petitioner, in his personal capacity and as chairman of Inter-Alia
Management Corporation (Inter-Alia), formalized their agreement under
a property and financial management contract (management contract).8

Shortly after the execution of the contract, SMMC, under petitioner's


management, leased the Sta. Mesa market to Malaca Realty Corporation
(Malaca).9 But it became apparent soon thereafter that Malaca was
financially incapable of improving and expanding the existing facilities
of the Sta. Mesa market. 10 In fact, it was unable to pay the monthly
rent.11 Thus, SMMC terminated its lease contract with Malaca.12 As a
result, its board of directors became dissatisfied with petitioner's
management of the corporation. Thereafter, it ended its management
contract with petitioner (and Inter-Alia).13

On June 8, 1987, petitioner filed an action for specific performance and


damages14 against SMMC and Domingo15in the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Quezon City.16 He alleged that SMMC's monthly market
revenue had surpassed P350,000 yet Domingo refused to comply with
G.R. No. 157766 July 12, 2007
his obligation to deliver 30% of the subscribed and paid-up capital stock Petitioner avers that Amado Domingo, a vice-president of SMMC and
of SMMC to him.17 an heir of the deceased Primitivo E. Domingo, testified that the audited
financial statements presented in court were copies of those submitted
In his answer,18 Domingo argued that petitioner was not entitled to the by SMMC to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Securities
shares of SMMC. On the contrary, the corporation suffered additional and Exchange Commission (SEC) for purposes of tax payments and
losses and incurred new liabilities (which respondents consistently compliance with reportorial requirements, respectively.25 Therefore,
itemized in their pleadings) amounting to P1,935,995.06 over the Amado Domingo, in effect, admitted the genuineness and due execution
twenty-one (21) months petitioner was managing it.19 of the documents which made authentication unnecessary.

On August 21, 1995, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of Respondents, on the other hand, insist that the audited financial
petitioner.20 The trial court considered copies of SMMC's audited statements were inadmissible in evidence due to lack of proper
financial statements which showed an improvement in the corporation's authentication.26
monthly average gross income (from P251,790 in 1984 to P409,794 in
1985). It found that petitioner not only increased SMMC's monthly We agree with the CA.
gross income but also exceeded the target monthly gross income
of P350,000.21 Hence, it ordered respondent heirs to deliver the shares of The documents in question were supposedly copies of the audited
SMMC (equivalent to 30% of its total subscribed and paid-up capital financial statements of SMMC. Financial statements (which include the
stocks) to petitioner.22 balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flow) show the
fiscal condition of a particular entity within a specified period. The
Respondent heirs appealed the judgment of the RTC to the CA. On April financial statements prepared by external auditors who are certified
30, 2001, the appellate court rendered its decision. It found that the trial public accountants (like those presented by petitioner) are audited
court erred in admitting petitioner's documentary evidence. According to financial statements. Financial statements, whether audited or not, are,
the CA, petitioner failed to prove the authenticity of the audited as general rule, private documents.27 However, once financial statements
financial statements. He did not present a representative of SMMC's are filed with a government office pursuant to a provision of law,28 they
external auditor, Bejarin Jimenez & Co., to testify on the genuineness become public documents.29
and due execution of the audited financial statements of SMMC.
Instead, petitioner presented a memorandum prepared by a member of Whether a document is public or private is relevant in determining its
his management team attesting to the increase in the corporation's admissibility as evidence. Public documents are admissible in evidence
monthly market revenue. For this reason, the appellate court ruled that even without further proof of their due execution and genuineness. 30 On
the audited financial statements were not only self-serving but also the other hand, private documents are inadmissible in evidence unless
hearsay.23 Thus, the CA reversed the RTC decision and dismissed they are properly authenticated.31 Section 20, Rule 132 of the Rules of
petitioner's complaint. Court provides:

Petitioner moved for reconsideration but his motion was denied. 24 Thus, Section 20. Proof of private documents. Before any private document
this petition. offered as authentic is received in evidence, its due execution and
authenticity must be proved either:
a. By anyone who saw the document executed or written; or financial statements to the BIR and SEC. 37 There was never any
admission that the documents presented by petitioner were true or
b. By evidence of the genuineness of the signature or handwriting of the faithful copies of those submitted to the BIR and the SEC.381avvphi1
maker.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The April 30, 2001
Any other private document need only be identified as that which it is decision and April 3, 2003 resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-
claimed to be. G.R. CV No. 50888 are hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against the
petitioner.
Petitioner and respondents agree that the documents presented as
evidence were mere copies of the audited financial statements submitted G.R. No. 174673 January 11, 2016
to the BIR and SEC. Neither party claimed that copies presented REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. SPOUSES GIMENEZ
were certified true copies32 of audited financial statements obtained or
secured from the BIR or the SEC which under Section 19(c), Rule 132 Rules of procedure are not ends in themselves. The object of these rules
would have been public documents. Thus, the statements presented were is to assist and facilitate a trial court's function to be able to receive all
private documents. Consequently, authentication was a precondition to the evidence of the parties, and evaluate their admissibility and
their admissibility in evidence. probative value in the context of the issues presented by the parties'
pleadings in order to arrive at a conclusion as to the facts that transpired.
During authentication in court, a witness positively testifies that a Having been able to establish the facts, the trial court will then be able
document presented as evidence is genuine and has been duly to apply the law and determine whether a complainant is deserving of
executed33 or that the document is neither spurious nor counterfeit nor the reliefs prayed for in the pleading.
executed by mistake or under duress. 34 In this case, petitioner merely
presented a memorandum attesting to the increase in the corporation's Dismissal on the basis of a very strict interpretation of procedural rules
monthly market revenue, prepared by a member of his management without a clear demonstration of the injury to a substantive right of the
team. While there is no fixed criterion as to what constitutes competent defendant weighed against 19 years of litigation actively participated in
evidence to establish the authenticity of a private document, the best by both parties should not be encouraged.
proof available must be presented.35 The best proof available, in this
instance, would have been the testimony of a representative of SMMC's There is likewise serious reversible error, even grave abuse of discretion,
external auditor who prepared the audited financial statements. when the Sandiganbayan dismisses a case on demurrer to evidence
Inasmuch as there was none, the audited financial statements were never without a full statement of its evaluation of the evidence presented and
authenticated. offered and the interpretation of the relevant law. After all, dismissal on
the basis of demurrer to evidence is similar to a judgment. It is a final
Nevertheless, petitioner insists on the application of an exception to this order ruling on the merits of a case.
rule: authentication is not necessary where the adverse party has
admitted the genuineness and due execution of a document. 36 The fact, This is a Petition1 for Review on Certiorari assailing the Sandiganbayan
however, was that nowhere in his testimony did Amado Domingo Resolutions dated May 25, 20062 and September 13, 2006.3 The
categorically admit the authenticity of the copies of the audited financial Sandiganbayan deemed petitioner Republic of the Philippines
statements. He only testified that SMMC regularly submitted its audited (Republic) to have waived the filing of its Formal Offer of
Evidence4 and granted the Motion to Dismiss of respondents Spouses In the first assailed Resolution dated May 25, 2006, the Sandiganbayan
Ignacio Gimenez and Fe Roa Gimenez (Gimenez Spouses) based on noted that the Republic failed to file its Formal Offer of Evidence
demurrer to evidence.5 notwithstanding repeated extensions and the lapse of 75 days from the
date it terminated its presentation of evidence. 19 Thus, it declared that
The Republic, through the Presidential Commission on Good the Republic waived the filing of its Formal Offer of Evidence.20
Government (PCGG), instituted a Complaint6 for Reconveyance,
Reversion, Accounting, Restitution and Damages against the Gimenez The first assailed Resolution provides:
Spouses before the Sandiganbayan.7 "The Complaint seeks to
recover . . . ill-gotten wealth . . . acquired by [the Gimenez Spouses] as It appearing that the plaintiff has long terminated the presentation of its
dummies, agents[,] or nominees of former President Ferdinand E. evidence on February 27, 2006, and it appearing further that it failed or
Marcos and Imelda Marcos[.]"8 otherwise neglected to file its written formal offer of evidence for an
unreasonable period of time consisting of 75 days (i.e., 30 days original
During trial, the Republic presented documentary evidence attesting to period plus two extension periods totaling 45 days), the filing of said
the positions held, business interests, income, and pertinent transactions written formal offer of evidence is hereby deemed WAIVED.
of the Gimenez Spouses.9 The Republic presented the testimonies of
Atty. Tereso Javier, Head of the Sequestered Assets Department of WHEREFORE, the reception of the defendants evidence shall proceed
PCGG, and of Danilo R.V. Daniel, Director of the Research and on June 22 and 23, 2006, both at 8:30 oclock [sic] in the morning as
Development Department of PCGG.10 Witnesses testified on the bank previously scheduled.21
accounts and businesses owned or controlled by the Gimenez Spouses.11
Ignacio Gimenez filed a Motion to Dismiss on Demurrer to Evidence
On February 27, 2006, the Sandiganbayan denied a motion to recall dated May 30, 2006.22 He argued that the Republic showed no right to
Danilo R.V. Daniels testimony.12 The Republic then manifested that it relief as there was no evidence to support its cause of action. 23 Fe Roa
was "no longer presenting further evidence." 13 Accordingly, the Gimenez filed a Motion to Dismiss dated June 13, 2006 on the ground
Sandiganbayan gave the Republic 30 days or until March 29, 2006 "to of failure to prosecute.24 Through her own Motion to Dismiss, she joined
file its formal offer of evidence."14 Ignacio Gimenezs demurrer to evidence.25

On March 29, 2006, the Republic moved "for an extension of thirty (30) Two days after Fe Roa Gimenezs filing of the Motion to Dismiss or on
days or until April 28, 2006, within which to file [its] formal offer of June 15, 2006, the Republic filed a Motion for Reconsideration [of the
evidence."15 This Motion was granted by the Sandiganbayan in a first assailed Resolution] and to Admit Attached Formal Offer of
Resolution of the same date.16 Evidence.26 The pertinent portions of the Republics offer of
documentary exhibits attached to the Motion are summarized as follows:
On April 27, 2006, the Republic moved for an additional 15 days or
until May 13, 2006 within which to file its Formal Offer of Exhibits A to G and series consist of the Income Tax Returns,
Evidence.17 This Motion was granted by the Sandiganbayan in a Certificate of Income Tax Withheld On Compensation, Statement of Tax
Resolution dated May 8, 2006.18 Following this, no additional Motion Withheld At Source, Schedule of Interest Income, Royalties and
for extension was filed by the Republic. Withholding Tax, Statement of Assets, Liabilities & Net Worth of
Ignacio B. Gimenez from 1980-1986 proving his legitimate income
during said period. Exhibits H -J and series refer to the Deeds of Sale Gimenez, from January 1, 1966 to April 1, 1986, worked with the Office
and Transfer Certificates of Title proving that spouses Gimenezes of the President under different positions, the last of which as
acquired several real properties. Presidential Staff Director with a salary of P87,072.00 per annum.

Exhibits K and series (K-1-K-4) pertain to Checking Statements Exhibit Q and series (Q-1-Q-18) is the Affirmation of Ralph Shapiro
Summary issued by the Bankers Trust Company (BTC) proving that Fe filed with the United States Court of Appeals in the case entitled, "The
Roa Gimenez maintained a current account under Account Number 34- Republic of the Philippines vs. Ferdinand E. Marcos, et al." which
714-415 with BTC. Exhibits L and series (L1-L-114) are several BTC discussed certain acts of Fe Roa Gimenez and Vilma Bautista, among
checks, proving that from June 1982 to April 1984, Fe Roa Gimenez others, in relation to the funds of the Marcoses.
issued several checks against her BTC Current Account No. 34-714-415
payable to some individuals and entities such as Erlinda Oledan, Vilma Exhibits R and S and series (R-1, R-9; S-1-S-10) refer to the
Bautista, The Waldorf Towers, Cartier, Gliceria Tantoco, Bulgari, Certificate of Filing of Amended Articles of Incorporation of GEI
Hammer Galleries and Renato Balestra, involving substantial amount of Guaranteed Education, Inc., the Amended Articles of Incorporation of
money in US Dollars. Exhibits M and series (M1-M-25) are several GEI Guaranteed Education, Inc., the Treasurers Affidavit executed by
The Chase Manhattan Bank (TCMB) checks drawn against the account Ignacio Gimenez and the Directors Certificate executed by Roberto B.
of Fe Roa Gimenez under Account Number 021000021, proving that she Olanday, Ignacio Gimenez and Roberto Coyuto, Jr. proving Ignacio
issued several checks drawn against her TCMB account, payable to Gimenez and Roberto Olandays interests in GEl Guaranteed Education,
individuals and entities such as Gliceria Tantoco, Vilma Bautista and Inc.
The Waldorf Towers, involving substantial sums in US Dollars. Exhibit
N is the Philippine National Bank (PNB), New York Branch Office Exhibits T and series (T-1-T-8) are the Advices made by the Bankers
Charge Ticket No. FT 56880 dated December 9, 1982 in the amount of Trust AG Zurich-Geneve Bank in Switzerland to Ignacio Gimenez
US$30,000.00 for Fe Roa Gimenez proving that she received said proving that he maintained a current account with said bank under
enormous amount from the PNB, New York Branch Office, with Account Number 101045.50 and that from March to June, 1984, he
clearance from the Central Bank, which amount was charged against placed a substantial amount on time deposit in several banks, namely,
PNB Manila. Exhibit N-1 is the PNB New York Branch Advice to Credit Lyonnais, Brussels, Societe Generale, Paris, Credit Commercial
Payee No. FT 56535 dated November 12, 1982 in the amount of De France, Paris and Bank of Nova Scotia, London.
US$10,990.00 for Fe Roa Gimenez proving her receipt of such amount
as remitted from California Overseas Bank, Los Angeles. Exhibits O
Exhibits U and V and series (U-1-U-5; V1-V-18) consist of the
and series (O1-O-8) refer to several Advices made by Bankers Trust
Affidavit dated April 25, 1986 and the Declaration dated June 23, 1987
AG Zurich-Geneve Bank in Switzerland to respondent Fe Roa Gimenez
including the attachments, of Oscar Carino, Vice-President and Manager
proving that she maintained a current account with said bank under
of the PNB New York Branch, narrating in detail how the funds of the
Account Number 107094.50 and that from July 30, 1984 to August 30,
PNB New York Branch were disbursed outside regular banking business
1984, she placed a substantial amount on time deposit in several banks,
upon the instructions of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos and
namely, Hypobank, Luzemburg, Luxemburg, Societe Generale, Paris
Imelda Marcos using Fe Roa Gimenez and others as conduit.
and Bank of Nova Scotia, London.
Exhibits W and series (W-1-W-4) are the Debit memos from the PNB
Exhibit P is the Certification dated March 19, 2002 issued by Director
to Fe Roa Gimenez while Exhibits X and X-1 are the
Florino O. Ibanez of the Office of the President proving that Fe Roa
Acknowledgments of said respondent, proving that she received exhibits prove the assets and liabilities of former President Marcos for
substantial amounts of money which were coursed through the PNB to the years 1965,1967 and 1969.
be used by the Marcos spouses for state visits and foreign trips.
Exhibit II and series is [sic] the Statement of Assets and Liabilities as
Exhibit Y and series (Y-1-Y-2) is the Letter dated August 25, 1986 of of December 31,1969 submitted by Fe Roa Gimenez which prove that
Juan C. Gatmaitan, Assistant Chief Legal Counsel of PNB to Charles G. her assets on that period amounted only to P39,500.00.
LaBella, Assistant United States Attorney regarding the ongoing
investigation of irregular transactions at the PNB, New York Branch Exhibit KK is the Table of Contents of Civil Case No. [0]007 before the
proving that PNB cooperated with the United States government in Sandiganbayan entitled "Republic of the Philippines vs. Ignacio B.
connection with the investigation on the irregular transactions of Oscar Gimenez and Fe Roa Gimenez, et. al.", including its Annexes which
Carino at PNB New York Branch. prove the assets and liabilities of spouses Gimenezes.

Exhibit Z is the service record of Fe Roa Gimenez issued by Florino O. Exhibits KK-1 up to KK-12 are several transfer certificates of title and
Ibanez of the Office of the President which proves that she worked with tax declarations in the names of spouses Gimenezes, proving their
the Office of the President from 1966-1986 holding different positions, acquisition of several real properties.
the last of which was Presidential Staff Director.1wphi1
Exhibits KK-15, KK-18, KK-20 up to KK-27, KK-30, KK-32 up to
Exhibits AA and series (AA-1 AA-2) are the several Traders Royal KK-38 and KK-40 are the General Information Sheet, Certificate of
Bank checks drawn against Account No. 74-702836-9 under the account Filing of Amended Articles of Incorporation, and Amended Articles of
name of Fe Roa Gimenez which prove that she issued said checks Incorporation of various corporations. These prove the corporations in
payable to individuals and entities involving substantial amount of which Ignacio B. Gimenez has substantial interests.
money.
Exhibits KK-41 up to KK-44 are the Writs and Letters of Sequestration
Exhibits BB and CC and series (BB-1BB-17; CC-1-CC-3) are the issued by the PCGG which prove that the shares of stocks of Ignacio
several Transfer of Funds Advice from Traders Royal Bank Statements Gimenez in Ignacio B. Gimenez, Securities, Inc. and the real properties
of Account of Fe Roa Gimenez, proving that she maintained a current covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 137638, 132807, 126693
account under Account No. 74-7028369 at Traders Royal Bank. and 126694 located in San Fabian, Pangasinan, were sequestered by the
PCGG.
Exhibits HH and series (HH-1-HH-3) are the Certification dated
October 3, 2002 of Lamberto R. Barbin, Officer-in-Charge, Malacanang Exhibit KK-45 is the Memorandum dated August 1, 1988 of Atty.
Records Office, that the Statement of Assets and Liabilities of spouses Ralph S. Lee and Alexander M. Berces, Team Supervisor and
Marcoses for the years 1965 up to 1986 are not among the records on Investiogator, [sic] respectively, of IRD, PCGG, proving that the PCGG
file in said Office except 1965, 1967 and 1969; the Statement of Assets conducted an investigation on New City Builders, Inc., Transnational
and Liabilities as of December 31, 1969 and December 31, 1967 of Construction Corporation, and OTO Construction and Development
former President Ferdinand Marcos; and the Sworn Statement of Corporation in relation to Ignacio B. Gimenez and Roberto O. Olanday.
Financial Condition, Assets, Income and Liabilities as of December 31,
1965 of former President Ferdinand Marcos. These documentary
Exhibits KK-48, KK-49 and KK-50 are certain Lis Pendens from the Funds, and Messages from Traders Royal Bank Manila to various
PCGG addressed to the concerned Register of Deeds informing that the foreign banks. In his Affidavit, Medina divulged certain numbered
real properties mentioned therein had been sequestered and are the confidential trust accounts maintained by Malacanang with the Traders
subject of Civil Case No. [0]007 before the Sandiganbayan. Royal Bank. He further stated that the deposits were so substantial that
he suspected that they had been made by President Marcos or his family.
Exhibits KK-51, KK-51-A, KK-52 and KK-52-A are the Letter and
Writ of Sequestration issued by the PCGG on Allied Banking Exhibit TT and series (TT-1-TT-3) is [sic] the Memorandum dated
Corporation and Guaranteed Education Inc. pursuant to its mandate to July 19, 2005 of Danilo R.V. Daniel, then Director of the Research and
go after ill-gotten wealth. Development Department of PCGG regarding the investigation
conducted on the ill-gotten wealth of spouses Gimenezes, the subject
Exhibits NN, OO, PP, QQ and QQ-1 refer to the Memorandum To All matter of Civil Case No. [0]007. He revealed that during the
Commercial Banks dated March 14, 1986 issued by then Central Bank investigation on the ill-gotten wealth of spouses Gimenezes, it was
Governor Jose B. Fernandez and the Letter dated March 13, 1986 of found out that from 1977 to 1982, several withdrawals, in the total
Mary Concepcion Bautista, PCGG Commissioner addressed to then amount of P75,090,306.42 were made from Trust Account No. 128 (A/C
Central Bank Governor Fernandez requesting that names be added to the 76-128) in favor of I.B. Gimenez, I.B. Gimenez Securities and Fe Roa
earlier request of PCGG Chairman Jovito Salonga to instruct all Gimenez.
commercial banks not to allow any withdrawal or transfer of funds from
the market placements under the names of said persons, to include Exhibits RR, SS, TT and their series prove that spouses Gimenez
spouses Gimenezes, without authority from PCGG. maintained bank accounts of substantial amounts and gained control of
various corporations.1wphi1 These are also being offered as part of the
Exhibits KK and series, NN, OO, PP, QQ and QQ-1 which prove the testimony of Danilo R.V. Daniel. 27 (Emphasis in the original, citations
various real properties, business interests and bank accounts owned by omitted)
spouses Gimenezes were part of the testimony of Atty. Tereso Javier.
In the second assailed Resolution dated September 13, 2006, the
Exhibit RR and series (RR-1-RR-23) are the Affidavit dated July 24, Sandiganbayan denied the Republics Motion for Reconsideration and
1987 of Dominador Pangilinan, Acting President and President of granted the Gimenez Spouses Motion to Dismiss. 28 According to the
Traders Royal Bank, and the attached Recapitulation, Status of Sandiganbayan:
Bankers Acceptances, Status of Funds and Savings Account Ledger
wherein he mentioned that Malacanang maintained trust accounts at While it is true that litigation is not a game of technicalities and that the
Traders Royal Bank, the balance of which is approximately 150-175 higher ends of substantial justice militate against dismissal of cases
million Pesos, and that he was informed by Mr. Rivera that the funds purely on technical grounds, the circumstances of this case show that the
were given to him (Rivera) by Fe Roa Gimenez for deposit to said ends of justice will not be served if this Court allows the wanton
accounts. disregard of the Rules of Court and of the Courts orders. Rules of
procedure are designed for the proper and prompt disposition of
Exhibits SS and series (SS-1-SS-29) are the Affidavit dated July 23, cases. . . .
1987 of Apolinario K. Medina, Executive Vice President of Traders
Royal Bank and attachments, which include Recapitulation, Status of
The reasons invoked by the plaintiff to justify its failure to timely file The Gimenez Spouses were required to comment on the Petition. 36 This
the formal offer of evidence fail to persuade this Court. The missing court noted the separate Comments 37 filed by the Gimenez
exhibits mentioned by the plaintiffs counsel appear to be the same Spouses.38 The Republic responded to the Comments through a
missing documents since 2004, or almost two (2) years ago. The Consolidated Reply39 dated June 22, 2007.
plaintiff had more than ample time to locate them for its purpose. . . .
Since they remain missing after lapse of the period indicated by the In the Resolution40 dated August 29, 2007, this court required the parties
Court, there is no reason why the search for these documents should to submit their memoranda.41
delay the filing of the formal offer of evidence.
On February 18, 2008, this court resolved to require the parties to "move
[Petitioners] counsel . . . admits that faced with other pressing matters, in the premises[.]"42
he lost track of the time. We cannot just turn a blind eye on the
negligence of the parties and in their failure to observe the orders of this On March 2, 2012, the Republic filed a Motion for Leave to Re-open
Court. The carelessness of [petitioners] counsel in keeping track of the Proceedings, to File and Admit Attached Supplement to the Petition for
deadlines is an unacceptable reason for the Court to set aside its Order Certiorari.43 In this Supplement, the Republic argued that the second
and relax the observance of the period set for filing the formal offer of assailed Resolution dated September 13, 2006 was void for failing to
evidence.29 (Citation omitted) state the facts and the law on which it was based. 44This Motion was
granted, and the Gimenez Spouses were required to file their Comment
The Sandiganbayan also found that the Republic failed to prosecute its on the Supplement to the Petition.45 Thereafter, the Republic filed its
case for an unreasonable length of time and to comply with the courts Reply.46
rules.30 The court also noted that the documentary evidence presented by
the Republic consisted mostly of certified true copies. 31 However, the Fe Roa Gimenez filed a Rejoinder47 dated December 19, 2012 which
persons who certified the documents as copies of the original were not was expunged by this court in a Resolution 48dated January 23, 2013.
presented.32 Hence, the evidence lacked probative value. 33 The Ignacio Gimenezs Motion for Leave to File and Admit Attached
dispositive portion of the assailed Resolution reads: Rejoinder49 was denied.50

ACCORDINGLY, there being no valid and cogent justification shown The Republic raised the following issues:
by the plaintiff for the Court to Grant its Motion for Reconsideration and
admit its Formal Offer of Evidence, the plaintiffs Motion for
Whether or not the Sandiganbayan gravely erred in dismissing the case
Reconsideration and to Admit Attached Formal Offer of Evidence
in the light of the allegations in the Complaint which were substantiated
is DENIED. The Motion to Dismiss on Demurrer to Evidence filed by
by overwhelming evidence presented vis-a-vis the material admissions
the defendant Ignacio B. Gimenez and adopted by defendant Fe Roa
of spouses Gimenezes as their answer failed to specifically deny that
Gimenez is GRANTED. The case is then DISMISSED.
they were dummies of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos and that
they acquired illegal wealth grossly disproportionate to their lawful
SO ORDERED.34 (Emphasis in the original) income in a manner prohibited under the Constitution and Anti-Graft
Statutes.
The Republic filed its Petition for Review on Certiorari dated November
3, 2006 before this court.35
Whether or not the Sandiganbayan gravely erred in denying petitioners the contrary is proved[.]"56 "Mere suspicion of guilt should not sway
Motion to Admit Formal Offer of Evidence on the basis of mere judgment."57
technicalities, depriving petitioner of its right to due process.
To determine whether a petition for review is the proper remedy to assail
Whether or not the Sandiganbayan gravely erred in making a sweeping the Sandiganbayan Resolutions, we review the nature of actions for
pronouncement that petitioners evidence do not bear any probative reconveyance, revision, accounting, restitution, and damages.
value.51
Actions for reconveyance, revision, accounting, restitution, and damages
The issues for consideration of this court are: for ill-gotten wealth are also called civil forfeiture proceedings.

First, whether a Petition for Review on Certiorari was the proper remedy Republic Act No. 137958 provides for the procedure by which forfeiture
to assail the Sandiganbayan Resolutions; and proceedings may be instituted against public officers or employees who
"[have] acquired during his [or her] incumbency an amount of property
Second, whether the Sandiganbayan erred in holding that petitioner which is manifestly out of proportion to his [or her] salary as such
Republic of the Philippines waived the filing of its Formal Offer of public officer or employee and to his [or her] other lawful income and
Evidence and in granting respondents Ignacio Gimenez and Fe Roa the income from legitimately acquired property, [which] property shall
Gimenezs Motion to Dismiss on demurrer to evidence. be presumed prima facie to have been unlawfully acquired."59

We grant the Petition. This court has already settled the Sandiganbayans jurisdiction over civil
forfeiture cases:
I
. . . violations of R.A. No. 1379 are placed under the jurisdiction of the
Respondent Ignacio Gimenez pictures petitioner as being confused as to Sandiganbayan, even though the proceeding is civil in nature, since the
the proper mode of review of the Sandiganbayan Resolutions. According forfeiture of the illegally acquired property amounts to a penalty.60
to him, petitioner claims that the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse
of discretion.52 Hence, petitioner should have filed a petition for In Garcia v. Sandiganbayan, et al.,61 this court re-affirmed the doctrine
certiorari under Rule 65 and not a petition for review under Rule 45 of that forfeiture proceedings under Republic Act No. 1379 are civil in
the Rules of Court.53 Nevertheless, the Sandiganbayan did not commit nature.62 Civil forfeiture proceedings were also differentiated from
any error, and petitioner has to show that the Sandiganbayan committed plunder cases:
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or in excess of
jurisdiction.54 . . . a forfeiture case under RA 1379 arises out of a cause of action
separate and different from a plunder case. . . . In a prosecution for
Observance of the proper procedure before courts, especially before the plunder, what is sought to be established is the commission of the
Sandiganbayan, cannot be stressed enough. Due process is enshrined in criminal acts in furtherance of the acquisition of ill-gotten wealth. . . .
the Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights. 55 "Due process [in On the other hand, all that the court needs to determine, by
criminal cases] guarantees the accused a presumption of innocence until preponderance of evidence, under RA 1379 is the disproportion of
respondents properties to his legitimate income, it being unnecessary to
prove how he acquired said properties. As correctly formulated by the II
Solicitor General, the forfeitable nature of the properties under the
provisions of RA 1379 does not proceed from a determination of a Petitioner argues that substantial justice requires doing away with the
specific overt act committed by the respondent public officer leading to procedural technicalities.68 Loss of vital documentary proof warranted
the acquisition of the illegal wealth.63(Citation omitted) extensions to file the Formal Offer of Evidence. 69 Honest efforts to
locate several missing documents resulted in petitioners inability to file
To stress, the quantum of evidence required for forfeiture proceedings the pleading within the period granted by the Sandiganbayan.70
under Republic Act No. 1379 is the same with other civil cases
preponderance of evidence.64 Respondent Ignacio Gimenez argues that petitioner cannot fault the
Sandiganbayan for its incompetence during trial. 71 Even if the evidence
When a criminal case based on demurrer to evidence is dismissed, the were formally offered within the prescribed period, PCGGs evidence
dismissal is equivalent to an acquittal.65 still had no probative value.72 It is solely petitioners fault "that the
persons who certified to the photocopies of the originals were not
As a rule, once the court grants the demurrer, the grant amounts to an presented to testify[.]"73 It is also misleading to argue that the pieces of
acquittal; any further prosecution of the accused would violate the documentary evidence presented are public documents. 74 "The
constitutional proscription on double jeopardy.66 documents are not public in the sense that these are official issuances of
the Philippine government."75 "The bulk consists mainly of notarized,
Hence, the Republic may only assail an acquittal through a petition for private documents that have simply been certified true and faithful."76
certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court:
According to respondent Fe Roa Gimenez, petitioner tries to excuse its
Accordingly, a review of a dismissal order of the Sandiganbayan non-filing of the Formal Offer of Evidence within the prescribed period
granting an accuseds demurrer to evidence may be done via the special by raising its efforts to locate the 66 missing documents. 77 However, the
civil action of certiorari under Rule 65, based on the narrow ground of issue of the missing documents was laid to rest during the hearing on
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of November 16, 2004.78 The Sandiganbayan gave petitioner until March
jurisdiction.67 (Citation omitted) 2005 to produce the documents; otherwise, these would be
excluded.79 The testimonies of the witnesses related to the missing
documents would also be expunged from the case records.80
In this case, a civil forfeiture under Republic Act No. 1379, petitioner
correctly filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court. Section 1 of the Rule provides the mode of appeal from Moreover, respondent Fe Roa Gimenez claims that "[t]he
judgments, final orders, or resolutions of the Sandiganbayan: Sandiganbayan did not err when it ruled that the great bulk of the
documentary evidence offered by the PCGG have no probative
value."81 Aside from the 66 missing documents it failed to present,
SECTION 1. Filing of petition with Supreme Court. A party desiring
almost all of petitioners pieces of documentary evidence were mere
to appeal by certiorari from a judgment or final order or resolution of the
photocopies.82The few that were certified true copies were not testified
Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, the Regional Trial Court or other
on by the persons who certified these documents.83
courts whenever authorized by law, may file with the Supreme Court a
verified petition for review on certiorari. The petition shall raise only
questions of law which must be distinctly set forth.
Our Rules of Court lays down the procedure for the formal offer of other hand, this allows opposing parties to examine the evidence and
evidence. Testimonial evidence is offered "at the time [a] witness is object to its admissibility. Moreover, it facilitates review as the appellate
called to testify."84 Documentary and object evidence, on the other hand, court will not be required to review documents not previously
are offered "after the presentation of a partys testimonial scrutinized by the trial court.91 (Emphasis supplied, citations omitted)
evidence."85 Offer of documentary or object evidence is generally done
orally unless permission is given by the trial court for a written offer of To consider a partys evidence which was not formally offered during
evidence.86 trial would deprive the other party of due process. Evidence not formally
offered has no probative value and must be excluded by the court. 92
More importantly, the Rules specifically provides that evidence must be
formally offered to be considered by the court. Evidence not offered is Petitioners failure to file its written Formal Offer of Evidence of the
excluded in the determination of the case. 87 "Failure to make a formal numerous documentary evidence presented within the prescribed period
offer within a considerable period of time shall be deemed a waiver to is a non-issue. In its first assailed Resolution dated May 25, 2006, the
submit it."88 Sandiganbayan declared that petitioner waived the filing of its Formal
Offer of Evidence when it failed to file the pleading on May 13, 2006,
Rule 132, Section 34 provides: the deadline based on the extended period granted by the court.
Petitioner was granted several extensions of time by the Sandiganbayan
SEC. 34. Offer of evidence. The court shall consider no evidence totalling 75 days from the date petitioner terminated its presentation of
which has not been formally offered. The purpose for which the evidence. Notably, this 75-day period included the original 30-day
evidence is offered must be specified. period. Subsequently, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration and
to Admit Attached Formal Offer of Evidence, and the Formal Offer of
The rule on formal offer of evidence is intertwined with the Evidence.
constitutional guarantee of due process. Parties must be given the
opportunity to review the evidence submitted against them and take the In resolving petitioners Motion for Reconsideration and to Admit
necessary actions to secure their case.89 Hence, any document or object Attached Formal Offer of Evidence, the Sandiganbayan found the
that was marked for identification is not evidence unless it was carelessness of petitioners counsel unacceptable. According to the
"formally offered and the opposing counsel [was] given an opportunity Sandiganbayan, it could not countenance the non-observance of the
to object to it or cross-examine the witness called upon to prove or courts orders.
identify it."90
This court has long acknowledged the policy of the government to
This court explained further the reason for the rule: recover the assets and properties illegally acquired or misappropriated
by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his wife Mrs. Imelda R.
The Rules of Court provides that "the court shall consider no evidence Marcos, their close relatives, subordinates, business associates,
which has not been formally offered." A formal offer is necessary dummies, agents or nominees.93 Hence, this court has adopted a liberal
because judges are mandated to rest their findings of facts and their approach regarding technical rules of procedure in cases involving
judgment only and strictly upon the evidence offered by the parties at recovery of ill-gotten wealth:
the trial. Its function is to enable the trial judge to know the purpose or
purposes for which the proponent is presenting the evidence. On the
In all the alleged ill-gotten wealth cases filed by the PCGG, this Court This is not the first time that this court relaxed the rule on formal offer
has seen fit to set aside technicalities and formalities that merely serve of evidence.
to delay or impede judicious resolution. This Court prefers to have such
cases resolved on the merits at the Sandiganbayan. But substantial Tan v. Lim96 arose from two civil Complaints: one for injunction and
justice to the Filipino people and to all parties concerned, not mere another for legal redemption, which were heard jointly before the trial
legalisms or perfection of form, should now be relentlessly and firmly court.97 The defendant did not file a Formal Offer of Evidence in the
pursued. Almost two decades have passed since the government initiated injunction case98 and merely adopted the evidence offered in the legal
its search for and reversion of such ill-gotten wealth. The definitive redemption case.99 The trial court held that the defendants failure to file
resolution of such cases on the merits is thus long overdue. If there is his Formal Offer of Evidence in the injunction case rendered the
proof of illegal acquisition, accumulation, misappropriation, fraud or plaintiffs evidence therein as uncontroverted. 100 The Court of Appeals
illicit conduct, let it be brought out now. Let the ownership of these reversed the Decision and was affirmed by this court.101 This court ruled
funds and other assets be finally determined and resolved with dispatch, that while the trial courts reasoning in its Decision was technically
free from all the delaying technicalities and annoying procedural sound, a liberal interpretation was more appropriate and in line with
sidetracks.94 (Emphasis supplied, citation omitted) substantial justice:

To be clear, petitioner was able to file its Formal Offer of Evidence, It may be true that Section 34, Rule 132 of the rules directs the court to
albeit, belatedly. Petitioner hurdled 19 years of trial before the consider no evidence which has not been formally offered and that
Sandiganbayan to present its evidence as shown in its extensive Formal under Section 35, documentary evidence is offered after presentation of
Offer of Evidence. As petitioner argues: testimonial evidence. However, a liberal interpretation of these Rules
would have convinced the trial court that a separate formal offer of
Undeniable from the records of the case is that petitioner was vigorous evidence in Civil Case No. 6518 was superfluous because not only was
in prosecuting the case. The most tedious and crucial stage of the an offer of evidence made in Civil Case No. 6521 that was being jointly
litigation and presentation of evidence has been accomplished. heard by the trial court, counsel for Jose Renato Lim had already
Petitioner completed its presentation of evidence proving the ill-gotten declared he was adopting these evidences for Civil Case No. 6518. The
nature and character of the funds and assets sought to be recovered in trial court itself stated that it would freely utilize in one case evidence
the present case. It presented vital testimonial and documentary adduced in the other only to later abandon this posture. Jose Renato Lim
evidence consisting of voluminous record proving the gross disparity of testified in Civil Case No. 6518. The trial court should have at least
the subject funds to spouses Gimenezes combined declared income considered his testimony since at the time it was made, the rules
which must be reconveyed to the Republic for being acquired in blatant provided that testimonial evidence is deemed offered at the time the
violation of the Constitution and the Anti-Graft statutes.95 witness is called to testify. Rules of procedure should not be applied in a
very rigid, technical case as they are devised chiefly to secure and not
This court is not unmindful of the difficulty in gathering voluminous defeat substantial justice.
documentary evidence in cases of forfeiture of ill-gotten wealth acquired
throughout the years. It is never easy to prosecute corruption and take The logic of the Court of Appeals is highly persuasive. Indeed,
back what rightfully belongs to the government and the people of the apparently, the trial court was being overly technical about the
Republic. nonsubmission of Jose Renato Lims formal offer of evidence. This
posture not only goes against Section 6, Rule 1 of the Rules of Civil
Procedure decreeing a liberal construction of the rules to promote a
just, speedy and inexpensive litigation but ignores the consistent rulings Similarly, the Complaint alleged specific acts committed by respondent
of the Court against utilizing the rules to defeat the ends of substantial Ignacio Gimenez:
justice. Despite the intervening years, the language of the Court in
Manila Railroad Co. vs. Attorney-General, still remains relevant: [T]aking undue advantage of his relationship, influence, and connection,
by himself and/or in unlawful concert and active collaboration with
"x x x. The purpose of procedure is not to thwart justice. Its proper aim former President Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda R. Marcos for the
is to facilitate the application of justice to the rival claims of contending purpose of mutually enriching themselves and preventing the disclosure
parties. It was created not to hinder and delay but to facilitate and and recovery of assets illegally obtained: (a) acted as the dummy,
promote the administration of justice. It does not constitute the thing nominee or agent of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda
itself which courts are always striving to secure to litigants. It is R. Marcos in several corporations such as, the Allied Banking
designed as the means best adapted to obtain that thing. In other words, Corporation, Acoje Mining Corporation, Baguio Gold Mining, Multi
it is a means to an end. It is the means by which the powers of the court National Resources, Philippine Oversees, Inc. and Pioneer Natural
are made effective in just judgments. When it loses the character of the Resources; (b) unlawfully obtained, through corporations organized by
one and takes on that of the other the administration of justice becomes them such as the New City Builders, Inc. (NCBI), multi-million peso
incomplete and unsatisfactory and lays itself open to grave contracts with the government buildings, such as the University of Life
criticism."102 (Emphasis supplied, citations omitted) Sports Complex and Dining Hall as well as projects of the National
Manpower Corporation, Human Settlements, GSIS, and Maharlika
Furthermore, "subsequent and substantial compliance . . . may call for Livelihood, to the gross and manifest disadvantage of the Government
the relaxation of the rules of procedure."103 and the Filipino people; and (c) in furtherance of the above stated illegal
purposes, organized several establishments engaged in food, mining and
Weighing the amount of time spent in litigating the case against the other businesses such as the Transnational Construction Corporation,
number of delays petitioner incurred in submitting its Formal Offer of Total Systems Technology, Inc., Pyro Control Technology Corporation,
Evidence and the states policy on recovering ill-gotten wealth, this Asian Alliance, Inc., A & T Development Corporation, RBO Agro
court is of the belief that it is but only just that the Rules be relaxed and Forestry Farm Development Corporation, Bathala Coal Mining
petitioner be allowed to submit its written Formal Offer of Evidence. Corporation, Coal Basis Mining Corporation, Titan Coal Mining
The Sandiganbayans Resolutions should be reversed. Corporation, GEI Guaranteed Education, Inc., and I.B. Gimenez
Securities, Inc.105
III
Despite the specific allegations in the Complaint, petitioner contends
that respondents merely gave general denials to the allegations in the
According to petitioner, the Sandiganbayan erred when it granted the
Complaint.106 "[N]o specific denial [was] made on the material
demurrer to evidence filed by respondents and dismissed the case
allegations [in] the [C]omplaint."107
despite a "prima facie foundation [based on the pleadings and
documents on record] that spouses Gimenezes amassed enormous
wealth grossly disproportionate to their lawful income or declared Respondents, on the other hand, assert that the Sandiganbayan was
lawful assets."104 correct in granting the Motion to Dismiss on demurrer to evidence.

Respondent Ignacio Gimenez claims that petitioner cannot be excused


from filing its Formal Offer of Evidence considering the numerous
extensions given by the Sandiganbayan. Petitioner had all the resources A demurrer to evidence may be issued when, upon the facts and the law,
and time to gather, collate, and secure the necessary evidence to build its the plaintiff has shown no right to relief. Where the plaintiffs evidence
case.108 Petitioners presentation of evidence took 19 years to complete, together with such inferences and conclusions as may reasonably be
and yet it failed to submit the necessary documents and pleading. 109 drawn therefrom does not warrant recovery against the defendant, a
demurrer to evidence should be sustained. A demurrer to evidence is
Similarly, respondent Fe Roa Gimenez argues that petitioner was likewise sustainable when, admitting every proven fact favorable to the
negligent in failing to comply with the Sandiganbayans orders plaintiff and indulging in his favor all conclusions fairly and reasonably
considering the inordinate amount of time given to petitioner to present inferable therefrom, the plaintiff has failed to make out one or more of
evidence, which resulted in only five witnesses in 19 years.110 the material elements of his case, or when there is no evidence to
support an allegation necessary to his claim. It should be sustained
To determine the propriety of granting respondents Motion to Dismiss where the plaintiffs evidence is prima facie insufficient for a
based on Demurrer to Evidence, we review the nature of demurrer. recovery.114

Rule 33, Section 1 of the Rules of Court provides: Furthermore, this court already clarified what the trial court determines
when acting on a motion to dismiss based on demurrer to evidence:
SECTION 1. Demurrer to evidence. After the plaintiff has completed
the presentation of his evidence, the defendant may move for dismissal What should be resolved in a motion to dismiss based on a demurrer to
on the ground that upon the facts and the law the plaintiff has shown no evidence is whether the plaintiff is entitled to the relief based on the
right to relief. If his motion is denied, he shall have the right to present facts and the law. The evidence contemplated by the rule on demurrer is
evidence. If the motion is granted but on appeal the order of dismissal is that which pertains to the merits of the case, excluding technical aspects
reversed he shall be deemed to have waived the right to present such as capacity to sue. . . .115 (Emphasis supplied, citation omitted)
evidence.
Petitioner, in its Supplement to the Petition, argued that the testimonial
111
In Oropesa v. Oropesa where this court affirmed the dismissal of the evidence it had presented and offered during trial warranted
case on demurrer to evidence due to petitioners non-submission of the consideration and analysis.116 The Sandiganbayan erroneously excluded
Formal Offer of Evidence,112 demurrer to evidence was defined as: these testimonies in determining whether to grant the motion to dismiss
or not, hence:
. . . "an objection by one of the parties in an action, to the effect that the
evidence which his adversary produced is insufficient in point of law, . . . even assuming that the Sandiganbayan denied petitioners formal
whether true or not, to make out a case or sustain the issue." We have offer of evidence, petitioner still had testimonial evidence in its favor
also held that a demurrer to evidence "authorizes a judgment on the which should [have] been considered. It behoved then upon the
merits of the case without the defendant having to submit evidence on Sandiganbayan to discuss or include in its discussion, at the very least,
his part, as he would ordinarily have to do, if plaintiffs evidence shows an analysis of petitioners testimonial evidence.117
that he is not entitled to the relief sought."113 (Citations omitted)
With our ruling reversing the Sandiganbayans Resolutions on
This court has laid down the guidelines in resolving a demurrer to petitioners Formal Offer of Evidence, what should be determined now
evidence: by the Sandiganbayan is whether petitioners evidence is sufficient to
entitle it to the relief it seeks after the Sandiganbayan rested its case. WHEREFORE, and as prayed for, the continuation of the presentation
Petitioner is required to establish preponderance of evidence. of plaintiffs evidence is set on October 9 and 10, 2002, both at 8:30
oclock [sic] in the morning.
In the second assailed Resolution, the Sandiganbayan granted
respondents Motion to Dismiss based on the lack of Formal Offer of SO ORDERED.124 (Emphasis supplied)
Evidence of petitioner. At the same time, it observed that the pieces of
documentary evidence presented by petitioner were mostly certified true Petitioner claims that the following exhibits were acquired in relation to
copies of the original. In passing upon the probative value of petitioners the PCGGs functions prescribed under Executive Order No. 1, Section
evidence, the Sandiganbayan held: 3(b),125 and form part of the official records of the
PCGG:126 "Certifications as to the various positions held in Government
On another note, the evidence presented by the plaintiff consisted by Fe Roa-Gimenez, her salaries and compensation during her stint as a
mainly of certified true copies of the original. These certified copies of public officer, the BIR Income Tax Returns and Statement of Assets and
documentary evidence presented by the plaintiff were not testified on by Liabilities showing the declared income of spouses Gimenezes; the
the person who certified them to be photocopies of the original. Hence, Articles of Incorporation of various corporations showing spouses
these evidence do not appear to have significant substantial probative Gimenezes interests on various corporations; and several transactions
value.118 involving huge amounts of money which prove that they acted as
conduit in the disbursement of government funds."127
Petitioner faults the Sandiganbayan for making "a general and sweeping
statement that the evidence presented by petitioner lacked probative On the other hand, respondent Ignacio Gimenez argues that petitioners
value for the reason that they are mainly certified true copies which had documents are not "official issuances of the Philippine
not been testified on by the person who certified [them]." 119 Thus, its government."128 They are mostly notarized private
right to due process was violated when the Sandiganbayan rejected documents.129 Petitioners evidence has no probative value; hence, a
petitioners documentary evidence in the same Resolution which dismissal on demurrer to evidence is only proper. 130 Respondent Fe Roa
dismissed the case.120 Gimenez claims that the Sandiganbayan did not err in holding that the
majority of petitioners documentary evidence has no probative value,
Petitioner argues that: a) respondents unqualifiedly admitted the identity considering that most of these documents are only photocopies.131
and authenticity of the documentary evidence presented by
petitioner;121 and b) the documents it presented were public documents, The evidence presented by petitioner before the Sandiganbayan deserves
and there was no need for the identification and authentication of the better treatment.
original documentary exhibits.122 Petitioner relies on the Sandiganbayan
Order123 dated August 6, 2002. The Order reads: For instance, the nature and classification of the documents should have
been ruled upon. Save for certain cases, the original document must be
Considering the manifestation of Atty. Reno Gonzales, counsel for presented during trial when the subject of the inquiry is the contents of
plaintiff/PCGG, that the defendant Fe Roa Gimenez, through counsel, is the document.132 This is the Best Evidence Rule provided under Rule
willing to stipulate that the documents to be presented and identified by 130, Section 3 of the Rules of Court:
the witness are in her custody as Records Officer of the PCGG, the
parties agreed to dispense with the testimony of Ma. Lourdes Magno.
SEC. 3. Original document must be produced; exceptions. When the SEC. 7. Evidence admissible when original document is a public record.
subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence shall be When the original of a document is in the custody of a public officer
admissible other than the original document itself, except in the or is recorded in a public office, its contents may be proved by a
following cases: certified copy issued by the public officer in custody thereof. (Emphasis
supplied)
(a) When the original has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced
in court, without bad faith on the part of the offeror; In Citibank, N.A. v. Sabeniano,134 citing Estrada v. Hon. Desierto,135 this
court clarified the applicability of the Best Evidence Rule:
(b) When the original is in the custody or under the control of the party
against whom the evidence is offered, and the latter fails to produce it As the afore-quoted provision states, the best evidence rule applies only
after reasonable notice; when the subject of the inquiry is the contents of the document. The
scope of the rule is more extensively explained thus
(c) When the original consists of numerous accounts or other documents
which cannot be examined in court without great loss of time and the But even with respect to documentary evidence, the best evidence rule
fact sought to be established from them is only the general result of the applies only when the content of such document is the subject of the
whole; and inquiry. Where the issue is only as to whether such document was
actually executed, or exists, or on the circumstances relevant to or
(d) When the original is a public record in the custody of a public officer surrounding its execution, the best evidence rule does not apply and
or is recorded in a public office. testimonial evidence is admissible (5 Moran, op. cit., pp. 76-66; 4
Martin, op. cit., p. 78). Any other substitutionary evidence is likewise
In case of unavailability of the original document, secondary evidence admissible without need for accounting for the original.
may be presented133 as provided for under Sections 5 to 7 of the same
Rule: Thus, when a document is presented to prove its existence or condition it
is offered not as documentary, but as real, evidence. Parol evidence of
SEC. 5. When original document is unavailable. When the original the fact of execution of the documents is allowed (Hernaez, et al. vs.
document has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, McGrath, etc., et al., 91 Phil[.] 565). x x x
the offeror, upon proof of its execution or existence and the cause of its
unavailability without bad faith on his part, may prove its contents by a In Estrada v. Desierto, this Court had occasion to rule that
copy, or by a recital of its contents in some authentic document, or by
the testimony of witnesses in the order stated. It is true that the Court relied not upon the original but only [a] copy of
the Angara Diary as published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on
SEC. 6. When original document is in adverse party's custody or control. February 4-6, 2001. In doing so, the Court, did not, however, violate the
If the document is in the custody or under the control of adverse best evidence rule. Wigmore, in his book on evidence, states that:
party, he must have reasonable notice to produce it. If after such notice
and after satisfactory proof of its existence, he fails to produce the "Production of the original may be dispensed with, in the trial courts
document, secondary evidence may be presented as in the case of its discretion, whenever in the case in hand the opponent does not bona fide
loss. (5a)
dispute the contents of the document and no other useful purpose will be Furthermore, for purposes of presenting these as evidence before courts,
served by requiring production. documents are classified as either public or private. Rule 132, Section
19 of the Rules of Court provides:
"x x x x x x x x x
SEC. 19. Classes of Documents. For the purpose of their presentation
"In several Canadian provinces, the principle of unavailability has been in evidence, documents are either public or private.
abandoned, for certain documents in which ordinarily no real dispute
arised [sic]. This measure is a sensible and progressive one and deserves Public documents are:
universal adoption (post, sec. 1233). Its essential feature is that a copy
may be used unconditionally, if the opponent has been given an (a) The written official acts, or records of the official acts of the
opportunity to inspect it." sovereign authority, official bodies and tribunals, and public officers,
whether of the Philippines, or of a foreign country;
This Court did not violate the best evidence rule when it considered and
weighed in evidence the photocopies and microfilm copies of the PNs, (b) Documents acknowledge before a notary public except last wills and
MCs, and letters submitted by the petitioners to establish the existence testaments; and
of respondents loans. The terms or contents of these documents were
never the point of contention in the Petition at bar. It was respondents (c) Public records, kept in the Philippines, of private documents required
position that the PNs in the first set (with the exception of PN No. by law to be entered therein.
34534) never existed, while the PNs in the second set (again, excluding
PN No. 34534) were merely executed to cover simulated loan
All other writings are private.
transactions. As for the MCs representing the proceeds of the loans, the
respondent either denied receipt of certain MCs or admitted receipt of
the other MCs but for another purpose. Respondent further admitted the The same Rule provides for the effect of public documents as evidence
letters she wrote personally or through her representatives to Mr. Tan of and the manner of proof for public documents:
petitioner Citibank acknowledging the loans, except that she claimed
that these letters were just meant to keep up the ruse of the simulated SEC. 23. Public documents as evidence. Documents consisting of
loans. Thus, respondent questioned the documents as to their existence entries in public records made in the performance of a duty by a public
or execution, or when the former is admitted, as to the purpose for officer are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated. All other
which the documents were executed, matters which are, undoubtedly, public documents are evidence, even against a third person, of the fact
external to the documents, and which had nothing to do with the which gave rise to their execution and of the date of the latter.
contents thereof.
SEC. 24. Proof of official record. The record of public documents
Alternatively, even if it is granted that the best evidence rule should referred to in paragraph (a) of Section 19, when admissible for any
apply to the evidence presented by petitioners regarding the existence of purpose, may be evidenced by an official publication thereof or by a
respondents loans, it should be borne in mind that the rule admits of the copy attested by the officer having the legal custody of the record, or by
following exceptions under Rule 130, Section 5 of the revised Rules of his deputy, and accompanied, if the record is not kept in the Philippines,
Court[.]136 (Emphasis supplied, citation omitted) with a certificate that such officer has the custody. If the office in which
the record is kept is in a foreign country, the certificate may be made by
a secretary of the embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice presented as evidence in court. In contrast, a private document is any
consul, or consular agent or by any officer in the foreign service of the other writing, deed, or instrument executed by a private person without
Philippines stationed in the foreign country in which the record is kept, the intervention of a notary or other person legally authorized by which
and authenticated by the seal of his office. some disposition or agreement is proved or set forth. Lacking the
official or sovereign character of a public document, or the solemnities
SEC. 25. What attestation of copy must state. Whenever a copy of a prescribed by law, a private document requires authentication in the
document or record is attested for the purpose of evidence, the manner allowed by law or the Rules of Court before its acceptance as
attestation must state, in substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the evidence in court.137 (Emphasis supplied)
original, or a specific part thereof, as the case may be. The attestation
must be under the official seal of the attesting officer, if there be any, or The distinction as to the kind of public document under Rule 132,
if he be the clerk of a court having a seal, under the seal of such court. Section 19 of the Rules of Court is material with regard to the fact the
evidence proves. In Philippine Trust Company v. Hon. Court of Appeals,
.... et al.,138 this court ruled that:

SEC. 27. Public record of a private document. An authorized public . . . not all types of public documents are deemed prima facie evidence
record of a private document may be proved by the original record, or of the facts therein stated:
by a copy thereof, attested by the legal custodian of the record, with an
appropriate certificate that such officer has the custody. ....

.... "Public records made in the performance of a duty by a public officer"


include those specified as public documents under Section 19(a), Rule
SEC. 30. Proof of notarial documents. Every instrument duly 132 of the Rules of Court and the acknowledgement, affirmation or oath,
acknowledged or proved and certified as provided by law, may be or jurat portion of public documents under Section 19(c). Hence, under
presented in evidence without further proof, the certificate of Section 23, notarized documents are merely proof of the fact which gave
acknowledgment being prima facie evidence of the execution of the rise to their execution (e.g., the notarized Answer to Interrogatories . . .
instrument or document involved. (Emphasis supplied) is proof that Philtrust had been served with Written Interrogatories), and
of the date of the latter (e.g., the notarized Answer to Interrogatories is
Emphasizing the importance of the correct classification of documents, proof that the same was executed on October 12, 1992, the date stated
this court pronounced: thereon), but is not prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated.
Additionally, under Section 30 of the same Rule, the acknowledgement
in notarized documents is prima facie evidence of the execution of the
The nature of documents as either public or private determines how the
instrument or document involved (e.g., the notarized Answer to
documents may be presented as evidence in court. A public document,
Interrogatories is prima facie proof that petitioner executed the same).
by virtue of its official or sovereign character, or because it has been
acknowledged before a notary public (except a notarial will) or a
competent public official with the formalities required by law, or The reason for the distinction lies with the respective official duties
because it is a public record of a private writing authorized by law, is attending the execution of the different kinds of public instruments.
self-authenticating and requires no further authentication in order to be Official duties are disputably presumed to have been regularly
performed. As regards affidavits, including Answers to Interrogatories Petitioner and respondents agree that the documents presented as
which are required to be sworn to by the person making them, the only evidence were mere copies of the audited financial statements submitted
portion thereof executed by the person authorized to take oaths is the to the BIR and SEC. Neither party claimed that copies presented were
jurat. The presumption that official duty has been regularly performed certified true copies of audited financial statements obtained or secured
therefore applies only to the latter portion, wherein the notary public from the BIR or the SEC which under Section 19(c), Rule 132 would
merely attests that the affidavit was subscribed and sworn to before him have been public documents. Thus, the statements presented were
or her, on the date mentioned thereon. Thus, even though affidavits are private documents. Consequently, authentication was a precondition to
notarized documents, we have ruled that affidavits, being self-serving, their admissibility in evidence.
must be received with caution.139 (Emphasis supplied, citations omitted)
During authentication in court, a witness positively testifies that a
In Salas v. Sta. Mesa Market Corporation,140 this court discussed the document presented as evidence is genuine and has been duly executed
difference between mere copies of audited financial statements or that the document is neither spurious nor counterfeit nor executed by
submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Securities and mistake or under duress. In this case, petitioner merely presented a
Exchange Commission (SEC), and certified true copies of audited memorandum attesting to the increase in the corporations monthly
financial statements obtained or secured from the BIR or the SEC which market revenue, prepared by a member of his management team. While
are public documents under Rule 132, Section 19(c) of the Revised there is no fixed criterion as to what constitutes competent evidence to
Rules of Evidence: establish the authenticity of a private document, the best proof available
must be presented. The best proof available, in this instance, would have
The documents in question were supposedly copies of the audited been the testimony of a representative of SMMCs external auditor who
financial statements of SMMC. Financial statements (which include the prepared the audited financial statements. Inasmuch as there was none,
balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flow) show the the audited financial statements were never authenticated.141 (Emphasis
fiscal condition of a particular entity within a specified period. The supplied, citations omitted)
financial statements prepared by external auditors who are certified
public accountants (like those presented by petitioner) are audited Indeed, in Republic v. Marcos-Manotoc,142 this court held that mere
financial statements. Financial statements, whether audited or not, are, collection of documents by the PCGG does not make such documents
as [a] general rule, private documents. However, once financial public documents per se under Rule 132 of the Rules of Court:
statements are filed with a government office pursuant to a provision of
law, they become public documents. The fact that these documents were collected by the PCGG in the course
of its investigations does not make them per se public records referred to
Whether a document is public or private is relevant in determining its in the quoted rule.
admissibility as evidence. Public documents are admissible in evidence
even without further proof of their due execution and genuineness. On Petitioner presented as witness its records officer, Maria Lourdes
the other hand, private documents are inadmissible in evidence unless Magno, who testified that these public and private documents had been
they are properly authenticated. Section 20, Rule 132 of the Rules of gathered by and taken into the custody of the PCGG in the course of the
Court provides: Commissions investigation of the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the
Marcoses. However, given the purposes for which these documents were
.... submitted, Magno was not a credible witness who could testify as to
their contents. To reiterate, "[i]f the writings have subscribing witnesses
to them, they must be proved by those witnesses." Witnesses can testify to her and her husbands salaries and to their other lawful income or
only to those facts which are of their personal knowledge; that is, those properties.
derived from their own perception. Thus, Magno could only testify as to
how she obtained custody of these documents, but not as to the contents Petitioner presented five (5) witnesses, two (2) of which were Atty.
of the documents themselves. Tereso Javier and Director Danilo R.V. Daniel, both from the PCGG:

Neither did petitioner present as witnesses the affiants of these Petitioner presented as witnesses Atty. Tereso Javier, then Head of the
Affidavits or Memoranda submitted to the court. Basic is the rule that, Sequestered Assets Department of PCGG, and Danilo R.V. Daniel, then
while affidavits may be considered as public documents if they are Director of the Research and Development Department of PCGG, who
acknowledged before a notary public, these Affidavits are still classified testified on the bank accounts and businesses owned and/ or under the
as hearsay evidence. The reason for this rule is that they are not control of spouses Gimenezes.144
generally prepared by the affiant, but by another one who uses his or her
own language in writing the affiants statements, parts of which may Several exhibits excluded by the Sandiganbayan were offered as part of
thus be either omitted or misunderstood by the one writing them. petitioners testimonial evidence:
Moreover, the adverse party is deprived of the opportunity to cross-
examine the affiants. For this reason, affidavits are generally rejected for
1) Exhibit "KK"145 was offered "for the purpose of proving the assets or
being hearsay, unless the affiants themselves are placed on the witness
properties of the spouses Ignacio B. Gimenez and Fe Roa Gimenez, and
stand to testify thereon.143(Citations omitted)
as part of the testimony of Tereso Javier."146
Notably, the Sandiganbayans evaluation of the evidence presented by
2) Exhibits "KK-1" to "KK-12"147 inclusive of sub-markings, were
petitioner was cursory. Its main reason for granting the Motion to
offered "for the purpose of proving the real properties acquired by the
Dismiss on Demurrer to Evidence was that there was no evidence to
spouses Ignacio B. Gimenez and Fe Roa Gimenez, and as part of the
consider due to petitioners failure to file its Formal Offer of Evidence.
testimony of Tereso Javier."148
It brushed off the totality of evidence on which petitioner built its case.
3) Exhibits "KK-15," "KK-18," "KK-20," "KK-27," "KK-30," "KK-32"
Even assuming that no documentary evidence was properly offered, this
to "KK-38" and "KK-40"149 were offered "for the purpose of proving the
court finds it clear from the second assailed Resolution that the
corporations in which Ignacio B. Gimenez has interest, and as part of the
Sandiganbayan did not even consider other evidence presented by
testimony of Tereso Javier."150
petitioner during the 19 years of trial. The Sandiganbayan erred in
ignoring petitioners testimonial evidence without any basis or
justification. Numerous exhibits were offered as part of the testimonies 4) Exhibit "KK-45"151 was offered "for the purpose of proving that the
of petitioners witnesses. PCGG conducted an investigation of New City Builders, Inc.,
Transnational Construction Corporation, and OTO Construction and
Development Corporation in relation to Ignacio B. Gimenez and
Petitioner presented both testimonial and documentary evidence that
Roberto O. Olanday, and as part of the testimony of Tereso Javier."152
tended to establish a presumption that respondents acquired ill-gotten
wealth during respondent Fe Roa Gimenezs incumbency as public
officer and which total amount or value was manifestly out of proportion 5) Exhibits "KK-48" to "KK-50"153 were offered "for the purpose of
proving that the PCGG formally filed notices of lis pendens with the
Registers of Deeds of Taytay, Rizal, Lucena City, Quezon and San 10) Exhibits "TT" to "TT-3"163 were offered "for the purpose of proving
Fabian, Pangasinan over the properties mentioned in said notices in that Director Danilo R.V. Daniel of the Research and Development
connection with Civil Case No. [0]007 pending with the Sandiganbayan, Department of the PCGG conducted an investigation on the ill-gotten
and as part of the testimony of Tereso Javier."154 wealth of the spouses Ignacio and Fe Roa Gimenez and found that from
1977 to 1982, the total sum of P75,090,306.42 was withdrawn from the
6) Exhibits "KK-51" to "KK-52"155 and their sub-markings were offered account No. 128 (A/C 76-128) in favor of I.B Gimenez, I.B. Gimenez
"for the purpose of proving that the PCGG sequestered the shares of Securities and Fe Roa Gimenez. They are also being offered as part of
stock in Allied Banking Corporation and Guaranteed Education, Inc. as the testimony of Director Danilo R.V. Daniel."164
stated in the said writ/letter of sequestration, and as part of the testimony
of Tereso Javier."156 The court cannot arbitrarily disregard evidence especially when
resolving a demurrer to evidence which tests the sufficiency of the
7) Exhibits "NN" to "QQ" 157 and their sub-markings were offered "for plaintiffs evidence.
the purpose of proving that the PCGG formally requested the Central
Bank to freeze the bank accounts of the spouses Igancio [sic] B. The difference between the admissibility of evidence and the
Gimenez and Fe Roa Gimenez and that the Central Bank, acting on said determination of its probative weight is canonical.165
request, issued a memorandum to all commercial banks relative thereto.
They are also being offered as part of the testimony of Tereso Javier."158 Admissibility of evidence refers to the question of whether or not the
circumstance (or evidence) is to [be] considered at all. On the other
8) Exhibits "RR" to "RR-23"159 were offered "for the purpose of proving hand, the probative value of evidence refers to the question of whether
that Dominador Pangilinan, former Acting President and President of or not it proves an issue. Thus, a letter may be offered in evidence and
Traders Royal Bank, executed an affidavit on July 24, 1987 wherein he admitted as such but its evidentiary weight depends upon the observance
mentioned Malacanang trust accounts maintained with the Traders of the rules on evidence. Accordingly, the author of the letter should be
Royal Bank the balance of which was very high, approximately 150-175 presented as witness to provide the other party to the litigation the
million pesos, as indicated in the monthly statements attached to his opportunity to question him on the contents of the letter. Being mere
affidavit. They are also being offered as part of the testimony of Danilo hearsay evidence, failure to present the author of the letter renders its
R.V. Daniel."160 contents suspect. As earlier stated, hearsay evidence, whether objected
to or not, has no probative value.166 (Citations omitted)
9) Exhibits "SS" to "SS-29"161 were offered "for the purpose of proving
that Apolinario K. Medina, Executive Vice President of Traders Royal The Sandiganbayan should have considered Atienza v. Board of
Bank, executed an Affidavit on July 23, 1987 wherein he mentioned Medicine, et al.167 where this court held that it is better to admit and
about certain numbered (confidential) trust accounts maintained with the consider evidence for determination of its probative value than to
Traders Royal Bank, the deposits to which were so substantial in outright reject it based on very rigid and technical grounds.168
amount that (he) suspected that they had been made by President
Marcos or his family. They are also being offered as part of the Although trial courts are enjoined to observe strict enforcement of the
testimony of Danilo R.V. Daniel."162 rules of evidence, in connection with evidence which may appear to be
of doubtful relevancy, incompetency, or admissibility, we have held that:
[I]t is the safest policy to be liberal, not rejecting them on doubtful or clearly and distinctly stating therein the facts and the law on which it is
technical grounds, but admitting them unless plainly irrelevant, based.176(Citation omitted)
immaterial or incompetent, for the reason that their rejection places
them beyond the consideration of the court, if they are thereafter found To erroneously grant a dismissal simply based on the delay to formally
relevant or competent; on the other hand, their admission, if they turn offer documentary evidence essentially deprives one party of due
out later to be irrelevant or incompetent, can easily be remedied by process.
completely discarding them or ignoring them.169(Emphasis supplied,
citations omitted) IV

A liberal application of the Rules is in line with the states policy to Respondents did not fail to specifically deny material averments in the
recover ill-gotten wealth. In case of doubt, courts should proceed with Complaint.
caution in granting a motion to dismiss based on demurrer to evidence.
An order granting demurrer to evidence is a judgment on the
Under Rule 8, Section 10 of the Rules of Court, the "defendant must
merits.170 This is because while a demurrer "is an aid or instrument for
specify each material allegation of fact the truth of which he does not
the expeditious termination of an action,"171 it specifically "pertains to
admit and, whenever practicable, shall set forth the substance of the
the merits of the case."172
matters upon which he relies to support his denial." 177 There are three
modes of specific denial provided for under the Rules:
In Cabreza, Jr., et al. v. Cabreza,173 this court defined a judgment
rendered on the merits:
1) by specifying each material allegation of the fact in the complaint, the
truth of which the defendant does not admit, and whenever practicable,
A judgment may be considered as one rendered on the merits "when it setting forth the substance of the matters which he will rely upon to
determines the rights and liabilities of the parties based on the disclosed support his denial; (2) by specifying so much of an averment in the
facts, irrespective of formal, technical or dilatory objections"; or when complaint as is true and material and denying only the remainder; (3) by
the judgment is rendered "after a determination of which party is right, stating that the defendant is without knowledge or information sufficient
as distinguished from a judgment rendered upon some preliminary or to form a belief as to the truth of a material averment in the complaint,
formal or merely technical point."174 (Citations omitted) which has the effect of a denial.178

To reiterate, "[d]emurrer to evidence authorizes a judgment on the In paragraph 14 of the Complaint, the PCGG, through the Office of the
merits of the case without the defendant having to submit evidence on Solicitor General, averred that:
his [or her] part, as he [or she] would ordinarily have to do, if plaintiffs
evidence shows that he [or she] is not entitled to the relief
14. Defendant Fe Roa Gimenez, by herself and/or in unlawful concert
sought."175 The order of dismissal must be clearly supported by facts and
with Defendants Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda R. Marcos, taking
law since an order granting demurrer is a judgment on the merits:
undue advantage of her position, influence and connection and with
grave abuse of power and authority, in order to prevent disclosure and
As it is settled that an order dismissing a case for insufficient evidence is recovery of assets illegally obtained:
a judgment on the merits, it is imperative that it be a reasoned decision
(a) actively participated in the unlawful transfer of millions of dollars of (b) unlawfully obtained, through corporations organized by them such as
government funds into several accounts in her name in foreign the the [sic] New City Builders, Inc. (NCBI), multimillion peso
countries; contracts with the government for the construction of government
buildings, such as the University of Life Sports Complex and Dining
(b) disbursed such funds from her various personal accounts for Hall as well as projects of the National Manpower Corporation, Human
Defendants own use[,] benefit and enrichment; Settlements, GSIS, and Maharlika Livelihood, to the gross and manifest
disadvantage to Plaintiff and the Filipino people.
(c) acted as conduit of the Defendants Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda
R. Marcos in purchasing the New York properties, particularly, the (c) in furtherance of the above stated illegal purposes, organized several
Crown Building, Herald Center, 40 Wall Street, 200 Wall Street, establishments engaged in food, mining and other businesses such as the
Lindenmere Estate and expensive works of arts;179 Transnational Construction Corporation, Total Systems Technology,
Inc., Pyro Control Technology Corporation, Asian Alliance, Inc., A & T
In their Answer, respondents claimed that; Development Corporation, RBO Agro Forestry Farm Development
Corporation, Bathala Coal Mining Corporation, Coal Basis Mining
Corporation, Titan Coal Mining Corporation, GEI Guaranteed
9. Defendants Spouses Gimenez and Fe Roa specifically deny the
Education, Inc., and I.B. Gimenez Securities, Inc.181
allegations contained in paragraphs 14(a), 14(b) and 14(c), the truth
being that defendant Fe Roa never took advantage of her position or
alleged connection and influence to allegedly prevent disclosure and To which respondents specifically denied through the following
recovery of alleged illegally obtained assets, in the manner alleged in paragraph:
said paragraphs.180
11. Defendants Spouses Gimenez and Fe Roa specifically deny the
Similarly, the PCGG made material allegations in paragraph 16 of the allegations contained in paragraphs 16, 16(a), 16(b) and 16(c) that
Complaint: defendant Gimenez allegedly took advantage of his alleged relationship,
influence and connection, and that by himself or in alleged unlawful
concert with defendants Marcos and Imelda, for the alleged purpose of
16. Defendant Ignacio B. Gimenez, taking undue advantage of his
enriching themselves and preventing the discovery of alleged illegally
relationship, influence, and connection, by himself and/or in unlawful
obtained assets: (1) allegedly acted as dummy, nominee or agent of
concert and active collaboration with Defendants Ferdinand E. Marcos
defendants Marcos and Imelda; (2) allegedly obtained multi-million
and Imelda R. Marcos, for the purpose of mutually enriching themselves
peso projects unlawfully; and (3) allegedly organized several
and preventing the disclosure and recovery of assets illegally obtained,
establishments, the truth being: (1) that defendant Gimenez never acted
among others:
as dummy, nominee or agent of defendants Marcos and Imelda; (2) that
defendant Gimen[e]z never once obtained any contract unlawfully; and
(a) acted as the dummy, nominee or agent of Defendants Ferdinand E. (3) that defendant Gimenez is a legitimate businessman and organized
Marcos and Imelda R. Marcos, in several corporations such as, the business establishments legally and as he saw fit, all in accordance with
Allied Banking Corporation, Acoje Mining Corporation, Baguio Gold his own plans and for his own purposes.182
Mining, Multi National Resources, Philippine Overseas, Inc. and
Pioneer Natural Resources;
In Aquintey v. Spouses Tibong,183 this court held that using "specifically"
in a general denial does not automatically convert that general denial to
a specific one.184 The denial in the answer must be so definite as to what The third part of Rule 33, Section 1 of the Rules of Court provides that
is admitted and what is denied: "[i]f the motion [to dismiss] is granted but on appeal the order of
dismissal is reversed [the movant] shall be deemed to have waived the
A denial is not made specific simply because it is so qualified by the right to present evidence." As this court held:
defendant. A general denial does not become specific by the use of the
word "specifically." When matters of whether the defendant alleges [I]f a demurrer to evidence is granted but on appeal the order of
having no knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief are dismissal is reversed, the movant shall be deemed to have waived the
plainly and necessarily within the defendants knowledge, an alleged right to present evidence. The movant who presents a demurrer to the
"ignorance or lack of information" will not be considered as a specific plaintiffs evidence retains the right to present their own evidence, if the
denial. Section 11, Rule 8 of the Rules also provides that material trial court disagrees with them; if the trial court agrees with them, but on
averments in the complaint other than those as to the amount of appeal, the appellate court disagrees with both of them and reverses the
unliquidated damages shall be deemed admitted when not specifically dismissal order, the defendants lose the right to present their own
denied. Thus, the answer should be so definite and certain in its evidence. The appellate court shall, in addition, resolve the case and
allegations that the pleaders adversary should not be left in doubt as to render judgment on the merits, inasmuch as a demurrer aims to
what is admitted, what is denied, and what is covered by denials of discourage prolonged litigations.188 (Citations omitted)
knowledge as sufficient to form a belief.185 (Emphasis supplied, citations
omitted) This procedure, however, does not apply.

However, the allegations in the pleadings "must be contextualized and In this case, we principally nullify the assailed Resolutions that denied
interpreted in relation to the rest of the statements in the the admission of the Formal Offer of Evidence. It only follows that the
pleading."186 The denials in respondents Answer comply with the modes Order granting demurrer should be denied. This is not the situation
provided for under the Rules. We have held that the purpose of requiring contemplated in Rule 33, Section 1.189 Respondents were not able to
specific denials from the defendant is to make the defendant disclose the even comment on the Formal Offer of Evidence. Due process now
"matters alleged in the complaint which he [or she] succinctly intends to requires that we remand the case to the Sandiganbayan. Respondents
disprove at the trial, together with the matter which he [or she] relied may, at their option and through proper motion, submit their Comment.
upon to support the denial."187 The denials proffered by respondents The Sandiganbayan should then rule on the admissibility of the
sufficiently disclosed the matters they wished to disprove and those they documentary and object evidence covered by the Formal Offer
would rely upon in making their denials. submitted by petitioner. Respondents then may avail themselves of any
remedy thereafter allowed by the Rules.
To summarize, the Sandiganbayan erred in granting the Motion to
Dismiss on demurrer to evidence. It erred in making a sweeping WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The assailed Resolutions
declaration on the probative value of the documentary evidence offered dated May 25, 2006 and September 13, 2006 of the Sandiganbayan
by petitioner and in excluding other evidence offered during trial Fourth Division in Civil Case No. 0007 are REVERSED and SET
without full evaluation based on reasons grounded in law and/or ASIDE. The case is remanded to the. Sandiganbayan for further
jurisprudence. proceedings with due and deliberate dispatch in accordance with this
Decision.
V
SO ORDERED. is a bigamous one, based on Article 35(4) in relation to Article 41 of the
Family Code of the Philippines.

During trial, aside from his testimony, petitioner also offered the
following pieces of documentary evidence issued by the National
Statistics Office (NSO):
G.R. No. 204169 September 11, 2013
YASUO IWASAWA v. FELISA CUSTODIO GANGAN (1) Certificate of Marriage8 between petitioner and private respondent
marked as Exhibit "A" to prove the fact of marriage between the parties
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 on November 28, 2002;
Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, assailing the September 4, 2012 (2) Certificate of Marriage9 between private respondent and Raymond
Decision2 and October 16, 2012 Order3 of the Regional Trial Court Maglonzo Arambulo marked as Exhibit "B" to prove the fact of
(RTC), Branch 43, of Manila in Civil Case No. 11-126203. The RTC marriage between the parties on June 20, 1994;
denied the petition for declaration of nullity of the marriage of petitioner (3) Certificate of Death10 of Raymond Maglonzo Arambulo marked as
Yasuo Iwasawa with private respondent Felisa Custodio Gangan due to Exhibits "C" and "C-1" to prove the fact of the latters death on July 14,
insufficient evidence. 2009; and
(4) Certification11 from the NSO to the effect that there are two entries of
marriage recorded by the office pertaining to private respondent marked
The antecedents follow:
as Exhibit "D" to prove that private respondent in fact contracted two
marriages, the first one was to a Raymond Maglonzo Arambulo on June
Petitioner, a Japanese national, met private respondent sometime in 2002 20, 1994, and second, to petitioner on November 28, 2002.
in one of his visits to the Philippines. Private respondent introduced
herself as "single" and "has never married before." Since then, the two
The prosecutor appearing on behalf of the Office of the Solicitor
became close to each other. Later that year, petitioner came back to the
General (OSG) admitted the authenticity and due execution of the above
Philippines and married private respondent on November 28, 2002 in
documentary exhibits during pre-trial.12
Pasay City. After the wedding, the couple resided in Japan.4
On September 4, 2012, the RTC rendered the assailed decision. It ruled
In July 2009, petitioner noticed his wife become depressed. Suspecting
that there was insufficient evidence to prove private respondents prior
that something might have happened in the Philippines, he confronted
existing valid marriage to another man. It held that while petitioner
his wife about it. To his shock, private respondent confessed to him that
offered the certificate of marriage of private respondent to Arambulo, it
she received news that her previous husband passed away.5
was only petitioner who testified about said marriage. The RTC ruled
that petitioners testimony is unreliable because he has no personal
Petitioner sought to confirm the truth of his wifes confession and knowledge of private respondents prior marriage nor of Arambulos
discovered that indeed, she was married to one Raymond Maglonzo death which makes him a complete stranger to the marriage certificate
Arambulo and that their marriage took place on June 20, 1994. 6 This between private respondent and Arambulo and the latters death
prompted petitioner to file a petition7 for the declaration of his marriage certificate. It further ruled that petitioners testimony about the NSO
to private respondent as null and void on the ground that their marriage certification is likewise unreliable since he is a stranger to the
preparation of said document.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but the same was denied by admitted that it was due to poverty and joblessness that she married
the RTC in an Order dated October 16, 2012. petitioner without telling the latter that she was previously married.
Private respondent also confirmed that it was when she found out that
Hence this petition raising the sole legal issue of whether the testimony Arambulo passed away on July 14, 2009 that she had the guts to confess
of the NSO records custodian certifying the authenticity and due to petitioner about her previous marriage. Thereafter, she and petitioner
execution of the public documents issued by said office was necessary have separated.
before they could be accorded evidentiary weight.
We grant the petition.
Petitioner argues that the documentary evidence he presented are public
documents which are considered self-authenticating and thus it was There is no question that the documentary evidence submitted by
unnecessary to call the NSO Records Custodian as witness. He cites petitioner are all public documents.1wphi1 As provided in the Civil
Article 410 of the Civil Code which provides that books making up the Code:
civil register and all documents relating thereto shall be considered
public documents and shall be prima facie evidence of the facts stated ART. 410. The books making up the civil register and all documents
therein. Moreover, the trial prosecutor himself also admitted the relating thereto shall be considered public documents and shall be prima
authenticity of said documents. facie evidence of the facts therein contained.

The OSG, in its Comment,13 submits that the findings of the RTC are not As public documents, they are admissible in evidence even without
in accord with law and established jurisprudence. It contends that both further proof of their due execution and genuineness. 15 Thus, the RTC
Republic Act No. 3753, otherwise known as the Law on Registry of erred when it disregarded said documents on the sole ground that the
Civil Status, and the Civil Code elaborated on the character of petitioner did not present the records custodian of the NSO who issued
documents arising from records and entries made by the civil registrar them to testify on their authenticity and due execution since proof of
and categorically declared them as public documents. Being public authenticity and due execution was not anymore necessary. Moreover,
documents, said documents are admissible in evidence even without not only are said documents admissible, they deserve to be given
further proof of their due execution and genuineness and consequently, evidentiary weight because they constitute prima facie evidence of the
there was no need for the court to require petitioner to present the facts stated therein. And in the instant case, the facts stated therein
records custodian or officer from the NSO to testify on them. The OSG remain unrebutted since neither the private respondent nor the public
further contends that public documents have probative value since they prosecutor presented evidence to the contrary.
are prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein as provided in the
above-quoted provision of the Civil Code. Thus, the OSG submits that This Court has consistently held that a judicial declaration of nullity is
the public documents presented by petitioner, considered together, required before a valid subsequent marriage can be contracted; or else,
completely establish the facts in issue. what transpires is a bigamous marriage, 16 which is void from the
beginning as provided in Article 35(4) of the Family Code of the
In her letter14 dated March 19, 2013 to this Court, private respondent Philippines. And this is what transpired in the instant case.
indicated that she is not against her husbands petition to have their
marriage declared null and void. She likewise admitted therein that she As correctly pointed out by the OSG, the documentary exhibits taken
contracted marriage with Arambulo on June 20, 1994 and contracted a together concretely establish the nullity of the marriage of petitioner to
second marriage with petitioner on November 28, 2002. She further
private respondent on the ground that their marriage is bigamous. The
exhibits directly prove the following facts: (1) that private respondent
married Arambulo on June 20, 1994 in the City of Manila; (2) that
private respondent contracted a second marriage this time with
petitioner on November 28, 2002 in Pasay City; (3) that there was no
judicial declaration of nullity of the marriage of private respondent with
Arambulo at the time she married petitioner; (3) that Arambulo died on
July 14, 2009 and that it was only on said date that private respondents
marriage with Arambulo was deemed to have been dissolved; and (4)
that the second marriage of private respondent to petitioner is bigamous,
hence null and void, since the first marriage was still valid and
subsisting when the second marriage was contracted.

WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. The


September 4, 2012 Decision and October 16, 2012 Order of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 43, in Civil Case No. 11-126203
are hereby SET ASIDE. The marriage of petitioner Yasuo Iwasawa and
private respondent Felisa Custodio Gangan is declared NULL and
VOID.

The Local Civil Registrar of Pasay City and the National Statistics
Office are hereby ORDERED to make proper entries into the records of
the abovementioned parties in accordance with this Decision.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
eventually dismissed by the Court of Appeals, and its dismissal became
final and executory.

On September 8, 1993, respondent filed a motion to admit an amended


complaint which the trial court granted. It sent petitioner summons and a
copy of the complaint on October 13, 1993 and also gave petitioner until
October 31, 1993 to file its answer.

On November 4, 1993, respondent moved to declare petitioner in


default. The trial court granted and allowed the presentation of
evidence ex parte before the branch clerk of court. Respondent
G.R. No. 138084 April 10, 2002 presented its lone witness, Jeanne King.
MALAYAN INSURANCE CO., INC., vs. PHILIPPINE NAILS
AND WIRES CORPORATION
On November 11, 1993, petitioner filed its answer with compulsory
counterclaim. Upon motion by the respondent, the trial court expunged
This petition for review seeks the reversal of the decision dated from the records the answer for late filing.
September 30, 1998, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 45547,
affirming the decision dated December 10, 1993, of the Regional Trial
On December 10, 1993, the trial court rendered a judgment by default
Court of Pasig, Metro Manila, Branch 163, and the resolution dated
which reads:
March 25, 1999, of the Court of Appeals denying the petitioner's motion
for reconsideration.1
WHEREFORE, premises considered, Judgment is hereby rendered in
favor of plaintiff and against defendant, ordering the latter to pay the
Respondent Philippine Nails and Wires Corporation insured against all
following:
risks its shipment of 10,053.400 metric tons of steel billets valued at
1. P2,532,926.53 representing the insured value of the lost and/or not
P67,156,300 with petitioner Malayan Insurance Company Inc. The
delivered 377.168 metric tons of steel billets plus legal rate of interest
shipment delivered was short by 377.168 metric tons. For this shortage,
from date of filing of this complaint until fully paid;
respondent claimed insurance for P2,698,637.04, representing the value
2. Fifteen (15) percent of the amount awarded to plaintiff as attorney's
of undelivered steel billets, plus customs duties, taxes and other charges
fees; and
paid by respondent. Petitioner refused to pay.
3. Cost of suit.
SO ORDERED.2
On July 28, 1993, respondent filed a complaint against petitioner for
sum of money with the RTC of Pasig representing said lost and/or
Respondent moved to execute judgment pending appeal. The trial court
undelivered cargo. Petitioner moved to dismiss the complaint on the
granted the motion. Meanwhile, petitioner filed its notice of appeal
grounds that it failed to state a cause of action, and that it was filed in
which was given due course.
the wrong venue. The motion was denied. It thus filed a petition for
prohibition with the Court of Appeals. This was also denied. Upon
motion for reconsideration, the petition was reinstated. However, it was Pursuant to the grant of the motion for execution, the trial court issued
the corresponding writ. Petitioner filed a petition for certiorari with
prayer for a temporary restraining order to enjoin the implementation of It cannot claim denial of due process because it was given the
the writ. The Court of Appeals granted the prayer for the temporary opportunity to be heard.
restraining order. The writ of execution was likewise stayed by the trial
court which favorably considered petitioner's urgent motion to stay Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied, hence, this petition
execution pending appeal and to approve the supersedeas bond. alleging that the Court of Appeals erred and acted contrary to existing
law and jurisprudence in:
Pursuant to the notice of appeal, the entire records of the case were
elevated to the Court of Appeals, where petitioner argued that the trial I. GIVING PROBATIVE VALUE TO THE PURELY HEARSAY
court erred in rendering judgment by default notwithstanding that issues TESTIMONY OF RESPONDENT'S SOLE WITNESS.
were joined by petitioner's filing of an answer; in awarding damages to
respondent based on unauthenticated documentary evidence and II. AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT WHICH
hearsay; and in admitting documentary evidence which is irregular in WAS BASED ON DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE ADMITTED
nature and not in accordance with the Rules of Court. WITHOUT BEING PROPERLY AUTHENTICATED.4

The Court of Appeals concurred with the trial court and disposed the For resolution now are the following issues: Was Jeanne King's
case thus: testimony hearsay, thus without any probative value? Should respondent
authenticate the documentary evidence it submitted at the trial?
WHEREFORE, premises considered, there being no reversible error
committed by the lower court, the judgment appealed from is hereby On the first issue, petitioner Malayan Insurance Co., Inc., contends that
AFFIRMED in toto.3 Jeanne King's testimony was hearsay because she had no personal
knowledge of the execution of the documents supporting respondent's
The Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion cause of action, such as the sales contract, invoice, packing list, bill of
nor err when it expunged the answer from the records because petitioner lading, SGS Report, and the Marine Cargo Policy. Petitioner avers that
answered way beyond the prescribed period. It further held that even though King was personally assigned to handle and monitor the
respondent's witness, Jeanne King, was a competent witness because she importation of Philippine Nails and Wires Corporation, herein
personally prepared the documentary evidence and had personal respondent, this cannot be equated with personal knowledge of the facts
knowledge of the allegations in the complaint. In addition, the appellate which gave rise to respondent's cause of action. Further, petitioner
court said that conclusions and findings of fact of the trial courts were asserts, even though she personally prepared the summary of weight of
entitled to great weight on appeal and should not be disturbed unless for steel billets received by respondent, she did not have personal
strong and cogent reasons, which were not present in this case. Lastly, knowledge of the weight of steel billets actually shipped and delivered.
the absence of a written report by the branch clerk of court on the ex
parte proceedings did not necessarily deny petitioner due process. At the outset, we must stress that respondent's cause of action is founded
Nothing in the Rules of Court stated that the absence of the on breach of insurance contract covering cargo consisting of imported
commissioner's written report nullified a judgment by default. The steel billets. To hold petitioner liable, respondent has to prove, first, its
appellate court observed that if there was a defect, such was only importation of 10,053.400 metric tons of steel billets valued at
procedural that can be waived. Besides, petitioner was declared in P67,156,300.00, and second, the actual steel billets delivered to and
default because of its own failure to answer within the prescribed period. received by the importer, namely the respondent. Witness Jeanne King,
who was assigned to handle respondent's importations, including their are private documents. They are not among those enumerated in Section
insurance coverage, has personal knowledge of the volume of steel 19, thus, their due execution and authenticity need to be proved before
billets being imported, and therefore competent to testify thereon. Her they can be admitted in evidence. With the exception concerning the
testimony is not hearsay, as this doctrine is defined in Section 36, Rule summary of the weight of the steel billets imported, respondent
130 of the Rules of Court.5 presented no supporting evidence concerning their
authenticity.10 Consequently, they cannot be utilized to prove less of the
However, she is not qualified to testify on the shortage in the delivery of insured cargo and/or the short delivery of the imported steel billets. In
the imported steel billets. She did not have personal knowledge of the sum, we find no sufficient competent evidence to prove petitioner's
actual steel billets received. Even though she prepared the summary of liability.
the received steel billets, she based the summary only on the receipts
prepared by other persons. Her testimony on steel billets received was WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the Court of
hearsay. It has no probative value even if not objected to at the trial. 6 Appeals dated September 30, 1998 and its resolution on March 25, 1999
in CA-G.R. CV No. 45547 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
On the second issue, petitioner avers that King failed to properly In lieu thereof, Civil Case No. 63445 is hereby ordered DISMISSED.
authenticate respondent's documentary evidence. Under Section 20, No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.
Rule 132, Rules of Court,7 before a private document is admitted in
evidence, it must be authenticated either by the person who executed it,
the person before whom its execution was acknowledged, any person
who was present and saw it executed, or who after its execution, saw it
and recognized the signatures, or the person to whom the parties to the
instruments had previously confessed execution thereof. In this case,
respondent admits that King was none of the aforementioned persons.
She merely made the summary of the weight of steel billets based on the
unauthenticated bill of lading and the SGS report. Thus, the summary of
steel billets actually received had no proven real basis, and King's
testimony on this point could not be taken at face value.

Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred in giving imprimatur


to the trial court's ruling with regard to the admission of documentary
evidence submitted by respondent. On this score, we find petitioner's
contention meritorious. Under the rules on evidence, documents are
either public or private. Private documents are those that do not fall
under any of the enumerations in Section 19, Rule 132 of the Rules of
Court.8 Section 209 of the same law, in turn, provides that before any
private document is received in evidence, its due execution and
authenticity must be proved either by anyone who saw the document
executed or written, or by evidence of the genuineness of the signature
or handwriting of the maker. Here, respondent's documentary exhibits
By Adelaidas claim, Dycoco was indebted to her in the amount
of P250,000.00, payable in six months, to bear monthly interest rate of
five percent (5%), to secure which Dycoco executed the REM.

For Dycocos alleged failure to pay his obligation, Adelaida


extrajudicially foreclosed the REM and as no redemption was made
within the reglementary period, Dycocos TCT was cancelled and, in its
stead, TCT No. 243525 was issued in her name.

Dycocos attorneys-in-fact-brothers-in-law Cristino, Jose and Adolfo, all


surnamed Grafilo, who occupy the property covered by the REM as
caretakers/tenants, did not turn-over its possession to Adelaida, hence,
she, joined by her husband represented by her attorney-in-fact Evelyn
Sagalongos (Evelyn), filed a complaint for ejectment against them
before the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Manila.

Upon receiving notice of the complaint, Dycoco, represented by his


attorneys-in-fact, filed a complaint for annulment of the REM and
G.R. No. 184843 July 30, 2010 transfer certificate of title with damages, docketed as Civil Case No.
01100522, against Adelaida and her husband German Orina represented
VIRGILIO DYCOCO vs. ADELAIDA ORINA by Evelyn before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila.

On petition for review on certiorari is the November 29, 2007 Decision Dycocos attorneys-in-fact claimed that Dycocos signature on the REM
of the Court of Appeals1 affirming the dismissal of the action for was forged, to prove which they presented various documents that
annulment of real estate mortgage and transfer certificate of title with Dycoco was working in the United States of America as a licensed
damages. physician on the alleged date of execution of the REM. They also
presented Dycocos U.S. Passport, personal checks, Special Power of
Virgilio Dycoco (Dycoco) is alleged to have executed on October 9, Attorney and Affidavit; and a Certification from the Clerk of Court of
1995 a "Real Estate Mortgage with Special Power to Sell Mortgaged RTC Manila that the office does not possess a copy of the REM, Notary
Property without Judicial Proceedings" (REM) in favor of respondent Public Sinaguinan having not submitted her notarial report for October
Adelaida Orina (Adelaida), covering a parcel of land located in Sta. 1995.
Cruz, Manila and registered under Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT)
No. 105730 in Dycocos name. The REM was notarized on even date by Herein respondents Adelaida et al., maintaining the due execution of the
Notary Public Arwin Juco Sinaguinan. REM, presented Evelyn who testified on a photocopy of the REM.

By Decision of May 23, 2005, Branch 15 of the Manila RTC dismissed


Dycocos complaint, holding that:
Plaintiff, [Dycoco], through the testimony of their (sic) lone witness as Republic of the Philippines )
well as their (sic) documentary exhibits tried to show that it was not . . .
Dycoco who mortgaged the said property. Cristino Grafilo even testified City of Manila ) S.S.
that their brother Miguel, admitted to having stole (sic) the title and have
(sic) it mortgaged. Plaintiffs (sic), however, failed to establish that the BEFORE ME, a Notary Public for and in the City of Manila, this 9th
mortgagor, (sic) defendant Adelaida Orina, knew it was not Virgilio day of October 1995, personally came and appeared
Dycoco who mortgaged the same.2(underscoring supplied) ____________________ (sic) with Res. Cert. No. : 12262297 C issued
on 27 July 95 at Manila and Tax Account No.: 110-783-724 known to
By the assailed Decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts me and to me known to be the same person who executed the foregoing
dismissal of Dycocos complaint, it holding that albeit Dycocos instrument which he acknowledged before me as his free and voluntary
questioned signature appearing on the REM and the documentary act and deed.4
evidence presented by his attorneys-in-fact bear "striking differences,"
since Dycoco was not presented on the witness stand to establish the As the above-quoted acknowledgment shows, the name of the person
genuineness, due execution and contents of the documentary evidence, who personally appeared before the notary public is not stated.
no probative value can be ascribed thereto.
Documents acknowledged before a notary public, except last wills and
In not crediting evidentiary weight on Dycocos U.S. passport showing testaments, are public documents.5 Since the subject REM was not
that he was not in the Philippines when the REM was executed, the properly notarized, its public character does not hold.
appellate court held:
Since the REM is not a public document, it is subject to the requirement
. . . [T]he existence, genuineness, due execution and contents of Exhibit of proof for private documents under Section 20, Rule 132, which
"I" have not been properly established. Again, the identification made by provides:
plaintiff-appellant Cristino Grafilo (sic) will not suffice since he is not
privy to its issuance and execution. The plaintiff-appellants (sic) should
Section 20. Proof of private document. Before any private document
have presented a person competent to testify to establish the genuineness
offered as authentic is received in evidence, its due execution and
and contents of Exhibit "I" like an officer from the Bureau of
authenticity must be proved either:
Immigration. But the plaintiff-appellants (sic) failed to do so. Thus, this
court finds the stance of plaintiff-appellants (sic) that Virgilio Dycoco
was out of the country at the time of the execution of the questioned (a) By anyone who saw the document executed or written; or
deed unsupported.3
(b) By evidence of the genuineness of the signature or handwriting of
The motion for reconsideration of Dycocos attorneys-in-fact having the maker.
been denied by Resolution of October 3, 2008, the present petition for
review was filed. Any other private document need only be identified as that which it is
claimed to be. (underscoring supplied)
A perusal of the REM which is, as stated earlier, a merely photocopy,
shows the incompleteness of the acknowledgment portion. It reads: It was thus incumbent upon Adelaida to prove that Dycocos signature is
genuine. As stated earlier, a mere photocopy of the REM was presented.
It is axiomatic that when the genuineness of signatures on a document is Act No. 2103,9 which effectively dispenses with the requirement of
sought to be proved or disproved through comparison of standard presenting him on the witness stand.
signatures with the questioned signature, the original thereof must be
presented.6 Why respondents did not present the original, they did not Section 2. An instrument or document acknowledged and authenticated
explain. Why they did not present Adelaida, who must have been present in a foreign country shall be considered authentic if the acknowledgment
at the execution of the REM as her purported signature appears thereon, and authentication are made in accordance with the following
or the notary public, or any of the witnesses, neither did they explain. requirements:
Sec. 5 of Rule 130 which reads:
(a) The acknowledgment shall be made before (1) an ambassador,
SEC. 5. When original document is unavailable. When the original minister, secretary of legation, charg daffaires, consul, vice-consul, or
document has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, the consular agent of the United States, acting within the country or place to
offeror, upon proof of its execution or existence and the cause of the which he is accredited, or (2) a notary public or officer duly authorized
unavailability without bad faith on his part, may prove its contents by a by law of the country to take acknowledgments of instruments or
copy, or by a recital of its contents in some authentic document, or by documents in the place where the act is done.
the testimony of witnesses in the order stated.
(b) The person taking the acknowledgment shall certify that the person
Upon the other hand, Dycocos attorneys-in-fact presented his U.S. acknowledging the instrument or document is known to him, and that he
passport documenting when he entered and exited from the Philippines, is the same person who executed it, and acknowledged that the same is
as well as various documents showing his genuine signature. The his free act and deed. The certificate shall be under his official seal, if he
appellate court, although upholding the admissibility of Dycocos is by law required to keep a seal, and if not, his certificate shall so state.
documentary evidence, did not ascribe weight to it, however, upon the In case the acknowledgment is made before a notary public or an officer
justification that "[e]ven if . . . Cristino Grafilo was empowered to mentioned in subdivision (2) of the preceding paragraph, the certificate
appear for and on behalf of plaintiff-appellant Virgilio Dycoco in this of the notary public or the officer taking the acknowledgment shall
case by virtue of a Special Power of Attorney, the powers couched in be authenticated by an ambassador, minister, secretary of
said document do not vest upon the former the power to testify on legation, charg daffaires, consul, vice-consul, or consular agent of
matters [of] which he has no personal knowledge."7 the United States, acting within the country or place to which he is
accredited. The officer making the authentication shall certify under his
Contrary to the appellate courts stance, there was no necessity to official seal that the person who took the acknowledgment was at the
present Dycoco on the witness stand or to present the one who made the time duly authorized to act as notary public or that he was duly
entries on his U.S. passport. In respondents Comment/Opposition to exercising the functions of the office by virtue of which he assumed to
Dycocos formal offer of evidence, the passport was objected to as being act, and that as such he had authority under the law to take
"immaterial, irrelevant and impertinent." 8 Such comment is a virtual acknowledgment of instruments or documents in the place where the
admission of the authenticity of the entries in the passport. acknowledgment was taken, and that his signature and seal, if any, are
genuine. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
But more important, one of the documents offered by Dycoco is a
Special Power of Attorney executed on June 2, 2000 in Illinois, U.S.A. Evelyn insisted that Dycoco was present during the signing of the REM
showing his signature, notarized and certified in accordance with Public on October 9, 1995:
ATTY. MERCADO: of the same year. Contrary to her claim, the REM does not reflect here
as one of the witnesses to its execution.
Q: Madam Witness, when this document was prepared, were you
present? WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court
of Appeals dated November 29, 2007 is REVERSED and SET
WITNESS: ASIDE.1avvphi1

A: Yes sir. Let a NEW judgment be entered declaring null and void the document
entitled "Real Estate Mortgage with Special Power to Sell Mortgaged
Q: Are you a witness in the execution of this document? Property without Judicial Proceedings" purportedly signed by Virgilio
Dycoco in favor of Adelaida Orina.
A: Yes sir.
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Register of Deeds of Manila
for proper disposition.
Q: On page 2 of this document, the (sic) appears a signature above the
type-written name Adelaida Orina, will you please inform the Honorable
Court whose signature is this? SO ORDERED.

Q: Why do you know that it is the signature of Adelaida Orina?

A: Because she is included there.

Q: What do you mean by "kasama po siya"?

A: There were four of us at the office of the Notary Public.

Q: When you said four of you, whao (sic) are they?

A: Adelaida, Virgilio, two other witness (sic) and me.

Q: You are not four, you are five?

A: Yes sir.10 (underscoring supplied)

Evelyns testimony not only contradicts the entries in Dycocos U.S.


Passport, however, it appearing therein that Dycoco visited the
Philippines on April 2, 1990 and arrived in the United States on April 9
Secundina on December 11, 1995 and, on even date, TCT No. 225340
was cancelled and TCT No. 225341 5 was issued in the name of
petitioner.

On September 22, 1997, herein respondent Maria Milagrosa Antonio


(Milagrosa) filed a Complaint6 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Manila, docketed as Civil Case No. 97-85178, for Annulment of Title
and Documents with Damages against petitioner and Secundina,
claiming that on April 30, 1985, Cebrero, with Secundinas consent, sold
to her the land for P9,124,000;7 that she was not able to register the sale
because she had to go to the United States to attend to personal family
matters; and that the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate and the
Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of petitioner are null and void.

In its Answer,8 petitioner claimed that it bought the land in good faith
and for value from Secundina and that Milagrosas claim appears to be
"questionable, dubious, spurious, or inexistent;" 9 that any claim of
Milagrosa would only be as between her and Secundina; and that
Milagrosas rights, if any, had been forfeited by laches, estoppel, and
G.R. No. 179502 September 18, 2009 prescription.
PROGRESSIVE TRADE & SERVICE ENTERPRISES vs. MARIA
MILAGROSA ANTONIO In her Answer,10 Secundina denied that she and her husband sold the
land to Milagrosa, claiming that the sale to petitioner was lawful and for
Virgilio Cebrero (Cebrero), registered owner of a 2,281 square meter valuable consideration; and that, in any event, laches and prescription
parcel of land situated in Sampaloc, Manila and covered by Transfer had set in to bar Milagrosas claim.
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 1583051 (the land) died on December 19,
1989. Branch 35 of the Manila RTC found petitioner to be a purchaser in good
faith. With respect to Secundina, it concluded that since she and her
On January 19, 1991, Cebreros wife Secundina Magno Cebrero husband twice sold the land to two different vendees without their
(Secundina) and children executed a Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of knowledge and consent, "[she] must compensate [the plaintiff
the Estate of the Deceased Virgilio D. Cebrero With Waiver of Milagrosa] who was damaged by her fraud."11 Thus the trial court
Rights2 allotting the land to Secundina. disposed:

On September 27, 1994, Secundina sold the land to Progressive Trade WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered:
and Services (petitioner), through its president and chairman Manuel C.
Chua (Chua), via Deed of Absolute Sale. 3 TCT No.158305 was thus
cancelled and in its stead TCT No. 225340 4 was issued in the name of
(1) Dismissing the complaint as far as defendant Progressive Trade & 3. Upholding the validity of TCT No. 158305 in the name of the late
Services Enterprises, represented by its President and Chairman Manuel Virgilio D. Cebrero; and
C. Chua, is concerned;
(2) Confirming the validity of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 225341 4. Ordering the Register of Deeds of Manila to issue a new title over the
issued by the Register of Deeds of Manila in the name of Progressive subject property in the name of Plaintiff-Appellant, Maria Milagrosa
Trade & Services Enterprises, a single proprietorship represented by its Antonio, in lieu of TCT No. 158305.
President & Chairman Manuel C. Chua, for Lot 68-A-l-A of the
subdivision plan (LRC) Psd-314533, located in Sampaloc, Manila; SO ORDERED.17 (Emphasis and italics in the original)
(3) Ordering the defendant Segundina, a.k.a. Secundina, Cebrero to pay
the plaintiff:
Hence, the present petition,18 petitioner alleging that the Court of
(a) The sum of P9,124,000.00, plus interest thereon at the legal rate
Appeals erred
computed from September 22, 1997;
(b) The sum of P50,000.00 for attorneys fees; and
(c) The costs. x x x in ordering the cancellation of TCT No. 225341 which was duly
issued by the Register of Deeds of Manila in favor of the petitioner.19
SO ORDERED.12
xxxx
13 14
Both Milagrosa and Secundina appealed. By Decision of October 10,
2006, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts decision. However, x x x in not ruling that the petitioner purchased the subject property in
on Milagrosas Motion for Reconsideration,15 the Court of Appeals, good faith and for value.20
finding the title, TCT No. 225340, issued to Secundina spurious,
rendered an Amended Decision16 on March 26, 2007 in favor of xxxx
Milagrosa, disposing as follows:
x x x in not upholding the principle of indefeasibility of title under the
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Plaintiff-Appellants Motion Torrens system of registration.21
for Reconsideration is hereby GRANTED. The assailed decision
is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Concomitantly, judgment is rendered: x x x in ruling that the attendant circumstances did not constitute a case
of double sale.22
1. Cancelling TCT No. 225340 issued by the Register of Deeds of
Manila in favor of the Defendant-Appellant, Segundina M. Cebrero, for xxxx
being spurious;
x x x in not finding that under the circumstances, respondent had
2. Cancelling TCT No. 225341 issued by the Register of Deeds of forfeited whatever pretended rights she has, if any, on the grounds of
Manila in favor of the Defendant-Appellee, Progressive Trade and laches, estoppel and prescription.23
Services Enterprises, for the reason that it is a purchaser in bad faith;
xxxx
x x x in not finding that the respondent has no cause of action against The handwriting of a person may be proved by any witness who
the petitioner.24 (Emphasis in the original) believes it to be the handwriting of the person because he has seen the
person write, or has seen writing purporting to be his upon which the
In the meantime, as Milagrosa died on June 15, 2006, the Court of witness has acted or been charged, and has thus acquired knowledge of
Appeals, in the exercise of its residual jurisdiction, substituted the handwriting of such person. Evidence respecting the handwriting
Romualdo Uy for Milagrosa as plaintiff-appellant25 on December 12, may also be given by a comparison, made by the witness or the court,
2007. with writings admitted or treated as genuine by the party against whom
the evidence is offered, or proved to be genuine to the satisfaction of the
The petition is meritorious. judge. (Underscoring supplied)

The former lawyer of the Cebrero spouses, Judge Celso D. Lavia Complementing the said provision is Section 50 of Rule 130 of the
(Judge Lavia), who is familiar with the signatures of the spouses, Rules of Court which allows the reception of the opinion of a witness,
testified that Cebreros purported signature in the Deed of Absolute Sale like Judge Lavia, for which proper basis is given, as evidence
to Milagrosa (marked Exhibit "B" in the deed but designated Exhibit regarding a handwriting with which he has sufficient familiarity.
"A" during trial in Milagrosas formal offer of evidence)26 is not his.27
As the Court finds that the Deed of Absolute Sale in Milagrosas favor is
A naked eye comparison of Cebreros signature in the Deed of Absolute not genuine, it transmitted no rights to her. Consequently, the subject
Sale to Milagrosa which is, by the way, a mere photocopy28 with the land part of Cebreros estate which was allotted to Secundina was
sample signatures identified by Judge Lavia as those of Cebrero and validly sold by her to petitioner.
which were executed at around the time the questioned Deed of
Absolute Sale to Milagrosa was executed shows marked WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Amended Decision of
differences,29 indicating that they were not affixed by one and the same the Court of Appeals dated March 26, 2007 is REVERSED and SET
hand.1avvphi1 ASIDE. Civil Case No. 97-85178 lodged at the Regional Trial Court of
Manila Branch 35 is DISMISSED.
A comparison too with the naked eye of Secundinas signatures in public
documents which she identified to be hers, as well her signatures which SO ORDERED.
she executed in open court and the signature attributed to her in the
Deed of Absolute Sale to Milagrosa 30 in which her name is typed as
"SEGUNDINA" and her signature above it reads also "Segundina,"
shows that they were not written by one and the same hand.

The trial courts ruling that Secundina failed to prove her allegation that
the Deed of Absolute Sale to Milagrosa was a forgery because she failed
to present expert witnesses31 does not lie. It is settled that handwriting
experts, while useful, are not indispensable in examining or comparing
handwritings or signatures.32 For Section 22 of Rule 132 of the Rules of
Court provides:
P35,000.00, with 12% per annum interest from August 7, 1965, and
other amounts, in default of which the property subject of the
proceeding would be sold at public auction to satisfy the amounts owing
her. 2This property was a parcel of land located at Quezon City which
had been mortgaged by the defendants to secure the payment of a loan
she had extended to them. The judgment was pending appeal before the
respondent court at the time of the execution of the Conditional
Assignment.

By virtue of the Conditional Assignment, Villanueva transferred all her


rights and interests in the said judgment to Raz in consideration of the
sum of P75,000.00 to be paid by the petitioner as follows:

a) The ASSIGNEE shall pay the ASSIGNOR, her heirs and/or assigns
the sum of TWENTY TWO THOUSAND (P22,000.00), upon the
signing of this agreement.

b) The ASSIGNEE shall pay the ASSIGNOR, her heirs and/or assigns
the sum of TWENTY THOUSAND (P20,000.00), within one year from
August 7, 1972, and not later, August 7, 1973;

c) The balance of THIRTY THREE THOUSAND (P33,000.00) plus


costs mentioned in the said judgment shall be paid within the next
following year and not later, August 7, 1974. It is further understood that
the full consideration mentioned in paragraph 3, and the costs mentioned
in par. c, hereof shall be fully liquidated in two (2) years time from the
signing of this agreement and not later, August 7, 1974.
G.R. No. 73010 April 27, 1990
REVA RAZ vs. THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT It was also stipulated in Par. 3 (d) of the agreement

The subject of this petition is a Conditional Assignment of Rights and d) That the ASSIGNOR shall, as soon as the decision in the
Interests over a Foreclosure Judgment entered into between petitioner aforementioned case shall become final and executory, proceed with the
Reva Raz and the original private respondent herein, Encarnacion execution of the judgment and the auction sale if allowed by law of the
Villanueva, on August 7, 1972. 1 property subject matter of the aforementioned case, and the ASSIGNOR
and/or her heirs shall as soon as the full consideration hereof is fully
The said judgment was rendered in favor of Villanueva on February 5, satisfied, and if by operation of law shall become the legitimate owner
1969, and ordered the defendants therein to pay her the amount of of the said property, execute a Deed of Sale in favor of the ASSIGNEE
or her heirs, and/or assigns in order to make this CONDITIONAL Dear Mr. Raz:
ASSIGNMENT OF RIGHTS AND INTERESTS permanent. All
expenses for such execution and auction sale and other expenses I am writing you this letter to remind you of your obligation under the
necessary thereto shall be for the account of the ASSIGNEE. Deed of Assignment we have entered into. You have not complied with
your promise to pay me the P33,000.00 the costs and expenses
The petitioner paid the first installment of P22,000.00 on August 7, corresponding thereto.
1972, and the second installment of P20,000.00 on August 7, 1973.
However, she refused to pay the third installment of P33,000.00, which Hoping that you give this matter your preferential attention. Final
was supposed to be due on August 7, 1974, on the ground that demand is hereby made that you pay the aforesaid amount otherwise I
Villanueva had not complied with her obligation under their agreement. will be constrained to rescind the contract and avail of my rights
provided for in the contract. Truly yours,
On April 13, 1978, the petitioner filed a complaint for specific
performance and damages against the private respondent, claiming that (Sgd.) ENCARNACION G. VILLANUEVA
the latter had reneged on her duty to deliver the property to the assignee
in accordance with their agreement. In her answer, Villanueva alleged xxx xxx xxx
that it was the petitioner who had defaulted in her payments and thus
given just cause for the rescission of the agreement. This was authorized
May 13, 1975
in its Par. 3(h) reading as follows:
Mr. Reva C. Raz
h) If for any reason, any of the above terms and conditions cannot fully
16-A Matiyaga St.
be complied, the same may be considered rescinded by either party, in
Quezon City
which event the ASSIGNOR shall return whatever money she or her
heirs may have received from the ASSIGNEE, and the said ASSIGNEE,
shall relinquish any and all rights which if any she or her heirs may Dear Mr. Raz:
have, and this contract shall forthwith be considered null and void and
without force and effect whatsoever. I am writing you this letter again to inform you that inasmuch that you
failed to pay me the P33,000.00 the costs and expenses corresponding
To support her claim, Villanueva presented two letters 3 she said she had thereto as provided in our contract of August 7, 1972, I am making to
sent Raz, the first to remind her of the third installment that had not yet you this formal tender of payment of the P42,000.00 you paid me
been paid and the second to tender her the refund of her earlier before.
payments in view of the rescission of their contract. These letters follow:
Please give this matter your preferential attention because if I will not
April 22, 1975 hear from you within a period of two (2) days from receipt hereof I will
be constrained to consign aforesaid amount in court at your own costs.
Reva Raz
16-A A. Matiyaga St. Yours truly,
Quezon City
(Sgd.) ENCARNACION VILLANUEVA The petitioner likewise submitted that the rescission of the agreement
was improper because it was Villanueva who had violated the contract
For her part, Raz contended that it was the private respondent who had by refusing to deliver the property to her. Moreover, every rescission,
incurred in delay and bad faith.1wphi1 The petitioner pointed out that even if extrajudicial, requires proper notice to the other party, and there
the motion to dismiss the appeal was filed by the appellants on August was no proof that such notice had been served on her.
16, 1972, and was granted by the Court of Appeals in a resolution dated
December 15, 1972. Yet it was only on August 16, 1973, that the private The Court has deliberated on the issues and the arguments of the parties
respondent filed a motion for execution of the foreclosure judgment. and finds that the respondent court 4committed no reversible error in
sustaining the trial court 5 and dismissing the appeal.
This motion was granted by the trial court on October 6, 1973. The
property was sold at public auction on January 23, 1975, and the The petitioner was actually arguing against herself in invoking Rule 132,
certificate of sale was issued in favor of Villanueva on February 25, Section 21, for one of the modes prescribed therein for proving the
1975. This was registered on March 26, 1975, and the period of execution and authenticity of any private writing is "by evidence of the
redemption expired one year later. However, it was only on February 9, genuineness of the handwriting of the maker." This mode must be read
1978, that the court, on Villanueva's motion, ordered the confirmation of with Section 23 of the same Rule, which says that
the sale and a new certificate of title was issued in her name.
. . . Evidence respecting the handwriting may also be given by a
According to the petitioner, the two letters allegedly sent to her by the comparison, made by the witness or the court, with writings admitted or
private respondents should not have been admitted in evidence not only treated as genuine by the party against whom the evidence is offered or
because there was no proof that she had received them. No less proved to be genuine to the satisfaction of the judge.
importantly, their genuineness had not been established in accordance
with Rule 132, Section 21, reading as follows: We have made such comparison and find that the signature of
Encarnacion G. Villanueva on the Conditional Assignment (which is not
Sec. 21. Private writing, its execution and authenticity, how disputed) is similar to the signatures affixed to the two letters sent to the
proved. Before any private writing may be received in evidence, its petitioner. There is no doubt that the agreement and the two letters were
due execution and authenticity must be proved either: signed by private respondent Encarnacion G. Villanueva. Consequently,
their authenticity and execution having been established, we hold that
a) By anyone who saw the writing executed; the letters were admissible as evidence of the private respondent.

b) By evidence of the genuineness of the handwriting of the maker; or The Court is also convinced that the two letters were correctly sent to
and personally delivered at the petitioner's address as stated in the
c) By a subscribing witness. Conditional Assignment, were actually received there and later
presumably conveyed to her. Indeed, the signature of the person who
received the first letter closely resembles that of one of petitioner's
counsel as an examination of her pleadings will reveal. 6 At any rate,
even if they were not really transmitted to the petitioner and the letters
were correctly rejected as inadmissible, Raz would still be bound by her
own admission in the complaint, where she made the following this vague statement, which suggests that it was not following up the
allegations in Par. 8: matter closely, it would absolve its client of all negligence. We do not
agree.
a) A week or so before August 7, 1974, defendant demanded from
plaintiff the payment of the balance of P33,000.00 of the consideration; It seems to us that in view of her substantial stake in the property, it
behooved the petitioner to see to it that the private respondent
xxx xxx xxx discharged her part of the bargain without delay, especially so since no
specific date was imposed upon the private respondent to transfer the
e) In view of plaintiffs insistence that the P33,000.00 would be paid only land to the petitioner. If Raz felt that Villanueva was dilly-dallying, she
after defendant had obtained ownership of the subject property and should have taken steps to make her move faster (short of refusing to
would thus be ready to execute the corresponding deed of pay the last installment). As the trial judge observed, "plaintiff could
sale, defendant instead offered to return the amount of P42,000.00 very well have paid the whole amount and then substituted herself as
already paid to her by plaintiff and have the contract rescinded, clearly plaintiff in Civil Case No. 10109." But she did not and just stood by,
revealing her interest not to recognize the aforesaid contract. (Emphasis waiting to hear of developments "later on."
supplied.)
The sum of it all is that the petitioner, in insisting on the registration first
The last quoted-paragraph is especially telling because it belies the in her name of the subject property before paying the balance, was
petitioner's insistence that she had not been notified of the rescission. By invoking a right not stipulated in the Conditional Assignment. What was
her own words, she has admitted understanding the letter of May 13, clearly provided therein was that the balance of P33,000.00 would be
1975, as informing her that because of her failure to pay the balance of paid by her within two years from the date of the agreement and not
the stipulated payment, the contract was being rescinded by the private later than August 7, 1974. For her refusal to make this payment, the
respondent. As she herself alleged, Villanueva "offered to return the contract was, pursuant to its terms, properly rescinded.
amount of P42,000.00 already paid to her by the plaintiff and have the
contract rescinded." This is a judicial admission that the petitioner WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the challenged decision of
cannot now disavow. 7 the respondent court is AFFIRMED, with costs against the petitioner.

While it is true that a certain degree of delay did accompany the SO ORDERED.
registration of the property in Villanueva's name, this was not entirely
imputable to her. Good faith is presumed except in the face of the
strongest evidence to the contrary, which is not present here. The Court
also notes from her conduct that the petitioner is not entirely blameless
either. Considering the investment she had made in the land, having
already paid thereon the sum of P33,000.00, we feel she should have
been more vigilant in the protection of her interests.

The petitioner's counsel repeatedly says it was informed of each


development in the sale and registration of the property "later on." 8 By
NEDLLOYD LIJNEN B.V. ROTTERDAM vs. GLOW LAKS
ENTERPRISES, LTD.

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari1 filed pursuant to Ruic 45 of


the Revised Rules of Comi, primarily assailing the 11 December 2002
Resolution rendered by the Special Former Sixteenth Division of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 48277,2 the decretal portion of
which states:

WHEREFORE, the appeal is GRANTED and the April 29. 1994


Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 52 thereof' in
Civil Case No. 88-45595, SET ASIDE. Nedlloyd Lijncn B.V. Rotterdam
and The East Asiatic Co., Ltd arc ordered to pay Glow l ,aks Enterprises,
I ,td. the following:

1. The invoice value of the goodslost worth $53,640.00, or its equivalent


in Philippine currency;

2. Attorneys fees of P50,000.00; and

3. Costs.3

The Facts

Petitioner Nedlloyd Lijnen B.V. Rotterdam (Nedlloyd) is a foreign


corporation engaged in the business of carrying goods by sea, whose
vessels regularly call at the port of Manila. It is doing business in the
Philippines thru its local ship agent, co-petitioner East Asiatic Co., Ltd.
(East Asiatic).

Respondent Glow Laks Enterprises,Ltd., is likewise a foreign


corporation organized and existing under the laws of Hong Kong. It is
not licensed to do, and it is not doing business in, the Philippines.

On or about 14 September 1987, respondent loaded on board M/S


G.R. No. 156330 November 19, 2014 Scandutch at the Port of Manila a total 343 cartoons of garments,
complete and in good order for pre-carriage tothe Port of Hong Kong.
The goods covered by Bills of Lading Nos. MHONX-2 and MHONX- petitioners counterclaims. In effect, respondent was directed to pay
34 arrived in good condition in Hong Kong and were transferred to M/S petitioners the amount of P120,000.00 as indemnification for the
Amethyst for final carriage to Colon, Free Zone, Panama. Both vessels, litigation expenses incurred by the latter. In releasing the common
M/S Scandutch and M/S Amethyst, are owned by Nedlloyd represented carrier from liability for the misdelivery of the goods, the RTC ruled that
in the Phlippines by its agent, East Asiatic. The goods which were Panama law was duly proven during the trial and pursuant to the said
valued at US$53,640.00 was agreed to be released to the consignee, statute, carriers of goods destined to any Panama port of entry have to
Pierre Kasem, International, S.A., upon presentation of the original discharge their loads into the custody of Panama Ports Authority to
copies of the covering bills of lading. 5 Upon arrival of the vessel at the make effective government collection of port dues, customs duties and
Port of Colon on 23 October 1987, petitioners purportedly notified the taxes. The subsequent withdrawal effected by unauthorized persons on
consignee of the arrival of the shipments, and its custody was turned the strength of falsified bills of lading does not constitute misdelivery
over tothe National Ports Authority in accordance with the laws, arising from the fault of the common carrier. The decretal part of the
customs regulations and practice of trade in Panama. By an unfortunate RTC Decision reads: WHEREFORE, judgment is renderedfor
turn ofevents, however, unauthorized persons managed to forge the [petitioners] and against [Respondent], ordering the dismissal of the
covering bills of lading and on the basis of the falsified documents, the complaint and ordering the latter to pay [petitioners] the amount of ONE
ports authority released the goods. HUNDRED TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS (P120,000.00) on their
counterclaims. Cost against [Respondent].10
On 16 July 1988, respondent filed a formal claim with Nedlloyd for the
recovery of the amount of US$53,640.00 representing the invoice value On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the findings of the RTC and
of the shipment but to no avail. 6 Claiming that petitioners are liable for held that foreign laws were not proven in the manner provided by
the misdelivery of the goods, respondent initiated Civil Case No. 88- Section 24, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Court, and therefore, it
45595 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 52, cannot be given full faith and credit.11 For failure to prove the foreign
seeking for the recovery of the amount of US$53,640.00, including the law and custom, it is presumed that foreign laws are the sameas our
legal interest from the date of the first demand.7 local or domestic or internal law under the doctrine of processual
presumption. Under the New Civil Code, the discharge of the goods
In disclaiming liability for the misdelivery of the shipments, petitioners intothe custody of the ports authority therefore does not relieve the
asserted in their Answer8 that they were never remiss in their obligation commoncarrier from liability because the extraordinary responsibility of
as a common carrier and the goods were discharged in good order and the common carriers lasts until actual or constructive delivery of the
condition into the custody of the National Ports Authority of Panama in cargoes tothe consignee or to the person who has the right to receive
accordance with the Panamanian law. They averred that they cannot be them. Absent any proof that the notify party or the consignee was
faulted for the release of the goods to unauthorized persons, their informed of the arrival of the goods, the appellate court held that the
extraordinary responsibility as a common carrier having ceased at the extraordinary responsibility of common carriers remains. Accordingly,
time the possession of the goods were turned over to the possession of the Court of Appeals directed petitioners to pay respondent the value of
the port authorities. the misdelivered goods in the amount of US$53,640.00.

After the Pre-Trial Conference, trial on the merits ensued. Both parties The Issues
offered testimonial and documentary evidence to support their
respective causes. On 29 April 2004, the RTC rendered a
Decision9 ordering the dismissal of the complaint but granted
Dissatisfied with the foregoing disquisition, petitioners impugned the Court14 which read: SEC. 24. Proof of official record. The record of
adverse Court of Appeals Decision before the Court on the following public documents referred to in paragraph (a) of Section 19, when
grounds: admissible for any purpose, may be evidenced by an official publication
thereof or by a copy attested by the officer having the legal custody of
I. the record, or by his deputy, and accompanied, if the record is not kept
in the Philippines, with a certificate that such officer has the custody. If
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO NEED TO PROVE PANAMANIAN the office in which the record is kept is in a foreigncountry, the
LAWS BECAUSE THEYHAD BEEN JUDICIALLY ADMITTED. AN certificate may be made by a secretary of the embassy or legation,
ADMISSION BY A PARTY IN THE COURSE OF THE consul general, consul, vice- consul, or consular agent or by any officer
PROCEEDINGS DOES NOT REQUIRE PROOF. in the foreign service of the Philippines stationed in the foreign country
in which the record is kept, and authenticated by the seal of his office.
II.
SEC. 25. What attestation of copy must state. Whenever a copy of a
document or record is attested for the purpose of the evidence, the
BY PRESENTING AS EVIDENCE THE [GACETA] OFFICIAL OF
attestation must state,in substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the
REPUBLICA DE PANAMA NO. 17.596 WHERE THE APPLICABLE
original, or a specific part thereof, as the case may be. The attestation
PANAMANIAN LAWS WERE OFFICIALLY PUBLISHED, AND
must be under the official seal of the attesting officer, if there be any, or
THE TESTIMONY OF EXPERT WITNESSES, PETITIONERS WERE
if he be the clerk of a court having a seal, under the seal of such court.
ABLE TO PROVE THE LAWS OF PANAMA.
For a copy of a foreign public document to be admissible, the following
III.
requisites are mandatory: (1) itmust be attested by the officer having
legal custody of the records or by his deputy; and (2) it must be
IF WE HAVE TO CONCEDE TO THE COURT OF APPEALS accompanied by a certificate by a secretary of the embassy or legation,
FINDING THAT THERE WAS FAILURE OF PROOF, THE LEGAL consul general, consul, vice-consular or consular agent or foreign
QUESTION PRESENTED TO THE HONORABLE COURT SHOULD service officer, and with the seal of his office. 15 Such official publication
BE RESOLVED FAVORABLY BECAUSE THE CARRIER or copy must be accompanied, if the record is not kept in the
DISCHARGED ITS DUTY WHETHER UNDER THE PANAMANIAN Philippines, with a certificate that the attesting officer has the legal
LAW OR UNDER PHILIPPINE LAW.12 custody thereof.16 The certificate may be issued by any of the authorized
Philippine embassy or consular officials stationed in the foreign country
The Courts Ruling in which the record is kept, and authenticated by the seal of his
office.17 The attestation must state, in substance, that the copy is a
We find the petition bereft of merit. correct copy of the original, or a specific part thereof, as the case may
be, and mustbe under the official seal of the attesting officer.18
It is well settled that foreign laws do not prove themselves in our
jurisdiction and our courts are not authorized to take judicial notice of Contrary to the contention of the petitioners, the Panamanian laws,
them. Like any other fact, they must be alleged and proved. 13 To prove a particularly Law 42 and its Implementing Order No. 7, were not duly
foreign law, the party invoking it must present a copy thereof and proven in accordance with Rules of Evidence and as such, it cannot
comply with Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of govern the rights and obligations of the parties in the case at bar. While a
photocopy of the Gaceta Official of the Republica de Panama No. appeared during the trial below and his deposition, that was supposed to
17.596, the Spanish text of Law 42 which is theforeign statute relied establish the existence of the foreign law, was obtained ex-parte.
upon by the court a quoto relieve the common carrier from liability, was
presented as evidence during the trial of the case below, the same It is worth reiterating at this point that under the rules of private
however was not accompanied by the required attestation and international law, a foreign law must be properly pleaded and proved as
certification. a fact. In the absence of pleading and proof, the laws of the foreign
country or state will be presumed to be the same as our local or domestic
It is explicitly required by Section 24, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of law. This is known as processual presumption. 22 While the foreign law
Court that a copy of the statute must be accompanied by a certificate of was properly pleaded in the case at bar, it was,however, proven not in
the officer who has legal custody of the records and a certificate made the manner provided by Section 24, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of
by the secretary of the embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice- Court. The decision of the RTC, which proceeds from a disregard of
consular or by any officer in the foreign service of the Philippines specific rules cannot be recognized.
stationed in the foreign country, and authenticated by the seal of his
office. The latter requirement is not merely a technicality but is intended Having settled the issue on the applicable Rule, we now resolve the
to justify the giving of full faith and credit to the genuineness of the issue of whether or not petitioners are liable for the misdelivery of goods
document in a foreign country.19 Certainly, the deposition of Mr. Enrique under Philippine laws.
Cajigas, a maritime law practitioner in the Republic of Panama, before
the Philippine Consulate in Panama, is not the certificate contemplated Under the New Civil Code, common carriers, from the nature of their
by law. At best, the deposition can be considered as an opinion of an business and for reasons of public policy, are bound to observe
expert witness who possess the required special knowledge on the extraordinary diligencein the vigilance over goods, according to the
Panamanian laws but could not be recognized as proof of a foreign law, circumstances of each case.23Common carriers are responsible for loss,
the deponent not being the custodian of the statute who can guarantee destruction or deterioration of the goods unless the same is due to flood,
the genuineness of the document from a foreign country. To admit the storm, earthquake or other natural disaster or calamity.24 Extraordinary
deposition as proof of a foreign law is, likewise, a disavowal of the diligence is that extreme care and caution which persons of unusual
rationaleof Section 24, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Court, which prudence and circumspection use for securing or preserving their own
isto ensure authenticity of a foreign law and its existence so as to justify property or rights.25This expecting standardimposed on common carriers
its import and legal consequence on the event or transaction in issue. in contract of carrier of goods is intended to tilt the scales in favor of the
The above rule, however, admits exceptions, and the Court in certain shipper who is at the mercy of the common carrier once the goods have
cases recognized that Section 25, Rule132 of the Revised Rules of Court been lodged for the shipment.26Hence, in case of loss of goods in transit,
does not exclude the presentation of other competent evidence to prove the common carrier is presumed under the law to have been in fault or
the existence of foreign law. In Willamete Iron and Steel Works v. negligent.27
Muzzal20 for instance, we allowed the foreign law tobe established on
the basis of the testimony in open court during the trial in the
While petitioners concede that, as a common carrier, they are bound to
Philippines of an attorney-atlaw in San Francisco, California, who
observe extraordinary diligence in the care and custody of the goods in
quoted the particular foreign law sought to be established.21 The ruling is
their possession, they insist that they cannot be held liable for the loss of
peculiar to the facts. Petitioners cannot invoke the Willamete ruling to
the shipments, their extraordinary responsibility having ceased at the
secure affirmative relief since their so called expert witness never
time the goods were discharged into the custody of the customs
arrastreoperator, who in turn took complete responsibility over the care, It was further provided in the samestatute that the carrier may be
storage and delivery of the cargoes.28 relieved from the responsibility for loss or damage to the goods upon
actual or constructive delivery of the same by the carrier to the
In contrast, respondent, submits that the fact that the shipments were not consignee or to the person who has the right to receive them. 31 In sales,
delivered to the consignee as statedin the bill of lading or to the party actual delivery has been defined as the ceding of the corporeal
designated or named by the consignee, constitutes misdelivery thereof, possession by the seller, and the actual apprehension of the corporeal
and under the law it is presumed that the common carrier is at fault or possession by the buyer or by some person authorized by him to receive
negligent if the goods they transported, as in this case, fell into the hands the goods as his representative for the purpose of custody or
of persons who have no right to receive them. disposal.32 By the same token, there is actual delivery in contracts for the
transport of goods when possession has been turned over to the
We sustain the position of the respondent. consignee or to his duly authorized agent and a reasonable time is given
him to remove the goods.33
Article 1736 and Article 1738 are the provisions in the New Civil Code
which define the period when the common carrier is required to exercise In this case, there is no dispute that the custody of the goods was never
diligence lasts, viz: turned over to the consignee or his agents but was lost into the hands of
unauthorized persons who secured possession thereof on the strength of
falsified documents. The loss or the misdelivery of the goods in the
Article 1736. The extraordinary responsibility of the common carrier
instant case gave rise to the presumption that the common carrier is at
lasts from the time the goodsare unconditionally placed in the
fault or negligent.
possession of, and received by the carrier for transportation until the
same are delivered, actually or constructively, by the carrier to the
consignee, or to the person who has a right to receive them, without A common carrier is presumed to have been negligent if it fails to prove
prejudice to the provisions of article 1738. that it exercised extraordinary vigilance over the goods it
transported.34 When the goods shipped are either lost or arrived in
damaged condition, a presumption arises against the carrier of its failure
Article 1738. The extraordinary liability of the common carrier
to observe that diligence, and there need not be an express finding of
continues to be operative even during the time the goods are stored in a
negligence to hold it liable.35 To overcome the presumption of
warehouse of the carrier at the place of destination, until the consignee
negligence, the common carrier must establish by adequateproof that it
has been advised of the arrival of the goods and has had reasonable
exercised extraordinary diligence over the goods.36 It must do more than
opportunity thereafter to remove them or otherwise dispose of them.
merely show that some other party could be responsible for the
damage.37
Explicit is the rule under Article 1736 of the Civil Code that the
extraordinary responsibility of the common carrier begins from the time
In the present case, petitioners failed to prove that they did exercise the
the goods are delivered to the carrier.29 This responsibility remains in
degree of diligence required by law over the goods they transported.
full force and effect even when they are temporarily unloaded or stored
Indeed, aside from their persistent disavowal of liability by conveniently
in transit, unless the shipper or owner exercises the right of stop page in
posing an excuse that their extraordinary responsibility isterminated
transitu, and terminates only after the lapse of a reasonable time for the
upon release of the goods to the Panamanian Ports Authority, petitioners
acceptance, of the goods by the consignee or such other person entitled
failed to adduce sufficient evidence they exercised extraordinary care to
to receive them.30
prevent unauthorized withdrawal of the shipments. Nothing in the New
Civil Code, however, suggests, even remotely, that the common carriers contract of carriage still subsists and petitioners could be held liable for
responsibility over the goods ceased upon delivery thereof to the custom the breach thereof.
authorities. To the mind of this Court, the contract of carriage remains in
full force and effect even after the delivery of the goods to the port Petitioners could have offered evidence before the trial court to show
authorities; the only delivery that releases it from their obligation to that they exercised the highest degree of care and caution even after the
observe extraordinary care is the delivery to the consignee or his agents. goods was turned over to the custom authorities, by promptly notifying
Even more telling of petitioners continuing liability for the goods the consignee of its arrival at the P01i of Cristobal in order to afford
transported to the fact that the original bills of lading up to this time, them ample opportunity to remove the cargoes from the port of
remains in the possession of the notify party or consignee. Explicit on discharge. We have scoured the records and found that neither the
this point is the provision of Article 353 of the Code of Commerce consignee nor the notify paiiy was informed by the petitioners of the
which provides: arrival of the goods, a crucial fact indicative of petitioners' failure to
observe extraordinary diligence in handling the goods entrusted to their
Article 353. The legal evidence of the contract between the shipper and custody for transport. They could have presented proof to show that they
the carrier shall be the bills of lading, by the contents of which the exercised extraordinary care but they chose in vain, full reliance to their
disputes which may arise regarding their execution and performance cause on applicability of Panamanian law to local jurisdiction. It is for
shall be decided, no exceptions being admissible other than those of this reason that we find petitioners liable for the misdelivery of the
falsity and material error in the drafting. goods. It is evident from the review of the records and by the evidence
adduced by the respondent that petitioners failed to rebut the prima facie
After the contract has been complied with, the bill of lading which the presumption of negligence. We find no compelling reason to depa1i
carrier has issued shall be returned to him, and by virtue of the exchange from the ruling of the Court of Appeals that under the contract of
of this title with the thing transported, the respective obligations and carriage, petitioners are liable for the value of the misdelivcred goods.
actions shall be considered cancelled, unless in the same act the claim
which the parties may wish to reserve be reduced to writing, with the WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED.
exception of that provided for in Article 366. The assailed Resolution of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED.

In case the consignee, upon receiving the goods, cannot return the bill of SO ORDERED.
lading subscribed by the carrier, because of its loss or of any other
cause, he must give the latter a receiptfor the goods delivered, this
receipt producing the same effects as the return of the bill of lading.

While surrender of the original bill of lading is not a condition precedent


for the common carrier to bedischarged from its contractual obligation,
there must be, at the very least, an acknowledgement of the delivery by
signing the delivery receipt, if surrender of the original of the bill of
lading is not possible.38 There was neither surrender of the original
copies of the bills of lading nor was there acknowledgment of the
delivery in the present case. This leads to the conclusion that the
G.R. No. 162886 August 11, 2008

HEIRS OF SPOUSES ARCILLA vs. TEODORO

Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of


the Rules of Court assailing the September 12, 2003 Decision 1 of the
Court of Appeals (CA) and its Resolution 2 dated March 24, 2004 in CA-
G.R. SP No. 72032.

The facts of the case are as follows:

On December 19, 1995, Ma. Lourdes A. Teodoro (respondent) initially


filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Virac, Catanduanes an
application for land registration of two parcels of land located at
Barangay San Pedro, Virac, Catanduanes. The lots, with an aggregate
area of 284 square meters, are denominated as Lot Nos. 525-A and 525-
B, Csd.-05-010483-D of the Virac Cadastre. Respondent alleged that,
with the exception of the commercial building constructed thereon, she
purchased the subject lots from her father, Pacifico Arcilla (Pacifico), as
shown by a Deed of Sale3dated December 9, 1966, and that, prior
thereto, Pacifico acquired the said lots by virtue of the partition of the
estate of his father, Jose Arcilla evidenced by a document entitled
Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate.4 Respondent also presented as
evidence an Affidavit of Quit-Claim 5 in favor of Pacifico, executed by
herein petitioners as Heirs of Vicente Arcilla (Vicente), brother of
Pacifico.
On February 7, 1996, the case was transferred to the Municipal Trial Opposing the motion to dismiss, respondents asserted that the
Court (MTC) of Virac, Catanduanes in view of the expanded jurisdiction petitioners' Motion to Dismiss Application was filed out of time;
of said court as provided under Republic Act No. 7691.6 respondent's failure to comply with SC Administrative Circular No. 04-
94 was not willful, deliberate or intentional; and the Motion to Dismiss
In their Opposition dated August 19, 1996, petitioners contended that was deemed waived for failure of petitioners to file the same during the
they are the owners pro-indiviso of the subject lots including the earlier stages of the proceedings.
building and other improvements constructed thereon by virtue of
inheritance from their deceased parents, spouses Vicente and Josefa On July 19, 1999, the MTC issued an Order9 denying petitioners' Motion
Arcilla; contrary to the claim of respondent, the lots in question were to Dismiss Application.
owned by their father, Vicente, having purchased the same from a
certain Manuel Sarmiento sometime in 1917; Vicente's ownership is On June 25, 2001, the MTC rendered a Decision 10 the dispositive
evidenced by several tax declarations attached to the record; petitioners portion of which reads as follows:
and their predecessors-in-interest had been in possession of the subject
lots since 1906. Petitioners moved to dismiss the application of NOW THEREFORE, and considering all the above premises, the Court
respondent and sought their declaration as the true and absolute finds and so holds that Applicant MA. LOURDES A. TEODORO,
owners pro-indiviso of the subject lots and the registration and issuance having sufficient title over this land applied for hereby renders
of the corresponding certificate of title in their names. judgment, which should be, as it is hereby CONFIRMED and
REGISTERED in her name.
Subsequently, trial of the case ensued.
IT IS SO ORDERED.11
On March 20, 1998, herein respondent filed a Motion for
Admission7 contending that through oversight and inadvertence she Herein petitioners then filed an appeal with the Regional Trial Court of
failed to include in her application, the verification and certificate Virac, Catanduanes. In its Decision 12 dated February 22, 2002, the RTC,
against forum shopping required by Supreme Court (SC) Revised Branch 43, of Virac, Catanduanes dismissed the appeal for lack of merit
Circular No. 28-91 in relation to SC Administrative Circular No. 04-94. and affirmed in toto the Decision of the MTC. Petitioners filed a Motion
for Reconsideration but it was denied by the RTC in its Order 13 of July
Petitioners filed a Motion to Dismiss Application 8 on the ground that 22, 2002.
respondent should have filed the certificate against forum shopping
simultaneously with the petition for land registration which is a Aggrieved by the RTC Decision, petitioners filed a Petition for
mandatory requirement of SC Administrative Circular No. 04-94 and Review14 with the CA. On September 12, 2003, the CA promulgated its
that any violation of the said Circular shall be a cause for the dismissal presently assailed Decision dismissing the Petition. Petitioners filed a
of the application upon motion and after hearing. Motion for Reconsideration but the same was denied by the CA in its
Resolution15 dated March 24, 2004.

Hence, the herein petition based on the following grounds:


A. The Honorable Court of Appeals did not rule in accordance with the Under the attendant circumstances in the present case, the Court cannot
prevailing rules and jurisprudence when it held that the belated filing, uphold petitioners contention that respondent's delay of more than two
after more than two (2) years and three (3) months from the initial years and three months in filing the required certificate of non-forum
application for land registration, of a sworn certification against forum shopping may not be considered substantial compliance with the
shopping in Respondent's application for land registration, constituted requirements of SC Administrative Circular No. 04-94 and Section 5,
substantial compliance with SC Admin. Circular No. 04-94. Rule 7 of the Rules of Court; that respondent's reasons of oversight and
inadvertence do not constitute a justifiable circumstance that could
B. The Honorable Court of Appeals did not rule in accordance with excuse her non-compliance with the mandatory requirements of the
prevailing laws and jurisprudence when it held that the certification of above-mentioned Circular and Rule; that subsequent compliance with
non-forum shopping subsequently submitted by respondent does not the requirement does not serve as an excuse for a party's failure to
require a certification from an officer of the foreign service of the comply in the first instance.
Philippines as provided under Section 24, Rule 132 of the Rules of
Court. Section 5, Rule 7, of the Rules of Court provides:

C. The Honorable Court of Appeals did not rule in accordance with Sec. 5. Certification against forum shopping. The plaintiff or principal
prevailing laws and jurisprudence when it upheld the decisions of the party shall certify under oath in the complaint or other initiatory
Regional Trial Court (RTC) and Municipal Trial Court (MTC) that the pleading asserting a claim for relief, or in a sworn certification annexed
lots in question were not really owned by Petitioners' father Vicente S. thereto and simultaneously filed therewith: (a) that he has not
Arcilla, contrary to the evidence presented by both parties. theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same
issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of
D. The Honorable Court of Appeals did not rule in accordance with his knowledge, no such other action or claim is pending therein; (b) if
prevailing laws and jurisprudence when it sustained the decision of the there is such other pending action or claim, a complete statement of the
RTC which affirmed in toto the decision of the MTC and in not present status thereof; and (c) if he should thereafter learn that the same
reversing the same and rendering judgment in favor of Petitioners. 16 or similar action or claim has been filed or is pending, he shall report
that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court wherein his aforesaid
In their Memorandum, petitioners further raise the following issue: complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed.

Whether or not the Supreme Court may inquire into conclusions of facts Failure to comply with the foregoing requirements shall not be curable
made by the Honorable Court of Appeals in the instant Petition.17 by mere amendment of the complaint or other initiatory pleading but
shall be cause for the dismissal of the case without prejudice, unless
otherwise provided, upon motion and after hearing. The submission of a
The Courts Ruling
false certification or non-compliance with any of the undertakings
therein shall constitute indirect contempt of court, without prejudice to
The petition is bereft of merit. the corresponding administrative and criminal actions. If the acts of the
party or his counsel clearly constitute willful and deliberate forum
The CA ruled correctly when it held that the belated filing of a shopping, the same shall be ground for summary dismissal with
sworn certification of non-forum shopping was substantial prejudice and shall constitute direct contempt as well as a cause for
compliance with SC Administrative Circular No. 04-94. administrative sanctions.
This Rule was preceded by Circular No. 28-91, which originally non-compliance with the requirements, there were special circumstances
required the certification of non-forum shopping for petitions filed with or compelling reasons making the strict application of the rule clearly
this Court and the CA; and SC Administrative Circular No. 04-94, unjustified. In the case at bar, the apparent merits of the substantive
which extended the certification requirement for civil complaints and aspects of the case should be deemed as a "special circumstance" or
other initiatory pleadings filed in all courts and other agencies. "compelling reason" for the reinstatement of the petition. x x x29

In Gabionza v. Court of Appeals,18 this Court has held that Circular No. Citing De Guia v. De Guia30 the Court, in Estribillo v. Department of
28-91 was designed to serve as an instrument to promote and facilitate Agrarian Reform,31 held that even if there was complete non-compliance
the orderly administration of justice and should not be interpreted with with the rule on certification against forum-shopping, the Court may still
such absolute literalness as to subvert its own ultimate and legitimate proceed to decide the case on the merits pursuant to its inherent power
objective or the goal of all rules of procedure which is to achieve to suspend its own rules on grounds of substantial justice and apparent
substantial justice as expeditiously as possible.19The same guideline still merit of the case.
applies in interpreting what is now Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules
of Civil Procedure.20 In the instant case, the Court finds that the lower courts did not commit
any error in proceeding to decide the case on the merits, as herein
The Court is fully aware that procedural rules are not to be belittled or respondent was able to submit a certification of non-forum shopping.
simply disregarded, for these prescribed procedures insure an orderly More importantly, the apparent merit of the substantive aspect of the
and speedy administration of justice.21 However, it is equally settled that petition for land registration filed by respondent with the MTC coupled
litigation is not merely a game of technicalities. 22 Rules of procedure with the showing that she had no intention to violate the Rules with
should be viewed as mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of impunity, as she was the one who invited the attention of the court to the
justice.23 Their strict and rigid application, which would result in inadvertence committed by her counsel, should be deemed as special
technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial circumstances or compelling reasons to decide the case on the merits.
justice, must always be eschewed.24 Even the Rules of Court reflect this
principle.25 In addition, considering that a dismissal contemplated under Rule 7,
Section 5 of the Rules of Court is, as a rule, a dismissal without
Moreover, the emerging trend in our jurisprudence is to afford every prejudice, and since there is no showing that respondent is guilty of
party-litigant the amplest opportunity for the proper and just forum shopping, to dismiss respondent's petition for registration would
determination of his cause free from the constraints of technicalities.26 entail a tedious process of re-filing the petition, requiring the parties to
re-submit the pleadings which they have already filed with the trial
It must be kept in mind that while the requirement of the certificate of court, and conducting anew hearings which have already been done, not
non-forum shopping is mandatory, nonetheless the requirement must not to mention the expenses that will be incurred by the parties in re-filing
be interpreted too literally and thus defeat the objective of preventing of pleadings and in the re-conduct of hearings. These would not be in
the undesirable practice of forum shopping. 27 In Uy v. Land Bank of the keeping with the judicial policy of just, speedy and inexpensive
Philippines,28 the Court ruled, thus: disposition of every action and proceeding.32

The admission of the petition after the belated filing of the certification, The certification of non-forum shopping executed in a foreign
therefore, is not unprecedented. In those cases where the Court excused country is not covered by Section 24, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.
There is no merit to petitioners contentions that the verification and The ruling of the Court in Lopez v. Court of Appeals,34 cited by
certification subsequently submitted by respondent did not state the petitioners, is inapplicable to the present case because the Rules of
country or city where the notary public exercised her notarial functions; Evidence which were in effect at that time were the old Rules prior to
and that the MTC simply concluded, without any basis, that said notary their amendment in 1989. The rule applied in Lopez, which was decided
public was from Maryland, USA; that even granting that the verification prior to the effectivity of the amended Rules of Evidence, 35 was Section
and certification of non-forum shopping were notarized in the USA, the 25, Rule 132, to wit:
same may not be deemed admissible for any purpose in the Philippines
for failure to comply with the requirement of Section 24, Rule 132 of the Sec. 25. Proof of public or official record An official record or an
Rules of Court that the notarized document must be accompanied by a entry therein, when admissible for any purpose, may be evidenced by
certificate issued by an officer in the foreign service of the Philippines an official publication thereof or by a copy attested by the officer having
who is stationed in the country in which a record of the subject the legal custody of the record, or by his deputy, and accompanied, if the
document is kept, proving or authenticating that the person who record is not kept in the Philippines, with a certificate that such officer
notarized the document is indeed authorized to do so and has custody of has the custody. If the office in which the record is kept is in a foreign
the same. country, the certificate may be made by a secretary of embassy or
legation, consul general, consul, vice consul, or consular agent or by
The Court agrees with the disquisition of the CA, to wit: any officer in the foreign service of the Philippines stationed in the
foreign country in which the record is kept, and authenticated by
From the foregoing provision [referring to Section 24, Rule 132, Rules the seal of his office. (Emphasis supplied)
of Court], it can be gathered that it does not include documents
acknowledged before [a] notary public abroad. For foreign public When the Rules of Evidence were amended in 1989, Section 25, Rule
documents to be admissible for any purpose here in our courts, the same 132 became Section 24, Rule 132; and the amendment consisted in the
must be certified by any officer of the Philippine legation stationed in deletion of the introductory phrase "An official record or an entry
the country where the documents could be found or had been executed. therein," which was substituted by the phrase "The record of public
However, after judicious studies of the rule, Sec. 24, Rule 132 of the documents referred to in paragraph (a) of Section 19."
1997 Rules of Court basically pertains to written official acts, or records
of the official of the sovereign authority, official bodies and tribunals, Thus, Section 24, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court now reads as follows:
and public officers, whether of the Philippines, or of a foreign country.
This is so, as Sec. 24, Rule 132 explicitly refers only to paragraph (a) of Sec. 24. Proof of official record. - The record of public documents
Sec. 19. If the rule comprehends to cover notarial documents, the rule referred to in paragraph (a) of Section 19, when admissible for any
could have included the same. Thus, petitioners-oppositors' contention purpose, may be evidenced by an official publication thereof or by a
that the certificate of forum shopping that was submitted was defective, copy attested by the officer having legal custody of the record, or by his
as it did not bear the certification provided under Sec. 24, Rule 132 of deputy, and accompanied, if the record is not kept in the Philippines,
the Rules of Court, is devoid of any merit. What is important is the fact with a certificate that such officer has the custody. If the office in which
that the respondent-applicant certified before a commissioned officer the record is kept is in a foreign country, the certificate may be made by
clothed with powers to administer oath that [s]he has not and will not a secretary of the embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice
commit forum shopping.33 consul or consular agent or by any officer in the foreign service of the
Philippines stationed in the foreign country in which the record is kept,
and authenticated by the seal of his office. (Emphasis supplied)
Section 19(a) of the same Rule provides: The CA did not err in sustaining the findings of fact and conclusion
of law of the MTC and the RTC.
Sec. 19. Classes of documents. - For the purpose of their presentation in
evidence, documents are either public or private. Settled is the rule that the trial courts findings of fact, especially when
affirmed by the CA, are generally binding and conclusive upon this
Public documents are: Court.36 There are recognized exceptions to this rule, among which are:
(1) the conclusion is grounded on speculations, surmises or conjectures;
(a) The written official acts or records of the official acts of the (2) the inference is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) there
sovereign authority, official bodies and tribunals, and public is grave abuse of discretion; (4) the judgment is based on a
officers, whether of the Philippines or of a foreign country; misapprehension of facts; (5) the findings of fact are conflicting; (6)
there is no citation of specific evidence on which the factual findings are
based; (7) the finding of absence of facts is contradicted by the presence
(b) Documents acknowledged before a notary public except last wills
of evidence on record; (8) the findings of the CA are contrary to the
and testaments; and
findings of the trial court; (9) the CA manifestly overlooked certain
relevant and undisputed facts that, if properly considered, would justify
(c) Public records, kept in the Philippines, of private documents required a different conclusion; (10) the findings of the CA are beyond the issues
by law to be entered therein. of the case; and (11) such findings are contrary to the admissions of both
parties.37However, petitioners failed to show that any of the exceptions
All other writings are private. is present in the instant case to warrant a review of the findings of fact
of the lower courts.
It cannot be overemphasized that the required certification of an officer
in the foreign service under Section 24 refers only to the documents Petitioners insist that the documents which were presented in evidence
enumerated in Section 19(a), to wit: written official acts or records of by respondent to prove her ownership of the subject lot are rife with
the official acts of the sovereign authority, official bodies and tribunals, defects and inconsistencies. Petitioners contend that the subject lot
and public officers of the Philippines or of a foreign country. The Court should not have been included in the Extrajudicial Settlement of the
agrees with the CA that had the Court intended to include notarial Estate of Jose Arcilla, because he was no longer the owner of the said
documents as one of the public documents contemplated by the property at the time of said settlement; the Deed of Sale should be
provisions of Section 24, it should not have specified only the declared null and void because the seller, Pacifico Arcilla, was not the
documents referred to under paragraph (a) of Section 19. owner of the subject lands at the time the said Deed was executed; the
Affidavit of Quitclaim is not valid and has no force and effect
In Lopez, the requirements of then Section 25, Rule 132 were made considering that the document indicates that the signatures of petitioners
applicable to all public or official records without any distinction were affixed in different places, none of which is in Virac, Catanduanes
because the old rule did not distinguish. However, in the present rule, it where they supposedly acknowledged said document.
is clear under Section 24, Rule 132 that its provisions shall be made
applicable only to the documents referred to under paragraph (a), The only evidence of petitioners to prove their claim that the disputed
Section 19, Rule 132. property was sold by Jose Arcilla to Manuel Sarmiento in 1908 is a
single Tax Declaration in the name of the latter, with a notation that the
property was acquired by purchase.
The Court agrees with the CA in its finding that petitioners failed to Petitioners' bare denials of the contents of the subject documents will
present any substantial evidence, such as a deed of sale, to prove their not suffice to overcome the presumption of their regularity considering
claim that their predecessor, Vicente Arcilla, bought the disputed that they are all notarized. To overthrow such presumption of regularity,
property from Sarmiento. Petitioners were only able to present tax the countervailing evidence must be clear, convincing and more than
declarations in Vicente's name to prove their allegation that Vicente merely preponderant, which petitioners failed to present.43
became the owner of the subject property. The tax declarations presented
in evidence by petitioners are not supported by any other substantial An examination of the subject Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate clearly
proofs. shows that the disputed lot forms part of the properties adjudicated in
favor of Pacifico Arcilla, respondents predecessor-in-interest.
The Court has ruled time and again that tax declarations do not prove
ownership but are at best an indicium of claims of ownership.38 Payment Moreover, petitioners themselves admit that the Extrajudicial Settlement
of taxes is not proof of ownership, any more than indicating possession being referred to in the Affidavit of Quitclaim executed by petitioner and
in the concept of an owner.39 Neither a tax receipt nor a declaration of her co-heirs is the Extrajudicial Settlement of the Estate of Jose Arcilla
ownership for taxation purposes is evidence of ownership or of the right and not of Vicente Arcilla. An examination of the Affidavit of Quitclaim
to possess realty when not supported by other effective proofs.40 shows that the reference made therein with respect to the date of
execution of the said Extrajudicial Settlement as well as the notary
In addition, the Court agrees with the CA when it held that if Vicente, in public who acknowledged the same and the Document Number, Page
fact, owned the disputed properties, his widow, Josefa, would not have Number, Book Number and Series Number all coincide with those
agreed to include said lots among those partitioned in the Extrajudicial appearing in the document evidencing the Extrajudicial Settlement of
Settlement of the Estate of Jose. the Estate of Jose Arcilla. Hence, what has been waived by petitioners is
their right, if any, to the properties mentioned in the said Affidavit of
On the other hand, respondent's claim of ownership is not only backed Quitclaim, which includes the presently disputed lot.
up by tax declarations but also by other pieces of evidence such as the
subject Extrajudicial Settlement, Affidavit of Quitclaim, and Deed of Petitioners posit that they are not bound by the subject Extrajudicial
Sale. Settlement because they did not participate in nor did they sign the
document evidencing such settlement and that their mother who signed
Petitioners question the validity of the above-mentioned documents. on their behalf was not, in fact, authorized to do so. However, the Court
However, as the CA, RTC and MTC found, these documents are all agrees with the ruling of the RTC that the Extrajudicial Settlement is a
notarized. It is settled that a notarized document is executed to lend truth public document, the same having been notarized; that such document is
to the statements contained therein and to the authenticity of the entitled to full faith and credit in the absence of competent evidence
signatures.41 Notarized documents enjoy the presumption of regularity showing that its execution was tainted with defects and irregularities
which can be overturned only by clear and convincing evidence.42 which would warrant a declaration of nullity; that in the absence of
evidence showing that the person who signed in behalf of herein
petitioners was, in fact, not authorized to do so, the presumption that she
had the authority, as stated in the Extrajudicial Settlement, remains
undisturbed.
Moreover, petitioners' execution of the subject Affidavit of Quitclaim is therein are facts of which they have personal knowledge. They should
proof that they have ratified the contents of the disputed Extrajudicial swear to the document personally and not through any representative.
Settlement. Otherwise, their representatives name should appear in the said
documents as the one who executed the same. That is the only time the
Petitioners' claim that the Affidavit of Quitclaim is null and void on the representative can affix his signature and personally appear before the
ground that the signatories thereto are not residents of Virac, notary public for notarization of the said document. Simply put, the
Catanduanes and that they affixed their signature in places other than party or parties who executed the instrument must be the ones to
Virac, Catanduanes where they supposedly acknowledged the said personally appear before the notary public to acknowledge the
document, is not persuasive. The Court finds no error in the finding of document.45
the MTC, as affirmed by the CA, that the execution of the subject
Affidavit of Quitclaim or the signatures of the affiants appearing therein Thus, the herein subject Affidavit of Quitclaim may not be binding on
were never contested nor raised as an issue and that petitioner Sarah Rene. Nonetheless, with or without Renes participation in the quitclaim,
Arcilla herself acknowledged her own signature in the said Affidavit. respondents ownership of the subject lots has been established by
preponderance of evidence, as unanimously found by the MTC, the RTC
In any event, the law does not require that parties to a document and the CA.
notarized by a notary public should be residents of the place where the
said document is acknowledged or that they affix their signature in the Finally, petitioners' physical occupation of the commercial building
presence of the notary public. What is necessary is that the persons who which they erected on the disputed property does not necessarily prove
signed a notarized document are the very same persons who executed their ownership of the subject lots.
and personally appeared before the notary public in order to attest to the
contents and truth of what are stated therein.44 This Court has held that:

In the instant case, it is established that, with the exception of petitioner ownership and possession are two entirely different legal concepts. Just
Rene Arcilla, all of herein petitioners, including their now deceased as possession is not a definite proof of ownership, neither is non-
mother Josefa and sister Nora, executed and personally acknowledged possession inconsistent with ownership. The first paragraph of Article
before the notary public the subject Affidavit of Quitclaim. Hence, aside 1498 of the Civil Code states that when the sale is made through a
from Rene, the said Affidavit of Quitclaim is valid and binding on all the public instrument, the execution thereof shall be equivalent to the
petitioners. delivery of the thing which is the object of the contract, if from the deed
the contrary does not appear or cannot clearly be inferred. Possession,
With respect to Rene, petitioner Oscar Arcilla, acting as his attorney-in- along with ownership, is transferred to the vendee by virtue of the
fact, signed the document on the formers behalf. However, settled is the notarized deed of conveyance. Thus, in light of the circumstances of
rule that: the present case, it is of no legal consequence that petitioner did not
take actual possession or occupation of the disputed lot after the
A member of the bar who performs an act as a notary public should not execution of the deed of sale in her favor because she was already
notarize a document unless the persons who signed the same are the able to perfect and complete her ownership of and title over the
very same persons who executed and personally appeared before him. subject property.46 (Emphasis supplied)
The acts of the affiants cannot be delegated to anyone for what are stated
The Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate in favor of Pacifico, respondents
predecessor-in-interest, the Affidavit of Quitclaim and the Deed of Sale
in favor of respondent establish respondents ownership over the
disputed property.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of


Appeals dated September 12, 2003 and its Resolution of March 24, 2004
in CA-G.R. SP No. 72032 are AFFIRMED.

Costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 198742 August 10, 2012

TEODORA SOBEJANA-CONDON vs. COMELEC

Failure to renounce foreign citizenship in accordance with the exact


tenor of Section 5(2) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9225 renders a dual
citizen ineligible to run for and thus hold any elective public office.

The Case

At bar is a special civil action for certiorari 1 under Rule 64 of the Rules
of Court seeking to nullify Resolution 2 dated September 6, 2011 of the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc in EAC (AE) No. A-44-
2010. The assailed resolution (a) reversed the Order 3 dated November
30, 2010 of COMELEC Second Division dismissing petitioners appeal; elective post on the ground that she is a dual citizen and that she failed
and (b) affirmed the consolidated Decision 4 dated October 22, 2010 of to execute a "personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign
the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Bauang, La Union, Branch 33, citizenship before any public officer authorized to administer an oath" as
declaring petitioner Teodora Sobejana-Condon (petitioner) disqualified imposed by Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225.
and ineligible to her position as Vice-Mayor of Caba, La Union.
The petitioner denied being a dual citizen and averred that since
The Undisputed Facts September 27, 2006, she ceased to be an Australian citizen. She claimed
that the Declaration of Renunciation of Australian Citizenship she
The petitioner is a natural-born Filipino citizen having been born of executed in Australia sufficiently complied with Section 5(2), R.A. No.
Filipino parents on August 8, 1944. On December 13, 1984, she became 9225 and that her act of running for public office is a clear abandonment
a naturalized Australian citizen owing to her marriage to a certain Kevin of her Australian citizenship.
Thomas Condon.
Ruling of the RTC
On December 2, 2005, she filed an application to re-acquire Philippine
citizenship before the Philippine Embassy in Canberra, Australia In its consolidated Decision dated October 22, 2010, the trial court held
pursuant to Section 3 of R.A. No. 9225 otherwise known as the that the petitioners failure to comply with Section 5(2) of R.A. No.
"Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003." 5 The 9225 rendered her ineligible to run and hold public office. As admitted
application was approved and the petitioner took her oath of allegiance by the petitioner herself during trial, the personal declaration of
to the Republic of the Philippines on December 5, 2005. renunciation she filed in Australia was not under oath. The law clearly
mandates that the document containing the renunciation of foreign
On September 18, 2006, the petitioner filed an unsworn Declaration of citizenship must be sworn before any public officer authorized to
Renunciation of Australian Citizenship before the Department of administer oath. Consequently, the RTCs decision disposed as follows:
Immigration and Indigenous Affairs, Canberra, Australia, which in turn
issued the Order dated September 27, 2006 certifying that she has WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court renders judgment in
ceased to be an Australian citizen.6 FAVOR of [private respondents] and AGAINST (petitioner):

The petitioner ran for Mayor in her hometown of Caba, La Union in the 1) DECLARING [petitioner] TEODORA SOBEJANA-CONDON,
2007 elections. She lost in her bid. She again sought elective office disqualified and ineligible to hold the office of Vice-Mayor of Caba, La
during the May 10, 2010 elections this time for the position of Vice- Union;
Mayor. She obtained the highest numbers of votes and was proclaimed
as the winning candidate. She took her oath of office on May 13, 2010. 2) NULLIFYING her proclamation as the winning candidate for Vice-
Mayor of said municipality; and
Soon thereafter, private respondents Robelito V. Picar, Wilma P.
Pagaduan7 and Luis M. Bautista,8 (private respondents) all registered 3) DECLARING the position of Vice-Mayor in said municipality
voters of Caba, La Union, filed separate petitions for quo warranto vacant.
questioning the petitioners eligibility before the RTC. The petitions
similarly sought the petitioners disqualification from holding her SO ORDERED.9
Ruling of the COMELEC She further argues that a sworn renunciation is a mere formal and not a
mandatory requirement. In support thereof, she cites portions of the
The petitioner appealed to the COMELEC but the appeal was dismissed Journal of the House of Representatives dated June 2 to 5, 2003
by the Second Division in its Order10 dated November 30, 2010 for containing the sponsorship speech for House Bill (H.B.) No. 4720, the
failure to pay the docket fees within the prescribed period. On motion precursor of R.A. No. 9225.
for reconsideration, the appeal was reinstated by the COMELEC en
banc in its Resolution11 dated September 6, 2011. In the same issuance, She claims that the private respondents are estopped from questioning
the substantive merits of the appeal were given due course. The her eligibility since they failed to do so when she filed certificates of
COMELEC en banc concurred with the findings and conclusions of the candidacy for the 2007 and 2010 elections.
RTC; it also granted the Motion for Execution Pending Appeal filed by
the private respondents. Lastly, she disputes the power of the COMELEC en banc to: (a) take
cognizance of the substantive merits of her appeal instead of remanding
The decretal portion of the resolution reads: the same to the COMELEC Second Division for the continuation of the
appeal proceedings; and (b) allow the execution pending appeal of the
WHEREFORE, premises considered the Commission RESOLVED as RTCs judgment.
it hereby RESOLVES as follows:
The Issues
1. To DISMISS the instant appeal for lack of merit;
Posed for resolution are the following issues: I) Whether the COMELEC
2. To AFFIRM the DECISION dated 22 October 2010 of the court a en banc may resolve the merits of an appeal after ruling on its
quo; and reinstatement; II) Whether the COMELEC en banc may order the
execution of a judgment rendered by a trial court in an election case; III)
3. To GRANT the Motion for Execution filed on November 12, 2010. Whether the private respondents are barred from questioning the
qualifications of the petitioner; and IV) For purposes of determining the
petitioners eligibility to run for public office, whether the "sworn
SO ORDERED.12 (Emphasis supplied)
renunciation of foreign citizenship" in Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 is
a mere pro-forma requirement.
Hence, the present petition ascribing grave abuse of discretion to the
COMELEC en banc.
The Courts Ruling
The Petitioners Arguments
I. An appeal may be simultaneously reinstated and definitively
resolved by the COMELEC en banc in a resolution disposing of a
The petitioner contends that since she ceased to be an Australian citizen motion for reconsideration.
on September 27, 2006, she no longer held dual citizenship and was
only a Filipino citizen when she filed her certificate of candidacy as
The power to decide motions for reconsideration in election cases is
early as the 2007 elections. Hence, the "personal and sworn renunciation
arrogated unto the COMELEC en banc by Section 3, Article IX-C of the
of foreign citizenship" imposed by Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 to
Constitution, viz:
dual citizens seeking elective office does not apply to her.
Sec. 3. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two The fact that the COMELEC en banc had remanded similar appeals to
divisions, and shall promulgate its rules of procedure in order to the Division that initially dismissed them cannot serve as a precedent to
expedite disposition of election cases, including pre-proclamation the disposition of the petitioners appeal. A decision or resolution of any
controversies. All such election cases shall be heard and decided in adjudicating body can be disposed in several ways. To sustain
division, provided that motions for reconsideration of decisions shall be petitioners argument would be virtually putting a straightjacket on the
decided by the Commission en banc. COMELEC en bancs adjudicatory powers.

A complementary provision is present in Section 5(c), Rule 3 of the More significantly, the remand of the appeal to the COMELEC Second
COMELEC Rules of Procedure, to wit: Division would be unnecessarily circuitous and repugnant to the rule on
preferential disposition of quo warranto cases espoused in Rule 36,
Any motion to reconsider a decision, resolution, order or ruling of a Section 15 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure.14
Division shall be resolved by the Commission en banc except motions
on interlocutory orders of the division which shall be resolved by the II. The COMELEC en banc has the power to order discretionary
division which issued the order. execution of judgment.

Considering that the above cited provisos do not set any limits to the We cannot subscribe to petitioners submission that the COMELEC en
COMELEC en bancs prerogative in resolving a motion for banc has no power to order the issuance of a writ of execution and that
reconsideration, there is nothing to prevent the body from directly such function belongs only to the court of origin.
adjudicating the substantive merits of an appeal after ruling for its
reinstatement instead of remanding the same to the division that initially There is no reason to dispute the COMELECs authority to order
dismissed it. discretionary execution of judgment in view of the fact that the
suppletory application of the Rules of Court is expressly sanctioned by
We thus see no impropriety much more grave abuse of discretion on the Section 1, Rule 41 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure.15
part of the COMELEC en banc when it proceeded to decide the
substantive merits of the petitioners appeal after ruling for its Under Section 2, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, execution pending
reinstatement. appeal may be issued by an appellate court after the trial court has lost
jurisdiction. In Batul v. Bayron,16 we stressed the import of the provision
Further, records show that, in her motion for reconsideration before the vis--vis election cases when we held that judgments in election cases
COMELEC en banc, the petitioner not only proffered arguments on the which may be executed pending appeal includes those decided by trial
issue on docket fees but also on the issue of her eligibility. She even courts and those rendered by the COMELEC whether in the exercise of
filed a supplemental motion for reconsideration attaching therewith its original or appellate jurisdiction.
supporting documents13 to her contention that she is no longer an
Australian citizen. The petitioner, after obtaining an unfavorable III. Private respondents are not estopped from questioning
decision, cannot be permitted to disavow the en bancs exercise of petitioners eligibility to hold public office.
discretion on the substantial merits of her appeal when she herself
invoked the same in the first place.
The fact that the petitioners qualifications were not questioned when The above remedies were both available to the private respondents and
she filed certificates of candidacy for 2007 and 2010 elections cannot their failure to utilize Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code cannot
operate as an estoppel to the petition for quo warranto before the RTC. serve to bar them should they opt to file, as they did so file, a quo
warranto petition under Section 253.
Under the Batas Pambansa Bilang 881 (Omnibus Election Code), there
are two instances where a petition questioning the qualifications of a IV. Petitioner is disqualified from running for elective office for
registered candidate to run for the office for which his certificate of failure to renounce her Australian citizenship in accordance with
candidacy was filed can be raised, to wit: Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225.

(1) Before election, pursuant to Section 78 thereof which provides that: R.A. No. 9225 allows the retention and re-acquisition of Filipino
citizenship for natural-born citizens who have lost their Philippine
Sec. 78. Petition to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of citizenship18 by taking an oath of allegiance to the Republic, thus:
candidacy. A verified petition seeking to deny due course or to cancel
a certificate of candidacy may be filed by any person exclusively on the Section 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship. Any provision of law to
ground that any material representation contained therein as required the contrary notwithstanding, natural-born citizens of the Philippines
under Section 74 hereof is false. The petition may be filed at any time who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their
not later than twenty-five days from the time of the filing of the naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are hereby deemed to have
certificate of candidacy and shall be decided, after due notice and re-acquired Philippine citizenship upon taking the following oath of
hearing, not later than fifteen days before the election; and allegiance to the Republic:

(2) After election, pursuant to Section 253 thereof, viz: "I, _____________________, solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will
support and defend the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines
Sec. 253. Petition for quo warranto. Any voter contesting the election and obey the laws and legal orders promulgated by the duly constituted
of any Member of the Batasang Pambansa, regional, provincial, or city authorities of the Philippines; and I hereby declare that I recognize and
officer on the ground of ineligibility or of disloyalty to the Republic of accept the supreme authority of the Philippines and will maintain true
the Philippines shall file a sworn petition for quo warranto with the faith and allegiance thereto; and that I imposed this obligation upon
Commission within ten days after the proclamation of the results of the myself voluntarily without mental reservation or purpose of evasion."
election. (Emphasis ours)
Natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the effectivity of this
Hence, if a person qualified to file a petition to disqualify a certain Act, become citizens of a foreign country shall retain their Philippine
candidate fails to file the petition within the twenty-five (25)-day period citizenship upon taking the aforesaid oath.
prescribed by Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code for whatever
reasons, the elections laws do not leave him completely helpless as he The oath is an abbreviated repatriation process that restores ones
has another chance to raise the disqualification of the candidate by filing Filipino citizenship and all civil and political rights and obligations
a petition for quo warranto within ten (10) days from the proclamation concomitant therewith, subject to certain conditions imposed in Section
of the results of the election, as provided under Section 253 of the 5, viz:
Omnibus Election Code.17
Sec. 5. Civil and Political Rights and Liabilities. Those who retain or Under the provisions of the aforementioned law, the petitioner has
re-acquire Philippine citizenship under this Act shall enjoy full civil and validly re-acquired her Filipino citizenship when she took an Oath of
political rights and be subject to all attendant liabilities and Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines on December 5, 2005. At
responsibilities under existing laws of the Philippines and the following that point, she held dual citizenship, i.e., Australian and Philippine.
conditions:
On September 18, 2006, or a year before she initially sought elective
(1) Those intending to exercise their right of suffrage must meet the public office, she filed a renunciation of Australian citizenship in
requirements under Section 1, Article V of the Constitution, Republic Canberra, Australia. Admittedly, however, the same was not under oath
Act No. 9189, otherwise known as "The Overseas Absentee Voting Act contrary to the exact mandate of Section 5(2) that the renunciation of
of 2003" and other existing laws; foreign citizenship must be sworn before an officer authorized to
administer oath.
(2) Those seeking elective public office in the Philippines shall meet the
qualification for holding such public office as required by the To obviate the fatal consequence of her inutile renunciation, the
Constitution and existing laws and, at the time of the filing of the petitioner pleads the Court to interpret the "sworn renunciation of any
certificate of candidacy, make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship" in Section 5(2) to be a mere pro forma
and all foreign citizenship before any public officer authorized to requirement in conformity with the intent of the Legislature. She
administer an oath; anchors her submission on the statement made by Representative Javier
during the floor deliberations on H.B. No. 4720, the precursor of R.A.
(3) Those appointed to any public office shall subscribe and swear to an No. 9225.
oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and its duly
constituted authorities prior to their assumption of office: Provided, That At the outset, it bears stressing that the Courts duty to interpret the law
they renounce their oath of allegiance to the country where they took according to its true intent is exercised only when the law is ambiguous
that oath; or of doubtful meaning. The first and fundamental duty of the Court is to
apply the law. As such, when the law is clear and free from any doubt,
(4) Those intending to practice their profession in the Philippines shall there is no occasion for construction or interpretation; there is only room
apply with the proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such for application.19 Section 5(2) of R.A. No. 9225 is one such instance.
practice; and
Ambiguity is a condition of admitting two or more meanings, of being
(5) That right to vote or be elected or appointed to any public office in understood in more than one way, or of referring to two or more things
the Philippines cannot be exercised by, or extended to, those who: at the same time. For a statute to be considered ambiguous, it must
admit of two or more possible meanings.20
(a) are candidates for or are occupying any public office in the country
of which they are naturalized citizens; and/or The language of Section 5(2) is free from any ambiguity. In Lopez v.
COMELEC,21 we declared its categorical and single meaning: a Filipino
(b) are in active service as commissioned or non-commissioned officers American or any dual citizen cannot run for any elective public position
in the armed forces of the country which they are naturalized citizens. in the Philippines unless he or she personally swears to a renunciation of
(Emphasis ours) all foreign citizenship at the time of filing the certificate of candidacy.
We also expounded on the form of the renunciation and held that to be Hon. Representative Exequiel Javier that the oath of allegiance is
valid, the renunciation must be contained in an affidavit duly executed different from the renunciation of foreign citizenship;
before an officer of the law who is authorized to administer an oath
stating in clear and unequivocal terms that affiant is renouncing all xxxx
foreign citizenship.
The intent of the legislators was not only for Filipinos reacquiring or
The same meaning was emphasized in Jacot v. Dal, 22 when we held that retaining their Philippine citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 to
Filipinos re-acquiring or retaining their Philippine citizenship under take their oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, but also
R.A. No. 9225 must explicitly renounce their foreign citizenship if they to explicitly renounce their foreign citizenship if they wish to run for
wish to run for elective posts in the Philippines, thus: elective posts in the Philippines. To qualify as a candidate in Philippine
elections, Filipinos must only have one citizenship, namely, Philippine
The law categorically requires persons seeking elective public office, citizenship.23 (Citation omitted and italics and underlining ours)
who either retained their Philippine citizenship or those who reacquired
it, to make a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign Hence, in De Guzman v. COMELEC,24 we declared petitioner therein to
citizenship before a public officer authorized to administer an oath be disqualified from running for the position of vice-mayor for his
simultaneous with or before the filing of the certificate of candidacy. failure to make a personal and sworn renunciation of his American
citizenship.
Hence, Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225 compels natural-born
Filipinos, who have been naturalized as citizens of a foreign country, but We find no reason to depart from the mandatory nature infused by the
who reacquired or retained their Philippine citizenship (1) to take the above rulings to the phrase "sworn renunciation". The language of the
oath of allegiance under Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9225, and (2) for provision is plain and unambiguous. It expresses a single, definite, and
those seeking elective public offices in the Philippines, to additionally sensible meaning and must thus be read literally.25 The foreign
execute a personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship must be formally rejected through an affidavit duly sworn
citizenship before an authorized public officer prior or simultaneous to before an officer authorized to administer oath.
the filing of their certificates of candidacy, to qualify as candidates in
Philippine elections. It is conclusively presumed to be the meaning that the Legislature has
intended to convey.26 Even a resort to the Journal of the House of
Clearly Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. 9225 (on the making of a Representatives invoked by the petitioner leads to the same inference,
personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship) viz:
requires of the Filipinos availing themselves of the benefits under the
said Act to accomplish an undertaking other than that which they have INTERPELLATION OF REP. JAVIER
presumably complied with under Section 3 thereof (oath of allegiance to
the Republic of the Philippines). This is made clear in the discussion of
Rep. Javier initially inquired whether under the Bill, dual citizenship is
the Bicameral Conference Committee on Disagreeing Provisions of
only limited to natural-born Filipinos and not to naturalized Filipinos.
House Bill No. 4720 and Senate Bill No. 2130 held on 18 August 2003
(precursors of Republic Act No. 9225), where the Hon. Chairman
Franklin Drilon and Hon. Representative Arthur Defensor explained to Rep. Libanan replied in the affirmative.
Rep. Javier subsequently adverted to Section 5 of the Bill which Rep. Libanan replied in the affirmative, citing that the only requirement
provides that natural-born Filipinos who have dual citizenship shall is that they make a sworn renunciation of their foreign citizenship and
continue to enjoy full civil and political rights. This being the case, he that they comply with the residency and registration requirements as
sought clarification as to whether they can indeed run for public office provided for in the Constitution.
provided that they renounce their foreign citizenship.
Whereupon, Rep. Javier noted that under the Constitution, natural-born
Rep. Libanan replied in the affirmative, citing that these citizens will citizens are those who are citizens at the time of birth without having to
only have to make a personal and sworn renunciation of foreign perform an act to complete or perfect his/her citizenship.
citizenship before any authorized public officer.
Rep. Libanan agreed therewith, citing that this is the reason why the Bill
Rep. Javier sought further clarification on this matter, citing that while seeks the repeal of CA No. 63. The repeal, he said, would help Filipino
the Bill provides them with full civil and political rights as Filipino citizens who acquired foreign citizenship to retain their citizenship. With
citizens, the measure also discriminates against them since they are regard then to Section 5 of the Bill, he explained that the Committee had
required to make a sworn renunciation of their other foreign citizenship decided to include this provision because Section 18, Article XI of the
if and when they run for public office. He thereafter proposed to delete Constitution provides for the accountability of public officers.
this particular provision.
In his rejoinder, Rep. Javier maintained that in this case, the sworn
In his rejoinder, Rep. Libanan explained that this serves to erase all renunciation of a foreign citizenship will only become a pro forma
doubts regarding any issues that might be raised pertaining to the requirement.
citizenship of any candidate. He subsequently cited the case of
Afroyim vs. Rusk, wherein the United States considered a On further queries of Rep. Javier, Rep. Libanan affirmed that natural-
naturalized American still as an American citizen even when he cast born Filipino citizens who became foreign citizens and who have
his vote in Israel during one of its elections. reacquired their Filipino citizenship under the Bill will be considered as
natural-born citizens, and therefore qualified to run for the presidency,
Rep. Javier however pointed out that the matter of voting is different the vice-presidency or for a seat in Congress. He also agreed with the
because in voting, one is not required to renounce his foreign observation of Rep. Javier that a natural-born citizen is one who is a
citizenship. He pointed out that under the Bill, Filipinos who run for citizen of the country at the time of birth. He also explained that the Bill
public office must renounce their foreign citizenship. He pointed out will, in effect, return to a Filipino citizen who has acquired foreign
further that this is a contradiction in the Bill. citizenship, the status of being a natural-born citizen effective at the time
he lost his Filipino citizenship.
Thereafter, Rep. Javier inquired whether Filipino citizens who had
acquired foreign citizenship and are now entitled to reacquire their As a rejoinder, Rep. Javier opined that doing so would be discriminating
Filipino citizenship will be considered as natural-born citizens. As such, against naturalized Filipino citizens and Filipino citizens by election
he likewise inquired whether they will also be considered qualified to who are all disqualified to run for certain public offices. He then
run for the highest elective positions in the country. suggested that the Bill be amended by not considering as natural-born
citizens those Filipinos who had renounced their Filipino citizenship and
acquired foreign citizenship. He said that they should be considered as In reaction, Rep. Javier clarified that only citizens by election or those
repatriated citizens. whose mothers are Filipino citizens under the 1935 Constitution and
who elected Filipino citizenship upon reaching the age of maturity, are
In reply, Rep. Libanan assured Rep. Javier that the Committee will take not deemed as natural-born citizens.
note of the latters comments on the matter. He however stressed that
after a lengthy deliberation on the subject, the Committees on Justice, In response, Rep. Libanan maintained that in the Bengzon case,
and Foreign Affairs had decided to revert back to the status of being repatriation results in the recovery of ones original nationality and only
natural-born citizens those natural-born Filipino citizens who had naturalized citizens are not considered as natural-born citizens.
acquired foreign citizenship but now wished to reacquire their Filipino
citizenship. On whether the Sponsors would agree to not giving back the status of
being natural-born citizens to natural-born Filipino citizens who
Rep. Javier then explained that a Filipina who loses her Filipino acquired foreign citizenship, Rep. Libanan remarked that the Body in
citizenship by virtue of her marriage to a foreigner can regain her plenary session will decide on the matter.27
repatriated Filipino citizenship, upon the death of her husband, by
simply taking her oath before the Department of Justice (DOJ). The petitioner obviously espouses an isolated reading of Representative
Javiers statement; she conveniently disregards the preceding and
Rep. Javier said that he does not oppose the Bill but only wants to be succeeding discussions in the records.
fair to other Filipino citizens who are not considered natural-born. He
reiterated that natural-born Filipino citizens who had renounced their The above-quoted excerpts of the legislative record show that
citizenship by pledging allegiance to another sovereignty should not be Representative Javiers statement ought to be understood within the
allowed to revert back to their status of being natural-born citizens once context of the issue then being discussed, that is whether former
they decide to regain their Filipino citizenship. He underscored that this natural-born citizens who re-acquire their Filipino citizenship under the
will in a way allow such Filipinos to enjoy dual citizenship. proposed law will revert to their original status as natural-born citizens
and thus be qualified to run for government positions reserved only to
On whether the Sponsors will agree to an amendment incorporating the natural-born Filipinos, i.e. President, Vice-President and Members of the
position of Rep. Javier, Rep. Libanan stated that this will defeat the Congress.
purpose of the Bill.
It was Representative Javiers position that they should be considered as
Rep. Javier disagreed therewith, adding that natural-born Filipino repatriated Filipinos and not as natural-born citizens since they will have
citizens who acquired foreign citizenships and later decided to regain to execute a personal and sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship.
their Filipino citizenship, will be considered as repatriated citizens. Natural-born citizens are those who need not perform an act to perfect
their citizenship. Representative Libanan, however, maintained that they
Rep. Libanan cited the case of Bengzon vs. HRET wherein the Supreme will revert to their original status as natural-born citizens. To reconcile
Court had ruled that only naturalized Filipino citizens are not considered the renunciation imposed by Section 5(2) with the principle that natural-
as natural-born citizens. born citizens are those who need not perform any act to perfect their
citizenship, Representative Javier suggested that the sworn renunciation
of foreign citizenship be considered as a mere pro forma requirement.
Petitioners argument, therefore, loses its point. The "sworn renunciation Petitioner contends that the Australian Citizenship Act of 1948, under
of foreign citizenship" must be deemed a formal requirement only with which she is already deemed to have lost her citizenship, is entitled to
respect to the re-acquisition of ones status as a natural-born Filipino so judicial notice. We disagree.
as to override the effect of the principle that natural-born citizens need
not perform any act to perfect their citizenship. Never was it mentioned Foreign laws are not a matter of judicial notice. Like any other fact, they
or even alluded to that, as the petitioner wants this Court to believe, must be alleged and proven.29 To prove a foreign law, the party invoking
those who re-acquire their Filipino citizenship and thereafter run for it must present a copy thereof and comply with Sections 24 and 25 of
public office has the option of executing an unsworn affidavit of Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Court which reads:
renunciation.
Sec. 24. Proof of official record. The record of public documents
It is also palpable in the above records that Section 5 was intended to referred to in paragraph (a) of Section 19, when admissible for any
complement Section 18, Article XI of the Constitution on public purpose, may be evidenced by an official publication thereof or by a
officers primary accountability of allegiance and loyalty, which copy attested by the officer having the legal custody of the record, or by
provides: his deputy, and accompanied, if the record is not kept in the Philippines,
with a certificate that such officer has the custody. If the office in which
Sec. 18. Public officers and employees owe the State and this the record is kept is in a foreign country, the certificate may be made by
Constitution allegiance at all times and any public officer or employee a secretary of the embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice-
who seeks to change his citizenship or acquire the status of an consul, or consular agent or by any officer in the foreign service of the
immigrant of another country during his tenure shall be dealt with by Philippines stationed in the foreign country in which the record is kept,
law. and authenticated by the seal of his office. (Emphasis ours)

An oath is a solemn declaration, accompanied by a swearing to God or a Sec. 25. What attestation of copy must state. Whenever a copy of a
revered person or thing, that ones statement is true or that one will be document or record is attested for the purpose of the evidence, the
bound to a promise. The person making the oath implicitly invites attestation must state, in substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the
punishment if the statement is untrue or the promise is broken. The legal original, or a specific part thereof, as the case may be. The attestation
effect of an oath is to subject the person to penalties for perjury if the must be under the official seal of the attesting officer, if there be any, or
testimony is false.28 if he be the clerk of a court having a seal, under the seal of such court.

Indeed, the solemn promise, and the risk of punishment attached to an The Court has admitted certain exceptions to the above rules and held
oath ensures truthfulness to the prospective public officers that the existence of a foreign law may also be established through: (1) a
abandonment of his adopted state and promise of absolute allegiance testimony under oath of an expert witness such as an attorney-at-law in
and loyalty to the Republic of the Philippines. the country where the foreign law operates wherein he quotes verbatim a
section of the law and states that the same was in force at the time
To hold the oath to be a mere pro forma requirement is to say that it is material to the facts at hand; and (2) likewise, in several naturalization
only for ceremonial purposes; it would also accommodate a mere cases, it was held by the Court that evidence of the law of a foreign
qualified or temporary allegiance from government officers when the country on reciprocity regarding the acquisition of citizenship, although
Constitution and the legislature clearly demand otherwise. not meeting the prescribed rule of practice, may be allowed and used as
basis for favorable action, if, in the light of all the circumstances, the
Court is "satisfied of the authenticity of the written proof offered." Thus, Court has previously declared that the filing by a person with dual
in a number of decisions, mere authentication of the Chinese citizenship of a certificate of candidacy is already considered a
Naturalization Law by the Chinese Consulate General of Manila was renunciation of foreign citizenship,33 such ruling was already adjudged
held to be a competent proof of that law.30 superseded by the enactment of R.A. No. 9225 on August 29, 2003
which provides for the additional condition of a personal and sworn
The petitioner failed to prove the Australian Citizenship Act of 1948 renunciation of foreign citizenship.34
through any of the above methods. As uniformly observed by the RTC
and COMELEC, the petitioner failed to show proof of the existence of The fact that petitioner won the elections can not cure the defect of her
the law during trial. Also, the letter issued by the Australian government candidacy. Garnering the most number of votes does not validate the
showing that petitioner already renounced her Australian citizenship was election of a disqualified candidate because the application of the
unauthenticated hence, the courts a quo acted judiciously in disregarding constitutional and statutory provisions on disqualification is not a matter
the same. of popularity.35

We are bound to arrive at a similar conclusion even if we were to admit In fine, R.A. No. 9225 categorically demands natural-born Filipinos
as competent evidence the said letter in view of the photocopy of a who re-acquire their citizenship and seek elective office, to execute a
Certificate of Authentication issued by Consular Section of the personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign citizenships
Philippine Embassy in Canberra, Australia attached to the petitioners before an authorized public officer prior to or simultaneous to the filing
motion for reconsideration. of their certificates of candidacy, to qualify as candidates in Philippine
elections.36 The rule applies to all those who have re-acquired their
We have stressed in Advocates and Adherents of Social Justice for Filipino citizenship, like petitioner, without regard as to whether they
School Teachers and Allied Workers (AASJS) Member v. are still dual citizens or not. It is a pre-requisite imposed for the exercise
Datumanong31 that the framers of R.A. No. 9225 did not intend the law of the right to run for public office.
to concern itself with the actual status of the other citizenship.
Stated differently, it is an additional qualification for elective office
This Court as the government branch tasked to apply the enactments of specific only to Filipino citizens who re-acquire their citizenship under
the legislature must do so conformably with the wisdom of the latter Section 3 of R.A. No. 9225. It is the operative act that restores their right
sans the interference of any foreign law. If we were to read the to run for public office. The petitioner's failure to comply therewith in
Australian Citizen Act of 1948 into the application and operation of accordance with the exact tenor of the law, rendered ineffectual the
R.A. No. 9225, we would be applying not what our legislative Declaration of Renunciation of Australian Citizenship she executed on
department has deemed wise to require. To do so would be a brazen September 18, 2006. As such, she is yet to regain her political right to
encroachment upon the sovereign will and power of the people of this seek elective office. Unless she executes a sworn renunciation of her
Republic.32 Australian citizenship, she is ineligible to run for and hold any elective
office in the Philippines.

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the petition is


The petitioners act of running for public office does not suffice to serve hereby DISMISSED. The Resolution dated September 6, 2011 of the
as an effective renunciation of her Australian citizenship. While this Commission on Elections en bane in EAC (AE) No. A-44-2010
is AFFIRMED in toto. SO ORDERED.