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Evidence: Opinion Rule and Character Evidence - Digested Cases

Evidence:  Opinion Rule and Character Evidence - Digested Cases

Evidence:Opinion Rule Character Evidence

Digested by: MLP

G.R. No. 210445, December 07, 2015NILO B. ROSITPetitionerv. DAVAO DOCTORS HOSPITAL AND DR. ROLANDO G. GESTUVORespondent.


Rosit figured in a motorcycle accident. The X-ray showed that he fractured his jaw. Rosit was then referred to Dr. Gestuvo, a specialist in mandibular injuries who operated on Rosit.

Dr. Gestuvo used a metal plate fastened to the jaw with metal screws to immobilize the mandible. As the operation required the smallest screws available, Dr. Gestuvo cut the screws on hand to make them smaller. Dr. Gestuvo knew that there were smaller titanium screws available in Manila, but did not so inform Rosit supposing that the latter would not be able to afford the same.

Following the procedure, Rosit could not properly open and close his mouth and was in pain. X-rays done on Rosit two (2) days after the operation showed that the fracture in his jaw was aligned but the screws used on him touched his molar. Given the X-ray results, Dr. Gestuvo referred Rosit to a dentist. The dentist who checked Rosit, Dr. Pangan, opined that another operation is necessary and that it is to be performed in Cebu.

Alleging that the dentist told him that the operation conducted on his mandible was improperly done, Rosit went back to Dr. Gestuvo to demand a loan to defray the cost of the additional operation as well as the expenses of the trip to Cebu. Dr. Gestuvo gave Rosit P4,500.

Rosit went to Cebu on February 19, 1999, still suffering from pain and could hardly open his mouth.

In Cebu, Dr. Pangan removed the plate and screws thus installed by Dr. Gestuvo and replaced them with smaller titanium plate and screws. Dr. Pangan also extracted Rosit's molar that was hit with a screw and some bone fragments. Three days after the operation, Rosit was able to eat and speak well and could open and close his mouth normally.

On his return to Davao, Rosit demanded that Dr. Gestuvo reimburse him for the cost of the operation and the expenses he incurred in Cebu amounting to P140,000, as well as for the P50,000 that Rosit would have to spend for the removal of the plate and screws that Dr. Pangan installed. Dr. Gestuvo refused to pay.

Thus, Rosit filed a civil case against Dr. Gestuvo and DDH.
RTC: The RTC freed DDH from liability on the ground that it exercised the proper diligence in the selection and supervision of Dr. Gestuvo, but adjudged Dr. Gestuvo negligent.
CA: Unlike the RTC, the CA ruled that the res ipsa loquitur principle is not applicable and that the testimony of an expert witness is necessary for a finding of negligence. The appellate court also gave credence to Dr. Pangan's letter stating the opinion that Dr. Gestuvo did not commit gross negligence in his emergency management of Rosit's fractured mandible.


Whether An expert witness is not necessary as the res ipsa loquitur doctrine is applicable.
Whether Dr. Pangan's Affidavit is not admissible


1. An expert witness is not necessary as the res ipsa loquitur doctrine is applicable
To establish medical negligence, this Court has held that an expert testimony is generally required to define the standard of behavior by which the court may determine whether the physician has properly performed the requisite duty toward the patient. This is so considering that the requisite degree of skill and care in the treatment of a patient is usually a matter of expert opinion.10

Solidum v. People of the Philippines provides an exception. There, the Court explained that where the application of the principle of res ipsa loquitur is warranted, an expert testimony may be dispensed with in medical negligence cases:

Although generally, expert medical testimony is relied upon in malpractice suits to prove that a physician has done a negligent act or that he has deviated from the standard medical procedure, when the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is availed by the plaintiff, the need for expert medical testimony is dispensed with because the injury itself provides the proof of negligence. The reason is that the general rule on the necessity of expert testimony applies only to such matters clearly within the domain of medical science, and not to matters that are within the common knowledge of mankind which may be testified to by anyone familiar with the facts. x x x

Thus, courts of other jurisdictions have applied the doctrine in the following situations: leaving of a foreign object in the body of the patient after an operation, injuries sustained on a healthy part of the body which was not under, or in the area, of treatment, removal of the wrong part of the body when another part was intended, knocking out a tooth while a patient's jaw was under anesthetic for the removal of his tonsils, and loss of an eye while the patient plaintiff was under the influence of anesthetic, during or following an operation for appendicitis, among others.
We have further held that resort to the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur as an exception to the requirement of an expert testimony in medical negligence cases may be availed of if the following essential requisites are satisfied: (1) the accident was of a kind that does not ordinarily occur unless someone is negligent; (2) the instrumentality or agency that caused the injury was under the exclusive control of the person charged; and (3) the injury suffered must not have been due to any voluntary action or contribution of the person injured.
This Court cannot accede to the CA's findings as it is at once apparent from the records that the essential requisites for the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur are present.
The first element was sufficiently established when Rosit proved that one of the screws installed by Dr. Gestuvo struck his molar. 
second element for the res ipsa loquitur doctrine application, it is sufficient that the operation which resulted in the screw hitting Rosit's molar was, indeed, performed by Dr. Gestuvo. No other doctor caused such fact.
Lastly, the third element that the injury suffered must not have been due to any voluntary action or contribution of the person injured was satisfied in this case. It was not shown that Rosit's lung disease could have contributed to the pain. What is clear is that he suffered because one of the screws that Dr. Gestuvo installed hit Rosit's molar.
Clearly then, the res ipsa loquitur doctrine finds application in the instant case and no expert testimony is required to establish the negligence of defendant Dr. Gestuvo.

2. The appellate court's Decision absolving Dr. Gestuvo of negligence was also anchored on a letter signed by Dr. Pangan who stated the opinion that Dr. Gestuvo did not commit gross negligence in his emergency management of Mr. Rosit's fractured mandible.18 Clearly, the appellate court overlooked the elementary principle against hearsay evidence.
In Dantis v. Maghinang, Jr., the Court reiterated the oft-repeated rule that "an affidavit is merely hearsay evidence where its affiant/maker did not take the witness stand." Here, Dr. Pangan never took the witness stand to affirm the contents of his affidavit. Thus, the affidavit is inadmissible and cannot be given any weight. The CA, therefore, erred when it considered the affidavit of Dr. Pangan, mpreso for considering the same as expert testimony.

Moreover, even if such affidavit is considered as admissible and the testimony of an expert witness, the Court is not bound by such testimony. As ruled in Ilao-Quianay v. Mapile:

Indeed, courts are not bound by expert testimonies. They may place whatever weight they choose upon such testimonies in accordance with the facts of the case. The relative weight and sufficiency of expert testimony is peculiarly within the province of the trial court to decide, considering the ability and character of the witness, his actions upon the witness stand, the weight and process of the reasoning by which he has supported his opinion, his possible bias in favor of the side for whom he testifies, and any other matters which serve to illuminate his statements. The opinion of an expert should be considered by the court in view of all the facts and circumstances of the case. The problem of the evaluation of expert testimony is left to the discretion of the trial court whose ruling thereupon is not reviewable in the absence of an abuse of that discretion.
Thus, the belief of Dr. Pangan whether Dr. Gestuvo is guilty of negligence or not will not bind the Court. The Court must weigh and examine such testimony and decide for itself the merits thereof.
As discussed above, Dr. Gestuvo's negligence is clearly demonstrable by the doctrines of res ipsa loquitur and informed consent.

[G.R. No. 171217]
Petitionerv. NELSON CORTEJORespondent.
[G.R. No. 171228]
Petitionerv. NELSON CORTEJORespondent.



Mrs. Jesusa Cortejo brought her 11-year old son, Edmer Cortejo (Edmer), to the Emergency Room of the San Juan de Dios Hospital (SJDH) because of difficulty in breathing, chest pain, stomach pain, and fever.
Dr. Ramoncito Livelo (Dr. Livelo) initially attended to and examined Edmer. In her testimony, Mrs. Cortejo narrated that in the morning of April 20, 1988, Edmer had developed a slight fever that lasted for one day; a few hours upon discovery, she brought Edmer to their family doctor; and two hours after administering medications, Edmer's fever had subsided.
Dr. Livelo diagnosed Edmer with "bronchopneumonia." Edmer's blood was also taken. Afterwards, Dr. Livelo gave Edmer an antibiotic medication to lessen his fever and to loosen his phlegm.
Mrs. Cortejo did not know any doctor at SJDH. She used her Fortune Care card. She was thereafter assigned to Dr. Noel Casumpang (Dr. Casumpang), a pediatrician also accredited with Fortune Care. Dr. Casumpang confirmed the initial diagnosis of "Bronchopneumonia."
At that moment, Mrs. Cortejo recalled entertaining doubts on the doctor's diagnosis. She immediately advised Dr. Casumpang that Edmer had a high fever, and had no colds or cough but Dr. Casumpang merely told her that her son's "bloodpressure is just being active," and remarked that "that's the usual bronchopneumonia, no colds, no phlegm."
Still suspicious about his son's illness, Mrs. Cortejo again called Dr. Casumpang's attention, but simply nooded. Edmer vomited "phlegm with blood streak"15 prompting the respondent (Edmer's father) to request for a doctor at the nurses' station.
(Dr. Miranda), although aware failed to examine the blood specimen because the respondent washed it away. Dr. Miranda conducted a physical check-up.
The blood test results came, Dr. Miranda advised Edmer's parents that the blood test results showed that Edmer was suffering from "Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever." By request Edmar was to be transported to Makati Medical Center.
Dr. Casumpang immediately gave the attending physician the patient's clinical history and laboratory exam results. Upon examination, the attending physician diagnosed "Dengue Fever Stage IV" that was already in its irreversible stage.

Edmer died.  Parents Filed a case against  SJDH and the

Issue (s):

Whether Dr. Jaudian is an expert witness


Dr. Jaudian 's Professional Competence and Credibility

One of the critical issues the petitioners raised in the proceedings before the lower court and before this Court was Dr. Jaudian's competence and credibility as an expert witness. The petitioners tried to discredit his expert testimony on the ground that he lacked the proper training and fellowship status in pediatrics.

Criteria in Qualifying as an Expert Witness

The competence of an expert witness is a matter for the trial court to decide upon in the exercise of its discretion. The test of qualification is necessarily a relative one, depending upon the subject matter of the investigation, and the fitness of the expert witness. In our jurisdiction, the criterion remains to be the expert witness' special knowledge experience and practical training that qualify him/her to explain highly technical medical matters to the Court.
In Ramos v. Court of Appeals, the Court found the expert witness, who is a pulmonologist, not qualified to testify on the field of anesthesiology. Similarly, in Cereno v. Court of Appeals, a 2012 case involving medical negligence, the Court excluded the testimony of an expert witness whose specialty was anesthesiology, and concluded that an anesthesiologist cannot be considered an expert in the field of surgery or even in surgical practices and diagnosis.

Interestingly in this case, Dr. Jaudian, the expert witness was admittedly not a pediatrician but a practicing physician who specializes in pathology.87 He likewise does not possess any formal residency training in pediatrics. Nonetheless, both the lower courts found his knowledge acquired through study and practical experience sufficient to advance an expert opinion on dengue-related cases.

We agree with the lower courts.

A close scrutiny of Ramos and Cereno reveals that the Court primarily based the witnesses' disqualification to testify as an expert on their incapacity to shed light on the standard of care that must be observed by the defendant-physicians. That the expert witnesses' specialties do not match the physicians' practice area only constituted, at most, one of the considerations that should not be taken out of context. After all, the sole function of a medical expert witness, regardless of his/her specialty, is to afford assistance to the courts on medical matters, and to explain the medical facts in issue.

Furthermore, there was no reasonable indication in Ramos and Cereno that the expert witnesses possess a sufficient familiarity with the standard of care applicable to the physicians' specialties.

US jurisprudence on medical malpractice demonstrated the trial courts' wide latitude of discretion in allowing a specialist from another field to testify against a defendant specialist.

In Brown v. Sims, a neurosurgeon was found competent to give expert testimony regarding a gynecologist's standard of pre-surgical care. In that case, the court held that since negligence was not predicated on the gynecologist's negligent performance of the operation, but primarily on the claim that the pre-operative histories and physicals were inadequate, the neurosurgeon was competent to testify as an expert.

Frost v. Mayo Clinic also allowed an orthopedic surgeon to testify against a neurologist in a medical malpractice action. The court considered that the orthopedic surgeon's opinion on the "immediate need for decompression" need not come from a specialist in neurosurgery. The court held that:

It is well established that "the testimony of a qualified medical doctor cannot be excluded simply because he is not a specialist x x x." The matter of "x x x training and specialization of the witness goes to the weight rather than admissibility x x x."
x x x x

It did not appear to the court that a medical doctor had to be a specialist in neurosurgery to express the opinions permitted to be expressed by plaintiffs' doctors, e.g., the immediate need for a decompression in the light of certain neurological deficits in a post-laminectomy patient. As stated above, there was no issue as to the proper execution of the neurosurgery. The medical testimony supported plaintiffs' theory of negligence and causation. (Citations omitted)
In another case, the court declared that it is the specialist's knowledge of the requisite subject matter, rather than his/her specialty that determines his/her qualification to testify.

Also in Evans v. Ohanesian, the court set a guideline in qualifying an expert witness:

To qualify a witness as a medical expert, it must be shown that the witness (1) has the required professional knowledge, learning and skill of the subject under inquiry sufficient to qualify him to speak with authority on the subject; and (2) is familiar with the standard required of a physician under similar circumstances; where a witness has disclosed sufficient knowledge of the subject to entitle his opinion to go to the jury, the question of the degree of his knowledge goes more to the weight of the evidence than to its admissibility.
x x x x

Nor is it critical whether a medical expert is a general practitioner or a specialist so long as he exhibits knowledge of the subject. Where a duly licensed and practicing physician has gained knowledge of the standard of care applicable to a specialty in which he is not directly engaged but as to which he has an opinion based on education, experience, observation, or association wit that specialty, his opinion is competent. (Emphasis supplied)
Finally, Brown v. Mladineo92 adhered to the principle that the witness' familiarity, and not the classification by title or specialty, which should control issues regarding the expert witness' qualifications:

The general rule as to expert testimony in medical malpractice actions is that "a specialist in a particular branch within a profession will not be required." Most courts allow a doctor to testify if they are satisfied of his familiarity with the standards of a specialty, though he may not practice the specialty himself. One court explained that "it is the scope of the witness' knowledge and not the artificial classification by title that should govern the threshold question of admissibility. (Citations omitted)
Application to the Present Case

In the case and the facts before us, we find that Dr. Jaudian is competent to testify on the standard of care in dengue fever cases.

Although he specializes in pathology, it was established during trial that he had attended not less than 30 seminars held by the Pediatric Society, had exposure in pediatrics, had been practicing medicine for 16 years, and had handled not less than 50 dengue related cases.

As a licensed medical practitioner specializing in pathology, who had practical and relevant exposure in pediatrics and dengue related cases, we are convinced that Dr. Jaudian demonstrated sufficient familiarity with the standard of care to be applied in dengue fever cases. Furthermore, we agree that he possesses knowledge and experience sufficient to qualify him to speak with authority on the subject.



Nick Garbo was married to Eduviges Garabato. During their marriage, they had a daughter named (Florence) who in turn had a son out of wedlock, respondent Victorey Antonio Garabato (Victorey). During the subsistence of Nick and Eduviges’ marriage, Nick cohabited with petitioner Betty Gepulle-Garbo (Betty).

A Deed of Sale was executed between Eduviges and Florence whereby the former sold to the latter a 303-square meter parcel of land, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 17986. The deed of sale was signed by Nick Garbo.

Eduviges passed away. Three months after, Nick married Betty. Florence registered the property in her name and was issued TCT No. 126959. Florence died on March 4, 1992 while Nick died on February 28, 1996.

In 1996, respondent Victorey, married to co-respondent Josephine, registered the subject property in his name by virtue of a Deed of Sale executed by Florence in his favor. respondent was issued TCT No. 136900.

petitioner filed a petition for cancellation of TCT No. 136900 against respondents. She impugns the validity of the June 17, 1977 Deed of Sale on the ground that the signatures of Nick and Eduviges were forged by Florence. Petitioner also assailed the deed of sale between Florence and Victorey.

Petitioner claimed that Nick had previously sought the examination of his alleged signature on Deed of Sale by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The NBI examiner allegedly found that the questioned signature and the standard signatures of Nick were not written by one and the same person.
The RTC held that petitioner failed to prove that the signatures of Nick and Eduviges Garbo were forgeries. The RTC did not give credence to the testimony of Albacea, holding that courts are not bound by expert testimonies and that the relative weight and sufficiency of expert testimony is peculiarly within the province of the trial court to decide.

the CA affirmed the RTC ruling.


Whether the RTC are not bound by expert testimonies and that the relative weight and sufficiency of expert testimony is peculiarly within the province of the trial court to decide.


The opinion of handwriting experts are not necessarily binding upon the court, the expert’s function being to place before the court data upon which the court can form its own opinion. This principle holds true especially when the question involved is mere handwriting similarity or dissimilarity, which can be determined by a visual comparison of specimens of the questioned signatures with those of the currently existing ones. A finding of forgery does not depend entirely on the testimonies of handwriting experts, because the judge must conduct an independent examination of the questioned signature in order to arrive at a reasonable conclusion as to its authenticity.

G.R. No. 186533. August 9, 2010
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. EFREN CASTILLO, Accused-Appellant.


In a Complaint, appellant was charged by AAA, assisted by her mother, BBB, with the crime of rape.
At the pre-trial conference, both the prosecution and the defense failed to make any stipulation of facts.
The prosecution presented the following witnesses: AAA, the private offended party; Dr. Thessa Marie Antillon-Malimas (Dr. Antillon-Malimas),  the doctor in Gingoog District Hospital who examined AAA; BBB, the mother of AAA, who was also presented as rebuttal witness; and Myrna delos Reyes-Villanueva, the Guidance Psychologist at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center who conducted psychological tests on AAA to determine her mental capacity.

RTC Convicted the appellant and CA affirmed.

Appellant contends that the records are bereft of any evidence that would conclusively show that AAA was suffering from mental retardation. BBB’s declaration that AAA is a slow thinker does not sufficiently establish AAA’s mental retardation. Further, the "expert witness qualification" of the prosecution’s supposed expert witness is highly questionable because she had not acquired any doctorate degree in the field of psychology or psychiatry. More so, the psychological tests administered by her on AAA were inadequate to establish AAA’s mental capacity.
Appellant anchors his argument for acquittal on the alleged failure of the prosecution to establish AAA’s mental retardation to make him guilty of rape under Article 266-A, par. 1(b), of the Revised Penal Code. Appellant concludes that his guilt has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt.




We reject appellant’s position.

In People v. Dalandas, citing People v. Dumanon, this Court held that mental retardation can be proven by evidence other than medical/clinical evidence, such as the testimony of witnesses and even the observation by the trial court.
Section 50, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence explicitly provides:
SEC. 50. Opinion of ordinary witnesses. – The opinion of a witness for which proper basis is given, may be received in evidence regarding-
(a) x x x
(b) x x x
(c) The mental sanity of a person with whom he is sufficiently acquainted.
The witness may also testify on his impressions of the emotion, behavior, condition or appearance of a person. [Emphasis supplied].
Accordingly, it is competent for the ordinary witness to give his opinion as to the sanity or mental condition of a person, provided the witness has had sufficient opportunity to observe the speech, manner, habits, and conduct of the person in question. Commonly, it is required that the witness details the factors and reasons upon which he bases his opinion before he can testify as to what it is. As the Supreme Court of Vermont said: "A non-expert witness may give his opinion as to the sanity or insanity of another, when based upon conversations or dealings which he has had with such person, or upon his appearance, or upon any fact bearing upon his mental condition, with the witness’ own knowledge and observation, he having first testified to such conversations, dealings, appearance or other observed facts, as the basis for his opinion." 
The mother of an offended party in a rape case, though not a psychiatrist, if she knows the physical and mental condition of the party, how she was born, what she is suffering from, and what her attainments are, is competent to testify on the matter. Thus, even though the Guidance Psychologist who examined AAA may not qualify as an expert witness, though the psychological tests conducted by her on AAA may not be accurate to determine AAA’s mental capacity, such circumstance is not fatal to the prosecution’s cause.
In the same way, though the Guidance Psychologist who examined AAA may not be qualified as an expert witness, her observations, however, as regards the appearance, manner, habits and behavior of AAA, is also admissible in evidence as an ordinary witness’ testimony. Even before the Guidance Psychologist administered the psychological tests on AAA, she already noticed that AAA lacked personal hygiene. While conversing with AAA, she observed that AAA has low level mental functioning as she has difficulty understanding simple things, has a vague concept of big numbers and time ─ like days of the week, and has regressed behavior that is not congruent to her age, i.e., 21 years old at the time of her examination. She also stated that she was not able to administer the Purdue Non-Language Test, which is an Intelligence Quotient Test, on AAA due to the latter’s inability to identify the items therein.
This Court, in People v. Dalandas, clarified that a mental retardate, in general, exhibits a slow rate of maturation, physical and/or psychological, as well as impaired learning capacity. Further, the mental retardation of persons and the degrees thereof may be manifested by their overt acts, appearance, attitude and behavior. The dentition, manner of walking, ability to feed oneself or attend to personal hygiene, capacity to develop resistance or immunity to infection, dependency on others for protection and care and inability to achieve intelligible speech may be indicative of the degree of mental retardation of a person. All these may be testified on by ordinary witnesses who come in contact with an alleged mental retardate.
It bears stressing that the deprivation of reason contemplated by law need not be complete; mental abnormality or deficiency is sufficient. Thus, it is clear from the foregoing that AAA’s impaired learning capacity, lack of personal hygiene and difficulty in answering simple questions, as testified to by her mother and the Guidance Psychologist who had an opportunity to observe her appearance, manner, habits and behavior, are indicative that she is truly suffering from some degree of mental retardation.

G.R. No. 166470               August 7, 2009CECILIO C. HERNANDEZ, MA. VICTORIA C. HERNANDEZ and NATIVIDAD CRUZ-HERNANDEZ, Petitioners,

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -xG.R. No. 169217CECILIO C. HERNANDEZ, MA. VICTORIA C. HERNANDEZ-SAGUN and TERESA C. HERNANDEZ-VILLA ABRILLE, Petitioners,

With the same facts in the ABS-CBN Ipaglaban mo episode: kakampi


Maria Lourdes San Juan Hernandez (or Lulu) was born on February 14, 1947 to the spouses Felix Hernandez and Maria San Juan Hernandez. Unfortunately, the latter died due to complications during childbirth. After Maria's death, Felix left Lulu in the care of her maternal uncle, Sotero C. San Juan.
Felix married Natividad Cruz. The union produced three children, petitioners Cecilio C. Hernandez, Ma. Victoria C. Hernandez-Sagun and Teresa C. Hernandez-Villa Abrille.
Meanwhile, as the only child of Maria and the sole testate heir of Sotero, Lulu inherited valuable real properties from the San Juan family (conservatively estimated at ₱50 million in 1997).
Lulu went to live with her father and his new family. She was then 10 years old and studying at La Consolacion College. However, due to her "violent personality," Lulu stopped schooling when she reached Grade 5.
Reaching the age of majority, Lulu was given full control of her estate. Nevertheless, because Lulu did not even finish her elementary education, Felix continued to exercise actual administration of Lulu’s properties. Upon Felix's death in 1993, petitioners took over the task of administering Lulu's properties.
Felix allegedly purchased one of Lulu’s properties for an undisclosed amount to develop the Marilou Subdivision.  In 1995, Ma. Victoria informed Lulu that her 11-hectare Montalban, Rizal property was under litigation. Thus, Lulu signed a special power of attorney (SPA) believing that she was authorizing Ma. Victoria to appear in court on her behalf when she was in fact unknowingly authorizing her half-sister to sell the said property to the Manila Electric Company for ₱18,206,400. Thereafter, Cecilio asked Lulu to authorize him to lease her 45-hectare property in Montalban, Rizal to Oxford Concrete Aggregates for ₱58,500 per month so that she could have a car and driver at her disposal.
Lulu sought the assistance of her maternal first cousin, respondent Jovita San Juan-Santos, after learning that petitioners had been dissipating her estate. She confided to Jovita that she was made to live in the basement and receiving a measly daily allowance of ₱400 for her food and medication. Respondent was appalled as Lulu was severely overweight, unkempt and smelled of urine. She later found out that Lulu was occupying a cramped room lit by a single fluorescent lamp without running water. Since she had not been given a proper toilet, Lulu urinated and defecated in the garden. Due to Lulu's poor hygiene, respondent brought her to several physicians for medical examination. Lulu was found to be afflicted with tuberculosis, rheumatism and diabetes from which she was suffering several complications.
Thereafter, the San Juan family demanded an inventory and accounting of Lulu’s estate from petitioners. However, the demand was ignored.
respondent filed a petition for guardianship in the Regional Trial Court (RTC). She alleged that Lulu was incapable of taking care of herself and managing her estate because she was of weak mind.
Medical specialists testified to explain the results of Lulu’s examinations which revealed the alarming state of her health. Not only was Lulu severely afflicted with diabetes mellitus and suffering from its complications, she also had an existing artheroselorotic cardiovascular disease (which was aggravated by her obesity). Furthermore, they unanimously opined that in view of Lulu’s intelligence level (which was below average) and fragile mental state, she would not be able to care for herself and self-administer her medications.
RTC concluded that, due to her weak physical and mental condition, there was a need to appoint a legal guardian over the person and property of Lulu
Petitioners claim that the opinions of Lulu's attending physicians23 regarding her mental state were inadmissible in evidence as they were not experts in psychiatry. Respondent therefore failed to prove that Lulu's illnesses rendered her an incompetent. She should have been presumed to be of sound mind and/or in full possession of her mental capacity. For this reason, Lulu should be allowed to live with them since under Articles 194 to 196 of the Family Code,24 legitimate brothers and sisters, whether half-blood or full-blood are required to support each other fully.


Whether or not opinions of Lulu's attending physicians is not admissible.

Under Section 50, Rule 103 of the Rules of Court, an ordinary witness may give his opinion on the mental sanity of a person with whom he is sufficiently acquainted. Lulu's attending physicians spoke and interacted with her. Such occasions allowed them to thoroughly observe her behavior and conclude that her intelligence level was below average and her mental stage below normal. Their opinions were admissible in evidence.
Furthermore, where the sanity of a person is at issue, expert opinion is not necessary. The observations of the trial judge coupled with evidence establishing the person's state of mental sanity will suffice. Here, the trial judge was given ample opportunity to observe Lulu personally when she testified before the RTC.
Under Section 2, Rule 92 of the Rules of Court, persons who, though of sound mind but by reason of age, disease, weak mind or other similar causes are incapable of taking care of themselves and their property without outside aid, are considered as incompetents who may properly be placed under guardianship. The RTC and the CA both found that Lulu was incapable of taking care of herself and her properties without outside aid due to her ailments and weak mind. Thus, since determining whether or not Lulu is in fact an incompetent would require a reexamination of the evidence presented in the courts a quo, it undoubtedly involves questions of fact.

[G.R. NO. 132164 : October 19, 2004]CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, Petitionerv. ALLYSON BELAGAN, Respondent.

When the credibility of a witness is sought to be impeached by proof of his reputation, it is necessary that the reputation shown should be that which existed before the occurrence of the circumstances out of which the litigation arose, or at the time of the trial and prior thereto, but not at a period remote from the commencement of the suit. This is because a person of derogatory character or reputation can still change or reform himself.


Stemmed from two (2) separate complaints filed respectively by Magdalena Gapuz, founder/directress of the "Mother and Child Learning Center," and Ligaya Annawi, a public school teacher at Fort Del Pilar Elementary School, against respondent Dr. Allyson Belagan, Superintendent of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS), all from Baguio City. Magdalena charged respondent with sexual indignities and harassment, while Ligaya accused him of sexual harassment and various malfeasances.
she filed an application with the DECS Office in Baguio City for a permit to operate a pre-school. One of the requisites for the issuance of the permit was the inspection of the school premises by the DECS Division Office. Since the officer assigned to conduct the inspection was not present, respondent volunteered his services.
In the course of the inspection, while both were descending the stairs of the second floor, respondent suddenly placed his arms around her shoulders and kissed her cheek. Dumbfounded, she muttered, "Sir, is this part of the inspection? Pati ba naman kayo sa DECS wala ng values?" Respondent merely sheepishly smiled. At that time, there were no other people in the area.
Fearful that her application might be jeopardized and that her husband might harm respondent, Magdalena just kept quiet.
Several days later, Magdalena went to the DECS Division Office and asked respondent, "Sir, kumusta yung application ko?" His reply was "Mag-date muna tayo." She declined, explaining that she is married. She then left and reported the matter to DECS Assistant Superintendent Peter Ngabit
she was forced to reveal the incidents to her husband when he asked why the permit has not yet been released. Thereupon, they went to the office of the respondent. He merely denied having a personal relationship with Magdalena.
Ligaya Annawi, she alleged in her complaint that on four separate occasions, respondent touched her breasts, kissed her cheek, touched her groins, embraced her from behind and pulled her close to him, his organ pressing the lower part of her back.
The DECS conducted a joint investigation of the complaints of Magdalena and Ligaya. In his defense, respondent denied their charge of sexual harassment. However, he presented evidence to disprove Ligaya's imputation of dereliction of duty.
DECS Secretary rendered a Joint Decision4 finding respondent guilty. Civil Service Commission (CSC) affirming the Decision of the DECS .
respondent seasonably filed a motion for reconsideration, contending that he has never been charged of any offense in his thirty-seven (37) years of service. By contrast, Magdalena was charged with several offense.
Respondent claimed that the numerous cases filed against Magdalena cast doubt on her character, integrity, and credibility.
CSC denied MR. Respondent then filed with the Court of Appeals a Petition for Review . As stated earlier, it reversed the CSC Resolutions and dismissed Magdalena's complaint.
The Appellate Court held that Magdalena is an unreliable witness, her character being questionable. Given her aggressiveness and propensity for trouble, "she is not one whom any male would attempt to steal a kiss." In fact, her "record immediately raises an alarm in any one who may cross her path."11 In absolving respondent from the charges, the Appellate Court considered his "unblemished" service record for 37 years.

Whether the Court of Appeals erred in not giving credence to the testimony of complainant Magdalena Gapuz despite convincing and overwhelming signs of its truthfulness.

Generally, the character of a party is regarded as legally irrelevant in determining a controversy. One statutory exception is that relied upon by respondent, i.e., Section 51 (a) 3, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence, which we quote here:
"SEC. 51. Character evidence not generally admissible; exceptions. '
(a) In Criminal Cases:
x x x           x x x
(3) The good or bad moral character of the offended party may be proved if it tends to establish in any reasonable degree the probability or improbability of the offense charged."
It will be readily observed that the above provision pertains only to criminal cases, not to administrative offenses. And even assuming that this technical rule of evidence can be applied here, still, we cannot sustain respondent's posture.
Not every good or bad moral character of the offended party may be proved under this provision. Only those which would establish the probability or improbability of the offense charged. This means that the character evidence must be limited to the traits and characteristics involved in the type of offense charged. Thus, on a charge of rape - character for chastity, on a charge of assault - character for peaceableness or violence, and on a charge of embezzlement - character for honesty. In one rape case, where it was established that the alleged victim was morally loose and apparently uncaring about her chastity, we found the conviction of the accused doubtful.
In the present administrative case for sexual harassment, respondent did not offer evidence that has a bearing on Magdalena's chastity. What he presented are charges for grave oral defamation, grave threats, unjust vexation, physical injuries, malicious mischief, etc. filed against her. Certainly, these pieces of evidence are inadmissible under the above provision because they do not establish the probability or improbability of the offense charged.
Obviously, in invoking the above provision, what respondent was trying to establish is Magdalena's lack of credibility and not the probability or the improbability of the charge. In this regard, a different provision applies.
Credibility means the disposition and intention to tell the truth in the testimony given. It refers to a person's integrity, and to the fact that he is worthy of belief.A witness may be discredited by evidence attacking his general reputation for truth, honesty or integrity. Section 11, Rule 132 of the same Revised Rules on Evidence reads:
"SEC. 11. Impeachment of adverse party's witness. 'A witness may be impeached by the party against whom he was called, by contradictory evidence, by evidence that his general reputation for truth, honesty, or integrity is bad, or by evidence that he has made at other times statements inconsistent with his present testimony, but not by evidence of particular wrongful acts, except that it may be shown by the examination of the witness, or the record of the judgment, that he has been convicted of an offense."
Although she is the offended party, Magdalena, by testifying in her own behalf, opened herself to character or reputation attack pursuant to the principle that a party who becomes a witness in his own behalf places himself in the same position as any other witness, and may be impeached by an attack on his character or reputation.23
With the foregoing disquisition, the Court of Appeals is correct in holding that the character or reputation of a complaining witness in a sexual charge is a proper subject of inquiry. This leads us to the ultimate question - is Magdalena's derogatory record sufficient to discredit her credibility?
A careful review of the record yields a negative answer.
First, most of the twenty-two (22) cases filed with the MTC of Baguio City relate to acts committed in the 80's, particularly, 1985 and 1986. Settled is the principle that evidence of one's character or reputation must be confined to a time not too remote from the time in question.24 In other words, what is to be determined is the character or reputation of the person at the time of the trial and prior thereto, but not at a period remote from the commencement of the suit. Hence, to say that Magdalena's credibility is diminished by proofs of tarnished reputation existing almost a decade ago is unreasonable
Second, respondent failed to prove that Magdalena was convicted in any of the criminal cases specified by respondent. The general rule prevailing in a great majority of jurisdictions is that it is not permissible to show that a witness has been arrested or that he has been charged with or prosecuted for a criminal offense, or confined in jail for the purpose of impairing his credibility. This view has usually been based upon one or more of the following grounds or theories: (a) that a mere unproven charge against the witness does not logically tend to affect his credibility, (b) that innocent persons are often arrested or accused of a crime, (c) that one accused of a crime is presumed to be innocent until his guilt is legally established, and (d) that a witness may not be impeached or discredited by evidence of particular acts of misconduct.
General, Magdalena testified in a straightforward, candid and spontaneous manner. Her testimony is replete with details, such as the number of times she and respondent inspected the pre-school, the specific part of the stairs where respondent kissed her, and the matter about her transient boarders during summer
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated January 8, 1998 in CA-G.R. SP No. 44180 is REVERSED. The CSC Resolution Nos. 966213 and 972423 are AFFIRMED.

G.R. No. 139070      May 29, 2002PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. NOEL LEE, accused-appellant.


information was filed against accused-appellant charging him with the crime of murder committed. Accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge. At the trial, the prosecution presented the following witnesses: (a) Herminia Marquez, the mother of the victim; (b) Dr. Darwin Corpuz, a resident doctor at the Manila Caloocan University (MCU) Hospital; (c) PO2 Rodelio Ortiz, a police officer who examined the crime scene; and (d) Dr. Rosaline Cosidon, a medico-legal officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory.
Appellant is a well-known figure in their neighborhood and has several criminal cases pending against him in Caloocan City. He was charged with frustrated homicide in 1984 and attempted murder in 1989.
Trial Court Found accused-appellant guilty.

Whether proof of the bad moral character of the victim is irrelevant to determine the probability or improbability of his killing

Accused-appellant makes capital of Joseph’s bad reputation in their community. He alleges that the victim’s drug habit led him to commit other crimes and he may have been shot by any of the persons from whom he had stolen. As proof of Joseph’s bad character, appellant presented Herminia’s letter to Mayor Malonzo seeking his assistance for Joseph’s rehabilitation from drugs. On rebuttal, Herminia admitted that she wrote such letter to Mayor Malonzo but denied anything about her son’s thievery.
Character evidence is governed by Section 51, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence, viz:
"Section 51. Character evidence not generally admissible; exceptions:--
(a) In Criminal Cases:
(1) The accused may prove his good moral character which is pertinent to the moral trait involved in the offense charged.
(2) Unless in rebuttal, the prosecution may not prove his bad moral character which is pertinent to the moral trait involved in the offense charged.
(3) The good or bad moral character of the offended party may be proved if it tends to establish in any reasonable degree the probability or improbability of the offense charged.
x x x      x x x      x x x."
Character is defined to be the possession by a person of certain qualities of mind and morals, distinguishing him from others. It is the opinion generally entertained of a person derived from the common report of the people who are acquainted with him; his reputation"Good moral character" includes all the elements essential to make up such a character; among these are common honesty and veracity, especially in all professional intercourse; a character that measures up as good among people of the community in which the person lives, or that is up to the standard of the average citizen; that status which attaches to a man of good behavior and upright conduct.
The rule is that the character or reputation of a party is regarded as legally irrelevant in determining a controversy, so that evidence relating thereto is not admissible. Ordinarily, if the issues in the case were allowed to be influenced by evidence of the character or reputation of the parties, the trial would be apt to have the aspects of a popularity contest rather than a factual inquiry into the merits of the case. After all, the business of the court is to try the case, and not the man; and a very bad man may have a righteous cause.34 There are exceptions to this rule however and Section 51, Rule 130 gives the exceptions in both criminal and civil cases.
In criminal cases, sub-paragraph 1 of Section 51 of Rule 130 provides that the accused may prove his good moral character which is pertinent to the moral trait involved in the offense charged. When the accused presents proof of his good moral character, this strengthens the presumption of innocence, and where good character and reputation are established, an inference arises that the accused did not commit the crime charged. This view proceeds from the theory that a person of good character and high reputation is not likely to have committed the act charged against him. Sub-paragraph 2 provides that the prosecution may not prove the bad moral character of the accused except only in rebuttal and when such evidence is pertinent to the moral trait involved in the offense charged. This is intended to avoid unfair prejudice to the accused who might otherwise be convicted not because he is guilty but because he is a person of bad character. The offering of character evidence on his behalf is a privilege of the defendant, and the prosecution cannot comment on the failure of the defendant to produce such evidence. Once the defendant raises the issue of his good character, the prosecution may, in rebuttal, offer evidence of the defendant’s bad character. Otherwise, a defendant, secure from refutation, would have a license to unscrupulously impose a false character upon the tribunal.
Both sub-paragraphs (1) and (2) of Section 51 of Rule 130 refer to character evidence of the accused. And this evidence must be "pertinent to the moral trait involved in the offense charged," meaning, that the character evidence must be relevant and germane to the kind of the act charged, e.g., on a charge of rape, character for chastity; on a charge of assault, character for peacefulness or violence; on a charge for embezzlement, character for honesty and integrity. Sub-paragraph (3) of Section 51 of the said Rule refers to the character of the offended party. Character evidence, whether good or bad, of the offended party may be proved "if it tends to establish in any reasonable degree the probability or improbability of the offense charged." Such evidence is most commonly offered to support a claim of self-defense in an assault or homicide case or a claim of consent in a rape case.
In the Philippine setting, proof of the moral character of the offended party is applied with frequency in sex offenses and homicide. In rape and acts of lasciviousness or in any prosecution involving an unchaste act perpetrated by a man against a woman where the willingness of a woman is material, the woman’s character as to her chastity is admissible to show whether or not she consented to the man’s act. The exception to this is when the woman’s consent is immaterial such as in statutory rape or rape with violence or intimidation. In the crimes of qualified seduction or consented abduction, the offended party must be a "virgin," which is "presumed if she is unmarried and of good reputation," or a "virtuous woman of good reputation." The crime of simple seduction involves "the seduction of a woman who is single or a widow of good reputation, over twelve but under eighteen years of age x x x."  The burden of proof that the complainant is a woman of good reputation lies in the prosecution, and the accused may introduce evidence that the complainant is a woman of bad reputation.
In homicide cases, a pertinent character trait of the victim is admissible in two situations: (1) as evidence of the deceased’s aggression; and (2) as evidence of the state of mind of the accused. The pugnacious, quarrelsome or trouble-seeking character of the deceased or his calmness, gentleness and peaceful nature, as the case may be, is relevant in determining whether the deceased or the accused was the aggressor. When the evidence tends to prove self-defense, the known violent character of the deceased is also admissible to show that it produced a reasonable belief of imminent danger in the mind of the accused and a justifiable conviction that a prompt defensive action was necessary.
In the instant case, proof of the bad moral character of the victim is irrelevant to determine the probability or improbability of his killing. Accused-appellant has not alleged that the victim was the aggressor or that the killing was made in self-defense. There is no connection between the deceased’s drug addiction and thievery with his violent death in the hands of accused-appellant. In light of the positive eyewitness testimony, the claim that because of the victim’s bad character he could have been killed by any one of those from whom he had stolen, is pure and simple speculation.
Moreover, proof of the victim’s bad moral character is not necessary in cases of murder committed with treachery and premeditation. 

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