San Mateo v. People, G.R. No. 200090, March 6, 2013

Facts:

San Mateo bought several assorted yarns from Sehwani and as payment, issued 11 postdated checks.

The two had an agreement that San Mateo would inform Sehwani of when to deposit the checks. Despite this, San Mateo was unable to settle her account and Sehwani sent demand letters to her office and then to her residence. The first letter to her residence was turned away by the security guard at San Mateo’s instruction and the liaison officer left the letter with the security guard. Thereafter, a copy of the demand letter was sent to San Mateo by registered mail which was returned to his counsel’s office with the notation “N/S Party Out 12/12/05” and that San Mateo did not claim it despite three notices to her dated December 12, 2005, December 22, 2005, and January 2, 2006, respectively.

Because of this, the MeTC of Taguig found her guilty of violating BP 22.

Issue: WON San Mateo’s guilt was proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Held:

No. The SC held that to be liable for violation of B.P. 22, the following essential elements must be present: (1) the making, drawing, and issuance of any check to apply for account or for value; (2) the knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of issue he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of the check in full upon its presentment; and (3) the subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or dishonor for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered the bank to stop payment.

But the Court finds that the second element was not sufficiently established. Section 26 of B.P. 22 creates the presumption that the issuer of the check was aware of the insufficiency of funds when he issued a check and the bank dishonored it. This presumption, however, arises only after it is proved that the issuer had received a written notice of dishonor and that, within five days from receipt thereof, he failed to pay the amount of the check or to make arrangements for its payment.

Here, there is no basis in concluding that San Mateo knew of the insufficiency of her funds. While she may have requested Sehwani in her letters dated October 8, 2005 and November 11, 2005, to defer depositing all the checks, with maturity dates of July and August 2005, otherwise, her account will close, such act did not amount to an admission that, when she issued those checks, she knew that she would have no sufficient funds in the drawee bank to pay for them.

It has been the consistent ruling of this Court that receipts for registered letters including return receipts do not themselves prove receipt; they must be properly authenticated to serve as proof of receipt of the letters, claimed to be a notice of dishonor.9 To be sure, the presentation of the registry card with an unauthenticated signature, does not meet the required proof beyond reasonable doubt that the accused received such notice. It is not enough for the prosecution to prove that a notice of dishonor was sent to the accused. The prosecution must also prove actual receipt of said notice, because the fact of service provided for in the law is reckoned from receipt of such notice of dishonor by the accused.

Since there is insufficient proof that San Mateo actually received the notice of dishonor, the presumption that she knew of the insufficiency of her funds cannot arise. For this reason, the Court cannot convict her with moral certainty of violation of B.P. 22.

However, she is still liable for her unpaid account w/ Sehwani subject to the legal interest rate.

Mahawan v. People, G.R. No. 176609, December 18, 2008

Facts:

Accused in this case was convicted of the crime of frustrated homicide in the RTC of Cebu for inflicting gun shot wounds on the complainant, Paradero.

During the trial, the prosecution presented testimony of the victim along with documentary evidence confirming her surgeries for the wounds.

The prosecution claims that on the day of the incident, the victim was tending her store when the accused came by and asked to buy some beer. Responding that there were no more, the victim tried to show the accused her refrigerator. Accused went inside the store and pulled out his gun and shot the victim once. The victim grabbed hold of a nearby knife and tried to defend herself when the accused shot another round that grazed the victim’s earlobe. The accused then left the scene of the crime.

The defense presented the testimony of the accused w/c was corroborated in some parts by his neighbor, Artiaga.

They claim that when the accused went by the store to buy cigarettes, the victim screamed that there was no more and then attacked the accused. During the scuffle, the accused was able to pull out his weapon and shoot the victim in self-defense.

The RTC gave more credence to the prosecution and convicted the accused.

Issue: WON the accused’s guilt was proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Held:

Yes, the SC held that the plea of self-defense on the part of the accused was not clearly and convincingly proven and so must fall.

What is clear is that petitioner was the aggressor during the incident. We have carefully examined the testimony of Paradero and found it to be credible and trustworthy. She testified in a clear and consistent manner during the trial. She was faithful and steadfast in recounting her ordeal despite the grueling cross-examination of the defense. Besides, Paradero testified that petitioner was drunk at the time of the incident. She also declared that she had known petitioner since 1988 and that the latter had, under the influence of alcohol, assaulted several persons. These circumstances reinforce the allegation petitioner’s propensity for harming people when he gets drunk.

On the other hand, petitioner narrated that when he went to Paradero’s store to buy cigarettes, the latter replied in a loud voice that she did not have any stock of cigarettes. Paradero, then holding a knife, suddenly went out of the store and attacked him. This testimony does not inspire belief.

Self-defense is inherently a weak defense because, as experience has demonstrated, it is easy to fabricate and difficult to prove.35 Thus, for this defense to prosper, the accused must prove with clear and convincing evidence the elements of self-defense. He must rely on the strength of his own evidence and not on the weakness of that of the prosecution. Even if the evidence of the prosecution is weak, it cannot be disbelieved if the accused admitted responsibility for the crime charged.36 In the case before us, petitioner failed to prove with plausible evidence all the elements of self-defense. Hence, his plea of self-defense must fail.

Accused is also invoking the equipoise rule but the SC held that they have earlier found the sole testimony of Paradero to be more credible than that of petitioner, even if the latter’s testimony was corroborated by Artiaga on some relevant points. Paradero’s account of the incident was clear and consistent. On the other hand, petitioner’s narration of the incident, though corroborated by Artiaga, hardly inspires belief, as it does not conform to reason and human experience. Further, the RTC and CA upheld the sole testimony of Paradero over that of petitioner. They concluded that petitioner failed to prove his claim of self-defense despite the fact that her testimony was corroborated by Artiaga. Basic is the rule that factual findings of the trial court deserve great weight and respect especially when affirmed by the appellate court.46 We found no compelling reason to disturb the ruling of both courts. Given the foregoing, Paradero’s testimony outweighs the testimonies of petitioner and Artiaga.

Amanquiton v. People, G.R. No. 186080, August 14, 2009

Facts: an Information for violation of Section 10 (a), Article VI, RA5 71606 in relation to Section 5 (j) of R.A. 8369 was filed against petitioner, Amante and Gepulane. The Information read:

The undersigned 2nd Assistant Provincial Prosecutor accuses Julius Amanquiton, Dominador Amante and Gil Gepulane of the crime of Violations of Section 10 (a) Article VI, Republic Act No. 7610 in relation to Section 5 (j) of R.A. No. 8369 committed as follows:

That on the 30th day of October, 2001, in the Municipality of Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused in conspiracy with one another, armed with nightstick, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and use personal violence, a form of physical abuse, upon the person of Leoselie John A. [Bañaga], seventeen (17) years old, a minor, by then and there manhandling him and hitting him with their nightsticks, thus, constituting other acts of child abuse, which is inimical or prejudicial to child’s development, in violation of the above-mentioned law.

On arraignment, petitioner and Amante both pleaded not guilty. Gepulane remains at-large.

RTC found petitioner and Amante guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged. Amanquiton’s motion for reconsideration was denied.8

Petitioner filed a notice of appeal which was given due course

the CA rendered a decision which affirmed the conviction but increased the penalty. Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied.10

Hence, this petition.

Issue: W/N facts of the case as established did not constitute a violation of Section 10 (a), Article VI of RA 7160 and definitely did not prove the guilt of petitioner beyond reasonable doubt.

Held: The RTC and CA hinged their finding of petitioner’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt (of the crime of child abuse) solely on the supposed positive identification by the complainant and his witness (Alimpuyo) of petitioner and his co-accused as the perpetrators of the crime.

We note Bañaga’s statement that, when he was apprehended by petitioner and Amante, there were many people around.15 Yet, the prosecution presented only Bañaga and his aunt, Alimpuyo, as witnesses to the mauling incident itself. Where were the other people who could have testified, in an unbiased manner, on the alleged mauling of Bañaga by petitioner and Amante, as supposedly witnessed by Alimpuyo?16 The testimonies of the two other prosecution witnesses, Dr. Paulito Cruz and Rachelle Bañaga, did not fortify Bañaga’s claim that petitioner mauled him, for the following reasons: Dr. Cruz merely attended to Bañaga’s injuries, while Rachelle testified that she saw Bañaga only after the injuries have been inflicted on him.

We note furthermore that, Bañaga failed to controvert the validity of the barangay blotter he signed regarding the mauling incident which happened prior to his apprehension by petitioner. Neither did he ever deny the allegation that he figured in a prior battery by gang members.

All this raises serious doubt on whether Bañaga’s injuries were really inflicted by petitioner, et al., to the exclusion of other people

We apply the pro reo principle and the equipoise rule in this case. Where the evidence on an issue of fact is in question or there is doubt on which side the evidence weighs, the doubt should be resolved in favor of the accused.18 If inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable of two or more explanations, one consistent with the innocence of the accused and the other consistent with his guilt, then the evidence does not fulfill the test of moral certainty and will not justify a conviction.19

We emphasize that the great goal of our criminal law and procedure is not to send people to the gaol but to do justice. The prosecution’s job is to prove that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Conviction must be based on the strength of the prosecution and not on the weakness of the defense. Thus, when the evidence of the prosecution is not enough to sustain a conviction, it must be rejected and the accused absolved and released at once.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The August 28, 2008 decision and January 15, 2009 resolution of Court of Appeals are reversed and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Julius Amanquiton is hereby ACQUITTED of violation of Section 10 (a), Article VI of RA 7160.

Ong v. Yap, G.R. No. 146797, February 18, 2005

Facts: Respondent Cristina Yap and the spouses Cesar and Ava Gardola were charged of Estafa.

That during the month of June 1991, and for sometime subsequent thereto, in the City of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, conniving and confederating together and mutually helping one another, that [sic] accused Cristina Yap of Majesty Pharmacy and spouses Cesar Gordola and Ava Gordola of Paramount Lending Corporation, with deliberate intent, with intent of gain and by means of false pretenses and fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud, to wit: by falsely pretending to spouses Tomy and Helen Ong and convincing them to invest with Paramount Lending Corporation as the prospect of the returns in terms of interest is bright and higher if compared to the interest rates given by the other banks and that further assuring the said spouses that the money invested will be returned plus interest and inducing the said spouses to entrust to the herein accused the total sum of P7,000,000.00, when in truth and in fact, as the accused very well knew they had no intention of investing the said sum of P7,000,000.00 owned by the herein spouses and that such scheme and other similar deceit were employed merely to obtain possession of the aforesaid sum of money, thereby misappropriating, misapplying and converting to their own personal use and benefit the same and have absconded or run away with the said sum of P7,000,000.00, thus to the damage and prejudice of the said spouses Tomy Ong and Helen Ong in the amount aforestated.

Tommy Ong testified that when they filed the first case against the Gordolas, they were made to believe that Yap had nothing to do with their loss of investment. But when they talked with some people, they were finally convinced that it was the handiwork of Yap that actually caused their loss. They reprimanded Yap, but she denied it, so their last resort was to go to court.[11]

On cross-examination, Tommy Ong testified that it was sometime in September 1991 that Yap introduced him to the Gordolas. He and his wife, along with Yap, went to the house of the Gordolas where they first met Ava Gordola. They met a few occasions before they invested with Paramount Lending Investors, but no friendship was established.[12]

However, Ong subsequently admitted that he testified in Civil Case No. 71128, the case which he filed earlier against the Gordolas, that he met the Gordolas on many occasions, that they (Ongs) were shown the Gordolas big house and different businesses so that they (Ongs) decided to let the Gordolas borrow money.[13]

The prosecution presented, among others, 12 bouncing checks totaling P7,000,000, which amount represents the business investment of the Ongs.[15]

After the prosecution presented its evidence, respondent Yap filed a demurrer to the evidence on the ground of insufficiency of evidence.

The trial court granted the demurrer to evidence. Petitioners appealed the trial courts Order however Respondent Yap opposed the appeal on the ground that said Order granting the demurrer to the evidence amounts to an acquittal; therefore, an appeal is legally barred as it would place her in double jeopardy. Hence this petition

Issue: W/N THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A GRAVE AND REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT FINDING THAT PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE EXISTS TO HOLD THE PRIVATE RESPONDENT CIVILLY LIABLE FOR THE CRIME CHARGED

Held: Section 1, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court provides:

SECTION 1. Preponderance of evidence, how determined. — In civil cases, the party having the burden of proof must establish his case by a preponderance of evidence. In determining where the preponderance or superior weight of evidence on the issues involved lies, the court may consider all the facts and circumstances of the case, the witnesses manner of testifying, their intelligence, their means and opportunity of knowing the facts to which they are testifying, the nature of the facts to which they testify, the probability or improbability of their testimony, their interest or want of interest, and also their personal credibility so far as the same may legitimately appear upon the trial. The court may also consider the number of witnesses, though the preponderance is not necessarily with the greater number.

Preponderance of evidence is the weight, credit, and value of the aggregate evidence on either side and is usually considered to be synonymous with the term greater weight of the evidence or greater weight of the credible evidence.[29] It is evidence which is more convincing to the court as worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto.[30]

In civil cases, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to establish his case by preponderance of evidence.[31] Although the evidence adduced by the plaintiff is stronger than that presented by the defendant, a judgment cannot be entered in favor of the former, if his evidence is not sufficient to sustain his cause of action.[32] The plaintiff must rely on the strength of his own evidence and not upon the weakness of the defendants.[33]

Petitioners contend that there is a preponderance of evidence showing that respondent Yap took part in the defraudation scheme against them as it was Yap who, taking advantage of their trust, induced them to invest their money with the Gordolas by her proddings and assurances.

The Court is not persuaded. As the Court of Appeals held:

Tommy Ongs claim that it was Cristina Yap who induced them to lend money to the spouses Gordolas (pages 11-12, TSN of March 18, 1994) is belied by his (Tommy Ongs) own admission that he lent the money to the spouses Gordolas believing that, they are okay, they were going well in their business, also, their house is quite big also and then we were shown the different businesses that they were engaged in, so we decided to let them borrow the money, in short, the spouses Gordola had the capacity to pay. (page 195 of the Record).[34]

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals, in CA-G.R. CV No. 52194, sustaining the Order of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 10 in Criminal Case No. CBU-31101 holding respondent Cristina Yap not civilly liable to the petitioners, is hereby AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.

Spouses Sevilla v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 150284, November 22, 2010

FACTS:

From the records, it appears that on March 2, 1987, Patricia Villareal, for herself and in behalf of her children, Tricia and Claire Hope Villareal (the Villareals), filed an action for damages against spouses Eliseo and Erna Sevilla (the Sevillas), on account of the killing of her (Patricias) husband, Jose K. Villareal (Jose). It was alleged that Eliseo, said to be a very jealous husband, discovered that his wife, Erna was having an illicit affair with Jose. On the early morning of June 6, 1986, Erna and Jose were caught red-handed having a rendezvous in a parking lot by Eliseo who was just waiting in ambush together with some companions. There, Jose was mauled and shot to death. Because of this incident, the Sevillas started disposing their properties and eventually left for the United States of America with their children. Thereafter, a criminal case for murder was filed against them before the RTC of Makati, but it was archived because they had already left the country. On March 2, 1987, the Villareals filed a civil case for damages against the Sevillas arising from the murder case.

Summons could not be personally served on the Sevillas as they had been residing abroad so service was made by publication in a newspaper of general circulation. The Sevillas failed to file their answer to the complaint and so the trial court declared them in default and allowed the Villareals to present evidence ex parte.

After presenting their evidence ex-parte, the Villareals filed a Motion for Leave to Admit an Amended Complaint and for Extraterritorial Service to implead additional plaintiffs, include additional claims for damages and increase their claims for loss of income and moral and exemplary damages. The RTC admitted their amended complaint and ordered that summons be served anew on the Sevillas. But despite the proper service of summons by publication, the Sevillas failed to file their answer. This prompted the RTC to declare them again in default.

On April 2, 1990, the RTC rendered its decision ordering the Sevillas to pay the Villareals damages, among others, for the death of Jose Villareal. The RTC ruled, among others, that the Villareals were able to establish their cause of action against the Sevillas by preponderance of evidence.

With this adverse ruling, the Sevillas filed a motion to lift order and set aside judgment of default. This was denied by the RTC which prompted them to file a motion for reconsideration and suspension of proceedings while the criminal case against them was pending. Again, the motions were denied by the RTC in its August 10, 1990 order.

Unwilling to accede, the Sevillas elevated the matter to the CA by way of a Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus with Preliminary Injunction.

The CA, on December 23, 1991, set aside the judgment by default and other related orders of the RTC and ordered the admission of the answer of the Sevillas.

On May 22, 2001, the CA rendered a decision affirming the April 2, 1990 RTC decision. The CA ruled, among others, that a chain of factual circumstances all led to the conclusion that the Sevillas, with the help of other men, committed the crime. These were:

1.     The victim was last seen alive with Erna at the 1851 Club located on the 20th floor of the said building;

2.     One of the getaway cars was in fact the same car driven by Erna in going to the scene of the crime;

3.     The car owned by [the Sevillas] was with another car that sped away and attempted to race with a witness car toward the exit of the car park shortly after the shooting;

4.     The cars plate was substituted with the plate number of another car owned by [the Sevillas] upon loading of gasoline;

5.     Despite the close relationship between the victim and the [Sevillas], none of them attended the wake nor offered condolences to the bereaved family;

6.     Erna asked her personal accountant to retrieve her intimate letters to the victim from the victims files;

7.     [The Sevillas] abruptly departed to a foreign country, to the extent of removing their children from school; and

8.     [The Sevillas] failed to appear as they still refuse to appear in the criminal case for the killing of the victim all point to a single conclusion: [The Sevillas] planned and executed the killing and are now in hiding to avoid the legal consequences of their actions.

The Sevillas argue that the CA rendered a decision based on hearsay, incompetent, and inadmissible evidence. They claim that the Villareals failed to prove their case even by circumstantial evidence.

Issue: Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that the Villareals are entitled to an award of damages for the death of Jose Villareal.

HELD:

The Court ruled that the Villareals are entitled to damages.

The Court is convinced that the decision of the courts below are supported by a preponderance of evidence. Section 1, Rule 133 of the Revised Rules of Evidence provides how preponderance of evidence is determined:

Section 1. Preponderance of evidence, how determined. In civil cases, the party having the burden of proof must establish his case by a preponderance of evidence.  In determining where the preponderance or superior weight of evidence on the issues involved lies, the court may consider all the facts and circumstance of the case, the witnesses manner of testifying, their intelligence, their means and opportunity of knowing the facts to which they are testifying, the nature of the facts to which they testify, the probability of their testimony, their interest or want of interest, and also their personal credibility so far as the same may legitimately appear upon the trial.  The court may also consider the number of witnesses, though the preponderance is not necessarily with the greater number.

Preponderance of evidence is the weight, credit, and value of the aggregate evidence on either side and is usually considered to be synonymous with the term greater weight of the evidence or greater weight of the credible evidence. Preponderance of evidence is a phrase which, in the last analysis, means probability of the truth.  It is evidence which is more convincing to the court as worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto. If plaintiff claims a right granted or created by law, he must prove his claim by competent evidence. He must rely on the strength of his own evidence and not upon the weakness of that of his opponent.

Applying said principle in the case at bench, the factual circumstances established by the Villareals through their testimonial and documentary evidences are sufficient and convincing enough to prove that they are entitled to an award of damages for the death of Jose Villareal compared to the bare allegations to the contrary of the Sevillas. These circumstances, which were earlier enumerated, have successfully swayed this Court to believe that indeed the Sevillas are liable for the death of the victim to the exclusion of others except their henchmen.

Furthermore, the Court notes that in the course of their appeal with the CA, the factual conclusions of the RTC were never assailed by the Sevillas. Instead of questioning the facts that would garner them a favorable judgment, what they filed were an urgent motion to resolve one issue that will make all other issues moot and a motion for reconsideration on the sole issue of the extent of the award of unliquidated damages. Consequently, with the filing of these motions, the factual findings of the lower court were deemed admitted.

Ogawa v. Menigishi, G.R. No. 193089, July 9, 2012

FACTS:

Petitioner Roseña Fontelar Ogawa and respondent Elizabeth Gache Menigishi were childhood friends and former residents of Sorsogon City. Respondent married a Japanese national, Tomohito Menigishi (Tomohito), and lived in Japan. Sometime in June 1992, the Menigishis visited the Philippines and introduced Yashoyuki Ogawa (Yashoyuki), Tomohito’s friend, to petitioner. Yashoyuki and petitioner eventually got married in the Philippines and thereafter, also lived in Japan.

On January 26, 2004, petitioner filed a complaint for sum of money, damages, breach of good human relation and unjust enrichment before the RTC against respondent, docketed as Civil Case No. 2004-7299, alleging that the latter borrowed from her the amounts of P15,000.00, P100,000.00 and P8,000.00, in September 2000, August 2001, and March 2003, respectively. Unable to pay, respondent offered to sell her building and its improvements in Sorsogon City to petitioner for a consideration of P1,500,000.00 with the agreement that her outstanding loans with petitioner be deducted from the purchase price and the balance payable in installments.

As partial payment for the properties, petitioner remitted the following amounts to respondent: (a) P150,000.00 through the account of her friend Emma Fulleros on October 23, 2003; and (b) P250,772.90 by way of bank remittance to respondent’s Equitable-PCI Bank Account on December 8, 2003. Having paid huge amounts and in order to protect her proprietary rights, petitioner then demanded for the execution of the corresponding deed of sale, but respondent backed out from the deal and reneged on her obligations.

In her Answer with Counterclaim, respondent specifically denied her indebtedness to petitioner and claimed that it was the latter who owed her 1,000,000.00 Yen, equivalent to about P500,000.00, as evidenced by a receipt. In partial payment of her indebtedness, petitioner, thus, remitted the amounts of P150,000.00 and P250,000.00 to respondent, leaving a balance of P100,000.00. Respondent also sought reimbursement of the advances she allegedly made for the wedding expenses of petitioner and Yashoyuki in the amount of 4,000,000.00 Yen. While she admitted offering her property for sale to petitioner, respondent explained that the sale did not materialize as petitioner failed to produce the stipulated downpayment. By way of counterclaim, respondent prayed for the award of 4,000,000.00 Yen, the balance of petitioner’s purported loan in the amount of P100,000.00; moral and exemplary damages; and attorney’s fees.

The RTC refused to give credence to respondent’s testimony on her counterclaims for being incredible, inconsistent, and contrary to human experience. It likewise disregarded the receipt presented by respondent as proof of petitioner’s purported indebtedness of 1,000,000.00 Yen.

On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTC’s awards of the sums of P150,000.00 and P250,772.90 in favor of petitioner and sustained the denial of respondent’s counterclaim of 4,000,000.00 Yen for lack of evidence. However, it gave probative value to the receipt for 1,000,000.00 Yen and held it sufficient to establish petitioner’s indebtedness to respondent, considering the purported admission of the former’s counsel as well as petitioner’s own failure to specifically deny the same under oath as provided for under Section 8, Rule 8 of the Rules of Court. Consequently, it granted respondent’s counterclaim of 1,000,000.00 Yen.

Issue: Whether or not respondent sufficiently established petitioner’s debt of 1 million pesos.

HELD: (Yung naka italics, baka lang magtanong siya tungkol sa actionable document)

The Court ruled that respondent failed to prove petitioner’s debt of 1 million pesos.

A receipt is defined as a written and signed acknowledgment that money or good was delivered or received. Exhibit 1, upon which respondent relies to support her counterclaim, sufficiently satisfies this definition. It reads in full:


June 13, 2003I receive the total amount of 1,000,000 Yen (x x x)SignedElizabeth MenigishiRoseña Ogawa

However, while indubitably containing the signatures of both parties, a plain reading of the contents of Exhibit 1 negates any inference as to the nature of the transaction for which the 1,000,000 Yen was received and who between the parties is the obligor and the obligee. What is apparent is a mere written and signed acknowledgment that money was received. There are no terms and conditions found therein from which a right or obligation may be established. Hence, it cannot be considered an actionable document upon which an action or defense may be founded.

Consequently, there was no need to deny its genuineness and due execution under oath in accordance with Section 8, Rule 8 of the Rules of Civil Procedure which provides:

Section 8. How to contest such documents. – When an action or defense is founded upon a written instrument, copied in, or attached to the corresponding pleading as provided in the preceding Section, the genuineness and due execution of the instrument shall be deemed admitted unless the adverse party, under oath, specifically denies them, and sets forth what he claims to be the facts; but the requirement of an oath does not apply when the adverse party does not appear to be party to the instrument or when compliance with an order for an inspection of the original is refused.

Corollary thereto, the manifestation made in open court by Atty. Gerona, petitioner’s counsel, cannot be construed as an admission of her liability. The pertinent testimony of respondent and the manifestation of Atty. Gerona on May 18, 2005 read:

Q: Ms. Witness, on the cross-examination, the counsel asked you how come that the signature of Rosena which was marked as EXHIBIT “1-a” and your signature marked as EXHIBIT “1-b” are parallel to each other?

A: Because it was Rosena who made this. I was just made to confirm that she borrowed money from me.

Q: Whose handwriting are these, the wording I received One Million Yen… (interrupted)

ATTY. GERONA: (TO THE COURT)

That is admitted, Your Honor, because the one who usually prepares the receipt is the obligor or the creditor.

It cannot be clearly ascertained who between the two signatories is the obligor and obligee. Atty. Gerona’s statement that the one who usually prepares the receipt is the obligor or the creditor did not conclusively imply that petitioner owed respondent 1,000,000.00 Yen, or vice versa. Hence, absent any other evidence to prove the transaction for which the receipt was issued, the Court cannot consider Exhibit 1 as evidence of a purported loan between petitioner and respondent which the former categorically denied. It is settled that the burden of proof lies with the party who asserts his/her right. In a counterclaim, the burden of proving the existence of the claim lies with the defendant, by the quantum of evidence required by law, which in this case is preponderance of evidence. On this score, Section 1, Rule 133 of the Revised Rules on Evidence provides:

Section 1. Preponderance of evidence, how determined. – In civil cases, the party having the burden of proof must establish his case by a preponderance of evidence. In determining where the preponderance of evidence or superior weight of evidence on the issues involved lies, the court may consider all the facts and circumstance of the case, the witness’ manner of testifying, their intelligence, their means and opportunity of knowing the facts to which they are testifying, the nature of the facts to which they testify, the probability of their testimony, their interest or want of interest, and also their personal credibility so far as the same may legitimately appear upon the trial. The court may also consider the number of witnesses, though the preponderance is not necessarily with the greater number.

“Preponderance of evidence” is the weight, credit, and value of the aggregate evidence on either side and is usually considered to be synonymous with the term “greater weight of evidence” or “greater weight of credible evidence.”

From the evidence on record, it is clear that respondent failed to prove her counterclaim by preponderance of evidence.

Catacutan v. People, G.R. No. 175991, August 31, 2011

FACTS

Private complainant Georgito Posesano was an Instructor II with Salary Grade 13 while private complainant Magdalena Divinagracia was an Education Program Specialist II with Salary Grade 16, both at the Surigao del Norte School of Arts and Trades (SNSAT). The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Caraga Administrative Region, appointed and promoted private complainants as Vocational Instruction Supervisor III with Salary Grade 18 at SNSAT. These promotional appointments were duly approved and attested as permanent by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).  Being then the Officer-in-Charge of SNSAT, the approved appointments were formally transmitted to the petitioner copy furnished the concerned appointees. Despite receipt of the appointment letter, the private complainants were not able to assume their new position since petitioner made known that he strongly opposed their appointments and that he would not implement them despite written orders from CHED and the CSC. Thus, private complainants lodged a formal complaint against petitioner for grave abuse of authority and disrespect of lawful orders before the Office of the Ombudsman for Mindanao.  For his defense, petitioner admitted that he did not implement the promotional appointments of the private complainants because of some procedural lapses or infirmities attending the preparation of the appointment papers. According to him, the appointment papers were prepared by SNSAT Administrative Officer, Crispin Noguera, using blank forms bearing the letterhead of SNSAT and not of the CHED Regional Office who made the appointments. He also averred that the appointment papers cited the entire plantilla instead of only the particular page on which the vacant item occurs. He likewise claimed that he received only the duplicate copies of the appointments contrary to the usual procedure where the original appointment papers and other supporting documents are returned to his office. Finally, he asserted that the transmittal letter from the CHED did not specify the date of effectivity of the appointments. Petitioner alleged that his refusal to implement the appointments of the private complainants was not motivated by bad faith but he just wanted to protect the interest of the government by following strict compliance in the preparation of appointment papers. The RTC rendered its Decision holding that the act of the petitioner in defying the orders of the CHED and the CSC to implement the subject promotional appointments despite the rejection of his opposition, demonstrates his palpable and patent fraudulent and dishonest purpose to do moral obliquity or conscious wrongdoing for some perverse motive or ill will.  On appeal, petitioner’s conviction was affirmed in toto by the Sandiganbayan. The appellate court ruled that the Decision of the trial court, being supported by evidence and firmly anchored in law and jurisprudence, is correct. It held that petitioner failed to show that the trial court committed any reversible error in judgment.

Invoking the constitutional provision on due process,  petitioner argues that the Decision rendered by the trial court is flawed and is grossly violative of his right to be heard and to present evidence. He contends that he was not able to controvert the findings of the trial court since he was not able to present the Court of Appeals’ (CA’s) Decision which denied the administrative case filed against him and declared that his intention in refusing to implement the promotions of the private complainants falls short of malice or wrongful intent.

ISSUE

Whether the petitioner’s constitutional rights  to due process and equal protection of the law  were violated when he was denied the opportunity to present in evidence the Court of Appeals’ Decision dated April 18, 2001

HELD

The petition lacks of merit. Petitioner was not deprived of his right to due process. Petitioner can hardly claim denial of his fundamental right to due process. Records show that petitioner was able to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him, argue his case vigorously, and explain the merits of his defense. To reiterate, as long as a party was given the opportunity to defend his interests in due course, he cannot be said to have been denied due process of law for the opportunity to be heard is the better accepted norm of procedural due process.  There is also no denial of due process when the trial court did not allow petitioner to introduce as evidence the CA Decision. It is well within the court’s discretion to reject the presentation of evidence which it judiciously believes irrelevant and impertinent to the proceeding on hand. This is specially true when the evidence sought to be presented in a criminal proceeding as in this case, concerns an administrative matter. The findings in administrative cases are not binding upon the court trying a criminal case, even if the criminal proceedings are based on the same facts and incidents which gave rise to the administrative matter. The dismissal of a criminal case does not foreclose administrative action or necessarily gives the accused a clean bill of health in all respects. In the same way, the dismissal of an administrative case does not operate to terminate a criminal proceeding with the same subject matter.

At any rate, even assuming that the trial court erroneously rejected the introduction as evidence of the CA Decision, petitioner is not left without legal recourse. Petitioner could have availed of the remedy provided in Section 40, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court (cite the codal provision).

As observed by the appellate court, if the petitioner is keen on having the RTC admit the CA’s Decision for whatever it may be worth, he could have included the same in his offer of exhibits. If an exhibit sought to be presented in evidence is rejected, the party producing it should ask the court’s permission to have the exhibit attached to the record.

Rule 133 Weight and Sufficiency of Evidence

Fortune Tobacco Corporation v. CIR, G.R. No. 192024, July 1, 2015

FACTS

The subject claim for refund involves the amount of excise taxes allegedly overpaid. Petitioner is the manufacturer/producer of cigarette brands, with tax rate classification based on net retail price prescribed under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 4280. Immediately prior to January 1, 1997, the mentioned cigarette brands were subject to ad valorem tax pursuant to then Section 142 of the Tax Code of 1977, as amended. However, on January 1, 1997, R.A. No. 8240 took effect causing a shift from the ad valorem tax (AVT) system to the specific tax system. As a result of such shift, the said cigarette brands were subjected to specific tax under Section 142 thereof, now renumbered as Section 145 of the Tax Code of 1997.  Petitioner filed a claim for tax credit or refund under Section 229 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 (1997 NIRC) for erroneously or illegally collected specific taxes covering the period June to December 31, 2004 in the total amount of Php219,566,450.00. Respondent in his Answer raised among others, as a Special and Affirmative Defense, that the amount of TWO HUNDRED NINETEEN MILLION FIVE HUNDRED SIXTY SIX THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS (Php219,566,450.00) being claimed by petitioner as alleged overpaid excise tax is not properly documented. The Court ruled that there is insufficiency of evidence on the claim for refund. Although both the CTA Division and the CTA En Banc provisionally admitted petitioner’s Exhibit “C,” (Letter Claim for Refund) the mentioned documents, as well as the other documentary evidence submitted by petitioner were refused admission for being merely photocopies.  In this case, petitioner did not even attempt to provide a plausible reason as to why the original copies of the documents presented could not be produced before the CTA or any reason that the application of any of the foregoing exceptions could be justified. Although petitioner presented one (1) witness to prove its claim, it appears that this witness was not even a signatory to any of the disputed documentary evidence. Petitioner posits that if their exhibits, specifically Exhibits “G”, “G-1” to “G-7” and Exhibit “H”, are admitted together with the testimony of their witness, the same would sufficiently prove their claim.

ISSUE

whether or not there is sufficient evidence to warrant the grant of petitioner’s claim for tax refund.

HELD

The petition lacks merit.  Petitioner relied heavily on photocopied documents to prove its claim. Granting that the Court could take a second look and review petitioner’s evidence, the result would be the same.  The claim for refund hinges on the admissibility and the probative value of the f photocopied documents that allegedly contain a recording of petitioner’s excise payments. Petitioner failed to offer any proof or tender of excluded evidence.

It has been repeatedly ruled that where documentary evidence was rejected by the lower court and the offeror did not move that the same be attached to the record, the same cannot be considered by the appellate court,  as documents forming no part of proofs before the appellate court cannot be considered in disposing the case. For the appellate court to consider as evidence, which was not offered by one party at all during the proceedings below, would infringe the constitutional right of the adverse party — in this case, the CIR, to due process of law. In this case, as explained above, petitioner utterly failed to not only comply with the basic procedural requirement of presenting only the original copies of its documentary evidence, but also to adhere to the requirement to properly make its offer of proof or tender of excluded evidence for the proper consideration of the appellate tribunal.

Yu v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 154115, November 29, 2005

Facts:

Viveca Lim Yu (private responden) brought against her husband, Phil Sy Yu (petitioner), an action for legal separation dissolution of conjugal partnership on the grounds of marital infidelity and physical abuse. 

During trial, Private respondent moved for the issuance of subpoena duces tecum and ad testificandum to certain officers of Insular life assurance Co. Ltd to compel production of the insurance policy and application of a person suspected to be petitioners illegitimate child. 

The trial court denied the motion. It ruled that insurance contract is inadmissible evidence inview of Circular letter no. 11-2000, issued by Insurance commission which presumably prevents insurance companies from divulging confidential privileged information pertaining to insurance policies. 

It added that the production of an application and insurance contract would VIOLATE article 280 of the CC and sec 5 of the registry law which prohibit the unauthorized identification of the parents of an illegitimate child.

Private respondent sought to reconsideration but motion was DENIED.

Aggrieved, Private respondent filed a petition for certiorari before the CA, imputing grave abuse of discretion amounting lack or excess of jurisdiction on part of judge hernandez. 

Issue: 

Whether or not a trial court has discretion to deny a party’s motion to attach excluded evidence to the record under section 40, rule 132 of the rules of court 

Held: 

The CA held that the trial court erred in denying party’s motion to attach excluded evidence since it falls within the rule on party’s privilege to tender excluded evidence, as this privilege allows said party to raise on appeal the exclusion of such evidence. 

However the SC stated that before a tender of excluded evidence is made, the evidence must have been formally offered before the court, and that before formal offer of evidence is made, the evidence must have been identified and presented before the court.

While PR made a tender of excluded evidence, such is not the tender contemplated by the rue, for obviously, the insurance policy and application were not formally offered much less presented before the TC. at most the said tender of excluded evidence was a manifestation of an undisputed facts.

Gochan v. Gochan, G.R. No. 143089, February 27, 2003

Facts:

There is no dispute as the antecedent facts that gave rise to the instant petition involving close relatives who are either aunties, nieces and nephews or first-cousins.

The case involves private respondent filing a complaint for specific performance and Damages against petitioners. 

Subsequently petitioners filed their answer with counterclaims and affirmative defenses. Before pre-trial can be conducted, petitioners filed a motion for a hearing on their affirmative defenses some of which are grounds for a motion to dismiss and therefore be subjected of a preliminary hearing pursuant to sec 6 of rule 16 of the rules of court. 

The respondent judge denied petitioner’s motion without conducting a hearing. Respondent judge however did not stop with the denial but went on to RULE on the merits of the affirmative defenses stating as follows: 

  1. Statute of frauds does not apply in this case because the contract which is subject matter of this case is already an executed contract
  2. That statute of frauds applies only to executory contracts
  3. Contention of defendants that the claims of the plaintiff are already extinguished by full payment thereof does not appear to be indubitable because the plaintiffs denied under oath the due execution and genuineness of the receipts given

This prompted petitioners to file a petition for certiorari including a pending a resolution on a motion for reconsideration.

During pendency of such MR Petitioners filed a subsequent motion to the judge to suspend proceedings.

The judge however did not  suspend proceedings and set the case for pre-trial

Atty Lim counsel of petitioners filed to reset trial on the ground that he had a previous commitment in Japan. Atty Espina, who attended the pre-trial to explain Atty Lims absence, manifested to respondent judge that petitioners were willing to explore a possibility of an amicable settlement. 

The judge then replied, that settlement is nil at best. 

Trial ensued and it was here that Atty Lim again filed a motion praying to reset hearing due to medical tests and treatment and that his law partner Atty Espina would also not be able to attend in his behalf because the latter had to attend his brothers wedding in Leyte. 

The motion to reset was disregarded however and trial still proceeded 

Peitioners filed a motion to inhibit judge from further sittin in the case on the grounds of partiality, pre-judgement and gross ignorance of the law. (but was denied) 

MR was filed but was also denied. 

The CA opined that Judge Dicdican displayed petulance and impatience in his handling of the case, a norm of behavior inconsistent with the cold neutrality of an impartial judge.

Issue:

Whether or not  Judge Dicdican should be inhibited from the case

Held:

The Supreme Court held that it cannot see how judge Dicdican’s actions translate to bias and partiality. 

In his order, judge dicdican admitted documentary evidence of plaintiffs. He allowed parties to be heard and that he decided the case based on their submissions.

We do not agree, either, with the CA finding that the petitioners witnesses were allowed to answer all questions asked of them, even if respondent judge had not yet ruled on the applicability of statute of frauds

Aside from the fact that these objections are sweeping and unsubstantiated, they should have raised before the trial judge himself based on the provisions provided in Rule 132 on the rules of evidence on striking out of answers. 

Respondents have not shown that they were in any way denied their right to object to questions propounded in the course of the hearing.