Sometime in 1999, Amos Francia was enticed by Ms. Lalaine Alcaraz, the bank manager of Westmont Bank, to make an investment with Wincorp, the banks financial investment arm, as it was offering interest rates that were 3% to 5% higher than regular bank interest rates. Due to the promise of a good return of investment, he was convinced to invest. He even invited his sister, Cecilia Zamora and his brother, Benjamin Francia, to join him. Eventually, they placed their investment in the amounts of ₱1,420,352.72 and ₱2,522,745.34 with Wincorp in consideration of a net interest rate of 11% over a 43-day spread. Thereafter, Wincorp, through Westmont Bank, issued Official Receipt Nos. 470844 and 470845, both dated January 27, 2000, evidencing the said transactions.
When the 43-day placement matured, the Francias wanted to retire their investments but they were told that Wincorp had no funds. Constrained, they demanded from Pearlbank their investments. There were several attempts to settle the case, but all proved futile.
Amos P. Francia, Jr., Cecilia Zamora and Benjamin Francia (the Francias) filed a Complaint for Collection of Sum of Money and Damages arising from their investments against petitioner Westmont Investment Corporation (Wincorp) and respondent Pearlbank Securities Inc. (Pearlbank) before the RTC.
After all the exhibits of the Francias were admitted for the purposes they were offered, the Francias rested their case.
Thereafter, the case was set for the presentation of the defense evidence of Wincorp. On March 7, 2003, three (3) days before the scheduled hearing, Wincorp filed a written motion to postpone the hearing on even date, as its witness, Antonio T. Ong, was unavailable because he had to attend a congressional hearing. Wincorps substitute witness, Atty. Nemesio Briones, was likewise unavailable due to a previous commitment in the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The RTC denied Wincorps Motion to Postpone and considered it to have waived its right to present evidence.[
Pearlbank filed its Demurrer to Evidence. Which the court granted. the RTC rendered a decision in favor of the Francias and held Wincorp solely liable to them.
Wincorp appealed. But was denied.
CA states that Section 34, Rule 132 of the Rules on Evidence states that:
The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. The purpose for which the evidence is offered must be specified.
A formal offer is necessary because judges are mandated to rest their findings of facts and their judgment only and strictly upon the evidence offered by the parties at the trial. Its function is to enable the trial judge to know the purpose or purposes for which the proponent is presenting the evidence. On the other hand, this allows opposing parties to examine the evidence and object to its admissibility. Moreover, it facilitates review as the appellate court will not be required to review documents not previously scrutinized by the trial court. Evidence not formally offered during the trial can not be used for or against a party litigant. Neither may it be taken into account on appeal.
The rule on formal offer of evidence is not a trivial matter. Failure to make a formal offer within a considerable period of time shall be deemed a waiver to submit it. Consequently, any evidence that has not been offered shall be excluded and rejected.
Prescinding therefrom, the very glaring conclusion is that all the documents attached in the motion for reconsideration of the decision of the trial court and all the documents attached in the defendant-appellants brief filed by defendant-appellant Wincorp cannot be given any probative weight or credit for the sole reason that the said documents were not formally offered as evidence in the trial court because to consider them at this stage will deny the other parties the right to rebut them.
Issue: whether or not the CA is correct in finding Wincorp solely liable to pay the Francias the amount of ₱3,984,062.47 plus interest of 11% per annum.
It bears stressing too that all the documents attached by Wincorp to its pleadings before the CA cannot be given any weight or evidentiary value for the sole reason that, as correctly observed by the CA, these documents were not formally offered as evidence in the trial court. To consider them now would deny the other parties the right to examine and rebut them. Section 34, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court provides:
Section 34. Offer of evidence The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. The purpose for which the evidence is offered must be specified.
The offer of evidence is necessary because it is the duty of the court to rest its findings of fact and its judgment only and strictly upon the evidence offered by the parties. Unless and until admitted by the court in evidence for the purpose or purposes for which such document is offered, the same is merely a scrap of paper barren of probative weight.
The Court cannot, likewise, disturb the findings of the RTC and the CA as to the evidence presented by the Francias. It is elementary that objection to evidence must be made after evidence is formally offered. It appears that Wincorp was given ample opportunity to file its Comment/Objection to the formal offer of evidence of the Francias but it chose not to file any