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Article III, Section 1

8. Procedural Due Process: Aspect of Proceedings

(38) Espeleta v. Avelino


G.R. No. L-39276, February 24, 1975
Fernando, J.

POINT OF THE CASE:


While it is true that it is within a court's discretionary power to act on a motion for continuance, it
is far from unlimited. Due heed must be paid to the procedural due process mandate. Liberality should be
exercised in granting postponements of trial to obtain presence of material evidence and to prevent
miscarriage of justice.

FACTS:
During one of the hearings between Shell Philippines and Espeleta, the witness for Espelata was not
able to attend. Thus, Shell’s counsel moved that since the witness did not finish her statement and was not
cross-examined, her statements should be stricken off the records. The motion was granted by the
respondent judge.
The petitioner then filed a petition for certiorari contending that he was denied procedural due
process. The witness’ statements were indispensable for his side and records show that their prior motion
for postponement of hearing were likewise denied.

ISSUE:
WON the petitioners were denied of procedural due process.

RULING:
Yes, they were denied procedural due process.
The Supreme Court ruled that the judge made a grave abuse of discretion in denying the motion
to postpone the hearing and subsequently the removal of the witness’ statements from the records.
Respondent Judge would justify the aforesaid order by characterizing the request for
postponement as "tantamount to delaying the administration of justice”, but a previous admonition of this
Court states “while it is true that it is within a court's discretionary power to act on a motion for continuance,
it is far from unlimited. Due heed must be paid to the procedural due process mandate. In cases like the
present where a party litigant, without malice, fault, or inexcusable neglect, is not prepared for the trial of a
case, the court exceeds the discretion conferred upon it by law in denying to said litigant a reasonable
opportunity to prepare for the trial and to obtain due process of law and proper protection under the law”.
Liberality should be exercised in granting postponements of trial to obtain presence of material evidence
and to prevent miscarriage of justice.