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Republic of the Philippines an amount equivalent to twenty-five percent (25%) thereof as

SUPREME COURT attorney's fees and litigation expenses.


Manila
In its answer dated December 1, 1987, Dasmarias Garments,
SECOND DIVISION Inc. (hereafter, simply Dasmarias) specifically denied any
liability to the plaintiff (hereafter simply APL), and set up
compulsory counterclaims against it.

G.R. No. 108229 August 24, 1993 The case was in due course scheduled for trial on April 27,
1988. On that date APL presented its first witness whose
DASMARIAS GARMENTS, INC., petitioner, testimony was completed on November 12, 1988. The case was
vs. reset to May 3, 1989 for reception of the testimony of two (2)
HON. RUBEN T. REYES, Judge, Regional Trial Court, more witnesses in APL's behalf.
Manila, Branch 50, and AMERICAN PRESIDENT
LINES, LTD., respondents. At the hearing of May 3, 1989, instead of presenting its
witnesses, APL filed a motion praying that it intended to take
Sobrevias, Diaz, Haudini & Bodegon Law Offices for the depositions of H. Lee and Yeong Fang Yeh in Taipei, Taiwan
petitioner. and prayed that for this purpose, a "commission or letters
rogatory be issued addressed to the consul, vice-consul or
Tan, Manzano & Velez Law Offices for private respondent. consular agent of the Republic of the Philippines in Taipei . . . "
Five (5) days later APL filed an amended motion stating that
since the Philippine Government has no consulate office in
Taiwan in view of its "one China policy," there being in lieu
RESOLUTION thereof an office set up by the President "presently occupied by
Director Joaquin Roces which is the Asia Exchange Center,
NARVASA, C.J.: Inc.," it was necessary and it therefore prayed "that
commission or letters rogatory be issued addressed to Director
Sometime in September, 1987, in the Regional Trial Court of Joaquin Roces, Executive Director, Asian Executive Exchange
Manila, the American President Lines, Ltd. sued Dasmarias Center, Inc., Room 901, 112 Chunghsiao, E. Road, Section 1,
Garments, Inc. to recover the sum of US $53,228.45 as well as Taipe, Republic of China, to hear and take the oral deposition of
the aforenamed persons . . . ."
The motion was opposed by Dasmarias. It contended that (a) written interrogatories) is hereby GRANTED.
the motion was "fatally defective in that it does not seek . . . that The Asian Exchange Center, Inc. thru Director
a foreign court examine a person within its jurisdiction;" (b) Joaquin R. Roces is hereby COMMISSIONED to
issuance of letters rogatory was unnecessary because the take down the deposition. Compliance with the
witnesses "can be examined before the Philippine Court;" and Rules on the taking of testimony by deposition
(c) the Rules of Court "expressly require that the testimony of a upon written interrogatories under Sections 25-
witness must be taken orally in open court and not by 29 of Rule 24, Rules of Court is enjoined.
deposition."
Let this Order be coursed through the
Extensive argument on the matter thereafter followed, through Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila, pursuant
various pleadings filed by the parties, in the course of which to Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 4
APL submitted to the Trial Court (a) the letter received by its dated April 6, 1987.
counsel from Director Joaquin R. Roces of the Asian Exchange
Center, Inc., dated November 20, 1989, advising that "this The Court opined that "the Asian Exchange Center, Inc. being
Office can only take deposition upon previous authority from the authorized Philippine representative in Taiwan, may take
the Department of Foreign Affairs," this being "in consonance the testimonies of plaintiff's witnesses residing there by
with the Supreme Court Administrative Order requiring courts deposition, but only upon written interrogatories so as to give
or judicial bodies to course their requests through the defendant the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses by
Department of Foreign Affairs;" and (b) a letter sent by "fax" to serving cross-examination."
the same counsel by a law firm in Taipei, Lin & Associates
Maritime Law Office, transmitting information inter alia of the Dasmarias sought reconsideration by motion filed June 25,
mode by which, under the "ROC Civil Procedure Code," "a copy 1991 on the following grounds: (1) authority of the Asian
or an abridged copy" of documents on file with a Taiwan Court Exchange Center, Inc. (AECI) to take depositions has not been
may be obtained. established, it not being one of those so authorized by the Rules
of Court to take depositions in a foreign state; (2) AECI's
By Order dated March 15, 1991, the Trial Court resolved the articles of incorporation show that it is not vested with any such
incident in favor of APL, disposing as follows: authority; (3) to permit deposition-taking by commission
without the authority of the foreign state in which deposition is
ACCORDINGLY, the motion to take testimonies taken constitutes infringement of judicial sovereignty; and (4)
of plaintiff's Taiwanese witnesses, Kenneth H. depositions by written interrogatories have inherent limitations
Lee and Yeong Fah Yeh, by deposition (upon and are not suitable to matters dependent on the credibility of
witnesses; oral testimony in open court remains the "most Appellate Court's Decision of September 23, 1992 and
satisfactory method of investigation of facts'" and "'affords the Resolution dated December 11, 1992. Once again, it will fail.
greatest protection to the rights and liberties of citizens."
Dasmarias ascribes to the Court of Appeals the following
By Order dated July 5, 1991, the motion for reconsideration was errors, to wit:
denied because "filed out of time" and being a mere rehash of
arguments already passed upon. In the same Order, APL was 1) "in holding that a party could, during the trial
directed "to take the necessary steps to implement the order of the case, present its evidence by taking the
authorizing the . . . (deposition-taking) of its witnesses not later deposition of its witnesses in a foreign
than the end of this month, otherwise the Court will consider jurisdiction before a private entity not
inaction or lack of interest as waiver to adduce additional authorized by law to take depositions in lieu of
evidence by deposition." their oral examination in open Court considering
that:
Dasmarias instituted a special civil action of certiorari in the
Court of Appeals to nullify the orders of the Trial Court just a) the taking of deposition is a
described. Said Appellate Court restrained enforcement of the mode of pretrial discovery to be
orders of March 15, 1991 and July 5, 1991 "in order to maintain availed of before the action comes
the status quo and to prevent the infliction of irreparable to trial;
damage and injury upon the petitioner."
b) no urgent or compelling reason
After due proceedings, the Court of Appeals (Third Division) has been shown to justify the
rendered judgment on September 23, 1992 denying Dasmarias departure from the accepted and
petition for certiorari and upholding the challenged orders of usual judicial proceedings of
the Trial Court. Once again, Dasmarias sought reconsideration examining witnesses in open
of an adverse disposition, and once again, was rebuffed. Its court where their demeanor could
motion for reconsideration was denied in a Resolution of the be observed by the trial judge;"
Court of Appeals dated December 11, 1992.
2) "in disregarding the inherently unfair
Once again Dasmarias has availed of the remedy of appeal. It situation in allowing private respondent, a
has come to this Court and prays for the reversal of the foreign entity suing in the Philippines, to present
its evidence by mere deposition of its witnesses
away from the 'penetrating scrutiny' of the trial Depositions are principally made available by law to the parties
Judge while petitioner is obligated to bring and as a means of informing themselves of all the relevant facts;
present its witnesses in open court subject to the they are not therefore generally meant to be a substitute for the
prying eyes and probing questions of the Judge;" actual testimony in open court of a party or witness. The
and deponent must as a rule be presented for oral examination in
open court at the trial or hearing. This is a requirement of the
3) "in sanctioning the deposition taking of . . . rules of evidence. Section 1, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court
(APL's) witnesses in Taipei, Taiwan, a foreign provides:
jurisdiction not recognized by the Philippines in
view of its 'one-China policy,' before the AECI, a Sec. 1. Examination to be done in open court.
private entity not authorized by law to take The examination of witnesses presented in a trial
depositions." or hearing shall be done in open court, and
under oath or affirmation. Unless the witness is
Depositions are chiefly a mode of discovery. They are intended incapacitated to speak, or the question calls for a
as a means to compel disclosure of facts resting in the different mode of answer, the answers of the
knowledge of a party or other person which are relevant in witness shall be given orally.
some suit or proceeding in court. Depositions, and the other
modes of discovery (interrogatories to parties; requests for Indeed, any deposition offered to prove the facts therein set out
admission by adverse party; production or inspection of during a trial or hearing, in lieu of the actual oral testimony of
documents or things; physical and mental examination of the deponent in open court, may be opposed and excluded on
persons) are meant to enable a party to learn all the material the ground that it is hearsay; the party against whom it is
and relevant facts, not only known to him and his witnesses but offered has no opportunity to cross-examine the deponent at
also those known to the adverse party and the latter's own the time that his testimony is offered. It matters not that that
witnesses. In fine, the object of discovery is to make it possible opportunity for cross-examination was afforded during the
for all the parties to a case to learn all the material and relevant taking of the deposition; for normally, the opportunity for
facts, from whoever may have knowledge thereof, to the end cross-examination must be accorded a party at the time that the
that their pleadings or motions may not suffer from inadequacy testimonial evidence is actually presented against him during
of factual foundation, and all the relevant facts may be clearly the trial or hearing.
and completely laid before the Court, without omission or
suppression. However, depositions may be used without the deponent being
actually called to the witness stand by the proponent, under
certain conditions and for certain limited purposes. These was procured by the party offering the
exceptional situations are governed by Section 4, Rule 24 of the deposition; or (3) that the witness is unable to
Rules of Court. attend to testify because of age, sickness,
infirmity, or imprisonment; or (4) that the party
Sec. 4. Use of depositions. At the trial or upon offering the deposition has been unable to
the hearing of a motion of an interlocutory procure the attendance of the witness by
proceeding, any part or all of a deposition, so far subpoena; or (5) upon application and notice,
as admissible under the rules of evidence, may that such exceptional circumstances exist as to
be used against any party who was present or make it desirable, in the interest of justice and
represented at the taking of the deposition or with due regard to the importance of presenting
who had due notice thereof, in accordance with the testimony of witnesses orally in open court,
any of the following provisions: to allow the deposition to be used;

(a) Any deposition may be used by any party for (d) If only part of a deposition is offered in
the purpose of contradicting or impeaching the evidence by a party, the adverse party may
testimony of deponent as a witness; require him to introduce all of it which is
relevant to the part introduced, and any party
(b) The deposition of a party or of any one who may introduce any other parts.
at the time of taking the deposition was an
officer, director, or managing agent of a public or The principle conceding admissibility to a deposition when the
private corporation, partnership, or association deponent is dead, out of the Philippines, or otherwise unable to
which is a party may be used by an adverse party come to court to testify, is consistent with another rule of
for any purpose; evidence, found in Section 47, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.

(c) The deposition of a witness, whether or not a Sec. 47. Testimony or deposition at a former
party, may be used by any party for any purpose proceeding. The testimony or deposition of a
if the court finds: (1) that the witness is dead; or witness deceased or unable to testify, given in a
(2) that the witness if out of the province and at a former case or proceeding, judicial or
greater distance than fifty (50) kilometers from administrative, involving the same parties and
the place of trial or hearing, or is out of the subject matter, may be given in evidence against
Philippines, unless it appears that his absence
the adverse party who had the opportunity to deposition-taking, or impose conditions therefor, e.g., that
cross-examine him. "certain matters shall not be inquired into" or that the taking be
"held with no one present except the parties to the action and
It is apparent then that the deposition of any person may be their officers or counsel," etc. (Sec. 16, Rule 24), or
taken wherever he may be, in the Philippines or abroad. If the (3) to terminate the process on motion and upon a showing that
party or witness is in the Philippines, his deposition "shall be "it is being conducted in bad faith or in such manner as
taken before any judge, municipal or notary public" (Sec. 10, unreasonably to annoy, embarrass, or oppress the deponent or
Rule 24, Rules of Court). If in a foreign state or country, the party" (Sec 18, Rule 24).
deposition "shall be taken: (a) on notice before a secretary or
embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice-consul, or Where the deposition is to be taken in a foreign country where
consular agent of the Republic of the Philippines, or (b) before the Philippines has no "secretary or embassy or legation, consul
such person or officer as may be appointed by commission or general, consul, vice-consul, or consular agent," then obviously
under letters rogatory" (Sec. 11, Rule 24). it may be taken only "before such person or officer as may be
appointed by commission or under letters rogatory. Section 12,
Leave of court is not necessary where the deposition is to be Rule 24 provides as follows:
taken before "a secretary or embassy or legation, consul
general, consul, vice-consul, or consular agent of the Republic Sec. 12. Commission or letters rogatory. A
of the Philippines," and the defendant's answer has already commission or letters rogatory shall be issued
been served (Sec. 1 Rule 24). After answer, whether the only when necessary or convenient, on
deposition-taking is to be accomplished within the Philippines application and notice, and on such terms and
or outside, the law does not authorize or contemplate any with such directions as are just and appropriate.
intervention by the court in the process, all that is required Officers may be designated in notices or
being that "reasonable notice" be given "in writing to every commissions either by name or descriptive title
other party to the action . . . (stating) the time and place for and letters rogatory may be addressed "To the
taking the deposition and the name and address of each person Appropriate Judicial Authority in (here name the
to be examined, if known, and if the name is not known, a country)."
general description sufficient to identify him or the particular
class or group to which he belongs. . . . " (Sec. 15, Rule 24). The A commission may be defined as "(a)n instrument issued by a
court intervenes in the process only if a party moves (1) to court of justice, or other competent tribunal, to authorize a
"enlarge or shorten the time" stated in the notice (id.), or (2) person to take depositions, or do any other act by authority of
"upon notice and for good cause shown," to prevent the such court or tribunal" (Feria, J., Civil Procedure, 1969 ed., p.
415, citing Cyclopedic Law Dictionary, p. 200). Letters rogatory, __________ to said commission and made a
on the other hand, may be defined as "(a)n instrument sent in part hereof by attaching it hereto (or state other
the name and by the authority of a judge or court to another, facts to show commission is inadequate or
requesting the latter to cause to be examined, upon cannot be executed) (emphasis supplied).
interrogatories filed in a cause pending before the former, a
witness who is within the jurisdiction of the judge or court to In the case at bar, the Regional Trial Court has issued a
whom such letters are addressed" (Feria, J., op. cit., citing commission to the "Asian Exchange Center, Inc. thru Director
Cyclopedic Law Dictionary, p. 653). Section 12, Rule 24 just Joaquin R. Roces" "to take the testimonies of . . . Kenneth H.
quoted states that a commission is addressed to "officers . . . Lee and Yeong Fah Yeh, by deposition (upon written
designated . . . either by name or descriptive title," while letters interrogatories) . . . ." It appears that said Center may, "upon
rogatory are addressed to some "appropriate judicial authority request and authority of the Ministry (now Department) of
in the foreign state." Noteworthy in this connection is the Foreign Affairs, Republic of the Philippines" issue a "Certificate
indication in the Rules that letters rogatory may be applied for of Authentications" attesting to the identity and authority of
and issued only after a commission has been "returned Notaries Public and other public officers of the Republic of
unexecuted" as is apparent from Form 21 of the "Judicial China, Taiwan (eg., the Section Chief, Department of Consular
Standard Forms" appended to the Rules of Court, which Affairs of the latter's Ministry of Foreign Affairs) (Annex B of
requires the inclusion in a "petition for letters rogatory" of the Annex N of the petition for review on certiorari) a prima
following paragraph, viz.: facie showing not rebutted by petitioner.

xxx xxx xxx It further appears that the commission is to be coursed through
the Department of Foreign Affairs conformably with Circular
3. A commission issued by this Court on the No. 4 issued by Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee on April 6,
______ day of ______, 19__, to take the 1987, pursuant to the suggestion of the Department of Foreign
testimony of (here name the witness or Affairs directing "ALL JUDGES OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL
witnesses) in (here name the foreign country in COURTS, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL
which the testimony is to be taken), before TRIAL COURTS IN CITIES, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS
_________________ (name of officer), AND MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURTS" "to course all
was returned unexecuted by requests for the taking of deposition of witnesses residing
__________________ on the ground that abroad through the Department of Foreign Affairs" to enable it
____________, all of which more fully and "the Philippine Foreign Service establishments to act on the
appears from the certificate of said
matter in a judicious and expeditious manner;" this, "in the Dasmarias further claims that the taking of deposition under
interest of justice," and to avoid delay in the deposition-taking. the circumstances is a "departure from the accepted and usual
judicial proceedings of examining witnesses in open court
Petitioner would however prevent the carrying out of the where the demeanor could be observed by the trial judge;" that
commission on various grounds. it is "inherently unfair" to allow APL, "a foreign entity suing in
the Philippines, to present its evidence by mere deposition of its
The first is that the deposition-taking will take place in "a witnesses away from the 'penetrating scrutiny' of the trial Judge
foreign jurisdiction not recognized by the Philippines in view of while petitioner is obligated to bring and present its witnesses
its 'one-China policy.'" This is inconsequential. What matters is in open court subject to the prying eyes and probing questions
that the deposition is taken before a Philippine official acting by of the Judge."
authority of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and
in virtue of a commission duly issued by the Philippine Court in Of course the deposition-taking in the case at bar is a
which the action is pending, and in accordance, moreover, with "departure from the accepted and usual judicial proceedings of
the provisions of the Philippine Rules of Court pursuant to examining witnesses in open court where their demeanor could
which opportunity for cross-examination of the deponent will be observed by the trial judge;" but the procedure is not on that
be fully accorded to the adverse party. account rendered illegal nor is the deposition thereby taken,
inadmissible. It precisely falls within one of the exceptions
Dasmarias also contends that the "taking of deposition is a where the law permits such a situation, i.e., the use of
mode of pretrial discovery to be availed of before the action deposition in lieu of the actual appearance and testimony of the
comes to trial." Not so. Depositions may be taken at any time deponent in open court and without being "subject to the prying
after the institution of any action, whenever necessary or eyes and probing questions of the Judge." This is allowed
convenient. There is no rule that limits deposition-taking only provided the deposition is taken in accordance with the
to the period of pre-trial or before it; no prohibition against the applicable provisions of the Rules of Court and the existence of
taking of depositions after pre-trial. Indeed, the law authorizes any of the exceptions for its admissibility e.g., "that the
the taking of depositions of witnesses before or after an appeal witness if out of the province and at a greater distance than fifty
is taken from the judgment of a Regional Trial Court "to (50) kilometers from the place of trial or hearing, or is out of
perpetuate their testimony for use in the event of further the Philippines, unless it appears that his absence was procured
proceedings in the said court" (Rule 134, Rules of Court), and by the party offering the deposition; or . . . that the witness is
even during the process of execution of a final and executory unable to attend to testify because of age, sickness, infirmity, or
judgment (East Asiatic Co. v. C.I.R., 40 SCRA 521, 544). imprisonment, etc." (Sec. 4 Rule 24, supra, emphasis supplied)
is first satisfactorily established (See Lopez v. Maceren, 95 because, as the record discloses, the motion for reconsideration
Phil. 754). was filed by Dasmarias on June 25, 1991, twenty-five (25) days
after notice (on May 20, 1991) of the Order of March 15, 1991
The Regional Trial Court saw fit to permit the taking of the sought to be reconsidered. Denial of the motion on such a
depositions of the witnesses in question only by written ground is incorrect. In the first place, it appears that there was a
interrogatories, removing the proponent's option to take them motion for extension of time to file a motion for
by oral examination, i.e., by going to Taipei and actually reconsideration, ending on June 25, 1991 which was however
questioning the witnesses verbally with the questions and not acted on or granted by the Court. More importantly, the
answers and observations of the parties being recorded order sought to be reconsidered is an interlocutory order, in
stenographically. The imposition of such a limitation, and the respect of which there is no provision of law fixing the time
determination of the cause thereof, are to be sure within the within which reconsideration thereof should be sought.
Court's discretion. The ostensible reason given by the Trial
Court for the condition that the deposition be taken "only PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Court Resolved to DISMISS the
upon written interrogatories" is "so as to give defendant petition for review on certiorari. Costs against petitioner.
(Dasmarias) the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses
by serving cross-interrogatories." The statement implies that SO ORDERED.
opportunity to cross-examine will not be accorded the
defendant if the depositions were to be taken upon oral Padilla, Regalado, Nocon and Puno, JJ., concur.
examination, which, of course, is not true. For even if the
depositions were to be taken on oral examination in Taipei, the
adverse party is still accorded full right to cross-examine the
deponents by the law, either by proceeding to Taipei and there
conducting the cross-examination orally, or opting to conduct
said cross-examination merely by serving cross-interrogatories.

One other word. In its Order of July 5, 1991 denying


Dasmarias motion for reconsideration of the earlier order
dated March 15, 1991 (allowing the taking of deposition by
commission) one of the reasons adduced by the Regional
Trial Court for the denial was that the motion had been "filed
out of time." Evidently, the Trial Court reached this conclusion
Republic of the Philippines 99383, which reversed the September 12, 2006 Order3 issued
SUPREME COURT by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 27 in Civil
Manila Case No. 06-114844 and upheld the grant of the prosecutions
motion to take the testimony of a witness by oral depositions in
THIRD DIVISION Laos, Cambodia.

G.R. No. 185527 July 18, 2012 Petitioners Harry Go, Tonny Ngo, Jerry Ngo and Jane Go were
charged before the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Manila
HARRY L. GO, TONNY NGO, JERRY NGO AND JANE for Other Deceits under Article 318 of the Revised Penal Code
GO, Petitioners, (RPC) docketed as Criminal Case No. 396447. The
vs. Information4 dated September 24, 2003, later amended5 on
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and HIGHDONE September 14, 2004, reads:
COMPANY, LTD., ET AL., Respondents.
"That sometime in August 1996, in the City of Manila,
DECISION Philippines, the said accused, conspiring, confederating
together and helping one another, did then and there willfully,
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: unlawfully and feloniously defraud Highdone Company Ltd.
Represented by Li Luen Ping, in the following manner, to wit:
The procedure for taking depositions in criminal cases all said accused, by means of false manifestations and
recognizes the prosecution's right to preserve testimonial fraudulent representations which they made to said Li Luen
evidence and prove its case despite the unavailability of its Ping to the effect that they have chattels such as machinery,
witness. It cannot, however, give license to prosecutorial spare parts, equipment and raw materials installed and fixed in
indifference or unseemly involvement in a prosecution witness' the premises of BGB Industrial Textile Mills Factory located in
absence from trial. To rule otherwise would effectively deprive the Bataan Export Processing Zone (BEPZ) in Mariveles,
the accused of his fundamental right to be confronted with the Bataan, executed a Deed of Mortgage for a consideration of the
witnesses against him. amount of $464,266.90 or its peso equivalent at
P20,892,010.50 more or less in favor of ML Resources and
In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Highdone Company Ltd. Representing that the said deed is a
Revised Rules of Court, petitioners seek to nullify and set aside FIRST MORTGAGE when in truth and in fact the accused well
the February 19, 2008 Decision1 and November 28, 2008 knew that the same had been previously encumbered,
Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. mortgaged and foreclosed by CHINA BANK CORPORATION as
early as September 1994 thereby causing damage and prejudice specific provision in the Rules of Court with respect to the
to said HIGHDONE COMPANY LTD., in the said amount of taking of depositions of prosecution witnesses in criminal cases,
$464,266.90 or its peso equivalent at P20,892,010.50 more or which is primarily intended to safeguard the constitutional
less." rights of the accused to meet the witness against him face to
face.
Upon arraignment, petitioners pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Upon denial by the RTC of their motion for reconsideration
The prosecution's complaining witness, Li Luen Ping, a frail old through an Order dated March 5, 2006,12 the prosecution
businessman from Laos, Cambodia, traveled from his home elevated the case to the CA.
country back to the Philippines in order to attend the hearing
held on September 9, 2004. However, trial dates were On February 19, 2008, the CA promulgated the assailed
subsequently postponed due to his unavailability. Decision which held that no grave abuse of discretion can be
imputed upon the MeTC for allowing the deposition-taking of
On October 13, 2005, the private prosecutor filed with the the complaining witness Li Luen Ping because no rule of
MeTC a Motion to Take Oral Deposition6 of Li Luen Ping, procedure expressly disallows the taking of depositions in
alleging that he was being treated for lung infection at the criminal cases and that, in any case, petitioners would still have
Cambodia Charity Hospital in Laos, Cambodia and that, upon every opportunity to cross-examine the complaining witness
doctor's advice, he could not make the long travel to the and make timely objections during the taking of the oral
Philippines by reason of ill health. deposition either through counsel or through the consular
officer who would be taking the deposition of the witness.
Notwithstanding petitioners' Opposition,7 the MeTC
granted8 the motion after the prosecution complied with the On November 28, 2008, the CA denied petitioners' motion for
directive to submit a Medical Certificate of Li Luen Ping. reconsideration. Hence, this petition alleging that
Petitioners sought its reconsideration which the MeTC
denied,9 prompting petitioners to file a Petition for I.THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING
Certiorari10 before the RTC. THAT THE METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT
INFRINGED THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF THE
On September 12, 2006, the RTC granted the petition and PETITIONERS TO A PUBLIC TRIAL IN ALLOWING
declared the MeTC Orders null and void.11 The RTC held that THE TAKING OF THE DEPOSITION OF THE
Section 17, Rule 23 on the taking of depositions of witnesses in COMPLAINING WITNESS IN LAOS, CAMBODIA.
civil cases cannot apply suppletorily to the case since there is a
II.THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT investigating facts" as it enables the judge to test the witness'
FINDING THAT THE DEPOSITION TAKING OF THE credibility through his manner and deportment while
COMPLAINING WITNESS IN LAOS, CAMBODIA IS testifying.14 It is not without exceptions, however, as the Rules
AN INFRINGEMENT OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL of Court recognizes the conditional examination of witnesses
RIGHT OF THE PETITIONERS TO CONFRONT THE and the use of their depositions as testimonial evidence in lieu
SAID WITNESS FACE TO FACE. of direct court testimony.

III.THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN Even in criminal proceedings, there is no doubt as to the
SUSTAINING THE JUDICIAL LEGISLATION availability of conditional examination of witnesses both for
COMMITTED BY THE METROPOLITAN TRIAL the benefit of the defense, as well as the prosecution. The
COURT IN APPLYING THE RULES ON DEPOSITION- Court's ruling in the case of Vda. de Manguerra v.
TAKING IN CIVIL CASES TO CRIMINAL CASES. Risos15 explicitly states that

IV.THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN LIMITING "x x x As exceptions, Rule 23 to 28 of the Rules of Court provide
THE TRADITIONAL DEFINITION OF GRAVE ABUSE for the different modes of discovery that may be resorted to by a
OF DISCRETION, OVERLOOKING THE party to an action. These rules are adopted either to perpetuate
ESTABLISHED RULE THAT VIOLATION OF THE the testimonies of witnesses or as modes of discovery. In
CONSTITUTION, THE LAW OR JURISPRUDENCE criminal proceedings, Sections 12, 13 and 15, Rule 119 of the
SIMILARLY COMES WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, which took effect on
GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION. December 1, 2000, allow the conditional examination of both
the defense and prosecution witnesses." (Underscoring
We rule in favor of petitioners. supplied)16

The Procedure for Testimonial Examination of an Unavailable The procedure under Rule 23 to 28 of the Rules of Court allows
Prosecution Witness is Covered Under Section 15, Rule 119. the taking of depositions in civil cases, either upon oral
examination or written interrogatories, before any judge, notary
The examination of witnesses must be done orally before a public or person authorized to administer oaths at any time or
judge in open court.13 This is true especially in criminal cases place within the Philippines; or before any
where the Constitution secures to the accused his right to a
public trial and to meet the witnessess against him face to face. Philippine consular official, commissioned officer or person
The requirement is the "safest and most satisfactory method of authorized to administer oaths in a foreign state or country,
with no additional requirement except reasonable notice in The condition of the private complainant being sick and of
writing to the other party.17 advanced age falls within the provision of Section 15 Rule 119 of
the Rules of Court. However, said rule substantially provides
But for purposes of taking the deposition in criminal cases, that he should be conditionally examined before the court
more particularly of a prosecution witness who would where the case is pending. Thus, this Court concludes that the
forseeably be unavailable for trial, the testimonial examination language of Section 15 Rule 119 must be interpreted to require
should be made before the court, or at least before the judge, the parties to present testimony at the hearing through live
where the case is pending as required by the clear mandate of witnesses, whose demeanor and credibility can be evaluated by
Section 15, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. the judge presiding at the hearing, rather than by means of
The pertinent provision reads thus: deposition. No where in the said rule permits the taking of
deposition outside the Philippines whether the deponent is sick
SEC. 15. Examination of witness for the prosecution. When it or not.18 (Underscoring supplied)
satisfactorily appears that a witness for the prosecution is too
sick or infirm to appear at the trial as directed by the court, or Certainly, to take the deposition of the prosecution witness
has to leave the Philippines with no definite date of returning, elsewhere and not before the very same court where the case is
he may forthwith be conditionally examined before the court pending would not only deprive a detained accused of his right
where the case is pending. Such examination, in the presence of to attend the proceedings but also deprive the trial judge of the
the accused, or in his absence after reasonable notice to attend opportunity to observe the prosecution witness' deportment
the examination has been served on him shall be conducted in and properly assess his credibility, which is especially
the same manner as an examination at the trial. Failure or intolerable when the witness' testimony is crucial to the
refusal of the accused to attend the examination after notice prosecution's case against the accused. This is the import of the
shall be considered a waiver. The statement taken may be Court's ruling in Vda. de Manguerra19 where we further
admitted in behalf of or against the accused. declared that

Since the conditional examination of a prosecution witness While we recognize the prosecution's right to preserve the
must take place at no other place than the court where the case testimony of its witness in order to prove its case, we cannot
is pending, the RTC properly nullified the MeTC's orders disregard the rules which are designed mainly for the
granting the motion to take the deposition of Li Luen Ping protection of the accused's constitutional rights. The giving of
before the Philippine consular official in Laos, Cambodia. We testimony during trial is the general rule. The conditional
quote with approval the RTC's ratiocination in this wise: examination of a witness outside of the trial is only an
exception, and as such, calls for a strict construction of the less than the Constitution secures to the accused, i.e., the right
rules.20 (Underscoring supplied) to a public trial and the right to confrontation of witnesses.
Section 14(2), Article III of the
It is argued that since the Rules of Civil Procedure is made
explicitly applicable in all cases, both civil and criminal as well Constitution provides as follows:
as special proceedings, the deposition-taking before a
Philippine consular official under Rule 23 should be deemed Section 14. (1) x x x
allowable also under the circumstances.
(2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed
However, the suggested suppletory application of Rule 23 in the innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right
testimonial examination of an unavailable prosecution witness to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature
has been categorically ruled out by the Court in the same case of and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy,
Vda. de Manguerra, as follows: impartial and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face,
and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of
It is true that Section 3, Rule 1 of the Rules of Court provides witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf.
that the rules of civil procedure apply to all actions, civil or However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding
criminal, and special proceedings. In effect, it says that the the absence of the accused provided that he has been duly
rules of civil procedure have suppletory application to criminal notified and his failure to appear is unjustifiable. (Underscoring
cases. However, it is likewise true that criminal proceedings are supplied)
primarily governed by the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.
In dismissing petitioners' apprehensions concerning the
Considering that Rule 119 adequately and squarely covers the deprivation of their constitutional rights to a public trial and
situation in the instant case, we find no cogent reason to apply confrontation, the CA opined that petitioners would still be
Rule 23 suppletorily or otherwise." (Underscoring supplied) accorded the right to cross-examine the deponent witness and
raise their objections during the deposition-taking in the same
The Conditional Examination of a Prosecution Witness Cannot manner as in a regular court trial.
Defeat the Rights of the Accused to Public Trial and
Confrontation of Witnesses We disagree. There is a great deal of difference between the
face-to- face confrontation in a public criminal trial in the
The CA took a simplistic view on the use of depositions in presence of the presiding judge and the cross-examination of a
criminal cases and overlooked fundamental considerations no witness in a foreign place outside the courtroom in the absence
of a trial judge. In the aptly cited case of People v. Estenzo, 21 the explained in People v. Seneris24that the constitutional
Court noted the uniqueness and significance of a witness requirement "insures that the witness will give his testimony
testifying in open court, thus: under oath, thus deterring lying by the threat of perjury charge;
it forces the witness to submit to cross-examination, a valuable
"The main and essential purpose of requiring a witness to instrument in exposing falsehood and bringing out the truth;
appear and testify orally at a trial is to secure for the adverse and it enables the court to observe the demeanor of the witness
party the opportunity of cross-examination. "The opponent", and assess his credibility."25
according to an eminent authority, "demands confrontation,
not for the idle purpose of gazing upon the witness, or of being As the right of confrontation is intended "to secure the accused
gazed upon by him, but for the purpose of cross examination in the right to be tried as far as facts provable by witnesses as
which cannot be had except by the direct and personal putting meet him face to face at the trial who give their testimony in his
of questions and obtaining immediate answers." There is also presence, and give to the accused an opportunity of cross-
the advantage of the witness before the judge, and it is this it examination,"26 it is properly viewed as a guarantee against the
enables the judge as trier of facts "to obtain the elusive and use of unreliable testimony in criminal trials. In the American
incommunicable evidence of a witness' deportment while case of Crawford v. Washington,27 the US Supreme Court had
testifying, and a certain subjective moral effect is produced expounded on the procedural intent of the confrontation
upon the witness. It is only when the witness testifies orally that requirement, thus:
the judge may have a true idea of his countenance, manner and
expression, which may confirm or detract from the weight of his Where testimonial statements are involved, we do not think the
testimony. Certainly, the physical condition of the witness will Framers meant to leave the Sixth Amendment's right to
reveal his capacity for accurate observation and memory, and confront witness face to face protection to the vagaries of the
his deportment and physiognomy will reveal clues to his rules of evidence, much less to amorphous notions of
character. These can only be observed by the judge if the "reliability". Certainly, none of the authorities discussed above
witness testifies orally in court. x x x"22 (Underscoring acknowledges any general reliability exception to the common-
supplied)1wphi1 law rule.

The right of confrontation, on the other hand, is held to apply Admitting statements deemed reliable by a judge is
specifically to criminal proceedings and to have a twofold fundamentally at odds with the right of confrontation. To be
purpose: (1) to afford the accused an opportunity to test the sure, the Clause's ultimate goal is to ensure reliability of
testimony of witnesses by cross-examination, and (2) to allow evidence, but it is a procedural rather than a substantive
the judge to observe the deportment of witnesses.23 The Court guarantee. It commands, not that evidence be reliable, but that
reliability be assessed in a particular manner: by testing in the In this case, where it is the prosecution that seeks to depose the
crucible of cross-examination. The Clause thus reflects a complaining witness against the accused, the stringent
judgment, not only about the desirability of reliable evidence (a procedure under Section 15, Rule 119 cannot be ignored without
point on which there could be little dissent), but about how violating the constitutional rights of the accused to due process.
reliability can best be determined." (Underscoring supplied)
Finally, the Court takes note that prosecution witness Li Luen
The Webb Ruling is Not on All Fours with the Instant Case Ping had managed to attend the initial trial proceedings before
the MeTC of Manila on September 9, 2004. At that time, Li
The CA found the frail and infirm condition of the prosecution Luen Ping's old age and fragile constitution should have been
witness as sufficient and compelling reason to uphold the MeTC unmistakably apparent and yet the prosecution failed to act
Orders granting the deposition-taking, following the ruling in with zeal and foresight in having his deposition or testimony
the case of People v. Webb28 that the taking of an unavailable taken before the MeTC pursuant to Section 15, Rule 119 of the
witness' deposition is in the nature of a discovery procedure the Revised Rules of Court. In fact, it should have been imperative
use of which is within the trial court's sound discretion which for the prosecution to have moved for the preservation of Li
needs only to be exercised in a reasonable manner and in Luen Ping's testimony at that first instance given the fact that
consonance with the spirit of the law.29 the witness is a non-resident alien who can leave the
Philippines anytime without any definite date of return.
But the ruling in the cited case is not instantly applicable herein Obviously, the prosecution allowed its main witness to leave the
as the factual settings are not similar.1wphi1 The accused in court's jurisdiction without availing of the court procedure
the Webb case had sought to take the oral deposition of five intended to preserve the testimony of such witness. The loss of
defense witnesses before a Philippine consular agent in lieu of its cause is attributable to no other party.
presenting them as live witnesses, alleging that they were all
residents of the United States who could not be compelled by Still, even after failing to secure Li Luen Ping's conditional
subpoena to testify in court. The trial court denied the motion examination before the MeTC prior to said witness' becoming
of the accused but the CA differed and ordered the deposition sick and unavailable, the prosecution would capitalize upon its
taken. When the matter was raised before this Court, we own failure by pleading for a liberal application of the rules on
sustained the trial court's disallowance of the deposition-taking depositions. It must be emphasized that while the prosecution
on the limited ground that there was no necessity for the must provide the accused every opportunity to take the
procedure as the matter sought to be proved by way of deposition of witnesses that are material to his defense in order
deposition was considered merely corroborative of the evidence to avoid charges of violating the right of the accused to
for the defense.30 compulsory process, the State itself must resort to deposition-
taking sparingly if it is to guard against accusations of violating
the right of the accused to meet the witnesses against him face
to face. Great care must be observed in the taking and use of
depositions of prosecution witnesses to the end that no
conviction of an accused will rely on ex parte affidavits and
deposition.31

Thus, the CA ignored the procedure under the Revised Rules of


Criminal Procedure for taking the deposition of an unavailable
prosecution witness when it upheld the trial court's order
allowing the deposition of prosecution witness Li Luen Ping to
take place in a venue other than the court where the case is
pending. This was certainly grave abuse of discretion.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed


Decision dated February 19, 2008 and the Resolution dated
November 28, 2008 of the Court of Appeals are REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the Decision of the Regional Trial
Court which disallowed the deposition-taking in Laos, THIRD DIVISION
Cambodia is REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.
CONCEPCION CUENCO VDA. DE G.R. No.
MANGUERRA and THE 152643 the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Orders dated August 25,
HON. RAMON C. CODILLA, JR., 2000[3] granting Concepcion Cuenco Vda. de Manguerras
Presiding Judge of Present: (Concepcions) motion to take deposition, and dated November
3, 2000[4] denying the motion for reconsideration of
the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City
respondents Raul G. Risos, Susana Yongco, Leah Abarquez, and
, Branch 19, YNARES- Atty. Gamaliel D.B. Bonje.
Petitioners, SANTIAGO, J.
, The facts of the case, as culled from the records, follow:
- versus - Chairperson,
AUSTRIA- On November 4, 1999, respondents were charged
MARTINEZ, with Estafa Through Falsification of Public Document before
the RTC of Cebu City, Branch 19, through a criminal
RAUL RISOS, SUSANA YONGCO, CHICO-
information dated October 27, 1999, which was subsequently
LEAH ABARQUEZ and ATTY. NAZARIO, amended on November 18, 1999. The case, docketed as
GAMALIEL D.B. BONJE, NACHURA, Criminal Case No. CBU-52248,[5] arose from the falsification of
Respondents. and a deed of real estate mortgage allegedly committed by
REYES, JJ. respondents where they made it appear that Concepcion, the
owner of the mortgaged property known as the Gorordo
Promulgated: property, affixed her signature to the document. Hence, the
criminal case.[6]
August 28, Earlier, on September 10, 1999, Concepcion, who was a
2008 resident of Cebu City, while on vacation in Manila, was
unexpectedly confined at the Makati Medical Center due to
x------------------------------------------------------------------------------ upper gastro-intestinal bleeding; and was advised to stay in
------x Manila for further treatment.[7]

On November 24, 1999, respondents filed a Motion for


DECISION Suspension of the Proceedings in Criminal Case No. CBU-
52248 on the ground of prejudicial question. They argued that
NACHURA, J.: Civil Case No. CEB-20359, which was an action for declaration
of nullity of the mortgage, should first be resolved. [8] On May 11,
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 2000, the RTC granted the aforesaid motion. Concepcions
of the Rules of Court, assailing the Court of Appeals (CA) motion for reconsideration was denied on June 5, 2000.[9]
Decision[1] dated August 15, 2001 and its
Resolution[2] dated March 12, 2002. The CA decision set aside
This prompted Concepcion to institute a special civil taken on the authority of such void orders is
action for certiorari before the CA seeking the nullification of similarly declared void.
the May 11 and June 5 RTC orders. The case was docketed as
CA-G.R. SP No. 60266 and remains pending before the SO ORDERED.[17]
appellate court to date.[10]

On August 16, 2000, the counsel of Concepcion filed a At the outset, the CA observed that there was a defect in
motion to take the latters deposition. [11] He explained the need the respondents petition by not impleading the People of
to perpetuate Concepcions testimony due to her weak physical the Philippines, an indispensable party. This notwithstanding,
condition and old age, which limited her freedom of mobility. the appellate court resolved the matter on its merit, declaring
that the examination of prosecution witnesses, as in the present
On August 25, 2000, the RTC granted the motion and case, is governed by Section 15, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of
directed that Concepcions deposition be taken before the Clerk Criminal Procedure and not Rule 23 of the Rules of Court. The
of Court of Makati City.[12] The respondents motion for latter provision, said the appellate court, only applies to civil
reconsideration was denied by the trial court on November 3, cases. Pursuant to the specific provision of Section 15, Rule
2000. The court ratiocinated that procedural technicalities 119, Concepcions deposition should have been taken before the
should be brushed aside because of the urgency of the situation, judge or the court where the case is pending, which is the RTC
since Concepcion was already of advanced age.[13]After several of Cebu, and not before the Clerk of Court of Makati City; and
motions for change of venue of the deposition- thus, in issuing the assailed order, the RTC clearly committed
taking, Concepcions deposition was finally taken on March 9, grave abuse of discretion. [18]
2001 at her residence.[14]
In its Resolution dated March 12, 2002 denying petitioners
Aggrieved, respondents assailed the August 25 and motion for reconsideration, the CA added that the rationale of
November 3 RTC orders in a special civil action the Rules in requiring the taking of deposition before the same
for certiorari before the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 62551.[15] court is the constitutional right of the accused to meet the
witnesses face to face. The appellate court likewise concluded
that Rule 23 could not be applied suppletorily because the
situation was adequately addressed by a specific provision of
On August 15, 2001, the CA rendered a the rules of criminal procedure.[19]
Decision[16] favorable to the respondents, the dispositive portion
of which reads: Hence, the instant petition raising the following issues:

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED I.


and the August 25, 2000 and November 3,
2000 orders of the court a quo are hereby SET
ASIDE, and any deposition that may have been
WHETHER OR NOT RULE 23 OF THE 1997 In this case, the CA disregarded the procedural flaw by allowing
RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE APPLIES TO the petition to proceed, in the interest of substantial
THE DEPOSITION OF PETITIONER. justice. Also noteworthy is that, notwithstanding the non-
joinder of the People of the Philippines as party-respondent, it
II. managed, through the Office of the Solicitor General, to file its
Comment on the petition for certiorari. Thus, the People was
WHETHER OR NOT FAILURE TO IMPLEAD given the opportunity to refute the respondents arguments.
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES IN A
PETITION FOR CERTIORARI ARISING FROM Instructive is the Courts pronouncement in Commissioner
A CRIMINAL CASE A QUO CONSTITUTES A Domingo v. Scheer[23] in this wise:
WAIVABLE DEFECT IN THE PETITION FOR
CERTIORARI.[20] There is nothing sacred about processes or
pleadings, their forms or contents. Their sole
purpose is to facilitate the application of justice
It is undisputed that in their petition to the rival claims of contending parties. They
for certiorari before the CA, respondents failed to implead the were created, not to hinder and delay, but to
People of the Philippines as a party thereto. Because of this, the facilitate and promote, the administration of
petition was obviously defective. As provided in Section 5, Rule justice. They do not constitute the thing itself,
110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, all criminal which courts are always striving to secure to
actions are prosecuted under the direction and control of the litigants. They are designed as the means best
public prosecutor. Therefore, it behooved the petitioners adapted to obtain that thing. In other words,
(respondents herein) to implead the People of they are a means to an end. When they lose the
the Philippines as respondent in the CA case to enable the character of the one and become the other, the
Solicitor General to comment on the petition.[21] administration of justice is at fault and courts
are correspondingly remiss in the performance
However, this Court has repeatedly declared that the failure to of their obvious duty.[24]
implead an indispensable party is not a ground for the
dismissal of an action. In such a case, the remedy is to implead
the non-party claimed to be indispensable. Parties may be Accordingly, the CA cannot be faulted for deciding the case on
added by order of the court, on motion of the party or on its the merits despite the procedural defect.
own initiative at any stage of the action and/or such times as
are just. If the petitioner/plaintiff refuses to implead an On the more important issue of whether Rule 23 of the Rules of
indispensable party despite the order of the court, the latter Court applies to the instant case, we rule in the negative.
may dismiss the complaint/petition for the
petitioners/plaintiffs failure to comply.[22] It is basic that all witnesses shall give their testimonies at the
trial of the case in the presence of the judge. [25] This is especially
true in criminal cases in order that the accused may be afforded of the accused to attend the examination after
the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses pursuant to his notice shall be considered a waiver. The
constitutional right to confront the witnesses face to face. [26] It statement taken may be admitted in behalf of or
also gives the parties and their counsel the chance to propound against the accused.
such questions as they deem material and necessary to support
their position or to test the credibility of said witnesses.
[27]
Lastly, this rule enables the judge to observe the witnesses Petitioners contend that Concepcions advanced age and health
demeanor.[28] condition exempt her from the application of Section 15, Rule
119 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, and thus, calls for the
This rule, however, is not absolute. As exceptions, Rules 23 to application of Rule 23 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.
28 of the Rules of Court provide for the different modes of
discovery that may be resorted to by a party to an action. These The contention does not persuade.
rules are adopted either to perpetuate the testimonies of
witnesses or as modes of discovery. In criminal proceedings, The very reason offered by the petitioners to
Sections 12,[29] 13[30] and 15,[31] Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of exempt Concepcion from the coverage of Rule 119 is at once the
Criminal Procedure, which took effect on December 1, 2000, ground which places her squarely within the coverage of the
allow the conditional examination of both the defense and same provision. Rule 119 specifically states that a witness may
prosecution witnesses. be conditionally examined: 1) if the witness is too sick or infirm
to appear at the trial; or 2) if the witness has to leave
In the case at bench, in issue is the examination of a the Philippines with no definite date of returning. Thus,
prosecution witness, who, according to the petitioners, was too when Concepcion moved that her deposition be taken, had she
sick to travel and appear before the trial court. Section 15 of not been too sick at that time, her motion would have been
Rule 119 thus comes into play, and it provides: denied. Instead of conditionally examining her outside the trial
court, she would have been compelled to appear before the
Section 15. Examination of witness for the court for examination during the trial proper.
prosecution. When it satisfactorily appears that
a witness for the prosecution is too sick or infirm Undoubtedly, the procedure set forth in Rule 119 applies to the
to appear at the trial as directed by the court, or case at bar. It is thus required that the conditional examination
has to leave the Philippines with no definite date be made before the court where the case is pending. It is also
of returning, he may forthwith be conditionally necessary that the accused be notified, so that he can attend the
examined before the court where the case is examination, subject to his right to waive the same after
pending. Such examination, in the presence of reasonable notice. As to the manner of examination, the Rules
the accused, or in his absence after reasonable mandate that it be conducted in the same manner as an
notice to attend the examination has been served examination during trial, that is, through question and answer.
on him, shall be conducted in the same manner
as an examination at the trial. Failure or refusal
At this point, a query may thus be posed: in conditions. Neither may it engraft into the law (or the Rules)
granting Concepcions motion and in actually taking her qualifications not contemplated.[33] When the words are clear
deposition, were the above rules complied with? The CA and categorical, there is no room for interpretation. There is
answered in the negative. The appellate court considered the only room for application.[34]
taking of deposition before the Clerk of Court of Makati City
erroneous and contrary to the clear mandate of the Rules that Petitioners further insist that Rule 23 applies to the instant
the same be made before the court where the case is case, because the rules on civil procedure apply suppletorily to
pending.Accordingly, said the CA, the RTC order was issued criminal cases.
with grave abuse of discretion.
We agree with the CA and quote with approval its It is true that Section 3, Rule 1 of the Rules of Court provides
ratiocination in this wise: that the rules of civil procedure apply to all actions, civil or
criminal, and special proceedings. In effect, it says that the
Unlike an examination of a defense witness rules of civil procedure have suppletory application to criminal
which, pursuant to Section 5, Rule 119 of the cases. However, it is likewise true that the criminal proceedings
previous Rules, and now Section 13, Rule 119 of are primarily governed by the Revised Rules of Criminal
the present Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. Considering that Rule 119 adequately and squarely
Procedure, may be taken before any judge, or, if covers the situation in the instant case, we find no cogent
not practicable, a member of the Bar in good reason to apply Rule 23 suppletorily or otherwise.
standing so designated by the judge in the order,
or, if the order be made by a court of superior To reiterate, the conditional examination of a prosecution
jurisdiction, before an inferior court to be witness for the purpose of taking his deposition should be made
designated therein, the examination of a witness before the court, or at least before the judge, where the case is
for the prosecution under Section 15 of the pending. Such is the clear mandate of Section 15, Rule 119 of
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure (December the Rules. We find no necessity to depart from, or to relax, this
1, 2000) may be done only before the court rule. As correctly held by the CA, if the deposition is made
where the case is pending.[32] elsewhere, the accused may not be able to attend, as when he is
under detention. More importantly, this requirement ensures
that the judge would be able to observe the witness deportment
Rule 119 categorically states that the conditional to enable him to properly assess his credibility. This is
examination of a prosecution witness shall be made before the especially true when the witness testimony is crucial to the
court where the case is pending. Contrary to petitioners prosecutions case.
contention, there is nothing in the rule which may remotely be
interpreted to mean that such requirement applies only to cases While we recognize the prosecutions right to preserve its
where the witness is within the jurisdiction of said court and witness testimony to prove its case, we cannot disregard rules
not when he is kilometers away, as in the present which are designed mainly for the protection of the accuseds
case.Therefore, the court may not introduce exceptions or constitutional rights. The giving of testimony during trial is the
general rule. The conditional examination of a witness outside
of the trial is only an exception, and as such, calls for a strict
construction of the rules.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The Court of


Appeals Decision and Resolution dated August 25,
2000 and March 12, 2002, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No.
62551, are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION evidenced by a letter of Solicitor Braithwaite of England in
behalf of CHERRY VALLEY; (d) instead of paying its obligation,
[G.R. No. 118438. December 4, 1998] ALLIED through its president wrote CHERRY VALLEY on 17
July 1985 inviting the latter to be a stockholder in a new
ALLIED AGRI-BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CO., corporation to be formed by ALLIED, which invitation however
INC., vs. COURT OF APPEALS and CHERRY was rejected by CHERRY VALLEY on 26 September 1985; and,
VALLEY FARMS LIMITED, respondents. (e) ALLIED's president Ricardo Quintos expressly
acknowledged through a letter of 8 October 1985 the obligation
DECISION of his corporation to CHERRY VALLEY. The complaint also
prayed that ALLIED be made to pay the sum of 51,245.12 or its
BELLOSILLO, J.: peso equivalent at the time of payment, plus legal interest from
date of filing of the complaint until full payment, and twenty
ALLIED AGRI-BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CO., INC. percent (20%) of the total amount being claimed from
assails in this petition the decision of the Court of Appeals petitioner as attorneys fees; and, to pay the costs of suit.
which affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting the
motion for summary judgment filed by Cherry Valley Farms On 27 February 1986 ALLIED filed an answer [1] denying
Limited based on the implied admissions of petitioner. the material allegations of the complaint and contended
that: (a) private respondent CHERRY VALLEY lacked the legal
On 14 October 1986 respondent Cherry Valley Farms capacity to sue; (b) the letter of Quintos to CHERRY VALLEY
Limited (CHERRY VALLEY), a foreign company based in was never authorized by the board of petitioner ALLIED, thus
England, filed against petitioner Allied Agri-Business any admission made in that letter could not bind ALLIED; (c)
Development Co. Inc. (ALLIED) a complaint with the Regional the alleged amount of 51,245.12 did not represent the true and
Trial Court of Makati City for collection of sum of money real obligation, if any, of petitioner; (d) to the best of the
alleging, among others that: (a) CHERRY VALLEY is a foreign knowledge of ALLIED, not all ducks and ducklings covered and
corporation with principal office at Rothwell, Lincoln, England; represented by CHERRY VALLEYs invoices were actually
(b) on 1 September 1982 up to 16 February 1983, or for a period ordered by the former; and, (e) private respondent had no
of less than six (6) months, petitioner ALLIED purchased in ten cause of action against petitioner.
(10) separate orders and received from respondent CHERRY
VALLEY several duck hatching eggs and ducklings which in On 19 July 1988, CHERRY VALLEY served on ALLIEDs
value totaled 51,245.12; (c) ALLIED did not pay the total counsel a Request for Admission[2] dated 15 July 1988 worded
purchase price of 51,245.12 despite repeated demands as follows:
1. That the chairman of the board of directors and president of It is further requested that said sworn admission be made
your corporation is Mr. Ricardo V. Quintos; within 10 days from receipt of this request.

2. That out of the 3,000,000 subscribed shares of stock, ALLIED filed its Comments/Objections[3] alleging that: (a)
1,496,000 shares is (sic) owned by Mr. Ricardo Quintos and the admissions requested were matters which the private
1,432,000 shares is(sic) also owned by his wife, Agnes dela respondent had the burden to prove through its own witness
Torre; during the trial and thus petitioner need not answer; and, (b)
the request for admission regarding the ownership set-up of
3. That for a period of six (6) months starting from 1 September petitioner corporation was immaterial and improper for not
1982, your corporation ordered and received from CHERRY having been pleaded in the complaint.
VALLEY duck eggs and ducklings with a total value of 51,245.12
as reflected on CHERRY VALLEY invoices issued to you; In its Reply[4] to Comments/Objections to Request for
Admission, CHERRY VALLEY maintained that there was no
4. That you received a letter dated 22 March 1985 from Mr. need on its part to produce a witness to testify on the matters
P.R.C. Braithwaite, solicitor of CHERRY VALLEY, demanding requested for admission, for these pertained to incidents
settlement of your unpaid account of 52,245.12 for the above- personal to and within the knowledge of petitioner
stated purchases; alone. Thereafter, on 2 August 1998, CHERRY VALLEY filed a
motion with the trial court to resolve the objections of ALLIED
5. That instead of paying your obligation to CHERRY VALLEY, to the request for admission.
Mr. Ricardo Quintos, in his capacity as president of your
corporation, sent a letter to CHERRY VALLEY dated 17 July On 11 August 1988 the trial court issued an
1985 proposing the setting up of a new corporation with Order[5] disregarding ALLIEDs Comments/Objections to
CHERRY VALLEY refusing acceptance of your proposal; Request for Admission in view of its non-compliance with Sec.
2, Rule 26, of the Rules of Court and directing ALLIED to
6. That you received a letter dated 26 September 1985 from Mr. answer the request for admission within ten (10) days from
J. Cross, Director and Secretary of CHERRY VALLEY refusing receipt of the order, otherwise, the matters contained in the
acceptance of your proposal; request would be deemed admitted. ALLIED moved to
reconsider the order; however, on 8 November 1988 the lower
7. That Mr. Ricardo Quintos in a letter dated 8 October 1985 court denied[6]ALLIEDs motion for reconsideration and
admitted your indebtedness in the sum of English Sterling directed the latter to answer the request for admission within a
Pounds 51,245.12. nonextendible period of five (5) days from receipt of the order.
ALLIED failed to submit a sworn answer to the request for requested were matters which CHERRY VALLEY had the
admission within the additional period of five (5) days granted burden to prove during the trial.
by the trial court. Hence, CHERRY VALLEY filed a motion for
summary judgment[7] alleging that there was already an implied The petition must fail. We cannot sustain the allegation
admission on the matters requested for admission pursuant to that respondent CHERRY VALLEY being an unlicensed foreign
Rule 26 of the Rules of Court. corporation lacked the legal capacity to institute the suit in the
trial court for the recovery of money claims from petitioner. In
On 23 October 1990, the trial court rendered fact, petitioner is estopped from challenging or questioning the
judgment[8] against petitioner: (a) Ordering defendant to personality of a corporation after having acknowledged the
pay plaintiff the sum of -51,245.12 or its peso equivalent at the same by entering into a contract with it.[10] The doctrine of lack
time of payment plus legal interest from the date of filing of this of capacity to sue or failure of a foreign corporation to acquire a
complaint until fully paid; and, (b) Ordering defendant to pay local license was never intended to favor domestic corporations
plaintiff ten percent (10%) of the total amount due from who enter into solitary transactions with unwary foreign firms
defendant by way of attorneys fees since no protracted trial was and then repudiate their obligations simply because the latter
held in this case, plus cost of suit. are not licensed to do business in this country.[11]

ALLIED appealed to the Court of Appeals. On 6 September Petitioner cannot also successfully argue that its failure to
1994 the Court of Appeals rendered a decision [9] affirming the answer the request for admission did not result in its admission
summary judgment rendered by the trial court with the of the matters stated in the request. Section 1 of Rule 26 of the
modification that ALLIED should pay the monetary award to Rules of Court provides:
CHERRY VALLEY in Philippine currency and that the award of
attorneys fees and costs of suit be deleted. SECTION 1. Request for admission. - At any time after issues
have been joined, a party may file and serve upon any other
Hence, the instant petition by ALLIED alleging that serious party a written request for the admission by the latter of the
errors were committed by the Court of Appeals in affirming the genuineness of any material and relevant document described
summary judgment of the trial court; that the complaint should in and exhibited with the request or of the truth of any material
have been instantly dismissed on the ground of lack of and relevant matter of fact set forth in the request. Copies of the
personality to sue on the part of respondent CHERRY VALLEY; documents shall be delivered with the request unless copies
that the summary judgment was tantamount to a denial of have already been furnished.
ALLIEDs right to due process for not requiring CHERRY
VALLEY to produce its own witness; and, that the admission
The purpose of the rule governing requests for admission disregarded the objections and directed petitioner after denying
of facts and genuineness of documents is to expedite trial and to its motion for reconsideration, to answer the request within five
relieve parties of the costs of proving facts which will not be (5) days from receipt of the directive; otherwise, the matters of
disputed on trial and the truth of which can be ascertained by which the admission was requested would be deemed
reasonable inquiry. Each of the matters of which an admission admitted. Petitioner failed to submit the required answer
is requested shall be deemed admitted unless within a period within the period. The matter set forth in the request were
designated in the request which shall not be less than fifteen therefore deemed admitted by petitioner, i.e., (a) that for a
(15) days after service thereof, or within such further time as period of six (6) months starting from 1 September 1982,
the court may allow on motion, the party to whom the request petitioner ordered and received from respondent CHERRY
is directed files and serves upon the party requesting the VALLEY duck eggs and ducklings amounting to 51,245.12; (b)
admission a sworn statement either denying specifically the that petitioner received a letter dated 22 March 1985 from
matters of which an admission is requested or setting forth in private respondents lawyer demanding payment of the amount
detail the reasons why he cannot truthfully either admit or deny of the purchases; (c) that instead of paying the obligation to
those matters.[12] Upon service of request for admission, the respondent CHERRY VALLEY, petitioners president Ricardo
party served may do any of the following acts: (a) he may admit Quintos sent a letter to the former proposing the establishment
each of the matters of which an admission is requested, in of a new corporation with CHERRY VALLEY as one of the
which case, he need not file an answer; (b) he may admit the stockholders; (d) that the proposal was refused by the Director
truth of the matters of which admission is requested by serving of CHERRY VALLEY; and, (e) that petitioners president
upon the party requesting a written admission of such matters Ricardo Quintos admitted the indebtedness of his corporation
within the period stated in the request, which must not be less to CHERRY VALLEY in the sum of English Sterling Pounds
than ten (10) days after service, or within such further time as 51,245.12.
the court may allow on motion and notice; (c) he may file a
sworn statement denying specifically the matter of which an The burden of affirmative action is on the party upon
admission is requested; or, (d) he may file a sworn statement whom notice is served to avoid the admission rather than upon
setting forth in detail the reasons why he cannot truthfully the party seeking the admission.[14] Hence, when petitioner
either admit or deny the matters of which an admission is failed to reply to a request to admit, it may not argue that the
requested.[13] adverse party has the burden of proving the facts sought to be
admitted. Petitioners silence is an admission of the facts stated
The records show that although petitioner filed with the in the request.[15]
trial court its comments and objections to the request for
admission served on it by private respondent, the trial court
This Court finds that the motion for summary judgment
filed by respondent CHERRY VALLEY on the ground that there
were no questions of fact in issue since the material allegations SYNOPSIS
of the complaint were not disputed was correctlygranted by the
trial court. It is a settled rule that summary judgment may be Webb, an accused in the crime of Rape with Homicide,
granted if the facts which stand admitted by reason of a partys filed a Motion to Take Testimony by Oral Deposition, to take
failure to deny statements contained in a request for admission the testimonies of some vital witnesses residing in the U.S.,
show that no material issue of fact exists. [16] By its failure to before the proper Philippine consular authorities. The trial
answer the other partys request for admission, petitioner has court denied the motion, but the Court of Appeals allowed the
admitted all the material facts necessary for judgment against same.
itself.[17]
The only reason why respondent was seeking the
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The decision of deposition of the foreign witnesses was to foreclose any
the Court of Appeals dated 6 September 1994 objection to the admissibility of two defense exhibits which had
which AFFIRMED the trial court in "ordering defendant to pay already been admitted. Further, the evidence sought to be
plaintiff the sum of 51,245.12 or its peso equivalent at the time obtained through the deposition-taking would be superfluous
of payment plus legal interest from the date of filing of this as there are exhibits of the same species previously introduced
complaint until fully paid;" and "ordering defendant to pay and admitted in evidence by the trial court. Hence, the same
plaintiff ten percent (10%) of the total amount due from would be merely corroborative or cumulative in nature and will
defendant by way of attorney's fees since no protacted trial was not reasonably add to the persuasiveness of the evidence
held in this case plus cost of suit," with the modification that already in hand. The use of discovery procedures is directed to
"Allied shall pay the monetary award of attorney's fees and the sound discretion of the trial judge. Here, the Court found no
costs of suit be deleted," is AFFIRMED. Costs against herein indication of grave abuse of discretion in the denial of the
petitioner Allied Agri-Business Development Co., Inc. motion.

SO ORDERED. SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; DEPOSITIONS;


ELUCIDATED.- As defined, a deposition is - The
testimony of a witness taken upon oral question or written
interrogatories, not in open court, but in pursuance of a
commission to take testimony issued by a court, or under a - states that when a person intends to rely on such a
general law or court rule on the subject, and reduced to defense, that person must move for the taking of the
writing and duly authenticated, and intended to be used in deposition of his witnesses within the time provided for
preparation and upon the trial of a civil or criminal filing a pre-trial motion.
prosecution. A pretrial discovery device by which one
party (through his or her attorney) asks oral questions of 2. ID.; ID.; POWER OF THE COURT TO STOP
the other party or of a witness for the other party. The FURTHER EVIDENCE.- Considering the factual
person who is deposed is called the deponent. The circumstances of the case, the depositions proposed to be
deposition is conducted under oath outside of the court taken from the five U.S. based witnesses would be merely
room, usually in one of the lawyers offices. A transcript - corroborative or cumulative in nature and in denying
word for word account - is made of the deposition. respondents motion to take them, the trial court was but
Testimony of [a] witness, taken in writing, under oath or exercising its judgment on what it perceived to be a
affirmation, before some judicial officer in answer to superfluous exercise on the belief that the introduction
questions or interrogatories x x x. and the purposes of thereof will not reasonably add to the persuasiveness of the
taking depositions are to: 1.] Give greater assistance to the evidence already on record. In this regard, it bears
parties in ascertaining the truth and in checking and stressing that under Section 6, Rule 113 of the Revised
preventing perjury; 2.] Provide an effective means of Rules of Court: SEC. 6. Power of the court to stop further
detecting and exposing false, fraudulent claims and evidence. x x x The court may stop the introduction of
defenses; 3.] Make available in a simple, convenient and further testimony upon any particular point when the
inexpensive way, facts which otherwise could not be proved evidence upon it is already so full that more witnesses to
except with great difficulty; 4.] Educate the parties in the same point cannot be reasonably expected to be
advance of trial as to the real value of their claims and additionally persuasive. But this power should be
defenses thereby encouraging settlements; 5.] Expedite exercised with caution. Needless to state, the trial court can
litigation; 6.] Safeguard against surprise; 7.] Prevent not be faulted with lack of caution in denying respondents
delay; 8.] Simplify and narrow the issues; and 9.] Expedite motion considering that under the prevailing facts of the
and facilitate both preparation and trial. As can be gleaned case, respondent had more than ample opportunity to
from the foregoing, a deposition, in keeping with its nature adduce evidence in his defense. Certainly, a party can not
as a mode of discovery, should be taken before and not feign denial of due process where he had the opportunity to
during trial. In fact, rules on criminal practice - particularly present his side. It must be borne in mind in this regard
on the defense of alibi, which is respondents main defense that due process is not a monopoly of the defense. Indeed,
in the criminal proceedings against him in the court below the State is entitled to due process as much as the accused.
Furthermore, while a litigation is not a game of out that the defense has already presented at least fifty-
technicalities, it is a truism that every case must be seven (57) witnesses and four hundred sixty-four (464)
prosecuted in accordance with the prescribed procedure documentary exhibits, many of them of the exact nature as
to insure an orderly and speedy administration of justice. those to be produced or testified to by the proposed foreign
deponents. Under the circumstances, We sustain the
3. ID.; SPECIAL CIVIL proposition that the trial judge commits no grave abuse of
ACTIONS; CERTIORARI; GRAVE ABUSE OF discretion if she decides that the evidence on the matter
DISCRETION; NOT COMMITTED IN THE DENIAL sought to be proved in the United States could not possibly
OF MOTION TO TAKE TESTIMONY BY ORAL add anything substantial to the defense evidence involved.
DEPOSITION IN CASE AT BAR.- The use of discovery
procedures is directed to the sound discretion of the trial DAVIDE, JR., C.J., separate opinion:
judge. The deposition taking can not be based nor can it be
denied on flimsy reasons. Discretion has to be exercised in 1. REMEDIAL LAW; SPECIAL CIVIL ACTIONS;
a reasonable manner and in consonance with the spirit of CERTIORARI GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION;
the law. There is no indication in this case that in denying NOT COMMITTED IN THE DENIAL OF MOTION
the motion of respondent accused, the trial judge acted in a TO TAKE TESTIMONY BY ORAL DEPOSITION IN
biased, arbitrary, capricious or oppressive manner. Grave CASE AT BAR.- I fully concur with the majority that the
abuse of discretion x x x implies such capricious, and trial court did not commit grave abuse of discretion in
whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of denying the application of the defense for the taking by
jurisdiction, or, in other words where the power is depositions of the testimony of its witnesses who are
exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of residents of the United States of America. Since the trial
passion or personal hostility, and it must be so patent and court had already admitted the exhibits on which the said
gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a witnesses would have testified, the taking of the
virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act all in depositions would have been unnecessary.
contemplation of law. Whether or not the respondent-
accused has been given ample opportunity to prove his 2. ID.; EVIDENCE; TAKING OF DEPOSITIONS OF
innocence and whether or not a further prolongation of WITNESSES RESIDING ABROAD IN CRIMINAL
proceedings would be dilatory is addressed, in the first CASES BEFORE THE PHILIPPINE COURTS MUST
instance, to the sound discretion of the trial judge. If there BE ALLOWED.- Whether the taking of the depositions of
has been no grave abuse of discretion, only after conviction witnesses may be allowed in criminal cases before the
may this Court examine such matters further. It is pointed Philippine courts must be squarely resolved. I take an
affirmative stand on the issue. For one, we have Sections 4 judgment (East Asiatic Co. v. C.I.R., 40 SCRA 521,
and 5 of Rule 119 of the Rules of Court which provides for 5440). And more importantly, deposition in criminal cases
the Application for examination of witness for accused of a witness for the defense who is residing abroad must be
before trial and Examination of defense witness; how allowed. Involved in a criminal case is not just the status or
made, respectively. These Sections refer to the conditional the property of the defendant, but the life or limb or the
examination of defense witnesses, which is one mode of liberty of the accused. If, then, a deposition is allowed for a
perpetuating testimony available to the accused witness in a civil case, then it is with more reason that it be
(REGALADO F.D., REMEDIAL LAW COMPENDIUM, allowed in a criminal case; its denial would amount to a
vol.2, 1995 ed., 428). This deposition, being to perpetuate deprivation of due process and to the accuseds right to
testimony, may be done before the commencement of the compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses
trial state, or anytime thereafter, as the need there for in his favor, which are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights
arises, but before the promulgation of judgment. Then, too, (Sections 1 and 14(2), Article III, Constitution).
there is Section 7 of Rule 24 of the Rules of Court, which
provides for Depositions pending appeal applies to 3. ID.; ID.; ID.; RULE ON CIVIL PROCEDURE MUST
criminal cases. (REGALADO F.D., REMEDIAL LAW BE APPLIED ON HOW TO DO THE SAME.- As to
COMPENDIUM, vol. 1, 1997 ed., 322). According to Justice how to take the testimony of a defense witness who is
Regalado the procedure in Section 7 is available in all unable to come to testify in open court because he is a
actions, including criminal cases. Thus, the ruling in the resident of a foreign country, I respectfully submit,
case of Dasmarinas Garments, Inc. v. Court of however, that the rule on the matter under Rules on Civil
Appeals, (225 SCRA 622, 634 [1993]), is applicable in the Procedure may be applied suppletorily. Section 11 of Rule
case at bar, to wit: x x x. Depositions may be taken at any 23 of the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure which provides
time after the institution of any action, whenever necessary for Persons before whom depositions may be taken in
or convenient. There is no rule that limits depositions- foreign countries. There are provisions of the Rule on Civil
taking only to the period of pre-trial or before it; no Procedure which have been made applicable in criminal
prohibition against the taking of deposition after pre- cases. For one, as earlier mentioned, Section 7 of Rule 24 is
trial. Indeed, the law authorizes the taking of depositions of applicable in criminal cases. See also the instances allowed
witnesses before or after an appeal is taken from the in Caos v. Peralta, (115 SCRA 843
judgment of a Regional Trial Court to perpetuate their [1982]); Naguiat V. IntermediateAppellate Court, (164
testimony for use in the event of further proceedings in the SCRA 505 [1988]); and Cojuangco v. Court of
said court (Rule 134, Rules of Court), and even during the Appeals, (203 SCRA 619 [1991]). Also, an authority on
process of execution of a final and executory criminal procedure asserts that in all matters not
specifically touched on by Section 6 and the preceding 2. ID.; EVIDENCE; DISCOVERY PROCEDURES IN
Sections of Rule 119, Rule 24, Rules of Court, ante, applies CRIMINAL CASES; TO STRENGTHEN THE
in a suppletory character, since the taking of depositions CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF ACCUSED TO DUE
under Rule 24 and conditional examination of defense PROCESS.- I write this opinion to complement the
witnesses under Sections 4 and 5, Rule 119, supra, are learned opinion of our Chief Justice. Thus, this Court has
taken under the same circumstances and for the same given an expensive interpretation of the right of an accused
purpose; that is, the preservation of a material witness to discovery procedure. In the first Webb case, we held: x x
testimony. (PAMARAN, THE 1985 RULES IN CRIMINAL x. This failure to provide discovery procedure during
PROCEDURE ANNOTATED, 1998 ed., 402). Finally, preliminary investigation does not, however, negate its
Section 6 of Rule 1 of the 1997 Rule of Civil Procedure use by a person under investigation when indispensable
(formerly Sec. 2, Rule I of the 1964 Rules of Court), to protect his constitutional right to life, liberty and
expressly provides that the rules shall be liberally property. Preliminary investigation is not too early a
construed in order to promote their objective of securing a stage to guard against any significant erosion of the
just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action constitutional right to due process of a potential
and proceeding. accused. x x x We uphold the legal basis of the right of
petitioners to demand from their prosecutor, the NBI, the
PUNO, J., concurring opinion: original copy of the April28, 1995 sworn statement of
Alfaro and the FBI Report during their preliminary
1. REMEDIAL LAW; SPECIAL CIVIL ACTIONS; GRAVE investigation considering their exculpatory character,
ABUSE OF DISCRETION; NOT COMMITTED IN and hence, unquestionable materiality to the issue of their
THE DENIAL OF MOTION TO TAKE TESTIMONY probable guilt. The right is rooted on the constitutional
BY ORAL DEPOSITION IN CASE AT BAR.- I agree protection of due process which we rule to be operational
that respondent Webbs Motion to Take Testimony by Oral even during the preliminary investigation to a potential
Deposition was correctly denied by the trial court on the accused. x x x Upon assumption of office, our present Chief
ground of lack of necessity. The only reason for the filing of Justice vowed to have a court that is pro-active, a stance
the motion is to foreclose any objection and/or rejection of, that will surely promote rights more than authority. I am
as the case may be, the admissibility of defense Exhibits sure such a stance will quicken moves to liberalize further
218 and 219. It appears that said Exhibits 218 and 219 have our rules on criminal procedure on the matter of discovery
already been admitted by the trial court. and deposition taking as to strengthen the constitutional
right to due process of an accused.
APPEARANCES OF COUNSEL denying herein respondent Hubert Jeffrey P. Webbs request to
take the depositions of five (5) citizens and residents of the
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee. United States before the proper consular officer of the
Philippines in Washington D.C. and California, as the case may
Ongkiko Kalaw Manhit & Acorda Law Office for private be.
respondent.
The factual and procedural antecedents are matters of
record or are otherwise uncontroverted.

Respondent Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb is one of the accused


in Criminal Case No. 95-404 for Rape with Homicide
entitled People of the Philippines v. Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb, et
al. presently pending before Branch 274 of the Regional Trial
Court of Paraaque, presided by Judge Amelita G. Tolentino.
FIRST DIVISION
During the course of the proceedings in the trial court,
[G.R. No. 132577. August 17, 1999] respondent filed on May 2, 1997, a Motion To Take Testimony
By Oral Deposition[1] praying that he be allowed to take the
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, testimonies of the following:
vs. HUBERT JEFFREY P. WEBB, respondent.
1.] Steven Bucher
DECISION
Acting Chief, Records Services Branch
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
U.S. Department of Justice
Challenged in this petition for review on certiorari is the
Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 45399 Immigration and Naturalization Service
entitled Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb v. Hon. Amelita Tolentino, in
her capacity as Presiding Judge of Branch 274 of the Regional 425 Eye Street, N.W.
Trial Court of Paraaque, People of the Philippines and Lauro
Vizconde which set aside the order of respondent judge therein Washington D.C. 20536
U.S.A. 210 South Glasell, City of Orange

2.] Debora Farmer California, 92666

Records Operations, Office of Records U.S.A.

U.S. Department of Justice before the general consul, consul, vice-consul or consular agent
of the Philippines in lieu of presenting them as witnesses in
Immigration and Naturalization Service court alleging that the said persons are all residents of the
United States and may not therefore be compelled by subpoena
Washington D.C. to testify since the court had no jurisdiction over them.

U.S.A. Respondent further alleged that the taking of the oral


depositions of the aforementioned individuals whose
3.] Jaci Alston testimonies are allegedly material and indispensable to
establish his innocence of the crime charged is sanctioned by
Department of Motor Vehicles Section 4, Rule 24 of the Revised Rules of Court which provides
that:
Sacramento, California
SEC. 4. Use of depositions. At the trial or upon the hearing of a
U.S.A. motion or an interlocutory proceeding, any part or all of a
deposition, so far as admissible under the rules of evidence,
4.] Ami Smalley may be used against any party who was present or
represented at the taking of the deposition or who had due
Department of Motor Vehicles notice thereof, in accordance with any one of the following
provisions:
Sacramento, California
(a) Any deposition may be used by any party for the purpose
U.S.A. of contradicting or impeaching the testimony of the deponent
as a witness;
5.] John Pavlisin
(b) The deposition of a party or of any one who at the time of the Rules of Court on Criminal Procedure, being a mode of
taking the deposition was an officer, director, or managing discovery, only provides for conditional examination of
agent of a public or private corporation, partnership, or witnesses for the accused before trial not during trial; 3.] Rule
association which is a party may be used by an adverse party 119, Section 5 of the Rules of Court on Criminal Procedure does
for any purpose; not sanction the conditional examination of witnesses for the
accused/defense outside Philippine jurisdiction.[2]
(c) The deposition of a witness whether or not a party, may be
used by any party for any purpose if the court finds: (1) that In an Order dated June 11, 1997, the trial court denied the
the witness is dead; (2) that the witness is out of the province motion of respondent on the ground that the same is not
and a greater distance than fifty (50) kilometers from the allowed by Section 4, Rule 24 and Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 119
place of trial or hearing, or is out of the Philippines, unless it of the Revised Rules of Court.[3]
appears that his absence was procured by the party offering
the deposition; or (3) that the witness is unable to attend or A motion for reconsideration[4] thereto on the grounds
testify because of age, sickness, infirmity, or imprisonment; or that: 1.] The 1997 Rules of Court expressly allows the taking of
(4) that the party offering the deposition has been unable to depositions, and 2.] Section 11 of Rule 23 of the 1997 Rules of
procure the attendance of the witness by subpoena or (5) upon Court expressly allows the taking of depositions in foreign
application and notice, that such exceptional circumstances countries before a consul general, consul, vice-consul or
exist as to make it desirable in the interest of justice and with consular agent of the Republic of the Philippines, was likewise
due regard to the importance of presenting the testimony of denied by the trial court in an order dated July 25, 1997. [5]
witnesses orally in open court, to allow the deposition to be
used; Dissatisfied, respondent elevated his cause to the Court of
Appeals by way of a petition for certiorari[6] naming as
(d) If only part of a deposition is offered in evidence by a respondents therein the Presiding Judge Amelita G. Tolentino,
party, the adverse party may require him to introduce all of it the People and private complainant Lauro Vizconde. In the
which is relevant to the part introduced and any party may petition, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 45399, respondent Webb
introduce any other parts. (italics supplied). argued that: 1.] The taking of depositions pending action is
applicable to criminal proceedings; 2.] Depositions by oral
The prosecution thereafter filed an opposition to the said testimony in a foreign country can be taken before a consular
motion averring that: 1.] Rule 24, Section 4 of the Rules of officer of the Philippine Embassy in the United States; and, 3.]
Court, contrary to the representation of respondent-accused, He has the right to completely and fully present evidence to
has no application in criminal cases; 2.] Rule 119, Section 4 of
support his defense and the denial of such right will violate his b.] The public respondent correctly ruled
constitutional right to due process. that Rule 119, Section 4 of the Rules of Criminal
Procedure only provides for conditional
Commenting[7] on the petition, the People contended that examination of witnesses before trial but not during
the questioned orders of the Presiding Judge are well within the trial.
sphere of her judicial discretion and do not constitute grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction c.] The public respondent correctly ruled
and that if at all, they may be considered merely as errors of that Rule 119 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure
judgment which may be corrected by appeal in due time does not sanction the conditional examination of
because: a.] The motion failed to comply with the requirements witnesses for the accused/defense outside of
of Section 4, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court; b.] The conditional Philippine jurisdiction.
examination must be conducted before an inferior court; and c.]
The examination of the witnesses must be done in open court. 2.] The public respondent did not commit any grave
abuse of discretion in denying petitioner Webbs
In his Comment,[8] private respondent Lauro Vizconde motion to take testimony by oral deposition
sought the dismissal of the petition contending that: considering that the proposed deposition tends
only to further establish the admissibility of
1.] The public respondent did not commit grave abuse documentary exhibits already admitted in
of discretion in denying petitioner [now herein evidence by the public respondent.
respondent] Webbs motion to take testimony by
oral deposition dated 29 April 1997 as well as On February 6, 1998, the Fourth Division [9] of the Court of
petitioners motion for reconsideration dated 23 Appeals rendered judgment,[10] the dispositive portion of which
June 1997 for not being sanctioned by the Rules of reads:
Court.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The orders of
a.] The public respondent correctly held that respondent judge dated 11 June 1997 (Annex A of the Petition)
Rule 23, Section 1 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil and 25 July 1997 (Annex B of the Petition) are hereby
Procedure finds no application in criminal actions ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. It is hereby ordered that the
such as the case at bar. deposition of the following witnesses be TAKEN before the
proper consular officer of the Republic of the Philippines in
Washington D.C. and California, as the case may be:
(a) Mr. Steven Bucher; What are challenged before this Court are interlocutory
orders and not a final judgment. The respondent has filed his
(b) Ms. Deborah Farmer; Comment[15] which We treat as an Answer. The petitioner, in
turn, filed a Reply.[16] The petition is ripe for decision.
(c) Mr. Jaci Alston;
In urging this Tribunal to exercise its power of review over
(d) Ms. Ami Smalley; and the assailed decision of the Appellate Court, petitioner asserts
that the Court of Appeals committed serious and reversible
(e) Mr. John Pavlisin. error

SO ORDERED. I

From the foregoing, the People forthwith elevated its cause IN RULING THAT RULE 23 OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL
to this Court by way of the instant petition dispensing with the PROCEDURE IS APPLICABLE TO CRIMINAL
filing of a motion for reconsideration for the following PROCEEDINGS.
reasons: 1.] The rule that the petitioner should first file a
motion for reconsideration applies to the special civil action II
of certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure
and there is no similar requirement in taking an appeal from a IN RULING THAT THE DEPOSITION MAY BE TAKEN
final judgment or order[11] such as the present appeal BEFORE A CONSULAR OFFICER OF THE PHILIPPINES
by certiorari; 2.] Section 4, Rule 45 in requiring a petition for WHERE THE PROSPECTIVE WITNESSES RESIDE OR ARE
review on certiorari which indicates that when a motion for OFFICIALLY STATIONED.
new trial or reconsideration, if any, was filed implies that
petitioner need not file a motion for reconsideration; 3.] The III
questions being raised before the Court are the same as those
which were squarely raised before the Court of Appeals; [12] 4.] IN RULING THAT RESPONDENT WAS DEPRIVED OF DUE
The issues being raised here are purely legal; [13] 5.] There is an PROCESS OF LAW BY THE TRIAL COURT.
urgent need to resolve the issues considering that the trial of
the accused in the criminal case is about to end; and, 6.] The which can be reduced to the primordial issue of whether or not
nature of this case requires a speedy and prompt disposition of the trial judge gravely abused her discretion in denying the
the issues involved.[14] motion to take testimony by oral depositions in the United
States which would be used in the criminal case before her secure the litigants. It is designed as the means best adapted to
Court. obtain that thing. In other words, it is a means to an end. It is
the means by which the powers of the court are made effective
In setting aside the order of the trial judge, the Appellate in just judgments. When it loses the character of the one and
Courts Fourth Division reasoned, inter alia, thus: takes on the other [,] the administration of justice becomes
incomplete and unsatisfactory and lays itself open to grave
Settled is the rule that the whole purpose and object of criticism.[17]
procedure is to make the powers of the court fully and
completely available for justice. Thus, as the Supreme Court In the light of the foregoing judicial precedent, this Court finds
has ruled in Manila Railroad Co. vs. Attorney General and that the public respondent gravely abused her discretion in
reiterated in subsequent cases: denying the motion to take the deposition of the witnesses for
petitioner. While petitioner had invoked Rule 23, Section 1 of
x x x The most perfect procedure that can be devised is that the Rules of Court, which is found under the general
which give the opportunity for the most complete and perfect classification of Civil Procedure, it does not prevent its
exercise of the powers of the court within the limitations set by application to the other proceedings, provided the same is not
natural justice. It is that one which, in other words, gives the contrary to the specific rules provided therein. Indeed, the
most perfect opportunity for the powers of the court to Rules of Court is to be viewed and construed as a whole, and if
transmute themselves into concrete acts of justice between the the Supreme Court had compartmentalized the same into four
parties before it. The purpose of such a procedure is not to divisions, it was, as petitioner had claimed, for the purpose of
restrict the jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter, but organization and expediency and not, for exclusivity.
to give it effective facility in righteous action. It may be said in
passing that the most salient objection which can be urged To be sure, a reading of the rules on criminal procedure,
against procedure today is that it so restricts the exercise of the specifically Section 4, Rule 119 vis--vis Section 1, Rule 23
courts powers by technicalities that part of its authority would reveal no inconsistency so as to exclude the application
effective for justice between the parties is many times an of the latter rule in criminal proceedings. Section 4, Rule 119
inconsiderable portion of the whole. The purpose of procedure refers to the conditional examination of witnesses for the
is not to thwart justice. Its proper aim is to facilitate the accused before trial, while Section 1, Rule 23 refers to the
application of justice to the rival claims of the contending taking of deposition witnesses during trial. x x x
parties. It was created not to hinder and delay but to facilitate
and promote the administration of justice. It does not xxxxxxxxx
constitute the thing itself which the courts are always striving to
While the taking of depositions pending trial is not expressly clearly inapplicable in the instant case since the same relates
provided [for] under the Rules on Criminal Procedure, we find to the examination of witnesses under Section 4 thereof and
no reason for public respondent to disallow the taking of the not Section 1 of Rule 23. Consistent with the procedure
same in the manner provided for under Section 1 of Rule 23 provided [for] under Rule 23, the deposition of the petitioners
under the circumstances of the case. To disallow petitioner to witnesses, which include four (4) officials of the United States
avail of the specific remedies provided under the Rules would government, will be taken before a consular officer of the
deny him the opportunity to adequately defend himself Philippines where these witnesses reside or are officially
against the criminal charge of rape with homicide now stationed, as the case may be.
pending before the public respondent and, further, [it] loses
sight of the object of procedure which is to facilitate the The denial of petitioners right to present his witnesses, who
application of justice to the rival claims of contending parties. are residing abroad, based on a very shaky technical ground,
is tantamount to depriving him of his constitutional right to
xxxxxxxxx due process. This Court recognizes the impossibility of
enforcing the right of petitioner to secure the attendance of the
Even granting arguendo that Rule 23 is to be exclusively proposed witnesses through compulsory process considering
applied to civil actions, the taking of the deposition of that they are beyond the jurisdiction of Philippine
petitioners US-based witnesses should be still allowed Courts. Petitioner, however, is not without any remedy and he
considering that the civil action has been impliedly instituted correctly sought to secure the testimonies of his witnesses
in the criminal action for rape with homicide. Since public through the process of taking their depositions pending the
respondent has jurisdiction over the civil case to recover trial of Criminal Case No. 95-404 in the court below under
damages, she exercised full authority to employ all auxillary Rule 23 of the Rules of Court. In any event, the prosecution
writs, processes and other means to carry out the jurisdiction would have the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses for
conferred and [to] adopt any suitable process or mode of accused Hubert Webb (petitioner herein) since they will be
proceeding which includes the application of the rule on given the opportunity to cross-examine the deponents as in
depositions pending action under Rule 23 in the case pending accordance with Sections 3 to 18 of Rule 132.[19]
before her.
Furthermore, no prejudice would be suffered in the taking of
Second. Depositions obtained during trial in a foreign state or the depositions of petitioners US-based witness[es]. On the
country may be taken before a consular officer of the Republic other hand, a denial of the same would be prejudicial to
of the Philippines where the deponent resides or is officially petitioner-accused since he would be denied an opportunity to
stationed.[18] Section 5, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court is thus completely present his evidence, which strikes at the very core
of the due process guarantee of the Constitution. To reiterate, As defined, a deposition is -
it is not the function of this Court to second-guess the trial
court on its ruling on the admissibility of the pieces of "The testimony of a witness taken upon oral question or written
documentary evidence as well as the latters witnesses, [20] but it interrogatories, not in open court, but in pursuance of a
is definitely within this courts inherent power to scrutinize, as commission to take testimony issued by a court, or under a
it does in the case at bench, the acts of respondent judge and general law or court rule on the subject, and reduced to writing
declare that she indeed committed grave abuse of discretion in and duly authenticated, and intended to be used in
issuing the questioned Orders. preparation and upon the trial of a civil or criminal
prosecution. A pretrial discovery device by which one party
In the final analysis, this Court rules that the denial of the (through his or her attorney) asks oral questions of the other
deposition-taking amounts to the denial of the constitutional party or of a witness for the other party. The person who is
right to present his evidence and for the production of deposed is called the deponent. The deposition is conducted
evidence in his behalf. The denial is not justified by the flimsy under oath outside of the court room, usually in one of the
reason that Sec. 1 of Rule 23 of the Rules of Court is not lawyers offices. A transcript - word for word account - is made
applicable to criminal proceedings. To rule that petitioner of the deposition.Testimony of [a] witness, taken in writing,
cannot take the testimony of these witnesses by deposition is to under oath or affirmation, before some judicial officer in
put [a] premium on technicality at the expense of the answer to questions or interrogatories x x x.[21]
constitutional rights of the accused, which this court is not
inclined to do. Particularly where the issue of the guilt or and the purposes of taking depositions are to: 1.] Give greater
innocence of petitioner is bound to hinge heavily upon the assistance to the parties in ascertaining the truth and in
testimonies of his US-based witnesses, it behooves upon public checking and preventing perjury; 2.] Provide an effective means
respondent not only to guarantee that accused is given a of detecting and exposing false, fraudulent claims and defenses;
reasonable opportunity to present his evidence, but also to 3.] Make available in a simple, convenient and inexpensive way,
allow him a certain latitude in the presentation of his facts which otherwise could not be proved except with great
evidence, lest he may be so hampered that the ends of justice difficulty; 4.] Educate the parties in advance of trial as to the
may eventually be defeated or appear to be defeated. Finally, real value of their claims and defenses thereby encouraging
even if respondents contention is correct, it cannot be denied settlements; 5.]Expedite litigation; 6.] Safeguard against
that the case at bar includes the recovery of the civil liability of surprise; 7.] Prevent delay; 8.] Simplify and narrow the issues;
the accused, which normally is done through a civil case. and 9.] Expedite and facilitate both preparation and trial. [22] As
can be gleaned from the foregoing, a deposition, in keeping with
We disagree. its nature as a mode of discovery, should be taken before and
not during trial. In fact, rules on criminal practice - particularly Indeed, a comparison of Exhibit 218-A which is a U.S.
on the defense of alibi, which is respondents main defense in Department of State Certification issued by Joan C. Hampton,
the criminal proceedings against him in the court below - states Assistant Authenticating Officer of the said agency, for and in
that when a person intends to rely on such a defense, that the name of Madeleine K. Albright, stating that the documents
person must move for the taking of the deposition of his annexed thereto were issued by the U.S. Department of Justice
witnesses within the time provided for filing a pre-trial as shown by seal embossed thereon, [27] with other exhibits
motion.[23] previously offered as evidence reveals that they are of the same
nature as Exhibits 42-H[28] and 42-M.[29] The only difference in
It needs to be stressed that the only reason of respondent the documents lies in the fact that Exhibit 218-A was signed by
for seeking the deposition of the foreign witnesses is to Joan C. Hampton for and in behalf of the incumbent Secretary
foreclose any objection and/or rejection of, as the case may be, of State, Madeleine K. Albright whereas, Exhibits 42-H and 42-
the admissibility of Defense Exhibits 218 and 219. This issue M were signed by Authenticating Officer Annie R. Maddux for
has, however, long been rendered moot and academic by the and in behalf of former Secretary of State Warren Christopher.
admission of the aforementioned documentary exhibits by the [30]

trial court in its order dated July 10, 1998.[24]


A comparison of Exhibit 218-B[31] with the other
In fact, a circumspect scrutiny of the record discloses that documentary exhibits offered by respondent, likewise discloses
the evidence to be obtained through the deposition-taking that its contents are the same as Exhibits 42-I [32] and 42-N.
would be superfluous or corroborative at best. A careful [33]
The only difference in the three exhibits, which are actually
examination of Exhibits 218 and 219 readily shows that these standard issue certification forms issued by the U.S.
are of the same species of documents which have been Department of Justice with blanks to be filled up, is that Exhibit
previously introduced and admitted into evidence by the trial 218-B is dated February 5, 1997 and signed by one of the U.S.
court in its order dated July 18, 1997 which We noted in Webb, Attorney Generals several Deputy Assistant Attorneys for
et al. v. People of the Philippines, et al. [25] wherein We pointed Administration for and in her behalf, while Exhibits 42-I and
out, among others, [t]hat respondent judge reversed this 42-N are both dated September 21, 1995 with another of the
erroneous ruling and already admitted these 132 pieces of said deputies signing both documents.[34]
evidence after finding that the defects in (their) admissibility
have been cured though the introduction of additional evidence Still comparing respondents Exhibit 218-F, [35] which is
during the trial on the merits.[26] likewise a standard issue U.S. Department of Justice
Certification Form, with other documents previously
introduced as evidence reveals that it is the same as Exhibits
39-D[36] and 42-C.[37] The only differences in these documents based witnesses would be merely corroborative or cumulative in
are that Exhibit 218-F is dated October 13, 1995 and is signed nature and in denying respondents motion to take them, the
by Debora A. Farmer while Exhibits "-39-D and 42-C are both trial court was but exercising its judgment on what it perceived
dated August 31, 1995 and signed by Cecil G. Christian, Jr., to be a superfluous exercise on the belief that the introduction
Assistant Commissioner, Officer of Records, INS. [38] thereof will not reasonably add to the persuasiveness of the
evidence already on record. In this regard, it bears stressing
Still further scrutinizing and comparing respondents that under Section 6, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Court:
Exhibit 218-G[39] which was also introduced and admitted into
evidence as Defense Exhibit 207-B[40] shows that the document SEC. 6. Power of the court to stop further evidence. - The court
has been earlier introduced and admitted into evidence by the may stop the introduction of further testimony upon any
trial court an astounding seven (7) times, particularly as particular point when the evidence upon it is already so
Exhibits 34-A, 35-F, 39-E, 42-D, 42-P, 50 and 50-F.[41] The only full that more witnesses to the same point cannot be
difference in these documents is that they were printed on reasonably expected to be additionally
different dates. Specifically, Exhibits 218-G as with Exhibits 34- persuasive. But this power should be exercised with caution.
A, 35-F, 50, and 52-F were printed out on October 26, (emphasis and italics supplied.)
1995[42] whereas Exhibit 207-B as with Exhibits 39-E, 42-D and
42-F were printed out on August 31, 1995.[43] Needless to state, the trial court can not be faulted with
lack of caution in denying respondents motion considering that
In fact, the records show that respondents: a.] application under the prevailing facts of the case, respondent had more
for Non-Commercial Drivers License; b.] Documentary records than ample opportunity to adduce evidence in his defense.
based on Clets Database Response; c.] Computer-generated Certainly, a party can not feign denial of due process where he
thumb-print; d.] Documentary records based on still another had the opportunity to present his side. [45] It must be borne in
Clets Database Response, and e.] The Certification issued by mind in this regard that due process is not a monopoly of the
one Frank Zolin, Director of the State of Californias defense. Indeed, the State is entitled to due process as much as
Department of Motor Vehicles, were already introduced and the accused.[46] Furthermore, while a litigation is not a game of
admitted into evidence as Defense Exhibits 66-J, 66-K, 66-H, technicalities, it is a truism that every case must be prosecuted
66-I and 66-L, respectively.[44] in accordance with the prescribed procedure to insure an
orderly and speedy administration of justice.[47]
It need not be overemphasized that the foregoing factual
circumstances only serves to underscore the immutable fact The use of discovery procedures is directed to the sound
that the depositions proposed to be taken from the five U.S. discretion of the trial judge.[48] The deposition taking can not be
based nor can it be denied on flimsy reasons. [49] Discretion has but generally refers to capricious or whimsical exercise of
to be exercised in a reasonable manner and in consonance with judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of
the spirit of the law. There is no indication in this case that in discretion must be patent and gross as to amount to an evasion
denying the motion of respondent-accused, the trial judge acted of positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined
in a biased, arbitrary, capricious or oppressive manner. Grave by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law, as where the
abuse of discretion x x x implies such capricious, and whimsical power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by
exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, or, reason of passion and hostility.
in other words where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and
despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and It has been held, however, that no grave abuse of discretion
it must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of may be attributed to a court simply because of its alleged
positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined misappreciation of facts and evidence. A writ of certiorari may
or to act all in contemplation of law.[50] not be used to correct a lower tribunal's evaluation of the
evidence and factual findings. In other words, it is not a remedy
Certiorari as a special civil action can be availed of only if there for mere errors of judgment, which are correctible by an appeal
is concurrence of the essential requisites, to wit: (a) the or a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial functions has acted
without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of In fine, certiorari will issue only to correct errors of jurisdiction,
discretion amounting to lack or in excess or jurisdiction, and not errors of procedure or mistakes in the findings or
(b) there is no appeal, nor any plain, speedy and adequate conclusions of the lower court. As long as a court acts within its
remedy in the ordinary course of law for the purpose of jurisdiction, any alleged errors committed in the exercise of its
annulling or modifying the proceeding. There must be a discretion will amount to nothing more than errors of judgment
capricious, arbitrary and whimsical exercise of power for it to which are reviewable by timely appeal and not by special civil
prosper.[51] action for certiorari.[52]

To question the jurisdiction of the lower court or the agency Whether or not the respondent-accused has been given
exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions, the remedy is a ample opportunity to prove his innocence and whether or not a
special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of further prolongation of proceedings would be dilatory is
Court. The petitioner in such cases must clearly show that the addressed, in the first instance, to the sound discretion of the
public respondent acted without jurisdiction or with grave trial judge. If there has been no grave abuse of discretion, only
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of after conviction may this Court examine such matters further. It
jurisdiction. Grave abuse of discretion defies exact definition, is pointed out that the defense has already presented at least
fifty-seven (57) witnesses and four hundred sixty-four (464)
documentary exhibits, many of them of the exact nature as
those to be produced or testified to by the proposed foreign
deponents. Under the circumstances, We sustain the
proposition that the trial judge commits no grave abuse of
discretion if she decides that the evidence on the matter sought
to be proved in the United States could not possibly add
anything substantial to the defense evidence involved. There is
no showing or allegation that the American public officers and
the bicycle store owner can identify respondent Hubert Webb
as the very person mentioned in the public and private
documents. Neither is it shown in this petition that they know,
of their own personal knowledge, a person whom they can
identify as the respondent-accused who was actually present in
the United States and not in the Philippines on the specified
dates.

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the petition is


hereby GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated
February 6, 1998 in CA-G.R. SP No. 45399 is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court of
Paraaque City is ordered to proceed posthaste in the trial of the
main case and to render judgment therein accordingly.

SO ORDERED.
Factual Antecedents

Republic of the Philippines Petitioners, spouses Vicente and Leticia Afulugencia, filed a
SUPREME COURT Complaint6 for nullification of mortgage, foreclosure, auction
Manila sale, certificate of sale and other documents, with damages,
against respondents Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co.
SECOND DIVISION (Metrobank) and Emmanuel L. Ortega (Ortega) before the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos City, where it was
G.R. No. 185145 February 5, 2014 docketed as Civil Case No. 336-M-2004 and assigned to Branch
7.
SPOUSES VICENTE AFULUGENCIA and LETICIA
AFULUGENCIA, Petitioners, Metrobank is a domestic banking corporation existing under
vs. Philippine laws, while Ortega is the Clerk of Court and Ex-
METROPOLITAN BANK & TRUST CO. and Officio Sheriff of the Malolos RTC.
EMMANUEL L. ORTEGA, Clerk of Court, Regional
Trial Court and Ex-Officio Sheriff, Province of After the filing of the parties pleadings and with the conclusion
Bulacan, Respondents. of pre-trial, petitioners filed a Motion for Issuance of Subpoena
Duces Tecum Ad Testificandum7 to require Metrobanks
DECISION officers8 to appear and testify as the petitioners initial
witnesses during the August 31, 2006 hearing for the
presentation of their evidence-in-chief, and to bring the
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
documents relative to their loan with Metrobank, as well as
those covering the extrajudicial foreclosure and sale of
Section 6,1 Rule 25 of the Rules of Court (Rules) provides that petitioners 200-square meter land in Meycauayan, Bulacan
"a party not served with written interrogatories may not be covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 20411 (M). The
compelled by the adverse party to give testimony in open court, Motion contained a notice of hearing written as follows:
or to give a deposition pending appeal." The provision seeks to
prevent fishing expeditions and needless delays. Its goal is to
NOTICE
maintain order and facilitate the conduct of trial.
The Branch Clerk of Court
Assailed in this Petition for Review on Certiorari2 are the April
Regional Trial Court
15, 2008 Decision3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP
Branch 7, Malolos, Bulacan
No. 99535 which dismissed petitioners' Petition for Certiorari
for lack of merit and its October 2, 2008 Resolution4 denying
petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration. 5 Greetings:
Please submit the foregoing motion for the consideration and Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
approval of the Hon. Court immediately upon receipt hereof.
On October 19, 2006, the trial court issued an Order 13 denying
(signed) petitioners Motion for Issuance of Subpoena Duces Tecum Ad
Vicente C. Angeles9 Testificandum, thus:

Metrobank filed an Opposition10 arguing that for lack of a The motion lacks merit.
proper notice of hearing, the Motion must be denied; that being
a litigated motion, the failure of petitioners to set a date and As pointed out by the defendant bank in its opposition, the
time for the hearing renders the Motion ineffective and pro motion under consideration is a mere scrap of paper by reason
forma; that pursuant to Sections 1 and 611 of Rule 25 of the of its failure to comply with the requirements for a valid notice
Rules, Metrobanks officers who are considered adverse of hearing as specified in Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 15 of the
parties may not be compelled to appear and testify in court Revised Rules of Court. Moreover, the defendant bank and its
for the petitioners since they were not initially served with officers are adverse parties who cannot be summoned to testify
written interrogatories; that petitioners have not shown the unless written interrogatories are first served upon them, as
materiality and relevance of the documents sought to be provided in Sections 1 and 6, Rule 25 of the Revised Rules of
produced in court; and that petitioners were merely fishing for Court.
evidence.
In view of the foregoing, and for lack of merit, the motion under
Petitioners submitted a Reply12 to Metrobanks Opposition, consideration is hereby DENIED.
stating that the lack of a proper notice of hearing was cured by
the filing of Metrobanks Opposition; that applying the SO ORDERED.14
principle of liberality, the defect may be ignored; that leave of
court is not necessary for the taking of Metrobanks officers Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration15 pleading for
depositions; that for their case, the issuance of a subpoena is leniency in the application of the Rules and claiming that the
not unreasonable and oppressive, but instead favorable to defective notice was cured by the filing of Metrobanks
Metrobank, since it will present the testimony of these officers Opposition, which they claim is tantamount to notice. They
just the same during the presentation of its own evidence; that further argued that Metrobanks officers who are the subject
the documents sought to be produced are relevant and will of the subpoena are not party-defendants, and thus do not
prove whether petitioners have paid their obligations to comprise the adverse party; they are individuals separate and
Metrobank in full, and will settle the issue relative to the distinct from Metrobank, the defendant corporation being sued
validity or invalidity of the foreclosure proceedings; and that in the case.
the Rules do not prohibit a party from presenting the adverse
party as its own witness.
In an Opposition16 to the Motion for Reconsideration,
Metrobank insisted on the procedural defect of improper notice
of hearing, arguing that the rule relative to motions and the Petitioners filed a Petition for Certiorari19 with the CA asserting
requirement of a valid notice of hearing are mandatory and this time that their Motion for Issuance of Subpoena Duces
must be strictly observed. It added that the same rigid Tecum Ad Testificandum is not a litigated motion; it does not
treatment must be accorded to Rule 25, in that none of its seek relief, but aims for the issuance of a mere process. For
officers may be summoned to testify for petitioners unless these reasons, the Motion need not be heard. They likewise
written interrogatories are first served upon them. Finally, it insisted on liberality, and the disposition of the case on its
said that since a corporation may act only through its officers merits and not on mere technicalities.20 They added that Rule
and employees, they are to be considered as adverse parties in a 2121 of the Rules requires prior notice and hearing only with
case against the corporation itself. respect to the taking of depositions; since their Motion sought
to require Metrobanks officers to appear and testify in court
In another Order17 dated April 17, 2007, the trial court denied and not to obtain their depositions, the requirement of notice
petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. The trial court held, and hearing may be dispensed with. Finally, petitioners claimed
thus: that the Rules particularly Section 10,22Rule 132 do not
prohibit a party from presenting the adverse party as its own
Even if the motion is given consideration by relaxing Sections 4 witness.
and 5, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court, no such laxity could be
accorded to Sections 1 and 6 of Rule 25 of the Revised Rules of On April 15, 2008, the CA issued the questioned Decision,
Court which require prior service of written interrogatories to which contained the following decretal portion:
adverse parties before any material and relevant facts may be
elicited from them more so if the party is a private corporation WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
who could be represented by its officers as in this case. In other The assailed orders dated October 19, 2006 and April 17, 2007
words, as the persons sought to be subpoenaed by the plaintiffs- in Civil Case No. 336-M-2004 issued by the RTC, Branch 7,
movants are officers of the defendant bank, they are in effect Malolos City, Bulacan, are AFFIRMED. Costs against
the very persons who represent the interest of the latter and petitioners.
necessarily fall within the coverage of Sections 1 and 6, Rule 25
of the Revised Rules of Court. SO ORDERED.23

In view of the foregoing, the motion for reconsideration is The CA held that the trial court did not commit grave abuse of
hereby denied. discretion in issuing the assailed Orders; petitioners Motion is
a litigated motion, especially as it seeks to require the adverse
SO ORDERED.18 party, Metrobanks officers, to appear and testify in court as
petitioners witnesses. It held that a proper notice of hearing,
Ruling of the Court of Appeals addressed to the parties and specifying the date and time of the
hearing, was required, consistent with Sections 4 and 5,24 Rule
15 of the Rules.
The CA held further that the trial court did not err in denying Issues
petitioners Motion to secure a subpoena duces tecum/ad
testificandum, ratiocinating that Rule 25 is quite clear in Petitioners now raise the following issues for resolution:
providing that the consequence of a partys failure to serve
written interrogatories upon the opposing party is that the I
latter may not be compelled by the former to testify in court or
to render a deposition pending appeal. By failing to serve THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE
written interrogatories upon Metrobank, petitioners foreclosed ERRORS IN REQUIRING NOTICE AND HEARING (SECS. 4
their right to present the banks officers as their witnesses. AND 5, RULE 15, RULES OF COURT) FOR A MERE MOTION
FOR SUBPOENA OF RESPONDENT BANKS OFFICERS
The CA declared that the justification for the rule laid down in WHEN SUCH REQUIREMENTS APPLY ONLY TO
Section 6 is that by failing to seize the opportunity to inquire DEPOSITION UNDER SEC. 6, RULE 25, RULES OF COURT.
upon the facts through means available under the Rules,
petitioners should not be allowed to later on burden Metrobank II
with court hearings or other processes. Thus, it held:
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED (REVERSIBLE)
x x x Where a party unjustifiedly refuses to elicit facts material ERROR IN HOLDING THAT THE PETITIONERS MUST
and relevant to his case by addressing written interrogatories to FIRST SERVE WRITTEN INTERROGATORIES TO
the adverse party to elicit those facts, the latter may not RESPONDENT BANKS OFFICERS BEFORE THEY CAN BE
thereafter be compelled to testify thereon in court or give a SUBPOENAED.27
deposition pending appeal. The justification for this is that the
party in need of said facts having foregone the opportunity to
Petitioners Arguments
inquire into the same from the other party through means
available to him, he should not thereafter be permitted to
unduly burden the latter with courtroom appearances or other Praying that the assailed CA dispositions be set aside and that
cumbersome processes. The sanction adopted by the Rules is the Court allow the issuance of the subpoena duces tecum/ad
not one of compulsion in the sense that the party is being testificandum, petitioners assert that the questioned Motion is
directly compelled to avail of the discovery mechanics, but one not a litigated motion, since it seeks not a relief, but the
of negation by depriving him of evidentiary sources which issuance of process. They insist that a motion which is subject
would otherwise have been accessible to him.25 to notice and hearing under Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 15 is an
application for relief other than a pleading; since no relief is
sought but just the process of subpoena, the hearing and notice
Petitioners filed their Motion for Reconsideration,26 which the
requirements may be done away with. They cite the case of
CA denied in its assailed October 2, 2008 Resolution. Hence,
Adorio v. Hon. Bersamin,28 which held that
the present Petition.
Requests by a party for the issuance of subpoenas do not Finally, Metrobank insists on the correctness of the CA
require notice to other parties to the action.1wphi1 No Decision, adding that since petitioners failed up to this time to
violation of due process results by such lack of notice since the pay the witnesses fees and kilometrage as required by the
other parties would have ample opportunity to examine the Rules,31 the issuance of a subpoena should be denied.
witnesses and documents subpoenaed once they are presented
in court.29 Our Ruling

Petitioners add that the Rules should have been liberally The Court denies the Petition.
construed in their favor, and that Metrobanks filing of its
Opposition be considered to have cured whatever defect the On the procedural issue, it is quite clear that Metrobank was
Motion suffered from. notified of the Motion for Issuance of Subpoena Duces Tecum
Ad Testificandum; in fact, it filed a timely Opposition thereto.
Petitioners likewise persist in the view that Metrobanks officers The technical defect of lack of notice of hearing was thus cured
the subject of the Motion do not comprise the adverse party by the filing of the Opposition.32
covered by the rule; they insist that these bank officers are mere
employees of the bank who may be called to testify for them. Nonetheless, contrary to petitioners submission, the case of
Adorio cannot apply squarely to this case. In Adorio, the
Respondents Arguments request for subpoena duces tecum was sought against bank
officials who were not parties to the criminal case for violation
Metrobank essentially argues in its Comment30 that the subject of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22. The situation is different here, as
Motion for the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum/ad officers of the adverse party Metrobank are being compelled to
testificandum is a litigated motion, especially as it is directed testify as the calling partys main witnesses; likewise, they are
toward its officers, whose testimony and documentary evidence tasked to bring with them documents which shall comprise the
would affect it as the adverse party in the civil case. Thus, the petitioners principal evidence. This is not without significant
lack of a proper notice of hearing renders it useless and a mere consequences that affect the interests of the adverse party, as
scrap of paper. It adds that being its officers, the persons sought will be shown below.
to be called to the stand are themselves adverse parties who
may not be compelled to testify in the absence of prior written As a rule, in civil cases, the procedure of calling the adverse
interrogatories; they are not ordinary witnesses whose presence party to the witness stand is not allowed, unless written
in court may be required by petitioners at any time and for any interrogatories are first served upon the latter. This is embodied
reason. in Section 6, Rule 25 of the Rules, which provides

Sec. 6. Effect of failure to serve written interrogatories.


Unless thereafter allowed by the court for good cause shown calling party from conducting a fishing expedition or bungling
and to prevent a failure of justice, a party not served with its own case. Using its own judgment and discretion, the court
written interrogatories may not be compelled by the adverse can hold its own in resolving a dispute, and need not bear
party to give testimony in open court, or to give a deposition witness to the parties perpetrating unfair court practices such
pending appeal. as fishing for evidence, badgering, or altogether ruining their
own cases. Ultimately, such unnecessary processes can only
One of the purposes of the above rule is to prevent fishing constitute a waste of the courts precious time, if not pointless
expeditions and needless delays; it is there to maintain order entertainment.
and facilitate the conduct of trial. It will be presumed that a
party who does not serve written interrogatories on the adverse In the present case, petitioners seek to call Metrobanks officers
party beforehand will most likely be unable to elicit facts useful to the witness stand as their initial and main witnesses, and to
to its case if it later opts to call the adverse party to the witness present documents in Metrobanks possession as part of their
stand as its witness. Instead, the process could be treated as a principal documentary evidence. This is improper. Petitioners
fishing expedition or an attempt at delaying the proceedings; it may not be allowed, at the incipient phase of the presentation of
produces no significant result that a prior written their evidence-in-chief at that, to present Metrobanks officers
interrogatories might bring. who are considered adverse parties as well, based on the
principle that corporations act only through their officers and
Besides, since the calling party is deemed bound by the adverse duly authorized agents34 as their main witnesses; nor may
partys testimony,33 compelling the adverse party to take the they be allowed to gain access to Metrobanks documentary
witness stand may result in the calling party damaging its own evidence for the purpose of making it their own. This is
case. Otherwise stated, if a party cannot elicit facts or tantamount to building their whole case from the evidence of
information useful to its case through the facility of written their opponent. The burden of proof and evidence falls on
interrogatories or other mode of discovery, then the calling of petitioners, not on Metrobank; if petitioners cannot prove their
the adverse party to the witness stand could only serve to claim using their own evidence, then the adverse party
weaken its own case as a result of the calling partys being Metrobank may not be pressured to hang itself from its own
bound by the adverse partys testimony, which may only be defense.
worthless and instead detrimental to the calling partys cause.
It is true that under the Rules, a party may, for good cause
Another reason for the rule is that by requiring prior written shown and to prevent a failure of justice, be compelled to give
interrogatories, the court may limit the inquiry to what is testimony in court by the adverse party who has not served
relevant, and thus prevent the calling party from straying or written interrogatories. But what petitioners seek goes against
harassing the adverse party when it takes the latter to the stand. the very principles of justice and fair play; they would want that
Metrobank provide the very evidence with which to prosecute
Thus, the rule not only protects the adverse party from and build their case from the start. This they may not be
unwarranted surprises or harassment; it likewise prevents the allowed to do.
Finally, the Court may not turn a blind eye to the possible
consequences of such a move by petitioners. As one of their
causes of action in their Complaint, petitioners claim that they
were not furnished with specific documents relative to their
loan agreement with Metrobank at the time they obtained the
loan and while it was outstanding. If Metrobank were to
willingly provide petitioners with these documents even before
petitioners can present evidence to show that indeed they were
never furnished the same, any inferences generated from this
would certainly not be useful for Metrobank. One may be that
by providing petitioners with these documents, Metrobank
would be admitting that indeed, it did not furnish petitioners
with these documents prior to the signing of the loan
agreement, and while the loan was outstanding, in violation of
the law.

With the view taken of the case, the Court finds it unnecessary
to further address the other issues raised by the parties, which
are irrelevant and would not materially alter the conclusions
arrived at.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The assailed April 15,


2008 Decision and October 2, 2008 Resolution of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 99535 are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
BERSAMIN, J.:

The Sandiganbayan has exclusive original jurisdiction over the


criminal action involving petitioner notwithstanding that he is a
private individual considering that his criminal prosecution is
intimately related to the recovery of ill-gotten wealth of the
Marcoses, their immediate family, subordinates and close
associates.
Republic of the Philippines
The Case
SUPREME COURT
Manila
Petitioner Herminio T. Disini assails via petition for certiorari
there solutions promulgated by the Sandiganbayan in Criminal
FIRST DIVISION
Case No. 28001and Criminal Case No. 28002, both entitled
People v. Herminio T. Disini, on January 17, 2005 (denying his
G.R. Nos. 169823-24 September 11, 2013
motion to quash the informations)1 and August 10, 2005
(denying his motion for reconsideration of the denial of his
HERMINIO T. DISINI, Petitioner,
motion to quash),2 alleging that the Sandiganbayan (First
vs.
Division) thereby committed grave abuse of discretion
THE HON. SANDIGANBAYAN, FIRST DIVISION, AND
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.
Antecedents
x-----------------------x
The Office of the Ombudsman filed two informations dated
G.R. Nos. 174764-65
June 30,2004 charging Disini in the Sandiganbayan with
corruption of public officials, penalized under Article 212 in
HERMINIO T. DISINI, Petitioner,
relation to Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code (Criminal Case
vs.
No. 28001), and with a violation of Section 4(a) of Republic Act
SANDIGANBAYAN, FIRST DIVISION, AND THE
3019 (R.A. No. 3019), also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.
Practices Act (Criminal Case No. 28002).
DECISION
The accusatory portions of the informations read as follows: That during the period from 1974 to February 1986, in Manila,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Criminal Case No. 28001 Court, accused HERMINIO T. DISINI, conspiring together and
confederating with the then President of the Philippines
Ferdinand E. Marcos, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously offer, promise and give gifts and presents to
said Ferdinand E. Marcos, consisting of accused DISINIs
ownership of two billion and five hundred (2.5 billion) shares of
stock in Vulcan Industrial and Mining Corporation and four
billion (4 billion)shares of stock in The Energy Corporation,
with both shares of stock having then a book value of P100.00
per share of stock, and subcontracts, to Engineering and
Construction Company of Asia, owned and controlled by said
Ferdinand E. Marcos, on the mechanical and electrical
construction work on the Philippine Nuclear Power Plant
Project("Project") of the National Power Corporation at
Morong, Bataan, all for and in consideration of accused Disini
seeking and obtaining for Burns and Roe and Westinghouse
Electrical Corporation (Westinghouse), the contracts to do the
engineering and architectural design and to construct,
respectively, the Project, as in fact said Ferdinand E. Marcos,
taking undue advantage of his position and committing the
offense in relation to his office and in consideration of the
aforesaid gifts and presents, did award or cause to be awarded
to said Burns and Roe and Westinghouse, the contracts to do
the engineering and architectural design and to construct the
Project, respectively, which acts constitute the crime of
corruption of public officials.

CONTRARY TO LAW.3
Criminal Case No. 28002 kickbacks, commissions and gifts as material or pecuniary
advantages, for securing and obtaining, as accused DISINI did
That during the period 1974 to February 1986, in Manila, secure and obtain, through the direct intervention of said
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, Ferdinand E. Marcos, for Burns and Roe the engineering and
accused HERMINIO T. DISINI, conspiring together and architectural contract, and for Westinghouse the construction
confederating with the then President of the Philippines, contract, for the PROJECT.
Ferdinand E. Marcos, being then the close personal friend and
golfing partner of said Ferdinand E. Marcos, and being further CONTRARY TO LAW.4
the husband of Paciencia Escolin-Disini who was the first
cousin of then First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos and family On August 2, 2004, Disini filed a motion to quash, 5 alleging that
physicianof the Marcos family, taking advantage of such close the criminal actions had been extinguished by prescription, and
personal relation, intimacy and free access, did then and there, that the informations did not conform to the prescribed form.
willfully, unlawfully and criminally, in connection with the The Prosecution opposed the motion to quash.6
Philippine Nuclear Power Plant (PNPP)Project ("PROJECT") of
the National Power Corporation (NPC) at Morong, Bataan, On September 16, 2004, Disini voluntarily submitted himself
request and receive from Burns and Roe, a foreign consultant, for arraignment to obtain the Sandiganbayans favorable action
the total amount of One Million U.S. Dollars on his motion for permission to travel abroad.7 He then entered
($1,000,000.00),more or less, and also from Westinghouse a plea of not guilty to both informations.
Electric Corporation(WESTINGHOUSE), the total amount of
Seventeen Million U.S. Dollars($17,000,000.00), more or less, As stated, on January 17, 2005, the Sandiganbayan (First
both of which entities were then having business, transaction, Division) promulgated its first assailed resolution denying the
and application with the Government of the Republic of the motion to quash.8
Philippines, all for and in consideration of accused DISINI
securing and obtaining, as accused Disini did secure and obtain, Disini moved for the reconsideration of the resolution dated
the contract for the said Burns and Roe and Westinghouse to do January 17, 2005,9 but the Sandiganbayan (First Division)
the engineering and architectural design, and construct, denied his motion on August 10, 2005 through the second
respectively, the said PROJECT, and subsequently, request and assailed resolution.10
receive subcontracts for Power Contractors, Inc. owned by
accused DISINI, and Engineering and Construction Company Issues
of Asia (ECCO-Asia), owned and controlled by said Ferdinand
E. Marcos, which stated amounts and subcontracts constituted
Undaunted, Disini commenced this special civil action for COMMENCEMENT OF THEPRESCRIPTIVE
certiorari, alleging that: PERIOD.

A. THE RESPONDENT COURT HAS NO 3. THE RESPONDENT COURT GRAVELY


JURISDICTION OVER THEOFFENSES CHARGED. ERRED INDETERMINING THE POINT OF
INTERRUPTION OF THEPRESCRIPTIVE
1. THE RESPONDENT COURT GRAVELY PERIOD.
ERRED WHEN ITRULED THAT SECTION 4,
PARAGRAPHS (A) AND (B) OFREPUBLIC ACT C. BY MERELY ASSUMING THE PRESENCE OF
NO. 8249 DO NOT APPLY SINCE GLARINGLYABSENT ELEMENTS IN THE OFFENSES
THEINFORMATIONS WERE "FILED CHARGED TOUPHOLD THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE
PURSUANT TO E.O. NOS. 1,2, 14 AND 14-A". INFORMATIONS INCRIMINAL CASE NOS. 28001
AND 28002, THE RESPONDENTCOURT
2. THE RESPONDENT COURT GRAVELY DEMONSTRATED ITS PREJUDGMENT OVER THE
ERRED WHEN ITASSUMED JURISDICTION SUBJECT CASES AND ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE
WITHOUT HAVING MET THEREQUISITE OF ITSDISCRETION.
UNDER SECTION 4 OF R.A. 8249 THAT
THEACCUSED MUST BE A PUBLIC OFFICER. D. THE RESPONDENT COURT ACTED WITH GRAVE
ABUSE OFDISCRETION IN REFUSING TO QUASH
B. THE RESPONDENT COURT ACTED WITH SUCH THE INFORMATIONSDESPITE THEIR UTTER
GRAVEABUSE OF DISCRETION WHEN IT FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THEPRESCRIBED
EFFECTIVELY IGNORED, DISREGARDED, AND FORM, THUS EFFECTIVELY DENYING
DENIED PETITIONERSCONSTITUTIONAL AND THEACCUSED HIS CONSTITUTIONAL AND
STATUTORY RIGHT TOPRESCRIPTION. STATUTORY RIGHTTO BE INFORMED OF THE
NATURE AND CAUSE OF THEACCUSATION
1. THE RESPONDENT COURT GRAVELY AGAINST HIM.11
ERRED INDETERMINING THE APPLICABLE
PRESCRIPTIVE PERIOD. Ruling

2. THE RESPONDENT COURT GRAVELY The petition for certiorari has no merit.
ERRED INDETERMINING THE
1.Preliminary Considerations 13. Defendants Herminio T. Disini and Rodolfo Jacob, by
themselves and/or in unlawful concert, active collaboration and
To properly resolve this case, reference is made to the ruling of willing participation of defendants Ferdinand E. Marcos and
the Court in G.R. No. 175730 entitled Herminio Disini v. Imelda R. Marcos, and taking undue advantage of their
Sandiganbayan,12 which involved the civil action for association and influence with the latter defendant spouses in
reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution, and damages order to prevent disclosure and recovery of ill-gotten assets,
(Civil Case No. 0013 entitled Republic v. HerminioT. Disini, et engaged in devices, schemes, and stratagems such as:
al.) filed by the Presidential Commission on Good
Government(PCGG) against Disini and others.13 The amended xxxx
complaint in Civil Case No. 0013 alleged that Disini had acted
in unlawful concert with his co-defendants in acquiring and (c) unlawfully utilizing the Herdis Group of Companies and
accumulating ill-gotten wealth through them is appropriation of Asia Industries, Inc. as conduits through which defendants
public funds, plunder of the nations wealth, extortion, received, kept, and/or invested improper payments such as
embezzlement, and other acts of corruption, 14 as follows: unconscionably large commissions from foreign corporations
like the Westinghouse Corporation; (d) secured special
4. Defendant HERMINIO T. DISINI is a close associate of concessions, privileges and/or benefits from defendants
defendant Ferdinand E. Marcos and the husband of the first Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda R. Marcos, such as a contract
cousin of Defendant Imelda R. Marcos. By reason of this awarded to Westinghouse Corporation which built an
relationship xxx defendant Herminio Disini obtained staggering inoperable nuclear facility in the country for a scandalously
commissions from the Westinghouse in exchange for securing exorbitant amount that included defendants staggering
the nuclear power plant contract from the Philippine commissions defendant Rodolfo Jacob executed for HGI the
government. contract for the aforesaid nuclear plant;15

xxxx Through its letter dated April 8, 1991,16 the PCGG transmitted
the records of Criminal Case No. 28001 and Criminal Case No.
28002 to then Ombudsman Conrado M. Vasquez for
appropriate action, to wit:

In line with the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of


EduardoM. Cojuangco, Jr. versus the PCGG (G.R. Nos. 92319
92320) dated October 2, 1990, we are hereby transmitting to
your Office for appropriate action the records of the attached complaints with the "cold neutrality of an impartial judge," as it
criminal case which we believe is similar to the said Cojuangco has prejudged the matter. x x x18
case in certain aspects, such as: (i) some parts or elements are
also parts of the causes of action in the civil complaints[-]filed xxxx
with the Sandiganbayan; (ii) some properties or assets of the
respondents have been sequestered; (iii) some of the The Court finds that under the circumstances of the case, the
respondents are also party defendants in the civil cases. PCGG cannot inspire belief that it could be impartial in the
conduct of the preliminary investigation of the aforesaid
Although the authority of the PCGG has been upheld by the complaints against petitioner and intervenors. It cannot
Supreme Court, we are constrained to refer to you for proper possibly preside in the said preliminary investigation with an
action the herein-attached case in view of the suspicion that the even hand.
PCGG cannot conduct an impartial investigation in cases
similar to that of the Cojuangco case. x x x The Court holds that a just and fair administration of justice
can be promoted if the PCGG would be prohibited from
Ostensibly, the PCGGs letter of transmittal was adverting to the conducting the preliminary investigation of the complaints
ruling in Cojuangco, Jr. v. Presidential Commission on Good subject of this petition and the petition for intervention and
Government (Cojuangco, Jr.),17 viz: that the records of the same should be forwarded to the
Ombudsman, who as an independent constitutional officer has
x x x The PCGG and the Solicitor General finding a prima facie primary jurisdiction over cases of this nature, to conduct such
basis filed a civil complaint against petitioner and intervenors preliminary investigation and take appropriate action.19 (Bold
alleging substantially the same illegal or criminal acts subject of emphasis supplied)
the subsequent criminal complaints the Solicitor General filed
with the PCGG for preliminary investigation. x x x. It appears that the resolutions of the Office of the Ombudsman,
following its conduct of the preliminary investigation on the
Moreover, when the PCGG issued the sequestration and freeze criminal complaints thus transmitted by the PCGG, were
orders against petitioners properties, it was on the basis of a reversed and set aside by the Court in Presidential Commission
prima facie finding that the same were ill-gotten and/or were on Good Government v. Desierto,20
acquired in relation to the illegal disposition of coconut levy
funds. Thus, the Court finds that the PCGG cannot possibly with the Court requiring the Office of the Ombudsman to file
conduct the preliminary investigation of said criminal the informations that became the subject of Disinis motion to
quash in Criminal Case No.28001 and Criminal Case No. civil or criminal cases to recover ill-gotten wealth not only of
28002. the Marcoses and their immediately family but also of their
relatives, subordinates and close associates.
2.
We hold that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over Criminal
Sandiganbayan has exclusive and Case No. 28001 and Criminal Case No. 28002.

original jurisdiction over the offenses charged Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1606 was the law that
established the Sandiganbayan and defined its jurisdiction. The
Disini challenges the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan over the law was amended by R.A. No. 7975 and R.A. No. 8249. Under
offenses charged in Criminal Case No. 28001 and Criminal Case Section 4 of R.A. No. 8249, the Sandiganbayan was vested with
No. 28002.He contends that: (1) the informations did not allege original and exclusive jurisdiction over all cases involving:
that the charges were being filed pursuant to and in connection
with Executive Order (E.O.) Nos.1, 2, 14 and 14-A; (2) the a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended,
offenses charged were not of the nature contemplated by E.O. otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A because the allegations in the Practices Act, Republic Act No.1379, and Chapter II,
informations neither pertained to the recovery of ill-gotten Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code,
wealth, nor involved sequestration cases; (3) the cases were where one or more of the accused are officials occupying
filed by the Office of the Ombudsman instead of by the PCGG; the following positions in the government whether in a
and (4) being a private individual not charged as a co-principal, permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of the
accomplice or accessory of a public officer, he should be commission of the offense:
prosecuted in the regular courts instead of in the
Sandiganbayan. xxxx

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) counters that the b. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or
Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the offenses charged complexed with other crimes committed by the public
because Criminal Case No. 28001 and Criminal Case No. 28002 officials and employees mentioned in subsection (a) of
were filed within the purview of Section 4 (c) of R.A. No. 8249; this section in relation to their office.
and that both cases stemmed from the criminal complaints
initially filed by the PCGG pursuant to its mandate under E.O.
Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A to investigate and file the appropriate
c. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in Also underscored is that the complaint in Civil Case No. 0013
connection with Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, and the informations in Criminal Case No. 28001 and Criminal
issued in 1986. (Bold emphasis supplied) Case No. 28002involved the same transaction, specifically the
contracts awarded through the intervention of Disini and
In cases where none of the accused are occupying positions President Marcos in favor of Burns & Roe to do the engineering
corresponding to salary grade 27 or higher, as prescribed in and architectural design, and Westinghouse to do the
the said Republic Act No. 6758, or military or PNP officers construction of the Philippine Nuclear Power Plant Project
mentioned above, exclusive original jurisdiction thereof shall be (PNPPP). Given their sameness in subject matter, to still
vested in the proper regional trial court, metropolitan trial expressly aver in Criminal Case No.28001 and Criminal Case
court, municipal trial court and municipal circuit trial court, as No. 28002 that the charges involved the recovery of ill-gotten
the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdiction as wealth was no longer necessary.21 With Criminal Case No.28001
provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended. and Criminal Case No. 28002 being intertwined with Civil Case
No.0013, the PCGG had the authority to institute the criminal
xxxx prosecutions against Disini pursuant to E.O. Nos. 1, 2, 14 and
14-A.
In case private individuals are charged as co-principals,
accomplices or accessories with the public officers or That Disini was a private individual did not remove the offenses
employees, including those employed in government-owned or charged from the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. Section 2
controlled corporations, they shall be tried jointly with said of E.O. No.1, which tasked the PCGG with assisting the
public officers and employees in the proper courts which shall President in "the recovery of all ill-gotten wealth accumulated
exercise exclusive jurisdiction over them. x x x x by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate
family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether
It is underscored that it was the PCGG that had initially filed located in the Philippines or abroad, including the takeover or
the criminal complaints in the Sandiganbayan, with the Office sequestration of all business enterprises and entities owned or
of the Ombudsman taking over the investigation of Disini only controlled by them, during his administration, directly or
after the Court issued in Cojuangco, Jr. the directive to the through nominees, by taking undue advantage of their public
PCGG to refer the criminal cases to the Office of the office and/or using their powers, authority, influence,
Ombudsman on the ground that the PCGG would not be an connections or relationship," expressly granted the authority of
impartial office following its finding of a prima facie case being the PCGG to recover ill-gotten wealth covered President
established against Disini to sustain the institution of Civil Case Marcos immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close
No. 0013.
associates, without distinction as to their private or public (b) City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the
status. sangguniang panlungsod, city treasurers,
assessors engineers and other city department
Contrary to Disinis argument, too, the qualifying clause found heads;
in Section 4 of R.A. No. 824922
(c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying
applied only to the cases listed in Subsection 4aand Subsection the position of consul and higher;
4b of R.A. No. 8249, the full text of which follows:
(d) Philippine army and air force colonels, naval
xxxx captains, and all officers of higher rank;

a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise (e) Officers of the Philippine National Police
known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic while occupying the position of provincial
Act No.1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the director and those holding the rank of senior
Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the accused are superintendent or higher;
officials occupying the following positions in the government
whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time (f) City and provincial prosecutors and their
of the commission of the offense: assistants, and officials and prosecutors in the
Office of the Ombudsman and special
(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the prosecutor;
positions of regional director and higher, otherwise
classified as Grade 27 and higher, of the Compensation (g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers
and Position Classification Act of 1989(Republic Act No. of government-owned or -controlled
6758), specifically including: corporations, state universities or educational
institutions or foundations;
(a) Provincial governors, vice-governors,
members of the sangguniang panlalawigan and (2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified
provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers and as Grade27 and up under the Compensation and
other provincial department heads; Position Classification Act of 1989;
(3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the 3.
provisions of the Constitution;
The offenses charged in the
(4) Chairmen and members of Constitutional informations have not yet prescribed
Commissions, without prejudice to the provisions of the
Constitution; and In resolving the issue of prescription, the following must be
considered, namely: (1) the period of prescription for the
(5) All other national and local officials classified as offense charged;(2) the time when the period of prescription
Grade 27and higher under the Compensation and starts to run; and (3) the time when the prescriptive period is
Position Classification Act of 1989. b. Other offenses or interrupted.23
felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes
committed by the public officials and employees The information in Criminal Case No. 28001 alleged that Disini
mentioned in subsection a of this section in relation to had offered, promised and given gifts and presents to
their office. (bold emphasis supplied) Ferdinand E. Marcos; that said gifts were in consideration of
Disini obtaining for Burns & Roe and Westinghouse Electrical
xxxx Corporation (Westinghouse) the contracts, respectively, to do
the engineering and architectural design of and to construct the
Unquestionably, public officials occupying positions classified PNPPP; and that President Marcos did award or cause to be
as Grade 27 or higher are mentioned only in Subsection 4a and awarded the respective contracts to Burns & Roe and
Subsection 4b,signifying the plain legislative intent of limiting Westinghouse, which acts constituted the crime of corruption of
the qualifying clause to such public officials. To include within public officials.24
the ambit of the qualifying clause the persons covered by
Subsection 4c would contravene the exclusive mandate of the The crime of corruption of public officials charged in Criminal
PCGG to bring the civil and criminal cases pursuant to and in Case No. 28001 is punished by Article 212 of the Revised Penal
connection with E.O. Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A. In view of this, the Code with the" same penalties imposed upon the officer
Sandiganbayan properly took cognizance of Criminal Case No. corrupted."25 Under the second paragraph of Article 210 of the
28001 and Criminal Case No. 28002 despite Disinis being a Revised Penal Code (direct bribery),26 if the gift was accepted by
private individual, and despite the lack of any allegation of his the officer in consideration of the execution of an act that does
being the co-principal, accomplice or accessory of a public not constitute a crime, and the officer executes the act, he shall
official in the commission of the offenses charged. suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its medium and minimum
periods and a fine of not less than three times the value of the
gift. Conformably with Article 90 of the Revised Penal The prescription shall be interrupted when proceedings are
Code,27 the period of prescription for this specie of corruption of instituted against the guilty person, and shall begin to run again
public officials charged against Disini is 15 years. if the proceedings are dismissed for reasons not constituting
double jeopardy.
As for Criminal Case No. 28002, Disini was charged with a
violation of Section 4(a) of R.A. No. 3019. By express provision The ruling on the issue of prescription in Presidential Ad Hoc
of Section 11 of R.A. No. 3019, as amended by Batas Pambansa Fact-Finding Committee on Behest Loans v. Desierto 30 is also
Blg. 195, the offenses committed under R.A. No. 3019 shall enlightening, viz:
prescribe in 15 years. Prior to the amendment, the prescriptive
period was only 10 years. It became settled in People v. Generally, the prescriptive period shall commence to run on the
Pacificador,28 however, that the longer prescriptive period of day the crime is committed. That an aggrieved person "entitled
15years would not apply to crimes committed prior to the to an action has no knowledge of his right to sue or of the facts
effectivity of Batas Pambansa Blg. 195, which was approved on out of which his right arises," does not prevent the running of
March 16, 1982, because the longer period could not be given the prescriptive period. An exception to this rule is the
retroactive effect for not being favorable to the accused. With "blameless ignorance" doctrine, incorporated in Section 2 of Act
the information alleging the period from 1974 to February1986 No. 3326. Under this doctrine, "the statute of limitations runs
as the time of the commission of the crime charged, the only upon discovery of the fact of the invasion of a right which
applicable prescriptive period is 10 years in order to accord with will support a cause of action. In other words, the courts would
People v. Pacificador . decline to apply the statute of limitations where the plaintiff
does not know or has no reasonable means of knowing the
For crimes punishable by the Revised Penal Code, Article 91 existence of a cause of action." It was in this accord that the
thereof provides that prescription starts to run from the day on Court confronted the question on the running of the
which the crime is discovered by the offended party, the prescriptive period in People v. Duque which became the
authorities, or their agents. As to offenses punishable by R.A. cornerstone of our 1999 Decision in Presidential Ad Hoc Fact-
No. 3019, Section 2 of R.A. No. 332629 states: Finding Committee on Behest Loans v. Desierto (G.R. No.
130149), and the subsequent cases which Ombudsman Desierto
Section 2. Prescription shall begin to run from the day of the dismissed, emphatically, on the ground of prescription too.
commission of the violation of the law, and if the same be not Thus, we held in a catena of cases, that if the violation of the
known at the time, from the discovery thereof and the special law was not known at the time of its commission, the
institution of judicial proceedings for its investigation and prescription begins to run only from the discovery thereof, i.e.,
punishment. discovery of the unlawful nature of the constitutive act or acts.
Corollary, it is safe to conclude that the prescriptive period for only through the PCGGs exhaustive investigation, resulting in
the crime which is the subject herein, commenced from the date the establishment of a prima facie case sufficient for the PCGG
of its discovery in 1992 after the Committee made an exhaustive to institute Civil Case No. 0013 against Disini. Before the
investigation. When the complaint was filed in 1997, only five discovery, the PNPPP contracts, which partook of a public
years have elapsed, and, hence, prescription has not yet set in. character, enjoyed the presumption of their execution having
The rationale for this was succinctly discussed in the 1999 been regularly done in the course of official functions.32
Presidential Ad Hoc Fact-Finding Committee on Behest Loans,
that "it was well-high impossible for the State, the aggrieved Considering further that during the Marcos regime, no person
party, to have known these crimes committed prior to the would have dared to assail the legality of the transactions, it
1986EDSA Revolution, because of the alleged connivance and would be unreasonable to expect that the discovery of the
conspiracy among involved public officials and the beneficiaries unlawful transactions was possible prior to 1986.
of the loans." In yet another pronouncement, in the 2001
Presidential Ad Hoc Fact-Finding Committee on Behest Loans We note, too, that the criminal complaints were filed and their
v. Desierto (G.R. No. 130817), the Court held that during the records transmitted by the PCGG to the Office of the
Marcos regime, no person would have dared to question the Ombudsman on April 8, 1991for the conduct the preliminary
legality of these transactions. (Citations omitted)31 investigation.33 In accordance with Article 91 of the

Accordingly, we are not persuaded to hold here that the Revised Penal Code34 and the ruling in Panaguiton, Jr. v.
prescriptive period began to run from 1974, the time when the Department of Justice,35 the filing of the criminal complaints in
contracts for the PNPP Project were awarded to Burns & Roe the Office of the Ombudsman effectively interrupted the
and Westinghouse. Although the criminal cases were the running of the period of prescription. According to
offshoot of the sequestration case to recover ill-gotten wealth Panaguiton:36
instead of behest loans like in Presidential Ad Hoc Fact-Finding
Committee on Behest Loans v. Desierto, the connivance and In Ingco v. Sandiganbayan and Sanrio Company Limited v.
conspiracy among the public officials involved and the Lim, which involved violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
beneficiaries of the favors illegally extended rendered it Practices Act(R.A. No. 3019) and the Intellectual Property Code
similarly well-nigh impossible for the State, as the aggrieved (R.A. No. 8293),which are both special laws, the Court ruled
party, to have known of the commission of the crimes charged that the prescriptive period is interrupted by the institution of
prior to the EDSA Revolution in 1986. Notwithstanding the proceedings for preliminary investigation against the accused.
highly publicized and widely-known nature of the PNPPP, the In the more recent case of Securities and Exchange Commission
unlawful acts or transactions in relation to it were discovered v. Interport Resources Corporation, the Court ruled that the
nature and purpose of the investigation conducted by the Consequently, prescription did not yet set in because only five
Securities and Exchange Commission on violations of the years elapsed from 1986, the time of the discovery of the
Revised Securities Act, another special law, is equivalent to the offenses charged, up to April 1991, the time of the filing of the
preliminary investigation conducted by the DOJ in criminal criminal complaints in the Office of the Ombudsman.
cases, and thus effectively interrupts the prescriptive period.
The informations were sufficient in form and substance
The following disquisition in the Interport Resources case is
instructive, thus: It is axiomatic that a complaint or information must state every
single fact necessary to constitute the offense charged;
While it may be observed that the term "judicial proceedings" in otherwise, a motion to dismiss or to quash on the ground that
Sec. 2 of Act No. 3326 appears before" investigation and the complaint or information charges no offense may be
punishment" in the old law, with the subsequent change in set- properly sustained. The fundamental test in determining
up whereby the investigation of the charge for purposes of whether a motion to quash may be sustained based on this
prosecution has become the exclusive function of the executive ground is whether the facts alleged, if hypothetically admitted,
branch, the term "proceedings" should now be understood will establish the essential elements of the offense as defined in
either executive or judicial in character: executive when it the law.37 Extrinsic matters or evidence aliunde are not
involves the investigation phase and judicial when it refers to considered.38
the trial and judgment stage. With this clarification, any kind of
investigative proceeding instituted against the guilty person The test does not require absolute certainty as to the presence
which may ultimately lead to his prosecution should be of the elements of the offense; otherwise, there would no longer
sufficient to toll prescription. be any need for the Prosecution to proceed to trial.

Indeed, to rule otherwise would deprive the injured party the The informations in Criminal Case No. 28001 (corruption of
right to obtain vindication on account of delays that are not public officials) and Criminal Case No. 28002 (violation of
under his control. Section 4(a) of RA No.3019) have sufficiently complied with the
requirements of Section 6, Rule110 of the Rules of Court, viz:
The prevailing rule is, therefore, that irrespective of whether the
offense charged is punishable by the Revised Penal Code or by a Section 6. Sufficiency of complaint or information. A
special law, it is the filing of the complaint or information in the complaint or information is sufficient if it states the name of the
office of the public prosecutor for purposes of the preliminary accused; the designation of the offense given by the statute; the
investigation that interrupts the period of prescription. acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense; the
name of the offended party; the approximate date of the circumstances that will make the public officer liable for
commission of the offense; and the place where the offense was direct bribery or indirect bribery.
committed.
The allegations in the information for corruption of public
When the offense is committed by more than one person, all of officials, if hypothetically admitted, would establish the
them shall be included in the complaint or information. essential elements of the crime. The information stated that: (1)
Disini made an offer and promise, and gave gifts to President
The information in Criminal Case No. 28001 alleging Marcos, a public officer; and (2) in consideration of the offers,
corruption of public officers specifically put forth that Disini, in promises and gifts, President Marcos, in causing the award of
the period from 1974 to February 1986 in Manila, Philippines, the contracts to Burns & Roe and Westinghouse by taking
conspiring and confederating with then President Marcos, advantage of his position and in committing said act in relation
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously offered, promised and gave to his office, was placed under circumstances that would make
gifts and presents to President Marcos, who, by taking undue him liable for direct bribery.39
advantage of his position as President, committed the offense in
relation to his office, and in consideration of the gifts and The second element of corruption of public officers simply
presents offered, promised and given by Disini, President required the public officer to be placed under circumstances,
Marcos caused to be awarded to Burns & Roe and not absolute certainty, that would make him liable for direct or
Westinghouse the respective contracts to do the engineering indirect bribery. Thus, even without alleging that President
and architectural design of and to construct the PNPPP. The Marcos received or accepted Disinis offers, promises and gifts
felonious act consisted of causing the contracts for the PNPPP an essential element in direct bribery the allegation that
to be awarded to Burns & Roe and Westinghouse by reason of President Marcos caused the award of the contracts to Burns &
the gifts and promises offered by Disini to President Marcos. Roe and Westinghouse sufficed to place him under
circumstances of being liable for direct bribery.
The elements of corruption of public officials under Article 212
of the Revised Penal Code are: The sufficiency of the allegations in the information charging
the violation of Section 4(a) of R.A. No. 3019 is similarly
1. That the offender makes offers or promises, or gives upheld. The elements of the offense under Section 4(a) of R.A.
gifts or presents to a public officer; and No. 3019 are:

2. That the offers or promises are made or the gifts or 1. That the offender has family or close personal relation
presents are given to a public officer under with a public official;
2. That he capitalizes or exploits or takes advantage of WHEREFORE, the Court DISMISSES the petition for
such family or close personal relation by directly or certiorari; AFFIRMS the resolutions promulgated on January
indirectly requesting or receiving any present, gift, 17, 2005 and August 10, 2005 by the Sandiganbayan (First
material or pecuniary advantage from any person Division) in Criminal Case No. 28001 and Criminal Case No.
having some business, transaction, application, request 28002; and DIRECTS petitioner to pay the costs of suit.
or contract with the government;
SO ORDERED.
3. That the public official with whom the offender has
family or close personal relation has to intervene in the
business transaction, application, request, or contract
with the government.

The allegations in the information charging the violation of


Section 4(a) of R.A. No. 3019, if hypothetically admitted, would
establish the elements of the offense, considering that: (1)
Disini, being the husband of Paciencia Escolin-Disini, the first
cousin of First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, and at the
same time the family physician of the Marcoses, had close
personal relations and intimacy with and free access to
President Marcos, a public official; (2) Disini, taking advantage
of such family and close personal relations, requested and
received $1,000,000.00 from Burns & Roe and
$17,000,000.00 from Westinghouse, the entities then having
business, transaction, and application with the Government in
connection with the PNPPP; (3) President Marcos, the public
officer with whom Disini had family or close personal relations,
intervened to secure and obtain for Burns & Roe the
engineering and architectural contract, and for Westinghouse
the construction of the PNPPP.
METROPOLITAN BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, as
successor-in-interest of ASIAN BANK
CORPORATION,Petitioner,
vs.
HON. EDILBERTO G. SANDOVAL, HON. FRANCISCO
H. VILLARUZ, JR. and HON. RODOLFO A.
PONFERRADA (in their capacities as Chairman and
Members, respectively, of the Second Division of
SANDIGANBAYAN) and the REPUBLIC OF THE
PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

The court, in furtherance of convenience or to avoid prejudice,


may order a separate trial of any claim, cross-claim,
counterclaim, or third-party complaint, or of any separate issue
or of any number of claims, cross-claims, counterclaims, third-
party complaints or issues.1 But a separate trial may be denied if
a party is thereby deprived of his right to be heard upon an
issue dealt with and determined in the main trial.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT Through this special civil action for certiorari, Metropolitan
Manila Bank and Trust Company (Metrobank) hereby seeks to set aside
and nullify the resolutions dated June 25, 20042 and July 13,
FIRST DIVISION 20053 issued in Civil Case No. 0004, whereby the
Sandiganbayan granted the motion for separate trial filed by
G.R. No. 169677 February 18, 2013 the Republic of the Philippines (Republic), and upheld its
jurisdiction over the Republics claim against the petitioner as
the successor-in-interest of Asian Bank Corporation (Asian Commenting on the motion, Asian Bank sought the deferment
Bank). of any action on the motion until it was first given the
opportunity to test and assail the testimonial and documentary
Antecedents evidence the Republic had already presented against the
original defendants, and contended that it would be deprived of
On July 17, 1987, the Republic brought a complaint for its day in court if a separate trial were to be held against it
reversion, reconveyance, restitution, accounting and damages without having been sufficiently apprised about the evidence
in the Sandiganbayan against Andres V. Genito, Jr., Ferdinand the Republic had adduced before it was brought in as an
E. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos and other defendants. The action additional defendant.9
was obviously to recover allegedly ill-gotten wealth of the
Marcoses, their nominees, dummies and agents. Among the In its reply to Asian Banks comment, the Republic maintained
properties subject of the action were two parcels of commercial that a separate trial for Asian Bank was proper because its cause
land located in Tandang Sora (Old Balara), Quezon City, of action against Asian Bank was entirely distinct and
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 2664234 and independent from its cause of action against the original
TCT No. 2665885 of the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City defendants; and that the issue with respect to Asian Bank was
registered in the names of Spouses Andres V. Genito, Jr. and whether Asian Bank had actual or constructive knowledge at
Ludivina L. Genito. the time of the issuance of the TCTs for the properties in its
name that such properties were the subject of the complaint in
On February 5, 2001, the Republic moved for the amendment Civil Case No. 0004, while the issue as to the original
of the complaint in order to implead Asian Bank as an defendants was whether they had "committed the acts
additional defendant. The Sandiganbayan granted the complained of as constituting illegal or unlawful accumulation
motion.6 It appears that Asian Bank claimed ownership of the of wealth which would, as a consequence, justify forfeiture of
two parcels of land as the registered owner by virtue of TCT No. the said properties or the satisfaction from said properties of
N-201383 and TCT No. N-201384 issued in its name by the the judgement that may be rendered in favor of the Republic."10
Registry of Deeds of Quezon City. Asian Bank was also in
possession of the properties by virtue of the writ of possession Asian Banks rejoinder to the Republics reply asserted that the
issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Quezon City.7 issue concerning its supposed actual or constructive knowledge
of the properties being the subject of the complaint in Civil Case
When the Republic was about to terminate its presentation of No. 0004 was intimately related to the issue delving on the
evidence against the original defendants in Civil Case No. 0004, character of the properties as the ill-gotten wealth of the
it moved to hold a separate trial against Asian Bank.8 original defendants; that it thus had a right to confront the
evidence presented by the Republic as to the character of the properties in its name. Consequently, whether or not it is
properties; and that the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction to ultimately established that the properties are ill-gotten wealth
decide Asian Banks ownership of the properties because the is of no actual significance to the incident pending
Sandiganbayan, being a special court with limited jurisdiction, consideration since the action against defendant bank is
could only determine the issue of whether or not the properties predicated not on the claim that it had knowledge of the ill-
were illegally acquired by the original defendants.11 gotten wealth character of the properties in question but rather
on whether or not it had knowledge, actual or constructive, of
On June 25, 2004, the Sandiganbayan issued the first assailed the fact that the properties it registered in its name are the
resolution granting the Republics motion for separate trial, subject of the instant recovery suit. Besides, plaintiff already
giving its reasons as follows: admits that the evidence it had presented as against the original
defendants would not apply to defendant bank for the reason
xxxx that there is no allegation in the second amended complaint
imputing responsibility or participation on the part of the said
A cursory reading of the comment filed by defendant Asian bank insofar as the issue of accumulation of wealth by the
Bank to plaintiffs request for a separate trial would readily original defendants are concerned. Thus, there appears no basis
reveal that defendant is not actually opposing the conduct of a for defendant banks apprehension that it would be deprived of
separate trial insofar as the said bank is concerned. What it its right to due process if its not given the opportunity to cross-
seeks is the opportunity to confront the witnesses and whatever examine the witnesses presented prior to its inclusion as party
documentary exhibits that may have been earlier presented by defendant in the case. To reiterate, the only issue insofar as
plaintiff in the case before the Court grants a separate trial. This defendant bank is concerned is whether there is evidence to
being the situation, we find no reason to deny the motion in show that it acquired the titles to the sequestered properties in
light of plaintiffs position that its claim as against Asian Bank is bad faith.
entirely separate and distinct from its claims as against the
original defendants, albeit dealing with the same subject Neither are we inclined to sustain defendants bank argument
matter. In fact, as shown by the allegations of the Second that the Court cannot grant a separate trial in this case because
Amended Complaint where Asian Bank was impleaded as a it has no jurisdiction over the claim that defendant bank
party defendant, the action against the latter is anchored on the acquired the properties in bad faith. Indeed, the issue of
claim that its acquisition of the subject properties was tainted defendant banks acquisition of the properties in bad faith is
with bad faith because of its actual or constructive knowledge merely incidental to the main action which is for reversion,
that the said properties are subject of the present recovery suit reconveyance, restitution, accounting and damages. It is
at the time it acquired the certificates of title covering the said axiomatic that jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is
conferred by law and is determined by the allegations in the considering that the Republic had already presented such
complaint and the character of the relief sought, irrespective of evidence prior to its being impleaded as an additional
whether the plaintiff is entitled to all or some of the claims defendant; that such evidence would be hearsay unless Asian
asserted therein (Russell v. Vestil, 304 SCRA 738; Saura v. Bank (Metrobank) was afforded the opportunity to test and to
Saura, Jr., 313 SCRA 465).12 object to the admissibility of the evidence; that because Asian
Bank disputed the allegedly ill-gotten character of the
Asian Bank moved for the reconsideration of the resolution, but properties and denied any involvement in their allegedly
the Sandiganbayan denied its motion through the second unlawful acquisition or any connivance with the original
assailed resolution issued on July 13, 2005.13 defendants in their acquisition, Asian Bank should be given the
opportunity to refute the Republics adverse evidence on the
Hence, Metrobank commenced this special civil action allegedly illgotten nature of the properties.16
for certiorari as the successor-in-interest of Asian Bank and
transferee of the properties.14 With respect to the second issue, Metrobank submits thuswise:

Issues 8.02 x x x the Honorable Sandiganbayan failed to consider that


Respondent Republic of the Philippines claim for the recovery
Metrobank contends that the Sandiganbayan committed grave of the subject properties from Asian Bank Corporation is
abuse of discretion in ruling that: (1) the Republic was entitled anchored mainly on its allegations that: a) the subject
to a separate trial against Asian Bank; (2) the only issue as properties constitute ill-gotten wealth of the other defendants
regards Asian Bank was whether there was evidence that Asian in the instant civil case; and, b) Asian Bank Corporation
Bank acquired the properties in bad faith; and acquired the subject properties in bad faith and with due notice
of the pendency of the ill-gotten wealth case. In other words,
(3) the Sandiganbayan had jurisdiction over the issue of Asian the determination of the character of the subject properties as
Banks alleged bad faith in acquiring the properties.15 "ill-gotten wealth" is equally important and relevant for Asian
Bank Corporation as it is for the other defendants considering
Anent the first issue, Metrobank states that the holding of a that the issue of its alleged acquisition in bad faith of the subject
separate trial would deny it due process, because Asian Bank properties is premised on Respondent Republic of the
was entitled to contest the evidence of the Republic against the Philippines claim that the subject properties form part of the
original defendants prior to Asian Banks inclusion as an ill-gotten wealth of the late President Marcos and his cronies.
additional defendant; that Asian Bank (Metrobank) would be Such being the case, Asian Bank Corporation is entitled as a
deprived of its day in court if a separate trial was held against it, matter of right to contest whatever evidence was presented by
Respondent Republic of the Philippines on these two (2) issues, civil cases against innocent purchasers for value like Asian Bank
specifically the character and nature of the subject properties. that had no notice of the allegedly ill-gotten nature of the
properties; and that considering the admission of the Republic
8.03 It must be stressed that the discretion of the court to order that the issue on the accumulation of wealth by the original
a separate trial of such issues should only be exercised where defendants did not at all concern Asian Bank, it follows that the
the issue ordered to be separately tried is so independent of the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction to pass judgment on the
other issues that its trial will in no way involve the trial of the validity of Asian Banks ownership of the properties.18
issues to be thereafter tried and where the determination of that
issues will satisfactorily and with practical certainty dispose of In contrast, the Republic insists that the Rules of Court allowed
the case, if decided for defendant. Considering that the issue on separate trials if the issues or claims against several defendants
Asian Bank Corporations alleged acquisition in bad faith of the were entirely distinct and separate, notwithstanding that the
subject properties is intimately related to the issue on the main claim against the original defendants and the issue
character and nature of the subject properties as ill-gotten against Asian Bank involved the same properties; that the
wealth of the other defendants in the instant civil case, there is allegations in the case against Spouses Genito and the other
absolutely no legal or factual basis for the holding of a separate original defendants pertained to the Republics claim that the
trial against Asian Bank Corporation.17 properties listed in Annex A of the original complaint
constituted ill-gotten wealth, resulting in the probable
As to the third issue, Metrobank posits that Asian Bank forfeiture of the listed properties should the Republic establish
acquired the properties long after they had been acquired by the in the end that such original defendants had illegally or
original defendants supposedly through unlawful means; that unlawfully acquired such properties; that although the Republic
the Republic admitted that the evidence adduced against the conceded that neither Asian Bank nor Metrobank had any
original defendants would not apply to Asian Bank because the participation whatsoever in the commission of the illegal or
amended complaint in Civil Case No. 0004 did not impute any unlawful acts, the only issue relevant to Metrobank being
responsibility to Asian Bank for the accumulation of wealth by whether it had knowledge that the properties had been in
the original defendants, or did not allege that Asian Bank had custodia legis at the time of its acquisition of them to determine
participated in such accumulation of wealth; that there was also its allegation of being an innocent purchaser for valuable
no allegation or proof that Asian Bank had been a business consideration; that because the properties were situated in the
associate, dummy, nominee or agent of the Marcoses; that the heart of Quezon City, whose land records had been destroyed by
inclusion of Asian Bank was not warranted under the law; that fire in 1998, resulting in the rampant proliferation of fake land
Asian Bank was a transferee in good faith and for valuable titles, Asian Bank should have acted with extra caution in
consideration; that the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction over ascertaining the validity of the mortgagors certificates of title;
and that the series of transactions involving the properties was The rule on separate trials in civil actions is found in Section 2,
made under dubious circumstances.19 Rule 31 of the Rules of Court, which reads:

The Republic posits that the Sandiganbayan had exclusive Section 2. Separate trials. The court, in furtherance of
original jurisdiction over all cases involving the recovery of ill- convenience or to avoid prejudice, may order a separate trial of
gotten wealth pursuant to Executive Orders No. 1, No. 2, No. 14 any claim, cross-claim, counterclaim, or third-party complaint,
and No. 14-A issued in 1986, laws encompassing the recovery of or of any separate issue or of any number of claims, cross-
sequestered properties disposed of by the original defendants claims, counterclaims, third-party complaints or issues.
while such properties remained in custodia legis and pending
the final resolution of the suit; and that the properties The text of the rule grants to the trial court the discretion to
pertaining to Spouses Genito were among the properties placed determine if a separate trial of any claim, cross-claim,
under the writs of sequestration issued by the Presidential counterclaim, or third-party complaint, or of any separate issue
Commission on Good Government (PCGG), thereby effectively or of any number of claims, cross-claims, counterclaims, third-
putting such properties in custodia legis and rendering them party complaints or issues should be held, provided that the
beyond disposition except upon the prior approval of the exercise of such discretion is in furtherance of convenience or to
Sandiganbayan.20 avoid prejudice to any party.

Ruling The rule is almost identical with Rule 42(b) of the United
States Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Federal Rules), a
The petition for certiorari is partly meritorious. provision that governs separate trials in the United States
Federal Courts (US Federal Courts), viz:
The Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion in granting
the Republics motion for separate trial, but was correct in Rule 42. Consolidation; Separate Trials.
upholding its jurisdiction over the Republics claim against
Asian Bank (Metrobank). xxxx

First and Second Issues: (b) Separate Trials. The court, in furtherance of convenience or
Separate Trials are Improper to avoid prejudice, or when separate trials will be conducive to
expedition and economy, may order a separate trial of any
The first and second issues, being interrelated, are jointly claim, crossclaim, counterclaim, or third-party claim, or of any
discussed and resolved. separate issue or of any number of claims, crossclaims,
counterclaims, third-party claims, or issues, always preserving the exercise of informed discretion when the court believes that
the inviolate right of trial by jury as declared by the Seventh separation will achieve the purposes of the rule.
Amendment to the Constitution or as given by a statute of the
United States. xxxx

The US Federal Courts have applied Rule 42(b) by using several As explained recently by the Second Circuit in United v. Alcan
principles and parameters whose application in this jurisdiction Aluminum Corp., Nos. 92-6158, 6160 1993 WL 100100, 1 (2d
may be warranted because our rule on separate trials has been Cir., April 6, 1993), the purpose of separate trials under Rule 42
patterned after the original version of Rule 42(b).21 There is no (b) is to "isolate issues to be resolved, avoid lengthy and
obstacle to adopting such principles and parameters as guides perhaps needless litigation . . . and to encourage settlement
in the application of our own rule on separate trials. This is discussions and speed up remedial action." (citing, Amoco Oil
because, generally speaking, the Court has randomly accepted v. Borden, Inc., 889 F.2d 664, 668 (5th Cir. 1989); Katsaros v.
the practices in the US Courts in the elucidation and application Cody, 744 F.2d 270, 278 (2d Cir.), cert. denied sub nom., 469
of our own rules of procedure that have themselves originated U.S. 1072, 105 S. Ct. 565, 83 L. Ed. 2d 506 (1984) (separate
from or been inspired by the practice and procedure in the trials are proper to further convenience or to avoid
Federal Courts and the various US State Courts. prejudice); Ismail v. Cohen, 706 F. Supp. 243, 251 (S.D.N.Y.
1989) (quoting, United States v. International Business
In Bowers v. Navistar International Transport Machines Corp., 60 F.R.D. 654, 657 (S.D.N.Y. 1973) (separate
Corporation,22 we find the following explanation made by the trials under Rule 42 (b) are appropriate, although not
US District Court for the Southern District of New York on the mandatory, to "(1) avoid prejudice; (2) provide for convenience,
objectives of having separate trials, to wit: or (3) expedite the proceedings and be economical.") Separate
trials, however, remain the exception rather than the rule. See,
The aim and purpose of the Rule is aptly summarized in C. e.g., Response of Carolina, Inc. v. Leasco Response, Inc., 537
Wright and A Millers Federal Practice and Procedure: F.2d 137 (5th Cir. 1976) xxx (separation of issues is not the
usual course under Rule 42 (b)). The moving party bears the
The provision for separate trials in Rule 42 (b) is intended to burden of establishing that separate trials are necessary to
further convenience, avoid delay and prejudice, and serve the prevent prejudice or confusion and serve the ends of
ends of justice. It is the interest of efficient judicial justice. Buscemi v. Pepsico, Inc., 736 F. Supp. 1267, 1271
administration that is to be controlling rather than the wishes (S.D.N.Y. 1990).
of the parties. The piecemeal trial of separate issues in a single
suit is not to be the usual course. It should be resorted to only in
In Divine Restoration Apostolic Church v. Nationwide Mutual (1982)). This is because a "single trial will generally lessen the
Insurance Co.,23 the US District Court for the Southern District delay, expense, and inconvenience to the parties and the
of Texas, Houston Division specified that separate trials courts." 5 James William Moore, Moores Federal Practice P.
remained the exception, and emphasized that the moving party 42-03[1], at p. 42-43 (1994); Laitram Corp. v. Hewlett-
had the burden to establish the necessity for the separation of Packard Co., 791 F. Supp. 113, 115 (E.D. La. 1992); Willemijn
issues, viz: Houdstermaatschaapij BV. V. Apollo Computer, 707 F. Supp.
1429, 1433 (D. Del. 1989). The movant has the burden to show
Rule 42 (b) provides that a court has discretion to order prejudice. Moore at p. 42-48.
separate trials of claims "in furtherance of convenience or to
avoid prejudice, or when separate trials will be conducive to x x x A Colorado District Court found three factors to weigh in
expedition and economy." FED. R. CIV. P.42 (b). Thus, the two determining whether to order separate trials for separate
primary factors to be considered in determining whether to defendants. These are 1) whether separate trials would further
order separate trials are efficient judicial administration and the convenience of the parties; 2) whether separate trials would
potential prejudice. Separation of issues for separate trials is promote judicial economy; and 3) whether separate trials would
"not the usual course that should be followed," McDaniel v. avoid substantial prejudice to the parties.
Anheuser-Bush, Inc., 987 F. 2d 298, 304 (5th Cir. 1993), and
the burden is on the party seeking separate trials to prove that Tri-R Sys. V. Friedman & Son, 94 F.R.D. 726, 727 (D. Colo.
separation is necessary. 9A CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT, 1982).
ARTHUR R. MILLER & MARY KAY KANE, FEDERAL
PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE 2388 (3d ed. 2001). In Miller v. American Bonding Company,25 the US Supreme
Court has delimited the holding of separate trials to only the
xxxx exceptional instances where there were special and persuasive
reasons for departing from the general practice of trying all
Still, in Corrigan v. Methodist Hospital,24 the US District Court issues in a case at only one time, stating:
for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has cautioned against
the unfettered granting of separate trials, thusly: In actions at law, the general practice is to try all the issues in a
case at one time; and it is only in exceptional instances where
Courts order separate trials only when "clearly there are special and persuasive reasons for departing from this
necessary." Wetherill v. University of Chicago, 565 F. Supp. practice that distinct causes of action asserted in the same case
1553, 1566-67 (N.D. Ill. 1983) (citing 5 James William may be made the subjects of separate trials. Whether this
Moore, Moores Federal Practice at pp. 42-37 to 42-38 & n.4
reasonably may be done in any particular instance rests largely ordering a separate trial as to Asian Bank (Metrobank) on the
in the courts discretion. ground that the issue against Asian Bank was distinct and
separate from that against the original defendants. Thereby, the
Further, Corpus Juris Secundum26 makes clear that neither Sandiganbayan veered away from the general rule of having all
party had an absolute right to have a separate trial of an issue; the issues in every case tried at one time, unreasonably
hence, the motion to that effect should be allowed only to avoid shunting aside the dictum in Corrigan, supra, that a "single
prejudice, further convenience, promote justice, and give a fair trial will generally lessen the delay, expense, and inconvenience
trial to all parties, to wit: to the parties and the courts."27

Generally speaking, a lawsuit should not be tried piecemeal, or Exceptions to the general rule are permitted only when there
at least such a trial should be undertaken only with great are extraordinary grounds for conducting separate trials on
caution and sparingly. There should be one full and different issues raised in the same case, or when separate trials
comprehensive trial covering all disputed matters, and parties of the issues will avoid prejudice, or when separate trials of the
cannot, as of right, have a trial divided. It is the policy of the law issues will further convenience, or when separate trials of the
to limit the number of trials as far as possible, and issues will promote justice, or when separate trials of the issues
will give a fair trial to all parties. Otherwise, the general rule
separate trials are granted only in exceptional cases. Even must apply.
under a statute permitting trials of separate issues, neither
party has an absolute right to have a separate trial of an issue As we see it, however, the justification of the Sandiganbayan for
involved. The trial of all issues together is especially allowing the separate trial did not constitute a special or
appropriate in an action at law wherein the issues are not compelling reason like any of the exceptions. To begin with, the
complicated, x x x, or where the issues are basically the same x x issue relevant to Asian Bank was not complicated. In that
x context, the separate trial would not be in furtherance of
convenience. And, secondly, the cause of action against Asian
x x x Separate trials of issues should be ordered where such Bank was necessarily connected with the cause of action against
separation will avoid prejudice, further convenience, promote the original defendants.1wphi1 Should the Sandiganbayan
justice, and give a fair trial to all parties. resolve the issue against Spouses Genito in a separate trial on
the basis of the evidence adduced against the original
Bearing in mind the foregoing principles and parameters defendants, the properties would be thereby adjudged as ill-
defined by the relevant US case law, we conclude that the gotten and liable to forfeiture in favor of the Republic without
Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of its discretion in Metrobank being given the opportunity to rebut or explain its
side. The outcome would surely be prejudicial towards We must safeguard Metrobanks right to be heard in the
Metrobank. defense of its registered ownership of the properties, for that is
what our Constitution requires us to do. Hence, the grant by the
The representation by the Republic in its comment to the Sandiganbayan of the Republics motion for separate trial, not
petition of Metrobank, that the latter "merely seeks to be being in furtherance of convenience or would not avoid
afforded the opportunity to confront the witnesses and prejudice to a party, and being even contrary to the
documentary exhibits," and that it will "still be granted said Constitution, the law and jurisprudence, was arbitrary, and,
right during the conduct of the separate trial, if proper grounds therefore, a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
are presented therefor,"28 unfairly dismisses the objective excess of jurisdiction on the part of the Sandiganbayan. 29
possibility of leaving the opportunity to confront the witnesses
and documentary exhibits to be given to Metrobank in the Third Issue:
separate trial as already too late. The properties, though already Sandiganbayan has exclusive original jurisdiction
registered in the name of Asian Bank, would be meanwhile over the matter involving Metrobank
declared liable to forfeiture in favor of the Republic, causing
Metrobank to suffer the deprivation of its properties without Presidential Decree No. 1606,30 as amended by Republic Act
due process of law. Only a joint trial with the original No. 797531 and Republic Act No. 8249,32 vests the
defendants could afford to Metrobank the equal and efficient Sandiganbayan with original exclusive jurisdiction over civil
opportunity to confront and to contest all the evidence bearing and criminal cases instituted pursuant to and in connection
on its ownership of the properties. Hence, the disadvantages with Executive Orders No. 1, No. 2, No. 14 and No. 14-A, issued
that a separate trial would cause to Metrobank would far in 1986 by then President Corazon C. Aquino.
outweigh any good or benefit that the Republic would
seemingly stand to gain from the separation of trials. Executive Order No. 1 refers to cases of recovery and
sequestration of ill-gotten wealth amassed by the Marcoses
their relatives, subordinates, and close associates, directly or
through nominees, by taking undue advantage of their public
office and/or by using their powers, authority, influence,
connections or relationships. Executive Order No. 2 states that
the ill-gotten wealth includes assets and properties in the form
of estates and real properties in the Philippines and abroad.
Executive Orders No. 14 and No. 14-A pertain to the
Sandiganbayans jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases
relative to the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their We cannot possibly sustain such a puerile stand. Pea itself
cronies. already dealt with the matter when it stated that under Section
2 of Executive Order No. 14, all cases of the Commission
The amended complaint filed by the Republic to implead Asian regarding alleged illgotten properties of former President
Bank prays for reversion, reconveyance, reconstitution, Marcos and his relatives, subordinates, cronies, nominees and
accounting and damages. In other words, the Republic would so forth, whether civil or criminal, are
recover ill-gotten wealth, by virtue of which the properties in
question came under sequestration and are now, for that lodged within the exclusive and original jurisdiction of the
reason, in custodia legis.33 Sandiganbayan, "and all incidents arising from, incidental to, or
related to such cases necessarily fall likewise under the
Although the Republic has not imputed any responsibility to Sandiganbayans exclusive and original jurisdiction, subject to
Asian Bank for the illegal accumulation of wealth by the original review on certiorari exclusively by the Supreme Court."
defendants, or has not averred that Asian Bank was a business
associate, dummy, nominee, or agent of the Marcoses, the WHEREFORE, the Court PARTIALLY GRANTS the
allegation in its amended complaint in Civil Case No. 0004 that petition for certiorari.
Asian Bank acted with bad faith for ignoring the sequestration
of the properties as ill-gotten wealth has made the cause of Let the writ of certiorari issue: (a) ANNULLING AND
action against Asian Bank incidental or necessarily connected SETTING ASIDE the Resolution dated June 25, 2004 and the
to the cause of action against the original defendants. Resolution dated July 13, 2005 issued by the Sandiganbayan in
Consequently, the Sandiganbayan has original exclusive Civil Case No. 0004 granting the motion for separate trial of the
jurisdiction over the claim against Asian Bank, for the Court has Republic of the Philippines as to Metropolitan Bank and Trust
ruled in Presidential Commission on Good Government v. Company; and (b), DIRECTING the Sandiganbayan to hear
Sandiganbayan,34 that "the Sandiganbayan has original and Civil Case No. 0004 against Metropolitan Bank and Trust
exclusive jurisdiction not only over principal causes of action Company in the same trial conducted against the original
involving recovery of ill-gotten wealth, but also over all defendants in Civil Case No. 0004.
incidents arising from, incidental to, or related to such cases."
The Court made a similar pronouncement sustaining the The Court DECLARES that the Sandiganbayan has original
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan in Republic of the Philippines exclusive jurisdiction over the amended complaint in Civil Case
(PCGG) v. Sandiganbayan (First Division),35 to wit: No. 0004 as against Asian Bank Corporation/Metropolitan
Bank and Trust Company.
No pronouncements on costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 199501 March 6, 2013

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the


REGIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT
OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES,
REGION III, Petitioner,
vs.
HEIRS OF ENRIQUE ORIBELLO, JR. and THE
REGISTER OF DEEDS OF OLONGAPO
CITY, Respondents.

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:
The Case On 20 February 1987, the subject property was declared open to
disposition under the Public Land Act. Thus, Oribello filed
This petition for review1 assails the 29 April 2011 Decision2 and another Miscellaneous Sales Application on 6 April 1987.
16 November 2011 Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CV No. 90559. The Court of Appeals denied petitioner On 27 March 1990, the Director of Lands issued an Order for
Republic of the Philippines' (peitioner) appeal of the Order of the issuance of a patent in favor of Oribello. On even date,
the Regional Trial Court, Olongapo City, Branch 72,4 which Miscellaneous Sales Patent No. 12756 and OCT No. P-5004
dismissed petitioner's action for reversion and cancellation of were issued to Oribello.
Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. P-5004 in the name of
Enrique Oribello, Jr. (Oribello ). Matilde Apog (Apog) and Aliseo San Juan (San Juan),5 claiming
to be actual occupants of the property, protested with the
The Facts DENR the issuance of the sales patent and OCT in favor of
Oribello. They sought the annulment of the sales patent,
The present controversy involves a parcel of land situated in arguing that Oribello and Land Inspector Dominador Laxa
Nagbaculao, Kalaklan, Olongapo City, which was once classified (Laxa) committed fraud and misrepresentation in the approval
as forest land by the Bureau of Forest Development. The of the Miscellaneous Sales Application of Oribello. They alleged
property was originally occupied by a certain Valentin that Laxa submitted a false report to the Director of Lands, by
Fernandez (Valentin) in 1968 by virtue of a Residential Permit stating that there were no other claimants to the property and
issued by the same government office. that Oribello was the actual occupant thereof, when the
contrary was true.
Upon Valentins death, his son, Odillon Fernandez (Odillon),
continued to occupy the property, together with spouses After investigation, the Regional Executive Director of the
Ruperto and Matilde Apog. Sometime in 1969, Odillon sold the DENR found substantial evidence that fraud and
property to a certain Mrs. Florentina Balcita who, later on, sold misrepresentation were committed in the issuance of the sales
the same property to Oribello. Oribello filed a Miscellaneous patent in favor of Oribello, warranting a reversion suit.
Sales Application with the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR), which denied the application since On 25 March 1992, the Office of the Solicitor General,
the land remained forest land. representing petitioner, instituted a complaint for reversion
and cancellation of title before the Regional Trial Court of
Olongapo City, docketed as Civil Case No. 225-0-92. The case
was thereafter consolidated with Civil Case No. 233-0-91, a
complaint for recovery of possession filed by Oribello against On the hearing of 4 April 1997, Atty. Oscar Pascua, representing
Apog and San Juan. petitioner, presented a witness on the stand.For petitioners
failure to appear on the hearing of 12 September 1997, the trial
During the trial, petitioner marked numerous documentary court issued an Order8 on even date holding as follows:
evidence and presented several witnesses on various hearing
dates.6 On July 25, 1997, this Court issued an Order, quoted as follows:

In an Order dated 20 December 1996, the trial court warned xxxx


petitioner on the possible effect of its non-appearance on the
next scheduled hearing, thus: On several occasions when these cases were set for trial, neither
Atty. Barcelo nor Atty. Pascua appeared, constraining the Court
WHEREFORE, let the continuation of the reception of evidence to postpone the hearing. The actuations of both lawyers result
for the Republic of the Philippines be reset to February 14, 21 to delay in the early termination of these cases which have been
and 28, 1997, all at 10:00 oclock in the morning, as previously pending since 1992.
scheduled.
xxxx
The Solicitor General is warned that should his designated
lawyer or any of his assistants fail to appear on the dates above- WHEREFORE, the Republic of the Philippines is hereby
stated, the Court will be constrained to consider the deemed to have abandoned the case for the government.
presentation of evidence for the Republic of the Philippines as
terminated. Attorney Dumpit for the defendant Matilde Apog, et al., is
hereby required to manifest in writing on whether or not he is
Atty. Dumpit, therefore, is advised that he bring his witnesses adopting the evidence already presented by the Republic of the
on said dates to testify for the defendants Matilde Apog and Philippines, and if so, to make his offer of evidence within 30
Eliseo San Juan should the Solicitor General fail to appear and days from today. Atty. Leyco is given 10 days from receipt of a
present evidence. copy of his offer to file his comment or opposition. Let the
reception of evidence, if there be any on any part of Enrique
xxxx Oribello, be set on October 24, 1997 at 10:00 a.m. as previously
scheduled. And in addition thereto on November 21, and
SO ORDERED.7 (Emphasis supplied) December 5, 1997 also both at 10:00 a.m. To give way to the
filing of these pleadings, cancel the hearing scheduled for Petitioner moved for reconsideration, contending that the
October 3, 1997. Order applied exclusively to Civil Case No. 233-0-91 (for
recovery of possession) and did not affect Civil Case No. 225-0-
Upon receipt of proof from the Post Office by this Court which 92 (for reversion of property). Petitioner prayed that it be
will show that Atty. Pascua has received a copy of the Order allowed to present its evidence.
dated July 25, 1997, the Motion to hold him in contempt will be
deemed submitted for resolution. Furnish Atty. Barcelo, the Acting favorably on the motion, the trial court allowed the
Solicitor General, the Executive Regional Director, DENR, R- continuation of the presentation of petitioners evidence in its
III, Angeles City, and Atty. Oscar Pascua, a copy of this Order. Order dated 29 June 2005.11
Attys. Dumpit and Leyco are both notified in open court of this
Order. Aggrieved, Oribellos heirs filed a Manifestation and Motion,
bringing to the attention of the trial court the previous 12
SO ORDERED.9 September 1997 Order declaring petitioner to have abandoned
the reversion case. Oribellos heirs pointed out that from the
The trial of the consolidated cases continued and the reception time petitioner received the Order in 1997, it did nothing to
of evidence of the private parties proceeded. question the same, making the Order final.

However, in its Order of 21 February 2005, the trial court In its Resolution of 12 July 2006, the trial court recalled its 29
dismissed the consolidated cases without prejudice for non- June 2005 Order, and declared instead:
substitution of the deceased plaintiff (Oribello) and his counsel,
to wit: Finding merit in defendants Motion and Manifestation, the
Order dated 29 June 2005 granting the Motion for
Considering that the plaintiffs counsel is already dead, and the Reconsideration filed by the Solicitor General is recalled and
plaintiff is likewise dead already, there being no substitution of the above-entitled case is DISMISSED.
party-plaintiffs or any record showing the heirs or party in
interest, these cases are dismissed without prejudice.10 SO RESOLVED.12

Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals.

The Ruling of the Court of Appeals


The Court of Appeals denied petitioners appeal. The Court of 2. The consolidated cases, without any order of
Appeals held "that the remedy of appeal is no longer available" severance, cannot be subject of multiple appeals.
to petitioner. The appellate court agreed with respondents that
petitioner has lost its right to participate in the proceedings of 3. There can be no private ownership over an
Civil Case No. 225-0-92 when it failed to question the trial unclassified public forest.
courts 12 September 1997 Order, declaring it to have
abandoned the case. As a consequence of petitioners inaction, The Ruling of the Court
such order inevitably became final.
Is the 12 September 1997 Order interlocutory?
Moreover, the Court of Appeals ruled that petitioner is barred
by laches and estoppel for failing to challenge the 12 September Petitioner contends that the 12 September 1997 Order of the
1997 Order after almost a decade from receipt thereof. The trial court, deeming it to have abandoned the case, is
appellate court stated that "while the general rule is that an interlocutory in nature; thus, is not appealable.14 Respondents
action to recover lands of public domain is imprescriptible, said argue otherwise, maintaining that such Order is a dismissal of
right can be barred by laches or estoppel." the complaint on the ground of failure to prosecute which is,
under the Rules,15 considered an adjudication on the merits,
The Court of Appeals disposed of the case as follows: and hence appealable.

WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the instant We agree with petitioner.
appeal is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.
A final order is defined as "one which disposes of the subject
SO ORDERED. (Emphasis in the original)
13
matter in its entirety or terminates a particular proceeding or
action, leaving nothing else to be done but to enforce by
The Court of Appeals denied the motion for reconsideration. execution what has been determined by the court."16

The Issues Conversely, an interlocutory order "does not dispose of the case
completely but leaves something to be decided upon"17 by the
Petitioner anchors the present petition on the following court. Its effects are merely provisional in character and
grounds: substantial proceedings have to be further conducted by the
court in order to finally resolve the issue or controversy.18
1. Interlocutory orders are not subject of appeal.
Based on the records, petitioner has presented testimonial We note that prior to the issuance of the 12 September 1997
evidence on various hearing dates and marked numerous Order, the trial court already warned petitioner on the likely
documents during the trial of Civil Case No. 225-0-92. Such adverse effect of its non-appearance on the next hearing date. If
acts do not manifest lack of interest to prosecute. Admittedly petitioner fails to attend the next scheduled hearing, the trial
there was delay in this case. However, such delay is not the court would consider petitioners presentation of evidence as
delay warranting dismissal of the complaint. To be a sufficient terminated. Termination of presentation of a partys evidence
ground for dismissal, delay must not only be lengthy but also does not equate to dismissal of the complaint for failure to
unnecessary resulting in the trifling of court processes. 19 There prosecute. In fact, the trial court merely "deemed" petitioner to
is no proof that petitioner intended to delay the proceedings in have abandoned the case without stating expressly and
this case, much less abuse judicial processes. unequivocally that the complaint for reversion was dismissed.
Had the trial court declared, in no uncertain terms, that the
While petitioner failed to appear on the hearing of 12 reversion suit was dismissed for failure to prosecute, there is no
September 1997, such failure does not constitute a ground for doubt that petitioner would have questioned such ruling, as it
the dismissal of the reversion complaint for failure to prosecute. now did with respect to the trial courts 29 June 2005 Order.
Petitioners non-appearance on that date should simply be
construed as a waiver of the right to present additional While it is within the trial courts discretion to dismiss motu
evidence.20 proprio the complaint on the ground of plaintiffs failure to
prosecute, it must be exercised with caution. Resort to such
action must be determined according to the procedural history
of each case, the situation at the time of the dismissal, and the
diligence (or the lack thereof) of the plaintiff to proceed
therein.21 As the Court held in Gomez v. Alcantara,22 if a lesser
sanction would achieve the same result, then dismissal should
not be resorted to.

Unless a partys conduct is so indifferent, irresponsible,


contumacious or slothful as to provide substantial grounds for
dismissal, i.e., equivalent to default or non-appearance in the
case, the courts should consider lesser sanctions which would
still amount to achieving the desired end. In the absence of a
pattern or scheme to delay the disposition of the case or of a
wanton failure to observe the mandatory requirement of the subsequent allegation that such case has already been
rules on the part of the plaintiff, as in the case at bar, courts dismissed.
should decide to dispense with rather than wield their authority
to dismiss.23 (Emphasis supplied) Are the consolidated cases subject to multiple appeals?

Notably, the trial court, even after its supposed "dismissal" of Section 1, Rule 31 of the Rules of Court provides:
the case for petitioners abandonment, continued to recognize
petitioners personality in its proceedings. In fact, in its Order SECTION 1. Consolidation. When actions involving a
of 16 January 1998, well beyond the "dismissal" on 12 common question of law or fact are pending before the court, it
September 1997, the trial court directed the service of such may order a joint hearing or trial of any or all the matters in
order to the Solicitor General, to wit: issue in the actions; it may order all the actions consolidated,
and it may make such orders concerning proceedings therein as
xxxx may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay.

Should Atty. Dumpit fail to submit the said offer of evidence, it Consolidation is a procedural device to aid the court in deciding
will be deemed a waiver on his part to do so. Atty. Leyco how cases in its docket are to be tried so that the business of the
announced that he is presenting evidence for and in behalf of court may be dispatched expeditiously and with economy while
the defendants Oribello in Civil Case No. 225-0-92 and as providing justice to the parties.25To promote this end, the rule
plaintiff in Civil Case No. 233-0-91. allows the consolidation and a single trial of several cases in the
courts docket, or the consolidation of issues within those
To give way to the filing of said pleadings, cancel the hearing on cases.26 The Court explained, thus:
February 20, 1998. Let the reception of evidence for the
plaintiff Oribellos be set on March 20, 1998 at 9:00 a.m.. Attys. In the context of legal procedure, the term "consolidation" is
Leyco and Dumpit are notified in open court. Furnish a copy of used in three different senses:
this order the Solicitor General, DENR Office in Angeles City, as
well as Atty. Pascua.24(Emphasis supplied) (1) Where all except one of several actions are stayed
until one is tried, in which case the judgment in the one
In addition, the above Order states that Oribellos counsel was trial is conclusive as to the others. This is not actually
presenting evidence on the two consolidated cases. This means consolidation but is referred to as such. (quasi-
that Oribello himself continued to recognize the pendency of consolidation)
the reversion suit (Civil Case No. 225-0-92), contrary to his
(2) Where several actions are combined into one, lose Since each action does not lose its distinct character, severance
their separate identity, and become a single action in of one action from the other is not necessary to appeal a
which a single judgment is rendered. This is illustrated judgment already rendered in one action. There is no rule or
by a situation where several actions are pending law prohibiting the appeal of a judgment or part of a judgment
between the same parties stating claims which might in one case which is consolidated with other cases. Further,
have been set out originally in one complaint. (actual severance is within the sound discretion of the court for
consolidation)1wphi1 convenience or to avoid prejudice. It is not mandatory under
the Rules of Court that the court sever one case from the other
(3) Where several actions are ordered to be tried cases before a party can appeal an adverse ruling on such case.
together but each retains its separate character and
requires the entry of a separate judgment. This type of Is the property unclassified public forest?
consolidation does not merge the suits into a single
action, or cause the parties to one action to be parties to In its petition, petitioner contended that the subject property
the other. (consolidation for trial)27 remains unclassified public forest, incapable of private
appropriation. In its complaint, petitioner alleged that Oribello
In the present case, the complaint for reversion filed by committed fraud and misrepresentation in acquiring the
petitioner (Civil Case No. 225-0-92) was consolidated with the subject property.
complaint for recovery of possession filed by Oribello (Civil
Case No. 223-0-91). While these two cases involve common This Court is not a trier of facts. Fraud is a question
questions of law and fact,28 each action retains its separate and offact. 29 Whether there was fraud and misrepresentation in the
distinct character. The reversion suit settles whether the subject issuance of the sales patent in favor of Oribello calls for a
land will be reverted to the State, while the recovery of thorough evaluation of the parties' evidence. Thus, this Court
possession case determines which private party has the better will have to remand the reversion case to the trial court for
right of possession over the subject property. These cases, further proceedings in order to resolve this issue and
involving different issues and seeking different remedies, accordingly dispose of the case based on the parties' evidence
require the rendition and entry of separate judgments. The on record.
consolidation is merely for joint trial of the cases. Notably, the
complaint for recovery of possession proceeded independently WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition IN PART and
of the reversion case, and was disposed of accordingly by the SETS ASIDE the assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court
trial court. of Appeals. The reversion case is remanded to the trial court for
further proceedings. The trial court is ordered to resolve the SO ORDERED.
reversion case with utmost dispatch.