DBP Pool vs Radio Mindanao (G.R. NO. 147039 January 27, 2006)

DBP Pool of Accredited Insurance Companies vs Radio Mindanao Network Inc
G.R. NO. 147039 January 27, 2006

Facts: In the evening of July 27, 1988, respondents radio station located in SSS Building, Bacolod City, was razed by fire causing damage in the amount of P 1,044,040.00. Respondent sought recovery under the two insurance policies but the claims were denied on the ground that the cause of loss was an excepted risk excluded under condition no. 6 (c) and (d), to wit: 6. This insurance does not cover any loss or damage occasioned by or through or in consequence, directly or indirectly, of any of the following consequences, namely: (c) War, invasion, act of foreign enemy, hostilities, or warlike operations (whether war be declared or not), civil war. (d) Mutiny, riot, military or popular rising, insurrection, rebellion, revolution, military or usurped power. The insurance companies maintained that the evidence showed that the fire was caused by members of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New Peoples Army (CPP/NPA); and consequently, denied the claims. Hence, respondent was constrained to file Civil Case No. 90-602 against petitioner and Provident.

Issue: Whether or not the testimonies of the by standers can be admitted as part of res gestae.

Held: No. A witness can testify only to those facts which he knows of his personal knowledge, which means those facts which are derived from his perception. A witness may not testify as to what he merely learned from others either because he was told or read or heard the same. Such testimony is considered hearsay and may not be received as proof of the truth of what he has learned. The hearsay rule is based upon serious concerns about the trustworthiness and reliability of hearsay evidence inasmuch as such evidence are not given under oath or solemn affirmation and, more importantly, have not been subjected to cross-examination by opposing counsel to test the perception, memory, veracity and articulateness of the out-of-court declarant or actor upon whose reliability on which the worth of the out-of-court statement depends.

Res gestae, as an exception to the hearsay rule, refers to those exclamations and statements made by either the participants, victims, or spectators to a crime immediately before, during, or after the commission of the crime, when the circumstances are such that the statements were made as a spontaneous reaction or utterance inspired by the excitement of the occasion and there was no opportunity for the declarant to deliberate and to fabricate a false statement. The rule in res gestae applies when the declarant himself did not testify and provided that the testimony of the witness who heard the declarant complies with the following requisites: (1) that the principal act, the res gestae, be a startling occurrence; (2) the statements were made before the declarant had the time to contrive or devise a falsehood; and (3) that the statements must concern the occurrence in question and its immediate attending circumstances.

The Court is not convinced to accept the declarations as part of res gestae. While it may concede that these statements were made by the bystanders during a startling occurrence, it cannot be said however, that these utterances were made spontaneously by the bystanders and before they had the time to contrive or devise a falsehood. Both SFO III Rochar and Lt. Col. Torres received the bystanders statements while they were making their investigations during and after the fire. It is reasonable to assume that when these statements were noted down, the bystanders already had enough time and opportunity to mill around, talk to one another and exchange information, not to mention theories and speculations, as is the usual experience in disquieting situations where hysteria is likely to take place. It cannot therefore be ascertained whether these utterances were the products of truth. That the utterances may be mere idle talk is not remote.

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