Macasaet vs Co (G.R. No. 156759 June 5, 2013)

Macasaet etal vs Co
G.R. No. 156759 June 5, 2013

Facts: On July 3, 2000, respondent, a retired police officer assigned at the Western Police District in Manila, sued Abante Tonite, a daily tabloid of general circulation; its Publisher Allen A. Macasaet; its Managing Director Nicolas V. Quijano; its Circulation Manager Isaias Albano; its Editors Janet Bay, Jesus R. Galang and Randy Hagos; and its Columnist/Reporter Lily Reyes (petitioners), claiming damages because of an allegedly libelous article petitioners published in the June 6, 2000 issue of Abante Tonite. The suit, docketed as Civil Case No. 0097907, was raffled to Branch 51 of the RTC, which in due course issued summons to be served on each defendant, including Abante Tonite, at their business address at Monica Publishing Corporation, 301-305 3rd Floor, BF Condominium Building, Solana Street corner A. Soriano Street, Intramuros, Manila. In the morning of September 18, 2000, RTC Sheriff Raul Medina proceeded to the stated address to effect the personal service of the summons on the defendants. But his efforts to personally serve each defendant in the address were futile because the defendants were then out of the office and unavailable. He returned in the afternoon of that day to make a second attempt at serving the summons, but he was informed that petitioners were still out of the office. He decided to resort to substituted service of the summons, and explained why in his sheriff’s return dated September 22, 2005.

Issue: Whether or not jurisdiction over the petitioners have been acquired.

Held: Yes. Jurisdiction over the person, or jurisdiction in personam –the power of the court to render a personal judgment or to subject the parties in a particular action to the judgment and other rulings rendered in the action – is an element of due process that is essential in all actions, civil as well as criminal, except in actions in rem or quasi in rem. Jurisdiction over the defendant in an action in rem or quasi in rem is not required, and the court acquires jurisdiction over an action as long as it acquires jurisdiction over the res that is the subject matter of the action. The purpose of summons in such action is not the acquisition of jurisdiction over the defendant but mainly to satisfy the constitutional requirement of due process.

The distinctions that need to be perceived between an action in personam, on the one hand, and an action in rem or quasi in rem, on the other hand, are aptly delineated in Domagas v. Jensen, thusly:

The settled rule is that the aim and object of an action determine its character. Whether a proceeding is in rem, or in personam, or quasi in rem for that matter, is determined by its nature and purpose, and by these only. A proceeding in personam is a proceeding to enforce personal rights and obligations brought against the person and is based on the jurisdiction of the person, although it may involve his right to, or the exercise of ownership of, specific property, or seek to compel him to control or dispose of it in accordance with the mandate of the court. The purpose of a proceeding in personam is to impose, through the judgment of a court, some responsibility or liability directly upon the person of the defendant. Of this character are suits to compel a defendant to specifically perform some act or actions to fasten a pecuniary liability on him. An action in personam is said to be one which has for its object a judgment against the person, as distinguished from a judgment against the property to determine its state. It has been held that an action in personam is a proceeding to enforce personal rights or obligations; such action is brought against the person. As far as suits for injunctive relief are concerned, it is well-settled that it is an injunctive act in personam. In Combs v. Combs, the appellate court held that proceedings to enforce personal rights and obligations and in which personal judgments are rendered adjusting the rights and obligations between the affected parties is in personam. Actions for recovery of real property are in personam.

On the other hand, a proceeding quasi in rem is one brought against persons seeking to subject the property of such persons to the discharge of the claims assailed. In an action quasi in rem, an individual is named as defendant and the purpose of the proceeding is to subject his interests therein to the obligation or loan burdening the property. Actions quasi in rem deal with the status, ownership or liability of a particular property but which are intended to operate on these questions only as between the particular parties to the proceedings and not to ascertain or cut off the rights or interests of all possible claimants. The judgments therein are binding only upon the parties who joined in the action.

As a rule, Philippine courts cannot try any case against a defendant who does not reside and is not found in the Philippines because of the impossibility of acquiring jurisdiction over his person unless he voluntarily appears in court; but when the case is an action in rem or quasi in rem enumerated in Section 15, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court, Philippine courts have jurisdiction to hear and decide the case because they have jurisdiction over the res, and jurisdiction over the person of the non-resident defendant is not essential. In the latter instance, extraterritorial service of summons can be made upon the defendant, and such extraterritorial service of summons is not for the purpose of vesting the court with jurisdiction, but for the purpose of complying with the requirements of fair play or due process, so that the defendant will be informed of the pendency of the action against him and the possibility that property in the Philippines belonging to him or in which he has an interest may be subjected to a judgment in favor of the plaintiff, and he can thereby take steps to protect his interest if he is so minded. On the other hand, when the defendant in an action in personam does not reside and is not found in the Philippines, our courts cannot try the case against him because of the impossibility of acquiring jurisdiction over his person unless he voluntarily appears in court.

As the initiating party, the plaintiff in a civil action voluntarily submits himself to the jurisdiction of the court by the act of filing the initiatory pleading. As to the defendant, the court acquires jurisdiction over his person either by the proper service of the summons, or by a voluntary appearance in the action.

The significance of the proper service of the summons on the defendant in an action in personam cannot be overemphasized. The service of the summons fulfills two fundamental objectives, namely: (a) to vest in the court jurisdiction over the person of the defendant; and (b) to afford to the defendant the opportunity to be heard on the claim brought against him. As to the former, when jurisdiction in personam is not acquired in a civil action through the proper service of the summons or upon a valid waiver of such proper service, the ensuing trial and judgment are void. If the defendant knowingly does an act inconsistent with the right to object to the lack of personal jurisdiction as to him, like voluntarily appearing in the action, he is deemed to have submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court. As to the latter, the essence of due process lies in the reasonable opportunity to be heard and to submit any evidence the defendant may have in support of his defense. With the proper service of the summons being intended to afford to him the opportunity to be heard on the claim against him, he may also waive the process. In other words, compliance with the rules regarding the service of the summons is as much an issue of due process as it is of jurisdiction.

Under the Rules of Court, the service of the summons should firstly be effected on the defendant himself whenever practicable. Such personal service consists either in handing a copy of the summons to the defendant in person, or, if the defendant refuses to receive and sign for it, in tendering it to him. The rule on personal service is to be rigidly enforced in order to ensure the realization of the two fundamental objectives earlier mentioned. If, for justifiable reasons, the defendant cannot be served in person within a reasonable time, the service of the summons may then be effected either (a) by leaving a copy of the summons at his residence with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein, or (b) by leaving the copy at his office or regular place of business with some competent person in charge thereof. The latter mode of service is known as substituted service because the service of the summons on the defendant is made through his substitute.

There is no question that Sheriff Medina twice attempted to serve the summons upon each of petitioners in person at their office address, the first in the morning of September 18, 2000 and the second in the afternoon of the same date. Each attempt failed because Macasaet and Quijano were “always out and not available” and the other petitioners were “always roving outside and gathering news.” After Medina learned from those present in the office address on his second attempt that there was no likelihood of any of petitioners going to the office during the business hours of that or any other day, he concluded that further attempts to serve them in person within a reasonable time would be futile. The circumstances fully warranted his conclusion. He was not expected or required as the serving officer to effect personal service by all means and at all times, considering that he was expressly authorized to resort to substituted service should he be unable to effect the personal service within a reasonable time. In that regard, what was a reasonable time was dependent on the circumstances obtaining. While we are strict in insisting on personal service on the defendant, we do not cling to such strictness should the circumstances already justify substituted service instead. It is the spirit of the procedural rules, not their letter, that governs.

Sotto vs Palicte ( G.R. No. 159691 June 13, 2013)

Heirs of Marcelo Sotto vs Palicte
G.R. No. 159691 June 13, 2013

Facts: Filemon had four children, namely: Marcelo Sotto (Marcelo), Pascuala SottoPahang (Pascuala), Miguel Barcelona (Miguel), and Matilde. Marcelo was the administrator of the Estate of Sotto. Marcelo and Miguel were the predecessorsin-interest of petitioners. In June 1967, Pilar Teves (Pilar) and other heirs of Carmen Rallos (Carmen), the deceased wife of Filemon, filed in the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Cebu City a complaint against the Estate of Sotto (Civil Case No. R-10027) seeking to recover certain properties that Filemon had inherited from Carmen, and damages. The CFI rendered judgment awarding to Pilar and other heirs of Carmen damages of P233,963.65, among other reliefs. To satisfy the monetary part of the judgment, levy on execution was effected against six parcels of land and two residential houses belonging to the Estate of Sotto. The levied assets were sold at a public auction. Later on, Matilde redeemed four of the parcels of land in her own name (i.e., Lots No. 1049, No. 1051, No. 1052 and No. 2179-C), while her sister Pascuala redeemed one of the two houses because her family was residing there. On July 9, 1980, the Deputy Provincial Sheriff of Cebu executed a deed of redemption in favor of Matilde, which the Clerk of Court approved. On July 24, 1980, Matilde filed in Civil Case No. R-10027 a motion to transfer to her name the title to the four properties. However, the CFI denied her motion, and instead declared the deed of redemption issued in her favor null and void, holding that Matilde, although declared in Special Proceedings No. 2706-R as one of the heirs of Filemon, did not qualify as a successor-in-interest with the right to redeem the four properties. Matilde directly appealed the adverse ruling to the Court via petition for review, and on September 21, 1987, the Court, reversing the CFI’s ruling, granted Matilde’s petition for review but allowed her co-heirs the opportunity to join Matilde as co-redemptioners for a period of six months before the probate court (i.e., RTC of Cebu City, Branch 16) would grant her motion to transfer the title to her name. In November 1998, the heirs of Miguel filed a motion for reconsideration in Civil Case No. R-10027 of the RTC of Cebu City, Branch 16, praying that the order issued on October 5, 1989 be set aside, and that they be included as Matilde’s co-redemptioners. After the RTC denied the motion for reconsideration for its lack of merit on April 25, 2000, they assailed the denial by petition for certiorari and prohibition (C.A.-G.R. SP No. 60225). The CA dismissed the petition for certiorari and prohibition on January 10, 2002. Thereafter, they elevated the matter to the Court via petition for certiorari (G.R. No. 154585), which the Court dismissed on September 23, 2002 for being filed out of time and for lack of merit. On September 10, 1999, the heirs of Marcelo, specifically: Lolibeth Sotto Noble, Danilo C. Sotto, Cristina C. Sotto, Emmanuel C. Sotto, Filemon C. Sotto, and Marcela C. Sotto; and the heirs of Miguel, namely: Alberto, Arturo and Salvacion, all surnamed Barcelona (herein petitioners), instituted the present action for partition against Matilde in the RTC of Cebu City, Branch 20 (Civil Case No. CEB24293).2 Alleging in their complaint that despite the redemption of the four properties having been made in the sole name of Matilde, the four properties still rightfully belonged to the Estate of Sotto for having furnished the funds used to redeem the properties, they prayed that the RTC declare the four properties as the assets of the Estate of Sotto, and that the RTC direct their partition among the heirs of Filemon.

Issue: Whether or not res judicata is applicable in the case at bar.

Held: Yes. All these judgments and order upholding Matilde’s exclusive ownership of the subject properties became final and executory except the action for partition which is still pending in this Court. The judgments were on the merits and rendered by courts having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties. There is substantial identity of parties considering that the present case and the previous cases involve the heirs of Filemon.

There is identity of parties not only when the parties in the case are the same, but also between those in privity with them, such as between their successors-in-interest. Absolute identity of parties is not required, and where a shared identity of interest is shown by the identity of relief sought by one person in a prior case and the second person in a subsequent case, such was deemed sufficient. There is identity of causes of action since the issues raised in all the cases essentially involve the claim of ownership over the subject properties. Even if the forms or natures of the actions are different, there is still identity of causes of action when the same facts or evidence support and establish the causes of action in the case at bar and in the previous cases.

Res judicata exists when as between the action sought to be dismissed and the other action these elements are present, namely; (1) the former judgment must be final; (2) the former judgment must have been rendered by a court having jurisdiction of the subject matter and the parties; (3) the former judgment must be a judgment on the merits; and (4) there must be between the first and subsequent actions (i) identity of parties or at least such as representing the same interest in both actions; (ii) identity of subject matter, or of the rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts; and, (iii) identity of causes of action in both actions such that any judgment that may be rendered in the other action will, regardless of which party is successful, amount to res judicata in the action under consideration.

The first three elements were present. The decision of the Court in G.R. No. 55076 (the first case), the decision of the Court in G.R. No. 131722 (the second case), the order dated October 5, 1989 of the RTC in Civil Case No. R-10027 as upheld by the Court in G.R. No. 154585 (the third case), and the decision in G.R. No. 158642 (the fourth case) – all of which dealt with Matilde’s right to the four properties – had upheld Matilde’s right to the four properties and had all become final. Such rulings were rendered in the exercise of the respective courts’ jurisdiction over the subject matter, and were adjudications on the merits of the cases.

Philworth vs PCIB (G.R. No. 161878 June 05, 2013)

Philworth Asia’s Inc vs Philippine Commercial International Bank
G.R. No. 161878 June 05, 2013

Facts: On May 31, 1991, the former Philippine Commercial International Bank (PCIB) sued petitioners in the RTC to recover upon an unpaid debt (Civil Case No. 911536), alleging that on September 22, 1988, petitioner Philworth Asia, Inc. (Philworth) had borrowed P270,000.00 from PCIB to be paid on or before November 8, 1988 in accordance with a promissory note; that petitioners Spouses Luisito and Elizabeth Mactal (Mactals) and Spouses Luis and Eloisa Reyes (Reyeses) had executed a deed of suretyship binding themselves to pay Philworth’s obligations under the promissory note should Philworth refuse to perform its obligation; that Philworth had paid only partially, leaving an unpaid balance of P225,533.33, inclusive of interest and penalty charges; that Philworth had not paid its balance despite repeated demands; and that attempts to collect from the Mactals and Reyeses had likewise failed. On July 5, 1991, the Reyeses filed their answer with special and affirmative defenses, specifically countering that PCIB had no cause of action against them; that Luis Reyes had signed the promissory note as an employee of Philworth, but had not signed the deed of suretyship in November 1988 because he had already resigned from Philworth on October 16, 1988; that Luisito Mactal, the President and General Manager of Philworth, should be the person liable under the deed of suretyship; that PCIB had not made demands upon all the parties; and that PCIB did not exhaust all the available properties of Philworth before bringing the suit also against them. JUNE2013 In their answer filed on August 20, 1991, the Mactals averred that the defendants had substantially paid their obligation, but that PCIB had unreasonably refused to properly account for and credit the payments; that PCIB had been charging exorbitant and unconscionable interest, penalties and other charges; and that if the previous payments were duly credited, the unpaid balance would only be minimal. The first pre-trial conference, which was set on May 19, 1994, was moved several times afterwards, until the parties were notified that the conference would finally be held on April 25, 1995. On April 3, 1995, petitioners sought the transfer of the conference of April 25, 1995 to May 2, 1995. They later on further moved for the conference to be held on May 12, 1995. But no conference was held on May 12, 1995. Instead, the conference was reset on two later dates, i.e., June 2, 1995 and July 21, 1995. Although petitioners again moved to reset the conference on June 1, 1995, the RTC denied petitioners’ motion for postponement on June 2, 1995, and declared them as in default because of their non-appearance and allowed PCIB to present evidence ex parte.

Issue: Whether or not petitioners were denied due process.

Held: No. It is basic that as long as a party is given the opportunity to defend his interest in due course, he would have no reason to complain, for it is this opportunity to be heard that makes up the essence of due process. Where opportunity to be heard, either through oral argument or through pleadings, is accorded there can be no denial of procedural due process. The most basic tenet of due process is the right to be heard. Where a party had been afforded an opportunity to participate in the proceedings but failed to do so, he cannot complain of deprivation of due process.

Due process is satisfied as long as the party is accorded an opportunity to be heard. If it is not availed of, it is deemed waived or forfeited without violating the Bill of Rights.

Petitioners were not denied their right to be heard. As outlined above, the RTC set the case several times for the pre-trial and the trial. In so doing, the RTC undeniably relaxed the rigid application of the rules of procedure out of its desire to afford to petitioners the opportunity to fully ventilate their side on the merits of the case. The RTC thereby acted with liberality. This was in line with the time honored principle that cases should be decided only after giving all the parties the chance to argue and prove their respective sides. Here, however, they apparently stretched the limits of the RTC’s liberality, to the point of abusing it. A review of the proceedings has given the Court the impression that they deliberately delayed the presentation of their evidence by asking postponements of the hearings. The pattern of delay that followed indicated that they did not intend to present any evidence in their favor, and that they were simply temporizing as a way of avoiding the inevitable adverse outcome of the case. Otherwise, they and their counsel would have easily completed the task of presenting their evidence and shunned the delays. They did present Ms. Garcia on direct examination, but they thereafter did not see to the completion of her testimony.

People vs Amarillo (GR No. 194721 August 15, 2012)

People of the Philippines vs Amarillo
GR No. 194721 August 15, 2012

Facts: Accused-appellant identified himself as John Brian Amarillo 25 years old, a resident of Laperal Compound, Guadalupe Viego, Makati City, single, a washing boy. On or about April 8, 2006, in the City of Makati, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this honorable court, Amarillo, without the corresponding license or prescription did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell, give away, distribute and deliver 0.03g of methylamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), which is a dangerous drug. On the same day, after the arrest of the accused, a search was made upon his person and in his possession was found 17 small heat-sealed plastic which contains shabu, with a total of 0.33g.

Issue: Whether or not failure to perform the regular inventory of the drugs seized would render the evidence inadmissible and accused not liable for the crime charged.

Held: No. To prove illegal sale of shabu, the following elements must be present: a.) the identities of the buyer and the seller, the object of the sale, and the consideration; and b.) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment for the thing. And, to secure conviction, it is immaterial to establish that the transaction or sale actually took place, and to bring to the court the corpus delicti as evidence.

As to the crime of illegal possession of shabu, the prosecution clearly proved the presence of the following essential elements of the crime: a.) the accused was in possession of an item or object that is identified to be a prohibited as dangerous drugs; b.) such possession was not authorized by law; and c.) the accused freely and consciously possessed the drug. After the arrest, accused-appellant, 17 heat-sealed sachets of white substance were found in his possession. The chemistry report showed that the white substamce in the plastic sachets tested for shabu. And, there was no showing that such possession was authorized by law. 

The failure of the prosecution to show that the police officers conducted the required physical inventory and photograph of the evidence confiscated pursuant to said guidelines is not fatal and does not automatically render accused-appellant’s arrest illegal or the items seized/confiscated from him inadmissible.

The court has long settled that an accused may still be found guilty despite the failure to faithfully observe the requirements provided under section 21 of RA 9165, for as long as the chain of custody remains unbroken.

The doctrine of presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty is likewise applicable in the instant case, there being no showing of any ill motive on the part of the arresting officers to falsely accuse accused-appellant of the crimes charged. In fact, he himself testified that he did not know any of the persons who arrested him and that he did not also have any misunderstanding with any one of them. And, in the absence of proof of any intent on the part of the police authorities to falsely impute such a serious crime against appellant as in this case, the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty must prevail.

Cruz vs CA (G.R. No. 79962 December 10, 1990)

Cruz vs Court of Appeals
G.R. No. 79962  December 10, 1990

Facts: The plaintiff claimed that of this amount, only P20,000.00 had been paid, leaving a balance of P10,000.00; that in August 1982, he and the defendant agreed that the latter would grant him an exclusive right to purchase the harvest of certain fishponds leased by Cruz in exchange for certain loan accommodations; that pursuant thereto, Salonga delivered to Cruz various loans totaling P15,250.00, evidenced by four receipts and an additional P4,000.00, the receipt of which had been lost; and that Cruz failed to comply with his part of the agreement by refusing to deliver the alleged harvest of the fishpond and the amount of his indebtedness. Cruz denied having contracted any loan from Salonga. By way of special defense, he alleged that he was a lessee of several hectares of a fishpond owned by Nemesio Yabut and that sometime in May 1982, he entered into an agreement with Salonga whereby the latter would purchase (pakyaw) fish in certain areas of the fishpond from May 1982 to August 15, 1982. They also agreed that immediately thereafter, Salonga would sublease (bubuwisan) the same fishpond for a period of one year. Cruz admitted having received on May 4, 1982, the amount of P35,000.00 and on several occasions from August 15, 1982, to September 30, 1982, an aggregate amount of P15,250.00. He contended however, that these amounts were received by him not as loans but as consideration for their “pakyaw” agreement and payment for the sublease of the fishpond. He added that it was the private respondent who owed him money since Salonga still had unpaid rentals for the 10-month period that he actually occupied the fishpond. Cruz also claimed that Salonga owed him an additional P4,000.00 arising from another purchase of fish from other areas of his leased fishpond.

Issue: Whether or not Parol evidence rule will apply.

Held: No. Rule 130, Sec. 7, of the Revised Rules of Court provides:

Sec. 7. Evidence of Written Agreements. — When the terms of an agreement have been reduced to writing, it is to be considered as containing all such terms, and therefore, there can be, between the parties and their successors in interest, no evidence of the terms of the agreement other than the contents of the writing, except in the following cases:

a) When a mistake or imperfection of the writing or its failure to express the true intent and agreement of the parties, or the validity of the agreement is put in issue by the pleadings;

b) When there is an intrinsic ambiguity in the writing. The term “agreement” includes wills.

The reason for the rule is the presumption that when the parties have reduced their agreement to writing they have made such writing the only repository and memorial of the truth, and whatever is not found in the writing must be understood to have been waived or abandoned.

The rule, however, is not applicable in the case at bar, Section 7, Rule 130 is predicated on the existence of a document embodying the terms of an agreement, but Exhibit D does not contain such an agreement. It is only a receipt attesting to the fact that on May 4, 1982, the petitioner received from the private respondent the amount of P35,000. It is not and could have not been intended by the parties to be the sole memorial of their agreement. As a matter of fact, Exhibit D does not even mention the transaction that gave rise to its issuance. At most, Exhibit D can only be considered a casual memorandum of a transaction between the parties and an acknowledgment of the receipt of money executed by the petitioner for the private respondent’s satisfaction. A writing of this nature, as Wigmore observed is not covered by the parol evidence rule. 

Conde vs CA (G.R. No. L-40242 December 15, 1982)

Conde vs Court of Appeals
G.R. No. L-40242 December 15, 1982

Facts: On 7 April 1938. Margarita Conde, Bernardo Conde and the petitioner Dominga Conde, as heirs of Santiago Conde, sold with right of repurchase, within ten (10) years from said date, a parcel of agricultural land located in Maghubas Burauen Leyte, (Lot 840), with an approximate area of one (1) hectare, to Casimira Pasagui, married to Pio Altera (hereinafter referred to as the Alteras), for P165.00. The “Pacto de Retro Sale.” On 17 April 1941, the Cadastral Court of Leyte adjudicated Lot No. 840 to the Alteras “subject to the right of redemption by Dominga Conde, within ten (10) years counting from April 7, 1983, after returning the amount of P165.00 and the amounts paid by the spouses in concept of land tax … ” (Exhibit “1”). Original Certificate of Title No. N-534 in the name of the spouses Pio Altera and Casimira Pasagui, subject to said right of repurchase, was transcribed in the “Registration Book” of the Registry of Deeds of Leyte on 14 November 1956 (Exhibit “2”).  On 28 November 1945, private respondent Paciente Cordero, son-in-law of the Alteras, signed a document in the Visayan dialect, the English translation of which reads:  MEMORANDUM OF REPURCHASE OVER A PARCEL OF LAND SOLD WITH REPURCHASE WHICH DOCUMENT GOT LOST.

Issue: Whether or not the memorandum of repurchase is binding between the parties.

Held: Yes. Private respondent must be held bound by the clear terms of the Memorandum of Repurchase that he had signed wherein he acknowledged the receipt of P165.00 and assumed the obligation to maintain the repurchasers in peaceful possession should they be “disturbed by other persons”. It was executed in the Visayan dialect which he understood. He cannot now be allowed to dispute the same. “… If the contract is plain and unequivocal in its terms he is ordinarily bound thereby. It is the duty of every contracting party to learn and know its contents before he signs and delivers it.”

There is nothing in the document of repurchase to show that Paciente Cordero had signed the same merely to indicate that he had no objection to petitioner’s right of repurchase. Besides, he would have had no personality to object. To uphold his oral testimony on that point, would be a departure from the parol evidence rule and would defeat the purpose for which the doctrine is intended.

The purpose of the rule is to give stability to written agreements, and to remove the temptation and possibility of perjury, which would be afforded if parol evidence was admissible.

Ortaez vs CA (G.R. No. 107372 January 23, 1997)

Ortaez vs Court of Appeals
G.R. No. 107372 January 23, 1997

Facts: On September 30, 1982, private respondents sold to petitioner two (2) parcels of registered land in Quezon City for a consideration of P 35,000.00 and P20,000.00, respectively. The first deed of absolute sale covering Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 258628 and the second deed of absolute sale covering TCT No. 243273. Offshoot, petitioner sued private respondents for specific performance before the RTC. In their answer with counterclaim private respondents merely alleged the existence of the following oral conditions which were never reflected in the deeds of sale: “3.3.2 Title to the other property (TCT No. 243273) remains with the defendants (private respondents) until plaintiff (petitioner) shows proof that all the following requirements have been met: (i) Plaintiff will cause the segregation of his right of way amounting to 398 sq. m.; (ii) Plaintiff will submit to the defendants the approved plan for the segregation; (iii) Plaintiff will put up a strong wall between his property and that of defendants’ lot to segregate his right of way; (iv) Plaintiff will pay the capital gains tax and all other expenses that may be incurred by reason of sale. x x x.” During trial, private respondent Oscar Inocentes, a former judge, orally testified that the sale was subject to the above conditions, although such conditions were not incorporated in the deeds of sale. Despite petitioner’s timely objections on the ground that the introduction of said oral conditions was barred by the parol evidence rule, the lower court nonetheless, admitted them and eventually dismissed the complaint as well as the counterclaim. On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the court a quo. Hence, this petition.

Issue: Whether or not private respondents’ testimony as to the true intent of the parties is admissible as evidence.

Held: No. The parol evidence herein introduced is inadmissible. Private respondents’ oral testimony on the alleged conditions, coming from a party who has an interest in the outcome of the case, depending exclusively on human memory, is not as reliable as written or documentary evidence. Spoken words could be notoriously unreliable unlike a written contract which speaks of a uniform language. Thus, under the general rule in Section 9 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, when the terms of an agreement were reduced to writing, as in this case, it is deemed to contain all the terms agreed upon and no evidence of such terms can be admitted other than the contents thereof. Considering that the written deeds of sale were the only repository of the truth, whatever is not found in said instruments must have been waived and abandoned by the parties. Examining the deeds of sale, we cannot even make an inference that the sale was subject to any condition. As a contract, it is the law between the parties.

The parol evidence herein sought to be introduced would vary, contradict or defeat the operation of a valid instrument, hence, contrary to the rule that:

The parol evidence rule forbids any addition to x x x the terms of a written instrument by testimony purporting to show that, at or before the signing of the document, other or different terms were orally agreed upon by the parties.

Although parol evidence is admissible to explain the meaning of a contract, “it cannot serve the purpose of incorporating into the contract additional contemporaneous conditions which are not mentioned at all in the writing unless there has been fraud or mistake.” No such fraud or mistake exists in this case.

In this case, the deeds of sale are clear, without any ambiguity, mistake or imperfection, much less obscurity or doubt in the terms thereof.

Private respondents did not expressly plead that the deeds of sale were incomplete or that it did not reflect the intention of the buyer (petitioner) and the seller (private respondents). Such issue must be “squarely presented.” Private respondents merely alleged that the sale was subject to four (4) conditions which they tried to prove during trial by parol evidence. Obviously, this cannot be done, because they did not plead any of the exceptions mentioned in the parol evidence rule. Their case is covered by the general rule that the contents of the writing are the only repository of the terms of the agreement. Considering that private respondent Oscar Inocentes is a lawyer (and former judge) he was “supposed to be steeped in legal knowledge and practices” and was “expected to know the consequences” of his signing a deed of absolute sale. Had he given an iota’s attention to scrutinize the deeds, he would have incorporated important stipulations that the transfer of title to said lots were conditional. 

US vs Pineda (G.R. No. L-12858 January 22, 1918)

The United States vs Pineda
G.R. No. L-12858 January 22, 1918

Facts: Santiago Pineda, the defendant, is a registered pharmacist of long standing and the owner of a drug store located at Nos. 442, 444, Calle Santo Cristo, city of Manila. One Feliciano Santos, having some sick horses, presented a copy of a prescription obtained from Dr. Richardson, and which on other occasions Santos had given to his horses with good results, at Pineda’s drug store for filling. The prescription read — “clorato de potasa — 120 gramos — en seis papelitos de 20 gramos, para caballo.” Under the supervision of Pineda, the prescription was prepared and returned to Santos in the form of six papers marked, “Botica Pineda — Clorato potasa — 120.00 — en seis papeles — para caballo — Sto. Cristo 442, 444, Binondo, Manila.” Santos, under the belief that he had purchased the potassium chlorate which he had asked for, put two of the packages in water the doses to two of his sick horses. Another package was mixed with water for another horse, but was not used. The two horses, to which had been given the preparation, died shortly afterwards. Santos, thereupon, took the three remaining packages to the Bureau of Science for examination. Drs. Peña and Darjuan, of the Bureau of Science, on analysis found that the packages contained not potassium chlorate but barium chlorate. At the instance of Santos, the two chemists also went to the drug store of the defendant and bought potassium chlorate, which when analyzed was found to be barium chlorate. (Barium chlorate, it should be noted, is a poison; potassium chlorate is not.) Dr. Buencamino, a veterinarian, performed an autopsy on the horses, and found that death was the result of poisoning.

Issue: Whether or not the testimony of the other witnesses is admissible in accordance with res inter alios acta.

Held: No. As a general rule, the evidence of other offenses committed by a defendant is inadmissible. But appellant has confused this maxim and this rule with certain exceptions thereto. The effort is not to convict the accused of a second offense. Nor is there an attempt to draw the mind away from the point at issue and thus to prejudice defendant’s case. The purpose is to ascertain defendant’s knowledge and intent, and to fix his negligence. If the defendant has on more than one occasion performed similar acts, accident in good faith is possibly excluded, negligence is intensified, and fraudulent intent may even be established. It has been said that there is no better evidence of negligence than the frequency of accidents.

On the trial of a criminal case the question relates to the tendency of certain testimony to throw light upon a particular fact, or to explain the conduct of a particular person, there is a certain discretion on the part of the trial judge which a court of errors will not interfere with, unless it manifestly appear that the testimony has no legitimate bearing upon the question at issue, and is calculated to prejudice the accused.

Whenever the necessity arises for a resort to circumstantial evidence, either from the nature of the inquiry or the failure of direct proof, objections to the testimony on the ground of irrelevancy are not favored.

Evidence is admissible in a criminal action which tends to show motive, although it tends to prove the commission of another offense by the defendant.

Under one conception, and it should not be forgotten that the case we consider are civil in nature, the question of negligence or ignorance is irrelevant. The druggist is responsible as an absolute guarantor of what he sells. 

Barcelon vs CIR (GR. No. 157064 August 7, 2006)

Barcelon, Roxas Securities, Inc. vs Commissioner of Internal Revenue
GR. No. 157064 August 7, 2006

Facts: Petitioner Barcelon, Roxas Securities Inc. (now known as UBP Securities, Inc.) is a corporation engaged in the trading of securities. On 14 April 1988, petitioner filed its Annual Income Tax Return for taxable year 1987. After an audit investigation conducted by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), respondent Commissioner of Internal Revenue (CIR) issued an assessment for deficiency income tax in the amount of P826,698.31 arising from the disallowance of the item on salaries, bonuses and allowances in the amount of P1,219,093,93 as part of the deductible business expense since petitioner failed to subject the salaries, bonuses and allowances to withholding taxes. This assessment was covered by Formal Assessment Notice No. FAN-1-87-91-000649 dated 1 February 1991, which, respondent alleges, was sent to petitioner through registered mail on 6 February 1991. However, petitioner denies receiving the formal assessment notice. On 17 March 1992, petitioner was served with a Warrant of Distraint and/or Levy to enforce collection of the deficiency income tax for the year 1987. Petitioner filed a formal protest, dated 25 March 1992, against the Warrant of Distraint and/or Levy, requesting for its cancellation. On 3 July 1998, petitioner received a letter dated 30 April 1998 from the respondent denying the protest with finality.

Issue: Whether or not section 44, Rule 130 is applicable.

Held: No. Section 44. Entries in official records. – Entries in official records made in the performance of his duty by a public officer of the Philippines, or by a person in the performance of a duty specially enjoined by law, are prima facie evidence of the facts therein

The foregoing rule on evidence, however, must be read in accordance with this Court’s pronouncement in Africa v. Caltex (Phil.), Inc., where it has been held that an entrant must have personal knowledge of the facts stated by him or such facts were acquired by him from reports made by persons under a legal duty to submit the same.
There are three requisites for admissibility under the rule just mentioned: (a) that the entry was made by a public officer, or by another person specially enjoined by law to do so; (b) that it was made by the public officer in the performance of his duties, or by such other person in the performance of a duty specially enjoined by law; and (c) that the public officer or other person had sufficient knowledge of the facts by him stated, which must have been acquired by him personally or through official information.

In this case, the entries made by Ingrid Versola were not based on her personal knowledge as she did not attest to the fact that she personally prepared and mailed the assessment notice. Nor was it stated in the transcript of stenographic notes how and from whom she obtained the pertinent information. Moreover, she did not attest to the fact that she acquired the reports from persons under a legal duty to submit the same. Hence, Rule 130, Section 44 finds no application in the present case. Thus, the evidence offered by respondent does not qualify as an exception to the rule against hearsay evidence.

People vs San Gabriel (G.R. No. 107735 February 1, 1996)

People of the Philippines vs San Gabriel
G.R. No. 107735 February 1, 1996

Facts: The evidence shows that at around seven oclock in the evening of 26 November 1989, within the vicinity of Pier 14 at North Harbor along Marcos Road, Manila, a fistfight ensued between Jaime Tonog on one hand and the accused Ricardo San Gabriel together with Ramon Doe on the other. The fight was eventually broken up when onlookers pacified the protagonists. Ricardo and Ramon then hastened towards Marcos Road but in no time were back with bladed weapons.They approached Tonog surreptitiously, surrounded him and simultaneously stabbed him in the stomach and at the back, after which the assailants ran towards the highway leaving Tonog behind on the ground. He was then brought to Mary Johnston Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Issue: Whether or not the advance information sheet is admissible as an exception to the hearsay rule.

Held: No. The accused leans heavily on the Advance Information Sheet prepared by Pat. Steve Casimiro which did not mention him at all and named only Ramon Doe as the principal suspect. Unfortunately this cannot defeat the positive and candid testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. Entries in official records, as in the case of a police blotter, are only prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated. They are not conclusive. The entry in the police blotter is not necessarily entitled to full credit for it could be incomplete and inaccurate, sometimes from either partial suggestions or for want of suggestions or inquiries, without the aid of which the witness may be unable to recall the connected collateral circumstances necessary for the correction of the first suggestion of his memory and for his accurate recollection of all that pertain to the subject. It is understandable that the testimony during the trial would be more lengthy and detailed than the matters stated in the police blotter. Significantly, the Advance Information Sheet was never formally offered by the defense during the proceedings in the court below. Hence any reliance by the accused on the document must fail since the court cannot consider any evidence which has not been formally offered.

Parenthetically, the Advance Information Sheet was prepared by the police officer only after interviewing Camba, an alleged eyewitness. The accused then could have compelled the attendance of Camba as a witness. The failure to exert the slightest effort to present Camba on the part of the accused should militate against his cause.

Entries in official records made in the performance of his duty by a public officer or by a person in the performance of a duty specially enjoined by law are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated. But to be admissible in evidence three (3) requisites must concur: (a) The entry was made by a police officer or by another person specially enjoined by law to do so; (b) It was made by the public officer in the performance of his duties or by such other person in the performance of a duty specially enjoined by law; and, (c) The public officer or other person had sufficient knowledge of the facts by him stated, which must have been acquired by him personally or through official information.

The Advance Information Sheet does not constitute an exception to the hearsay rule, hence, inadmissible. The public officer who prepared the document had no sufficient and personal knowledge of the stabbing incident. Any information possessed by him was acquired from Camba which therefore could not be categorized as official information because in order to be classified as such the persons who made the statements not only must have personal knowledge of the facts stated but must have the duty to give such statements for the record. In the case of Camba, he was not legally so obliged to give such statements.