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Evidence - Exceptions to the Hearsay Rule - Digested Cases

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Evidence
Exceptions to the Hearsay Rule
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G.R. No. 198627, January 13, 2016
DST MOVERS CORPORATIONPetitionerv. PEOPLE'S GENERAL INSURANCE CORPORATIONRespondent.
LEONEN, J.:

A determination of where the preponderance of evidence lies is a factual issue which, as a rule, cannot be entertained in a Rule 45 petition. When, however, the sole basis of the trial court for ruling on this issue is evidence that should not have been admitted for being hearsay, this court will embark on its own factual analysis and will, if necessary, reverse the rulings of the lower courts. A traffic accident investigation report prepared by a police officer relying solely on the account of a supposed eyewitness and not on his or her personal knowledge is not evidence that is admissible as an exception to the Hearsay Rule.

FACTS:

The MTC found DST Movers liable to pay PGIC the amount of P90,000.00 by way of actual damages plus interest as well as P10,000.00 for attorney's fees and costs of suit. The Court of Appeals ordered DST Movers to pay PGIC the amount of P25,000.00 as temperate damages in lieu of the original award of P90,000.00 as actual damages.
In a Complaint for Sum of Money filed before the MTC, PGIC alleged that along the South Luzon Expressway and in the area of Bilibid, Muntinlupa City, a Honda Civic was hit on the rear by an Isuzu Elf truck. PGIC underscored that the sedan was on a stop position when it was hit. The sedan was then allegedly pushed forward, thereby hitting a Mitsubishi Lancer. The driver of the truck then allegedly escaped.
In support of its recollection of the events, PGIC relied on a Traffic Accident Investigation Report (Report) prepared by (PO2 Tomas) of the Traffic Enforcement Unit of the PNP.
The truck was supposedly subsequently discovered to be owned by DST Movers.12 The sedan was covered by PGIC's insurance.  Fidel Yuboco, filed a total loss claim with PGIC in the amount of P320,000.00. PGIC paid Fidel Yuboco the entire amount of P320,000.00.
MTC decide in favor of the plaintiff
RTC affirmed
CA affirmed
Petitioner insists that the Traffic Accident Investigation Report prepared by PO2 Tomas should not have been admitted and accorded weight by the Metropolitan Trial Court as it was "improperly identified [and] uncorroborated."39 Petitioner, in effect, asserts that the non-presentation in court of PO2 Tomas, the officer who prepared the report, was fatal to respondent's cause.

ISSUE(S):

Whether the Traffic Accident Investigation Report prepared by PO2 Tomas should not have been admitted.

RULING:

Unlike in Dela Llana and Standard Insurance, the findings of the Metropolitan Trial Court, the Regional Trial Court, and the Court of Appeals in this case are all in accord. They consistently ruled that the proximate cause of the damage sustained by the sedan was the negligent driving of a vehicle owned by petitioner. As with Standard Insurance, however, this conclusion is founded on the misplaced probative value accorded to a traffic accident investigation report. In the first place, this Report should not have been admitted as evidence for violating the Hearsay Rule. Bereft of evidentiary basis, the conclusion of the lower courts cannot stand as it has been reduced to conjecture. Thus, we reverse this conclusion.
Rule 130, Section 36 of the Revised Rules on Evidence provides for the Hearsay Rule. It renders inadmissible as evidence out-of-court statements made by persons who are not presented as witnesses but are offered as proof of the matters stated. This rule proceeds from the basic rationale of fairness, as the party against whom it is presented is unable to cross-examine the person making the statement:40

SECTION 36. Testimony generally confined to personal knowledge; hearsay excluded. — A witness can testify only to those facts which he knows of his personal knowledge; that is, which are derived from his own perception, except as otherwise provided in these rules.
The Hearsay Rule, however, is not absolute. Sections 37 to 47 of Rule 130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence enumerate the exceptions to the Hearsay Rule. Of these, Section 44—regarding entries in official records— is particularly relevant to this case:

SECTION 44. Entries in official records. — Entries in official records made in the performance of his duty by a public officer of the Philippines, or by a person in the performance of a duty specially enjoined by law, are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated.
Precisely as an exception to the Hearsay Rule, Rule 130, Section 44 does away with the need for presenting as witness the public officer or person performing a duty specially enjoined by law who made the entry. This, however, is only true, for as long the following requisites have been satisfied:

(a)
that the entry was made by a public officer or by another person specially enjoined by law to do so;
(b)
that it was made by the public officer in the performance of his duties, or by such other person in the performance of a duty specially enjoined by law; and
(c)
that the public officer or other person had sufficient knowledge of the facts by him stated, which must have been acquired by him personally or through official information.41
In the case at bar, Report prepared by PO2 Tomas satisfies these requisites. Thus, they maintain that it is admissible as prima facie evidence of the facts it states. 

G.R. No. 209040, December 09, 2015
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINESPlaintiff-Appelleev. RODOLFO PATEƑO DAYAPDAPANAccused-Appellant.
PEREZ, J.:
Facts:

Five (5) Informations identically charge accused-appellant of rape committed as follow:
That on or about March 25, 2002 at about 10:00 o'clock in the evening at x x x, Negros Oriental, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, who is the father of 14-year old [AAA],3 did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously by force, threat or intimidation, insert his penis into the vagina of his said daughter and had carnal knowledge of her against her will and consent.
On arraignment, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty. 
During pre-trial, both parties made the following factual stipulations:
  1. That the accused admits his identity in the five (5) cases that whenever his name is mentioned in the proceedings he is the same accused in this case;
  2. That accused admits that he is the father of the victim [AAA];
  3. That accused admits that he is living at [x x x],5 Negros Oriental; and
  4. That private complainant admits that she was a contestant in a beauty pageant involving money contribution wherein the winner is determined with the amount of money raised on occasion of the barangay fiesta of [x x x] on 5 April 2002
A pastor of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) testified on the contents of the Membership Record Book which show that AAA was born on 10 September 1987 and was baptized on 5 June 1988. Said document also listed accused-appellant as AAA's father.
Accused-appellant was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of five (5) counts of rape.
CA rendered the assailed judgment affirming with modification.

ISSUE(s):

WON the testimony of pastor regarding the contents of Membership Record Book is credible under exception of hearsay rule

RULING:

The prosecution presented a certification from the UCCP Office in Ayungon, Negros Occidental stating that AAA was baptized according to the rites and ceremonies of the UCCP. The certification shows that AAA was born on 10 September 1987 to accused-appellant and a certain Nely Fabel. A page of the UCCP Membership Book was submitted bearing the same information. It was held that a birth certificate, baptismal certificate, school records or documents of similar nature can be presented to prove the age of a victim. In this case, the Membership Book, which is considered an entry in official records under Section 44, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, is admissible as prima facie of their contents and corroborative of AAA's testimony as to her age. Moreover, entries in public or official books or records may be proved by the production of the books or records themselves or by a copy certified by the legal keeper thereof.

G.R. No. 127598. August 1, 2000
MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY, petitioner,

vs.
HON. SECRETARY OF LABOR LEONARDO QUISUMBING and MERALCO EMPLOYEES AND WORKERS ASSOCIATION (MEWA), respondents.

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

Facts:
In the Decision promulgated on January 27, 1999, the Court disposed of the case as follows:
"WHEREFORE, the petition is granted and the orders of public respondent Secretary of Labor dated August 19, 1996 and December 28, 1996 are set aside to the extent set forth above. The parties are directed to execute a Collective Bargaining Agreement incorporating the terms and conditions contained in the unaffected portions of the Secretary of Labor’s orders of August 19, 1996 and December 28, 1996, and the modifications set forth above. The retirement fund issue is remanded to the Secretary of Labor for reception of evidence and determination of the legal personality of the MERALCO retirement fund."
Dissatisfied with the Decision, some alleged members of private respondent union (Union for brevity) filed a motion for intervention and a motion for reconsideration of the said Decision. 
The issues raised in the motions for reconsideration had already been passed upon by the Court in the January 27, 1999 decision. No new arguments were presented for consideration of the Court. Nonetheless, certain matters will be considered herein particularly those involving the amount of wages and the retroactivity of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) arbitral awards.

Issue(s):

Whether the newspaper account and not even a commercial list may be admitted as evidence.

Ruling:

An increase in the prices of electric current needs the approval of the appropriate regulatory government agency and does not automatically result; from a mere increase in the wages of petitioner’s employees. Besides this argument presupposes that petitioner is capable of meeting a wage increase. The All Asia Capital report upon which the Union relies to support its position regarding the wage issue cannot be an accurate basis and conclusive determinant of the rate of wage increase. Section 45 of Rule 130 Rules of Evidence provides:

"Commercial lists and the like. — Evidence of statements of matters of interest to persons engaged in an occupation contained in a list, register, periodical, or other published compilation is admissible as tending to prove the truth of any relevant matter so stated if that compilation is published for use by persons engaged in that occupation and is generally used and relied upon by them therein.

Under the afore-quoted rule statement of matters contained in a periodical may be admitted only "if that compilation is published for use by persons engaged in that occupation and is generally used and relied upon by them therein." As correctly held in our Decision dated January 27, 1999, the cited report is a mere newspaper account and not even a commercial list. At most, it is but an analysis or opinion which carries no persuasive weight for purposes of this case as no sufficient figures to support it were presented. Neither did anybody testify to its accuracy. It cannot be said that businessmen generally rely on news items such as this in their occupation. Besides, no evidence was presented that the publication was regularly prepared by a person in touch with the market and that it is generally regarded as trustworthy reliable. Absent extrinsic proof of their accuracy, these reports are not admissible. 6 In the same manner, newspapers containing stock quotations are not admissible in evidence when the source of the reports is available. 7 With more reason, mere analyses or projections of such reports cannot be admitted. In particular, the source of the report in this case can be easily made available considering that the same is necessary for compliance with certain governmental requirements.

G.R. No. 107518 October 8, 1998
PNOC SHIPPING AND TRANSPORT CORPORATION, Petitioner, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and MARIA EFIGENIA FISHING CORPORATION, Respondents.
ROMERO, J.:

FACTS:

On the morning of September 21, 1977, M/V Maria Efigenia XV (of the private respondent) was navigatingthe waters near Fortune Island in Nasugbu, Batangas on its way to Navotas, Metro Manila when it collidedwith the vessel “Petroparcel”, owned at that time by Luzon Stevedoring Corporation (LSC).
The Board of Marine Inquiry found the Petroparcel at fault for the collision and based on this and afterunsuccessful demands on petitioner, private respondent sued LSC and Petroparcel captain EdgardoDoruelo for actual and compensatory damages.
During the pendency of the proceedings, PNOC Shipping Transport Corporation acquired ownership of Petroparcel and replaced LSC in the trial.
CFI Caloocan ruled in favor of private respondent, awarding it: the sum of P6,438,048.00 representing thevalue of the fishing boat with interest of 6% per annum; P50,000 attorney’s fees and the cost of suit.

The basis of said amount was the testimony of the general manager of Maria Efigenia Fishin Corporation,Edilberto del Rosario and several documentary evidence that included: ownership certificate, pricequotations, and invoices issued at the request of Del Rosario.

CFI ruled that PNOC-STC was unable to contest such evidence with only the testimony of its seniorestimator Lorenzo Lazaro as sole witness and without any documentary evidence.

On appeal, petitioner questioned the admissibility and competency of private respondent’s documents as basis for damages. The Court of Appeals affirmed the CFI decision ruling that
where a lower court is confronted with evidence which appears to be of doubtful admissibility, the judge should declare in favor of admissibility rather than of non-admissibility.

On appeal to the SC, petitioner argued, among other things, that the documents were not sufficient evidence to support the extent and actual damages incurred by private respondent. The price quotations were not duly authenticated and that the witness (Del Rosario) did not have personal knowledge on the contents of the writings and neither was he an expert on the subjects thereof.

CA argued that the documents were sufficient and exempt from the hearsay rule as they are part of “commercial lists” defined in sec.45 Rule 130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence in so far as they fall under the “or other published compilation” phrase of the rule.

Section 45. Commercial lists and the like. — Evidence of statements of matters of interest to persons engaged in an occupation contained in a list, register, periodical,
or other published compilation
is admissible as tending to prove the truth of any relevant matter so stated if that compilation is published for use by persons engaged in that occupation and is generally used and relied upon by them therein.


ISSUE(S)
Whether the price quotations considered commercial list, thus can be admissible in evidence?
RULING:
The price quotations presented as exhibits partake of the nature of hearsay evidence considering that the persons who issued them were not presented as witnesses. Any evidence, whether oral or documentary, is hearsay if its probative value is not based on the personal knowledge of the witness but on the knowledge of another person who is not on the witness stand. Hearsay evidence, whether objected to or not, has no probative value unless the proponent can show that the evidence falls within the exceptions to the hearsay evidence rule. On this point, we believe that the exhibits do not fall under any of the exceptions provided under Sections 37 to 47 of Rule 130. 
It is true that one of the exceptions to the hearsay rule pertains to "commercial lists and the like" under Section 45, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence. In this respect, the Court of Appeals considered private respondent's exhibits as "commercial lists." It added, however, that these exhibits should be admitted in evidence "until such time as the Supreme Court categorically rules on the admissibility or inadmissibility of this class of evidence" because "the reception of these documentary exhibits (price quotations) as evidence rests on the sound discretion of the trial court."  Reference to Section 45, Rule 130, however, would show that the conclusion of the Court of Appeals on the matter was arbitrarily arrived at. This rule states:
Commercial lists and the like. - Evidence of statements of matters of interest to persons engaged in an occupation contained in a list, register, periodical, or other published compilation is admissible as tending to prove the truth of any relevant matter so stated if that compilation is published for use by persons engaged in that occupation and is generally used and relied upon by them there.
Under Section 45 of the aforesaid Rule, a document is a commercial list if: (1) it is a statement of matters of interest to persons engaged in an occupation; (2) such statement is contained in a list, register, periodical or other published compilation; (3) said compilation is published for the use of persons engaged in that occupation, and (4) it is generally used and relied upon by persons in the same occupation.
Based on the above requisites, it is our considered view that Exhibits B, C, D, E, F and H are not "commercial lists" for these do not belong to the category of "other published compilations" under Section 45 aforequoted. Under the principle of ejusdem generis, "(w)here general words follow an enumeration of persons or things, by words of a particular and specific meaning, such general words are not to be construed in their widest extent, but are to be held as applying only to persons or things of the same kind or class as those specifically mentioned." The exhibits mentioned are mere price quotations issued personally to Del Rosario who requested for them from dealers of equipment similar to the ones lost at the collision of the two vessels. These are not published in any list, register, periodical or other compilation on the relevant subject matter. Neither are these "market reports or quotations" within the purview of "commercial lists" as these are not "standard handbooks or periodicals, containing data of everyday professional need and relied upon in the work of the occupation." 
G.R. No. 209264, July 05, 2016
DAMASO T. AMBRAY AND CEFERINO T. AMBRAY, JR.,* Petitionersv. SYLVIA A. TSOUROUS, CARMENCITA AMBRAY-LAUREL, HEDY AMBRAY-AZORES, VIVIEN AMBRAY-YATCO, NANCY AMBRAY-ESCUDERO, MARISTELA AMBRAY-ILAGAN, ELIZABETH AMBRAY-SORIANO, MA. LUISA FE AMBRAY-ARCILLA, AND CRISTINA AMBRAY-LABITRespondents.
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
FACTS:
The subject matter of the present controversy is a parcel of land described as Lot 2-C of subdivision plan Psd-04-009554, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-41382 of the Register of Deeds of San Pablo City (Lot 2-C) in the name of petitioners Damaso T. Ambray (Damaso) and Ceferino T. Ambray, Jr. (Ceferino, Jr.; collectively, petitioners).

Petitioners and respondents Sylvia A. Tsourous, Carmencita Ambray-Laurel, Hedy Ambray-Azores, Vivien Ambray-Yatco, Nancy Ambray-Escudero, Maristela Ambray-Ilagan (Maristela), Elizabeth Ambray-Soriano, Ma. Fe Luisa Ambray-Arcilla (Ma. Fe Luisa), and Cristina Ambray-Labit are siblings. With the exception of Sylvia, they are the children of the late Ceferino Ambray (Ceferino, Sr.) and Estela Trias (Estela), who passed away on February 5, 1987 and August 15, 2002, respectively.
During their lifetime, Ceferino, Sr. and Estela owned several properties, Lot 2 of subdivision plan Pcs-12441 was one of those. Ceferino, Sr. mortgaged Lot 2 with Manila Bank for the amount of P180,000.00. The mortgage was discharged on September 16, 1984
Prior to the discharge of the mortgage or sometime in August 1984, Lot 2 was subdivided into three (3) lots:  Lot 2-C was registered in Ceferino, Sr.'s name
Maristela discovered that TCT No. T-22749 covering Lot 2-C had been cancelled and, in its stead,, TCT No. T-41382 was issued in the name of petitioners. It appears that by virtue of a notarized Deed of Absolute Sale (Deed of Sale) dated January 16, 1978, Ceferino, Sr., with the consent of Estela, allegedly sold "a portion of lot 2 of the consolidation subd. plan (LRC) Pcs-12441" to petitioners for a consideration of P150,000.00. The Deed of Sale was registered with the Register of Deeds of San Pablo City only on February 5, 1996.
This prompted respondents to file a criminal case for falsification of public document against petitioners, entitled "People of the Philippines v. Damaso T. Ambray and Ceferino T. Ambray" 
Thereafter, respondents filed the instant complaint for annulment of title, reconveyance, and damages against petitioners and Estela (defendants).
In a motion to dismiss, defendants claimed that the issue on the authenticity of the signatures of Ceferino, Sr. and Estela on the Deed of Sale had already been passed upon in the falsification case where petitioners were eventually acquitted; hence, the matter was res judicata. In an Order RTC granted the motion and dismissed the case on said ground.

ISSUE:

whether or not the CA erred in affirming the RTC's nullification of the Deed of Sale dated January 16, 1978 and TCT No. T-41382 covering Lot 2-C in the name of petitioners.

HELD:
The petition is meritorious.
As a rule, forgery cannot be presumed and must be proved by clear, positive and convincing evidence, and the burden of proof lies on the party alleging forgery. One who alleges forgery has the burden to establish his case by a preponderance of evidence, or evidence which is of greater weight or more convincing than that which is offered in opposition to it. The fact of forgery can only be established by a comparison between the alleged forged signature and the authentic and genuine signature of the person whose signature is theorized to have been forged.
Under Rule 132, Section 22 of the Rules of Court, the genuineness of handwriting may be proved in the following manner: (1) by any witness who believes it to be the handwriting of such person because he has seen the person write; or he has seen writing purporting to be his upon which the witness has acted or been charged; (2) by a comparison, made by the witness or the court, with writings admitted or treated as genuine by the party, against whom the evidence is offered, or proved to be genuine to the satisfaction of the judge.50 Corollary thereto, jurisprudence states that the presumption of validity and regularity prevails over allegations of forgery and fraud. As against direct evidence consisting of the testimony of a witness who was physically present at the signing of the contract and who had personal knowledge thereof, the testimony of an expert witness constitutes indirect or circumstantial evidence at best
In this case, the only direct evidence presented by respondents to prove their allegation of forgery is Questioned Documents Report No. 266-397 issued by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Document Examiner II Antonio R. Magbojos (Magbojos), stating that the signatures of Ceferino, Sr. and Estela on the Deed of Sale, when compared to standard sample signatures, are not written by one and the same person.
Between the Questioned Documents Report presented by respondents and the testimony given by Estela in the falsification case in support of petitioners' defense, the Court finds greater evidentiary weight in favor of the latter. Hence, respondent's complaint for annulment of title, reconveyance, and damages in Civil Case No. SP-5831(01) should be dismissed.
Notably, the admissibility of Estela's former testimony in the present case finds basis in Section 47, Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence or the "rule on former testimony" which provides:

Section 47. Testimony or deposition at a former proceeding. - The testimony or deposition of a witness deceased or unable to testify, given in a former case or proceeding, judicial or administrative, involving the same parties and subject matter, may be given in evidence against the adverse party who had the opportunity to cross-examine him.
Case law holds that for the said rule to apply, the following requisites must be satisfied: (a) the witness is dead or unable to testify; (b) his testimony or deposition was given in a former case or proceeding, judicial or administrative, between the same parties or those representing the same interests; (c) the former case involved the same subject as that in the present case, although on different causes of action; (d) the issue testified to by the witness in the former trial is the same issue involved in the present case and (e) the adverse party had an opportunity to cross-examine the witness in the former case.56 The reasons for the admissibility of testimony taken at a former trial or proceeding are the necessity for the testimony and its trustworthiness. However, before the former testimony can be introduced in evidence, the proponent must first lay the proper predicate therefor, i.e., the party must establish the basis for the admission of testimony in the realm of admissible evidence.

Records show that Estela died during the pendency of these proceedings before the RTC or on August 15, 2002. Her death transpired before the presentation of the parties' evidence could ensue. However, she was able to testify on direct and cross-examination in the falsification case and affirmed that the alleged forged signatures appearing on the Deed of Sale were, indeed, hers and her deceased husband, Ceferino, Sr.'s. The parties in the falsification case involved respondents and petitioners herein, and the subject matter therein and in this case are one and the same, i.e., the genuineness and authenticity of the signatures of Ceferino, Sr. and Estela.

Clearly, the former testimony of Estela in the falsification case, being admissible in evidence in these proceedings, deserves significant consideration.


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