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Evidence The Bar Lecture Series by Riano (2009)

CHAPTER I PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS


A. MISCELLANEOUS BASIC PRINCIPLES
Definition. Evidence is the means sanctioned by these rules, of ascertaining in
a judicial proceeding the truth respecting a matter of fact.
Purpose. The purpose of evidence under the Rules of Court is to ascertain the
truth respecting a matter of fact in a judicial proceeding. Evidence is required
because of the presumption that the court is not aware of the veracity of the
facts involved in a case. It is therefore incumbent upon the parties to prove a
fact in issue thru presentation of admissible evidence.
Truth as the Purpose of Evidence. While the purpose of evidence is to know
the truth, the truth referred to in the definition is not necessarily the actual
truth but one aptly referred to as the judicial or legal truth.
When Evidence is Required; When Not Required. Evidence is needed when
the court has to resolve a question of fact.
Where no factual issue exists in a case, there is no need to present evidence
because where the case presents a question of law, such question is resolved by
the mere application of the relevant statutes or rules of this jurisdiction to
which no evidence is required.
When the pleadings in a civil case do not tender an issue of fact, the case is
then ripe for judicial determination through a judgment on the pleadings
pursuant to Rule 34 of the Rules of court.
Evidence may likewise be dispensed with by agreement of the parties. The
parties to any action are allowed by the Rules to agree in writing upon the
facts involved in the litigation and to submit the case for judgment upon the
facts agreed upon, without the introduction of evidence.
Evidence is not also required on matters of judicial notice (Sec. 1, Rule 129)
and on matters judicially admitted (Sec. 4, Rule 129).
Applicability of the Rules of Evidence. The rules of evidence, being parts of
the Rules of Court, apply only to judicial proceedings. (Sec. 1, Rule 128)
Significantly, Sec.4 of Rule 1 provides for the non-applicability of the Rules
of Court, including necessarily the rules of evidence, to certain specified
proceedings.

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a.) Election cases;


b.) Land registration;
c.) Cadastral;
d.) Naturalization;
e.) Insolvency proceedings;
f.) Other cases not herein provided for, except by analogy or in a suppletory
in character and whenever practicable and convenient.
g.) Administrative cases;
h.) Labor cases;
i.) Other non-judicial proceedings.
Administrative and quasi-judicial bodies are not bound by the technical
niceties of the rules obtaining in a court of law. They are directed to use every
and all reasonable means to ascertain the facts in each case speedily and
objectively, without regard to technicalities of law and procedure all in the
interest of justice and substantial justice. Nevertheless, in adducing evidence
constitutive of substantial evidence, the basic rule that mere allegation is not
evidence cannot be disregarded.
Application of the Rules on Electronic Evidence. While the definition of
evidence under the Rules of Court makes reference only to judicial
proceedings, the provisions of the Rules on Electronic Evidence apply to all civil
actions and proceedings, as well as quasi-judicial and administrative cases. 1
(*hence, inapplicable to criminal cases)
Scope of the Rules of Evidence. Principle of uniformity as a general policy,
the rules of evidence shall be the same in all court and in all trials and
hearings.2
Evidence in Civil Cases Distinguished from Evidence in Criminal Cases. There
are certain evidentiary differences between these proceedings.
First. In civil cases, the party having the burden of proof must prove his
claim by preponderance of evidence. In criminal cases, the guilt of the accused
has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Second. In civil cases, an offer of compromise is not an admissibility of any
liability, and is not admissible in evidence against the offeror. In criminal cases,
except those involving quasi-offenses (criminal negligence) or those allowed
by law to be compromised, an offer of compromise by the accused may be
received in evidence as an implied admission of guilt.
Third. In civil cases, the concept of presumption of innocence does not
apply and generally there is no presumption for or against a party except in
1
2

Sec. 2, Rule 1 of the Rules on Electronic Evidence


Sec. 2, Rule 128, Rules of Court (ROC)

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certain cases provided for by law. In criminal cases, the accused enjoys the
constitutional presumption of innocence.
Distinction Between Proof and Evidence. Proof is merely the probative effect
of evidence and is the conviction or persuasion of the mind resulting from a
consideration. On the other hand, evidence is the medium or means by which a
fact is proved or disproved. Bare allegations unsubstantiated by evidence, are
not equivalent to proof.
Falsus in Uno, Falsus in Omnibus. False in one thing, false in everything.
The doctrine means that if the testimony of a witness on a material issue is
wilfully false and given with an intention to deceive, the jury may disregard all
the witness testimony.
The maxim is not an absolute rule of law and is in fact rarely applied in
modern jurisprudence.3 It deals only with weight of the evidence and is not a
positive rule of law.
To completely disregard all the testimony of a witness on this ground, his
testimony must have been false as to a material point, and the witness must
have a conscious and deliberate intention to falsify a material point.4
Alibi; Frame-up; Self-defense. Alibi is evidence negative in nature and selfserving and cannot attain more credibility than the testimonies of prosecution
witnesses who testify on clear and positive evidence, especially where positive
identification is credible and categorical.
For alibi to prosper, the accused must likewise prove by clear and
convincing evidence that it was physically impossible for him to be present at
the crime scene or its immediate vicinity at the time of its commission. The
reason is that no person can be in two places at the same time.
By physical impossibility we refer to the distance and facility of access
between the situs criminis and the place where he says he was when the crime
was committed.
While the defense of alibi is by nature a weak one, it assumes significance
and strength where the evidence for the prosecution is also intrinsically weak.
Alibi is not always false and without merit.5
Like alibi, the defense of frame up is viewed with disfavour as it can easily
be concocted and is commonly used as a defense in most prosecutions arising
from the violations of the Dangerous Drug Act. The legal presumption that
3
4
5

People v. Batin, G.R. No. 177223, November 22, 2007


People v. Pacapac 284 SCRA 77
People v. Cacayan, G.R. No. 180499, July 9, 2008

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official duty has been regularly performed exists. The claim of frame-up
assumes importance when faced with the rather shaky nature of the
prosecution evidence.
Self-defense, like alibi is inherently weak because it can be easily
fabricated.6
Delay and Initial Reluctance in Reporting a Crime. Delayed reporting by
witnesses of what they know about a crime does render their testimonies false
or incredible, for the delay may be explained by the natural reticence of most
people and their abhorrence to get involved in a criminal case. But more than
this, there is always the inherent fear of reprisal, which is quite
understandable, especially if the accused is a man of power and influence in
the community.
The natural reluctance of a witness to get involved in a criminal case, as
well as to give information to the authorities is a matter of judicial notice. 7
Due to fear of reprisal, it is common enough that it has been judicially declared
as not affecting a witness credibility.
Different people react differently to a given stimulus or type of
situation, and there is no standard form of behavioural response
when one is confronted with a strange, startling or frightful
experience.
Positive and Negative Defenses. In Philippine jurisprudence, a positive
testimony normally enjoys more weight and credibility than a negative
testimony. In short, a testimony that a fact exists enjoys more weight than a
testimony that the same fact does not exist. A denial evidence is merely a
negative evidence.
The reason for this rule is that the witness who testifies to a negative may
have forgotten what actually occurred, while it is impossible to remember
what never existed.8
Factum Probans and Factum Probandum. Evidence signifies a relationship
between these two facts. Factum probandum is the fact to be proved; the fact
which is in issue and to which the evidence is directed. On the other hand,
factum probans is the probative or evidentiary fact tending to prove the fact in
issue.

6
7
8

Rugas v. People, 419 SCRA 399


People v. Navarro, 297 SCRA 331
Gomez v. Gomez-Samson, G.R. No. 156284, February 6, 2007

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Matters of judicial notice, conclusive presumptions, and judicial admissions


cannot qualify as parts of the factum probandum of a particular case, because
such matters need not be established or proven.
In practical terms, the factum probandum in a civil case refers to the
elements of a cause of action from the point of view of the plaintiff and the
elements of a defense from the standpoint of the defendant.
Multiple admissibility. There are times when a proffered evidence is admissible
for two or more purposes. Sometimes it is inadmissible for one purpose but
admissible for another or vice versa. Evidence may also be admissible against
one party, but not against another.
The purpose for which evidence is offered must be specified because such
evidence may be admissible for several purposes under the doctrine of multiple
admissibility, or may be admissible for one purpose and not for another,
otherwise the adverse party cannot interpose the proper objection.
Conditional admissibility. It happens frequently enough that the relevance of a
piece of evidence is not apparent at the time it is offered, but the relevance of
which will readily be seen when connected to other pieces of evidence not yet
offered. The proponent of the evidence may ask that the evidence be
conditionally admitted in the meantime subject to the condition that he is
going to establish its relevancy and competency at a later time.
Curative admissibility. The doctrine of curative admissibility allows a party to
introduce otherwise inadmissible evidence to answer the opposing partys
previous introduction of inadmissible evidence if it would remove any unfair
prejudice caused by the admission of the earlier inadmissible evidence.
Thus, a party who first introduces either irrelevant or incompetent evidence
into the trial cannot complain of the subsequent admission of similar evidence
from the adverse party relating to the same subject matter. Conversely, the
doctrine should not be invoked where evidence was properly admitted.
It is likewise submitted that it is only where the objection was incorrectly
overruled, that the court should allow the other party to introduce evidence to
contradict the evidence improperly admitted in order to cure the prejudice
caused to the other party against whom the offered evidence was erroneously
admitted. Common reason suggests that where there is a waiver (no
objection), there is no defect to cure.
The more logical rule should be one which will not allow a party to be heard
through the offering of inadmissible evidence if he declines or fails to timely
object to the other partys inadmissible evidence.

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Direct and Circumstantial Evidence. Direct evidence means evidence which if


believed, proves the existence of a fact in issue without inference or
presumption. Circumstantial evidence is that evidence that indirectly proves a
fact in issue through an inference which the fact finder draws from the
evidence established. In other words, in this type of evidence, the court uses a
fact from which an assumption is drawn.
Conviction by Circumstantial Evidence. In a criminal case, circumstantial
evidence may be sufficient for conviction provided the following requisites
concur:
(a) There is more than one circumstance;
(b) The facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and
(c) The combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction
beyond reasonable doubt.
A conviction based on circumstantial evidence must exclude each and every
hypothesis consistent with innocence. Hence if the totality of the
circumstances eliminates beyond reasonable doubt the possibility of innocence,
conviction is proper.9
As to probative value, the Court considers circumstantial evidence of a
nature identical to direct evidence because no greater degree of certainty is
required when the evidence is circumstantial than when it is direct. In both
types of evidence what is required is proof beyond reasonable doubt.
Established facts that form a chain of circumstances can lead the mind
intuitively or impel conscious process of reasoning towards conviction. 10
**Where the evidence admits of two interpretations one of which is
consistent with guilt and the other with innocence, the accused must be
acquitted.11
In the appreciation of circumstantial evidence, there are four basic
guidelines:
(1) It should be acted upon with caution;
(2) All the essential facts must be consistent with the hypothesis of guilt;
(3) The facts must exclude every other theory but that of guilt; and
(4) The facts must establish such a certainty of guilt of the accused as to
convince the judgment beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is
the one who committed the offense.
9

Mallari v. People, 446 SCRA 74


Bastian v. CA, G.R. No. 160811, April 18, 2008
11
People v. Corpuz, 412 SCRA 479
10

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Flight or Non-flight of the Accused. Non-flight does not signify innocence. It is


simply inaction, which may be due to several factors. It cannot be singularly
considered as evidence or as a manifestation determinative of innocence. 12
It is established in this jurisdiction that while flight indicates guilt, nonflight does not mean innocence.13
Flight alone is not a reliable indicator of guilt without other circumstances
because flight alone is inherently ambiguous.14
Cumulative evidence and corroborative evidence. Cumulative evidence
refers to evidence of the same kind and character as that already given and
that tends to prove the same proposition. Corroborative evidence is one that is
supplementary to that already given tending to strengthen or confirm it. It is
additional evidence of a different character to the same point.
Corroboration of the Testimony of a Child Witness. Under the Rule on
Examination of a Child Witness, corroboration shall not be required of a
testimony of a child. His testimony if credible by itself, shall be sufficient to
support a finding of fact, conclusion or judgment subject to the standard of
proof required in criminal and non-criminal cases.
Positive and Negative Evidence. Evidence is said to be positive when a witness
affirms in the stand that a certain state of facts does exist or that a certain
event happened. It is negative when the witness states that an event did not
occur or that the state of facts alleged to exist does not actually exist.
Denial is inherently a weak defense. To be believed, it must be buttressed
by strong evidence of non-culpability; otherwise, such denial is purely selfserving and is with no evidentiary value. Denial cannot prevail over the positive
identification of the accused by the witnesses who had no ill motive to testify
falsely.
Positive and forthright declarations of witnesses are often held to be
worthier of credence than the self-serving denial of an accused. 15 In case of
contradictory declarations and statements, greater weight is generally given to
positive testimonies than to mere denials.16
Liberal Construction of the Rules of Evidence. Procedural rules must be
liberally interpreted and applied so as not to frustrate substantial justice. 17
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14
15
16
17

People v. Amodia, G.R. No. 177356, November 20, 2008


Gulmatico v. People, G.R. No. 146296, October 15, 2007
Valdez v. People, G.R. No. 170180, November 23, 2007
Anilao v. People, G.R. No. 149681, October 15, 2007
Marcelo v. Bungubung, G.R. No. 175201
Quiambao v. CA, 454 SCRA 17

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However, to justify relaxation, a satisfactory explanation and a subsequent


fulfilment of the requirements have always been required.18
Absence of a Vested Right in the Rules of Evidence. There is no vested right
in the rules of evidence19 because the rules of evidence are subject to change
by the Supreme Court pursuant to its powers to promulgate rules concerning
pleading, practice and procedure.20
The change in the rules of evidence is however, subject to the
constitutional limitation on the enactment of ex post facto laws.21 An ex post
facto law includes that which alters the rules of evidence and receives less or
different testimony than that required at the time of the commission of the
offense in order to convict the accused.
Waiver of the Rules of Evidence. The rules of evidence may be waived. When
an otherwise objectionable evidence is not objected to, the evidence becomes
admissible because of waiver.
As long as no law or principles of morality, good customs and public policy are
transgressed or no rights of third persons are violated, the rules of evidence
may be waived by the parties.
However, it is submitted that a failure to object with respect to a privileged
communication involving state secrets communicated to a public officer in
official confidence should not be construed as a waiver of the privileged
character of the communication because of public policy considerations as
when the state secret is one involving national defense and security.
B. ADMISSIBILITY OF EVIDENCE
For evidence to be admissible, two elements must concur, namely:
(a) the evidence is relevant, and
(b) the evidence is not excluded by the rules (competent).
**Warrantless arrests, said the Court, affects only the jurisdiction of the court
over his person and is not in itself, a basis for acquittal.22

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19
20
21
22

Barcenas v. Tomas, 454 SCRA 593


Ayala de Roxas v. Case, 8 Phil. 197
Sec. 5[5], Constitution of the Philippines
Art. III, Sec. 22, Bill of Rights, Constitution of the Philippines
Valdez v. People, G.R. No. 170180, November 23, 2007