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(G.R. No. 73039 October 9, 1987)
FACTS: Private respondents filed Civil Case No. 6880 against herein petitioners for
which summons was issued to them.
Summons was not served to Primitivo and Quirino, but only to Perfecta.
Atty. Jose P. Alamino filed a motion for extension to answer in behalf of the
defendants, manifesting the representation of his client Perfecta Cavili that she will
inform her brothers Primitivo and Quirino about the case.
After failing to file an answer within the time allowed, they were declared in
default, and judgment by default soon followed.
However, an order for new trial was issued upon order of Atty. Jose P. Alamillo,
on grounds of lack of jurisdiction and, with a meritorious defense that the properties
sought to be partitioned have already been the subject of a written partition
agreement between the direct heirs of the parties.
When the case was re-raffled, Judge Cipriano Vamenta set aside the order for
new trial and reinstated the judgment by default.
The Supreme Court reversed the said decision and ordered new trial upon
petition for certiorari filed by respondents
Respondent judge Florendo disqualified petitioner Perfecta as a witness upon
a motion for her disqualification filed by private respondents, alleging that Perfecta
has lost her standing in court and she cannot be allowed to participate in all
premise the even as a witness.
Petitioners filed this petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court.
Whether Perfecta should be disqualified to appear as witness
No! She should be qualified to appear as witness!
Section 18, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court states who are qualified to
be witnesses. It provides:
Section 18. Witnesses; their qualifications. Except as provided in the next
succeeding section, all persons who, having organs of sense, can
perceive, and perceiving, can make known their perception to
others, may be witnesses. Neither parties nor other persons
interested in the outcome of a case shall be excluded; nor those who
have been convicted of crime; nor any person on account of his opinion on
matters of religious belief.

There is no provision of the Rules disqualifying parties declared in default

from taking the witness stand for non-disqualified parties. The law does not provide
default as an exception. The specific enumeration of disqualified witnesses
(under Sections 19 and 20 of Rule 130 and Section 15 of Rule 132)
excludes the operation of causes of disability other than those mentioned
in the Rules. As a general rule, where there are express exceptions these
comprise the only limitations on the operation of a statute and no other
exception will be implied.
Rule 18, Section 2, likewise, does not support respondents contention. Under
this rule, a party declared in default shall not be entitled to notice of subsequent
proceedings nor to take part in the trial. A party in default loses his right to present
his defense, control the proceedings, and examine or cross-examine witnesses.
There is nothing in the rule, however, which contemplates a disqualification to be a
witness or an opponent in a case. Default does not make him an incompetent.
As opposed to a party litigant, a witness is merely a beholder, a
spectator or onlooker, called upon to testify to what he has seen, heard, or
observed. As such, he takes no active part in the contest of rights
between the parties. A party in default may thus be cited as a witness by
his co-defendants who have the standing and the right to present
evidence which the former may provide. To reject Perfects Cavili's presentation
of testimonial evidence would be to treat Primitivo and Quirino, as if they too were
in default.
The petition is hereby GRANTED. The order of the respondent court
disqualifying. Perfects Cavili dela Cruz as a witness in Civil Case No. 6880 is hereby

9. INESTATE ESTATE OF MARCELINO TONGCO, represented by Josefa Tongco vs.

(G.R. No. 27498, September 20, 1927)
FACTS: Marcelino Tongco died on July 8, 1925, leaving the Anastacia Vianzon as his
Josefa Tongco was named administratrix of the estate.
It appears that shortly before the death of Marcelino Tongco, he had
presented claims in a cadastral case in which he had asked for titles to certain
properties in the name of the conjugal partnership consisting of himself and his
wife, and that corresponding decrees for these lots were issued in the name of the
conjugal partnership not long after his death.
In the cadastral case, new decrees and certificates of title were issued, as the
exclusive property of Anastacia.
On July 19, 1926, the administratrix of the estate began action against
Anastacia Vianzon for the recovery of specified property and for damages. The issue
was practically the same as in the cadastral case. Only P10 was given to the estate
of Marcelino in this case.
Two appeals filed by petitioner were joined in one case.
Whether or not the widow, respondent Anastacia, was competent to testify.
Yes. She is competent to testify.
Counsel of petitioner relies on that portion of section 383 of the Code of Civil
Procedure as provides that "Parties or assignors of parties to an action or
proceeding, or persons in whose behalf an action or proceeding is prosecuted,
against an executor or administrator or other representative of a deceased person , .
. ., upon a claim or demand against the estate of such deceased person . . ., cannot
testify as to any matter of fact occurring before the death of such
deceased person . . . ."
Counsel is eminently correct in emphasizing that the object and purpose of
this statute is to guard against the temptation to give false testimony in regard to
the transaction is question on the part of the surviving party BUT he neglected the
equally important rule that the law was designed to aid in arriving at the
truth and was not designed to suppress the truth.
The actions WERE NOT brought "against" the administratrix of the
estate, nor were they brought upon claims "against" the estate. Both the
cadastral proceedings initiated by Anastacia and the recovery of specified
property and for damages initiated by petitioner Josefa as adminitratix are
actions to enforce demand "by" the estate.
Moreover, a waiver was accomplished when the adverse party
undertook to cross-examine the interested person with respect to the
prohibited matters.

Judgment of the lower courts were affirmed. No error committed.


(G.R. No. L-29512, January 17, 1929)
FACTS: This is an appeal by the defendants from a decision of the Court of First
Instance of Zamboanga ordering the reformation of the deed of sale executed by
the plaintiff in favor of Edward Carr for 3 lots.
When Carr went to Zamboanga, he was advised by a lawyer, P. J. Moore to
purchase the subject lots from petitioner at P20,000. The lots were previously
owned by spouses Henry E. Teck and Magdalena Lim, from whom, Chua acquired
the same.
Carr, Moore, and Chua, all agreed that Carr should respect the right Teck and
Lim to repurchase the lots, that would expire in June, 1927.
The first deed of sale drawn by Moore embodies the right of repurchase. Carr
and Chua even delivered to Moore, copies of the documents under which Teck and
Lim acquired such right.
But upon the drafting of the deed, Carr had no sufficient money to buy the
lots, so he asked that a loan in his favor in the amount of P6,500 be obtained on the
Zamboanga Mutual Building and Loan Association where Moore was the secretary.
Carr and Moore agreed to remove the right of repurchase from the deed of
sale since the loan can only be obtained if it appears that Carr is the absolute
owner. But Carr was to bear in mind that the rights of Teck and Lim still existed.
They told Chua that the right to repurchase by Lim and Teck is protected.
They also agreed that Moore should keep the deed and other documents until
the expiration of the right of repurchase.
The deed was prepared and signed. But then the loan from the Zamboanga
bank did not push through because Chua obtained a loan from BPI at a lower
interest rate. However, the deed was never re-drafted to contain the right of
Moore kept the documents, but when he became sick, Carr forced him to
deliver the same to him, so the former did, after being molested by Carr.
Carr immediately registered the deed.
Teck offered to repurchase the property in question from Ong Chua who
thereupon demanded of Carr the reconveyance of the property. The latter refused to
do so, claiming absolute title to the property.
Chua brought an action for reformation, alleging the abovementioned facts
and that the instrument be reformed in accordance therewith.
In his answer, the defendant pleaded that the deed in question contained no
stipulation as to rights of repurchase.
Carr died, and the administrator of his estate, Manuel Igual, was substituted
as defendant.
The court below ordered the reformation of the deed, Exhibit A, in accordance
with the plaintiff's demand, having received no evidence from the defendant.
1. Whether Chua should be permitted to testify, over the defendant's
objections, to fact occurring prior to the death of Carr
2. Whether the facts proven do not justify the reformation of the deed in

1. Yes. The rule prohibiting parties to an action against an executor
or administrator, or any representative of the deceased person,
upon a claim or demand against the deceased, from testifying as
to any matter of fact occurring before the latters death was
never intended to serve as a shield for fraud.
In this case a number of credible witnesses testified to facts which
conclusively showed that Carr's conduct was tainted with fraud. The plaintiff did not
take the witness stand until after the existence of fraud on the part of Carr and been
established beyond a doubt and not by a mere preponderance of evidence. In these
circumstances, we cannot hold that the trial court erred in not excluding the
plaintiff's testimony.
2. Yes. The fraudulent act of Carr is ground for the reformation. The
same is given "where there is a mistake on one side and fraud or
unfair dealing on the other."
Evidence is conclusive that the plaintiff Chua had no clear conception of
the contents of the deed. The deed was written in the English language, with which
the plaintiff was unfamiliar, and he had to rely on the statements of Moore.
Carr, on the other hand, knew the contents of the deed and fully agreed to
Moore's plan to place it in escrow until the expiration of the term for the repurchase
or redemption of the land. Then he harassed Moore, then a very sick man, into
giving him possession of the deed prematurely. Thereafter, through fraud, he
presented to the register of deeds for the issuance of certificates of title.