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[G.R. No. 181535. August 17, 2016.


A multitude of 520 persons filed a Complaint for Quieting of Title, Recovery of Ownership and
Possession with Damages with the RTC, Camarines Sur, against Eduardo Dee (herein defendant-
Said persons alleged that they were purchasers-owners of burial lots in Divine Heart Memorial
Park in Anayan, Pili, Camarines Sur. Although 520 persons were named in the caption of the
complaint, plaintiffs-appellees only listed 229 owners of "family type" lots, 118 owners of
"kennedy type" lots, 67 owners of "lawn type" lots and 76 "mausoleum type" lots, or a total of 490
lot owners. (It appears that some of the names listed are ghost buyers)
Petitioner Eduardo Dee testified that he acquired the subject property where the Divine Heart
Memorial Park is a part, through public auction where he was the highest bidder; that a receiver
was appointed by the court to receive the payments of the various buyers of memorial lots and to
issue receipts therefor; and that there were talks toward a compromise agreement between Eduardo
Dee and Conrado Colarina but the same did not push through due to Colarina's surreptitious
sales and production of titles. the ling of the case nor was she informed that lot buyers of the
memorial park were filing cases against defendant-appellant.
RTC declared as legitimate and genuine memorial lot owners the 206 persons listed in the
petitioner's answer to request for admission. Moreover, the RTC considered as genuine and
legitimate claimants the 75 persons listed in Exhibit 5 as "active/paying," as well as the 137 persons
listed as "with interment (fully paid and not fully paid),
Eduardo Dee filed his motion for partial reconsideration, stating that the RTC erred in ruling in
favor of the 95 plaintiffs whose claims were ruled to be genuine and valid. In support of his motion,
he presented the approved plan of the Divine Heart Memorial Park that indicated that the lots of
the majority of such 95 plaintiffs were located either in the non-burial areas of the park, or in non-
existing blocks; and contended that although some of the 95 plaintiffs had valid claims to certain
lots, their respective contracts had already been cancelled.
The CA pointed out that the plan could not be admitted because it had not been formally offered
in evidence as required by Section 34, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court; and that the plan constituted
forgotten evidence that could not be considered by the trial court in deciding the case.
The petitioner argues that the plan was not forgotten but newly discovered evidence that should be
admitted; that the Court should relax the rules of procedure and admit the plan despite the fact that
the same had not been formally offered in evidence; and that the Court should review the factual
ndings of the lower courts inasmuch as they had grossly erred in passing upon the claims of the
respondents, especially those of the 95 respondents.
Hence, this appeal.

The issue presented for consideration is whether or not the plan of the Divine Heart Memorial Park
was admissible in evidence.

Court DENIES the petition for review on certiorari
The CA was correct in not considering the plan of the Divine Heart Memorial Park as evidence.
First of all, the petitioner hereby presents a factual issue in urging the review of the records in
order for the Court to reconsider the unanimous findings of the CA and the RTC and instead hold
that the defendants, respondents herein, were not legitimate buyers and owners of the memorial
lots found in the Divine Heart Memorial Park. However, such imposition cannot be accepted
because this Court is not a trier of facts. In this appeal under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, the
Court is limited to reviewing only questions of law. We further remind that as a general rule the
factual findings of the trial court, especially when affirmed by the CA, are binding on this Court.
Although the Court has recognized certain exceptions to the operation of this rule, the petitioner
has not sufficiently shown why and how this case should be treated as exceptional.

Secondly, the plan is not newly-discovered evidence. Section 1 of Rule 37, Rules of Court, allows
a party to le a motion for new trial provided the following requirements are present, namely: (1)
that the evidence was discovered after trial; (2) that such evidence could not have been discovered
and produced at the trial even with the exercise of reasonable diligence; (3) that such evidence is
material, not merely cumulative, corroborative, or impeaching; and (4) that such evidence, if
admitted, would probably change the judgment. The absence of any of the requirements forbids
the court from allowing the evidence sought to be introduced to be admitted in evidence. Clearly,
if the allegedly newly discovered evidence could have been presented during the trial with the
exercise of reasonable diligence, the same cannot be considered newly discovered.

In Custodio v. Sandiganbayan, the Court has set the requirement for due diligence that bears on
the propriety of the motion for new trial based on newly- discovered evidence, thus:
The threshold question in resolving a motion for new trial based on newly
discovered evidence is whether the proffered evidence is in fact a newly discovered
evidence which could not have been discovered by due diligence. The question of whether
evidence is newly discovered has two aspects: a temporal one, i.e., when was the evidence
discovered, and a predictive one, i.e., when should or could it have been discovered. It is
to the latter that the requirement of due diligence has relevance. We have held that in order
that a particular piece of evidence may be properly regarded as newly discovered to justify
new trial, what is essential is not so much the time when the evidence offered rst sprang
into existence nor the time when it rst came to the knowledge of the party now submitting
it; what is essential is that the offering party had exercised reasonable diligence in seeking
to locate such evidence before or during trial but had nonetheless failed to secure it. ETHI

The Rules do not give an exact definition of due diligence, and whether the movant has exercised
due diligence depends upon the particular circumstances of each case. Nonetheless, it has been
observed that the phrase is often equated with reasonable promptness to avoid prejudice to the
defendant. In other words, the concept of due diligence has both a time component and a good
faith component. The movant for a new trial must not only act in a timely fashion in gathering
evidence in support of the motion; he must act reasonably and in good faith as well. Due diligence
contemplates that the defendant acts reasonably and in good faith to obtain the evidence, in light
of the totality of the circumstances and the facts known to him.
The CA stated:
We are not convinced that the map or the plan was not discovered or
available during trial. Defendant-appellant's allegation that his agents were not in
complete control of the records of the cemetery which prevented him from
discovering the map or plan earlier, is specious. This hardly incites belief in light
of the fact that the action below was instituted in 1995 while defendant-
appellant acquired the subject cemetery five years earlier, in 1990. As the new
owner thereof, defendant-appellant was expected to ask for or to secure such
basic document as a map or plan of the entire lot. A person of ordinary
prudence and concern would have wanted to see for himself the extent and
boundaries of what he is acquiring. Thus, a person is presumed to take
ordinary care of his concerns. With ordinary diligence, the said map or plan
would have been available long before the Complaint was led in court. Thus,
the failure of the defendant-appellant to present what he calls a 'vital
document' during the trial is inexcusable. (bold underscoring supplied for
As the foregoing bears out, the CA correctly held that the plan was not newly- discovered
but forgotten evidence. The main consideration was that the petitioner could have presented the
plan during the trial had it exercised due diligence.

Lastly, the Court cannot simply relax the rules of procedure and allow the presentation of
forgotten evidence notwithstanding that the petitioner now insists that doing so will serve the
highest interest of justice. Although litigation is not a game of technicalities in which the better
tactician wins, we should stress that the rules of procedure have a role to play in insuring that
litigations are conducted in a just, speedy and orderly fashion. As such, the petitioner's plea that
the relaxation of the rules will best serve the highest interest of justice is disregarded because of
his lack of persuasive demonstration that his failure to present the plan during trial was not because
of his neglect. The Court is wary of pleas for the liberalization of the rules and may only consider
the same upon a clear and convincing showing by the petitioner of his observance of due diligence,
which did not happen in this case. Indeed, such liberalization in the construction and application
of the rules of procedure should not be made subordinate to the gross mistakes and inexcusable
negligence of the litigant and his counsel; otherwise, the rules of procedure, albeit intended to
ensure the speedy, inexpensive and smooth administration of justice, would be easily reduced to a