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VOL.

476, NOVEMBER 29, 2005 443


Yu vs. Court of Appeals
*
G.R. No. 154115. November 29, 2005.

PHILIP S. YU, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS,


Second Division, and VIVECA LIM YU, respondents.

Certiorari; Words and Phrases; Where a respondent judge does


not have the legal power to determine the case and yet he does so, he
acts without jurisdiction, and where, being clothed with power to
determine the case, oversteps his authority as determined by law, he
is performing a function in excess of jurisdiction.·A petition for
certiorari under Rule 65 is the proper remedy to correct errors of
jurisdiction and grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack or
excess of jurisdiction committed by a lower court. Where a
respondent does not have the legal power to determine the case and
yet he does so, he acts without jurisdiction; where, „being clothed
with power to determine the case, oversteps his authority as
determined by law, he is performing a function in excess of
jurisdiction.‰
Evidence; Formal Offer of Evidence; While trial courts have the
discretion to admit or exclude evidence, such power is exercised only

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* SECOND DIVISION.

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444 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Yu vs. Court of Appeals


when the evidence has been formally offered.·While trial courts
have the discretion to admit or exclude evidence, such power is
exercised only when the evidence has been formally offered. For a
long time, the Court has recognized that during the early stages of
the development of proof, it is impossible for a trial court judge to
know with certainty whether evidence is relevant or not, and thus
the practice of excluding evidence on doubtful objections to its
materiality should be avoided. As well elucidated in the case of
Prats & Co. v. Phoenix Insurance Co.: Moreover, it must be
remembered that in the heat of the battle over which he presides a
judge of first instance may possibly fall into error in judging of the
relevancy of proof where a fair and logical connection is in fact
shown. When such a mistake is made and the proof is erroneously
ruled out, the Supreme Court, upon appeal, often finds itself
embarrassed and possibly unable to correct the effects of the error
without returning the case for a new trial,·a step which this court
is always very loath to take. On the other hand, the admission of
proof in a court of first instance, even if the question as to its form,
materiality, or relevancy is doubtful, can never result in much harm
to either litigant, because the trial judge is supposed to know the
law; and it is its duty, upon final consideration of the case, to
distinguish the relevant and material from the irrelevant and
immaterial. If this course is followed and the cause is prosecuted to
the Supreme Court upon appeal, this court then has all the
material before it necessary to make a correct judgment.
Same; Same; Where the trial court declares that certain
documents are irrelevant and inadmissible even before they are
formally offered, much less presented before it, it acts in excess of
jurisdiction.·In the instant case, the insurance application and the
insurance policy were yet to be presented in court, much less
formally offered before it. In fact, private respondent was merely
asking for the issuance of subpoena duces tecum and subpoena ad
testificandum when the trial court issued the assailed Order. Even
assuming that the documents would eventually be declared
inadmissible, the trial court was not then in a position to make a
declaration to that effect at that point. Thus, it barred the
production of the subject documents prior to the assessment of its
probable worth. As observed by petitioners, the assailed Order was
not a mere ruling on the admissibility of evidence; it was, more
importantly, a ruling affecting the proper conduct of trial. Excess of
jurisdiction refers to any act which although falling within the
general powers of the judge is not author-

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VOL. 476, NOVEMBER 29, 2005 445

Yu vs. Court of Appeals

ized and is consequently void with respect to the particular case


because the conditions under which he was only authorized to
exercise his general power in that case did not exist and therefore,
the judicial power was not legally exercised. Thus, in declaring that
the documents are irrelevant and inadmissible even before they
were formally offered, much less presented before it, the trial court
acted in excess of its discretion.
Same; Same; Privileged Communications; Insurance; The
clarification by the Insurance Commissioner that Circular Letter No.
11-2000·which prevents insurance companies/agents from
divulging confidential and privileged information pertaining to
insurance policies·was not designed to obstruct lawful court orders,
there is no more impediment to presenting the insurance application
and policy in court.·Anent the issue of whether the information
contained in the documents is privileged in nature, the same was
clarified and settled by the Insurance CommissionerÊs opinion that
the circular on which the trial court based its ruling was not
designed to obstruct lawful court orders. Hence, there is no more
impediment to presenting the insurance application and policy.
Same; Same; Before tender of excluded evidence is made, the
evidence must have been formally offered before the court.·It is thus
apparent that before tender of excluded evidence is made, the
evidence must have been formally offered before the court. And
before formal offer of evidence is made, the evidence must have
been identified and presented before the court. While private
respondent made a „Tender of Excluded Evidence,‰ such is not the
tender contemplated by the above-quoted rule, for obviously, the
insurance policy and application were not formally offered much
less presented before the trial court. At most, said „Tender of
Excluded Evidence‰ was a manifestation of an undisputed fact that
the subject documents were declared inadmissible by the trial court
even before these were presented during trial. It was not the kind of
plain, speedy and adequate remedy which private respondent could
have resorted to instead of the petition for certiorari she filed before
the Court of Appeals. It did not in any way render the said petition
moot.

PETITION for review on certiorari of the decision and


resolution of the Court of Appeals.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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446 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Yu vs. Court of Appeals

Oscar E. Malinis and Cayetano, Sebastian, Ata, Dado &


Cruz for petitioner.
Antonio R. Bautista & Partner for respondent.

TINGA, J.:

This treats of the petition for review on certiorari of the


Court of AppealsÊ Decision and Resolution
1
in CA G.R. SP2
No. 66252 dated 30 April 2002 and 27 June 2002,
respectively, which set aside the 3Order of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City dated 10 May 2001,
declaring an application for insurance and an insurance
policy as inadmissible evidence.
The facts of the case are undisputed.
On 15 March 1994, Viveca Lim Yu (private respondent)
brought against her husband, Philip Sy Yu (petitioner), an
action for legal separation and dissolution of conjugal
partnership on the grounds of marital infidelity and
physical abuse. The case was filed before the RTC of Pasig
and raffled to Branch 158, presided by Judge Jose R.
Hernandez.
During trial, private respondent moved for the 4
issuance
of a subpoena duces tecum and ad testificandum to certain
officers of Insular Life Assurance Co. Ltd. to compel
production of the insurance policy and application 5 of a
person suspected to be petitionerÊs
6
illegitimate child. The
trial court denied the motion. It ruled that the insurance
contract is inadmissible evidence in view of Circular Letter
No. 11-2000, issued by the Insurance Commission which
presumably prevents insurance companies/agents from
divulging confidential and 7 privileged information
pertaining to insurance policies. It added that

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1 Rollo, pp. 36-45.


2 Id., at pp. 48-50.
3 Id., at pp. 108-111.
4 CA Rollo, p. 47.
5 Rollo, p. 171.
6 Order dated 10 May 2001, id., at pp. 108-111.
7 Rollo, p. 109.

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VOL. 476, NOVEMBER 29, 2005 447


Yu vs. Court of Appeals

the production of the application


8
and insurance contract
would violate Article 280 of 9
the Civil Code and Section 5 of
the Civil Registry Law, both of which prohibit the
unauthorized
10
identification of the parents of an illegitimate
child. Private respondent sought reconsideration11 of the
Order, but the motion was denied by the trial court.
Aggrieved, private respondent filed a petition for
certiorari before the Court of Appeals, imputing grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part
12
of Judge Hernandez in issuing the
10 May 2001 Order. The Court of Appeals summarized
the issues as follows: (i) whether or not an insurance policy
and its corresponding application form can be admitted as
evidence to prove a partyÊs extra-marital affairs in an
action for legal separation; and (ii) whether or not a trial
court has the discretion to deny a partyÊs motion to attach
excluded evidence to 13the record under Section 40, Rule 132
of the Rules of Court.
According to the Court of Appeals, private respondent
was merely seeking the production of the insurance
application and contract, and was not yet offering the same
as part of her evidence. Thus, it declared that petitionerÊs
objection to the

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8 Art. 280. When the father or the mother makes the recognition
separately, he or she shall not reveal the name or the person with whom
he or she had the child; neither shall he or she state any circumstance
whereby the other person may be identified.
9 Act No. 3753, Section 5, fourth paragraph reads:

In case of an illegitimate child, the birth certificate shall be signed and sworn
to jointly by the parents of the infant or only the mother if the father refuses.
In the latter case, it shall not be permissible to state or reveal in the document
the name of the father who refuses to acknowledge the child or to give therein
any information by which such father could be identified.

10 Rollo, p. 109.
11 Id., at p. 128.
12 Id., at pp. 62-75.
13 Id., at p. 36.

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448 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Yu vs. Court of Appeals

admission of the documents was premature, and the trial


courtÊs pronouncement 14 that the documents are
inadmissible, precipitate. The contents of the insurance
application and insurance documents cannot be considered
as privileged information, the Court of Appeals added, in
view of the opinion of the Insurance Commissioner dated 4
April 2001 to the effect that Circular Letter No.11-2000
„was never intended 15to be a legal impediment in complying
with lawful orders.‰ Lastly, the Court of Appeals ruled
that a trial court does not have the discretion to deny a
partyÊs privilege to tender excluded evidence, as this
privilege allows said16party to raise on appeal the exclusion
of such evidence. Petitioner filed a motion for
reconsideration but to no avail.
In the present petition, petitioner argues that the Court
of Appeals blundered in delving into errors of judgment
supposedly committed by the trial court as if the petition
filed therein was an ordinary appeal and not a special civil
action. Further, he claims that the Court of Appeals failed
to show any specific instance of grave abuse of discretion on
the part of the trial court in issuing the assailed Order.
Additionally, he posits that private respondent had already
mooted her petition before the Court of Appeals when she
filed her formal offer of rebuttal exhibits,
17
with tender of
excluded evidence before the trial court.
For her part, private respondent maintains that the
details surrounding the insurance policy are crucial to the
issue of petitionerÊs infidelity and his financial capacity to
provide support to her and their children. Further, she
argues that she had no choice but to make a tender of
excluded evidence considering that she was left to
speculate on what the insur-
_______________

14 Id., at p. 43 citing Rules 34 to 36 of the Revised Rules on Evidence.


15 CA Rollo, p. 58.
16 Rollo, p. 45.
17 Id., at p. 30.

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VOL. 476, NOVEMBER 29, 2005 449


Yu vs. Court of Appeals

ance application 18
and policy ruled out by the trial court
would contain.
A petition for certiorari under Rule 65 is the proper
remedy to correct errors of jurisdiction and grave abuse of
discretion tantamount to lack 19
or excess of jurisdiction
committed by a lower court. Where a respondent does not
have the legal power to determine the case and yet he does
so, he acts without jurisdiction; where, „being clothed with
power to determine the case, oversteps his authority as
determined by 20
law, he is performing a function in excess of
jurisdiction.‰
Petitioner claims that the Court of Appeals passed upon
errors of judgment, not errors of jurisdiction, since it delved
into the propriety of the denial of the subpoena duces tecum
and subpoena ad testificandum. The argument must fail.
While trial courts have the discretion to admit or
exclude evidence, such power is exercised
21
only when the
evidence has been formally offered. For a long time, the
Court has recognized that during the early stages of the
development of proof, it is impossible for a trial court judge
to know with certainty whether evidence is relevant or not,
and thus the practice of excluding evidence on22 doubtful
objections to its materiality should be avoided. As well
elucidated
23
in the case of Prats & Co. v. Phoenix Insurance
Co.:

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18 Id., at pp. 262-264.


19 Sec. 1, Rule 65, Revised Rules on Civil Procedure.
20 Punzalan v. Dela Peña, G.R. No. 158543, 21 July 2004, 434 SCRA
601, 609.
21 Sec. 34, Rule 132, Revised Rules on Evidence: Sec. 34. Offer of
evidence.·The court shall consider no evidence which has not been
formally offered. The purpose for which the evidence is offered must be
specified.
22 People v. Yatco, et al., 97 Phil. 940, 946 (1955) citing Prats & Co. v.
Phoenix Insurance Co., 52 Phil. 807 (1929).
23 52 Phil. 807, 816-817 (1929).

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450 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Yu vs. Court of Appeals

Moreover, it must be remembered that in the heat of the battle over


which he presides a judge of first instance may possibly fall into
error in judging of the relevancy of proof where a fair and logical
connection is in fact shown. When such a mistake is made and the
proof is erroneously ruled out, the Supreme Court, upon appeal,
often finds itself embarrassed and possibly unable to correct the
effects of the error without returning the case for a new trial,·a
step which this court is always very loath to take. On the other
hand, the admission of proof in a court of first instance, even if the
question as to its form, materiality, or relevancy is doubtful, can
never result in much harm to either litigant, because the trial judge
is supposed to know the law; and it is its duty, upon final
consideration of the case, to distinguish the relevant and material
from the irrelevant and immaterial. If this course is followed and
the cause is prosecuted to the Supreme Court upon appeal, this
court then has all the material before it necessary to make a correct
judgment.

In the instant case, the insurance application and the


insurance policy were yet to be presented in court, much
less formally offered before it. In fact, private respondent
was merely asking for the issuance of subpoena duces
tecum and subpoena ad testificandum when the trial court
issued the assailed Order. Even assuming that the
documents would eventually be declared inadmissible, the
trial court was not then in a position to make a declaration
to that effect at that point. Thus, it barred the production
of the subject documents prior to the assessment of its
probable worth. As observed by petitioners, the assailed
Order was not a mere ruling on the admissibility of
evidence; it was, more24importantly, a ruling affecting the
proper conduct of trial.
Excess of jurisdiction refers to any act which although
falling within the general powers of the judge is not
authorized and is consequently void with respect to the
particular case because the conditions under which he was
only authorized to exercise his general power in that case
did not exist and

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24 Rollo, p. 316.

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VOL. 476, NOVEMBER 29, 2005 451


Yu vs. Court of Appeals
25
therefore, the judicial power was not legally exercised.
Thus, in declaring that the documents are irrelevant and
inadmissible even before they were formally offered, much
less presented before it, the trial court acted in excess of its
discretion.
Anent the issue of whether the information contained in
the documents is privileged in nature, the same was
clarified and settled by the Insurance CommissionerÊs
opinion that the circular on which the trial court based its 26
ruling was not designed to obstruct lawful court orders.
Hence, there is no more impediment to presenting the
insurance application and policy.
Petitioner additionally claims that by virtue of private
respondentÊs tender of excluded evidence, she has rendered
moot her petition before the Court of Appeals since the
move evinced that she had another speedy and adequate
remedy under the law. The Court holds otherwise.
Section 40, Rule 132 provides:

Sec. 40. Tender of excluded evidence.·If documents or things


offered in evidence are excluded by the court, the offeror may have
the same attached to or made part of the record. If the evidence
excluded is oral, the offeror may state for the record the name and
other personal circumstances of the witness and the substance of
the proposed testimony.

It is thus apparent that before tender of excluded evidence


is made, the evidence must have been formally offered
before the court. And before formal offer of evidence is
made, the evidence must have been identified and
presented before the court. While private respondent made
a „Tender of Excluded Evidence,‰ such is not the tender
contemplated by the above-quoted rule, for obviously, the
insurance policy and application were not formally offered
much less presented before the

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25 Broom v. Douglas, 175 Ala. 268, 57 S 860; Tengco v. Jocson, 43 Phil.


716 (1922).
26 CA Rollo, p. 58.

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452 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Yu vs. Court of Appeals

trial court. At most, said „Tender of Excluded Evidence‰


was a manifestation of an undisputed fact that the subject
documents were declared inadmissible by the trial court
even before these were presented during trial. It was not
the kind of plain, speedy and adequate remedy which
private respondent could have resorted to instead of the
petition for certiorari she filed before the Court of Appeals.
It did not in any way render the said petition moot.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is
DENIED. The Decision dated 30 April 2002 and Resolution
dated 27 June 2002 are AFFIRMED. Costs against
petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

Puno (Chairman), Austria-Martinez and Callejo,


Sr., JJ., concur.
Chico-Nazario, J., On Leave.

Petition denied, judgment and resolution affirmed.

Notes.·Although an exhibit was not formally offered,


such oversight could not be fatal to the cause of the
prosecution if its entire evidence had been recorded and the
witness who was competent to testify on the matter had
properly identified the challenged exhibit. (People vs.
Padilla, 233 SCRA 46 [1994])
A document, or any article for that matter, is not
evidence when it is simply marked for identification·it
must be formally offered. (Candido vs. Court of Appeals,
253 SCRA 78 [1996])
A party is not deemed to have waived objection to the
admissibility of documents by his failure to object to the
same when they were marked, identified, and then
introduced during the trial·objection to documentary
evidence must be made at the time it is formally offered,
not earlier. (Macasiray vs. People, 291 SCRA 154 [1998])

··o0o··

453

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