Best Evidence Rule Cases

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    BEST EVIDENCE RULE LOON VS. POWER MASTER, INC. G.R. No. 189404, December 11, 2013 Facts:    Respondents Power Master, Inc. and Tri-C General Services employed and assigned  the petitioners as  janitors and leadsmen  in various Philippine Long-Distance Telephone Company ( PLDT  ) offices in Metro Manila area.    Petitioners filed a complaint for money claims  against Power Master, Inc., Tri-C General Services and their officers, the spouses Homer and Carina Alumisin. They alleged  in their complaint that they were not paid minimum wages, overtime, holiday, premium, service incentive leave, and thirteenth month pays. They further averred that the respondents made them sign blank payroll sheets. Petitioners amended their complaint and included illegal dismissal as their cause of action. They claimed that the respondents relieved them from service in retaliation for the filing of their srcinal complaint.    The respondents did not participate in the proceedings  before the Labor Arbiter except  on April 19, 2001 and May 21, 2001 when Mr. Romulo Pacia, Jr. appeared on the respondents’ behalf. The respondents’ counsel also appeared in a preliminary mandatory conference on July 5, 2001. However, the respondents neither filed any position paper nor proffered pieces of evidence in their defense despite their knowledge of the pendency of the case.      The Labor Arbiter ( LA  ) partially ruled  in favor of the petitioners. The LA awarded the petitioners salary differential, service incentive leave, and thirteenth month pays . However, the LA denied the petitioners’ claims for backwages, overtime, holiday, and premium pays .    Both parties appealed the LA’s ruling with the National  Labor Relations Commission. The petitioners disputed  the LA’s denial of their claim for backwages, overtime, holiday and premium pays. Meanwhile, the respondents questioned the LA’s ruling on the ground that the LA did not acquire  jurisdiction over their persons.    The respondents insisted that they were not personally served with summons and other processes. They also claimed that they paid the petitioners minimum wages, service incentive leave and thirteenth month pays.  As proofs, they attached photocopied and computerized copies of payroll sheets to their memorandum on appeal .    The respondents filed an unverified supplemental appeal. They attached photocopied and computerized copies of list of employees with automated teller machine (  ATM) cards to the supplemental appeal . They also attached documentary evidence showing that the petitioners were dismissed for cause and had been accorded due process .      The petitioners filed an Urgent Manifestation and Motion  where they asked for the deletion of the supplemental appeal from the records because it allegedly suffered from infirmities, one of which is that the attached documentary evidence on the supplemental appeal bore the petitioners’ forged  signatures.    Petitioners filed an Urgent Manifestation with Reiterating Motion to Strike-Off the Record Supplemental  Appeal/Reply, Quitclaims and Spurious Documents Attached to Respondents’   Appeal. The petitioners argued in this last motion that the payrolls should not be given probative value because they were the respondents’   fabrications. They reiterated that the genuine payrolls bore their signa tures, unlike the respondents’ photocopies of the  payrolls. They also maintained that their signatures in the respondents’ documents (which showed their receipt of   thirteenth month pay) had been forged.      The NLRC allowed the respondents to submit pieces of evidence for the first time on appeal on the ground that they had been deprived of due process . The NLRC gave weight to the pieces of evidence attached to the memorandum on appeal and the supplemental appeal. It maintained that the absence of the petitione rs’ signatures in the payrolls was not an indispensable factor for their authenticity. It pointed out that the payment of money claims was further evidenced by the list of employees with ATM cards. It also found that the petitioners’ signatures were not fo rged. It took  judicial notice that many people use at least two or more different signatures.      The NLRC denied the petitioners’ motion for  reconsideration. Aggrieved, the petitioners filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court before the CA.      The CA affirmed   the NLRC’s ruling. Issue: -   Whether or not mere photocopies as documentary evidence filed 6 months from notice of appeal are admissible in evidence where there is an allegation of forgery by the adverse party. Ruling: The Court ruled in the NEGATIVE.  A party may only adduce evidence for the first time on appeal if he adequately explains his delay in the submission of evidence and he sufficiently proves the allegations sought to be proven In labor cases, strict adherence to the technical rules of procedure is not required. Time and again, we have allowed evidence to be submitted for the first time on appeal with the NLRC in the interest of substantial justice. Thus, we have consistently supported the rule that labor officials should use all reasonable means to ascertain the facts in each case speedily and objectively, without regard to technicalities of law or procedure, in the interest of due process. However, this liberal policy should still be subject to rules of reason and fairplay. The liberality of procedural rules is qualified by two requirements: (1) a party should adequately explain any  delay in the submission of evidence; and (2) a party should sufficiently prove the allegations sought to be proven. Thus, the CA grossly erred in ruling that the NLRC did not commit grave abuse of discretion in arbitrarily admitting and giving weight to the respondents’ pieces of evidence for the first time on appeal.  The respondents failed to adequately explain their delay in the submission of evidence . The CA gravely erred when it overlooked that the NLRC blindly admitted and arbitrarily gave probative value to the respondents’ evidence despite their failure to adequate ly explain their delay in the s ubmission of evidence. Indeed, the NLRC capriciously and whimsically admitted and gave weight to the respondents’ evidence.   The respondents failed to sufficiently prove the allegations sought to be proven   Furthermore, the respondents failed to sufficiently prove the allegations sought to be proven. Why the respondents’ photocopied and computerized copies of documentary evidence were not presented at the earliest opportunity is a serious question that lends credence to the petitioners’ claim that the resp ondents fabricated the evidence for purposes of appeal. While we generally admit in evidence and give probative value to photocopied documents in administrative proceedings, allegations of forgery and fabrication should prompt the adverse party to present the srcinal documents for inspection  . It was incumbent upon the respondents to present the srcinals, especially in this case where   the petitioners had submitted their specimen signatures. Instead,   the respondents effectively deprived the petitioners of the opportunity to examine and controvert the alleged spurious evidence by not adducing the srcinals. This Court is thus left with no option but to rule that the respondents’ failure to p resent the srcinals raises the presumption that evidence willfully suppressed would be adverse if produced. DIMAGUILA VS. MONTEIRO G.R. No. 201011. January 27, 2014 PUBLIC RECORD Facts:    Respondent spouses filed their Complaint for Partition and Damages against the petitioners. Later on the complaint was amended to an action for recovery. Respondent alleged: (1) that the disputed property was srcinally owned by Buenaseda; (2) had long been partitioned between her two sons, Perfecto and Vitaliano Dimaguila; and (3) that owned 1/3 of the portion of Perfecto’s share by virtue of a deed of sale executed between them and one of Perfecto’s heir, Pedro.      While in their srcinal answer, petitioner alleged that the subject property had already been extra-judicially partitioned between the heirs of Vitaliano and Perfecto, they subsequently changed their position when the complaint was amended. They now claimed that the property was not partitioned with specific metes and bounds. What is cleared among the heirs is their respective shares thereof.    RTC ruled in favor of Spouses Monteiro. CA affirmed the ruling of the RTC. The CA found that Spouses Monteiro had established their case by a preponderance of evidence thru their presentation of the Deed of Extrajudicial Partition , the certified true copy of cadastral map and the municipal assessor's records. Hence, this petition for review on certiorari where petitioners argued that the cadastral map, which serves as the basis of the alleged partition, is inadmissible in violation of the best evidence rule and hearsay rule. Issue: -   Whether or not a certified true copy of cadastral map is inadmissible in evidence on the ground that it violates the best evidence rule and hearsay rule. Ruling: The answer is in the negative.  Anent the best evidence rule , Section 3(d) of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court provides that when the subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence shall be admissible other than the srcinal document itself, except when the srcinal is a public record in the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a public office. Section 7 of the same Rule provides that when the srcinal of a document is in the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a public office, its contents may be proved by a certified copy issued by the public officer in custody thereof. Section 24 of Rule 132 provides that the record of public documents may be evidenced by a copy attested by the officer having the legal custody or the record.  As to the hearsay rule, Section 44 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court similarly provides that entries in official records are an exception to the rule. The rule provides that entries in official records made in the performance of the duty of a public officer of the Philippines, or by a person in the performance of a duty specially enjoined by law, are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated. The necessity of this rule consists in the inconvenience and difficulty of requiring the official’s attendance  as a witness to testify to the innumerable transactions in the course of his duty. The document’s trustworthiness consists in the  presumption of regularity of performance of official duty. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES VS HON. JESUS M. MUPAS G.R. No. 181892 September 08, 2015 LOST/VOLUMINOUS  Facts:    On October 5, 1994, Asia's Emerging Dragon Corp. (AEDC) submitted an unsolicited proposal to the Government - through the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC)and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA)- for the construction and development of the NAIA-IPT III under a build operate- and-transfer (BOT) arrangement. The DOTC and the MIAA invited the public to submit competitive and comparative proposals to AEDC's unsolicited proposal in accordance with the BOT Law and its implementing rules. Paircargo consortium also submitted their competitive proposal to build the NAIA- IPT III. Both AEDC and Paircargo offered to build, however, Paircargo submitted a bid superior to AEDC’s unsolicited proposal, thus DOTC awarded the project to Paircargo (PIATCO).    PIATCO engaged the services of Takenaka, as well as, Asahikosan, both foreign corporations organized in Japan, for the construction of the NAIA-IPT, however, PIATCO defaulted on its obligations, and to settle the problem Takenaka and  Asahikosan agreed to d efer PIATCO’s payments until June 2003.    Trial ensued, there has been an issue as to the attendant costs of the construction, PIATCO was required to submit the srcinal documents to the court, however PIATCO argues that his non-submission is justified under Sec. 3 rule 130 of the ROC, referring to the submission of numerous accounts. Issue: -   Whether the non-submission of srcinal documents is justified. Held: The court held in the NEGATIVE.  Although the contention of non-submission due to numerous accounts of the document is justifiable under the rule. However, as a condition precedent to the admission of a summary of numerous documents, the proponent must lay a proper foundation for the admission of the srcinal documents on which the summary is based. The proponent must prove that the source documents being summarized are also admissible if presented in court. Under the best evidence rule, when the subject of inquiry relates to the contents of a document, no evidence shall be admissible other than the srcinal document itself. In proving the terms of a written document, the srcinal of the document must be produced in court.  — Under the best evidence rule, when the subject of inquiry relates to the contents of a document, no evidence shall be admissible other than the srcinal document itself. In proving the terms of a written document, the srcinal of the document must be produced in court. Thus, PIATCO having failed to establish that the photocopied documents he presented in courts are authentic, theses photocopied documents are deemed as hearsay, and shall not be admissible as evidence, or reference to the claimed attendant costs of the project. In the case at bar, PIATCO cannot rely on the affidavit of Atty. Tolentino who allegedly identified the photocopied documents supporting attendant costs. The Court observed that the alleged affidavit of Atty. Tolentino does not have any signature    above his name as the affiant  . Hence, his affidavit cannot be said to have at least substantially complied with the requirements laid down in Sections 3(a), (b), and/or (d) of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court for the admissibility of photocopies as secondary evidence. We therefore maintain our ruling that PIATCO’s documents allegedly supporting the attendant costs are hearsa y evidence. With respect to the effect of the alleged non-objection of the parties to the presentation of these photocopy documents, hearsay evidence has no probative value and should be disregarded whether objected to or not  . MCMP CONSTRUCTION CORP. vs. MONARK EQUIPMENT CORP. G.R. No. 201001 November 10, 2014 SECONDARY EVIDENCE Facts:    MCMP Construction and Monark Equipment Construction Corporation agreed to the lease of heavy equipment  by MCMP from Monark thru a Rental Equiptment Contract (Contract). Thus, Monark delivered five pieces of heavy equipment to MCMP’s project site in Tanay Rizal, evidenced by Documents Acknowledgment Receipt No. 04667 and 5706, received by MCMP representatives Jorge and Rose.    During trial, Reynaldo, Monark’s  representative, testified that there were two srcinal copies  of the contract, one for MCMP and one for Monark; however, Monark’s copy was lost and despite diligent efforts, cannot be located, hence he presented photocopy of the Contract which he had on file.    MCMP objected to the presentation of the secondary evidence to prove the contents thereof, since there were no diligent efforts to locate it, but did not produce MCMP’s copy of the contract despite a directive from the trial court to produce it.      RTC ruled in favour of Monark, ordering MCMP to pay the balance of the rental fees inclusive of interest as well as 25% attorney fees. MCMP appealed to the Court of Appeals when its motion for reconsideration was denied by the RTC, but the appeal was also denied, hence it elevated its case to the Supreme Court, on the issue of whether or not secondary evidence may be presented in the absence of the srcinal. It argues that the custodian of the srcinal document was not presented to prove its loss; its loss was not even reported to the police; it was only searched by Monark for purposes of the instant case. Issue:  -   Whether the appellate court should have disallowed the presentation of secondary evidence to prove the existence of the Contract, following the Best Evidence Rule. Ruling: The Court ruled in the NEGATIVE. The Best Evidence Rule, a basic postulate requiring the production of the srcinal document whenever its contents are the subject of inquiry, is contained in Section 3 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court which provides:  “Section 3. Original document must be produced; exceptions  .  — When the subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence shall be admissible other than the srcinal document itself, except in the following cases: (a) When the srcinal has been lost or   destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, without bad   faith on the part of the offeror ; (b) When the srcinal is in the custody or under the control of the party against whom the evidence is offered, and the latter fails to produce it after reasonable notice ; (c) When the srcinal   consists of numerous accounts or other documents which cannot   be examined in court without great loss of time and the fact sought to be established from them is only the general result of the whole; and (d) When the srcinal is a public record in the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a public office.”   Relative thereto, Sections 5 and 6 of Rule 130 provide the relevant rules on the presentation of secondary evidence  to prove the contents of a lost document:  “Section 5. When srcinal document is unavailable. —  When the srcinal document has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, the offeror, upon proof of its execution or existence and the cause of its unavailability without bad faith on his part, may prove its contents by a copy, or by a recital of its contents in some authentic document, or by the testimony of witnesses in the order stated. Section 6. When srcinal document is in adverse party’s custody or co ntrol.  —  If the document is in the custody or under the control of adverse party, he must have reasonable notice to produce it. If after such notice and after satisfactory proof of its existence, he fails to produce the document, secondary evidence may be presented as in the case of its loss.”   The Court set down the requirements before a party may present secondary evidence to prove the contents of the srcinal document whenever the srcinal copy has been lost: Before a party is allowed to adduce secondary evidence to prove the contents of the srcinal, the offeror must prove the following: (1) the existence or due execution of the srcinal; (2) the loss and destruction of the srcinal or the reason for its non-production in court; and (3) on the part of the offeror, the absence of bad faith to which the unavailability of the srcinal can be attributed. The correct order of proof is as follows: existence, execution, loss, and contents.   In the instant case, the CA correctly ruled that the above requisites are present. Both the CA and the RTC gave credence to the testimony of Peregrino that the srcinal Contract in the possession of Monark has been lost and that diligent efforts were exerted to find the same but to no avail. Such testimony has remained uncontroverted.  As has been repeatedly held by this Court, “findings of facts and assessment of credibility of witnesses are matters best lef  t to the trial court.” Hence, the Court will respect the evaluation of the trial court on the credibility of Peregrino. MCMP contends that the Contract presented by Monark is not the contract that they entered into. Yet, it has failed to present a copy of the Contract even despite the request of the trial court for it to produce its copy of the Contract. Normal business practice dictates that MCMP should have asked for and retained a copy of their agreement. Thus, MCMP’s failure to present the same and even explain its failure,  not only justifies the presentation by Monark of secondary evidence in accordance with Section 6 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, but it also gives rise to the disputable presumption adverse to MCMP under Section 3 (e) of Rule 131 of the Rules of Court that “ evidence willfully suppressed would be adverse if produced.”   

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