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Digest: Patula vs. People

G.R. No. 164457               April 11, 2012



·         Petitioner was charged of estafa, for being then a saleswoman of Footlucker’s Chain of Stores, Inc., Dumaguete City, having collected and received the total sum of ₱131,286.97 from several customers of said company under the express obligation to account for the proceeds of the sales and deliver the collection to the said company, but far from complying with her obligation and after a reasonable period of time despite repeated demands therefore, and with intent to defraud the said company, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously fail to deliver the said collection to the said company but instead, did, then and there willfully unlawfully and feloniously misappropriate, misapply and convert the proceeds of the sale to her own use and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of the said company in the aforesaid amount of ₱131,286.97.

·         Petitioner pled not guilty to the offense charged in the information. At pre-trial, no stipulation of facts was had, and petitioner did not avail herself of plea bargaining. 



To elucidate why the Prosecution’s hearsay evidence was unreliable and untrustworthy, and thus devoid of probative value, reference is made toSection 36 of Rule 130, Rules of Court, a rule that states that a witness can testify only to those facts that she knows of her personal knowledge; that is, which are derived from her own perception, except as otherwise provided in the Rules of Court. The personal knowledge of a witness is a substantive prerequisite for accepting testimonial evidence that establishes the truth of a disputed fact. A witness bereft ofpersonal knowledge of the disputed fact cannot be called upon for that purpose because her testimony derives its value not from the credit accorded to her as a witness presently testifying but from the veracity and competency of the extrajudicial source of her information.

In case a witness is permitted to testify based on what she has heard another person say about the facts in dispute, the person from whom the witness derived the information on the facts in dispute is not in court and under oath to be examined and cross-examined. The weight of such testimony thendepends not upon theveracity of the witness but upon the veracity of the other person giving the information to the witness without oath. The information cannot be tested because the declarant is not standing in court as a witness andcannot, therefore, be cross-examined.

It is apparent, too, that a person who relates a hearsay is not obliged to enter into any particular, to answer any question, to solve any difficulties, to reconcile any contradictions, to explain any obscurities, to remove any ambiguities; and that she entrenches herself in the simple assertion that she was told so, and leaves the burden entirely upon the dead or absent author.Thus, the rule against hearsay testimony rests mainly on the ground that there was no opportunity to cross-examine the declarant. The testimony may have been given under oath and before a court of justice, but if it is offered against a party who is afforded no opportunity to cross-examine the witness, it is hearsay just the same.

Moreover, the theory of the hearsay rule is that when a human utterance is offered as evidence of the truth of the fact asserted, the credit of the assertor becomes the basis of inference, and, therefore, the assertion can be received as evidence only when made on the witness stand, subject to the test of cross-examination. However, if an extrajudicial utterance is offered, not as an assertion to prove the matter asserted but without reference to the truth of the matter asserted, the hearsay rule does not apply. For example, in a slander case, if a prosecution witness testifies that he heard the accused say that the complainant was a thief, this testimony is admissible not to prove that the complainant was really a thief, but merely to show that the accused uttered those words.This kind of utterance ishearsay in character but is not legal hearsay.The distinction is, therefore, between (a) the fact that the statement was made, to which the hearsay rule does not apply, and (b) the truth of the facts asserted in the statement, to which the hearsay rule applies.

Section 36, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court is understandably not the only rule that explains why testimony that is hearsay should be excluded from consideration. Excluding hearsay also aims to preserve the right of the opposing party to cross-examine the originaldeclarant claiming to have a direct knowledge of the transaction or occurrence. If hearsay is allowed, the right stands to be denied because the declarant is not in court. It is then to be stressed that the right to cross-examine the adverse party’s witness,

being the only means of testing the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies, is essential to the administration of justice.


To address the problem of controlling inadmissible hearsay as evidence to establish the truth in a dispute while also safeguardinga party’s right to cross-examine her adversary’s witness,the Rules of Court offers two solutions. The firstsolution is to require that allthe witnesses in a judicial trial or hearing be examined only in courtunder oath or affirmation. Section 1, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court formalizes this solution,viz:

Section 1. Examination to be done in open court. - The examination of witnesses presented in a trial or hearing shall be done in open court, and under oath or affirmation. Unless the witness is incapacitated to speak, or the question calls for a different mode of answer, the answers of the witness shall be given orally. (1a)

The secondsolution is to require that all witnesses besubject to the cross-examination by the adverse party. Section 6, Rule 132 of the Rules of Courtensuresthis solutionthusly:

Section 6. Cross-examination; its purpose and extent. – Upon the termination of the direct examination, the witness may be cross-examined by the adverse party as to any matters stated in the direct examination, or connected therewith, with sufficient fullness and freedom to test his accuracy and truthfulness and freedom from interest or bias, or the reverse, and to elicit all important facts bearing upon the issue. (8a)

Although the second solution traces its existence to a Constitutional precept relevant to criminal cases, i.e., Section 14, (2), Article III, of the 1987 Constitution,which guarantees that: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall xxx enjoy the right xxx to meet the witnesses face to face xxx," the rule requiring the cross-examination by the adverse party equally applies to non-criminal proceedings.

We thus stress that the rule excluding hearsay as evidence is based upon serious concerns about the trustworthiness and reliability of hearsay evidence due to its not being given under oath or solemn affirmation and due to its not being subjected to cross-examination by the opposing counsel to test the perception, memory, veracity and articulateness of the out-of-court declarant or actor upon whose reliability the worth of the out-of-court statement depends.

Based on the foregoing considerations, Guivencan’s testimony as well as Exhibits B to YY, and their derivatives, inclusive, must be entirely rejected as proof of petitioner’s misappropriation or conversion.




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