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1

Evidence Rule 128

RICO ROMMEL ATIENZA, Petitioner, G.R. No. 177407 2000, filed by x x x Dr. Pedro Lantin, III, on May 4, 2000, with this Honorable Board in
- versus - answer to this complaint;
.
BOARD OF MEDICINE and EDITHA SIOSON, Respondents. February 9, 2011 EXHIBIT B the certified photo copy of the X-ray request form dated January 30, 1997,
which is also marked as Annex 3 as it was actually likewise originally an Annex to x x x
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the Dr. Pedro Lantin, IIIs counter-affidavit filed with the Office of the City Prosecutor of
Decision[1] dated September 22, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 87755. The CA Pasig City in connection with the criminal complaint filed by the herein complainant
dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by petitioner Rico Rommel Atienza (Atienza), which, in turn, with the said office, on which are handwritten entries which are the interpretation of
assailed the Orders[2] issued by public respondent Board of Medicine (BOM) in Administrative Case No. the results of the examination. Incidentally, this exhibit happens to be also the same
1882. as or identical to the certified photo copy of the document marked as Annex 3 which
is likewise dated January 30, 1997, which is appended as such Annex 3 to the counter-
The facts, fairly summarized by the appellate court, follow. affidavit dated March 15, 2000, filed by x x x Dr. Pedro Lantin, III on May 4, 2000, with
Due to her lumbar pains, private respondent Editha Sioson went to Rizal Medical Center (RMC) this Honorable Board in answer to this complaint.
for check-up on February 4, 1995. Sometime in 1999, due to the same problem, she was
referred to Dr. Pedro Lantin III of RMC who, accordingly, ordered several diagnostic laboratory EXHIBIT C the certified photocopy of the X-ray request form dated March 16, 1996,
tests. The tests revealed that her right kidney is normal. It was ascertained, however, that her which is also marked as Annex 4, on which are handwritten entries which are the
left kidney is non-functioning and non-visualizing. Thus, she underwent kidney operation in interpretation of the results of the examination.
September, 1999.
EXHIBIT D the certified photocopy of the X-ray request form dated May 20, 1999,
On February 18, 2000, private respondents husband, Romeo Sioson (as complainant), filed a which is also marked as Annex 16, on which are handwritten entries which are the
complaint for gross negligence and/or incompetence before the [BOM] against the doctors who interpretation of the results of the examination. Incidentally, this exhibit appears to
allegedly participated in the fateful kidney operation, namely: Dr. Judd dela Vega, Dr. Pedro be the draft of the typewritten final report of the same examination which is the
Lantin, III, Dr. Gerardo Antonio Florendo and petitioner Rico Rommel Atienza. document appended as Annexes 4 and 1 respectively to the counter-affidavits filed by
x x x Dr. Judd dela Vega and Dr. Pedro Lantin, III in answer to the complaint. In the
It was alleged in the complaint that the gross negligence and/or incompetence committed by case of Dr. dela Vega however, the document which is marked as Annex 4 is not a
the said doctors, including petitioner, consists of the removal of private respondents fully certified photocopy, while in the case of Dr. Lantin, the document marked as Annex 1
functional right kidney, instead of the left non-functioning and non-visualizing kidney. is a certified photocopy. Both documents are of the same date and typewritten
contents are the same as that which are written on Exhibit D.
The complaint was heard by the [BOM]. After complainant Romeo Sioson presented his
evidence, private respondent Editha Sioson, also named as complainant there, filed her formal Petitioner filed his comments/objections to private respondents [Editha Siosons] formal offer of
offer of documentary evidence. Attached to the formal offer of documentary evidence are her exhibits. He alleged that said exhibits are inadmissible because the same are mere photocopies,
Exhibits A to D, which she offered for the purpose of proving that her kidneys were both in their not properly identified and authenticated, and intended to establish matters which are hearsay.
proper anatomical locations at the time she was operated. She described her exhibits, as He added that the exhibits are incompetent to prove the purpose for which they are offered.
follows:
Dispositions of the Board of Medicine
EXHIBIT A the certified photocopy of the X-ray Request form dated December 12, 1996, The formal offer of documentary exhibits of private respondent [Editha Sioson] was admitted
which is also marked as Annex 2 as it was actually originally the Annex to x x x Dr. Pedro by the [BOM] per its Order dated May 26, 2004. It reads:
Lantin, IIIs counter affidavit filed with the City Prosecutor of Pasig City in connection with
the criminal complaint filed by [Romeo Sioson] with the said office, on which are The Formal Offer of Documentary Evidence of [Romeo Sioson], the
handwritten entries which are the interpretation of the results of the ultrasound Comments/Objections of [herein petitioner] Atienza, [therein respondents] De la
examination. Incidentally, this exhibit happens to be the same as or identical to the certified Vega and Lantin, and the Manifestation of [therein] respondent Florendo are hereby
photocopy of the document marked as Annex 2 to the Counter-Affidavit dated March 15,
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Evidence Rule 128

ADMITTED by the [BOM] for whatever purpose they may serve in the resolution of for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court on the ground of grave abuse of discretion amounting to
this case. lack or excess of jurisdiction.
However, the writ of certiorari will not issue absent a showing that the BOM has acted without
Let the hearing be set on July 19, 2004 all at 1:30 p.m. for the reception of the or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion. Embedded in the CAs finding that the BOM
evidence of the respondents. SO ORDERED. did not exceed its jurisdiction or act in grave abuse of discretion is the issue of whether the exhibits of
Editha contained in her Formal Offer of Documentary Evidence are inadmissible.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the abovementioned Order basically on the Petitioner argues that the exhibits formally offered in evidence by Editha: (1) violate the best
same reasons stated in his comment/objections to the formal offer of exhibits. evidence rule; (2) have not been properly identified and authenticated; (3) are completely hearsay; and
(4) are incompetent to prove their purpose. Thus, petitioner contends that the exhibits are inadmissible
The [BOM] denied the motion for reconsideration of petitioner in its Order dated
evidence.
October 8, 2004. It concluded that it should first admit the evidence being offered so
that it can determine its probative value when it decides the case. According to the We disagree.
Board, it can determine whether the evidence is relevant or not if it will take a look at To begin with, it is well-settled that the rules of evidence are not strictly applied in proceedings
it through the process of admission. x x x.[3] before administrative bodies such as the BOM.[6] Although trial courts are enjoined to observe strict
enforcement of the rules of evidence,[7] in connection with evidence which may appear to be of doubtful
Disagreeing with the BOM, and as previously adverted to, Atienza filed a petition relevancy, incompetency, or admissibility, we have held that:
for certiorari with the CA, assailing the BOMs Orders which admitted Editha Siosons (Edithas) Formal [I]t is the safest policy to be liberal, not rejecting them on doubtful or technical grounds, but
Offer of Documentary Evidence. The CA dismissed the petition for certiorari for lack of merit. admitting them unless plainly irrelevant, immaterial or incompetent, for the reason that their rejection
places them beyond the consideration of the court, if they are thereafter found relevant or competent;
Hence, this recourse positing the following issues: on the other hand, their admission, if they turn out later to be irrelevant or incompetent, can easily be
I. PROCEDURAL ISSUE: remedied by completely discarding them or ignoring them. [8]

WHETHER PETITIONER ATIENZA AVAILED OF THE PROPER REMEDY WHEN HE FILED THE From the foregoing, we emphasize the distinction between the admissibility of
PETITION FOR CERTIORARI DATED 06 DECEMBER 2004 WITH THE COURT OF APPEALS UNDER evidence and the probative weight to be accorded the same pieces of
RULE 65 OF THE RULES OF COURT TO ASSAIL THE ORDERS DATED 26 MAY 2004 AND 08 evidence. PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation v. Court of Appeals[9] teaches:
OCTOBER 2004 OF RESPONDENT BOARD.
II. SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE: Admissibility of evidence refers to the question of whether or not the circumstance (or
evidence) is to be considered at all. On the other hand, the probative value of evidence refers to the
WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE REVERSIBLE ERROR AND DECIDED A question of whether or not it proves an issue.
QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN A WAY NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH LAW AND THE APPLICABLE
DECISIONS OF THE HONORABLE COURT WHEN IT UPHELD THE ADMISSION OF INCOMPETENT Second, petitioners insistence that the admission of Edithas exhibits violated his substantive
AND INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE BY RESPONDENT BOARD, WHICH CAN RESULT IN THE rights leading to the loss of his medical license is misplaced. Petitioner mistakenly relies on
DEPRIVATION OF PROFESSIONAL LICENSE A PROPERTY RIGHT OR ONES LIVELIHOOD. [4] Section 20, Article I of the Professional Regulation Commission Rules of Procedure, which reads:
Section 20. Administrative investigation shall be conducted in accordance with these Rules. The
We find no reason to depart from the ruling of the CA. Rules of Court shall only apply in these proceedings by analogy or on a suppletory character and
Petitioner is correct when he asserts that a petition for certiorari is the proper remedy to assail the whenever practicable and convenient. Technical errors in the admission of evidence which do
Orders of the BOM, admitting in evidence the exhibits of Editha. As the assailed Orders were not prejudice the substantive rights of either party shall not vitiate the proceedings.[10]
interlocutory, these cannot be the subject of an appeal separate from the judgment that completely or As pointed out by the appellate court, the admission of the exhibits did not prejudice the substantive
finally disposes of the case.[5] At that stage, where there is no appeal, or any plain, speedy, and adequate
rights of petitioner because, at any rate, the fact sought to be proved thereby, that the two kidneys of
remedy in the ordinary course of law, the only and remaining remedy left to petitioner is a petition
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Evidence Rule 128

Editha were in their proper anatomical locations at the time she was operated on, is presumed under
Section 3, Rule 131 of the Rules of Court: (c) When the original consists of numerous accounts or other documents which cannot be
Sec. 3. Disputable presumptions. The following presumptions are satisfactory if uncontradicted, examined in court without great loss of time and the fact sought to be established from them is only
the general result of the whole; and
but may be contradicted and overcome by other evidence:
(y) That things have happened according to the ordinary course of nature and the (d) When the original is a public record in the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a
ordinary habits of life. public office.
The exhibits are certified photocopies of X-ray Request Forms dated December 12, 1996, The subject of inquiry in this case is whether respondent doctors before the BOM are liable for gross
January 30, 1997, March 16, 1996, and May 20, 1999, filed in connection with Edithas medical case. The negligence in removing the right functioning kidney of Editha instead of the left non-functioning kidney,
documents contain handwritten entries interpreting the results of the examination. These exhibits were not the proper anatomical locations of Edithas kidneys. As previously discussed, the proper anatomical
actually attached as annexes to Dr. Pedro Lantin IIIs counter affidavit filed with the Office of the City locations of Edithas kidneys at the time of her operation at the RMC may be established not only through
Prosecutor of Pasig City, which was investigating the criminal complaint for negligence filed by Editha the exhibits offered in evidence.
against the doctors of Rizal Medical Center (RMC) who handled her surgical procedure. To lay the Finally, these exhibits do not constitute hearsay evidence of the anatomical locations of Edithas
predicate for her case, Editha offered the exhibits in evidence to prove that her kidneys were both in kidneys. To further drive home the point, the anatomical positions, whether left or right, of Edithas
their proper anatomical locations at the time of her operation. kidneys, and the removal of one or both, may still be established through a belated ultrasound or x-ray of
The fact sought to be established by the admission of Edithas exhibits, that her kidneys were her abdominal area.
both in their proper anatomical locations at the time of her operation, need not be proved as it is covered In fact, the introduction of secondary evidence, such as copies of the exhibits, is
by mandatory judicial notice.[11] allowed.[15] Witness Dr. Nancy Aquino testified that the Records Office of RMC no longer had the originals
Unquestionably, the rules of evidence are merely the means for ascertaining the truth of the exhibits because [it] transferred from the previous building, x x x to the new building.[16] Ultimately,
respecting a matter of fact.[12] Thus, they likewise provide for some facts which are established and need since the originals cannot be produced, the BOM properly admitted Edithas formal offer of evidence and,
not be proved, such as those covered by judicial notice, both mandatory and discretionary.[13] Laws of thereafter, the BOM shall determine the probative value thereof when it decides the case.
nature involving the physical sciences, specifically biology,[14] include the structural make-up and WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 87755
composition of living things such as human beings. In this case, we may take judicial notice that Edithas is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED.
kidneys before, and at the time of, her operation, as with most human beings, were in their proper
anatomical locations.
Third, contrary to the assertion of petitioner, the best evidence rule is inapplicable. Section 3 of Rule 130
provides:

1. Best Evidence Rule

Sec. 3. Original document must be produced; exceptions. When the subject of inquiry is the
contents of a document, no evidence shall be admissible other than the original document itself,
except in the following cases:

(a) When the original has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, without
bad faith on the part of the offeror;

(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 after reasonable notice;
4

Evidence Rule 128

CIRTEK EMPLOYEES LABOR UNION-FEDERATION G.R. No. 190515 Respondent moved for a reconsideration of the Decision as petitioners vice-president
OF FREE WORKERS, submitted a Muling Pagpapatibay ng Pagsang-ayon sa Kasunduan na may Petsang ika-4 ng Agosto
Petitioner, Present: 2005,[5] stating that the union members were waiving their rights and benefits under the Secretarys
Decision. Reconsideration of the Decision was denied by Resolution[6] of August 12, 2008, hence,
- versus -
Promulgated: respondent filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals.
CIRTEK ELECTRONICS, INC., By Decision[7] of September 24, 2009, the appellate court ruled in favor of respondent and
Respondent. November 15, 2010 accordingly set aside the Decision of the Secretary of Labor. It held that the Secretary of Labor gravely
abused his discretion in not respecting the MOA. It did not give credence to the minutes of the
Cirtek Electronics, Inc. (respondent), an electronics and semi-conductor firm situated inside the meeting[8] that attended the forging of the MOA as it was not verified, nor to the Paliwanag[9] submitted
Laguna Technopark, had an existing Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with Cirtek Employees Labor by respondent union members explaining why they signed the MOA as it was not notarized.
Union-Federation of Free Workers (petitioner) for the period January 1, 2001 up to December 31, Petitioners motion for reconsideration having been denied by Resolution[10] of December 2,
2005. Prior to the 3rd year of the CBA, the parties renegotiated its economic provisions but failed to reach 2009, the present petition was filed, maintaining that the Secretary of Labors award is in order, being in
a settlement, particularly on the issue of wage increases. Petitioner thereupon declared a bargaining accord with the parties CBA history respondent having already granted P15.00 per day for 2001, P10.00
deadlock and filed a Notice of Strike with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board-Regional Office per day for 2002, and P10.00 per day for 2003, and that the Secretary has the power to grant awards
No. IV (NCMB-RO IV) on April 26, 2004. Respondent, upon the other hand, filed a Notice of Lockout on higher than what are stated in the CBA.
June 16, 2004. Respecting the MOA, petitioner posits that it was surreptitiously entered into [in] bad faith, it
While the conciliation proceedings were ongoing, respondent placed seven union officers having been forged without the assistance of the Federation of Free Workers or counsel, adding that
including the President, a Vice President, the Secretary and the Chairman of the Board of Directors under respondent could have waited for the Secretarys resolution of the pending CBA deadlock or that the
preventive suspension for allegedly spearheading a boycott of overtime work. The officers were MOA could have been concluded before representatives of the Secretary of Labor.
eventually dismissed from employment, prompting petitioner to file another Notice of Strike which was, The relevant issues for resolution are 1) whether the Secretary of Labor is authorized to give an award
after conciliation meetings, converted to a voluntary arbitration case. The dismissal of the officers was higher than that agreed upon in the MOA, and 2) whether the MOA was entered into and ratified by the
later found to be legal, hence, petitioner appealed. remaining officers of petitioner under the condition, which was not incorporated in the MOA, that
In the meantime, as amicable settlement of the CBA was deadlocked, petitioner went on strike respondent would honor the Secretary of Labors award in the event that it is higher.
on June 20, 2005. By Order[1] dated June 23, 2005, the Secretary of Labor assumed jurisdiction over the The Court resolves both issues in the affirmative.
controversy and issued a Return to Work Order which was complied with. It is well-settled that the Secretary of Labor, in the exercise of his power to assume jurisdiction under Art.
Before the Secretary of Labor could rule on the controversy, respondent created a Labor 263 (g)[11] of the Labor Code, may resolve all issues involved in the controversy including the award of
Management Council (LMC) through which it concluded with the remaining officers of petitioner a wage increases and benefits.[12] While an arbitral award cannot per se be categorized as an agreement
Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)[2] providing for daily wage increases of P6.00 per day effective voluntarily entered into by the parties because it requires the intervention and imposing power of the
January 1, 2004 and P9.00 per day effective January 1, 2005. Petitioner submitted the MOA via Motion State thru the Secretary of Labor when he assumes jurisdiction, the arbitral award can be considered
and Manifestation[3] to the Secretary of Labor, alleging that the remaining officers signed the MOA under an approximation of a collective bargaining agreement which would otherwise have been entered into
respondents assurance that should the Secretary order a higher award of wage increase, respondent by the parties, hence, it has the force and effect of a valid contract obligation.[13]
would comply. That the arbitral award was higher than that which was purportedly agreed upon in the MOA is
By Order[4] dated March 16, 2006, the Secretary of Labor resolved the CBA deadlock by of no moment. For the Secretary, in resolving the CBA deadlock, is not limited to considering the MOA as
awarding a wage increase of from P6.00 to P10.00 per day effective January 1, 2004 and from P9.00 basis in computing the wage increases. He could, as he did, consider the financial
to P15.00 per day effective January 1, 2005, and adopting all other benefits as embodied in the MOA. documents[14] submitted by respondent as well as the parties bargaining history and respondents
financial outlook and improvements as stated in its website.[15]
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Evidence Rule 128

It bears noting that since the filing and submission of the MOA did not have the effect of ABOSTA SHIPMANAGEMENT CORPORATION, G.R. No. 163252
divesting the Secretary of his jurisdiction, or of automatically disposing the controversy, then neither Petitioner,
should the provisions of the MOA restrict the Secretarys leeway in deciding the matters before him.
- versus - Promulgated:
The appellate courts brushing aside of the Paliwanag and the minutes of the meeting that resulted in the
conclusion of the MOA because they were not verified and notarized, thus violating, so the appellate NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (FIRST DIVISION) July 27, 2011
court reasoned, the rules on parol evidence, does not lie. Like any other rule on evidence, parol evidence and ARNULFO R. FLORES,
should not be strictly applied in labor cases. Respondents.

The reliance on the parol evidence rule is misplaced. In labor


cases pending before the Commission or the Labor Arbiter, the rules of evidence The petition for review on certiorari[1] before us seeks the reversal of the resolutions of the Court of
prevailing in courts of law or equity are not controlling. Rules of procedure and Appeals (CA), dated October 20, 2003[2] and April 6, 2004,[3] rendered in CA-G.R. SP No. 66806.
evidence are not applied in a very rigid and technical sense in labor cases. Hence, the
Labor Arbiter is not precluded from accepting and evaluating evidence other than, The Facts
and even contrary to, what is stated in the CBA.[16] (emphasis supplied)
Respondent Arnulfo R. Flores entered into a 12-month contract of employment, as radio officer, with the
While a contract constitutes the law between the parties, this is so in the present case with petitioner Abosta Shipmanagement Corporation (agency) for and in behalf of Panstar Shipping Co. Ltd.
(Panstar) of Busan, South Korea. Under the contract, Flores was to receive a salary of US$728.00/month
respect to the CBA, not to the MOA in which even the unions signatories had expressed reservations
for a 48-hour work week, a guaranteed overtime pay of US$439.00 a month, a monthly vacation pay of
thereto.But even assuming arguendo that the MOA is treated as a new CBA, since it is imbued with public US$146.00, and a supplemental allowance of US$33.00 a month.
interest, it must be construed liberally and yield to the common good.
While the terms and conditions of a CBA constitute the law between the Flores joined the vessel M/V Morning Charm sometime in June 1997. The Master of the vessel, Captain
parties, it is not, however, an ordinary contract to which is applied the principles of B.H. Mun, and Chief Engineer Gowang Gun Lee are from South Korea. Aside from Flores, there were
law governing ordinary contracts. A CBA, as a labor contract within the other Filipino workers on the vessel. On November 29, 1997, Flores was repatriated due to alleged
contemplation of Article 1700 of the Civil Code of the Philippines which governs the infractions committed while on board the vessel. In reaction, he filed a complaint for illegal dismissal
relations between labor and capital, is not merely contractual in nature
on January 13, 1998 against the agency and Panstar.
but impressed with public interest, thus, it must yield to the common good. As such,
it must be construed liberally rather than narrowly and technically, and the courts The Compulsory Arbitration Proceedings
must place a practical and realistic construction upon it, giving due consideration to
the context in which it is negotiated and purpose which it is intended to
serve.[17] (emphasis and underscoring supplied) Before the labor arbiter, Flores alleged that in the course of his employment, he was asked by the Master
to coordinate with several crew members who were requesting that they be allowed to resign or pre-
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated September 24, 2009 and the Resolution
terminate their employment contracts due to the alleged mismanagement of the vessel. He acted as
dated December 2, 2009 of the Court of Appeals are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the Order dated coordinator as bidden, but was surprised to learn later that he was one of those whose resignations were
accepted. He sought clarification from the Master, only to be told that he was among the crew members
March 16, 2006 and Resolution dated August 12, 2008 of the Secretary of Labor are REINSTATED.
who were considered to have resigned; hence, his discharge on November 29, 1997.

SO ORDERED. Upon his return to Manila, he immediately informed the agency that he had been erroneously
included among those who were considered resigned. He was surprised to learn that he was blamed for
6

Evidence Rule 128

having instigated the mass resignation of the Filipino crew. When he tried to explain his side, the agency In a decision dated August 20, 1999,[4] Labor Arbiter Adolfo C. Babiano dismissed the complaint for lack of
told him that the action taken by the Master was final and that it was not interested in his story. merit. He found that the evidence the agency and Panstar presented were convincing enough to prove
For their part, the agency and Panstar argued that Flores, while in their employ, insistently and rudely that Flores was a serious threat to the safety of the vessel and its crew. He noted that Flores failed to
questioned the crews working schedule, including the propriety of requiring them to render overtime refute the agencys and Panstars allegations that he incited the crew to rebel against the authority of the
services. They claimed that Flores instigated the crew to rebel against the authority of the Master, under Master and the vessels senior officers. He also found Flores to have been paid all his monetary
the guise of questioning social security and income tax deductions. As a result, the crew members entitlements.
became unruly, arrogant, and impolite, and were even violent in expressing their views. They even
refused to obey the lawful orders of the Master and the senior officers, thus causing dissension on board On appeal by Flores, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), in its decision of December 29,
the vessel. 2000,[5] reversed the labor arbiters ruling. The NLRC found that the agency and Panstar failed to prove (1)
The agency alleged that sometime in September 1997, Flores prepared a petition for five Filipino crew that Flores termination of employment was for a just or authorized cause and (2) that he was accorded
members from the engine department, demanding the ouster of 1st Assistant Engineer Rodolfo Escarola, due process. It opined that the main basis for the dismissal action against Flores was the accusation that
reportedly for incompetence and inefficiency; they threatened mass resignation. To create further unrest he agitated the crew to rebel against the authorities of M/V Morning Charm, as reported by the Chief
and dissatisfaction, Flores induced Sofronio Tibay, Herman Sebuando, Primitive Ferrer and Raymundo Officer (Chief Mate) and the 1st Assistant Engineer. The reports, the NLRC believe, did not constitute
Angel, of the same department, to write a letter to the ship management that they would be taking their proof of the validity of the dismissal.
emergency leaves, one after the other, in November 1997. They charged the vessel officers of
mismanaging the crew. When confronted about the letter, however, they denied most of the letters Moreover, the NLRC noted that Flores was dismissed immediately after the Master conducted his inquiry
contents, pointing to Flores as the author of the letter. At Flores instigation, the crew members on November 17, 1997. It stressed that the Masters so called administrative inquiry did not satisfy the
threatened to disembark without waiting for their replacements. The Master asked them to work for a due process requirements, as Flores was not given an adequate time for his defense.
less drastic solution, but they maintained their threat.
Accordingly, the NLRC declared Flores to have been illegally dismissed. It directed the agency
In light of the growing unrest on board the ship and Flores negative work attitude, the Master, Capt. B.H. and Panstar to pay Flores, jointly and severally, US$2,184.00 as salary for the unexpired portion of his
Mun, asked Flores to explain why he should not be administratively sanctioned for (1) disrespecting his contract, P50,000.00 in moral damages, and P25,000.00 in exemplary damages, plus 10% attorneys fees.
superior officers through his unruly, discourteous, impolite and violent behavior; (2) inciting the crew to The agency moved for reconsideration, but the NLRC denied the motion in its order of July 18,
commit insubordination and engaging in an activity which tends to create discontent among the crew or 2001.[6] The agency then sought relief from the CA, through a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the
to destroy harmonious relations with the principal; and (3) inefficiency and other infractions, specifically: Rules of Court.
(a) staying at his quarters most of the time while on duty, leaving unattended the messages from the
charterer or from the Panstar office; (b) revealing confidential messages to the crew without the Masters The CA Ruling
permission; and (c) insubordination. In its first assailed resolution (dated October 20, 2003),[7] the CA dismissed the petition due to
insufficiency in substance,[8] as the petitioner failed to show that the NLRC committed grave abuse of
According to the agency and Panstar, Flores became enraged after he was informed of the charges, but discretion in reversing the labor arbiters decision finding Flores dismissal legal. It sustained the NLRCs
could only vehemently deny the accusations. The Master then decided to separate Flores from the conclusion that the dismissal was without a valid cause and that Flores was denied due process.
service as the former was convinced that the charges were well-founded. The agency and Panstar
claimed that Flores was paid his overtime pay, salary for November 1997, and accrued vacation leave
pay. The second assailed CA resolution[9] denied the agencys motion for reconsideration, prompting
the agencys present appeal[10] to this Court.
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Evidence Rule 128

The Petitioners Case The Courts Ruling

Through its submissions the petition itself,[11] the reply to Flores comment[12] and the The procedural question
memorandum[13] the agency contends that in affirming the NLRC ruling, the CA deviated from the We first resolve the procedural issue of whether we should rule on the petition which,
substantial evidence rule in quasi-judicial proceedings. It argues that Flores employer, Panstar, met this as Flores contends, raises only questions of fact and not of law. While it is true that the Court is not a trier
standard of evidence through the affirmative declarations (reports) of Capt. B.H. Mun, Chief Officer of facts, we deem it proper to re-examine the evidence in view of the variance in the factual findings of
Alfredo R. de Luna and 1st Assistant Engineer Rodolfo Escarola that Flores committed the infractions the labor arbiter, on the one hand, and of the NLRC and the CA, on the other hand.
which led to his dismissal. In the face of these positive statements, the agency points out
that Flores could only offer bare and self-serving denials. It stresses too that, contrary to the impression The substantive issue
of the NLRC and the CA, Flores dismissal was not only for inciting members of the crew to rebel against After a careful and objective study of the parties submissions, we find that there is substantial evidence
the ship officers, but also for other causes such as inefficiency and insubordination or disobedience to the on record supporting Flores dismissal. Substantial evidence[, it must be stressed,] is more than a mere
lawful orders of a superior officer, all prejudicial to the interests of the employer. scintilla[. It means such] relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion, even if other minds, equally reasonable, might conceivably opine otherwise. [18]
The agency insists that Flores contumacious acts, while on board the vessel, constituted a
serious and grave offense which posed a threat to the safety of the crew and the vessel. It adds that they The agency, to our mind, succeeded in showing, by substantial evidence, that its principal (Panstar) had a
also reflected Flores arrogance and disobedience to lawful orders/directives of his superiors, punishable valid reason for terminating Flores employment. The Master, Capt. B.H. Mun, decided to dismiss him not
by dismissal pursuant to Section 31 of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Standard only for agitating the crew to rebel against the authorities of the vessel M/V Morning Charm (which the
Employment Contract. NLRC considered as the main reason for the dismissal),[19] but for several other infractions. As the records
show, and as Capt. B.H. Mun stressed in his letter of November 17, 1997 to the agency
The agency posits that the CA erred in brushing aside the findings of the labor arbiter. It calls management,[20] Flores was also charged with inefficiency or neglect of duty, insubordination, insolent
attention to the labor arbiters observation that Flores failed to refute the agencys allegation that he and disrespectful behavior, and other actuations which made him unfit for his position and rank.
incited the crew to rebel against the authority of the Master and the senior officers of the
vessel. Flores did not also refute the charge that to pressure the principal, he induced some members of Capt. B.H. Muns letter chronicled the bases of the charges lodged against Flores, and its salient points
the crew to take their emergency leaves one by one and to threaten the principal to an early sign-off. may be summarized as follows:

The Case for Flores 1. Since Flores came on board, he had been complaining about the deduction of US$40.00
from the crews monthly allotment for the Associated Marine Officers and
In his comment[14] and memorandum,[15] Flores asks that the petition be dismissed for raising purely Seamens Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) Fund. To Capt. B.H. Muns knowledge, the
questions of fact and not of law. He contends that the appellate courts findings are not to be disturbed as crew members were aware of the deduction. Despite this, Flores prepared a letter to the
they are binding upon this Court and, although there are certain exceptions to the rule, the petition does International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and asked the crew members to sign it.
not fall within any of the exceptions.[16] Capt. B.H. Mun asked Flores to explain the contents of the ITF letter to the crew to avoid
any misunderstanding. Instead of pacifying the crew, he stirred them up and made them
Flores further submits that aside from raising only questions of fact, the agency failed to state any special even more agitated. Also, despite Capt. B.H. Muns instructions to the contrary, he
and important reasons to justify the exercise by the Court of its discretionary appellate jurisdiction in the prepared letters for the crew containing his own complaints and sentiments against the
case.[17] company rather than those of the crew.
8

Evidence Rule 128

2. He revealed to the crew all outgoing and incoming messages, without informing Capt. B.H. of which only elicited angry denials from him. More significantly, he failed to refute the charges in the
Mun. compulsory arbitration proceedings, as the labor arbiter emphasized in his decision. This aspect of the
case should have been given due consideration by the NLRC.
3. Contrary to Capt. B.H. Muns instructions, Flores issued shore-passes to the deck crew
without the permission of the chief mate when the vessel made a port call In a different vein, Flores questioned the probative value of Capt. B.H. Muns statements, contending that
at Maputo during its last voyage. The deck crew members were not supposed to go on they are self-serving. He regarded them as pure hearsay which cannot be considered as evidence. It bears
shore as cargo was being unloaded at the time. It was a rush operation which had to be stressing in this regard that under the law, technical rules of evidence are not binding in administrative
supervised and monitored to avoid damage to the cargo and to be on alert for proceedings, and the NLRC and the labor arbiters shall use every and all reasonable means to ascertain
stowaways. Flores went on shore nevertheless, with some of the crew to whom he had the facts in each case speedily and objectively and without regard to technicalities of law or procedure,
issued shore-passes. all in the interest of due process.[25]

4. Flores entered in his overtime sheet 40-50 hours in excess of the monthly 85 hours, Hearsay or not, and by way of reiteration, Capt. B.H. Muns statements cannot just be ignored, for Flores
despite the captains instructions to the crew not to go over 85 hours; Flores did this to give himself admitted in his position paper, as noted by the labor arbiter, that the shipmaster asked him to be
the impression that he was doing a lot of work. the coordinator or go-between for several crew members who wanted to pre-terminate their
contract.[26] It is not disputed that Flores acted as such coordinator between the crew and Capt. B.H.
5. Flores stayed most of the time at the crew restroom while on duty instead of the radio Mun. Thus, Capt. B.H. Mun specifically asked him to explain to the crew the deduction of US$40.00 from
room, resulting in the failure, at times, of the charterer and the Panstar Busan Office to their monthly allotment for the AMOSUP Fund so that they would understand and would not to be
communicate with the vessel by INMARSAT phone. This gave rise to several complaints, agitated; instead of doing this, he stirred up the crew further. In fractured English, Capt. B.H. Mun stated:
especially from the charterer who was compelled to use two communication devices the
facsimile machine and the telex to send the same instruction or message to the vessel.
Notwithstand he should if necessary take all his way be persuaded and kindly
explained to the crew about misunderstanding ITF contents, but he did has to say
Capt. B.H. Mun considered the foregoing infractions and a few more mentioned in his letter as nothing of crew persuasion, more excite with big voices and stir up to the crew to
indications of Flores efforts to bypass his authority and to act at cross purposes with him. mischief. Two anhalf months ago, I asked him that dont be helping to crew to be sent
company their letters specially, because his prepared it for crew had writ down his
It is clear that the letters of Chief Officer De Luna[21] and 1st Assistant Engineer Escarola[22] to own complaining with unless and reactive stories thru their letter. He didnt still follow
to master instruction thats why help to nice preparing crew letter according to his
Panstars Capt. Chung, detailing how Flores agitated the crew (with charges of mismanagement of the
say.[27]
vessel), and Capt. B.H. Muns letter to the agency all depict a radio officer who undermined the authority
of the shipmaster and the other officers in the guise of raising labor-management issues on board the The fact that Flores acted as coordinator or liaison between the crew and the vessels officers
vessel. Additionally and as an indication of his disrespect for the vessels management, as well as his low signifies that Flores did interact with the crew, and had the opportunity to sow discontent
regard for his work, he neglected his duties as radio officer and disobeyed Capt. B.H. Muns instructions among them towards the shipmanagement. Flores infractions, as mentioned in the letters,
on several occasions. It is no surprise that his record of service[23] yielded a very poor assessment or a no could not have been just pigments of the imagination of Capt. B.H. Mun and the other officers
further employment assessment. as Flores insinuated; they were reporting on Flores actual transgressions while on board the
vessel.
Still on the probative value of the letters, Flores wondered why the agency did not present in evidence
The NLRC grossly erred in rejecting the letters as proof of the validity of Flores dismissal. It
the vessels logbook[28] the official records of a ships voyage that the master is required by law to keep
misappreciated the contents of the letters, especially that of Capt. B.H. Mun. They did not contain a mere
and where he records the decision/s he made during the voyage, including all happenings on
accusation of wrongdoing.[24] The letters made direct affirmative statements on Flores transgressions, all
board.[29] The existence of a logbook, however, does not at all preclude the admission and consideration
9

Evidence Rule 128

of other accounts of what was happening on board the vessel, such as, in this instance, the shipmasters B.H. Mun conducted his inquiry on November 17, 1997. Although Flores merely issued a vehement
report. In Abacast Shipping and Management Agency, Inc. v. NLRC,[30] the Court explained - denial, Capt. B.H. Mun should have given him a reasonable time to explain, if necessary, in writing. While
The [logbook] is a respectable record that can be relied upon to authenticate the charges filed this lapse in procedure cannot negate the existence of a valid cause for Flores dismissal, as discussed
and the procedure taken against the employees prior to their dismissal. Curiously, however, no entry above, the violation of his right to procedural due process warrants the payment of indemnity in the form
from such [logbook] was presented at all in this case. What was offered instead was the shipmasters of nominal damages, as we held in Agabon v. National Labor Relations Commission.[34] Given the
report, which was later claimed to be a collation of excerpts from such book. circumstances in the present case, we deem an award of nominal damages to Flores in the amount
of P30,000.00 to be appropriate.
xxxx In sum, we find the petition meritorious.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the resolutions dated October 20, 2003 and April 6, 2004 of the
At that, even if the shipmasters report were to be admitted and considered, a close
Court of Appeals are SET ASIDE. We DECLARE the dismissal of respondent Arnulfo R. Flores LEGAL,
reading thereof will show that the private respondents have not committed any act
that would justify the termination of their services before the expiration of the but AWARD him nominal damages in the amount of P30,000.00 for the violation of his procedural due
contracts. process rights.

No cost. SO ORDERED.
While the shipmasters report was not considered in Abacast Shipping, the reason behind the rejection
was the Courts conclusion that the separated employees had not committed any act that would justify
G.R. No. 207988, March 11, 2015
their dismissal, as their dismissal was based on mere apprehension. This situation does not obtain
in Flores case. As mentioned earlier, Capt. B.H. Muns report made affirmative statements
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. BRIAN MERCADO Y SARMIENTO, Accused-
regarding Floresinfractions that led to his dismissal. These infractions involved not only instigating several
Appellant.
crew members to rebel against the vessels authorities and to disrespect their superiors, but also other
transgressions that made him unfit to continue in employment.
Before this Court is an appeal from the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 04942
Even as he assailed the reports of Capt. B.H. Mun and the other officers as hearsay and self- affirming the Decision2 in Criminal Case Nos. C-77992 and C-77993 rendered by the Regional Trial Court
serving, Flores failed to controvert the affirmative statements made in the reports. The reports were (RTC), Branch 120 of Caloocan City. The RTC Decision found accused-appellant Brian Mercado y
submitted on compulsory arbitration. He did not refute the charges, thus leaving them unrebutted. Capt. Sarmiento (accused-appellant) guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violation of Sections 5 and 11, Article II
B.H. Muns statements, corroborated by the reports of Chief Officer De Luna and 1 st Assistant Engineer of Republic Act No. 9165 (R.A. No. 9165), otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act
Escarola, should have therefore been admitted as sufficient support for the charges. of 2002.
On the whole, we are convinced that Flores dismissal was justified on the following grounds:
The Facts
1. Sowing intrigue and dissension on board the vessel M/V Morning Charm;[31]
The accused-appellant was charged of violation of Sections 5 and 11, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, in two (2)
2. Inefficiency and neglect of duty;[32] and Informations, both dated 31 July 2007, which respectively read as follows:
3. Insubordination or disobedience of the lawful orders of the shipmaster.[33]
The NLRCs rulings, disregarding these grounds, do not only constitute errors in the Crim. Case No. 77992 (For violation of Section 5, R.A. No. 9165)
appreciation of evidence; they were gross errors as they practically disregarded the petitioners evidence. That on or about the 27th day of July, 2007 in Caloocan City, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of
Hence, the CA erred in not recognizing these errors for what they were grossly abusive acts that affected this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without authority of law, did then and there willfully,
the NLRCs exercise of its jurisdiction. unlawfully and feloniously sell and deliver to PO3 RAMON GALVEZ, who posed, as buyer, a plastic sachet
containing METHYLAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE (Shabu) weighing 0.02 gram, a dangerous drug,
The procedural due process issue without corresponding license or prescription therefore, knowing the same to be such. 3
The records bear out that Flores was not given a reasonable opportunity to present his side vis--vis the
charges at the time he was dismissed. As the NLRC noted, Flores was immediately dismissed after Capt. Crim. Case No. 77993 (For violation of Section 11, R.A. No. 9165)
10

Evidence Rule 128

That on or about the 27th day of July, 2007 in Caloocan City, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of in handcuffs. He was brought to the police station and was told to produce ten thousand pesos
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without being authorized by law, did then and there (P10,000.00) in exchange for his liberty, otherwise, a case would be filed against him. Unable to produce
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession, custody and control Two (2) sachets the money, accused-appellant faced the present charges.7
containing METHYLAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE (Shabu) weighing 0.02 gram & 0.02 gram,
respectively, when subjected for laboratory examination gave positive result to the tests of The Ruling of the RTC
Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.4 After trial on the merits, the RTC rendered a Decision8 finding the accused-appellant guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of violation of Sections 5 and 11, Article II of R.A. No. 9165. The dispositive portion of
Upon arraignment, the accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to said charges.5 Trial thereafter proceeded. which is hereunder quoted, to wit:
Based on the evidence presented and on the stipulations and admitted facts entered into by the parties,
the summary of factual findings is stated as follows: Premises considered, this court finds and so holds that:
The Version of the Prosecution
(1) The accused Brian Mercado y Sarmiento GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for violation of Sections 5
[A]t around 10:00 a.m. on July 27, 2007, acting on a tip from a confidential informant that accused- and 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act
appellant was selling shabu, the Station Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operation Unit (SAID-SOU) of the of 2002 and imposes upon him the following:
Philippine National Police (PNP) organized a buy-bust operation [with] SPO2 Wilfredo Quillan as team
leader, PO3 [Ramon] Galvez as poseur-buyer, and SPO1 [Fernando] Moran, PO2 Eugene Amaro, PO2 (a) In Crim. Case No. C-77992, the penalty of Life Imprisonment and a fine of Five Hundred Thousand
Celso Santos and PO3 Jose Martirez as members. After SPO2 Quillan briefed the buy-bust team, a pre- Pesos (P500,000.00); and
operation report was prepared. PO3 Galvez was provided with two (2) one hundred-peso bills which he
marked on the right portion with his initials RG. Then, the team and the informant boarded a (b) In Crim. Case No. C-77993, the penalty of Imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to
passenger jeepney and proceeded to Phase 3-D, Camarin, Caloocan City. When the informant pointed to Fourteen (14) years and a fine of Three Hundred Thousand Pesos (P300,000.00).
accused-appellant, PO3 Galvez approached him and said, [p]re, pa-iskor naman, offering to buy
P200.00 worth of shabu. He then handed the buy-bust money and accused-appellant brought out from The drugs subject matter of these cases are hereby confiscated and forfeited in favor of the government
his pocket three (3) pieces of plastic sachets, chose one (1) sachet and gave it to PO3 Galvez. As the sale to be dealt with in accordance with law.9
was already consummated, PO3 Galvez introduced himself as a police officer, arrested accused-appellant,
and gave the pre-arranged signal to his companions by scratching his nape. When SPO1 Moran rushed in, The trial court concluded that the evidence presented by the prosecution sufficiently satisfied the
PO3 Galvez marked the plastic sachet with BMS/RG and told SPO1 Moran about the remaining two (2) quantum required for accused-appellants conviction. It declared that the fact of sale was sufficiently
plastic sachets in accused-appellants pocket. SPO1 Moran then frisked him and confiscated the items established upon showing the complete detailed manner of negotiation of said sale, exchange of
which he marked as BMS/FM-1 and BMS/FM-2. Thereafter, they brought accused-appellant and the consideration, and handing of the subject of the sale. The court a quo ruled that, as long as the police
confiscated items to the SAID-SOU office in Samson Road, Caloocan City, and turned them over to the officer went through the operation as a buyer and his offer was accepted by the accused-appellant, and
investigator, PO2 [Randulfo] Hipolito, who prepared the corresponding evidence acknowledgment the dangerous drugs delivered to the former, the crime is considered consummated by the delivery of
receipt and request for laboratory examination. goods.10 Likewise, the testimonies of the police officers who participated in the buy-bust operation
appear credible and reliable since absence of any showing of ill-motive on their part to concoct trumped
Qualitative examination conducted on the confiscated three (3) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets charges, they enjoy the presumption of regularity in the performance of their duties.11 On the other
containing white crystalline substance, each weighing 0.02 gram, yielded positive for hand, the denial of the accused-appellant and his mere allegation of extortion were found to be
methylampethamine hydrochloride or shabu, a dangerous drug.6 unsubstantiated by any convincing and credible evidence. Hence, being considered as negative, weak,
and self-serving evidence, accused-appellants bare denial cannot prevail over the positive testimony of
The Version of the Defense the prosecutions witnesses and the physical evidence which supported said judgment of conviction.12
On July 26, 2007, at around 9:30 to 10:00 in the evening, accused-appellant returned the jeepney he was
driving to the garage of Phase 3-B, Camarin, Caloocan City. He was walking home when a jeepney with The Ruling of the CA
police officers on board suddenly stopped in front of him. PO3 Galvez asked accused-appellant where he On intermediate appellate review, the CA affirmed the RTCs Decision in convicting the accused-
came from. He answered that he just came from driving his jeepney showing the police officers his appellant. It ruled that failure to comply with Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 will not render the arrest of the
drivers license. Accused-appellant was then forced to ride in the jeepney where he saw eight (8) persons
11

Evidence Rule 128

accused illegal, nor will it result to the inadmissibility in evidence against the accused of the illegal drugs the findings of the trial court are not to be disturbed unless the consideration of certain facts of
seized in the course of the entrapment operation. What is of utmost relevance is the preservation of the substance and value, which have been plainly overlooked, might affect the result of the case.17
integrity and maintenance of the evidentiary value of the confiscated illegal drugs, for in the end, the
same shall necessarily be the thrust that shall determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. The Upon perusal of the records of the case, we see no reason to reverse or modify the findings of the RTC on
prosecution therefore must simply show that the seized item recovered from appellant was the same the credibility of the testimony of prosecutions witnesses, more so in the present case, in which its
item presented in court and found to be an illegal/prohibited drug. These were all established and findings were affirmed by the CA. It is worthy to mention that, in addition to the legal presumption of
proven beyond reasonable doubt in the instant case.13 Accordingly, the prosecution was able to regularity in the performance of their official duty, the court a quo was in the best position to weigh the
sufficiently bear out the statutory elements of the crime of illegal sale and illegal possession of such drugs evidence presented during trial and ascertain the credibility of the police officers who testified as to the
committed by accused-appellant. The disposal on appeal reads: conduct of the buy-bust operation and in preserving the integrity of the seized illegal drug.
It is well-settled that objection to the admissibility of evidence cannot be raised for the first time on This Court has consistently ruled that for the successful prosecution of offenses involving the illegal sale
appeal; when a party desire the court to reject the evidence offered, he must so state in the form of of drugs under Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, the following elements must be proven: (1) the
objection. Thus, as the trial was already concluded, [w]e can no longer turn back to find out the justifiable identity of the buyer and seller, the object and consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and
grounds for the omission of the legal requisites. the payment therefor.18 In other words, there is a need to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the
accused actually sold and delivered a prohibited drug to another, and that the former indeed knew that
In any case, the procedural lapse did not render accused-appellants arrest illegal or the evidence what he had sold and delivered to the latter was a prohibited drug.19 To reiterate, what is material to the
adduced inadmissible. If there is non-compliance with Section 21, the issue is not of admissibility, but of prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs is the proof that the transaction or sale actually took place,
weight evidentiary merit or probative value to be given the evidence. After a scrutiny of the records, plus the presentation in court of corpus delicti as evidence.20 On the other hand, we have adhered to the
[w]e find the evidence adduced more than sufficient to prove the charges against accused-appellant. time-honored principle that for illegal possession of regulated or prohibited drugs under Section 11 of the
Therefore, considering that no circumstance exists to put the trial courts findings in error, [w]e apply the same law, the prosecution must establish the following elements: (1) the accused is in possession of an
time-honored precept that findings of the trial courts which are factual in nature and which involve item or object, which is identified to be a prohibited or regulated drug; (2) such possession is not
credibility are accorded respect when no glaring errors, gross misapprehension of facts and speculative, authorized by law; and (3) the accused freely and consciously possessed the drug.21
arbitrary and unsupported conclusions can be gathered from such findings.
Undoubtedly, the prosecution had indeed established that there was a buy-bust operation22 showing that
FOR THESE REASONS, [w]e DENY the appeal and AFFIRM the assailed February 23, 2011 Decision of the accused-appellant sold and delivered the shabu for value to PO3 Ramon Galvez (PO3 Galvez), the poseur-
Caloocan City Regional Trial Court, Branch 120.14 buyer. PO3 Galvez himself testified that there was an actual exchange of the marked-money and the
Moreover, the appellate court emphasized that, during trial, accused-appellant neither suggested that prohibited drug. Likewise, accused-appellant was fully aware that what he was selling was illegal and
there were lapses in the safekeeping of the suspected drugs that could affect their integrity and prohibited considering that when PO3 Galvez told him, pre, pa-iskor naman, the former immediately
evidentiary value nor objected to their admissibility. Accused-appellant was then precluded from raising answered, magkano?, then when the poseur-buyer replied, dos lang, it resulted to the production of
such issue which must be timely raised during trial.15 three (3) pieces of plastic sachets from accused-appellants pocket. Thereafter, the corpus delicti or the
subject drug was seized, marked, and subsequently identified as a prohibited drug. Note that there was
Upon elevation of this case before this Court, the Office of the Solicitor General manifested that it will no nothing in the records showing that he had authority to possess them. Jurisprudence had pronounced
longer file its supplemental brief and, instead, will adopt all the arguments in its brief filed before the repeatedly that mere possession of a prohibited drug constitutes prima facie evidence of knowledge
CA.16 On the other hand, accused-appellant raised the issue that the court a quo gravely erred in or animus possidendi sufficient to convict an accused in the absence of any satisfactory
convicting him notwithstanding the police operatives patent non-compliance with the strict and explanation.23 Above all, accused-appellant likewise failed to present contrary evidence to rebut his
mandatory requirements of R.A. No. 9165. possession of the shabu. Taken collectively, the illegal sale and illegal possession of dangerous drugs by
The Issue Whether or not the RTC and the CA erred in finding that the evidence of the prosecution was accused-appellant were indeed established beyond reasonable doubt.
sufficient to convict the accused of the alleged sale and possession of methamphetamine hydrochloride
or shabu, in violation of Sections 5 and 11, respectively, of R.A. No. 9165. By way of emphasis, in cases involving violations of Dangerous Drugs Act, credence should be given to the
narration of the incident by the prosecution witnesses especially when they are police officers who are
Our Ruling presumed to have performed their duties in a regular manner, unless there is evidence to the
We sustain the judgment of conviction. The Court finds no valid reason to depart from the time-honored contrary.24 In this regard, the defense failed to show any ill motive or odious intent on the part of the
doctrine that where the issue is one of credibility of witnesses, and in this case their testimonies as well, police operatives to impute such a serious crime that would put in jeopardy the life and liberty of an
12

Evidence Rule 128

innocent person, such as in the case of accused-appellant. As a matter of fact, aside from accused- step-by-step adherence to the procedural requirements; what is important is to ensure the preservation
appellants mere denial and alleged extortion against him, no evidence was ever presented to prove the of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as these would determine the guilt or
truthfulness of the same. Incidentally, if these were simply trumped-up charges against him, it remains a innocence of the accused. We succinctly explained this in People v. Del Monte when we held:
question why no administrative charges were brought against the police officers. Moreover, in weighing
the testimonies of the prosecutions witnesses vis--vis that of the defense, it is a well-settled rule that in We would like to add that non-compliance with Section 21 of said law, particularly the making of the
the absence of palpable error or grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial judge, the trial courts inventory and the photographing of the drugs confiscated and/or seized, will not render the drugs
evaluation of the credibility of witnesses will not be disturbed on appeal. 25 inadmissible in evidence. Under Section 3 of Rule 128 of the Rules of Court, evidence is admissible when
it is relevant to the issue and is not excluded by the law or these rules. For evidence to be inadmissible,
To reiterate, in the absence of any showing that substantial or relevant facts bearing on the elements of there should be a law or rule which forbids its reception. If there is no such law or rule, the evidence
the crime have been misapplied or overlooked, this Court can only accord full credence to such factual must be admitted subject only to the evidentiary weight that will [be] accorded it by the courts. x x x
assessment of the trial court which had the distinct advantage of observing the demeanor and conduct of
the witnesses during the trial. Absent any proof of motive to falsely charge an accused of such a grave We do not find any provision or statement in said law or in any rule that will bring about the non-
offense, the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty and the findings of the trial admissibility of the confiscated and/or seized drugs due to non-compliance with Section 21 of Republic
court with respect to the credibility of witnesses shall prevail over his/her bare allegation.26 Act No. 9165. The issue therefore, if there is non-compliance with said section, is not of admissibility,
but of weight evidentiary merit or probative value to be given the evidence.The weight to be
Furthermore, this Court has time and again adopted the chain of custody rule,27 a method of given by the courts on said evidence depends on the circumstances obtaining in each case. 31 (Emphases
authenticating evidence which requires that the admission of an exhibit be preceded by evidence supplied and citations omitted)
sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what the proponent claims it to be. This
would include testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment the item was picked up to the From the testimonies of the police officers in the case at bench, the prosecution established that they
time it is offered in evidence, in such a way that every person who touched the exhibit would describe had custody of the drug seized from the accused from the moment he was arrested, during the time he
how and from whom it was received, where it was and what happened to it while in the witness was transported to the police station, and up to the time the drug was submitted to the crime laboratory
possession, the condition in which it was received and the condition in which it was delivered to the next for examination. The same witnesses also identified the seized drug with certainty when this was
link in the chain. These witnesses would then describe the precautions taken to ensure that there had presented in court. With regard to the handling of the seized drugs, there are no conflicting testimonies
been no change in the condition of the item and no opportunity for someone not in the chain to have or glaring inconsistencies that would cast doubt on the integrity thereof as evidence presented and
possession of the same.28 scrutinized in court. It is therefore safe to conclude that, to the unprejudiced mind, the testimonies show
without a doubt that the evidence seized from the accused-appellant at the time of the buy-bust
It is essential for the prosecution to prove that the prohibited drug confiscated or recovered from the operation was the same one tested, introduced, and testified to in court. This fact was further bolstered
suspect is the very same substance offered in court as exhibit. Its identity must be established with by the stipulations entered into between the parties as to the testimony of Forensic Chemical Officer of
unwavering exactitude for it to lead to a finding of guilt.29 the Northern Police District Crime Laboratory Office, Caloocan City, Police Chief Inspector Albert S.
Alongside these rulings are our pronouncements, just as consistent, that failure to strictly comply with Arturo.32 In other words, there is no question as to the integrity of the evidence against accused-
the prescribed procedures in the inventory of seized drugs does not render an arrest of the accused appellant.
illegal or the items seized/confiscated from him inadmissible. What is essential is the preservation of
the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as the same would be utilized in the Accordingly, we hereby affirm the position taken by the CA when it expounded on the matter:
determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused. 30 Thus: From the point of view of jurisprudence, It is well-settled that objection to the admissibility of evidence cannot be raised for the first time on
we are not beating any new path by holding that the failure to undertake the required photography and appeal; when a party desires the court to reject the evidence offered, he must so state in the form of
immediate marking of seized items may be excused by the unique circumstances of a case. In People v. objection. Thus, as the trial was already concluded, [w]e can no longer turn back to find out the
Resurreccion, we already stated that marking upon immediate confiscation does not exclude the justifiable grounds for the omission of the legal requisites.
possibility that marking can be at the police station or office of the apprehending team. In the cases In any case, the procedural lapse did not render accused-appellants arrest illegal or the evidence
of People v. Rusiana, People v. Hernandez, and People v. Gum-Oyen, the apprehending team marked the adduced inadmissible. If there is non-compliance with Section 21, the issue is not of admissibility, but of
confiscated items at the police station and not at the place of seizure. Nevertheless, we sustained the weight evidentiary merit or probative value to be given the evidence. After scrutiny of the records,
conviction because the evidence showed that the integrity and evidentiary value of the items seized had [w]e find the evidence adduced more than sufficient to prove the charges against accused-
been preserved. To reiterate what we have held in past cases, we are not always looking for the strict appellant. Therefore, considering that no circumstance exists to put the trial courts findings in error,
13

Evidence Rule 128

[w]e apply the time-honored precept that findings of the trial courts which are factual in nature and G.R. No. L-19550 June 19, 1967
which involve credibility are accorded respect when no glaring errors, gross misapprehensions of facts
and speculative, arbitrary and unsupported conclusions can be gathered from such findings. 33 HARRY S. STONEHILL, ROBERT P. BROOKS, JOHN J. BROOKS and KARL BECK, petitioners,
vs.
Again, although this Court finds that the police officers did not strictly comply with the requirements of HON. JOSE W. DIOKNO, in his capacity as SECRETARY OF JUSTICE; JOSE LUKBAN, in his capacity as
Section 21, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, such noncompliance did not affect the evidentiary weight of the Acting Director, National Bureau of Investigation; SPECIAL PROSECUTORS PEDRO D. CENZON, EFREN I.
drug seized from the accused-appellant, because the chain of custody of the evidence was shown to be PLANA and MANUEL VILLAREAL, JR. and ASST. FISCAL MANASES G. REYES; JUDGE AMADO ROAN,
unbroken under the circumstances of the case. As correctly found by the appellate court: Municipal Court of Manila; JUDGE ROMAN CANSINO, Municipal Court of Manila; JUDGE HERMOGENES
CALUAG, Court of First Instance of Rizal-Quezon City Branch, and JUDGE DAMIAN JIMENEZ, Municipal
The following links must be established in the chain of custody in a buy-bust operation: first, the seizure Court of Quezon City, respondents.
and marking, if practicable, of the illegal drug recovered from the accused by the apprehending officer;
second, the turnover of the illegal drug seized by the apprehending officer to the investigating
Upon application of the officers of the government named on the margin1 hereinafter referred to as
officer; third, the turnover by the investigating officer of the illegal drug to the forensic chemist for
Respondents-Prosecutors several judges2 hereinafter referred to as Respondents-Judges issued,
laboratory examination; and fourth, the turnover and submission of the marked illegal drug seized from
on different dates,3 a total of 42 search warrants against petitioners herein4 and/or the corporations of
the forensic chemist to the court. A circumspect study of the evidence movements reveal the integrity
which they were officers,5 directed to the any peace officer, to search the persons above-named and/or
and the evidentiary value of the suspected drugs were safeguarded. PO3 Galvez and SPO1 Moran
the premises of their offices, warehouses and/or residences, and to seize and take possession of the
testified that they marked the suspected drugs with BMS/RG, BMS/FM-1 and BMS/FM-2 in the
following personal property to wit:
presence of accused-appellant immediately upon confiscation. Then, they brought accused-appellant
and the confiscated items to their office, entrusting custody to investigator PO2 Hipolito. Contrary to
accused-appellants claim, there is no hiatus in the third and fourth link in the chain of custody. The Books of accounts, financial records, vouchers, correspondence, receipts, ledgers, journals,
defense admitted that, upon receipt of the items, PO2 Hipolito prepared the corresponding evidence portfolios, credit journals, typewriters, and other documents and/or papers showing all
acknowledgment receipt and request for laboratory examination. The request for laboratory business transactions including disbursements receipts, balance sheets and profit and loss
examination, which the prosecution offered as part of its documentary evidence, bears a stamp stating statements and Bobbins (cigarette wrappers).
PO2 Hipolito was the one who delivered the marked confiscated items to PNP Crime Laboratory, with
forensic chemist PSI Arturo as the receiving officer. PSI Arturo then conducted the examination which as "the subject of the offense; stolen or embezzled and proceeds or fruits of the offense," or "used or
yielded positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.When the prosecution presented the intended to be used as the means of committing the offense," which is described in the applications
marked plastic sachets in court, PO3 Galvez and SPO1 Moran positively identified them as those adverted to above as "violation of Central Bank Laws, Tariff and Customs Laws, Internal Revenue (Code)
recovered from accused-appellant in the buy-bust operation. Considering that every link was adequately and the Revised Penal Code."
established by the prosecution, the chain of custody was unbroken.34
Alleging that the aforementioned search warrants are null and void, as contravening the Constitution and
In fine, considering the pieces of evidence presented by the prosecution, the denial and allegation of the Rules of Court because, inter alia: (1) they do not describe with particularity the documents, books
extortion of the accused-appellant fails. Courts generally view the defense of denial with disfavor due to and things to be seized; (2) cash money, not mentioned in the warrants, were actually seized; (3) the
the facility with which an accused can concoct it to suit his or her defense. As evidence that is both warrants were issued to fish evidence against the aforementioned petitioners in deportation cases filed
negative and self-serving, this defense cannot attain more credibility than the testimonies of the against them; (4) the searches and seizures were made in an illegal manner; and (5) the documents,
prosecution witnesses who testify clearly, providing thereby positive evidence on the various aspects of papers and cash money seized were not delivered to the courts that issued the warrants, to be disposed
the crime committed.35 Consequently, we find no cogent reason to disturb the decisions of the RTC and of in accordance with law on March 20, 1962, said petitioners filed with the Supreme Court this
the CA. Accused-appellant Bryan Mercado y Sarmiento is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of original action for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus and injunction, and prayed that, pending final
Sections 5 and 11, Article II of R.A. No. 9165. disposition of the present case, a writ of preliminary injunction be issued restraining Respondents-
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The CA Decision in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 04942 dated 26 September Prosecutors, their agents and /or representatives from using the effects seized as aforementioned or any
2012, is AFFIRMED in all respects. SO ORDERED. copies thereof, in the deportation cases already adverted to, and that, in due course, thereafter, decision
be rendered quashing the contested search warrants and declaring the same null and void, and
14

Evidence Rule 128

commanding the respondents, their agents or representatives to return to petitioners herein, in violation, if any, was with reference to the rights of another. Remus vs. United
accordance with Section 3, Rule 67, of the Rules of Court, the documents, papers, things and cash States (C.C.A.)291 F. 501, 511. It follows, therefore, that the question of the admissibility of the
moneys seized or confiscated under the search warrants in question. evidence based on an alleged unlawful search and seizure does not extend to the personal
defendants but embraces only the corporation whose property was taken. . . . (A Guckenheimer
In their answer, respondents-prosecutors alleged, 6 (1) that the contested search warrants are valid and & Bros. Co. vs. United States, [1925] 3 F. 2d. 786, 789, Emphasis supplied.)
have been issued in accordance with law; (2) that the defects of said warrants, if any, were cured by
petitioners' consent; and (3) that, in any event, the effects seized are admissible in evidence against With respect to the documents, papers and things seized in the residences of petitioners herein, the
herein petitioners, regardless of the alleged illegality of the aforementioned searches and seizures. aforementioned resolution of June 29, 1962, lifted the writ of preliminary injunction previously issued by
this Court, 12 thereby, in effect, restraining herein Respondents-Prosecutors from using them in evidence
On March 22, 1962, this Court issued the writ of preliminary injunction prayed for in the petition. against petitioners herein.
However, by resolution dated June 29, 1962, the writ was partially lifted or dissolved, insofar as the
papers, documents and things seized from the offices of the corporations above mentioned are In connection with said documents, papers and things, two (2) important questions need be settled,
concerned; but, the injunction was maintained as regards the papers, documents and things found and namely: (1) whether the search warrants in question, and the searches and seizures made under the
seized in the residences of petitioners herein.7 authority thereof, are valid or not, and (2) if the answer to the preceding question is in the negative,
whether said documents, papers and things may be used in evidence against petitioners
Thus, the documents, papers, and things seized under the alleged authority of the warrants in question herein.1wph1.t
may be split into two (2) major groups, namely: (a) those found and seized in the offices of the
aforementioned corporations, and (b) those found and seized in the residences of petitioners herein. Petitioners maintain that the aforementioned search warrants are in the nature of general warrants and
that accordingly, the seizures effected upon the authority there of are null and void. In this connection,
As regards the first group, we hold that petitioners herein have no cause of action to assail the legality of the Constitution 13 provides:
the contested warrants and of the seizures made in pursuance thereof, for the simple reason that said
corporations have their respective personalities, separate and distinct from the personality of herein The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against
petitioners, regardless of the amount of shares of stock or of the interest of each of them in said unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon
corporations, and whatever the offices they hold therein may be.8 Indeed, it is well settled that the probable cause, to be determined by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of
legality of a seizure can be contested only by the party whose rights have been impaired thereby,9 and the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be
that the objection to an unlawful search and seizure is purely personal and cannot be availed of by third searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
parties. 10 Consequently, petitioners herein may not validly object to the use in evidence against them of
the documents, papers and things seized from the offices and premises of the corporations adverted to Two points must be stressed in connection with this constitutional mandate, namely: (1) that no warrant
above, since the right to object to the admission of said papers in evidence belongs exclusively to the shall issue but upon probable cause, to be determined by the judge in the manner set forth in said
corporations, to whom the seized effects belong, and may not be invoked by the corporate officers in provision; and (2) that the warrant shall particularly describe the things to be seized.
proceedings against them in their individual capacity. 11 Indeed, it has been held:
None of these requirements has been complied with in the contested warrants. Indeed, the same were
. . . that the Government's action in gaining possession of papers belonging to issued upon applications stating that the natural and juridical person therein named had committed a
the corporation did not relate to nor did it affect the personal defendants. If these papers were "violation of Central Ban Laws, Tariff and Customs Laws, Internal Revenue (Code) and Revised Penal
unlawfully seized and thereby the constitutional rights of or any one were invaded, they were Code." In other words, no specific offense had been alleged in said applications. The averments thereof
the rights of the corporation and not the rights of the other defendants. Next, it is clear that a with respect to the offense committed were abstract. As a consequence, it was impossible for the judges
question of the lawfulness of a seizure can be raised only by one whose rights have been who issued the warrants to have found the existence of probable cause, for the same presupposes the
invaded. Certainly, such a seizure, if unlawful, could not affect the constitutional rights of introduction of competent proof that the party against whom it is sought has performed particular acts,
defendants whose property had not been seized or the privacy of whose homes had not been or committed specific omissions, violating a given provision of our criminal laws. As a matter of fact, the
disturbed; nor could they claim for themselves the benefits of the Fourth Amendment, when its applications involved in this case do not allege any specific acts performed by herein petitioners. It would
15

Evidence Rule 128

be the legal heresy, of the highest order, to convict anybody of a "violation of Central Bank Laws, Tariff unlawfully obtained, 17 such as the common-law action for damages against the searching officer, against
and Customs Laws, Internal Revenue (Code) and Revised Penal Code," as alleged in the the party who procured the issuance of the search warrant and against those assisting in the execution of
aforementioned applications without reference to any determinate provision of said laws or an illegal search, their criminal punishment, resistance, without liability to an unlawful seizure, and such
other legal remedies as may be provided by other laws.
To uphold the validity of the warrants in question would be to wipe out completely one of the most
fundamental rights guaranteed in our Constitution, for it would place the sanctity of the domicile and the However, most common law jurisdictions have already given up this approach and eventually adopted
privacy of communication and correspondence at the mercy of the whims caprice or passion of peace the exclusionary rule, realizing that this is the only practical means of enforcing the constitutional
officers. This is precisely the evil sought to be remedied by the constitutional provision above quoted injunction against unreasonable searches and seizures. In the language of Judge Learned Hand:
to outlaw the so-called general warrants. It is not difficult to imagine what would happen, in times of
keen political strife, when the party in power feels that the minority is likely to wrest it, even though by As we understand it, the reason for the exclusion of evidence competent as such, which has been
legal means. unlawfully acquired, is that exclusion is the only practical way of enforcing the constitutional privilege. In
earlier times the action of trespass against the offending official may have been protection enough; but
Such is the seriousness of the irregularities committed in connection with the disputed search warrants, that is true no longer. Only in case the prosecution which itself controls the seizing officials, knows that it
that this Court deemed it fit to amend Section 3 of Rule 122 of the former Rules of Court 14 by providing cannot profit by their wrong will that wrong be repressed.18
in its counterpart, under the Revised Rules of Court 15 that "a search warrant shall not issue but upon
probable cause in connection with one specific offense." Not satisfied with this qualification, the Court In fact, over thirty (30) years before, the Federal Supreme Court had already declared:
added thereto a paragraph, directing that "no search warrant shall issue for more than one specific
offense."
If letters and private documents can thus be seized and held and used in evidence against a citizen
accused of an offense, the protection of the 4th Amendment, declaring his rights to be secure against
The grave violation of the Constitution made in the application for the contested search warrants was such searches and seizures, is of no value, and, so far as those thus placed are concerned, might as well
compounded by the description therein made of the effects to be searched for and seized, to wit: be stricken from the Constitution. The efforts of the courts and their officials to bring the guilty to
punishment, praiseworthy as they are, are not to be aided by the sacrifice of those great principles
Books of accounts, financial records, vouchers, journals, correspondence, receipts, ledgers, established by years of endeavor and suffering which have resulted in their embodiment in the
portfolios, credit journals, typewriters, and other documents and/or papers showing all business fundamental law of the land.19
transactions including disbursement receipts, balance sheets and related profit and loss statements.
This view was, not only reiterated, but, also, broadened in subsequent decisions on the same Federal
Thus, the warrants authorized the search for and seizure of records pertaining to all business Court. 20After reviewing previous decisions thereon, said Court held, in Mapp vs. Ohio (supra.):
transactions of petitioners herein, regardless of whether the transactions were legal or illegal. The
warrants sanctioned the seizure of all records of the petitioners and the aforementioned corporations, . . . Today we once again examine the Wolf's constitutional documentation of the right of privacy free
whatever their nature, thus openly contravening the explicit command of our Bill of Rights that the from unreasonable state intrusion, and after its dozen years on our books, are led by it to close the only
things to be seized be particularly described as well as tending to defeat its major objective: the courtroom door remaining open to evidence secured by official lawlessness in flagrant abuse of that basic
elimination of general warrants. right, reserved to all persons as a specific guarantee against that very same unlawful conduct. We hold
that all evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the Constitution is, by that same
Relying upon Moncado vs. People's Court (80 Phil. 1), Respondents-Prosecutors maintain that, even if the authority, inadmissible in a State.
searches and seizures under consideration were unconstitutional, the documents, papers and things thus
seized are admissible in evidence against petitioners herein. Upon mature deliberation, however, we are Since the Fourth Amendment's right of privacy has been declared enforceable against the States through
unanimously of the opinion that the position taken in the Moncado case must be abandoned. Said the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth, it is enforceable against them by the same sanction of
position was in line with the American common law rule, that the criminal should not be allowed to go exclusion as it used against the Federal Government. Were it otherwise, then just as without the Weeks
free merely "because the constable has blundered," 16 upon the theory that the constitutional prohibition rule the assurance against unreasonable federal searches and seizures would be "a form of words,"
against unreasonable searches and seizures is protected by means other than the exclusion of evidence valueless and underserving of mention in a perpetual charter of inestimable human liberties, so
16

Evidence Rule 128

too, without that rule the freedom from state invasions of privacy would be so ephemeral and so neatly Moreover, the theory that the criminal prosecution of those who secure an illegal search warrant and/or
severed from its conceptual nexus with the freedom from all brutish means of coercing evidence as not to make unreasonable searches or seizures would suffice to protect the constitutional guarantee under
permit this Court's high regard as a freedom "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty." At the time that consideration, overlooks the fact that violations thereof are, in general, committed By agents of the party
the Court held in Wolf that the amendment was applicable to the States through the Due Process Clause, in power, for, certainly, those belonging to the minority could not possibly abuse a power they do not
the cases of this Court as we have seen, had steadfastly held that as to federal officers the Fourth have. Regardless of the handicap under which the minority usually but, understandably finds itself
Amendment included the exclusion of the evidence seized in violation of its provisions. Even Wolf in prosecuting agents of the majority, one must not lose sight of the fact that the psychological and moral
"stoutly adhered" to that proposition. The right to when conceded operatively enforceable against the effect of the possibility 21 of securing their conviction, is watered down by the pardoning power of the
States, was not susceptible of destruction by avulsion of the sanction upon which its protection and party for whose benefit the illegality had been committed.
enjoyment had always been deemed dependent under the Boyd, Weeks and Silverthorne Cases.
Therefore, in extending the substantive protections of due process to all constitutionally unreasonable In their Motion for Reconsideration and Amendment of the Resolution of this Court dated June 29, 1962,
searches state or federal it was logically and constitutionally necessarily that the exclusion doctrine petitioners allege that Rooms Nos. 81 and 91 of Carmen Apartments, House No. 2008, Dewey Boulevard,
an essential part of the right to privacy be also insisted upon as an essential ingredient of the right House No. 1436, Colorado Street, and Room No. 304 of the Army-Navy Club, should be included among
newly recognized by the Wolf Case. In short, the admission of the new constitutional Right by Wolf could the premises considered in said Resolution as residences of herein petitioners, Harry S. Stonehill, Robert
not tolerate denial of its most important constitutional privilege, namely, the exclusion of the evidence P. Brook, John J. Brooks and Karl Beck, respectively, and that, furthermore, the records, papers and other
which an accused had been forced to give by reason of the unlawful seizure. To hold otherwise is to grant effects seized in the offices of the corporations above referred to include personal belongings of said
the right but in reality to withhold its privilege and enjoyment. Only last year the Court itself recognized petitioners and other effects under their exclusive possession and control, for the exclusion of which they
that the purpose of the exclusionary rule to "is to deter to compel respect for the constitutional have a standing under the latest rulings of the federal courts of federal courts of the United States. 22
guaranty in the only effectively available way by removing the incentive to disregard it" . . . .
We note, however, that petitioners' theory, regarding their alleged possession of and control over the
The ignoble shortcut to conviction left open to the State tends to destroy the entire system of aforementioned records, papers and effects, and the alleged "personal" nature thereof, has Been
constitutional restraints on which the liberties of the people rest. Having once recognized that the right Advanced, notin their petition or amended petition herein, but in the Motion for Reconsideration and
to privacy embodied in the Fourth Amendment is enforceable against the States, and that the right to be Amendment of the Resolution of June 29, 1962. In other words, said theory would appear to be
secure against rude invasions of privacy by state officers is, therefore constitutional in origin, we can no readjustment of that followed in said petitions, to suit the approach intimated in the Resolution sought to
longer permit that right to remain an empty promise. Because it is enforceable in the same manner and be reconsidered and amended. Then, too, some of the affidavits or copies of alleged affidavits attached
to like effect as other basic rights secured by its Due Process Clause, we can no longer permit it to be to said motion for reconsideration, or submitted in support thereof, contain either inconsistent
revocable at the whim of any police officer who, in the name of law enforcement itself, chooses to allegations, or allegations inconsistent with the theory now advanced by petitioners herein.
suspend its enjoyment. Our decision, founded on reason and truth, gives to the individual no more than
that which the Constitution guarantees him to the police officer no less than that to which honest law
Upon the other hand, we are not satisfied that the allegations of said petitions said motion for
enforcement is entitled, and, to the courts, that judicial integrity so necessary in the true administration of
reconsideration, and the contents of the aforementioned affidavits and other papers submitted in
justice. (emphasis ours.)
support of said motion, have sufficiently established the facts or conditions contemplated in the cases
relied upon by the petitioners; to warrant application of the views therein expressed, should we agree
Indeed, the non-exclusionary rule is contrary, not only to the letter, but also, to the spirit of the thereto. At any rate, we do not deem it necessary to express our opinion thereon, it being best to leave
constitutional injunction against unreasonable searches and seizures. To be sure, if the applicant for a the matter open for determination in appropriate cases in the future.
search warrant has competent evidence to establish probable cause of the commission of a given crime
by the party against whom the warrant is intended, then there is no reason why the applicant should not
We hold, therefore, that the doctrine adopted in the Moncado case must be, as it is hereby, abandoned;
comply with the requirements of the fundamental law. Upon the other hand, if he has no such
that the warrants for the search of three (3) residences of herein petitioners, as specified in the
competent evidence, then it is not possible for the Judge to find that there is probable cause, and, hence,
Resolution of June 29, 1962, are null and void; that the searches and seizures therein made are illegal;
no justification for the issuance of the warrant. The only possible explanation (not justification) for its
that the writ of preliminary injunction heretofore issued, in connection with the documents, papers and
issuance is the necessity of fishing evidence of the commission of a crime. But, then, this fishing
other effects thus seized in said residences of herein petitioners is hereby made permanent; that the
expedition is indicative of the absence of evidence to establish a probable cause.
writs prayed for are granted, insofar as the documents, papers and other effects so seized in the
aforementioned residences are concerned; that the aforementioned motion for Reconsideration and
17

Evidence Rule 128

Amendment should be, as it is hereby, denied; and that the petition herein is dismissed and the writs (b) Public apology to be made by Atty. Laconico before the students of Don Bosco Technical High School;
prayed for denied, as regards the documents, papers and other effects seized in the twenty-nine (29)
places, offices and other premises enumerated in the same Resolution, without special pronouncement (c) Pl,000.00 to be given to the Don Bosco Faculty club;
as to costs. It is so ordered.
(d) transfer of son of Atty. Laconico to another school or another section of Don Bosco Technical High
G.R. No. L-69809 October 16, 1986 School;

EDGARDO A. GAANAN, petitioner, (e) Affidavit of desistance by Atty. Laconico on the Maltreatment case earlier filed against Manuel
vs. Montebon at the Cebu City Fiscal's Office, whereas Montebon's affidavit of desistance on the Direct
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. Assault Case against Atty. Laconico to be filed later;

This petition for certiorari asks for an interpretation of Republic Act (RA) No. 4200, otherwise known as (f) Allow Manuel Montebon to continue teaching at the Don Bosco Technical School;
the Anti-Wiretapping Act, on the issue of whether or not an extension telephone is among the prohibited
devices in Section 1 of the Act, such that its use to overhear a private conversation would constitute
(g) Not to divulge the truth about the settlement of the Direct Assault Case to the mass media;
unlawful interception of communications between the two parties using a telephone line.

(h) P2,000.00 attorney s fees for Atty. Pintor. (tsn, August 26, 1981, pp. 47-48).
The facts presented by the People and narrated in the respondent court's decision are not disputed by
the petitioner.
Twenty minutes later, complainant called up again to ask Laconico if he was agreeable to the conditions.
Laconico answered 'Yes'. Complainant then told Laconico to wait for instructions on where to deliver the
In the morning of October 22, 1975, complainant Atty. Tito Pintor and his client Manuel Montebon were
money. (tsn, March 10, 1983, pp. 2-12).
in the living room of complainant's residence discussing the terms for the withdrawal of the complaint for
direct assault which they filed with the Office of the City Fiscal of Cebu against Leonardo Laconico. After
they had decided on the proposed conditions, complainant made a telephone call to Laconico (tsn, Complainant called up again and instructed Laconico to give the money to his wife at the office of the
August 26, 1981, pp. 3-5). then Department of Public Highways. Laconico who earlier alerted his friend Colonel Zulueta of the
Criminal Investigation Service of the Philippine Constabulary, insisted that complainant himself should
receive the money. (tsn, March 10, 1982, pp. 26-33). When he received the money at the Igloo
That same morning, Laconico telephoned appellant, who is a lawyer, to come to his office and advise him
Restaurant, complainant was arrested by agents of the Philippine Constabulary.
on the settlement of the direct assault case because his regular lawyer, Atty. Leon Gonzaga, went on a
business trip. According to the request, appellant went to the office of Laconico where he was briefed
about the problem. (Exhibit 'D', tsn, April 22, 1982, pp. 4-5). Appellant executed on the following day an affidavit stating that he heard complainant demand
P8,000.00 for the withdrawal of the case for direct assault. Laconico attached the affidavit of appellant to
the complainant for robbery/extortion which he filed against complainant. Since appellant listened to the
When complainant called up, Laconico requested appellant to secretly listen to the telephone
telephone conversation without complainant's consent, complainant charged appellant and Laconico
conversation through a telephone extension so as to hear personally the proposed conditions for the
with violation of the Anti-Wiretapping Act.
settlement. Appellant heard complainant enumerate the following conditions for withdrawal of the
complaint for direct assault.
After trial on the merits, the lower court, in a decision dated November 22, 1982, found both Gaanan and
Laconico guilty of violating Section 1 of Republic Act No. 4200. The two were each sentenced to one (1)
(a) the P5,000.00 was no longer acceptable, and that the figure had been increased to P8,000.00. A
year imprisonment with costs. Not satisfied with the decision, the petitioner appealed to the appellate
breakdown of the P8,000.00 had been made together with other demands, to wit: (a) P5,000.00 no
court.
longer for the teacher Manuel Montebon, but for Atty. Pintor himself in persuading his client to withdraw
the case for Direct Assault against Atty. Laconico before the Cebu City Fiscal's Office;
18

Evidence Rule 128

On August 16, 1984, the Intermediate Appellate Court affirmed the decision of the trial court, holding There is no question that the telephone conversation between complainant Atty. Pintor and accused
that the communication between the complainant and accused Laconico was private in nature and, Atty. Laconico was "private" in the sense that the words uttered were made between one person and
therefore, covered by Rep. Act No. 4200; that the petitioner overheard such communication without the another as distinguished from words between a speaker and a public. It is also undisputed that only one
knowledge and consent of the complainant; and that the extension telephone which was used by the of the parties gave the petitioner the authority to listen to and overhear the caller's message with the use
petitioner to overhear the telephone conversation between complainant and Laconico is covered in the of an extension telephone line. Obviously, complainant Pintor, a member of the Philippine bar, would not
term "device' as provided in Rep. Act No. 4200. have discussed the alleged demand for an P8,000.00 consideration in order to have his client withdraw a
direct assault charge against Atty. Laconico filed with the Cebu City Fiscal's Office if he knew that another
In this petition for certiorari, the petitioner assails the decision of the appellate court and raises the lawyer was also listening. We have to consider, however, that affirmance of the criminal conviction
following issues; (a) whether or not the telephone conversation between the complainant and accused would, in effect, mean that a caller by merely using a telephone line can force the listener to secrecy no
Laconico was private in nature; (b) whether or not an extension telephone is covered by the term "device matter how obscene, criminal, or annoying the call may be. It would be the word of the caller against the
or arrangement" under Rep. Act No. 4200; (c) whether or not the petitioner had authority to listen or listener's.
overhear said telephone conversation and (d) whether or not Rep. Act No. 4200 is ambiguous and,
therefore, should be construed in favor of the petitioner. Because of technical problems caused by the sensitive nature of electronic equipment and the extra
heavy loads which telephone cables are made to carry in certain areas, telephone users often encounter
Section 1 of Rep. Act No. 4200 provides: what are called "crossed lines". An unwary citizzen who happens to pick up his telephone and who
overhears the details of a crime might hesitate to inform police authorities if he knows that he could be
accused under Rep. Act 4200 of using his own telephone to secretly overhear the private communications
Section 1. It shall be unlawful for any person, not being authorized by all the parties to any private
of the would be criminals. Surely the law was never intended for such mischievous results.
communication or spoken word, to tap any wire or cable or by using any other device or arrangement, to
secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or spoken word by using a device commonly
known as a dictaphone or dictagraph or detectaphone or walkie-talkie or tape-recorder, or however The main issue in the resolution of this petition, however, revolves around the meaning of the phrase
otherwise described: "any other device or arrangement." Is an extension of a telephone unit such a device or arrangement as
would subject the user to imprisonment ranging from six months to six years with the accessory penalty
of perpetual absolute disqualification for a public officer or deportation for an alien? Private secretaries
It shall be unlawful for any person, be he a participant or not in the act or acts penalized in the next
with extension lines to their bosses' telephones are sometimes asked to use answering or recording
preceeding sentence, to knowingly possess any tape record, wire record, disc record, or any other such
devices to record business conversations between a boss and another businessman. Would transcribing a
record, or copies thereof, of any communication or spoken word secured either before or after the
recorded message for the use of the boss be a proscribed offense? or for that matter, would a "party
effective date of this Act in the manner prohibited by this law; or to replay the same for any other person
line" be a device or arrangement under the law?
or persons; or to communicate the contents thereof, either verbally or in writing, or to furnish
transcriptions thereof, whether complete or partial, to any other person: Provided, that the use of such
record or any copies thereof as evidence in any civil, criminal investigation or trial of offenses mentioned The petitioner contends that telephones or extension telephones are not included in the enumeration of
in Section 3 hereof, shall not be covered by this prohibition. "commonly known" listening or recording devices, nor do they belong to the same class of enumerated
electronic devices contemplated by law. He maintains that in 1964, when Senate Bill No. 9 (later Rep. Act
No. 4200) was being considered in the Senate, telephones and extension telephones were already widely
We rule for the petitioner.
used instruments, probably the most popularly known communication device.

We are confronted in this case with the interpretation of a penal statute and not a rule of evidence. The
Whether or not listening over a telephone party line would be punishable was discussed on the floor of
issue is not the admissibility of evidence secured over an extension line of a telephone by a third party.
the Senate. Yet, when the bill was finalized into a statute, no mention was made of telephones in the
The issue is whether or not the person called over the telephone and his lawyer listening to the
enumeration of devices "commonly known as a dictaphone or dictagraph, detectaphone or walkie talkie
conversation on an extension line should both face prison sentences simply because the extension was
or tape recorder or however otherwise described." The omission was not a mere oversight. Telephone
used to enable them to both listen to an alleged attempt at extortion.
party lines were intentionally deleted from the provisions of the Act.
19

Evidence Rule 128

The respondent People argue that an extension telephone is embraced and covered by the term "device" is, instruments the use of which would be tantamount to tapping the main line of a telephone. It refers to
within the context of the aforementioned law because it is not a part or portion of a complete set of a instruments whose installation or presence cannot be presumed by the party or parties being overheard
telephone apparatus. It is a separate device and distinct set of a movable apparatus consisting of a wire because, by their very nature, they are not of common usage and their purpose is precisely for tapping,
and a set of telephone receiver not forming part of a main telephone set which can be detached or intercepting or recording a telephone conversation.
removed and can be transferred away from one place to another and to be plugged or attached to a main
telephone line to get the desired communication corning from the other party or end. An extension telephone is an instrument which is very common especially now when the extended unit
does not have to be connected by wire to the main telephone but can be moved from place ' to place
The law refers to a "tap" of a wire or cable or the use of a "device or arrangement" for the purpose of within a radius of a kilometer or more. A person should safely presume that the party he is calling at the
secretly overhearing, intercepting, or recording the communication. There must be either a physical other end of the line probably has an extension telephone and he runs the risk of a third party listening as
interruption through a wiretap or the deliberate installation of a device or arrangement in order to in the case of a party line or a telephone unit which shares its line with another. As was held in the case
overhear, intercept, or record the spoken words. of Rathbun v. United States (355, U.S. 107, 2 L Ed 2d 137-138):

An extension telephone cannot be placed in the same category as a dictaphone, dictagraph or the other Common experience tells us that a call to a particular telephone number may cause the bell to ring in
devices enumerated in Section 1 of RA No. 4200 as the use thereof cannot be considered as "tapping" the more than one ordinarily used instrument. Each party to a telephone conversation takes the risk that the
wire or cable of a telephone line. The telephone extension in this case was not installed for that purpose. other party may have an extension telephone and may allow another to overhear the conversation.
It just happened to be there for ordinary office use. It is a rule in statutory construction that in order to When such takes place there has been no violation of any privacy of which the parties may complain.
determine the true intent of the legislature, the particular clauses and phrases of the statute should not Consequently, one element of 605, interception, has not occurred.
be taken as detached and isolated expressions, but the whole and every part thereof must be considered
in fixing the meaning of any of its parts. (see Commissioner of Customs v. Esso Estandard Eastern, Inc., 66 In the same case, the Court further ruled that the conduct of the party would differ in no way if instead of
SCRA 113,120). repeating the message he held out his hand-set so that another could hear out of it and that there is no
distinction between that sort of action and permitting an outsider to use an extension telephone for the
In the case of Empire Insurance Com any v. Rufino (90 SCRA 437, 443-444), we ruled: same purpose.

Likewise, Article 1372 of the Civil Code stipulates that 'however general the terms of a contract may be, Furthermore, it is a general rule that penal statutes must be construed strictly in favor of the accused.
they shall not be understood to comprehend things that are distinct and cases that are different from Thus, in case of doubt as in the case at bar, on whether or not an extension telephone is included in the
those upon which the parties intended to agree.' Similarly, Article 1374 of the same Code provides that phrase "device or arrangement", the penal statute must be construed as not including an extension
'the various stipulations of a contract shall be interpreted together, attributing to the doubtful ones that telephone. In the case of People v. Purisima, 86 SCRA 542, 562, we explained the rationale behind the
sense which may result from all of them taken jointly. rule:

Consequently, the phrase 'all liabilities or obligations of the decedent' used in paragraph 5(c) and 7(d) American jurisprudence sets down the reason for this rule to be the tenderness of the law of the rights of
should be then restricted only to those listed in the Inventory and should not be construed as to individuals; the object is to establish a certain rule by conformity to which mankind would be safe, and
comprehend all other obligations of the decedent. The rule that 'particularization followed by a general the discretion of the court limited. (United States v. Harris, 177 US 305, 44 L Ed 780, 20 S Ct 609; Braffith
expression will ordinarily be restricted to the former' is based on the fact in human experience that v. Virgin Islands (CA3) 26 F2d 646; Caudill v. State, 224 Ind 531, 69 NE2d; Jennings v. Commonwealth, 109
usually the minds of parties are addressed specially to the particularization, and that the generalities, VA 821,63 SE 1080, all cited in 73 Am Jur 2d 452). The purpose is not to enable a guilty person to escape
though broad enough to comprehend other fields if they stood alone, are used in contemplation of that punishment through a technicality but to provide a precise definition of forbidden acts." (State v. Zazzaro,
upon which the minds of the parties are centered. (Hoffman v. Eastern Wisconsin R., etc., Co., 134 Wis. 20 A 2d 737, quoted in Martin's Handbook on Statutory Construction, Rev. Ed. pp. 183-184).
603, 607, 115 NW 383, cited in Francisco, Revised Rules of Court (Evidence), 1973 ed, pp. 180-181).
In the same case of Purisima, we also ruled that on the construction or interpretation of a legislative
Hence, the phrase "device or arrangement" in Section 1 of RA No. 4200, although not exclusive to that measure, the primary rule is to search for and determine the intent and spirit of the law. A perusal of the
enumerated therein, should be construed to comprehend instruments of the same or similar nature, that Senate Congressional Records will show that not only did our lawmakers not contemplate the inclusion of
20

Evidence Rule 128

an extension telephone as a prohibited device or arrangement" but of greater importance, they were OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, A.M. No. RTJ-07-2076
more concerned with penalizing the act of recording than the act of merely listening to a telephone Complainant,
conversation. - versus -

Senator Taada. Another possible objection to that is entrapment which is certainly objectionable. It is JUDGE ALBERTO L. LERMA,
made possible by special amendment which Your Honor may introduce. Respondent.
x-----------------------------------------x
ATTY. LOURDES A. ONA,
Senator Diokno.Your Honor, I would feel that entrapment would be less possible with the amendment
Complainant,
than without it, because with the amendment the evidence of entrapment would only consist of
A.M. No. RTJ-07-2077
government testimony as against the testimony of the defendant. With this amendment, they would
- versus -
have the right, and the government officials and the person in fact would have the right to tape record
their conversation.
JUDGE ALBERTO L. LERMA,
Respondent.
Senator Taada. In case of entrapment, it would be the government. x-----------------------------------------x
JOSE MARI L. DUARTE,
Senator Diokno. In the same way, under this provision, neither party could record and, therefore, the Complainant,
court would be limited to saying: "Okay, who is more credible, the police officers or the defendant?" In A.M. No. RTJ-07-2078
these cases, as experienced lawyers, we know that the Court go with the peace offices. - versus -

Senator Diokno. The point I have in mind is that under these conditions, with an agent outside listening JUDGE ALBERTO L. LERMA,
in, he could falsify the testimony and there is no way of checking it. But if you allow him to record or Respondent.
make a recording in any form of what is happening, then the chances of falsifying the evidence is not very x-----------------------------------------x
much. RET. GENERAL MELITON D. GOYENA,
Complainant,
A.M. No. RTJ-07-2079
Senator Taada. Your Honor, this bill is not intended to prevent the presentation of false testimony. If we - versus -
could devise a way by which we could prevent the presentation of false testimony, it would be
wonderful. But what this bill intends to prohibit is the use of tape record and other electronic devices to JUDGE ALBERTO L. LERMA,
intercept private conversations which later on will be used in court. Respondent.
x-----------------------------------------x
It can be readily seen that our lawmakers intended to discourage, through punishment, persons such as
government authorities or representatives of organized groups from installing devices in order to gather OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR,
evidence for use in court or to intimidate, blackmail or gain some unwarranted advantage over the Complainant,
telephone users. Consequently, the mere act of listening, in order to be punishable must strictly be with
the use of the enumerated devices in RA No. 4200 or others of similar nature. We are of the view that an - versus - A.M. No. RTJ-07-2080
extension telephone is not among such devices or arrangements. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED.
The decision of the then Intermediate Appellate Court dated August 16, 1984 is ANNULLED and SET JUDGE ALBERTO L. LERMA, October 12, 2010
ASIDE. The petitioner is hereby ACQUITTED of the crime of violation of Rep. Act No. 4200, otherwise Respondent.
known as the Anti-Wiretapping Act. SO ORDERED.
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
21

Evidence Rule 128

Five (5) administrative cases were filed with the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) against raffle the case among the judges to arraign the accused and consequently take his testimony; and (3) the
Judge Alberto L. Lerma (respondent judge) of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 256, Muntinlupa City, Clerk of Court, RTC, Muntinlupa City, to return the records to the RTC, Branch 53, Rosales, Pangasinan, for
for violating Supreme Court rules, directives, and circulars, for making untruthful statements in his the continuation of the proceedings.
certificates of service, for gross ignorance of the law and/or gross negligence, for delay in rendering an Pursuant to the Supreme Court resolution, Criminal Case No. 3639-R[8] was raffled to RTC,
order, for abusing judicial authority and discretion, and for serious irregularity. Branch 256, Muntinlupa City, presided by respondent judge. Accused was arraigned on September 29,
1998. Thereafter, respondent judge proceeded to receive the evidence for the prosecution. On February
In a memorandum[1] dated September 24, 2007, embodying the report and recommendation 7, 2003, the prosecution formally offered its exhibits, but the firearm subject of the information was not
of the OCA, then Court Administrator Christopher O. Lock (Court Administrator Lock) referred to then included in the formal offer. On June 27, 2005, the accused, through Atty. Abelardo D. Tomas of the
Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno (Chief Justice Puno) the five administrative cases filed against respondent Public Attorneys Office (PAO), filed a motion for leave of court to file demurrer to prosecutions
judge, to wit: a) Administrative Matter No. 98-6-179-RTC (Re: Request for transfer of arraignment/trial of evidence.[9] Respondent judge granted the said motion on July 26, 2005.[10] On November 8, 2005, Atty.
Criminal Case No. 3639-R); b) OCA IPI No. 07-2644-RTJ ([Ret.] General Meliton D. Goyena v. Judge Alberto Rodney Magbanua of the PAO filed a demurrer to prosecutions evidence,[11] contending that, without the
L. Lerma); c) OCA IPI No. 07-2643-RTJ (Jose Mari L. Duarte v. Judge Alberto L. Lerma); d) OCA IPI No. 07- subject firearm, the prosecution failed to prove an essential element of the offense. On February 28,
2639-RTJ (Atty. Lourdes A. Ona v. Judge Alberto L. Lerma); and e) OCA IPI No. 07-2654-RTJ (Office of the 2007, respondent judge issued an order, granting the demurrer to prosecutions evidence and dismissing
Court Administrator v. Judge Alberto L. Lerma). the case for insufficiency of evidence.[12]
Per resolution[2] of the Supreme Court En Banc dated September 25, 2007, the foregoing cases
were respectively redocketed as regular administrative cases, as follows: A.M. Nos. RTJ-07-2076, RTJ-07- In a memorandum[13] dated September 24, 2007, the OCA charged respondent judge with
2079, RTJ-07-2078, RTJ-07-2077, and RTJ-07-2080. exceeding his authority under the Supreme Court resolution dated June 30, 1998 in A.M. No. 98-6-179-
Thereafter, the cases were referred to an Investigating Justice[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) RTC.According to the OCA, the authority given to respondent judge under the resolution was clearly
for investigation and recommendation. limited to the arraignment of the accused and the taking of his testimony; it did not authorize respondent
We shall discuss the cases individually, taking into account their peculiar factual surroundings judge to decide the merits of the case. The OCA contended that the act of respondent judge constituted
and the findings and recommendations of the Investigating Justice. violation of a Supreme Court directive, a less serious offense, under Section 9(4), Rule 140, Revised Rules
of Court.
a.) A.M. No. RTJ-07-2076
On November 27, 1995, Ruperto Pizarro y Bruno (accused) was charged with Violation of
In his comment dated November 16, 2007, respondent judge asserted that there was neither a
Presidential Decree No. 1866 in an information filed with the RTC, Branch 53, Rosales, Pangasinan and
conscious nor a deliberate intent on his part to disobey any directive of the Supreme Court when he
docketed as Criminal Case No. 3639-R.[4] Since accused was already detained at the Quezon City Jail due
granted the demurrer to evidence filed by the accused in Criminal Case No. 3639-R. He claimed that,
to the pendency of another criminal case (Criminal Case No. Q-95-64130-31) filed against him. The court
through inadvertence, he was not able to recall the limits of the referral made to him, and stressed that
ordered that all notices of hearings and proceedings in Criminal Case No. 3639-R be forwarded to the Jail
he ruled on the merits of the case in a way not tainted with fraud, dishonesty, or corruption. He
Warden of the Quezon City Jail.[5] Subsequently, in a letter dated March 25, 1998,[6] Officer-in-Charge/City
emphasized that he acted on the demurrer to evidence because of the inadequacy of the evidence for
Warden Arnold Buenacosa of the Quezon City Jail informed Judge Teodorico Alfonzo B. Bauzon (Judge
the prosecution and because of the failure of the latter to object to the demurrer. He maintained that it
Bauzon), RTC of Rosales, Pangasinan, that accused was transferred to the Bureau of Corrections
would have been wrong for him to add to the penalty already being served by the accused when there
in Muntinlupa City on March 21, 1998 in compliance with the commitment order and decision in Criminal
was no evidence to warrant the detention of the latter for the unproved offense.[14]
Case No. Q-95-64130-31 of the RTC, Branch 82, Quezon City.

Under Section 9(4), Rule 140, Revised Rules of Court, failure to obey the Courts resolution is a
The Supreme Court, in a resolution[7] dated June 30, 1998, directed (1) the Clerk of Court of the
less serious offense that carries a penalty of suspension from office without salary and other benefits for
RTC, Branch 53, Rosales, Pangasinan, to forward the records of Criminal Case No. 3639-R to the Executive
Judge, RTC, Muntinlupa City, for appropriate action; (2) the Executive Judge, RTC, Muntinlupa City, to
22

Evidence Rule 128

not less than one (1) month or more than three (3) months, or a fine of more than P10,000.00 but not May 17, 2001 3:05 P.M.
exceeding P20,000.00. September 29, 2001 12:56 P.M.
March 5, 2002 1:00 P.M.
The Investigating Justice recommends that a fine of P15,000.00 be imposed upon respondent, June 19, 2002 7:12 A.M.
based on the following findings: February 12, 2004 1:35 P.M.
February 28, 2005 10:41 A.M.
In criminal actions, it is a fundamental rule that venue is jurisdictional. The place where the
With the exception of May 17, 2001, during which respondent judge allegedly played nine (9) holes of
crime was committed determines not only the venue of the action but is an essential element of
golf, Godofredo stated in his letter that the former played eighteen (18) holes of golf on all the
jurisdiction.Thus, a court cannot exercise jurisdiction over a person charged with an offense committed
aforestated dates.
outside the limited territory. Furthermore, the jurisdiction of a court over a criminal case is determined
by the allegations in the complaint or information.[15]
In another letter[18] dated September 3, 2007, Hirofumi Hotta (Hirofumi), operations manager of TAT
Filipinas Golf Club (Tat Filipinas), in answer to an inquiry made by Court Administrator Lock, stated that
The demurrer to evidence filed by the accused cited the accusatory portion of the information
respondent judge visited the said golf club and appeared to have played golf there on the following dates
which charged him with unlawful possession of a caliber .30 U.S. carbine with two magazines and twenty-
all Thursdays and time:
five (25) rounds of ammunition. The information clearly stated that the accused possessed the carbine,
magazines, and ammunitions in Barangay Cabalaongan
Date Time
Sur, Municipality of Rosales, Province of Pangasinan. Had respondent judge exercised a moderate degree
April 14, 2005 1:30 P.M.
of caution before resolving the demurrer to evidence, a mere perusal of the records would have
April 28, 2005 1:30 P.M.
reminded him that his court was only authorized to arraign the accused, to receive the evidence in the
August 18, 2005 1:30 P.M.
said case, and to return the records of the case to the RTC, Branch 53, Rosales, Pangasinan for August 25, 2005 1:30 P.M.
continuation of the proceedings. In every case, a judge shall endeavor diligently to ascertain the facts.[16] November 17, 2005 1:30 P.M.
November 24, 2005 1:30 P.M.
Respondent judge was found wanting in the diligence required of him. We agree with the December 15, 2005 1:30 P.M.
Investigating Justice in finding respondent judge guilty of violating a Supreme Court directive, and impose January 26, 2006 1:30 P.M.
upon him a fine of P15,000.00. February 9, 2006 1:30 P.M.
b.) A.M. No. RTJ-07-2080 March 2, 2006 1:30 P.M.
March 23, 2006 1:30 P.M.
In a letter[17] dated August 28, 2007, Godofredo R. Galindez, Jr., (Godofredo), president of the Alabang April 6, 2006 1:30 P.M.
Country Club, Inc. (Alabang Country Club), in response to the letter dated August 21, 2007 of Court April 27, 2006 1:30 P.M.
Administrator Lock, stated that respondent judge played golf at the Alabang Country Club on the June 15, 2006 1:30 P.M.
following dates and tee-off time:
December 14, 2006 1:30 P.M.

Date Tee off-time


According to the OCA, its records in the Office of the Administrative Services show that
April 8, 2000 12:00 P.M.
respondent judge did not declare his absences on July 21, 2000, August 4, 2000, March 5, 2002, February
July 21, 2000 1:08 P.M.
12, 2004, and February 28, 2005, during which he reportedly played golf at the Alabang Country
August 4, 2000 1:20 P.M.
Club. Further, in a certification[19] dated September 5, 2007, Hermogena F. Bayani (Hermogena), Supreme
November 28, 2000 10:00 A.M.
Court Chief Judicial Staff Officer, Leave Division, OCA, stated that respondent judge did not file any
23

Evidence Rule 128

application for a leave of absence on all the dates mentioned by Hirofumi in his letter dated September 3,
2007.These constituted violations of Supreme Court Memorandum Order dated November 19, 1973, Aquino, who had been employed by the company for fifteen (15) years, and had been working
Administrative Circular No. 3-99 dated January 15, 1999, and Administrative Circular No. 5 dated October as its front desk receptionist for six (6) years, testified that she saw respondent judge sign the registered
4, 1988.[20] member forms at the golf club prior to playing golf.
The Investigating Justice found as insufficient the evidence that the OCA presented to show
The OCA asserted that on the days that respondent judge played golf, he was lost to the that respondent judge played golf at the Alabang Country Club on the dates alleged, but found
judiciary for half the working/session hours on those days, positing that this is not merely truancy but substantial evidence that respondent judge played golf at TAT Filipinas on the dates and time indicated in
also dishonesty and falsification of certificates of service. Hirofumis letter dated September 3, 2007.

Respondent judge, in his comment, countered that contrary to the allegations of the OCA, he The testimony of Aquino, along with the certification issued by Hermogena, that respondent judge did
only played golf thrice in 2000, once in 2001, twice in 2002, six (6) times in 2005, and five (5) times in not file any leave of absence on the dates indicated in Hirofumis letter, indubitably established that
2006 a total of eighteen (18) times in six years, or at the average of three (3) times a year. He argued that respondent judge violated Supreme Court Memorandum Order dated November 19, 1973,
his playing golf 18 times in six years, or thrice a year, could not be reasonably characterized as habitual to Administrative Circular No. 3-99 dated January 15, 1999, and Administrative Circular No. 5 dated October
the extent that it jeopardized the discharge of his functions as a judge. He alleged that since he shared his 4, 1988.
courtroom with the other judges in Muntinlupa, he only played golf on days when no other place was
available for him to carry out his official functions. Likewise, he explained that, in 1996, his physician Supreme Court Memorandum Order dated November 19, 1973 provides for the observance by judges,
advised him to exercise more vigorously after he was diagnosed with diabetes and among other officials and employees in the judiciary, of a five-day forty-hour week schedule which shall
hypertension.Respondent judge also stressed that he had never missed a day in hearing cases pending in be from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Mondays to Fridays.
his sala.[21]
Violation of Supreme Court rules, directives, and circulars, and making untruthful statements in
In the hearing conducted by the Investigating Justice on December 4, 2007, the OCA presented the certificate of service are considered less serious charges under Section 9, Rule 140 of the Rules of
Godofredo, Hirofumi, and Sheila Aquino as witnesses. Court. Under Section 11(B) of Rule 140, these acts may be punished by suspension from office without
salary and other benefits for not less than one (1) month or more than three (3) months, or a fine of
Godofredo testified that the dates and time when respondent judge played golf at the Alabang more than P10,000.00 but not exceeding P20,000.00.
Country Club, as mentioned in his letter, are based on the logbook entries made by the starter in the
country club. A starter, explained Godofredo, is a person who records in the logbook the names of the On the basis of the foregoing findings, we adopt the recommendation of the Investigating
individuals who play in the golf course. The starter may be the player himself or a member who brings in Justice that, in this administrative case, a fine of P15,000.00 be imposed upon respondent judge.
guests to play golf.
c.) A.M. No. RTJ-07-2077
On cross-examination, Godofredo admitted that he is not the custodian of the logbook; that he
is neither the starter nor the person who wrote the entries in the logbook; and that he does not On January 24, 1995, the RTC, Branch 142, Makati City, rendered a decision in Civil Case No. 90-
659, entitled Alexander Van Twest v. Gloria A. Anacleto and/or International Corporate Bank, ordering
recognize in whose handwriting the entries were made.
defendant bank (Interbank) or its successors-in-interest to release in favor of plaintiff Alexander Van
Twest (Van Twest) the entire proceeds of Interbank Foreign Currency Trust Deposit (FCTD) No. 39156 in
Hirofumi, the operations manager of TAT Filipinas, testified that Aquino, the front desk the amount of Deutsch Mark (DM) 260,000.00, including accrued interest and other earnings. The
receptionist in the golf club, made the listing of the respective dates and time when respondent judge decision also directed defendant Gloria Anacleto to return to plaintiff the sum of DM 9,777.37 with
played at TAT Filipinas based on the data stored in their office computer. interest thereon. The court ordered the defendants, jointly and severally, to pay plaintiff P500,000.00 as
24

Evidence Rule 128

moral damages, P250,000.00 as exemplary damages, P200,000.00 as attorneys fees, and the costs of In a letter dated July 23, 2007, addressed to the OCA, complainant alleged that respondent judges
suit.[22]However, even before the decision was rendered, Van Twest had disappeared and was believed to issuance of the second order dated June 6, 2007 was irregular, in light of the following: 1) At the hearing
have been kidnapped and killed.[23] held on June 6, 2007, the omnibus motion filed by Atty. Perez was deemed submitted for resolution only
Subsequently, Atty. Ernesto V. Perez (Atty. Perez), representing Van Twest, filed a Motion for
after the complainant shall have filed her comment/opposition thereto or until the 10-day period shall
Execution of Decision. In the motion, Atty. Perez informed the RTC of Makati City that, on October 30,
have expired; 2) The issuance of the second order dated June 6, 2007 was secretly railroaded to give Atty.
2006, the RTC, Branch 256, Muntinlupa City, with respondent judge presiding, granted the petition to
Perez a ground to oppose Union Banks Urgent Manifestation and Motion to Recall Writ of
appoint the former as administrator of the properties or estate of absentee Van Twest in Special
Execution/Garnishment filed with the RTC, Branch 142, Makati City, in time for its hearing originally set
Proceeding No. 97-045, entitled In the Matter of the Petition to Appoint an Administrator for the Estate of
on June 8, 2007; 3) Even the staff of respondent judge did not become aware of the second June 6, 2007
Absentee Alexander Van Twest a.k.a. Eugene Alexander Van West. [24] On January 27, 2007, the RTC
order until much later, since respondent judge never furnished complainant with a copy thereof until the
Branch 142, Makati City, granted the motion for execution.[25]
latter made inquiries regarding the same; and 4) The contents of the second order dated June 6,2007
contradicted the first order and rendered the pending incident moot and academic.
Union Bank of the Philippines (Union Bank) filed a Manifestation and Urgent Ex-Parte Motion dated May
Respondent judge, in his comment, denied the charge and argued that the same should be
23, 2007 in Special Proceeding No. 97-045, praying that the exercise by Atty. Perez of powers as
dismissed. The complainant, according to respondent judge, should instead be meted disciplinary
administrator of absentee Van Twest be held in abeyance until the said manifestation and motion is
penalties as a member of the bar.
heard. Because respondent judge was on official leave at the time of the filing of the Manifestation and
Urgent Ex-Parte Motion, Judge Philip A. Aguinaldo, pairing judge of RTC Branch 256, Muntinlupa City,
Notwithstanding the recommendation of the Investigating Justice, the Court finds that the actions of
acted on the same, and, in an order dated May 28, 2007, granted Union Banks urgent ex-parte motion.
respondent judge constitute gross negligence and/or gross ignorance of the law.

Union Bank thereafter filed an Urgent Manifestation and Motion to Recall Writ of
We have repeatedly held that to warrant a finding of gross ignorance of the law, it must be shown that
Execution/Garnishment in Civil Case No. 90-659, citing, in support thereof, the order dated May 28, 2007
the error is so gross and patent as to produce an inference of bad faith.[26] Gross negligence refers to
issued by Judge Aguinaldo in Special Proceeding No. 97-045.
negligence characterized by want of even slight care, acting or omitting to act in a situation where there
is a duty to act, not inadvertently but willfully and intentionally, with a conscious indifference to
On June 1, 2007, Atty. Perez filed with the Muntinlupa RTC an Omnibus Motion: 1) To Lift or Set
consequences insofar as other persons may be affected. It is the omission of that care which even
Aside Pairing Judges Order of May 28, 2007 for having been issued without jurisdiction, grave abuse of
inattentive and thoughtless men never fail to take on their own property. In cases involving public
discretion and/or violation of due process of law; 2) To Cite Union Bank of the Philippines counsel for
officials, there is gross negligence when a breach of duty is flagrant and palpable. [27]
Indirect Contempt.
At the hearing of the omnibus motion on June 6, 2007, respondent judge ordered Atty. Lourdes
In the instant case, the issuance by respondent of divergent orders raises serious questions of
A. Ona (Atty. Ona), counsel for Union Bank, to file her Opposition and/or Comment to the said Motion
impropriety that taint respondent judges credibility, probity, and integrity. Coupled with the clandestine
within 10 days. Atty. Perez was given the same period from receipt of the Opposition and/or Comment to
issuance of the second order where the Union Bank counsel and even the judges own staff were left
file his Reply thereto, if necessary, and thereafter, the matter would be deemed submitted for resolution.
completely in the dark the action of respondent judge gives rise to an inference of bad faith. Indeed, we
have ample reason to believe as Atty. Ona posits that the secretly-issued second order was really
On the same day, however, respondent judge issued another order bearing the same date, ruling that
intended to give Atty. Perez the ammunition to oppose Union Banks Urgent Manifestation and Motion to
the bank had not shown any legal basis to set aside the courts decision of October 30, 2006, or to
Recall Writ of Execution/Garnishment which was to be heard by the RTC of Makati City. Under the
suspend the Letters of Administration issued to Atty. Perez pursuant thereto. The order then concluded
circumstances, the breach committed by respondent can be characterized as flagrant and palpable.
that Atty. Perez may exercise all the powers granted to him as Administrator of the absentee Van Twest
until further orders of the court.
25

Evidence Rule 128

This action of respondent judge violates Section 8 of Rule 140, and carries the penalty of dismissal from The aggrieved complainant, together with all the other defendants, appealed to the CA from the above-
the service or suspension from office for more than three (3) months but not exceeding six (6) months, or cited decision. On December 10, 2003, plaintiff filed with the RTC a petition to direct defendants to show
a fine of P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00. cause why they should not be cited and thereafter punished for indirect contempt of court (petition for
For this violation, we impose upon respondent judge the penalty of dismissal from the service, with indirect contempt) for their alleged defiance of respondent judges decision dated November 25, 2003, as
forfeiture of all benefits, except earned leave credits, and perpetual disqualification from reemployment shown by their continued performance of duties as governors of Ayala Alabang Village, despite receipt of
in the government service, including government-owned and controlled corporations. a copy of the said decision.

On July 1, 2004, respondent judge issued an order declaring complainant, Arceo and Romualdez, guilty of
d) A.M. No. RTJ-07-2078
indirect contempt, and ordering each of them to pay a fine in the amount of P30,000.00.
Jose Mari L. Duarte (complainant) is one of the defendants in Civil Case No. 2003-433, entitled Eugene T.
Mateo v. The Board of Governors of Ayala Alabang Village Association: Paolo V. Castano, Constantino A. Unperturbed, complainant and his co-defendants Arceo and Romualdez moved for reconsideration of the
Marcaida, Ruben P. Baes, Eric Yutuc, Roberto Santiago, Beatriz Bettina H. Pou, Edilberto Uichanco, July 1, 2004 order. On September 24, 2004, respondent judge granted their motion for reconsideration,
Salvador S. Arceo, Jr., Benjamin Narciso, Guy L. Romualdez, and Jose Mari L. Duarte, for Declaration of the and reversed and set aside his order dated July 1, 2004.
General Membership Meeting and Election of the Ayala Alabang Village Association (AAVA) as void ab
initio, with prayer for the Issuance of a Preliminary Injunction and/or a Temporary Restraining Order On June 29, 2007, the Special Sixteenth Division of the CA issued a resolution, ruling that the
(TRO) and Status Quo Order. Eugene T. Mateo filed the case on July 29, 2003 with the lower court should have dismissed the plaintiff-appellees Complaint for Declaration of the General
RTC, Muntinlupa City, and it was eventually raffled to the RTC, Branch 256, Muntinlupa City, presided Membership Meeting and Election of the AAVA as void ab initio with prayer for the Issuance of a
over by respondent judge.[28] Preliminary Injunction and/or TRO and Status Quo Order because it is the Housing and Land Use
Regulatory Board that has jurisdiction over the dispute.
On August 15, 2003, defendants Salvador S. Arceo, Jr. (Arceo) and Benjamin Narciso (Narciso) filed On August 23, 2007, Mateo filed a complaint with the Supreme Court, contending that
their answer with affirmative defenses and counterclaims, while all the other defendants filed a motion to respondent judge did not have the judicial authority to hear and decide the issues involved in Civil Case
dismiss. In moving for the dismissal of the case, all defendants invoked the trial courts lack of jurisdiction No. 2003-433 for want of jurisdiction. According to complainant, this was brought to the attention of
over the case and plaintiffs lack of cause of action. On September 2, 2003, plaintiff filed his opposition to respondent judge, but the latter, being grossly ignorant of existing laws and rules, if not completely
motion to dismiss with motion to declare defendants in default. In an order dated September 12, 2003, insolent of the same, and with grave abuse of discretion, took cognizance of the case.
respondent judge denied defendants motion to dismiss and plaintiffs motion to declare defendants in
default, and set for hearing plaintiffs application for the issuance of a TRO. Respondent judge eventually In his comment, respondent judge argued that the error he allegedly committed could be corrected by an
denied the prayer of plaintiff for the issuance of a TRO on September 26, 2003. available judicial remedy. He maintained that if he erroneously assumed jurisdiction over Civil Case No.
2003-433, the proper recourse available to complainant was not an administrative complaint, but a
On November 25, 2003, respondent judge rendered a decision in favor of plaintiff, declaring petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
the AAVAs general membership meeting held on June 15, 2003 void ab initio, and ordering that The Investigating Justice recommended that the instant administrative case against respondent
the status quo of the boards composition prior to the proceedings of June 15, 2003 be maintained. The judge be dismissed. This Court takes the opposite view.
respondent judge also enjoined defendants Arceo, Narciso, Guy L. Romualdez (Romualdez) and Jose Mari
L. Duarte from further exercising the functions of the office they respectively hold. He directed the It is true that to constitute gross ignorance of the law, it is not enough that the subject decision,
holding of another election of the AAVA board, and ordered the defendants to pay jointly and severally order, or actuation of the judge in the performance of his official duties is contrary to existing law and
the amount of P100,000.00 as and by way of attorneys fees. The respondent judge dismissed the jurisprudence but, most importantly, he must be moved by bad faith, fraud, dishonesty, or corruption.[29]
defendants counterclaim.
26

Evidence Rule 128

However, when the law is so elementary and the matter of jurisdiction is an elementary It must be remembered that the power to punish for contempt should be used sparingly with
principle that judges should be knowledgeable of not to be aware of it constitutes gross ignorance of the caution, restraint, judiciousness, deliberation, and due regard to the provisions of the law and the
law.Judges are expected to exhibit more than just cursory acquaintance with statutes and procedural constitutional rights of the individual.[35] In this respect, respondent judge failed to measure up to the
rules. They are expected to keep abreast of our laws and the changes therein as well as with the latest standards demanded of member of the judiciary.
decisions of the Supreme Court. They owe it to the public to be legally knowledgeable, for ignorance of
the law is the mainspring of injustice. Judicial competence requires no less. It is a truism that the life As already mentioned above, gross ignorance of the law or procedure is classified as a serious
chosen by a judge as a dispenser of justice is demanding. By virtue of the delicate position which he charge under Section 8(9), Rule 140, Revised Rules of Court, and a respondent found guilty of serious
occupies in society, he is duty bound to be the embodiment of competence and integrity.[30] charge may be punished by: a) dismissal from the service, forfeiture of all or part of the benefits as the
Court may determine, and disqualification from reinstatement or appointment to any public office,
On the matter of the order finding complainant guilty of indirect contempt, we also find the including government-owned or controlled corporations, provided, however, that the forfeiture of
action of respondent judge sadly wanting. Section 4, Rule 71 of the same Rules provides: benefits shall in no case include accrued leave credits; b) suspension from office without salary and other
Sec. 4. How proceedings commenced. Proceedings for indirect contempt may be initiated motu benefits for more than three (3) months but not exceeding six (6) months; or c) a fine of more
proprio by the court against which the contempt was committed by an order or any other formal charge than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00.
requiring the respondent to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt.
In this case, we find respondent judge guilty of gross ignorance of the law, and impose upon him a fine
In all other cases, charges for indirect contempt shall be commenced by a of P40,000.00.
verified petition with supporting particulars and certified true copies of documents or
papers involved therein, and upon full compliance with the requirements for filing
e.) A.M. No. RTJ-07-2079
initiatory pleadings for civil actions in the court concerned. If the contempt charges
arose out of or are related to a principal action pending in the court, the petition
for contempt shall allege that fact but saidpetition shall be docketed, heard and On January 19, 2006, Bennie Cuason (Cuason) was charged before the RTC, Muntinlupa City, with estafa
decided separately, unless the court in its discretion orders the consolidation of under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code, for defrauding Brigadier General Meliton D.
the contempt charge and the principal action for joint hearing and decision.[31] Goyena (Gen. Goyena) (Ret.) by convincing the latter to invest, entrust, and/or deliver the amount of
Twenty Million Pesos (P20,000,000.00) on the promise that the former would return the investment with
The Rules are unequivocal. Indirect contempt proceedings may be initiated only in two interest, plus two (2) Condominium Certificates of Title over residential units on the 20th floor at Tower B
ways: (1) motu proprio by the court; or (2) through a verified petition and upon compliance of Diamond Bay Towers Condominium, with a total value of Nine Million Five Hundred Ninety-Two
with the requirements for initiatory pleadings. The procedural requirements are mandatory Thousand Pesos (P9,592,000.00). Gen. Goyena gave the amount of Twenty Million Pesos
considering that contempt proceedings against a person are treated as criminal in (P20,000,000.00) to the accused and received two (2) condominium certificates of title with numbers
nature.[32] Conviction cannot be had merely on the basis of written pleadings. [33] 6893 and 6894. After verification, complainant found that the condominium units were non-existent, or
had not yet been constructed.
The records do not indicate that complainant was afforded an opportunity to rebut the charges
against him. Respondent judge should have conducted a hearing in order to provide complainant the
opportunity to adduce before the court documentary or testimonial evidence in his behalf. The hearing The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 06-179 and was raffled to RTC, Branch 204, Muntinlupa City,
also allows the court a more thorough evaluation of the circumstances surrounding the case, including presided over by Judge Juanita T. Guerrero (Judge Guerrero).
the chance to observe the accused present his side in open court and subject his defense to interrogation
from the complainants or from the court itself.[34] On February 14, 2006, accused Cuason, through counsel, filed with the RTC an entry of appearance with a
plea to determine whether or not probable cause exists for the purpose of issuance of a warrant of arrest.
27

Evidence Rule 128

Complainant, also through counsel, subsequently filed a Motion to deny the application for judicial to the RTC, Branch 206, Muntinlupa City, presided over by Judge Patricia Manalastasde Leon (Judge
determination of probable cause and to cite accused in contempt of this Honorable Court on the ground of Manalastas-De Leon).
forum shopping. On April 4, 2006, accused Cuason filed his comment and/or opposition thereto, and on In his memorandum dated September 24, 2007, Court Administrator Lock found ample basis to
April 10, 2006, accused Cuason filed a supplemental comment and/or opposition to the motion. charge respondent judge with delay in rendering an order and for abuse of judicial discretion and
With the designation of RTC, Branch 204, Muntinlupa City, as a special court for drug cases on May 2, authority
2006, the case was re-raffled to the sala of respondent judge. After hearing the respective arguments of
the parties, respondent judge issued an omnibus order dated September 4, 2006, dismissing Criminal The OCA stated that Criminal Case No. 06-179 was assigned to respondent judge on May 2, 2006, a fact
Case No. 06-179. The pertinent portions of the omnibus order read as follows: which the latter did not dispute. More than a month later, or on June 19, 2006, respondent judge set
accused Cuasons motion to determine whether or not a probable cause exists for the purpose of the
On this first issue, this Court, after a careful scrutiny of the arguments and evidence of both issuance of a warrant of arrest and complainants motion to deny application for judicial determination of
parties, believes that there was payment already made as to the principal obligation probable cause and to cite accused in contempt of this Honorable Court on the ground of forum
as admitted by the complainant in his affidavit dated September 20, 2005 (page 3,
shopping for hearing on July 17, 2006. It must be stressed that accused Cuason and complainant filed
par. 17) and what is being left is the payment of interest which, under the premises, is
in [the] form of condominium certificates. So also, while the complainant questions their respective motions on February 14, 2006 and on March 22, 2006, or while the case was still pending
the authenticity of those certificates as well as the existence of [the] condominium in the sala of Judge Guerrero. After hearing the said motions on July 17, 2006, it took another forty-eight
units subject thereof, accused, indubitably, was able to satisfy this Court as to the (48) days for respondent judge to issue the omnibus order dated September 4, 2006, dismissing the case
authenticity of the questioned certificates and the existence of the units by showing for lack of probable cause.
proofs to that effect.
In his comment dated November 23, 2007, respondent judge insists that the charge filed against him
On September 6, 2006, Gen. Goyena filed with the RTC a very urgent manifestation with motion
should be dismissed.
for the court to conduct ocular inspection, and on September 22, 2006, he filed an omnibus motion for
reconsideration, ocular inspection and inhibition, anchored on the following grounds: 1) as correctly
This Court finds that respondent judges delay in the determination of probable cause clearly runs counter
found by the Office of the City Prosecutor of Muntinlupa City, the two (2) condominium units used in
to the provisions of Section 6, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, which provides:
partly settling the liabilities of the accused to the private complainant do not exist a fact that should have
been established by now, if only the court allowed the ocular inspection prayed for; 2) the court
overlooked the pronouncement in the very case it has relied on, that Allado and Salonga constitute Sec. 6. When warrant of arrest may issue. (a) By the Regional Trial Court. - Within ten (10) days
exceptions to the general rule and may be invoked only if similar circumstances are clearly shown to from the filing of the complaint or information, the judge shall personally evaluate
the resolution of the prosecutor and its supporting evidence. He may immediately
exist; and 3) the order dismissing the case was improperly or irregularly issued.
dismiss the case if the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause. If
he finds probable cause, he shall issue a warrant of arrest, or a commitment order if
On September 18, 2006, complainant filed a letter-complaint addressed to then Supreme Court Chief the accused has already been arrested pursuant to a warrant issued by the judge who
Justice Artemio Panganiban, charging respondent judge with abuse of judicial authority and discretion, conducted the preliminary investigation or when the complaint or information was
serious irregularity, and gross ignorance of the law, allegedly shown by the latters act of willfully and filed pursuant to Section 7 of this Rules. In case of doubt on the existence of probable
knowingly reversing the well-grounded finding of probable cause made by the Office of the City cause, the judge may order the prosecutor to present additional evidence within five
Prosecutor of Muntinlupa City. (5) days from notice and the issue must be resolved by the court within thirty (30)
days from the filing of the complaint or information.

Thereafter, respondent judge issued an order dated October 4, 2006, inhibiting himself from sitting in
Criminal Case No. 06-179, and directing that the records of the case be forwarded to the Office of the While respondent judge could not have ascertained the existence of probable cause for the issuance of
Clerk of Court of the RTC, Muntinlupa City, for appropriate re-raffling. The case was eventually re-raffled an arrest warrant against Cuason within ten (10) days from the filing of the complaint or information
28

Evidence Rule 128

Criminal Case No. 06-179 having been re-raffled to his sala only on May 2, 2006 prudence demanded that Section 6, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure or, in the alternative, to show cause why
respondent judge should have determined the existence of probable cause within ten (10) days from July the case should not be dismissed instead of precipitately ordering the dismissal of the case. The
17, 2006, the date he heard the respective arguments of the parties. This interpretation is in keeping with circumstances required the exercise of caution considering that the case involved estafa in the
the provisions of Section 6, Rule 112. considerable amount of P20 Million for which the complainant paid P129,970.00 in docket fees before
the Office of the City Prosecutor and later P167,114.60 as docket fee for the filing of the Information
By allowing forty-eight (48) days to lapse before issuing the two-page omnibus order dated September 4, before the RTC.
2006, respondent judge should be held liable for undue delay in rendering an order, which is classified as
a less serious charge under Section 9(1), Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, punishable by suspension from For this particular violation, we find respondent judge guilty and impose upon him a fine of P21,000.00.
office without salary and other benefits for not less than one (1) month or more than three (3) months,
or a fine of more than P10,000.00 but not exceeding P20,000.00.
As an unflattering footnote to these administrative offenses, the OCA, upon the authority of the
Chief Justice, conducted a judicial audit from August 21-30, 2007 of the RTC, Branch 256, Muntinlupa.The
Furthermore, the Court agrees with the OCA that the respondent judge is guilty of abuse of
initial result of the audit revealed that Judge Lerma failed to decide 30 civil cases and 11 criminal cases
judicial discretion and authority.
within the 90-day reglementary period. It also appears that 101 civil cases and 137 criminal cases
remained unacted despite the lapse of a considerable period.
The information in Criminal Case No. 06-179 clearly accuses Cuason of falsely pretending that
he can return the investment of complainant by paying cash and two (2) condominium units when in fact
these units do not exist or have not yet been constructed. The issue therefore boils down to whether or Judge Lerma had previously been sanctioned by this Court. In a resolution dated September 13,
not the condominium units exist, and the incontrovertible proof of this are the condominium units 2003 in A.M. No. RTJ-03-1799, entitled Ma. Cristina Olondriz Pertierra v. Judge Alberto L. Lerma, this
themselves. The logical thing to do would have been to order the conduct of an ocular inspection. Instead Court found him liable for conduct unbecoming a judge and imposed upon him the penalty of
of an ocular inspection, respondent relied on the certificate of registration, the development permit, the reprimand. In that case, Judge Lerma was found having lunch with a lawyer who has a pending case in his
license to sell, the building permit, and the Condominium Certificate of Title on the basis of which the sala.
judge ordered the dismissal of the case. It may be that an ocular inspection was premature at the time
the respondent dismissed the case because at that time the case was not yet set for the presentation of
evidence of the parties. Nevertheless, it now appears that the pieces of evidence relied upon by the The totality of all these findings underscore the fact that respondent judges actions served to
respondent do not fully support his conclusion. erode the peoples faith and confidence in the judiciary. He has been remiss in the fulfillment of the duty
imposed on all members of the bench in order to avoid any impression of impropriety to protect the
Section 4, Rule 128 of the Rules of Court provides that evidence must have such a relation to image and integrity of the judiciary.
the fact in issue as to induce belief in its existence or non-existence. Relevancy is, therefore, To reiterate, officers of the court have the duty to see to it that justice is dispensed evenly and
determinable by the rules of logic and human experienceRelevant evidence is any class of evidence which fairly. Not only must they be honest and impartial, but they must also appear to be honest and impartial
has rational probative value to the issue in controversy.[36] Logic and human experience teach us that the in the dispensation of justice. Judges should make sure that their acts are circumspect and do not arouse
documents relied upon by respondent do not constitute the best evidence to prove the existence or non- suspicion in the minds of the public. When they fail to do so, such acts cast doubt upon their integrity and
existence of the condominium units. To repeat, the best evidence would have been adduced by an ocular ultimately on the judiciary in general.[37] Courts will only succeed in their task and mission if the judges
inspection of the units themselves. presiding over them are truly honorable men, competent and independent, honest and dedicated. [38]
Respondent judge failed to live up to the judiciarys exacting standards, and this Court will not
Judge Lerma should also have exercised caution in determining the existence of probable cause. At the withhold penalty when called for to uphold the peoples faith in the Judiciary.[39]
very least, he should have asked the prosecutor to present additional evidence, in accordance with
29

Evidence Rule 128

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court RULES, as follows: G.R. No. 206220, August 19, 2015

1) In A.M. No. RTJ-07-2076, Judge Alberto Lerma is found GUILTY of violating a LUIS UY, SUBSTITUTED BY LYDIA UY VELASQUEZ AND SHIRLEY UY MACARAIG, Petitioner, v.SPOUSES
Supreme Court directive, and we impose upon him a FINE in the total amount JOSE LACSAMANA AND ROSAURA* MENDOZA, SUBSTITUTED BY CORAZON BUENA, Respondents.
of FIFTEEN THOUSAND PESOS (P15,000.00);
This is a petition for review on certiorari1 assailing the Decision dated 14 September 20112 and Resolution
2) In A.M. No. RTJ-07-2080, Judge Alberto Lerma is FINED in the total amount dated 1 March 20133 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 93786.
of FIFTEEN THOUSAND PESOS (P15,000.00) for violation of Supreme Court rules,
The subject of the litigation involves a parcel of land known as Lot 5506 of the Cadastral Survey of
directives, and circulars, and for making untruthful statements in his certificate of Batangas plan (LRC) SWO-2817, L.R. Case No. N-445, L.R.C. Record No. N-22499. The land, situated in
service; Barrio Alangilan, Batangas City, contains an area of 484 square meters under Transfer Certificate of Title
(TCT) No. T-24660.4 The land was previously owned by spouses Anastacio Manuel and Mariquita de Villa
3) In A.M. No. RTJ-07-2077, Judge Alberto Lerma is found GUILTY of gross misconduct (Spouses Manuel) under Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 0-2840.
and punished with the penalty of DISMISSAL from the service, with forfeiture of all
benefits, except earned leave credits, with prejudice to reemployment in any On 4 May 1979, petitioner Luis Uy (Uy) filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pallocan West,
Batangas City, Branch 4, a Complaint5 for Declaration of Nullity of Documents with Damages against
government agency or instrumentality.
respondents Petra Rosca (Rosca), and spouses Jose Lacsamana and Rosaura Mendoza (Spouses
Lacsamana).
4) In A.M. No. RTJ-07-2078, we find Judge Alberto Lerma GUILTY of gross ignorance of
the law, and impose upon him a FINE of FORTY THOUSAND PESOS (P40,000.00); and In the Complaint, Uy alleged that he was the lawful husband of Rosca. He stated that they lived together
as husband and wife from the time they were married in 1944 until 1973 when they separated and lived
5) In A.M. No. RTJ-07-2079, we find Judge Alberto Lerma GUILTY of grave abuse of authority apart. Uy and Rosca had eight children.
and undue delay in rendering an order, and impose upon him a FINE of TWENTYONE
Uy alleged that on 29 January 1964,6 he and his wife acquired a 484 square meter residential land for a
THOUSANDPESOS (P21,000.00). consideration of P1,936 evidenced by a Deed of Sale7 from the Spouses Manuel. The sellers' OCT No. 0-
2840 was cancelled and TCT No. T-24660 was issued in the name of "Petra Rosca, married to Luis G. Uy."
This Decision is final and immediately executory.
On 15 June 1964, Uy and Rosca allegedly purchased, as evidenced by a Deed of Absolute Sale,8another
SO ORDERED. residential land adjacent to the 484 square meter land from the spouses Felix Contreras and Maxima de
Guzman (Spouses Contreras). The second purchase consisted of 215 square meters, as declared under
Tax Declaration No. 61724, for a consideration of P700. Thereafter, a split level house with a floor area of
208.50 square meters was constructed on the 484 square meter land.

Uy further alleged that Rosca, in gross and evident bad faith, executed and signed a false and simulated
Deed of Sale9 dated 18 April 1979 on the 484 square meter land, together with the house erected
thereon, for a consideration of P80,000 in favor of Spouses Lacsamana.

Uy prayed that (1) the Deed of Sale dated 18 April 1979 executed by Rosca in favor of Spouses Lacsamana
be declared null and void with respect to his rights, interest, and ownership; (2) that defendants be
directed to pay, jointly and severally, to Uy the amounts of P100,000 as moral damages, P10,000 as
attorney's fees, P2,000 as expenses incident to litigation, plus costs of suit; (3) upon declaration of the
30

Evidence Rule 128

nullity of the Deed of Sale, the Register of Deeds of Batangas City and the City Assessor be directed to witnesses, as well as Rosca, as an adverse witness.
register Uy as the sole owner of the real properties; (4) if defendant Spouses Lacsamana are found by the
court to be buyers in good faith, Rosca be ordered to turn over to Uy the entire proceeds of sale of the Lydia testified that the Uy family lived in the house built on the land acquired by Uy and Rosca. She
properties and be adjudged to pay the damages; and (5) that the sum of P600,000 taken by Rosca from alleged that the house existed until it was demolished by Buena's agent sometime in 2006. Lydia also
Uy be collated into the mass of the conjugal partnership properties. stated that the funds used to construct the family dwelling came from Uy's business. Shirley corroborated
the testimony of Lydia on all material points.
In her Answer with Counterclaim dated 22 May 1979, Rosca denied the allegations of Uy and claimed that
she lawfully acquired the subject real properties using her paraphernal funds. Rosca added that she was Rosca, on the other hand, testified that sometime before or during World War II, she and Uy cohabited
never married to Uy and prayed for the dismissal of the complaint for lack of merit. In her Counterclaim, and settled in Batangas. The couple attempted to formalize their marital union with a marriage
Rosca prayed that the court award her (1) P200,000 as moral damages; (2) P100,000 as exemplary ceremony. However, the celebration was not consummated because of the bombings which occurred on
damages; (3) P12,000 as attorney's fees; (4) P3,000 as incidental litigation expenses; and (5) costs of suit. the day of the ceremony. Likewise, they were unable to secure a marriage contract.
Spouses Lacsamana also filed their Answer with Counterclaim dated 21 May 1979 claiming that they were
buyers in good faith and for value and that they relied on the Torrens title which stated that Rosca was Rosca stated that on 29 January 1964, she alone purchased, as sole vendee, with money coming from her
the owner of the subject property. own personal and paraphernal funds, the land covered by OCT No. 0-2840 and owned by Spouses
Manuel. Thereafter, on 15 June 1964, she again purchased, using her own personal and paraphernal
In the meantime, Uy questioned the registrability of the Deed of Sale before the Office of the Register of funds, the land adjacent to the first purchased property owned by Spouses Contreras and covered by Tax
Deeds of Batangas City. The Register of Deeds elevated the matter, on consulta,10 with the Land Declaration No. 61724. Immediately after, she caused the construction of a split level house on the land
Registration Commission (LRC) because of an affidavit subsequently filed by Uy contesting the sale and using her own paraphernal funds which became their family dwelling.
alleging, among others, that the property was conjugal in nature and sold without his marital consent.
Rosca alleged that Uy had an affair with another woman and sired children with her which led to their
In a Resolution11 dated 7 November 1979, the LRC decided in favor of registration stating that since the physical separation before the year 1973. On 17 September 1976, Rosca obtained a real estate loan in the
property in question was registered in Rosca's name, such circumstance indicated that the property amount of P50,000 from Philippine Banking Corporation (PBC) using the house and lot as collateral. In
belonged to Rosca, as her paraphernal property. The LRC added that litigious matters, such as a protest support of this loan, Rosca executed an Affidavit of Ownership17 dated 27 September 1976, stating that
from the other party based on justifiable and legal grounds, were to be decided not by the Register of (1) she was the lawful and sole owner of the 484 square meter land, together with the building erected
Deeds but by a court of competent jurisdiction. The dispositive portion of the Resolution thereon, and (2) the land was registered under her name and that the phrase "Petra Rosca, married to
states:LawlibraryofCRAlaw Luis G. Uy" in TCT No. T-24660 was merely a description of her status.

WHEREFORE, this Commission is of the opinion that the subject document should be admitted for Defendants offered the testimony of Rosca, Atty. Teodulfo Dequito, Jr., Rosaura Mendoza, and Buena.
registration.
Atty. Teodulfo Dequito, Jr. testified that Uy questioned the registrability of the Deed of Sale before the
SO ORDERED.12 Office of the Register of Deeds of Batangas City. The Register of Deeds elevated the matter
on consulta with the LRC, which issued a Resolution dated 7 November 1979 recognizing Rosca as the
sole registered owner of the property.
On 18 February 1981, Uy died.13 His two daughters, Lydia Uy Velasquez (Lydia) and Shirley Uy Macaraig
(Shirley) substituted him in the case. Fifteen years later or on 10 May 1996, Rosca also died.14 Earlier,
Rosaura Mendoza testified that she and her husband purchased, in the amount of P80,000, the 484
respondent Jose Lacsamana died on 20 March 1991.15redarclaw
square meter property of Rosca on 18 April 1979 through a Deed of Absolute Sale of House and Lot.18 The
Registry of Deeds of Batangas City cancelled TCT No. T-24660 and issued TCT No. T-3519in favor of the
Meanwhile, on 24 December 1982, Spouses Lacsamana sold the property to Corazon Buena (Buena)
spouses. Then, Spouses Lacsamana mortgaged the property to PBC for P48,000. Upon full payment of the
through a Deed of Absolute Sale.16 Thus, both Rosca and the Spouses Lacsamana were substituted by
mortgage debt on 15 April 1982, PBC issued a Release of Real Estate Mortgage.
Buena as respondent in this case.
Buena testified that she purchased the same property under TCT No. T-35 from Spouses Lacsamana on 24
During the trial, Uy presented the testimonies of his two daughters, Lydia and Shirley, as his own
December 1982 for a consideration of P80,000. Consequently, the Registry of Deeds of Batangas City
31

Evidence Rule 128

cancelled TCT No. T-35 and issued TCT No. T-324420 in her name. Likewise, the Assessor's Office of of consideration and consent. Uy states that no proof was presented by Spouses Lacsamana to show that
Batangas City issued Tax Declaration No. 90210.21redarclaw they actually paid P80,000 to Rosca for the purchase of the property. Uy also insists that he did not give
his consent to the sale which prejudiced his rights and interest. Uy argues that Rosca did not give physical
Before the resolution of the case, Shirley and Lydia filed a Motion for Issuance of Preliminary Injunction possession of the house and lot to the alleged buyers. Further, Uy adds, without admitting that the sale is
and/or Temporary Restraining Order. They claimed that Buena entered the property and caused the valid, that the consideration paid was unreasonably low and unconscionable such that it constitutes an
construction of structures without any court order. Consequently, the RTC issued an Order dated 21 equitable mortgage. Uy insists that Spouses Lacsamana and Buena cannot be considered buyers in good
September 2007 granting the preliminary injunction. Thereafter, the case was submitted for resolution. faith.

In a Decision22 dated 21 April 2009, the RTC decided the case in favor of respondents. The lower court Respondents, on the other hand, assert that the contentions of Uy rely on the re-examination and re-
found that (1) there was no valid marriage between Uy and Rosca; (2) the Deed of Sale executed by Rosca evaluation of the evidence of the parties which had previously been passed upon exhaustively by both
over the house and lot in favor of Spouses Lacsamana was valid; and (3) both parties were not entitled to the trial and appellate courts. Respondents added that only questions of law may be raised under Rule
their respective claims for damages. The dispositive portion of the Decision states:LawlibraryofCRAlaw 45. Since the findings of fact of the trial and appellate courts were supported by substantial evidence and
none of the recognized exceptions allowing this Court to exercise its power to review is present, then the
WHEREFORE, all premises considered, the instant Complaint filed by plaintiff Uy is hereby DISMISSED. petition should be dismissed.
The preliminary injunction and bond are cancelled and are rendered of no force and effect. The claims for
damages of both parties are hereby DENIED. Cost against both parties. We agree with respondents.

SO ORDERED.23 The issues raised by Uy had been thoroughly passed upon by the trial and appellate courts. We find no
reason to disturb their factual findings. In petitions for review on certiorari as a mode of appeal under
Uy filed an appeal24 with the CA. In a Decision25 dated 14 September 2011, the CA affirmed the ruling of Rule 45, like in the present case, a petitioner can raise only questions of law. Here, Uy would like us to
the trial court. The appellate court found that respondents were able to overthrow the presumption of review again the factual circumstances surrounding the Deed of Sale executed by Rosca with the Spouses
marriage and that the subject property was Rosca's paraphernal property. The appellate court also Lacsamana and to declare the Deed of Sale invalid for being simulated due to lack of consideration and
upheld the validity of the sale. The dispositive portion of the Decision states:LawlibraryofCRAlaw consent. Clearly, these are questions of fact which are within the purview of the trial and appellate courts
to determine. Also, the issues raised do not come within the purview of the recognized exceptions28 for
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision dated April 21, 2009 is AFFIRMED. this Court to take cognizance of the case. We have reiterated time and again that this Court is not the
proper venue to consider factual issues as it is not a trier of facts.
SO ORDERED.26
Here, the main issue in determining the validity of the sale of the property by Rosca alone is anchored on
Uy then filed a Motion for Reconsideration which was denied by the appellate court in a whether Uy and Rosca had a valid marriage. There is a presumption established in our Rules "that a man
Resolution27dated 1 March 2013. and woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a lawful contract of
marriage."29Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio Always presume marriage.30However, this
Hence, the instant petition. presumption may be contradicted by a party and overcome by other evidence.

The Issue Marriage may be proven by any competent and relevant evidence. In Pugeda v. Trias,31 we held that
The main issue for our resolution is whether the Deed of Sale dated 18 April 1979, executed by Rosca testimony by one of the parties to the marriage, or by one of the witnesses to the marriage, as well as the
alone, without Uy's consent, in favor of Spouses Lacsamana, is valid. person who officiated at the solemnization of the marriage, has been held to be admissible to prove the
fact of marriage.
The Court's Ruling
The petition lacks merit. Documentary evidence may also be shown. In Villanueva v. Court of Appeals,32 we held that the best
documentary evidence of a marriage is the marriage contract itself. Under Act No. 3613 or the Marriage
Uy contends that the Deed of Sale executed by Rosca is not valid for being simulated or fictitious for lack Law of 1929,33 as amended by Commonwealth Act No. 114,34 which is applicable to the present case
being the marriage law in effect at the time Uy and Rosca cohabited, the marriage certificate, where the
32

Evidence Rule 128

contracting parties state that they take each other as husband and wife, must be furnished by the person First. Decision in the case entitled: "In the matter of the Petition of Uy Suan Tee alias Luis G. Uy, to be
solemnizing the marriage to (1) either of the contracting parties, and (2) the clerk of the Municipal Court admitted a citizen of the Philippines";
of Manila or the municipal secretary of the municipality where the marriage was solemnized. The third
copy of the marriage contract, the marriage license and the affidavit of the interested party regarding the Second. Certificate of Live Birth of Violeta Uy, daughter of plaintiff Uy and defendant Rosca and the
solemnization of the marriage other than those mentioned in Section 5 of the same Act shall be kept by descriptive word "legitimate" showing that Violeta Uy was legitimate;
the official, priest, or minister who solemnized the marriage.
Third. Death Claim under SSS Employee Compensation executed and signed by defendant Rosca, stating
Here, Uy was not able to present any copy of the marriage certificate which he could have sourced from that she is the wife of plaintiff Uy;
his own personal records, the solemnizing officer, or the municipal office where the marriage allegedly
took place. Even the findings of the RTC revealed that Uy did not show a single relevant evidence that he Fourth. Various pictures of the plaintiff Uy and defendant Rosca with their children;
was actually married to Rosca. On the contrary, the documents Uy submitted showed that he and Rosca
were not legally married to each other. The pertinent portions of the RTC Decision Fifth. Special Power of Attorney executed by defendant Rosca dated 19 July 1985 wherein she admitted
state:LawlibraryofCRAlaw being the wife of plaintiff Uy;

x x x In the case under consideration, the presumption of marriage, on which plaintiff Uy anchored his Sixth. Sinumpaang Salaysay dated 3 August 1982 executed by defendant Rosca admitting she is the
allegations, has been sufficiently offset. Records reveal that there is plethora of evidence showing that widow of plaintiff Uy which was not testified to nor identified by Rosca;
plaintiff Uy and defendant Rosca were never actually married to each other, to wit:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
Seventh. Affidavit of Ownership dated 27 September 1976 signed by defendant Rosca admitting her
First. In his Petition for Naturalization as a Filipino citizen filed before the then Court of First Instance of status as married;
Batangas on 12 November 1953, plaintiff Uy himself stated in the fifth paragraph of his Petition, to quote:
"I am married (not legally)." to establish the fact of his marriage with defendant Rosca. Likewise, plaintiff Uy presented defendant
Rosca as an adverse witness purportedly to elicit from her the fact of his marriage with the latter.
Second. The Sworn Statement of no less than the Governor of the Province of Batangas executed in However, this presumption had been debunked by plaintiff Uy's own evidence and most importantly, by
support of the plaintiff Uy's Petition for Naturalization categorically states, in Nos. 2 and 4 thereof, that the more superior evidence presented by the defendants.
plaintiff Uy was married (not legally).
While it is true that plaintiff Uy and defendant Rosca cohabited as husband and wife, defendant Rosca's
Third. The Immigrant Certificate of Residence shows that as late as 9 October 1951, plaintiff Uy also testimony revealed that plaintiff Uy was not legally married to her because their marriage was not
known by his Chinese name of Uy Suan Tee, regarded himself as "single" when filling up his civil status consummated. In People vs. Borromeo, this Court held that persons living together in apparent
therein. matrimony are presumed, absent any counter presumption or evidence special to the case, to be in fact
married. Consequently, with the presumption of marriage sufficiently overcome, the onus probandi of
Fourth. The Alien Certificate of Registration No. 83758 establishes that plaintiff Uy was an alien duly defendant Rosca shifted to plaintiff Uy. It then became the burden of plaintiff Uy to prove that he and
registered with the Bureau of Immigration of the Philippines and that his civil status was single. defendant Rosca, were legally married. It became necessary for plaintiff Uy therefore to submit
additional proof to show that they were legally married. He, however, dismally failed to do so.35
Fifth. The Affidavit of Vicente J. Caedo, a prominent citizen of Batangas, establishes in Nos. 2 and 4
thereof that plaintiff Uy was not legally married to defendant Rosca. Since Uy failed to discharge the burden that he was legally married to Rosca, their property relations
would be governed by Article 147 of the Family Code which applies when a couple living together were
Sixth. The testimony of defendant Rosca as an adverse witness reveals that plaintiff Uy was not legally not incapacitated from getting married. Article 147 provides:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
married to her because their marriage was not consummated.
Art. 147. When a man and a woman who are capacitated to marry each other, live exclusively with each
For his part, plaintiff Uy tried to justify the non-presentation of their marriage certificate by presenting other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or under a void marriage, their wages and
public documents, namely:LawlibraryofCRAlaw salaries shall be owned by them in equal shares and the property acquired by both of them through their
work or industry shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.
33

Evidence Rule 128

"Corazon G. Ruiz, of legal age, married to Rogelio Ruiz, Filipinos." This Court ruled that the title is
In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties acquired while they lived together shall be presumed registered in the name of Corazon alone because the phrase "married to Rogelio Ruiz" is merely
to have been obtained by their joint efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by them in equal descriptive of the civil status of Corazon and should not be construed to mean that her husband is also a
shares. For purposes of this Article, a party who did not participate in the acquisition by the other party of registered owner.
any property shall be deemed to have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if the former's efforts
consisted in the care and maintenance of the family and of the household. Based on the evidence she presented, Rosca was able to sufficiently overcome the presumption that any
property acquired while living together shall be owned by the couple in equal shares. The house and lot
Neither party can encumber or dispose by acts inter vivos of his or her share in the property acquired were clearly Rosca's paraphernal properties and she had every right to sell the same even without Uy's
during cohabitation and owned in common, without the consent of the other, until after the termination consent.
of their cohabitation.
Uy further contends that the Deed of Sale executed by Rosca is not valid for being simulated or fictitious
When only one of the parties to a void marriage is in good faith, the share of the party in bad faith in the for lack of consideration. Uy states that no proof was presented by Spouses Lacsamana to show that they
co-ownership shall be forfeited in favor of their common children. In case of default of or waiver by any actually paid P80,000 to Rosca for the purchase of the property or even if there was consideration, such
or all of the common children or their descendants, each vacant share shall belong to the respective was unreasonably low and unconscionable. Thus, Spouses Lacsamana and Buena cannot be considered as
surviving descendants. In the absence of descendants, such share shall belong to the innocent party. In all buyers in good faith.
cases, the forfeiture shall take place upon termination of the cohabitation.
We disagree.
The provision states that properties acquired during cohabitation are presumed co-owned unless there is
proof to the contrary. We agree with both the trial and appellate courts that Rosca was able to prove that Uy did not present any proof to show that Rosca did not receive any consideration for the sale. Neither
the subject property is not co-owned but is paraphernal. did he submit any evidence, whether documentary or testimonial, showing the fair market value of the
property at the time of the sale to prove that the purchase price was unreasonably low or
First, in the Resolution dated 7 November 1979 of the LRC in LRC Consulta No. 1194, Rosca was unconscionable. It was even mentioned by the appellate court that "appellants failed to prove that on
recognized as the sole registered owner of the property. 36redarclaw April 18, 1979, the property might have been worth millions of pesos." Thus, Uy's allegations lack
sufficient substantiation.
Second, in the Deed of Sale dated 29 January 1964 between Spouses Manuel and Rosca covering the 484
square meter land, Uy served as a mere witness to Rosca's purchase of the land as evidenced by his Moreover, the factual findings of the appellate court carry great weight and are binding on this Court
signature under "signed in the presence of."37 This could only mean that Uy admitted the paraphernal when they coincide with the factual findings of the trial court. This Court will not weigh the evidence all
nature of Rosca's ownership over the property. over again since payment of the purchase price and the consideration for the sale are factual issues which
cannot be raised in this petition.
Third, in the Affidavit of Ownership dated 27 September 1976 executed by Rosca in support of her real
estate loan application with PBC in the amount of P5 0,000, Rosca stated that she was the sole and lawful In sum, we find that the Deed of Sale, executed by Rosca on her paraphernal property in favor of Spouses
owner of the subject property and that the land was registered under her name and that the phrase Lacsamana, is valid.
"Petra Rosca, married to Luis G. Uy" in TCT No. T-24660 was merely a description of her
status.38redarclaw WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the Decision dated 14 September 2011 and Resolution
dated 1 March 2013 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 93786.
Last, the title to the property in the name of "Petra Rosca, married to Luis G. Uy" was notice to the world, SO ORDERED.
including her heirs and successors-in-interest, that such belonged to Rosca as her paraphernal
property.39 The words "married to" were merely descriptive of Rosca's status at the time the property
was registered in her name.40 Otherwise, if the property was conjugal, the title to the property should
have been in the names of Luis Uy and Petra Rosca.41redarclaw

In Ruiz v. Court of Appeals,42 the property subject of the mortgage was registered in the name of