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RULE ON EXAMINATION OF

A CHILD WITNESS
December 15, 2000
Reason behind the rule
In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed
a special convention just for them because people under 18
years old often need special care and protection that
adults do not. The leaders also wanted to make sure that
the world recognized that children have human rights too.
The United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child
was signed into law. The Philippines ratified the same on
January 26, 1990. Article twelve (12) thereof states:
State parties shall assure to the child who
is capable of forming his or her own views
the right to express those views freely in
all matters affecting the child, the views
of the child being given due weight in
accordance with the age and maturity of
the child.
For this purpose, the child shall in
particular be provided the opportunity to
be
heard
in
any
judicial
and
administrative proceedings affecting the
child, either directly, or through a
representative or an appropriate body, in
a manner consistent with the procedural
rules of national law.
Related laws
1. PD 603 the Child Youth and Welfare Code Dec 10, 1974
2. RULE ON JUVENILES IN CONFLICT WITH THE LAW
[A.M. NO. 02-1-18-SC 2002-02-28]
April 15, 2002
3. RA 9344 Juvenile Justice and Welfare System April 2006
Discussion: Rule on examination of a child witness
Q: To whom applicable?
A: governs the examination of child witnesses who are:
1.
victims of a crime
2.
accused of a crime
3.
witnesses to crime
Except otherwise provided.
Q: In what proceedings is it applicable?
A: in all criminal and non-criminal proceedings involving
child witnesses
Q: What are the objectives of the Rule?
A:
1.
create and maintain an environment that
will allow children to give reliable and
competent evidence
2.
To minimize trauma to children

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3.
4.

encourage children to testify in


proceedings
facilitate the ascertainment of truth

legal

Sec 3. the rule shall be liberally construed to uphold the


best interest of the child and promote maximum
accommodation of child witnesses without prejudice to the
constitutional rights of the accused.
Q: Who is a child witness?
A: Any person who at the time of giving testimony is below
18. In child abuse cases, a child includes one who is over
18 but is unable to fully take care of himself or protect
himself from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or
discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or
condition.
Q: What is child abuse?
A: It means physical, psychological or sexual abuse and
criminal neglect as defined in RA 7610.
Q: What is the meaning of Best Interest of the Child?
A:
Means the totality of the circumstance and
conditions as are most congenial to the survival,
protection, and feelings of security of the child and most
encouraging to his physical, psychological, and emotional
development.
It also means least detrimental available alternative
for safeguarding the growth and development of the child.
Q: Is a child presumed to be qualified to be a witness?
A: Yes. However, the court shall conduct a competency
examination of a child
Q: When is the competency examination conducted?
A: Motu proprio or on motion of a party, when it finds that
substantial doubt exists regarding the ability of the child to
perceive, remember, communicate, distinguish truth from
falsehood, or appreciate the duty to tell the truth in court
Q: How is the competency examination done?
A: the party seeking a competency examination must
present proof of necessity of competency examination.
NB: the age of the child is not a sufficient basis for a
competency examination.
Q: Who has the burden of proof in competency
examinations?
A: lies on the party challenging the childs competency
Q: Who are the only persons who are allowed to attend a
competency examination?
A:
1.
the judge and necessary court personnel
2.
counsels for the parties
3.
guardian ad litem
4.
support person/s for the child
5.
the defendant, unless the court determines that
competence can be fully evaluated in his
absence.

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Q: Who is the only person allowed to conduct the


competency examination?
A: The judge. The counsel for the parties can submit their
questions to the judge that he may, in his discretion, ask
the child.
Q: What the questions allowed to be asked in
competency examination?
A:
1.
only those that are appropriate to the age and
developmental level of the child
2.
shall not be related to the issues at trial
3.
shall focus on the ability of the child to
remember, communicate, distinguish between
truth and falsehood and appreciate the duty to
testify truthfully
Q: Is there a need to continuously assess the competence
of the child throughout his testimony?
A: Yes
Q: Who are the persons who may assist the child during
his testimony?
1. guardian ad litem
2. interpreter
3. facilitator
4. support person
Q: Who is a guardian ad litem?
A: a person appointed by the court where the case is
pending for a child who is a victim of, accused of, or a
witness to a crime to protect the best interests of said
child.
Q: What should the court consider before appointing a
guardian ad litem?
A:
1. The background of the guardian
2. His familiarity with the judicial process, social
service program and child development
NB: a lawyer may be appointed a guardian.
Q: Should the court give preference to the parents of the
child if qualified?
A: YES
Q: What are the duties of the guardian?
A:
1.
attend all interviews, depositions, hearing and
trial proceedings in which a child participates
2.
make recommendations to the court concerning
the welfare of the child
3.
have access to all reports, evaluation, and
records except privilege communications
4.
marshal and coordinate the delivery of resources
and special services to the child
5.
shall explain in language understandable to the
child
6.
assist the child and his family in coping with
emotional effects of crime and subsequent

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7.

criminal and non-criminal proceedings in which


the child is involved
remain with the child while the child waits to
testify

Q: What are the rights of the guardian?


A:
1.
may interview witnesses
2.
request additional examination by medical or
mental health professionals if there is a
compelling need therefor
3.
to be notified of all proceedings in the trial
4.
may communicate concerns regarding the child to
the court through an officer of the court
designated for that purpose
5.
to be presumed to have acted in good faith in
compliance with his duties
Q: What are the additional rights of a guardian if said
guardian is a lawyer?
A:
1.
file motions pursuant to sections 9, 10, 25, 26, 27
and 31(c)
2.
may object during trial that the questions asked
to the child is not appropriate to his
developmental level
Q: What are the prohibitions with regard to guardians?
A: He may not testify in any proceeding concerning any
information, statement, or opinion received from the child
in the course of serving as guardian ad litem except when
the court finds it necessary to promote the best interest of
the child?
Q: When should the court appoint an interpreter?
A: when the child does not understand English or Filipino
language due to his developmental level, fear, shyness,
disability or other similar reason
Q: Who should be an interpreter?
A: An interpreter is whom the child can understand and
who understands the child
Q: How should the court appoint an interpreter?
A: upon motion of a party or motu proprio
Q: What if the interpreter is also a witness or a member
of the family of the child, should he be disqualified?
A: No. the interpreter, however, who is also a witness,
shall testify ahead of the child
Q: What should be done before the interpreter assumes
office?
A: he must take an oath or affirmation to make true and
accurate interpretation
Q: Who is a facilitator?
A: a person appointed by the court to pose questions to the
child

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Q: When is a facilitator appointed?


A: upon motion or motu proprio if it determines that the
child is unable to understand or respond to questions asked
Q: Who may be a facilitator?
A:
1.
child psychologist
2.
psychiatrist
3.
social worker
4.
guidance counselor
5.
teacher
6.
religious leader
7.
parent
8.
relative
NB: If the court appoints a facilitator the respective
counsel for the parties shall pose questions to the child
only through the facilitator. The words shall either be on
the words used by the counsel or, if the child is not likely
to understand the same, in words that are comprehensible
to the child and which convey the meaning intended by the
counsel
Q: What should the facilitator do before he assumes
office?
A: he shall take an oath or affirmation to pose questions to
the child according to the meaning intended by the counsel
Q: Who is a support person?
A: a person chosen by the child to accompany him to testify
at or attend a judicial proceeding or depositions to provide
emotional support to him. The child may choose one or
two support persons
Q: What are the duties of a support person?
A:
1.
shall remain within the view of the child during
his testimony
2.
may accompany the child to the witness stand,
provided that the support person does not
completely obscure the child from the view of
the opposing party, judge, or hearing officer
3.
may hold the hand of the child or take other
appropriate steps to provide emotional support to
the child in the course of the proceedings
Q: What are the acts which are prohibited from a
support person?
A: must not prompt, sway, or influence the child during his
testimony
Q: What if the support chosen by the child is also a
witness should the court disapprove the same?
A: Yes if it is sufficiently established that the attendance of
the support person during the testimony of the child would
pose a substantial risk of influencing the content of the
testimony of the child.
A:
If the court allows the same, his testimony shall be
presented ahead of the testimony of the child
Q: before testifying what should the child do?
A: the child shall take an oath or affirmation
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Q: How is the examination of a child conducted?


A:
It must be done orally unless the witness is
incapacitated to speak or the question calls for a different
mode of answer
It must also be done in open court
NB The party who presents the child or the guardian ad
litem may move the court to allow the child to testify in
the manner provided in this rule.
Q: What should the court do to ensure a comfortable
environment for a child witness?
A:
1.
The courts are encouraged to provide a waiting
area for children that is separate from waiting
areas used by other persons. The waiting area
should be furnished to make the child
comfortable
2.
the court may direct and supervise the location,
movement and deportment of all persons in the
courtroom
3.
the child may be allowed to testify from a place
other than the witness chair but the opposing
counsel must have a frontal or profile view of
the child during his testimony
4.
the judge need not wear his judicial robe
NB: nothing in this section or any other provision of law,
except official in-court identification provision, shall be
construed to require a child to look at the accused.
Q: When should the testimony of the child given?
A: should be taken during the day when the child is wellrested.
Q: Should a child be given recess during testimony?
A: Yes. The child may be allowed reasonable periods of
relief while undergoing direct, cross, re-direct, and recross as often as necessary depending on his developmental
level
Q: Is a child allowed to use testimonial aids while
testifying?
A: Yes. He may be permitted to use dolls, puppets,
drawings, mannequins, or any other appropriate
demonstrative device to assist him in his testimony
Q: Is a child allowed to use emotional security items?
A: Yes. While testifying, a child shall be allowed to have an
item of his own choosing such as blanket, toy, or doll.
Q: May the court prohibit the counsel from approaching
the witness?
A: Yes if it appears that the child is fearful of or
intimidated by the counsel.
Q: May the court exercise control over the questioning
over the children?
A: Yes to:
1.
facilitate the ascertainment of truth
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2.

3.
4.

ensure that questions are stated in a form


appropriate to the developmental level of the
child
protect children from harassment or undue
embarrassment
to avoid waste of time

Q: May the court allow the child to testify in narrative


form?
A: Yes
Q: Discuss the manner of questioning a child witness.
A:
1.
Courts may allow leading questions in all stages
of examination of a child
2.
objections to questions should be couched in a
manner so as not to mislead, confuse, frighten,
or intimidate the child
3.
CORROBORATION SHALL NOT BE REQUIRED OF
A TESTIMONY OF A CHILD. HIS TESTIMONY IS
CREDIBLE BY ITSLEF.
Q: May the court order the exclusion of the public when
the child testifies?
A: Yes. The court may exclude all persons including the
members of the press, who do not have direct interest in
the case.
Q: What is the purpose of the exclusion?
A:
1.
to protect the right to privacy of the child
2.
or if the court determines that to require the
child to testify in open court cause psychological
harm
3.
hinder the ascertainment of truth
4.
or result in his inability to effectively
communicate due to embarrassment, fear, or
timidity
Q: What should the court consider before issuing an
order of exclusion?
A:
1.
developmental level of the child
2.
nature of the crime
3.
the nature of his testimony regarding the crime
4.
his relationship to the accused and to persons
attending the trial
5.
his desires
6.
the interests of his parents or legal guardian
Q: How should the exclusion made?
A: by motion of the accused or motu proprio
Q: When should the order of exclusion done motu
proprio?
A: if the evidence to be produced in the trial is offensive to
decency and public morals
Q: Who are the persons who may not be excluded?
A: court personnel and the counsel of the parties

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Q: May the court order that persons attending the trial


not enter or leave the courtroom during the testimony of
the child?
A: Yes
Q: What are the different modes on which the court
could acquire the testimony of a child?
A:
1.
by calling him to testify on the witness stand
2.
testimony through a live-link television
3.
order to shield the child from the accused
4.
videotaped depositions
Q: What is Live link Television?
A: It is an order issued by the court wherein the testimony
of the child is taken in a room outside the courtroom and
be
televised
through
a
live-link
television.
Q: May the testimony in a criminal case where a child is
a VICTIM OR WITNESS by conducted through a Live-link
Television?
A: Yes
Q: Who may apply for a Live-Link Television?
A: the prosecutor, counsel or guardian ad litem. However,
before the guardian asks for the same, he shall consult the
counsel the prosecutor or counsel regarding the necessity
of applying for an order. In case the guardian ad litem is
convinced that the decision of the prosecutor or counsel
not to apply will cause the child serious emotional trauma,
he himself, may apply for the order
Q: When should the persons mentioned seek for the
order?
A: 5 days before the trial date
Q: May the court motu proprio hear and determine, with
notice, the need for taking the testimony of the child
through live-link television?
A: Yes
Q: Before granting the order of live-link television what
should the judge do?
A:
1.
Judge may question the child in chamber or some
other comfortable place, in the presence of
support, guardian ad litem, prosecutor and
counsel.
2.
questions must not be related to the issue but
the feelings of the child about testifying in the
courtroom
3.
the judge may exclude the accused
Q: Before granting the order of live-link television what
should the court consider?
A:
1. age and mental level of the child
3.
his physical and mental health
4.
his physical, emotional or psychological injury
experienced by him
5.
nature of the alleged abuse
6.
threats against the child
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7.
8.
9.
10.
11.

12.

relationship with the accused or adverse party


his reactions to any prior encounters with the
accused in the court or elsewhere
specific symptoms of stress
testimony of expert or lay witnesses
custodial situation of the child and the attitudes
of the members of his family regarding the
events about which he will testify
other relevant factors

NB: the court may order that the testimony of the child
be taken by live-link television if there is a substantial
likelihood that the child will suffer trauma from
testifying in the presence of the accused, his counsel or
the prosecutor as the case may be.
Q: What kind of trauma?
A: that which would impair the completeness
truthfulness of the testimony of the child

or

Q: How should the testimony through live link television


conducted?
A:
1.
child testifies in a separate room
2.
in the presence of guardian ad litem, support
person/s, facilitator, interpreter, person/s
necessary to operate the closed-circuit
television equipment
3.
judge, prosecutor, accuse and counsels shall be
in the courtroom
4.
testimony of the child shall be transmitted by
live-link television into the courtroom for
viewing and hearing by the judge, prosecutor,
counsel, accused, victim and the public unless
excluded
5.
the court may allow the child to enter the
courtroom for a limited purpose of identifying
the accused or the court may allow the child to
identify the accused by observing the image of
the accused on a television monitor
6.
the testimony of the child shall be preserved on
videotape, digital disc,etc
7.
the same shall be made part of the court record
Q: May the guardian ad litem apply for screens, one-way
mirrors, and other devices which would shield the child
from the accused while testifying?
A: Yes. The device may be placed in the courtroom in such
a manner that the child cannot see the accused while
testifying. However before the guardian applies for the
same he must consult the prosecutor or counsel.
Q: What happens if the court grants the application to
shield the child from the accused while testifying in the
courtroom is granted?
A: the courtroom shall be arranged to enable the accused
to view the child

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Q: When could the prosecutor, counsel or guardian ad


litem apply for an order for videotaped depositions?
A: when the court finds that the child will not be able to
testify issue an order that the deposition of the child be
taken and the videotape be preserved.
Q: What is the manner of taking a videotape deposition?
A:
1.
the judge shall preside at the videotape
deposition
2.
objections to deposition or evidence, and the
grounds for the abjection must be stated and
shall be ruled upon at the time of the taking of
the deposition
Q: Who are the persons present at the videotape
deposition?
A:
1.
prosecutor
2.
defense counsel
3.
guardian ad litem
4.
the accused
5.
other persons who are determined by the court
to be necessary to the welfare and well-being of
the child
6.
support person/s, facilitator, interpreter
7.
court stenographer
8.
persons necessary to operate the videotape
NB: the right of the accused during trial, specially the right
to counsel and to confront and cross-examine the child,
shall not be violated during the deposition.
Q: May the accused be excluded during the videotape
deposition?
A: If the child is unable to testify in the physical presence
of the accused, the court shall order that the testimony of
the child be made by live-link television.
Q: Is there a need to preserve the videotaped
deposition?
A: Yes and it must also be stenographically recorded.
Q: May the court grant a motion for additional
videotaping?
A: Yes on the ground of newly discovered evidence
CHILD ABUSE CASES
Q: What is hearsay exception in child abuse cases?
A: It is a statement made by a child describing any act or
attempted act of child abuse, not otherwise admissible
under the hearsay rule, may be admitted in evidence in any
criminal or non-criminal proceeding.
Q: What are the requisites before the same be admitted
by the court?
A.
1. The proponent shall make known their intention to offer
such statement to provide the adverse party a fair
opportunity to object
2. If the child is available, the court shall, upon motion of
the adverse party, require the child to be present at the
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presentation of the hearsay statement for crossexamination.


3. When the child in unavailable the fact of such
circumstance must be proved by the proponent.
Q: What should the court consider before ruling on the
admissibility of the statement?
A:
1.
whether there is motive to lie
2.
general character of the declarant child
3.
whether more one person heard the statement
4.
whether the statement was spontaneous
5.
the timing of the statement and the relationship
of the declarant child and witness
6.
cross-examination could not show the lack of
knowledge of the declarant child
7.
possibility of faulty recollection of the declarant
child is remote
8.
circumstance surrounding the statement that
there is no reason to suppose the declarant child
misrepresented the involvement of the accused
Q:
When should the child witness be considered
unavailable?
A:
1.
If deceased, suffers from physical infirmity,
lack of memory, mental illness, or will be
exposed to severe psychological injury
2.
is absent from the hearing and the proponent
of his statement has been unable to procure
his attendance by process or other reasonable
means
NB: When the child witness is unavailable, his hearsay
testimony shall be admitted only if corroborated by
other admissible evidence
Q: Are videotaped and audiotaped in-depth investigative
or disclosure interviews in child abuse admissible?
A: Yes. They are admissible under the following conditions
1.
the child witness in unable to testify in court of
grounds stated above
2.
The interview of the child was conducted by duly
trained members of a multidisciplinary team or
representatives of law enforcement or child
protective services in situations where child
abuse is suspected so as to determine whether
child abuse occurred.
NB: The individual conducting the interview of the child
shall be available at trial for examination by any party.
Before the videotape or audiotape is offered in evidence,
all parties shall be afforded and opportunity to view or
listen to it and shall be furnished a copy of a written
transcript of the proceedings.
Q: What is Sexual Abuse Shield Rule?
A: These are evidences which are inadmissible in any
criminal proceeding involving alleged child sexual abuse
1.
evidence offered to prove that the alleged victim
engaged in other sexual behavior and

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2.

evidence offered to prove the


predisposition of the alleged victim

sexual

Q: What is the exception on Sexual Abuse Shield Rule?


A: Evidence of specific instances of sexual behavior by the
alleged victim to prove that a person other than the
accused was the source of semen, injury, or other physical
evidence are admissible
Q: How does the court protect the privacy and safety of
records?
A: Only the following persons can have access to the
records upon written request and court order
1.
the court staff, for administrative use
2.
the prosecuting attorney
3.
defense counsel
4.
guardian ad litem
5.
agents of investigating law enforcement
agencies and
6.
other persons determined by the court
A: Any videotape or audiotape of a child is part of the court
record and shall be under protective order
A: Whoever publishes or causes to published in any format
the name, address, telephone number, school, or other
identifying information of a child who is or is alleged to be
a victim or accused of a crime or a witness thereof, on an
immediate family of the child shall be liable to the
contempt power of the court.

A: a child has a right at any court proceeding not to testify


regarding personal identifying information
A: Any videotape or audiotape of a child produced under
the provisions of this Rule shall be destroyed after 5 years
have elapsed from the date of entry of judgment
A: Where a youthful offender has been charged before any
city or provincial prosecutor or before any municipal judge
and the charges have been ordered dropped, all the
records of the case shall be considered as privileges and
may not be disclosed directly or indirectly to anyone for
any purpose whatsoever.
A: Where the youthful offender has been charged and the
court acquits him, or dismisses the case or commits him to
an institution and subsequently releases him pursuant to
Chapter 3 PD 603, all records of his case shall be
considered privileged and may not be disclosed except to
determine if a defendant have his sentence suspended or if
granted probation.
A: The youthful offender concerned shall not be held under
any provision of law to be guilty of perjury or of
concealment or misrepresentation by reason of his failure
to acknowledge the case or recite any fact related thereto
in response to any inquiry made to him for any purpose.

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