Anda di halaman 1dari 14

[G.R. No. 127745.

April 22, 2003]

FELICITO G. SANSON, CELEDONIA SANSON-SAQUIN, ANGELES A. MONTINOLA,


EDUARDO A. MONTINOLA, JR., petitioners-appellants, vs.HONORABLE
COURT OF APPEALS, FOURTH DIVISION and MELECIA T. SY, as
Administratrix of the Intestate Estate of the Late Juan BonFing
Sy, respondents-appellees.

DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:

Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court assailing the Court of Appeals Decision of May 31, 1996 and Resolution of
December 9, 1996.
On February 7, 1990, herein petitioner-appellant Felicito G. Sanson (Sanson), in his
capacity as creditor, filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Iloilo City a petition,
docketed as Special Proceedings No. 4497, for the settlement of the estate of Juan Bon
Fing Sy (the deceased) who died on January 10, 1990. Sanson claimed that the
deceased was indebted to him in the amount of P603,000.00 and to his sister Celedonia
Sanson-Saquin (Celedonia) in the amount of P360,000.00.[1]
Petitioners-appellants Eduardo Montinola, Jr. and his mother Angeles Montinola
(Angeles) later filed separate claims against the estate, alleging that the deceased owed
them P50,000.00 and P150,000.00, respectively.[2]
By Order of February 12, 1991, Branch 28 of the Iloilo RTC to which the petition
was raffled, appointed Melecia T. Sy, surviving spouse of the deceased, as
administratrix of his estate, following which she was issued letters of administration. [3]
During the hearing of the claims against the estate, Sanson, Celedonia, and Jade
Montinola, wife of claimant Eduardo Montinola, Jr., testified on the transactions that
gave rise thereto, over the objection of the administratrix who invoked Section 23, Rule
130 of the Revised Rules of Court otherwise known as the Dead Mans Statute which
reads:

SEC. 23. Disqualification by reason of death or insanity of adverse party.Parties or


assignors of parties to a case, or persons in whose behalf a case is prosecuted, against
an executor or administrator or other representative of a deceased person, or against a
person of unsound mind, upon a claim or demand against the estate of such deceased
person or against such person of unsound mind, cannot testify as to any matter of fact
occurring before the death of such deceased person or before such person became of
unsound mind. (Emphasis supplied)
Sanson, in support of the claim of his sister Celedonia, testified that she had a
transaction with the deceased which is evidenced by six checks[4] issued by him before
his death; before the deceased died, Celedonia tried to enforce settlement of the checks
from his (the deceaseds) son Jerry who told her that his father would settle them once
he got well but he never did; and after the death of the deceased, Celedonia presented
the checks to the bank for payment but were dishonored [5] due to the closure of his
account.[6]
Celedonia, in support of the claim of her brother Sanson, testified that she knew that
the deceased issued five checks[7] to Sanson in settlement of a debt; and after the death
of the deceased, Sanson presented the checks to the bank for payment but were
returned due to the closure of his account.[8]
Jade, in support of the claims of her husband Eduardo Montinola, Jr. and mother-in-
law Angeles, testified that on separate occasions, the deceased borrowed P50,000
and P150,000 from her husband and mother-in-law, respectively, as shown by three
checks issued by the deceased,[9] two to Angeles and the other[10] to Eduardo
Montinola, Jr.; before the deceased died or sometime in August 1989, they advised him
that they would be depositing the checks, but he told them not to as he would pay them
cash, but he never did; and after the deceased died on January 10, 1990, they
deposited the checks but were dishonored as the account against which they were
drawn was closed,[11] hence, their legal counsel sent a demand letter[12] dated February
6, 1990 addressed to the deceaseds heirs Melicia, James, Mini and Jerry Sy,
and Symmels I & II but the checks have remained unsettled.[13]
The administratrix, denying having any knowledge or information sufficient to form a
belief as to the truth of the claims, nevertheless alleged that if they ever existed, they
had been paid and extinguished, are usurious and illegal and are, in any event, barred
by prescription.[14] And she objected to the admission of the checks and check return
slips-exhibits offered in evidence by the claimants upon the ground that the witnesses
who testified thereon are disqualified under the Dead Mans Statute.
Specifically with respect to the checks-exhibits identified by Jade, the administratrix
asserted that they are inadmissible because Jade is the daughter-in-law of claimant
Angeles and wife of claimant Eduardo Montinola, Jr., hence, she is covered by the
above-said rule on disqualification.
At all events, the administratrix denied that the checks-exhibits were issued by the
deceased and that the return slips were issued by the depository/clearing bank.[15]
After the claimants rested their case, the administratrix filed four separate
manifestations informing the trial court that she was dispensing with the presentation of
evidence against their claims.[16]
Finding that the Dead Mans Statute does not apply to the witnesses who testified in
support of the subject claims against the estate, the trial court issued an Order of
December 8, 1993,[17]the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, Judicial Administratrix Melecia T. Sy, is hereby ordered, to pay, in due


course of administration, creditors-claimants Felicito G. Sanson, in the amount of
P603,500.00; Celedonia S. Saquin, in the amount of P315,000.00;[18] Angeles A.
Montinola, in the amount of P150,000.00 and Eduardo Montinola, Jr., in the amount of
P50,000.00, from the assets and/or properties of the above-entitled intestate estate.

On appeal by the administratrix upon the following assignment of errors:


I.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DISMISSING THE CLAIM[S] FOR FAILURE TO
PAY THE FILING FEES THEREON

II.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DISMISSING THE CLAIM[S] BECAUSE [THEY
ARE] ALREADY BARRED BY THE LAW OF LIMITATIONS OR STATUTE OF NON-
CLAIMS

III.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT CLAIMANT[S] EVIDENCE OF


THE CLAIM IS INCOMPETENT UNDER THE DEAD MANS STATUTE, AND
INADMISSIBLE

IV.

THE ALLEGED CHECKS ARE INADMISSIBLE AS PRIVATE DOCUMENTS,[19]

the Court of Appeals set aside the December 8, 1993 Order of the trial court, by
Decision of May 31, 1996, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, the order appealed from is hereby set aside and another order is
entered dismissing the claims of:

1. Felicito G. Sanson, in the amount of P603,500.00;

2. Celdonia S. Saquin, in the amount of P315,000.00;[20]

3. Angeles A. Montinola, in the amount of P150,000.00; and

4. Eduardo Montinola, Jr., in the amount of P50,000.00 against the estate of the
deceased JUAN BON FING SY.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED. (Underscoring supplied)


The claimants Motion for Reconsideration[21] of the Court of Appeals decision
having been denied by Resolution of December 9, 1996,[22] they filed the present
petition anchored on the following assigned errors:

FIRST ASSIGNED ERROR

RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS, 4TH DIVISION, ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE


TESTIMONY OF JADE MONTINOLA IS INSUFFICIENT TO PROVE THE CLAIMS OF
CLAIMANTS ANGELES A. MONTINOLA AND EDUARDO A. MONTINOLA, JR..

SECOND ASSIGNED ERROR

RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS, 4TH DIVISION, ERRED IN FINDING THAT


CLAIMANT FELICITO G. SANSON IS DISQUALIFIED TO TESTIFY [ON] THE CLAIM
OF CELEDONIA SANSON-SA[Q]UIN AND VI[C]E VERSA. (Underscoring in the
original)[23]

With respect to the first assigned error, petitioners argue that since the
administratrix did not deny the testimony of Jade nor present any evidence to controvert
it, and neither did she deny the execution and genuineness of the checks issued by the
deceased (as well as the check return slips issued by the clearing bank), it was error for
the Court of Appeals to find the evidence of the Montinolas insufficient to prove their
claims.
The administratrix counters that the due execution and authenticity of the checks-
exhibits of the Montinolas were not duly proven since Jade did not categorically state
that she saw the filling up and signing of the checks by the deceased, hence, her
testimony is self-serving; besides, as Jade had identical and unitary interest with her
husband and mother-in-law, her testimony was a circumvention of the Dead Mans
Statute.[24]
The administratrixs counter-argument does not lie. Relationship to a party has never
been recognized as an adverse factor in determining either the credibility of the witness
orsubject only to well recognized exceptions none of which is here presentthe
admissibility of the testimony. At most, closeness of relationship to a party, or bias, may
indicate the need for a little more caution in the assessment of a witness testimony but
is not necessarily a negative element which should be taken as diminishing the credit
otherwise accorded to it.[25]
Jades testimony on the genuineness of the deceaseds signature on the checks-
exhibits of the Montinolas is clear:
xxx
Q: Showing to you this check dated July 16, 1989, Far East Bank and Trust
Company Check No. 84262, in the amount of P100,000.00, is this the
check you are referring to?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: There appears a signature in the face of the check. Whose signature is this?
A: That is the signature of Mr. Sy.
Q: Why do you know that this is the signature of Mr. Sy?
A: Because he signed this check I was . . . I was present when he signed this
check.
xxx
Q: Showing to you this check dated September 8, 1989, is this the check you
are referring to?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Why do you know that this is his signature?
A: I was there when he signed the same.
xxx
Q: Showing to you this Far East Bank and Trust Company Check No. 84262
dated July 6, 1989, in the amount of P50,000.00, in the name of Eduardo
Montinola, are you referring to this check?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Whose signature is this appearing on the face of this check?
A: Mr. Sys signature.
Q: Why do you know that it is his signature?
A: I was there when he signed the same.
x x x[26] (Emphasis supplied)
The genuineness of the deceaseds signature having been shown, he is prima
facie presumed to have become a party to the check for value, following Section 24 of
the Negotiable Instruments Law which reads:

Section 24. Presumption of Consideration. Every negotiable instrument is


deemed prima facie to have been issued for a valuable consideration; and every
person whose signature appears thereon to have become a party thereto for
value. (Underscoring and italics in the original; emphasis supplied),

Since, with respect to the checks issued to the Montinolas, the prima facie presumption
was not rebutted or contradicted by the administratrix who expressly manifested that
she was dispensing with the presentation of evidence against their claims, it has
become conclusive.
As for the administratrixs invocation of the Dead Mans Statute, the same does not
likewise lie. The rule renders incompetent: 1) parties to a case; 2) their assignors; or 3)
persons in whose behalf a case is prosecuted.
xxx

The rule is exclusive and cannot be construed to extend its scope by implication so as
to disqualify persons not mentioned therein. Mere witnesses who are not included in the
above enumeration are not prohibited from testifying as to a conversation or transaction
between the deceased and a third person, if he took no active part therein.

x x x[27] (Underscoring supplied)

Jade is not a party to the case. Neither is she an assignor nor a person in whose behalf
the case is being prosecuted. She testified as a witness to the transaction. In
transactions similar to those involved in the case at bar, the witnesses are commonly
family members or relatives of the parties. Should their testimonies be excluded due to
their apparent interest as a result of their relationship to the parties, there would be a
dearth of evidence to prove the transactions. In any event, as will be discussed later,
independently of the testimony of Jade, the claims of the Montinolas would still prosper
on the basis of their documentary evidencethe checks.
As to the second assigned error, petitioners argue that the testimonies of Sanson
and Celedonia as witnesses to each others claim against the deceased are not covered
by the Dead Mans Statute;[28] besides, the administratrix waived the application of the
law when she cross-examined them.
The administratrix, on the other hand, cites the ruling of the Court of Appeals in its
decision on review, the pertinent portion of which reads:

The more logical interpretation is to prohibit parties to a case, with like interest, from
testifying in each others favor as to acts occurring prior to the death of the deceased.

Since the law disqualifies parties to a case or assignors to a case without distinguishing
between testimony in his own behalf and that in behalf of others, he should be
disqualified from testifying for his co-parties. The law speaks of parties or assignors of
parties to a case. Apparently, the testimonies of Sanson and Saquin on each others
behalf, as co-parties to the same case, falls under the prohibition. (Citation omitted;
underscoring in the original and emphasis supplied)

But Sansons and Celedonias claims against the same estate arose from separate
transactions. Sanson is a third party with respect to Celedonias claim. And Celedonia is
a third party with respect to Sansons claim. One is not thus disqualified to testify on the
others transaction.
In any event, what the Dead Mans Statute proscribes is the admission
of testimonial evidence upon a claim which arose before the death of the deceased. The
incompetency is confined to the giving of testimony.[29] Since the separate claims of
Sanson and Celedonia are supported by checks-documentary evidence, their claims
can be prosecuted on the bases of said checks.
This brings this Court to the matter of the authenticity of the signature of the
deceased appearing on the checks issued to Sanson and Celedonia. By Celedonias
account, she knows the signature of the deceased.
xxx
Q: Showing to you these checks already marked as Exhibit A to E, please go
over these checks if you know the signatures of the late Juan Bon Fing Sy?
on these checks?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Insofar as the amount that he borrowed from you, he also issued checks?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And therefore, you know his signature?
A: Yes, sir.
x x x[30]
Sanson testified too that he knows the signature of the deceased:
xxx
Q: I show you now checks which were already marked as Exhibit A to G-1
Saquin, please go over this if these are the checks that you said was issued
by the late Juan Bon Fing Sy in favor of your sister?
A: Yes, these are the same che[c]ks.
Q: Do you know the signature of the late Juan Bon Fing Sy?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And these signatures are the same signatures that you know?
A: Yes, sir.
x x x[31]
While the foregoing testimonies of the Sanson siblings have not faithfully
discharged the quantum of proof under Section 22, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules on
Evidence which reads:

Section 22. How genuineness of handwriting proved. The handwriting of a person may
be proved by any witness who believes it to be the handwriting of such person because
he has seen the person write, or has seen writing purporting to be his upon which the
witness has acted or been charged and has thus acquired knowledge of the handwriting
of such person. x x x,

not only did the administratrix fail to controvert the same; from a comparison [32] with the
naked eye of the deceaseds signature appearing on each of the checks-exhibits of the
Montinolas with that of the checks-exhibits of the Sanson siblings all of which checks
were drawn from the same account, they appear to have been affixed by one and the
same hand.
In fine, as the claimants-herein petitioners have, by their evidence, substantiated
their claims against the estate of the deceased, the burden of evidence had shifted to
the administratrix who, however, expressly opted not to discharge the same when she
manifested that she was dispensing with the presentation of evidence against the
claims.
WHEREFORE, the impugned May 31, 1996 Decision of the Court of Appeals is
hereby SET ASIDE and another rendered ordering the intestate estate of the late Juan
Bon Fing Sy, through Administratrix Melecia T. Sy, to pay:
1) Felicito G. Sanson, the amount of P603,500.00;
2) Celedonia S. Saquin, the amount of P315.000.00;[33]
3) Angeles Montinola, the amount of P150,000.00; and
4) Eduardo Montinola, Jr., the amount of P50,000.00.
representing unsettled checks issued by the deceased.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-47442 April 8, 1941

In the matter of the estate of George M. Icard, deceased, JOSEPH K.


ICARD, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
CLARO MASIGAN, as special administrator of the estate of George M. Icard; and
EFFIE CARLAND ICARD, defendants-appellants.

Harvey and O'Brien for appellants.


Quijano and Liwag for appellee.

MORAN, J.:

For services rendered in connection with the development and location of certain mining
claims, Joseph K. Icard filed a claim of P2,000 against the estate of his deceased father
George M. Icard. The claim having been allowed by the commissioner on claims, the
administrator appealed to the Court of First Instance, where it was likewise allowed. The
administrator's appeal to this Court rests mainly on the theory that the probate court
erred in allowing the claimant to testify to the services rendered by him in favor of his
father, because the action being one against the administrator of a deceased person,
plaintiff cannot be allowed to testify as to any matter of fact which occurred before the
death of such deceased person, under section 383, paragraph 7, of Act No. 190, now
Rule 123, section 26, paragraph (c), of the Rules of Court.

It is undisputed that the Antamok Central Group of mining claims, situated in the
subprovince of Benguet, were originally owned in common by Fred M. Harden, the
deceased George M. Icard, and plaintiff-appellee Joseph K. Icard. These mining claims
were later sold to the Big Wedge Mining Company, the deed of sale having been
executed jointly by the common owners, Fred M. Harden, George M. Icard, and Joseph
K. Icard, the latter represented by his attorney-in-fact, George M. Icard. A dispute
having arisen as to the price still due under the contract of sale, the Big Wedge Mining
Company filed in the Court of First Instance of Manila an action for rescission (Civil
Case No. 48186) against the vendors, Fred M. Harden, George M. Icard, and Joseph K.
Icard, the latter in his personal capacity and as executor of the deceased George M.
Icard. The case was, however, settled between the parties, and a compromise
agreement was duly approved by the court. Pursuant to the compromise, an order was
issued decreeing that the sum of P39,478.16 be paid to Joseph K. Icard in full
settlement of his personal interest and that of said George M. Icard in the Antamok
Central Group of mining claims. The order directed that said amount be divided
between Joseph K. Icard and the estate of the deceased George M. Icard in the manner
and proportion to be determined by the probate court.

It is thus clear that Joseph K. Icard had an interest in the mining claims aforementioned,
as evidenced by the deed of sale executed in favor of the Big Wedge Mining Company
and the compromise agreement approved by the court in civil case No. 48186 of the
Court of First Instance of Manila. The amount of this interest being undetermined,
Joseph K. Icard may, if he wishes to, properly claim one-half of P39,478.16, under the
legal provision that "the interests of the coowners shall be presumed to be equal until
the contrary is proved." (Art. 393, C.C.). Instead, he claims P2,000 only, and it is this
reduced claim which he seeks to establish by his oral testimony.

Section 383, par. 7, of the Code of Civil Procedure, which is now Rule 123, section 26,
paragraph (c), of the Rules of Court, is designed to close the lips of the party plaintiff
when death has closed the lips of the party defendant, in order to remove from the
surviving party the temptation to falsehood and the possibility of fictitious claims against
the deceased. Where, as in the instant case, the purpose of the oral testimony is to
prove a lesser claim than what might be warranted by clear written evidence, to avoid
prejudice to the estate of the deceased, the law has certainly no reason for its
application. Ratione cessante, cessat ipsa lex.

Judgment is affirmed, with costs against appellants.


NERI VS SENATE COMMITTEE ON ACCOUNTABILITY OF PUBLIC OFFICERS
G.R.No. 180643, March 25 2008 [Executive Privilege]

FACTS:
The Senate issued various Senate Resolutions directing SBRC, among others, to
conduct an investigation regarding the NBN-ZTE deal. Neri, the head of NEDA, was
then invited to testify before the Senate Blue Ribbon. He disclosed that the COMELEC
Chairman Abalos offered him P200M in exchange for his approval of the NBN Project,
that he informed PGMA about the bribery and that she instructed him not to accept the
bribe. However, when probed further on what they discussed about the NBN Project, he
refused to answer, invoking “executive privilege”. In particular, he refused to answer the
questions on (a) whether or not President Arroyo followed up the NBN
Project, (b) whether or not she directed him to prioritize it, and (c) whether or not she
directed him to approve. As a result, the Senate cited him for contempt.

ISSUE:
Whether or not the communications elicited by the 3 questions covered by executive
privilege.

RULING:
The SC recognized the executive privilege which is the Presidential communications
privilege. It pertains to “communications, documents or other materials that reflect
presidential decision-making and deliberations and that the President believes should
remain confidential.” Presidential communications privilege applies to decision-making
of the President. It is rooted in the constitutional principle of separation of power and the
President’s unique constitutional role.
The claim of executive privilege is highly recognized in cases where the subject of
inquiry relates to a power textually committed by the Constitution to the President, such
as the area of military and foreign relations. The information relating to these powers
may enjoy greater confidentiality than others.

Elements of presidential communications privilege:


1) The protected communication must relate to a “quintessential and non-delegable
presidential power.” - i.e. the power to enter into an executive agreement with other
countries. This authority of the President to enter into executive agreements without the
concurrence of the Legislature has traditionally been recognized in Philippine
jurisprudence.
2) The communication must be authored or “solicited and received” by a close
advisor of the President or the President himself. The judicial test is that an advisor
must be in “operational proximity” with the President.
3) The presidential communications privilege remains a qualified privilege that
may be overcome by a showing of adequate need, such that the information sought
“likely contains important evidence” and by the unavailability of the information
elsewhere by an appropriate investigating authority. - there is no adequate showing of a
compelling need that would justify the limitation of the privilege and of
the unavailability of the information elsewhere by an appropriate investigating authority.

Mercado vs. Vitriolo

Facts:
Rosa Mercado is seeking for the disbarment of Atty.Julito Vitriolo as he allegedly
maliciously filed a criminalcase for falsification of public documents against herthereby
violating the attoyrney client privilege. It appearsthat Vitriolo filed a case against
complainant as sheapparently made false entries in the certificate of live birthof her
children. More specifically she allegedly indicatedthat she is married to a certain
Ferdinand Fernandez whenin fact her real husband is Ruben Mercado. Mercado
claimsthat by filing the complaint the attorney client privilege hasbeen violated. Mercado
filed a case for Vitriolosdisbarment.
Issue:
Whether or not the respondent violated the rule onprivileged communication between
attorney-client when hefiled the criminal case for falsification
Held:
No. The evidence on record fails to substantiatecomplainants allegations. Complainant
did not even specifythe alleged communication disclosed by the
respondents. All her claims were couched in general terms and lackedspecificity.
Indeed the complaint failed to attend thehearings at the IBP. Without any testimony from
thecomplainant as to the specific confidential informationallegedly divulged by
respondent without her consent, itwould be difficult if not impossible to determine if
there wasany violation of the rule on privileged communication. Suchinformation is a
crucial link in establishing a breach of therule on privileged communication between
attorney and client.

Lutwak v. United States

No. 66

Argued December 8-9, 1952

Decided February 9, 1953

344 U.S. 604

Syllabus

Petitioners were convicted of a conspiracy to defraud the United States by obtaining the illegal entry
thereto of three aliens as spouses of honorably discharged veterans. They had conspired to have three
such veterans journey to Paris, there go through marriage ceremonies with three aliens, bring them to the
United States, and obtain their entry under the War Bridges Act. The parties to the marriages were not to
live together as husband and wife, and were to take whatever legal steps were necessary to sever the
legal ties; but these facts were to be concealed from the immigration authorities.

Held:

1. For the purposes of this case, the question of the validity of the marriages is immaterial. Pp. 344 U. S.
610-613.

2. In the circumstances of this case, the trial court did not err in permitting the "wives" to testify against
their "husbands." Pp. 344 U. S. 613-615.

3. It was not error for the trial court to admit testimony as to various acts of different petitioners, done after
the conspiracy ended, without limiting the evidence to the particular defendant who performed the act,
where the acts were relevant to show the spuriousness of the marriages and the intent of the parties in
going through the marriage ceremonies. Pp. 344 U. S. 615-618.

4. On the record in this case, the admission against all of the conspirators, though not present when it
was made, of a single declaration made after the conspiracy had ended was harmless error under Rule
52(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Pp. 344 U. S. 618-620.

195 F.2d 748, affirmed.

The Court of Appeals affirmed petitioners' conviction of a conspiracy to defraud the United States.195
F.2d 748. This Court granted certiorari. 344 U.S. 809. Affirmed,

Trammel v. United States


Facts. Petitioner Otis Trammel was indicted for importing heroin into the United States from Thailand and
the Philippine Islands and for conspiracy to import heroin. The indictment also named six unindicted co-
conspirators, including petitioner’s wife. Petitioner’s wife agreed to cooperate with the Government, and
prior to trial the petitioner advised the court that the Government intended to call his wife as an adverse
witness and he asserted his claim to privilege to prevent her from testifying against him. At hearing on this
motion, the Government called Mrs. Trammel and granted her use immunity. She testified that she was
married to Trammel and that her cooperation was based on assurances that she would be given lenient
treatment. The District Court ruled that Mrs. Trammel could testify to any act she observed during the
marriage and to any communication made in the presence of a third person. Confidential communications
between petitioner and his wife were held privileged
and inadmissible. At trial, Mrs. Trammel’s testimony constituted virtually its entire case against petitioner.
He was found guilty, and on appeal petitioner’s only claim of error was that the admission of the adverse
testimony of his wife, over his objection, contravened prior precedent and therefore constituted reversible
error. The Court of Appeals rejected this contention.

Issue. May an accused invoke the privilege against adverse spousal testimony so as to exclude the
voluntary testimony of his wife?
Held. The existing rule should be modified so that the witness-spouse alone has a privilege to refuse to
testify adversely; the witness may be neither compelled to testify nor foreclosed from testifying.
The privilege claimed by petitioner has ancient roots. It sprang from two canons of medieval
jurisprudence: the rule that an accused was not permitted to testify in his own behalf because of his
interest in the proceeding; second, the concept that husband wife were one, and that since the woman
had no recognized separate legal existence, the husband was that one. The rule evolved into one of
privilege, rather than one of absolute disqualification.

The modern justification for the privilege is its perceived role in fostering the harmony and sanctity of the
marriage relationship. The rule has been criticized, and it has been suggested that it should be modified
to protect only private marital communications, modeled on the privilege between priest and penitent,
attorney and client, and physician and patient. The American Law Institute in response advocated a
privilege for marital confidences, but rejected a rule vesting in the defendant the right to exclude all
adverse testimony of his spouse. Several state court enacted similar provisions.

The long history of the rule suggests it should not be casually cast aside. This Court must decide whether
the privilege against adverse spousal testimony promotes sufficiently important interests to outweigh the
need for probative evidence in the administration of criminal justice. The complete privilege provided by
prior precedent is unnecessary to protect information privately disclosed between husband and wife in the
confidence of the marital relationship. Those are privileged under the independent rule protecting
confidential marital communications. The privilege addressed is intended to exclude evidence of criminal
acts and of communications made in the presence of third persons.

The privileges between priest and penitent, attorney and client, and physician and patient limit protection
to private communications. The ancient foundations for so sweeping a privilege have long since
disappeared. The contemporary justification for allowing such a privilege is also unpersuasive. If one
spouse is willing to testify, their relationship is almost certainly in disrepair, with little in the way of marital
harmony to preserve. It seems far more likely to frustrate justice than to foster family peace.

People vs. Invencion Case Digest


0

The filial privilege rule is not strictly a rule on disqualification because a descendant is not incompetent
or disqualified to testify against an ascendant. The rule refers to a privilege not to testify, which can be
invoked or waived like other privileges.

Facts:

Artemio Invencion was charged before the RTC of Tarlac with thirteen counts of rape committed against his 16-year-old
daughter, Cynthia (his daughter with his first common-law-wife, Gloria Pagala).
During the trial, the prosecution presented Elven Invencion, the son of Artemio with his second common-law wife. Elven
testified that that sometime before the end of the school year in 1996, while he was sleeping in one room with his father,
Cynthia, and two other younger brothers, he was awakened by Cynthia’s loud cries. Looking towards her, he saw his
father on top of Cynthia, doing a pumping motion.

After about two minutes, his father put on his short pants. Elven further testified that Artemio was a very strict and cruel
father and a drunkard. He angrily prohibited Cynthia from entertaining any of her suitors.

The trial court convicted Artemio for one count of rape. Artemio challenges the competency and credibility of Elven as a
witness. He argues that Elven, as his son, should have been disqualified as a witness against him under pursuant to the rule
on filial privilege.

Issue:

Should Elven Invencion be disqualified as a witness pursuant to the rule on filial privilege?

Held:

No. The competency of Elven to testify is not affected by Section 25, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, otherwise known as
the rule on “filial privilege.” This rule is not strictly a rule on disqualification because a descendant is not incompetent or
disqualified to testify against an ascendant. The rule refers to a privilege not to testify, which can be invoked or waived
like other privileges. As correctly observed by the lower court, Elven was not compelled to testify against his father; he
chose to waive that filial privilege when he voluntarily testified against Artemio. Elven declared that he was testifying as a
witness against his father of his own accord and only “to tell the truth.” Hence, his testimony is entitled to full
credence. (People vs. Invencion, G.R. No. 131636. March 5, 2003)