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Razon, Jr. v.

Tagitis
G.R. No. 182498, December 3, 2009

Topic: Hearsay Rule

Doctrine:
Even hearsay evidence can be admitted if it satisfies this basic minimum test.

Facts
The established facts show that Tagitis, a consultant for the World Bank and the
Senior Honorary Counselor for the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Scholarship
Programme, was last seen in Jolo, Sulu. Together with Arsimin Kunnong (Kunnong),an
IDB scholar, Tagitis arrived in Jolo by boat in the early morning of October 31, 2007
from a seminar in Zamboanga City. When Kunnong returned from this
errand, Tagitis was no longer around.
On November 4, 2007, Kunnong and Muhammad Abdulnazeir N. Matli, a UP
professor of Muslim studies and Tagitis' fellow student counselor at the IDB,
reported Tagitis' disappearance to the Jolo Police Station.
More than a month later (on December 28, 2007),the respondent filed a Petition for
the Writ of Amparo (petition) with the CA through her Attorney-in-Fact, Atty. Felipe P.
Arcilla.

Issue(s)
Whether hearsay evidence may be admitted in Amparo cases

Ruling
The fair and proper rule, to our mind, is to consider all the pieces of evidence
adduced in their totality, and to consider any evidence otherwise inadmissible under our
usual rules to be admissible if it is consistent with the admissible evidence adduced. In
other words, we reduce our rules to the most basic test of reason — i.e.,to the
relevance of the evidence to the issue at hand and its consistency with all other
pieces of adduced evidence. Thus, even hearsay evidence can be admitted if it
satisfies this basic minimum test.
We note in this regard that the use of flexibility in the consideration of evidence is
not at all novel in the Philippine legal system. In child abuse cases, Section 28 of the Rule
on Examination of a Child Witness is expressly recognized as an exception to the hearsay
rule. This Rule allows the admission of the hearsay testimony of a child describing any
act or attempted act of sexual abuse in any criminal or non-criminal proceeding, subject
to certain prerequisites and the right of cross-examination by the adverse party. The
admission of the statement is determined by the court in light of specified subjective and
objective considerations that provide sufficient indicia of reliability of the child
witness. These requisites for admission find their counterpart in the present case under
the above-described conditions for the exercise of flexibility in the consideration of
evidence, including hearsay evidence, in extrajudicial killings and enforced
disappearance cases.
Strictly speaking, we are faced here with a classic case of hearsay evidence
— i.e., evidence whose probative value is not based on the personal knowledge of the
witnesses (the respondent, Mrs. Talbin and Col. Kasim himself) but on the knowledge of
some other person not on the witness stand (the informant).
To say that this piece of evidence is incompetent and inadmissible evidence of what
it substantively states is to acknowledge — as the petitioners effectively suggest — that
in the absence of any direct evidence, we should simply dismiss the petition. To our
mind, an immediate dismissal for this reason is no different from a statement that
the Amparo Rule — despite its terms — is ineffective, as it cannot allow for the special
evidentiary difficulties that are unavoidably present in Amparo situations, particularly in
extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. The Amparo Rule was not
promulgated with this intent or with the intent to make it a token gesture of concern for
constitutional rights. It was promulgated to provide effective and timely remedies, using
and profiting from local and international experiences in extrajudicial killings and
enforced disappearances, as the situation may require. Consequently, we have no choice
but to meet the evidentiary difficulties inherent in enforced disappearances with the
flexibility that these difficulties demand.