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RULE 23 (e) the intended deponent is available to testify

in open court if required during the trial on the


G.R. No. 108119 January 19, 1994 merits.

FORTUNE CORPORATION, petitioner, The trial court thereafter issued on April 3, 1992
vs. an order4 that the requested deposition shall not
HON. COURT OF APPEALS AND be taken for the following reasons:
INTER-MERCHANTS
CORPORATION, respondents. . . . , the Court opines that the deposition of
Juanito A. Teope set on April 7, 1992, appears
Antonio L. Azores for petitioner. unwarranted since the proposed deponent had
earlier responded to the written interrogatories of
Estella and Virtudazo Law Firm for private the plaintiff and has signified his availability to
respondent. testify in court.

To allow the deposition will deprive the Court of


the opportunity to ask clarificatory questions, if
REGALADO, J.: any, on the proposed deponent who appears to
be a vital witness.
This petition impugns and seeks the review
on certiorari of the decision1 of respondent Court Its motion for reconsideration having been
of Appeals, dated September 23, 1992, which denied, petitioner filed an original action
affirmed the order of the Regional Trial Court of for certiorari before the Supreme Court which
San Pablo City disallowing the taking of the oral was docketed as G.R. No. 101526. However, in
deposition of Juanito S. Teope, Chairman of the a resolution dated May 20, 1992, this Court
Board of Directors of herein private respondent referred the case to the Court of Appeals for
Inter-Merchants Corporation. consideration and adjudication on the merits.

An action for breach of contract was filed by As earlier stated, respondent Court of Appeals
petitioner Fortune Corporation against promulgated a decision on September 23, 1992,
respondent Inter-Merchants Corporation, dismissing the petition and holding that:
docketed as Civil Case No. SP-3469, before the
Regional Trial Court of San Pablo City, Branch It cannot be gainsaid that the respondent court
30. After respondent corporation had filed its has jurisdiction to direct, in its discretion, that a
Answer, petitioner served the former with written deposition shall not be taken, if there are valid
interrogatories pursuant to Rule 25 of the Rules reasons for so ruling. This is provided for in
of Court. The interrogatories were answered by Sections 16 and 18,
respondent corporation through its board Rule 24 of the Rules of Court. Said sections
chairman, Juanito A. Teope. imply that the right of a party to take depositions
as means of discovery is not absolute. Thus, as
The pre-trial conference was thereafter held in the case of Caguiat vs. Torres, 30 SCRA
scheduled for January 9, February 12 and April 106, 110:
22, 1992.
. . . sections 16 and 18 of Rule 24, (which) are
On March 26, 1992, however, petitioner served precisely designed to protect parties and their
upon private respondent a Notice to Take witnesses, whenever in the opinion of the trial
Deposition Upon Oral Examination2 dated March court, the move to take their depositions under
26, 1992, notifying the latter that on April 7, 1992, the guise of discovery is actually intended to only
at San Pablo City, herein petitioner would take annoy, embarrass or oppress them. In such
the deposition of said Juanito A. Teope, in instances, these provisions expressly authorize
accordance with Section 15, Rule 24. the court to either prevent the taking of a
deposition or stop one that is already being
Private respondent filed an Urgent Motion Not taken.
To Take Deposition/Vehement Opposition to
Plaintiff's Notice to Take Deposition Upon Oral Moreover, the respondent court, in its assailed
Examination,3 dated March 27, 1992, Order, has indicated at least three (3) valid
alleging inter alia that : (a) herein petitioner has reasons for it not to order the deposition taken:
previously availed of one mode of discovery, that First, that the proposed deponent had earlier
is, the written interrogatories which practically responded to the written Interrogatories; Second,
covered all the claims, counterclaims and that the proposed deponent had signified his
defenses in the case; (b) there is absolutely no availability to testify in court; and Third, that to
sound reason or justification advanced for the allow the deposition would deprive the trial court
taking of the oral deposition; (c) such taking of the opportunity to ask clarificatory questions, if
would cause annoyance, embarrassment and any, on the proposed deponent who appears to
oppression upon the prospective deponent, be a vital witness.
Juanito A. Teope; (d) Mr. Teope has no intention
of leaving the country; and
Finally, anent private respondent's contention prison may be taken only by leave of court on
that certiorari does not lie in this case, it should such terms as the court prescribes.
be recalled that certiorari presupposes either
lack or excess of jurisdiction or grave abuse of The seeming unreceptive and negative attitude
discretion. In the instant case, no question of of lawyers and the courts towards discovery
jurisdiction is possible simply because the procedures has heretofore been observed and
respondent court undoubtly had jurisdiction over discommended by the Court in this wise:
petitioner's case. On the question of abuse of
discretion, appeal and not certiorariis the proper . . . Now, it appears to the Court that among far
remedy for the correction of any error as to the too many lawyers (and not a few judges), there
admission or rejection of a deposition being is, if not a regrettable unfamiliarity and even
offered as evidence since such a situation would outright ignorance about the nature, purposes
involve an error of law constituting a violation of and operations of the modes of discovery, at
rules of evidence. Hence, as held in the case least a strong yet unreasoned and unreasonable
of Dearing vs. Fredwilson (sic) & Co., Inc., 98 disinclination to resort to them — which is a
SCRA 758, 764: great pity for the intelligent and adequate use of
the deposition-discovery mechanism, coupled
. . . . Thus, the jurisprudential rule is that the with pre-trial procedure, could, as the experience
admission or rejection of certain interrogatories of other jurisdictions convincingly demonstrates,
in the course of discovery procedure could be an effectively shorten the period of litigation and
error of law but not an abuse of discretion, much speed up adjudication. . . . .5
less a grave one. . . .
It would do well, therefore, to point out the finer
With the denial of petitioner's motion for attributes of these rules of discovery, the
reconsideration, the instant petition was filed, availment of which, we are convinced, would
submitting the following issues for resolution: contribute immensely to the attainment of the
judiciary's primordial goal of expediting the
1. Whether or not the conclusion of the disposition of cases.
Honorable Court of Appeals, based on a gross
misapprehension of facts, constitutes reversible The rules providing for pre-trial discovery of
error; testimony, pre-trial inspection of documentary
evidence and other tangible things, and the
2. Whether or not the said order, based on the examination of property and person, were an
three reasons stated therein, is arbitrary or important innovation in the rules of procedure.
whimsical because it is contrary to reason, logic The promulgation of this group of rules satisfied
or equity; the long-felt need for a legal machinery in the
courts to supplement the pleadings, for the
3. Whether or not mere allegation, without proof, purpose of disclosing the real points of dispute
that the examination sought by petitioner was between the parties and of affording an
intended merely to annoy, embarrass or oppress adequate factual basis in preparation for trial.
the proposed deponent is, as a matter of law, The rules are not grounded on the supposition
"good cause" within the purview of Rule 24, that the pleadings are the only or chief basis of
Section 16, Rules of Court; and preparation for trial. On the contrary, the
limitations of the pleadings in this respect are
4. Whether or not, absent the requisite element recognized. In most cases under the rules the
of "good cause" as mandated by Section 16 of function of the pleadings extends hardly beyond
Rule 24, Rules of Court, a trial court has notification to the opposing parties of the general
unbridled discretion to forbid the taking of nature of a party's claim or defense. It is
deposition upon oral examination as authorized recognized that pleadings have not been
under Rule 24, Section 15, Rules of Court. successful as fact-sifting mechanisms and that
attempts to force them to serve that purpose
Rule 24 of the Rules of Court provides: have resulted only in making the pleadings
increasingly complicated and technical, without
Sec. 1. Depositions pending action, when may any corresponding disclosure of the issues
be taken. — By leave of court after jurisdiction which it will be necessary to prove at the trial.
has been obtained over any defendant or Thus the rules provide for simplicity and brevity
property which is the subject of the action, or in pleadings, which in most cases will terminate
without such leave after an answer has been with the answer; and at the same time adapt the
served, the testimony of any person, whether a old and familiar deposition procedure to serve as
party or not, may be taken, at the instance of any a device for ascertaining before trial what facts
party, by deposition upon oral examination or are really in dispute and need to be tried.
written interrogatories. The attendance of Experience had shown that the most effective
witnesses may be compelled by the use of a legal machinery for reducing and clarifying the
subpoena as provided in Rule 23. Depositions issues was a preliminary examination, as broad
shall be taken only in accordance with these in scope as the trial itself, of the evidence of both
rules. The deposition of a person confined in parties.6
Stated otherwise, the rules seek to make a trial him, suppressing or concealing nothing, nor
less a game of blind man's buff and more a fair preventing another party, by clever and adroit
contest with the basic issues and facts disclosed manipulation of the technical rules of pleading
to the fullest practicable extent.7 and evidence, from also presenting all the facts
within his knowledge.
The elemental purpose of the discovery
procedure was pithily explained by the Court, Initially, that undertaking of laying the facts
speaking through now Chief Justice Andres R. before the court is accomplished by the
Narvasa, in the recent case of Republic pleadings filed by the parties; but that, only in a
vs. Sandiganbayan,8 which opinion, we feel, very general way. Only "ultimate facts" are set
should be reiterated through an extended forth in the pleadings; hence, only the barest
reproduction, to wit: outline of the factual basis of a party's claims or
defenses is limned in his pleadings. The law
The resolution of controversies is, as everyone says that every pleading "shall contain in a
knows, the methodical and logical form, a plain, concise and
raison d'etre of courts. This essential function is direct statement of the ultimate facts on which
accomplished by first, the ascertainment of all the party pleading relies for his claim or defense,
the material and relevant facts from the as the case may be, omitting the statement of
pleadings and from the evidence adduced by the mere evidentiary facts.
parties, and second, after that determination of
the facts has been completed, by the application Parenthetically, if this requirement is not
of the law thereto to the end that the controversy observed, i.e., the ultimate facts are alleged too
may be settled authoritatively, definitely and generally or "not averred with sufficient
finally. definiteness or particularly to enable . . . (an
adverse party) properly to prepare his
It is for this reason that a substantial part of the responsive pleading or to prepare for trial," a bill
adjective law in this jurisdiction is occupied with of particulars seeking a "more definite
assuring that all the facts are indeed presented statement" may be ordered by the court on
to the Court; for obviously, to the extent that motion of a party. The office of a bill of
adjudication is made on the basis of incomplete particulars is, however, limited to making more
facts, to that extent there is faultiness in the particular or definite the ultimate facts in a
approximation of objective justice. It is thus the pleading. It is not its office to supply evidentiary
obligation of lawyers no less than of judges to matters. And the common perception is that said
see that this objective is attained; that is to say, evidentiary details are made known to the
that there be no suppression, obscuration, parties and the court only during the trial, when
misrepresentation or distortion of the facts; and proof is adduced on the issues of fact arising
that no party be unaware of any fact material and from the pleadings.
relevant to the action, or surprised by any factual
detail suddenly brought to his attention during The truth is that "evidentiary matters" may be
the trial. inquired into and learned by the parties before
the trail. Indeed, it is the purpose and the policy
Seventy-one years ago, in Alonzo vs. Villamor, of the law that the parties — before the trial if not
this Court described the nature and object of indeed even before the pre-trial — should
litigation and in the process laid down the discover or inform themselves of all the facts
standards by which judicial contests are to be relevant to the action, not only those known to
conducted in this jurisdiction. It said: them individually, but also those known to their
adversaries; in other words, the desideratum is
A litigation is not a game of technicalities in that civil trials should not be carried on in the
which one, more deeply schooled and skilled in dark; and the Rules of Court make this ideal
the subtle art of movement and position, entraps possible through the deposition-discovery
and destroys the other. It is, rather a contest in mechanism set forth in Rules 24 to 29. The
which each contending party fully and fairly lays experience in other jurisdictions has been that
before the court the facts in issue and then ample discovery before trial, under proper
brushing aside as wholly trivial and indecisive all regulation, accomplished one of the most
imperfections of form and technicalities of necessary ends of modern procedure: It not only
procedure, asks that justice be done on the eliminates unessential issues from trial thereby
merits. Lawsuits, unlike duels, are not be won by shortening them considerably, but also requires
a rapier's thrust. Technicality, when it deserts its parties to play the game with the cards on the
proper office as an aid to justice and becomes its table so that the possibility of fair settlement
great hindrance and chief enemy, deserves before trial is measurably increased. . . . .
scant consideration from courts. There should be
no vested right in technicalities. . . . . As just intimated, the deposition-discovery
procedure was designed to remedy the
The message is plain. It is the duty of each conceded inadequacy and cumbersomeness of
contending party to lay before the court the facts the pre-trial functions of notice-giving,
in issue — fully and fairly; i.e., to present to the issue-formulation and fact revelation theretofore
court all the material and relevant facts known to performed primarily by the pleadings.
The various modes or instruments of discovery 1. It is of great assistance in ascertaining the
are meant to serve (1) as a device, along with truth and in checking and preventing perjury.
the pre-trial hearing under Rule 20, to narrow The reasons for this are:
and clarify the basic issues between the parties,
and (2) as a device for ascertaining the facts (a) The witness (including a party) is examined
relative to those issues. The evident purpose is, while his memory is fresh:
to repeat, to enable the parties, consistent with
recognized privileges, to obtain the fullest (b) The witness (including a party) is generally
possible knowledge of the issues and facts not coached in preparation for a pre-trial oral
before civil trials and thus prevent that said trials examination with the result that his testimony is
are carried on in the dark. likely to be more spontaneous. Where the
examination is upon written interrogatories,
To this end, the field of inquiry that may be however, it appears that some lawyers furnish
covered by depositions or interrogatories is as the witness with copies of the interrogatories and
broad as when the interrogated party is called as thereby enable him to prepare his answers in
witness to testify orally at trial. The inquiry advance.
extends to all facts which are relevant, whether
they be ultimate or evidentiary, expecting only (c) A party or witness whose deposition has
those matters which are privileged. The objective been taken at an early stage in the litigation
is as much to give every party the fullest possible cannot, at a later date, readily manufacture
information of all the relevant facts before the testimony in contradiction to his deposition;
trial as to obtain evidence for use upon said trial.
The principle is reflected in Sec. 2, Rule 24 (d) Testimony is preserved, so that if a witness
(governing depositions ) which generally allows unexpectedly dies or becomes unavailable at the
the examination of a deponent — trial, his deposition is available.

1) "regarding any matter, not privileged, which is 2. It is an effective means of detecting and
relevant to the subject of the pending action, exposing false, fraudulent, and sham claims and
whether relating to the claim or defense of any defenses.
other party,"
3. It makes available in a simple, convenient,
2) as well as: and often inexpensive way facts which otherwise
could not have been proved, except with great
(a) "the existence, description, nature, custody, difficulty and sometimes not at all.
condition and location of any books, documents,
or other tangible things" and 4. It educates the parties in advance of trial as to
the real value of their claims and defenses,
(b) "the identity and location of persons having thereby encouraging settlements out of court.
knowledge of relevant facts."
5. It expediates the disposal of litigation, saves
What is chiefly contemplated is the discovery of the time of the courts, and clears the docket of
every bit of information which may be useful in many cases by settlements and dismissals
the preparation for trial, such as the identity and which otherwise would have to be tried.
location of persons having knowledge of relevant
facts; those relevant facts themselves; and the 6. It safeguards against surprise at the trial,
existence, description, nature, custody, condition, prevents delays, and narrows and simplifies the
and location of any books, documents, or other issues to be tried, thereby expediting the trial.
tangible things. Hence, the deposition-discovery
rules are to be accorded a broad and liberal 7. It facilitates both the preparation and trial of
treatment. No longer can the time-honored cry of the cases.9
fishing expedition serve to preclude a party from
inquiring into the facts underlying his opponent's We shall now proceed to resolve the issues
case. Mutual knowledge of all the relevant facts raised by herein petitioner.
gathered by both parties is essential to proper
litigation. To that end, either party may compel I. Petitioner avers that the decision of
the other to disgorge whatever facts he has in respondent court dismissing its petition on the
his possession. The deposition-discovery ground that appeal and not certiorari is the
procedure simply advances the stage at which proper remedy in this case, is erroneous for the
the disclosure can be compelled from the time of reason that such ruling is based on facts which
trial to the period preceding it, this reducing the are not obtaining in the case at bar, viz.: (a) that
possibility of surprise. . . . . (Emphases in the petitioner had already obtained a deposition,
original text.) which it had not; (b) that said deposition was
offered as evidence, which was not done
The other principal benefits derivable from the because there was nothing yet to offer; and (c)
availability and operation of a liberal discovery that said offer was rejected, which did not
procedure are the following: happen because there was nothing to reject as
nothing was offered.
Petitioner claims that since the very purpose of unrestricted right to discovery given by sections
Rule 24 of the Rules of Court is to authorize the 1 and 2 of this Rule. A party may take the
taking of a deposition in a pending action, either deposition of a witness who knows nothing about
to make a discovery in preparation for or to be the case, with the only purpose of annoying him
used as evidence upon the trial of such action, or wasting the time of the other parties. In such
the taking of the deposition in the case at bar case, the court may, on motion, order that the
should be done and finished before trial. Hence, deposition shall not be taken. Or, a party may
it would be a grave abuse of discretion to compel designate a distinct place for the taking of a
petitioner to proceed with the trial of the case deposition, and the adverse party may not have
without the proposed deposition being first sufficient means to reach that place, because of
undertaken. Appeal will be utterly inadequate to poverty or otherwise, in which case the court, on
remedy the situation because, in that case, the motion, may order that the deposition be taken
court shall have rendered its decision without the at another place, or that it be taken by written
petitioner having been afforded the opportunity interrogatories. The party serving the notice may
to make use of the answers that the deponent wish to inquire into matters the disclosure of
would have otherwise given as a result of the which may be oppressive or embarrassing to the
deposition. Reversal on appeal of the said deponent, especially if the disclosure is to be
decision by the public respondent may only made in the presence of third persons, or, the
entail retrial in the lower court and added party serving the notice may attempt to inquire
expense, as well as unnecessary delay in the into matters which are absolutely private of the
case. By its very nature, the taking of the deponent, the disclosure of which may affect his
deposition in the case at bar should be made interests and is not absolutely essential to the
and completed before trial, and the remedy of determination of the issues involved in the case.
appeal to determine whether or not the trial court Under such circumstances, the court, on motion,
committed grave abuse of discretion in denying may order "that certain matter shall not be
the petitioner thereof is neither proper, much inquired into or that the scope of the examination
less adequate. shall be limited to certain matters, or that the
examination shall be held with no one present
We agree with petitioner. except the parties to the action and their officers
or counsel, or that after being sealed the
Under Section 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, deposition shall be opened only by order of the
the writ of certiorari lies if the following requisites court, or that secret processes, developments, or
concur : (a) that it is directed against a tribunal, research need not be disclosed, or that the
board or officer exercising judicial functions; (b) parties shall simultaneously file specific
that such tribunal, board or officer has acted documents or informations enclosed in sealed
without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave envelopes to be opened as directed by the
abuse of discretion; and (c) that there is no court." In other words, this provision affords the
appeal nor any plain, speedy and adequate adverse party, as well as the deponent, sufficient
remedy in the ordinary course of law. protection against abuses that may be
committed by a party in the exercise of his
Section 16 of Rule 24 provides that after notice unlimited right to discovery. As a writer said:
is served for taking a deposition by oral "Any discovery involves a prying into another
examination, upon motion seasonably made by person's affairs, a prying that is quite justified if it
any party or by the person to be examined and is to be a legitimate aid to litigation, but not
upon notice and for good cause shown, the court justified if it is not to be such an aid." For this
in which the action is pending may, among reason, courts are given ample powers to forbid
others, make an order that the deposition shall discovery which is intended not as an aid to
not be taken. litigation, but merely to annoy, embarrass or
oppress either the deponent or the adverse party,
This provision explicitly vests in the court the or both." 10
power to order that the deposition shall not be
taken and this grant connotes the authority to The rule is that certiorari will generally not lie to
exercise discretion in connection therewith. It is review a discretionary action of any tribunal. Also,
well settled, however, that the discretion as a general proposition, a writ of certiorari is
conferred by law is not unlimited: that it must be available only to review final judgments or
exercised, not arbitrarily, capriciously, or decrees, and will be refused where there has
oppressively, but in a reasonable manner and in been no final judgment or order and the
consonance with the spirit of the law, to the end proceeding for which the writ is sought is still
that its purpose may be attained. Referring to the pending and undetermined in the lower tribunal.
objective of Section 16 of then Rule 18 (now Pursuant to this rule, it has been held
Rule 24) of the Rules of Court, former Chief that certiorari will not lie to review or correct
Justice Manuel V. Moran had these comments: discovery orders made prior to trial. 11 This is
because, like other discovery orders, orders
The advisory of the United States Supreme made under Section 16, Rule 24 are
Court said that this provision is intended to be interlocutory and not appealable, 12 considering
one of the safeguards for the protection of the that they do not finally dispose of the proceeding
parties and deponents on account of the or of any independent offshoot of it. 13
However, such rules are subject to the exception In fine, as we have earlier clarified, the liberty of
that discretionary acts will be reviewed where a party to make discovery is well-nigh
the lower court or tribunal has acted without or in unrestricted if the matters inquired into are
excess of its jurisdiction, where an interlocutory otherwise relevant and not privileged, and the
order does not conform to essential inquiry is made in good faith and within the
requirements of law and may reasonably cause bounds of law.
material injury throughout subsequent
proceedings for which the remedy of appeal will Section 16 of Rule 24 clearly states that it is only
be inadequate, or where there is a clear or upon notice and for good cause that the court
serious abuse of discretion. 14 may order that the deposition shall not be taken.
The matter of good cause is to be determined by
It is our considered opinion that on the bases of the court in the exercise of judicial discretion.
circumstances obtaining in the case at bar, and Good cause means a substantial reason — one
which will hereinavfter be that affords a legal excuse. Whether or not
discussed, certiorari may be availed of to review substantial reasons exist is for the court to
the questioned order of the trial court. determine, as there is no hard and fast rule for
determining the question as to what is meant by
II. Petitioner asseverates that the trial court the term "for good cause shown." 15
gravely abused its discretion in ordering that the
deposition be not taken in the absence of good The requirement, however, that good cause be
cause therefor. It asserts that the reasons shown for a protective order puts the burden on
advanced by the trial court cannot be considered the party seeking relief to show some plainly
"good cause" within the contemplation of the law, adequate reasons for the order. A particular and
which reasons, to repeat, are: (a) that the specific demonstration of facts, as distinguished
proposed deponent had earlier responded to from conclusory statements, is required to
written interrogatories; (b) that the proposed establish good cause for the issuance of a
deponent had signified his availability to testify in protective order. 16 What constitutes good cause
court; and (c) that to allow the deposition would furthermore depends upon the kind of protective
deprive the trial court of the opportunity to ask order that is sought. 17
clarificatory questions to the vital witness. It
further claims that a mere allegation, without any In light of the general philosophy of full discovery
proof in support thereof, that petitioner intended of relevant facts and the board statement of
to annoy, harass or oppress the proposed scope in Rule 24, and in view of the power of the
deponent, and therefore acted in bad faith, is not court under Sections 16 and 18 of said Rule to
sufficient justification to order that the deposition control the details of time, place, scope, and
shall not be taken. financing for the protection of the deponents and
parties, it is fairly rare that it will be ordered that a
It is true that to ensure that availment of the deposition should not be taken at all. All motions
modes of discovery would be untrammeled and under these subparagraphs of the rule must be
efficacious, Rule 29 imposes serious sanctions supported by "good cause" and a strong
on the party who refuses to comply with or showing is required before a party will be denied
respond to the modes of discovery, such as entirely the right to take a deposition. A mere
dismissing his action or proceeding or part allegation, without proof, that the deposition is
thereof, or rendering judgment by default against being taken in bad faith is not a sufficient ground
the disobedient party; contempt of court, or for such an order. Neither is an allegation that it
arrest of the party or agent of the party; payment will subject the party to a penalty or forfeiture.
of the amount of reasonable expenses incurred The mere fact that the information sought by
in obtaining a court order to compel discovery; deposition has already been obtained through a
taking the matters inquired into as established in bill of particulars, interrogatories, or other
accordance with the claim of the party seeking depositions will not suffice, although if it is
discovery; refusal to allow the disobedient party entirely repetitious a deposition may be
to support or oppose designated claims or forbidden. The allegation that the deponent
defenses; striking out his pleadings or parts knows nothing about the matters involved does
thereof; or staying further proceedings. not justify prohibiting the taking of a deposition,
nor that whatever the witness knows is protected
But then, there are concomitant limitations to by the "work product doctrine," nor that
discovery, even when permitted to be privileged information or trade secrets will be
undertaken without leave of court and without sought in the course of the examination, nor that
judicial intervention. As indicated by the Rules, all the transactions were either conducted or
limitations inevitably arise when it can be shown confirmed in writing. 18
that the examination is being conducted in bad
faith or in such a manner as to annoy, embarrass, In the present case, private respondent failed to
or oppress the person subject to the inquiry. Also, sufficiently establish that there is good cause to
further limitations come into existence when the support the order of the trial court that the
inquiry touches upon the irrelevant or deposition shall not be taken, for several
encroaches upon the recognized domains of reasons.
privilege.
1. We agree with petitioner's submission that the circumvent a ruling of the court, or to harass or
fact that petitioner had previously availed of the oppress the other party. As a matter of practice,
mode of discovery, which is by written it will often be desirable to resort to both
interrogatories supposedly covering all claims, interrogatories and depositions in one or the
counterclaims and defenses in the case, cannot other sequence. Additional lines of inquiry may
be considered "good cause", because: (a) the come to light after the deposition has been taken,
fact that information similar to that sought had as to which written interrogatories probably
been obtained by answers to interrogatories would be adequate, and there is no reason why
does not bar an examination before trial, and is the examining party should not be entitled to
not a valid objection to the taking of a deposition obtain all the relevant information he desires if
where there is no duplication and the examining no substantial prejudice is done to the party from
party is not acting in bad faith; and (b) whom discovery is sought. On the other hand,
knowledge of the facts by the petitioner interrogatories may well be used as a
concerning which the proposed deponent is to preliminary to the taking of depositions, in order
be examined does not justify a refusal of such to ascertain what individuals have the
examination. information sought. And, of course, if the
answers to interrogatories are evasive and
As a general rule, the scope of discovery is to be unsatisfactory, the interrogating party should be
liberally construed so as to provide the litigants able to utilize the more effective method of oral
with information essential to the expenditious examination rather than have to reframe
and proper litigation of each of the facts in interrogatories. Ordinarily, however, there will be
dispute. Moreover, it cannot be disputed that the no occasion for a party to use both methods at
various methods of discovery as provided for in the same time, at least to obtain the same
the Rules are clearly intended to be cumulative, information. 21
as opposed to alternative or mutually
exclusive. 19 It has long been recognized that there are far
greater advantages in obtaining the facts and
The issue of whether a party who has resorted to circumstances involved in a confronting
a particular method of discovery will be barred in examination than in a written one. Hence:
subsequently using other discovery devices has
been definitely discussed and resolved as 1. Examination by interrogatories is both more
follows: cumbersome and less efficient than oral
examination before trial. Where it develops that
On the question of whether an oral deposition examination by interrogatories has been
might be taken after service of interrogatories, inadequate, the court unquestionably has, and in
the courts took a relatively liberal view. In a proper case should exercise, discretion to
Howard v. States Marine Corp., the first case in permit an oral examination. But it should be
which this question was raised, Judge Hilbert made to clearly appear that the relevant subject
said that: matter will not involve the interrogation of the
witness with respect to those particulars upon
Where it develops that examination by which he was examined by
interrogatories has been inadequate, the court interrogatories. 22
unquestionably has, and in a proper case should
exercise, discretion to permit an oral 2. In actual effectiveness, interrogatories are far
examination. But it should be made to clearly inferior to the oral examination. Their defects are
appear that the relevant subject matter will not quite obvious. In the first place, they give the
involve the interrogation of the witness with party to whom they are addressed more time to
respect to those particulars upon which he was study their effect, which furnishes a better
examined by interrogatories. opportunity to frame protective answers which
conceal or evade. In the next place, as a means
In Canuso v. City of Niagara Falls, the fact that a of forcing a specific, detailed and thorough
bill of particulars had previously been served and disclosure from a reluctant party, there is a
interrogatories answered was held no objection tendency for the interrogatories to grow in
to an oral examination since no duplication was number, complexity and variety of form so as to
involved and bad faith had not been shown. And call for as many aspects of the proof as possible,
in Alfred Bell & Co. v. Catalda Fine Arts, Inc., with the result that they often become difficult to
oral examination was allowed, even though the administer. . . . .
individual had previously answered
interrogatories, except as to matters with respect In view of these limitations upon the
to which he had "given responsive and effectiveness of written interrogatories, it is
categorical testimony." 20 evident that they are not well adapted for the
purpose of general examination. It is only when
It is quite clear, therefore, and we so hold that the facts sought are few, formal and isolated,
under the present Rules the fact that a party has that this method can be satisfactorily employed.
resorted to a particular method of discovery will So long as the discovery is restricted to the case
not bar subsequent use of other discovery of the examiner, and he is not permitted to
devices, as long as the party is not attempting to inquire into the case of his adversary, the facts
sought by discovery will usually be few, formal Furthermore, . . . written interrogatories are most
and isolated, and written interrogatories will valuable as a device to compel admissions and
perhaps serve reasonably well. For a small task, the disclosure of major factual matters not
a feeble instrument may suffice. But if discovery concerned with details; the deposition is the best
is to involve a thorough inquiry into the vital and device suited to compel disclosure of detailed
highly controversial phases of the case, resort information. 24
must be had to an oral examination. . . . .
2. The availability of the proposed deponent to
. . . Where the facts to be elicited are relatively testify in court does not constitute "good cause"
few and important, whether ultimate facts or to justify the court's order that his deposition
evidentiary facts, the legal machinery of shall not be taken. That the witness is unable to
interrogatories is a very useful, expeditious and attend or testify is one of the grounds when the
inexpensive method; but where they are very deposition of a witness may be used in court
numerous, . . . they tend to become unduly during the trial. 25 But the same reason cannot
burdensome, oppressive and vexatious to the be successfully invoked to prohibit the taking of
adverse party and difficult for the court to his deposition.
administer. . . . . Furthermore, the procedure
tends to be unnecessarily wasteful of judicial The right to take statements and the right to use
time. The judicial ruling upon the interrogatories them in court have been kept entirely distinct.
themselves is not necessarily conclusive or even The utmost freedom is allowed in taking
important in most cases as determinative of the depositions; restrictions are imposed upon their
issues in the case. The purpose of the use. As a result, there is accorded the widest
interrogating party is to develop information or possible opportunity for knowledge by both
force admission; but if the answers are not parties of all the facts before the trial. Such of
satisfactory or useful, the time spent in this testimony as may be appropriate for use as
considering them and the objections thereto is a substitute for viva voce examination may be
generally wasted, because the answers do not introduced at the trial; the remainder of the
become evidence in the case unless voluntarily testimony, having served its purpose in revealing
introduced by the interrogator as admissions the facts to the parties before trial, drops out of
against interest on the part of the party judicial picture. 26
interrogated.
Regardless of the development of devices for
. . . Where a more comprehensive examination pre-trial fact investigation, our legal system is
of the adverse party is desired it should ordinarily now thoroughly committed to the notion that on
be done by taking his deposition. 23 trial itself the adducing of facts by viva
voce testimony of witnesses — whose
3. The obvious advantage of interrogatories over demeanor and manner are subject to the
a deposition is that they are much less observation of the judge — is superior to the use
expensive. There is no significant expense for of written statements of the same witnesses.
the party sending the interrogatories except for Preference for oral testimony has dictated most
the time spent in preparing the questions. In of the limitations on the use of depositions as
addition, interrogatories are a much simpler evidence. And since their use as evidence was
device. There are none of the details that must originally conceived as the sole function of
be taken care of in arranging for a deposition, depositions proper, the limitations on their taking
such as obtaining a court reporter and fixing the dovetailed with the limitations on their use. But
time and place for the examination. under the concept adopted by the new Rules,
the deposition serves the double function of a
On the other hand, depositions are preferable if method of discovery — with use on trial not
a searching interrogation of the other party is necessarily contemplated — and a method of
desired. At a deposition, the examining party has presenting testimony. Accordingly, no limitations
great flexibility and can frame his questions on other than relevancy and privilege have been
the basis of answers to previous questions. placed on the taking of depositions, while the
Moreover, the party being examined does not use at the trial is subject to circumscriptions
have the opportunity to study the questions in looking toward the use of oral testimony
advance and to consult with his attorney before wherever practicable. 27
answering, as he does if interrogatories are used.
Attempts at evasion, which might be met by a 3. We are also in conformity with petitioner's
persistent oral examination, cannot be easily submission that the mere fact that the court
dealt with by interrogatories. The flexibility and could not thereby observe the behavior of the
the potency of oral depositions is in large part deponent does not justify the denial of the right
lacking in written interrogatories. It is for these to take deposition. As we have already
reasons that depositions are . . . by far the most explained:
widely used of the discovery devices.
The main reason given in support of the
xxx xxx xxx contested order is that, if the deposition were
taken, the court could not observe the behavior
of the deponents. The insufficiency of this
circumstance to justify the interdiction of the On the bases of the foregoing disquisitions, we
taking of the deposition becomes apparent when find and so hold that the trial court committed a
we consider that, otherwise, no deposition could grave abuse of discretion in issuing an order that
ever be taken, said objection or handicap being the deposition shall not be taken in this case,
common to all depositions alike. In other words, and that respondent court erred in affirming the
the order of respondent Judge cannot be same.
sustained without nullifying the right to take
depositions, and therefore, without, in effect WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The
repealing section 1 of Rule 18 (now Rule 24) of questioned decision of respondent Court of
the Rules of Court, which, clearly, was not Appeals is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE,
intended by the framers of section 16 of the and judgment is hereby rendered ORDERING
same rule. 28 the court a quo to allow herein petitioner to take
the deposition upon oral examination of Juanito
4. Finally, in the absence of proof, the allegation S. Teope in and for purposes of Civil Case No.
that petitioner merely intended to annoy, harass SP-3469 pending before it.
or oppress the proposed deponent cannot ably
support the setting aside of a notice to take SO ORDERED.
deposition.

Orders to protect the party or witness from


annoyance, embarrassment or oppression may
be issued if the following requirements are
complied with:
(a) that there is a motion made by any party or
by the person to be examined;
(b) that the motion has been seasonably filed; (c)
that there is good cause shown; and (d) that
notice of such motion has been served to the
other party. 29

Once a party has requested discovery, the


burden is on the party objecting to show that the
discovery requested is not relevant to the
issues, 30 and to establish the existence of any
claimed privilege. 31 These, private respondent
has failed to do so. Consequently, its objection
to the taking of the deposition cannot be
sustained.

Furthermore, the fact that the deposition is to be


taken in San Pablo City, whereas the proposed
deponent lives in Manila, is not sufficient to
establish private respondent's theory that the
requested deposition was intended to annoy and
harass the proposed deponent.

Inconvenience to the party whose deposition is


to be taken is not a valid objection to the taking
of his deposition. 32No doubt, private respondent
and its representative who is to be examined will
be inconvenienced — as are all parties when
required to submit to examination — but this is
no ground for denial of the deposition-discovery
process. 33 The mere fact that an officer of
private respondent would be required to attend
the examination and thereby absent himself from
some of his usual business affairs during the
taking of the deposition is utterly insufficient to
justify the court in ruling that he is being annoyed,
embarrassed or oppressed, within the meaning
of this language. Something far beyond this is
required in this connection to grant a party relief.
At any rate, petitioner has signified its
willingness to select a suitable office in Manila
for the taking of the deposition in order to
accommodate the proposed deponent. 34
RULE 24 The motion was opposed by Dasmariñas. It
contended that (a) the motion was "fatally
G.R. No. 108229 August 24, 1993 defective in that it does not seek . . . that a
foreign court examine a person within its
DASMARIÑAS GARMENTS, INC., petitioner, jurisdiction;" (b) issuance of letters rogatory was
vs. unnecessary because the witnesses "can be
HON. RUBEN T. REYES, Judge, Regional examined before the Philippine Court;" and
Trial Court, Manila, Branch 50, and (c) the Rules of Court "expressly require that the
AMERICAN PRESIDENT LINES, testimony of a witness must be taken orally in
LTD., respondents. open court and not by deposition."

Sobreviñas, Diaz, Haudini & Bodegon Law Extensive argument on the matter thereafter
Offices for petitioner. followed, through various pleadings filed by the
parties, in the course of which APL submitted to
Tan, Manzano & Velez Law Offices for private the Trial Court (a) the letter received by its
respondent. counsel from Director Joaquin R. Roces of the
Asian Exchange Center, Inc., dated November
20, 1989, advising that "this Office can only take
deposition upon previous authority from the
RESOLUTION Department of Foreign Affairs," this being "in
consonance with the Supreme Court
NARVASA, C.J.: Administrative Order requiring courts or judicial
bodies to course their requests through the
Sometime in September, 1987, in the Regional Department of Foreign Affairs;" and (b) a letter
Trial Court of Manila, the American President sent by "fax" to the same counsel by a law firm in
Lines, Ltd. sued Dasmariñas Garments, Inc. to Taipei, Lin & Associates Maritime Law Office,
recover the sum of US $53,228.45 as well as an transmitting information inter alia of the mode by
amount equivalent to twenty-five percent (25%) which, under the "ROC Civil Procedure Code,"
thereof as attorney's fees and litigation "a copy or an abridged copy" of documents on
expenses. file with a Taiwan Court may be obtained.

In its answer dated December 1, 1987, By Order dated March 15, 1991, the Trial Court
Dasmariñas Garments, Inc. (hereafter, simply resolved the incident in favor of APL, disposing
Dasmariñas) specifically denied any liability to as follows:
the plaintiff (hereafter simply APL), and set up
compulsory counterclaims against it. ACCORDINGLY, the motion to take testimonies
of plaintiff's Taiwanese witnesses, Kenneth H.
The case was in due course scheduled for trial Lee and Yeong Fah Yeh, by deposition (upon
on April 27, 1988. On that date APL presented written interrogatories) is hereby GRANTED.
its first witness whose testimony was completed The Asian Exchange Center, Inc. thru Director
on November 12, 1988. The case was reset to Joaquin R. Roces is hereby COMMISSIONED to
May 3, 1989 for reception of the testimony of two take down the deposition. Compliance with the
(2) more witnesses in APL's behalf. Rules on the taking of testimony by deposition
upon written interrogatories under Sections
At the hearing of May 3, 1989, instead of 25-29 of Rule 24, Rules of Court is enjoined.
presenting its witnesses, APL filed a motion
praying that it intended to take the depositions of Let this Order be coursed through the
H. Lee and Yeong Fang Yeh in Taipei, Taiwan Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila, pursuant
and prayed that for this purpose, a "commission to Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 4
or letters rogatory be issued addressed to the dated April 6, 1987.
consul, vice-consul or consular agent of the
Republic of the Philippines in Taipei . . . " Five (5) The Court opined that "the Asian Exchange
days later APL filed an amended motion stating Center, Inc. being the authorized Philippine
that since the Philippine Government has no representative in Taiwan, may take the
consulate office in Taiwan in view of its "one testimonies of plaintiff's witnesses residing there
China policy," there being in lieu thereof an office by deposition, but only upon written
set up by the President "presently occupied by interrogatories so as to give defendant the
Director Joaquin Roces which is the Asia opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses by
Exchange Center, Inc.," it was necessary — and serving cross-examination."
it therefore prayed — "that commission or letters
rogatory be issued addressed to Director Dasmariñas sought reconsideration by motion
Joaquin Roces, Executive Director, Asian filed June 25, 1991 on the following grounds: (1)
Executive Exchange Center, Inc., Room 901, authority of the Asian Exchange Center, Inc.
112 Chunghsiao, E. Road, Section 1, Taipe, (AECI) to take depositions has not been
Republic of China, to hear and take the oral established, it not being one of those so
deposition of the aforenamed persons . . . ." authorized by the Rules of Court to take
depositions in a foreign state; (2) AECI's articles
of incorporation show that it is not vested with and usual judicial proceedings of examining
any such authority; (3) to permit witnesses in open court where their demeanor
deposition-taking by commission without the could be observed by the trial judge;"
authority of the foreign state in which deposition
is taken constitutes infringement of judicial 2) "in disregarding the inherently unfair situation
sovereignty; and (4) depositions by written in allowing private respondent, a foreign entity
interrogatories have inherent limitations and are suing in the Philippines, to present its evidence
not suitable to matters dependent on the by mere deposition of its witnesses away from
credibility of witnesses; oral testimony in open the 'penetrating scrutiny' of the trial Judge while
court remains the "most satisfactory method of petitioner is obligated to bring and present its
investigation of facts'" and "'affords the greatest witnesses in open court subject to the prying
protection to the rights and liberties of citizens." eyes and probing questions of the Judge;" and

By Order dated July 5, 1991, the motion for 3) "in sanctioning the deposition taking of . . .
reconsideration was denied because "filed out of (APL's) witnesses in Taipei, Taiwan, a foreign
time" and being a mere rehash of arguments jurisdiction not recognized by the Philippines in
already passed upon. In the same Order, APL view of its 'one-China policy,' before the AECI, a
was directed "to take the necessary steps to private entity not authorized by law to take
implement the order authorizing the . . . depositions."
(deposition-taking) of its witnesses not later than
the end of this month, otherwise the Court will Depositions are chiefly a mode of discovery.
consider inaction or lack of interest as waiver to They are intended as a means to compel
adduce additional evidence by deposition." disclosure of facts resting in the knowledge of a
party or other person which are relevant in some
Dasmariñas instituted a special civil action suit or proceeding in court. Depositions, and the
of certiorari in the Court of Appeals to nullify the other modes of discovery (interrogatories to
orders of the Trial Court just described. Said parties; requests for admission by adverse party;
Appellate Court restrained enforcement of the production or inspection of documents or things;
orders of March 15, 1991 and July 5, 1991 "in physical and mental examination of persons) are
order to maintain the status quo and to prevent meant to enable a party to learn all the material
the infliction of irreparable damage and injury and relevant facts, not only known to him and his
upon the petitioner." witnesses but also those known to the adverse
party and the latter's own witnesses. In fine, the
After due proceedings, the Court of Appeals object of discovery is to make it possible for all
(Third Division) rendered judgment on the parties to a case to learn all the material and
September 23, 1992 denying Dasmariñas relevant facts, from whoever may have
petition for certiorari and upholding the knowledge thereof, to the end that their
challenged orders of the Trial Court. Once again, pleadings or motions may not suffer from
Dasmariñas sought reconsideration of an inadequacy of factual foundation, and all the
adverse disposition, and once again, was relevant facts may be clearly and completely laid
rebuffed. Its motion for reconsideration was before the Court, without omission or
denied in a Resolution of the Court of Appeals suppression.
dated December 11, 1992.
Depositions are principally made available by
Once again Dasmariñas has availed of the law to the parties as a means of informing
remedy of appeal. It has come to this Court and themselves of all the relevant facts; they are not
prays for the reversal of the Appellate Court's therefore generally meant to be a substitute for
Decision of September 23, 1992 and Resolution the actual testimony in open court of a party or
dated December 11, 1992. Once again, it will witness. The deponent must as a rule be
fail. presented for oral examination in open court at
the trial or hearing. This is a requirement of the
Dasmariñas ascribes to the Court of Appeals the rules of evidence. Section 1, Rule 132 of the
following errors, to wit: Rules of Court provides:

1) "in holding that a party could, during the trial of Sec. 1. Examination to be done in open court. —
the case, present its evidence by taking the The examination of witnesses presented in a trial
deposition of its witnesses in a foreign or hearing shall be done in open court, and
jurisdiction before a private entity not authorized under oath or affirmation. Unless the witness is
by law to take depositions in lieu of their oral incapacitated to speak, or the question calls for a
examination in open Court considering that: different mode of answer, the answers of the
witness shall be given orally.
a) the taking of deposition is a mode of pretrial
discovery to be availed of before the action Indeed, any deposition offered to prove the facts
comes to trial; therein set out during a trial or hearing, in lieu of
the actual oral testimony of the deponent in open
b) no urgent or compelling reason has been court, may be opposed and excluded on the
shown to justify the departure from the accepted ground that it is hearsay; the party against whom
it is offered has no opportunity to cross-examine evidence, found in Section 47, Rule 132 of the
the deponent at the time that his testimony is Rules of Court.
offered. It matters not that that opportunity for
cross-examination was afforded during the Sec. 47. Testimony or deposition at a former
taking of the deposition; for normally, the proceeding. — The testimony or deposition of a
opportunity for cross-examination must be witness deceased or unable to testify, given in a
accorded a party at the time that the testimonial former case or proceeding, judicial or
evidence is actually presented against him administrative, involving the same parties and
during the trial or hearing. subject matter, may be given in evidence against
the adverse party who had the opportunity to
However, depositions may be used without the cross-examine him.
deponent being actually called to the witness
stand by the proponent, under certain conditions It is apparent then that the deposition of any
and for certain limited purposes. These person may be taken wherever he may be, in the
exceptional situations are governed by Section 4, Philippines or abroad. If the party or witness is in
Rule 24 of the Rules of Court. the Philippines, his deposition "shall be taken
before any judge, municipal or notary public"
Sec. 4. Use of depositions. — At the trial or upon (Sec. 10, Rule 24, Rules of Court). If in a foreign
the hearing of a motion of an interlocutory state or country, the deposition "shall be taken:
proceeding, any part or all of a deposition, so far (a) on notice before a secretary or embassy or
as admissible under the rules of evidence, may legation, consul general, consul, vice-consul, or
be used against any party who was present or consular agent of the Republic of the Philippines,
represented at the taking of the deposition or or (b) before such person or officer as may be
who had due notice thereof, in accordance with appointed by commission or under letters
any of the following provisions: rogatory" (Sec. 11, Rule 24).

(a) Any deposition may be used by any party for Leave of court is not necessary where the
the purpose of contradicting or impeaching the deposition is to be taken before "a secretary or
testimony of deponent as a witness; embassy or legation, consul general, consul,
vice-consul, or consular agent of the Republic of
(b) The deposition of a party or of any one who the Philippines," and the defendant's answer has
at the time of taking the deposition was an officer, already been served (Sec. 1 Rule 24). After
director, or managing agent of a public or private answer, whether the deposition-taking is to be
corporation, partnership, or association which is accomplished within the Philippines or outside,
a party may be used by an adverse party for any the law does not authorize or contemplate any
purpose; intervention by the court in the process, all that is
required being that "reasonable notice" be given
(c) The deposition of a witness, whether or not a "in writing to every other party to the action . . .
party, may be used by any party for any purpose (stating) the time and place for taking the
if the court finds: (1) that the witness is dead; or deposition and the name and address of each
(2) that the witness if out of the province and at a person to be examined, if known, and if the
greater distance than fifty (50) kilometers from name is not known, a general description
the place of trial or hearing, or is out of the sufficient to identify him or the particular class or
Philippines, unless it appears that his absence group to which he belongs. . . . " (Sec. 15, Rule
was procured by the party offering the deposition; 24). The court intervenes in the process only if a
or (3) that the witness is unable to attend to party moves (1) to "enlarge or shorten the time"
testify because of age, sickness, infirmity, or stated in the notice (id.), or (2) "upon notice and
imprisonment; or (4) that the party offering the for good cause shown," to prevent the
deposition has been unable to procure the deposition-taking, or impose conditions therefor,
attendance of the witness by subpoena; or (5) e.g., that "certain matters shall not be inquired
upon application and notice, that such into" or that the taking be "held with no one
exceptional circumstances exist as to make it present except the parties to the action and their
desirable, in the interest of justice and with due officers or counsel," etc. (Sec. 16, Rule 24), or
regard to the importance of presenting the (3) to terminate the process on motion and upon
testimony of witnesses orally in open court, to a showing that "it is being conducted in bad faith
allow the deposition to be used; or in such manner as unreasonably to annoy,
embarrass, or oppress the deponent or party"
(d) If only part of a deposition is offered in (Sec 18, Rule 24).
evidence by a party, the adverse party may
require him to introduce all of it which is relevant Where the deposition is to be taken in a foreign
to the part introduced, and any party may country where the Philippines has no "secretary
introduce any other parts. or embassy or legation, consul general, consul,
vice-consul, or consular agent," then obviously it
The principle conceding admissibility to a may be taken only "before such person or officer
deposition when the deponent is dead, out of the as may be appointed by commission or under
Philippines, or otherwise unable to come to court letters rogatory. Section 12, Rule 24 provides as
to testify, is consistent with another rule of follows:
Sec. 12. Commission or letters rogatory. — A authority of Notaries Public and other public
commission or letters rogatory shall be issued officers of the Republic of China, Taiwan (eg.,
only when necessary or convenient, on the Section Chief, Department of Consular
application and notice, and on such terms and Affairs of the latter's Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
with such directions as are just and appropriate. (Annex B of Annex N of the petition for review
Officers may be designated in notices or on certiorari) — a prima facie showing not
commissions either by name or descriptive title rebutted by petitioner.
and letters rogatory may be addressed "To the
Appropriate Judicial Authority in (here name the It further appears that the commission is to be
country)." coursed through the Department of Foreign
Affairs conformably with Circular No. 4 issued by
A commission may be defined as "(a)n Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee on April 6,
instrument issued by a court of justice, or other 1987, pursuant to the suggestion of the
competent tribunal, to authorize a person to take Department of Foreign Affairs — directing "ALL
depositions, or do any other act by authority of JUDGES OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS,
such court or tribunal" (Feria, J., Civil Procedure, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL
1969 ed., p. 415, citing Cyclopedic Law TRIAL COURTS IN CITIES, MUNICIPAL TRIAL
Dictionary, p. 200). Letters rogatory, on the other COURTS AND MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL
hand, may be defined as "(a)n instrument sent in COURTS" "to course all requests for the taking
the name and by the authority of a judge or court of deposition of witnesses residing abroad
to another, requesting the latter to cause to be through the Department of Foreign Affairs" to
examined, upon interrogatories filed in a cause enable it and "the Philippine Foreign Service
pending before the former, a witness who is establishments to act on the matter in a judicious
within the jurisdiction of the judge or court to and expeditious manner;" this, "in the interest of
whom such letters are addressed" (Feria, J., op. justice," and to avoid delay in the
cit., citing Cyclopedic Law Dictionary, p. 653). deposition-taking.
Section 12, Rule 24 just quoted states that a
commission is addressed to "officers . . . Petitioner would however prevent the carrying
designated . . . either by name or descriptive out of the commission on various grounds.
title," while letters rogatory are addressed to
some "appropriate judicial authority in the foreign The first is that the deposition-taking will take
state." Noteworthy in this connection is the place in "a foreign jurisdiction not recognized by
indication in the Rules that letters rogatory may the Philippines in view of its 'one-China policy.'"
be applied for and issued only after a This is inconsequential. What matters is that the
commission has been "returned unexecuted" as deposition is taken before a Philippine official
is apparent from Form 21 of the "Judicial acting by authority of the Philippine Department
Standard Forms" appended to the Rules of Court, of Foreign Affairs and in virtue of a commission
which requires the inclusion in a "petition for duly issued by the Philippine Court in which the
letters rogatory" of the following paragraph, viz.: action is pending, and in accordance, moreover,
with the provisions of the Philippine Rules of
xxx xxx xxx Court pursuant to which opportunity for
cross-examination of the deponent will be fully
3. A commission issued by this Court on the accorded to the adverse party.
______ day of ______, 19__, to take the
testimony of (here name the witness or Dasmariñas also contends that the "taking of
witnesses) in (here name the foreign country in deposition is a mode of pretrial discovery to be
which the testimony is to be taken), before availed of before the action comes to trial." Not
_________________ (name of officer), so. Depositions may be taken at any time after
was returned unexecuted by the institution of any action, whenever necessary
__________________ on the ground that or convenient. There is no rule that limits
____________, all of which more fully appears deposition-taking only to the period of pre-trial or
from the certificate of said __________ to said before it; no prohibition against the taking of
commission and made a part hereof by attaching depositions after pre-trial. Indeed, the law
it hereto (or state other facts to show authorizes the taking of depositions of witnesses
commission is inadequate or cannot be before or after an appeal is taken from the
executed) (emphasis supplied). judgment of a Regional Trial Court "to
perpetuate their testimony for use in the event of
In the case at bar, the Regional Trial Court has further proceedings in the said court" (Rule 134,
issued a commission to the "Asian Exchange Rules of Court), and even during the process of
Center, Inc. thru Director Joaquin R. Roces" "to execution of a final and executory judgment
take the testimonies of . . . Kenneth H. Lee and (East Asiatic Co. v. C.I.R., 40 SCRA 521, 544).
Yeong Fah Yeh, by deposition (upon written
interrogatories) . . . ." It appears that said Center Dasmariñas further claims that the taking of
may, "upon request and authority of the Ministry deposition under the circumstances is a
(now Department) of Foreign Affairs, Republic of "departure from the accepted and usual judicial
the Philippines" issue a "Certificate of proceedings of examining witnesses in open
Authentications" attesting to the identity and court where the demeanor could be observed by
the trial judge;" that it is "inherently unfair" to One other word. In its Order of July 5, 1991 —
allow APL, "a foreign entity suing in the denying Dasmariñas motion for reconsideration
Philippines, to present its evidence by mere of the earlier order dated March 15, 1991
deposition of its witnesses away from the (allowing the taking of deposition by commission)
'penetrating scrutiny' of the trial Judge while — one of the reasons adduced by the Regional
petitioner is obligated to bring and present its Trial Court for the denial was that the motion had
witnesses in open court subject to the prying been "filed out of time." Evidently, the Trial Court
eyes and probing questions of the Judge." reached this conclusion because, as the record
discloses, the motion for reconsideration was
Of course the deposition-taking in the case at filed by Dasmariñas on June 25, 1991,
bar is a "departure from the accepted and usual twenty-five (25) days after notice (on May 20,
judicial proceedings of examining witnesses in 1991) of the Order of March 15, 1991 sought to
open court where their demeanor could be be reconsidered. Denial of the motion on such a
observed by the trial judge;" but the procedure is ground is incorrect. In the first place, it appears
not on that account rendered illegal nor is the that there was a motion for extension of time to
deposition thereby taken, inadmissible. It file a motion for reconsideration, ending on June
precisely falls within one of the exceptions where 25, 1991 which was however not acted on or
the law permits such a situation, i.e., the use of granted by the Court. More importantly, the order
deposition in lieu of the actual appearance and sought to be reconsidered is
testimony of the deponent in open court and an interlocutory order, in respect of which there
without being "subject to the prying eyes and is no provision of law fixing the time within which
probing questions of the Judge." This is allowed reconsideration thereof should be sought.
provided the deposition is taken in accordance
with the applicable provisions of the Rules of PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Court Resolved
Court and the existence of any of the exceptions to DISMISS the petition for review on certiorari.
for its admissibility — e.g., "that the witness if out Costs against petitioner.
of the province and at a greater distance than
fifty (50) kilometers from the place of trial or SO ORDERED.
hearing, or is out of the Philippines, unless it
appears that his absence was procured by the G.R. No. 90478 November 21, 1991
party offering the deposition; or . . . that the
witness is unable to attend to testify because of REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
age, sickness, infirmity, or imprisonment, etc." (PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD
(Sec. 4 Rule 24, supra, emphasis supplied) — is GOVERNMENT), petitioner,
first satisfactorily established (See Lopez v. vs.
Maceren, 95 Phil. 754). SANDIGANBAYAN, BIENVENIDO R.
TANTOCO, JR. and DOMINADOR R.
The Regional Trial Court saw fit to permit the SANTIAGO, respondents.
taking of the depositions of the witnesses in
question only by written interrogatories, Dominador R. Santiago for and in his own behalf
removing the proponent's option to take them by and as counsel for respondent Tantoco, Jr.
oral examination, i.e., by going to Taipei and
actually questioning the witnesses verbally with
the questions and answers and observations of
the parties being recorded stenographically. The NARVASA, J.:
imposition of such a limitation, and the Private respondents Bienvenido R. Tantoco, Jr.
determination of the cause thereof, are to be and Dominador R. Santiago — together with
sure within the Court's discretion. The ostensible
Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos,
reason given by the Trial Court for the condition
Bienvenido R. Tantoco, Sr., Gliceria R. Tantoco,
— that the deposition be taken "only upon
written interrogatories" — is "so as to give and Maria Lourdes Tantoco-Pineda-are
defendant (Dasmariñas) the opportunity to defendants in Civil Case No. 0008 of the
cross-examine the witnesses by serving Sandiganbayan. The case was commenced on
cross-interrogatories." The statement implies July 21, 1987 by the Presidential Commission on
that opportunity to cross-examine will not be Good Government (PCGG) in behalf of the
accorded the defendant if the depositions were Republic of the Philippines. The complaint which
to be taken upon oral examination, which, of initiated the action was denominated one "for
course, is not true. For even if the depositions reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution
were to be taken on oral examination in Taipei, and damages," and was avowedly filed pursuant
the adverse party is still accorded full right to to Executive Order No. 14 of President Corazon
cross-examine the deponents by the law, either C. Aquino.
by proceeding to Taipei and there conducting the
cross-examination orally, or opting to conduct After having been served with summons,
said cross-examination merely by serving Tantoco, Jr. and Santiago, instead of filing their
cross-interrogatories. answer, jointly filed a "MOTION TO STRIKE
OUT SOME PORTIONS OF THE COMPLAINT
AND FOR BILL OF PARTICULARS OF OTHER
PORTIONS" dated Nov. 3, 1987. 1 The PCGG "Reply to Answer with Motion to Dismiss
filed an opposition thereto, 2 and the movants, a Compulsory Counterclaim " 12
reply to the opposition. 3 By order dated January
29, 1988, the Sandiganbayan, in order to
expedite proceedings and accommodate the The case was set for pre-trial on July 31, 1989.
defendants, gave the PCGG forty-five (45) days 13 On July 25, 1989, the PCGG submitted its
to expand its complaint to make more specific PRE-TRIAL. 14 The pre-trial was however reset
certain allegations. 4 to September 11, 1989, and all other parties
were required to submit pre-trial briefs on or
before that date. 15
Tantoco and Santiago then presented a "motion
for leave to file interrogatories under Rule 25 of
the Rules of Court" dated February 1, 1988, and On July 27, 1989 Tantoco and Santiago filed
"Interrogatories under Rule 25." 5Basically, they with the Sandiganbayan a pleading denominated
sought an answer to the question: "Who were "Interrogatories to Plaintiff," 16 and on August 2,
the Commissioners of the PCGG (aside from its 1989, an "Amended Interrogatories to
Chairman, Hon. Ramon Diaz, who verified the Plaintiff"' 17 as well as a Motion for Production
complaint) who approved or authorized the and Inspection of Documents. 18
inclusion of Messrs. Bienvenido R. Tantoco, Jr.
and Dominador R. Santiago as defendants in
the . . case?" 6 The PCGG responded by filing a The amended interrogatories chiefly sought
motion dated February 9, 1988 to strike out said factual details relative to specific averments of
motion and interrogatories as being impertinent, PCGG's amended complaint, through such
"queer," "weird," or "procedurally bizarre as the questions, for instance, as—
purpose thereof lacks merit as it is improper,
impertinent and irrelevant under any 1. In connection with the allegations . . in
guise." 7 paragraph 1 . ., what specific property or
properties does the plaintiff claim it has the right
to recover from defendants Tantoco, Jr. and
On March 18, 1988, in compliance with the Santiago for being ill-gotten?
Order of January 29, 1988, the PCGG filed an 3. In connection with the allegations . . in
Expanded Complaint. 8 As this expanded paragraph 10 (a) . . what specific act or acts . .
complaint, Tantoco and Santiago reiterated their were committed by defendants Tantoco, Jr. and
motion for bill of particulars, through a Santiago in "concert with" defendant Ferdinand
Manifestation dated April 11, 1988. 9 Marcos and in furtherance or pursuit, of the
alleged systematic plan of said defendant
Marcos to accumulate ill-gotten wealth?"
Afterwards, by Resolution dated July 4, 1988,
10 the Sandiganbayan denied the motion to 5. In connection with . . paragraph 13 . ., what
strike out, for bill of particulars, and for leave to specific act or acts of the defendants Tantoco, Jr.
file interrogatories, holding them to be without and Santiago. . were committed by said
legal and factual basis. Also denied was the defendants as part, or in furtherance, of the
PCGG's motion to strike out impertinent pleading alleged plan to conceal assets of defendants
dated February 9, 1988. The Sandiganbayan Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos?
declared inter alia the complaint to be 7. In connection with . . paragraph 15(c) . . is it
"sufficiently definite and clear enough," there are plaintiff's position or theory of the case that
adequate allegations . . which clearly portray the Tourist Duty Free Shops, Inc., including all the
supposed involvement and/or alleged assets of said corporation, are beneficially
participation of defendants-movants in the owned by either or both defendants Ferdinand
transactions described in detail in said and Imelda Marcos and that the defendants
Complaint," and "the other matters sought for Tantoco, Jr. and Santiago, as well as, the other
particularization are evidentiary in nature which stockholders of record of the same corporation
should be ventilated in the pre-trial or trial are mere "dummies" of said defendants
proper . ." It also opined that "(s)ervice of Ferdinand and /or Imelda R. Marcos?
interrogatories before joinder of issue and
without leave of court is premature . . (absent) On the other hand, the motion for production and
any special or extraordinary circumstances . . inspection of documents prayed for examination
which would justify . . (the same)." and copying of—

Tantoco and Santiago then filed an Answer with 1) the "official records and other evidence" on
Compulsory Counterclaim under date of July 18, the basis of which the verification of the
1988. 11 In response, the PCGG presented a Amended Complaint asserted that the
allegations thereof are "true and correct;"
2) the documents listed in PCGG's Pre-Trial defendants . . sought to . . (extract) through their
Brief as those "intended to be presented and . . aborted Motion for Bill of Particulars;"
marked as exhibits for the plaintiff;" and
4) the interrogatories "are really in the nature of a
3) "the minutes of the meeting of the PCGG deposition, which is prematurely filed and
which chronicles the discussion (if any) and the irregularly utilized . . (since) the order of trial calls
decision (of the Chairman and members) to file for plaintiff to first present its evidence."
the complaint" in the case at bar.
Tantoco and Santiago filed a reply and
By Resolutions dated August 21, 1989 and opposition on September 18, 1989.
August 25, 1989, the Sandiganbayan admitted
After hearing, the Sandiganbayan promulgated
the Amended Interrogatories and granted the
two (2) Resolutions on September 29, 1989, the
motion for production and inspection of
first, denying reconsideration (of the Resolution
documents (production being scheduled on
allowing production of documents), and the
September 14 and 15, 1989), respectively.
second, reiterating by implication the permission
On September 1, 1989, the PCGG filed a Motion to serve the amended interrogatories on the
for Reconsideration of the Resolution of August plaintiff (PCGG). 20
25, 1989 (allowing production and inspection of
documents). It argued that
Hence, this petition for certiorari.
1) since the documents subject thereof would be
marked as exhibits during the pre-trial on The PCGG contends that said orders, both
September 11, 1989 anyway, the order for "their dated September 29, 1989, should be nullified
production and inspection on September 14 and because rendered with grave abuse of discretion
15, are purposeless and unnecessary;" amounting to excess of jurisdiction. More
particularly, it claims —
2) movants already know of the existence and
contents of the document which "are clearly a) as regards the order allowing the amended
described . . (in) plaintiff's Pre-Trial Brief;" interrogatories to the plaintiff PCGG:
3) the documents are "privileged in character" 1) that said interrogatories are not specific and
since they are intended to be used against the do not name the particular individuals to whom
PCGG and/or its Commissioners in violation of they are propounded, being addressed only to
Section 4, Executive Order No. 1, viz.: the PCGG;
(a) No civil action shall lie against the 2) that the interrogatories deal with factual
Commission or any member thereof for anything matters which the Sandiganbayan (in denying
done or omitted in the discharge of the task the movants' motion for bill of particulars) had
contemplated by this Order. already declared to be part of the PCGG's proof
upon trial; and
(b) No member or staff of the Commission shall
be required to testify or produce evidence in any 3) that the interrogatories would make PCGG
judicial, legislative, or administrative proceeding Commissioners and officers witnesses, in
concerning matters within its official cognizance. contravention of Executive Order No. 14 and
related issuances; and
b) as regards the order granting the motion for
It also filed on September 4, 1989 an opposition
production of documents:
to the Amended Interrogatories, 19 which the
Sandiganbayan treated as a motion for
reconsideration of the Resolution of August 21,
1989 (admitting the Amended Interrogatories).
The opposition alleged that — 1) that movants had not shown any good cause
1) the interrogatories "are not specific and do not therefor;
name the person to whom they are 2) that some documents sought to be produced
propounded . .," or "who in the PCGG, in and inspected had already been presented in
particular, . . (should) answer the Court and marked preliminarily as PCGG's
interrogatories;" exhibits, and the movants had viewed,
2) the interrogatories delve into "factual matters scrutinized and even offered objections thereto
which had already been decreed . . as part of the and made comments thereon; and
proof of the Complaint upon trial . .;" 3) that the other documents sought to be
produced are either —
3) the interrogatories "are frivolous" since they
inquire about "matters of fact . . which
(a) privileged in character or confidential in could, as the experience of other jurisdictions
nature and their use is proscribed by the convincingly demonstrates, effectively shorten
immunity provisions of Executive Order No. 1, or the period of litigation and speed up
adjudication. 28 Hence, a few words about these
(b) non-existent, or mere products of the
remedies is not at all inappropriate.
movants' suspicion and fear.
The resolution of controversies is, as everyone
knows, the raison d'etre of courts. This essential
This Court issued a temporary restraining order function is accomplished by first, the
on October 27, 1989, directing the ascertainment of all the material and relevant
Sandiganbayan to desist from enforcing its facts from the pleadings and from the evidence
questioned resolutions of September 29, 1989 in adduced by the parties, and second, after that
Civil Case No. 0008. 21 determination of the facts has been completed,
by the application of the law thereto to the end
that the controversy may be settled
After the issues were delineated and argued at authoritatively, definitely and finally.
no little length by the parties, the Solicitor It is for this reason that a substantial part of the
General withdrew "as counsel for plaintiff . . with adjective law in this jurisdiction is occupied with
the reservation, however, conformably with assuring that all the facts are indeed presented
Presidential Decree No. 478, the provisions of to the Court; for obviously, to the extent that
Executive Order No. 292, as well as the adjudication is made on the basis of incomplete
decisional law of 'Orbos v. Civil Service facts, to that extent there is faultiness in the
Commission, et al.,' (G.R. No. 92561, approximation of objective justice. It is thus the
September 12, 1990) 22 to submit his obligation of lawyers no less than of judges to
comment/observation on incidents/matters see that this objective is attained; that is to say,
pending with this . . Court if called for by that there no suppression, obscuration,
circumstances in the interest of the Government misrepresentation or distortion of the facts; and
or if he is so required by the Court." 23 This, the that no party be unaware of any fact material a
Court allowed by Resolution dated January 21, relevant to the action, or surprised by any factual
1991. 24 detail suddenly brought to his attention during
the trial. 29

Subsequently, PCGG Commissioner Maximo A.


Maceren advised the Court that the cases from Seventy-one years ago, in Alonso v. Villamor,
which the Solicitor General had withdrawn would 30 this Court described the nature and object of
henceforth be under his (Maceren's) charge litigation and in the process laid down the
"and/or any of the following private attorneys: standards by which judicial contests are to be
Eliseo B. Alampay, Jr., Mario E. Ongkiko, Mario conducted in this jurisdiction. It said:
Jalandoni and such other attorneys as it may
later authorize." 25 A litigation is not a game of technicalities in
which one, more deeply schooled and skilled in
the subtle art of movement and position, entraps
The facts not being in dispute, and it appearing and destroys the other. It is, rather a contest in
that the parties have fully ventilated their which each contending party fully and fairly lays
respective positions, the Court now proceeds to before the court the facts in issue and then
decide the case. brushing aside as wholly trivial and indecisive all
imperfections of form and technicalities of
procedure, asks that justice be done on the
Involved in the present proceedings are two of merits. Lawsuits, unlike duels, are not to be won
the modes of discovery provided in the Rules of by a rapier's thrust. Technicality, when it deserts
Court: interrogatories to parties , 26 and its proper office as an aid to justice and becomes
production and inspection of documents and its great hindrance and chief enemy, deserves
things. 27 Now, it appears to the Court that scant consideration from courts. There should be
among far too many lawyers (and not a few no vested right in technicalities. . . .
judges), there is, if not a regrettable unfamiliarity The message is plain. It is the duty of each
and even outright ignorance about the nature, contending party to lay before the court the facts
purposes and operation of the modes of in issue-fully and fairly; i.e., to present to the
discovery, at least a strong yet unreasoned and court all the material and relevant facts known to
unreasonable disinclination to resort to them — him, suppressing or concealing nothing, nor
which is a great pity for the intelligent and preventing another party, by clever and adroit
adequate use of the deposition-discovery manipulation of the technical rules of pleading
mechanism, coupled with pre-trial procedure,
and evidence, from also presenting all the facts conceded inadequacy and cumbersomeness of
within his knowledge. the pre-trial functions of notice-giving,
issue-formulation and fact revelation theretofore
Initially, that undertaking of laying the facts
performed primarily by the pleadings.
before the court is accomplished by the
pleadings filed by the parties; but that, only in a
very general way. Only "ultimate facts" are set
The various modes or instruments of discovery
forth in the pleadings; hence, only the barest
are meant to serve (1) as a device, along with
outline of the facfual basis of a party's claims or
the pre-trial hearing under Rule 20, to narrow
defenses is limned in his pleadings. The law
and clarify the basic issues between the parties,
says that every pleading "shall contain in a
and (2) as a device for ascertaining the facts
methodical and logical form, a plain, concise and
relative to those issues. The evident purpose is,
direct statement of the ultimate facts on which
to repeat, to enable parties, consistent with
the party pleading relies for his claim or defense,
recognized privileges, to obtain the fullest
as the case may be, omitting the statement of
possible knowledge of the issues and facts
mere evidentiary facts." 31
before trials and thus prevent that said trials are
carried on in the dark. 33
Parenthetically, if this requirement is not
observed, i.e., the ultimate facts are alleged too
To this end, the field of inquiry that may be
generally or "not averred with sufficient
covered by depositions or interrogatories is as
definiteness or particularity to enable . . (an
broad as when the interrogated party is called as
adverse party) properly to prepare his
a witness to testify orally at trial. The inquiry
responsive pleading or to prepare for trial," a bill
extends to all facts which are relevant, whether
of particulars seeking a "more definite
they be ultimate or evidentiary, excepting only
statement" may be ordered by the court on
those matters which are privileged. The objective
motion of a party. The office of a bill of
is as much to give every party the fullest possible
particulars is, however, limited to making more
information of all the relevant facts before the
particular or definite the ultimate facts in a
trial as to obtain evidence for use upon said trial.
pleading It is not its office to supply evidentiary
The principle is reflected in Section 2, Rule 24
matters. And the common perception is that said
(governing depositions) 34 which generally
evidentiary details are made known to the
allows the examination of a deponent —
parties and the court only during the trial, when
proof is adduced on the issues of fact arising 1) "regarding any matter, not privileged, which is
from the pleadings. relevant to the subject of the pending action,
whether relating to the claim or defense of any
other party;"
The truth is that "evidentiary matters" may be
2) as well as:
inquired into and learned by the parties before
the trial. Indeed, it is the purpose and policy of (a) "the existence, description, nature, custody,
the law that the parties — before the trial if not condition and location of any books, documents,
indeed even before the pre-trial — should or other tangible things" and
discover or inform themselves of all the facts
relevant to the action, not only those known to (b) "the identity and location of persons having
them individually, but also those known to knowledge of relevant facts."
adversaries; in other words, the desideratum is What is chiefly contemplated is the discovery of
that civil trials should not be carried on in the every bit of information which may be useful in
dark; and the Rules of Court make this ideal the preparation for trial, such as the identity and
possible through the deposition-discovery location of persons having knowledge of relevant
mechanism set forth in Rules 24 to 29. The facts; those relevant facts themselves; and the
experience in other jurisdictions has been that existence, description, nature, custody, condition,
ample discovery before trial, under proper and location of any books, documents, or other
regulation, accomplished one of the most tangible things. Hence, "the deposition-discovery
necessary of modern procedure: it not only rules are to be accorded a broad and liberal
eliminates unessential issue from trials thereby treatment. No longer can the time-honored cry of
shortening them considerably, but also requires "fishing expedition" serve to preclude a party
parties to play the game with the cards on the from inquiring into the facts underlying his
table so that the possibility of fair settlement opponent's case. Mutual knowledge of all the
before trial is measurably increased. . ." 32 relevant facts gathered by both parties is
essential to proper litigation. To that end, either
party may compel the other to disgorge whatever
As just intimated, the deposition-discovery facts he has in his possession. The
procedure was designed to remedy the
deposition-discovery procedure simply advances person subject to the inquiry. 39 And . . . further
the stage at which the disclosure can be limitations come into existence when the inquiry
compelled from the time of trial to the period touches upon the irrelevant or encroaches upon
preceding it, thus reducing the possibility, of the recognized domains of privilege." 40
surprise, . . . 35

In fine, the liberty of a party to make discovery is


In line with this principle of according liberal well nigh unrestricted if the matters inquired into
treatment to the deposition-discovery are otherwise relevant and not privileged, and
mechanism, such modes of discovery as (a) the inquiry is made in good faith and within the
depositions (whether by oral examination or bounds of the law.
written interrogatories) under Rule 24, (b)
It is in light of these broad principles underlying
interrogatories to parties under Rule 25, and (c)
the deposition-discovery mechanism, in relation
requests for admissions under Rule 26, may be
of course to the particular rules directly involved,
availed of without leave of court, and generally,
that the issues in this case will now be resolved.
without court intervention. The Rules of Court
explicitly provide that leave of court is not The petitioner's objections to the interrogatories
necessary to avail of said modes of discovery served on it in accordance with Rule 25 of the
after an answer to the complaint has been Rules of Court cannot be sustained.
served. 36 It is only when an answer has not yet
been filed (but after jurisdiction has been
obtained over the defendant or property subject It should initially be pointed out — as regards the
of the action) that prior leave of court is needed private respondents "Motion for Leave to File
to avail of these modes of discovery, the reason Interrogatories" dated February 1, 1988 41 —
being that at that time the issues are not yet that it was correct for them to seek leave to serve
joined and the disputed facts are not clear. 37 interrogatories, because discovery was being
availed of before an answer had been served. In
such a situation, i.e., "after jurisdiction has been
On the other hand, leave of court is required as obtained over any defendant or over property
regards discovery by (a) production or inspection subject of the action" but before answer, Section
of documents or things in accordance with Rule 1 of Rule 24 (treating of depositions), in relation
27, or (b) physical and mental examination of to Section 1 of Rule 25 (dealing with
persons under Rule 28, which may be granted interrogatories to parties) explicitly requires
upon due application and a showing of due "leave of court." 42 But there was no need for
cause. the private respondents to seek such leave to
serve their "Amended Interrogatories to Plaintiff"
(dated August 2, 1989 43) after they had filed
To ensure that availment of the modes of their answer to the PCGG's complaint, just as
discovery is otherwise untrammeled and there was no need for the Sandiganbayan to act
efficacious, the law imposes serious sanctions thereon.
on the party who refuses to make discovery,
1. The petitioner's first contention — that the
such as dismissing the action or proceeding or
interrogatories in question are defective because
part thereof, or rendering judgment by default
they (a) do not name the particular individuals to
against the disobedient party; contempt of court,
whom they are propounded, being addressed
or arrest of the party or agent of the party;
only to the PCGG, and (b) are
payment of the amount of reasonable expenses
"fundamentally the same matters . . (private
incurred in obtaining a court order to compel
respondents) sought to be clarified through their
discovery; taking the matters inquired into as
aborted Motion . . for Bill of Particulars" — are
established in accordance with the claim of the
untenable and quickly disposed of.
party seeking discovery; refusal to allow the
disobedient party support or oppose designated The first part of petitioner's submission is
claims or defenses; striking out pleadings or adequately confuted by Section 1, Rule 25 which
parts thereof; staying further proceedings. 38 states that if the party served with interrogatories
is a juridical entity such as "a public or private
corporation or a partnership or association," the
Of course, there are limitations to discovery, same shall be "answered . . by any officer
even when permitted to be undertaken without thereof competent to testify in its behalf." There
leave and without judicial intervention. "As is absolutely no reason why this proposition
indicated by (the) Rules . . ., limitations inevitably should not be applied by analogy to the
arise when it can be shown that the examination interrogatories served on the PCGG. That the
is being conducted in bad faith or in such a interrogatories are addressed only to the PCGG,
manner as to annoy, embarass, or oppress the without naming any specific commissioner o
officer thereof, is utterly of no consequence, and witness thus called may be contradicted and
may not be invoked as a reason to refuse to impeached by or on behalf of the adverse party
answer. As the rule states, the interrogatories also, and may be cross-examined by the
shall be answered "by any officer thereof adverse party only upon the subject-matter of his
competent to testify in its behalf." examination in chief.
That the matters on which discovery is desired The PCGG insinuates that the private
are the same matters subject of a prior motion respondents are engaged on a "fishing
for bill of particulars addressed to the PCGG's expedition," apart from the fact that the
amended complaint — and denied for lack of information sought is immaterial since they are
merit — is beside the point. Indeed, as already evidently meant to establish a claim against
pointed out above, a bill of particulars may elicit PCGG officers who are not parties to the action.
only ultimate facts, not It suffices to point out that "fishing expeditions"
so-called evidentiary facts. The latter are without are precisely permitted through the modes of
doubt proper subject of discovery. 44 discovery. 47 Moreover, a defendant who files a
counterclaim against the plaintiff is allowed by
the Rules to implead persons (therefore
Neither may it be validly argued that the strangers to the action) as additional defendants
amended interrogatories lack specificity. The on said counterclaim. This may be done
merest glance at them disproves the argument. pursuant to Section 14, Rule 6 of the Rules, to
The interrogatories are made to relate to wit:
individual paragraphs of the PCGG's expanded
Sec. 14. Bringing new parties. — When the
complaint and inquire about details of the
presence of parties other than those to the
ultimate facts therein alleged. What the PCGG
original action is required for the granting of
may properly do is to object to specific items of
complete relief in the determination of
the interrogatories, on the ground of lack of
a counterclaim or cross-claim, the court shall
relevancy, or privilege, or that the inquiries are
order them to be brought in as defendants, if
being made in bad faith, or simply to embarass
jurisdiction over them can be obtained."
or oppress it. 45 But until such an objection is
presented and sustained, the obligation to The PCGG's assertion that it or its members are
answer subsists. not amenable to any civil action "for anything
done or omitted in the discharge of the task
2. That the interrogatories deal with factual
contemplated by . . (Executive) Order (No. 1)," is
matters which will be part of the PCGG's proof
not a ground to refuse to answer the
upon trial, is not ground for suppressing them
interrogatories. The disclosure of facto relevant
either. As already pointed out, it is the precise
to the action and which are not self-incriminatory
purpose of discovery to ensure mutual
or otherwise privileged is one thing; the matter of
knowledge of all the relevant facts on the part of
whether or not liability may arise from the facts
all parties even before trial, this being deemed
disclosed in light of Executive Order
essential to proper litigation. This is why either
No. 1, is another. No doubt, the latter proposition
party may compel the other to disgorge whatever
may properly be set up by way of defense in the
facts he has in his possession; and the stage at
action.
which disclosure of evidence is made is
advanced from the time of trial to the period The apprehension has been expressed that the
preceding it. answers to the interrogatories may be utilized as
foundation for a counterclaim against the PCGG
3. Also unmeritorious is the objection that the
or its members and officers. They will be. The
interrogatories would make PCGG
private respondents have made no secret that
Commissioners and officers witnesses, in
this is in fact their intention. Withal, the Court is
contravention of Executive Order No. 14 and
unable to uphold the proposition that while the
related issuances. In the first place, there is
PCGG obviously feels itself at liberty to bring
nothing at all wrong in a party's making his
actions on the basis of its study and appreciation
adversary his witness . 46 This is expressly
of the evidence in its possession, the parties
allowed by Section 6, Rule 132 of the Rules of
sued should not be free to file counterclaims in
Court, viz.:
the same actions against the PCGG or its
Sec. 6. Direct examination of unwilling or hostile officers for gross neglect or ignorance, if not
witnesses. — A party may . . . call an adverse downright bad faith or malice in the
party or an officer, director, or managing agent of commencement or initiation of such judicial
a public or private corporation or of a partnership proceedings, or that in the actions that it may
or association which is an adverse party, and bring, the PCGG may opt not to be bound by rule
interrogate him by leading questions and applicable to the parties it has sued, e.g., the
contradict and impeach him in all respects as if rules of discovery.
he had been called by the adverse party, and the
So, too, the PCGG's postulation that none of its It can hardly be doubted that in exercising the
members may be "required to testify or produce right of eminent domain, the State exercises its
evidence in any judicial . . proceeding jus imperii, as distinguished from its proprietary
concerning matters within its official rights or jus gestionis. Yet, even in that area, it
cognizance," has no application to a judicial has been held that where private property has
proceeding it has itself initiated. As just been taken in expropriation without just
suggested, the act of bringing suit must entail a compensation being paid, the defense of
waiver of the exemption from giving evidence; by immunity from suit cannot be set up by the State
bringing suit it brings itself within the operation against an action for payment by the owner. 52
and scope of all the rules governing civil actions,
including the rights and duties under the rules of
discovery. Otherwise, the absurd would have to The Court also finds itself unable to sustain the
be conceded, that while the parties it has PCGG's other principal contention, of the nullity
impleaded as defendants may be required to of the Sandiganbayan's Order for the production
"disgorge all the facts" within their knowledge and inspection of specified documents and
and in their possession, it may not itself be things allegedly in its possession.
subject to a like compulsion.
The Court gives short shrift to the argument that
The State is, of course, immune from suit in the some documents sought to be produced and
sense that it cannot, as a rule, be sued without inspected had already been presented in Court
its consent. But it is axiomatic that in filing an and marked preliminarily as PCGG's exhibits,
action, it divests itself of its sovereign character the movants having in fact viewed, scrutinized
and sheds its immunity from suit, descending to and even offered objections thereto and made
the level of an ordinary litigant. The PCGG comments thereon. Obviously, there is nothing
cannot claim a superior or preferred status to the secret or confidential about these documents.
State, even while assuming to represent or act No serious objection can therefore be presented
for the State. 48 to the desire of the private respondents to have
copies of those documents in order to study
them some more or otherwise use them during
The suggestion 49 that the State makes no the trial for any purpose allowed by law.
implied waiver of immunity by filing suit except
The PCGG says that some of the documents are
when in so doing it acts in, or in matters
non-existent. This it can allege in response to the
concerning, its proprietary or non-governmental
corresponding question in the interrogatories,
capacity, is unacceptable; it attempts a
and it will incur no sanction for doing so unless it
distinction without support in principle or
is subsequently established that the denial is
precedent. On the contrary —
false.
The consent of the State to be sued may be
The claim that use of the documents is
given expressly or impliedly. Express consent
proscribed by Executive Order No. 1 has already
may be manifested either through a general law
been dealt with. The PCGG is however at liberty
or a special law. Implied consent is given when
to allege and prove that said documents fall
the State itself commences litigation or when it
within some other privilege, constitutional or
enters into a contract. 50
statutory.

The immunity of the State from suits does not


The Court finally finds that, contrary to the
deprive it of the right to sue private parties in its
petitioner's theory, there is good cause for the
own courts. The state as plaintiff may avail itself
production and inspection of the documents
of the different forms of actions open to private
subject of the motion dated August 3, 1989.
litigants. In short, by taking the initiative in an
53 Some of the documents are, according to the
action against the private parties, the state
verification of the amended complaint, the basis
surrenders its privileged position and comes
of several of the material allegations of said
down to the level of the defendant. The latter
complaint. Others, admittedly, are to be used in
automatically acquires, within certain limits, the
evidence by the plaintiff. It is matters such as
right to set up whatever claims and other
these into which inquiry is precisely allowed by
defenses he might have against the state. . . .
the rules of discovery, to the end that the parties
(Sinco, Philippine Political Law, Tenth E., pp.
may adequately prepare for pre-trial and trial.
36-37, citing U.S. vs. Ringgold, 8 Pet. 150, 8 L.
The only other documents sought to be
ed. 899)" 51
produced are needed in relation to the
allegations of the counterclaim. Their relevance
is indisputable; their disclosure may not be
opposed.
One last word. Due no doubt to the deplorable De Santos and Delfino for petitioners-appellants.
unfamiliarity respecting the nature, purposes and L. D. Fuggan and Associates for
operation of the modes of discovery earlier respondents-appellees.
mentioned, 54 there also appears to be a widely
entertained idea that application of said modes is BARREDO, J.:
a complicated matter, unduly expensive and
Appeal by certiorari from the decision of the
dilatory. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 35429-R,
For example, as will already have been noted
Geronimo Caguiat, et al., Petitioners, vs. Hon.
from the preceding discussion, all that is entailed Guillermo E. Torres and Francisco Caguiat,
to activate or put in motion the process of Respondents, which "denied and dismissed" the
discovery by interrogatories to parties under petition for certiorari filed by herein
Rule 25 of the Rules of Court, is simply the petitioners-appellants for the purpose of
delivery directly to a party of a letter setting forth annulling and setting aside the order of
a list of least questions with the request that they above-mentioned judge of the Court of First
be answered individually. 55 That is all. The Instance of Rizal in Civil Case No. 8050 of said
service of such a communication on the party court between said appellants and private
has the effect of imposing on him the obligation appellee — respondent herein, Francisco
of answering the questions "separately and fully Caguiat granting the latter's motion to enjoin the
in writing underoath," and serving "a copy of the taking of said appellee's deposition, by way of
discovery, after issues had already been joined
answers on the party submitting the
by the filing of said appellee's answer as
interrogatories within fifteen (15) days after defendant in said civil case.
service of the interrogatories . . ." 56 The
sanctions for refusing to make discovery have The controlling facts as found by the Court of
already been mentioned. 57 So, too, discovery Appeals are as follows:
under Rule 26 is begun by nothing more
complex than the service on a party of a letter or Petitioners are plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 8050 of
other written communication containing a the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch VIII,
request that specific facts therein set forth and/or presided over by respondent Judge, while
particular documents copies of which are thereto respondent Francisco Caguiat is the defendant
appended, be admitted in writing. 58 That is all. therein.
Again, the receipt of such a communication by
the party has the effect of imposing on him the On August 18, 1964, after defendant had filed
his answer with counterclaim, and the plaintiffs,
obligation of serving the party requesting
their reply to defendant's answer (See Annexes
admission with "a sworn statement either
A, B, C, D), the herein petitioners served on
denying specifically the matters of which an respondent Caguiat a notice to take his
admission is requested or setting forth in detail deposition (Annex E). On August 26, 1964
the reasons why he cannot truthfully either admit respondent Caguiat filed with the lower court an
or deny those matters," failing in which "(e)ach of urgent motion to prevent the taking of the
the matters of which admission is requested deposition or to restrict its scope (Annex F),
shall be deemed admitted." 59 The taking of which urgent motion the petitioners opposed
depositions in accordance with Rule 24 (either (Annex G). On the 29th of the same month the
on oral examination or by written interrogatories) respondent Judge issued an order (Annex F), to
while somewhat less simple, is nonetheless by hold in abeyance the resolution of his
no means as complicated as seems to be the co-respondent's urgent motion until after the
lamentably extensive notion. pre-trial set for September 3, 1963 which was,
however, reset for October 2, 1964 to give the
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, without parties time to consider an amicable settlement.
pronouncement as to costs. The temporary The parties however failed to arrive at an
restraining order issued on October 27, 1989 is amicable settlement.
hereby LIFTED AND SET ASIDE.
On October 3, 1964 herein petitioners again
SO ORDERED. served on respondent Caguiat a second notice
for the taking of his deposition upon oral
G.R. No. L-25481 October 31, 1969 examination (Annexes K and L), to prevent
which, the latter filed an urgent motion on the
GERONIMO CAGUIAT, RUFINA CAGUIAT, 14th of the same month (Annex M). Petitioners
FELICIDAD CAGUIAT, FABIAN CAGUIAT, opposed respondent Caguiat's urgent motion
and APOLONIA (Annex N). Resolving the urgent motion and the
CAGUIAT, petitioners-appellants, opposition thereto, the respondent Judge, on the
vs. 17th, granted his co-respondent's urgent motion
THE HONORABLE GUILLERMO E. TORRES and ordered the petitioners to refrain from taking
and FRANCISCO the contemplated deposition (Annex O).
CAGUIAT, respondents-appellees. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration (Annex P)
was denied after its hearing on December 12, ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THERE WAS A
1964 (Annex S). DISCLOSURE OF EVIDENCE BY THE
RESPONDENT CAGUIAT DURING THE
xxx xxx xxx PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE AND THAT THE
PERSONAL ANIMOSITIES BETWEEN THE
The petitioners' avowed purpose in securing the PARTIES MIGHT BE HEIGHTENED, THE
deposition of respondent Caguiat is to get the COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN MAKING
latter to lay his cards on the table and/or to SAID 'FINDINGS' AS GROUNDS TO
simplify or abbreviate the proceedings. COMPLETELY PREVENT AND BAR
Respondent Caguiat, on the other hand, affirms DISCOVERY THROUGH DEPOSITION ON
that he has already revealed practically his entire EXAMINATION.
defense, even to the extent of naming his
witnesses, during the pre-trial, so that the III
necessity of a deposition has been obviated. In
fact, according to respondent Caguiat, he had THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
expressed willingness to enter into a stipulation LIMITING PETITIONERS' MODE OF
of facts, but apparently the petitioners did not DISCOVERY TO OTHER MEANS THAN ORAL
want to. We note that the petitioners have not EXAMINATION IGNORING THEREBY THE
denied respondent Caguiat's assertion that he SPIRIT BEHIND THE RULES OF DISCOVERY.
had already disclosed all his evidence during the (Appellants' brief)
pre-trial, neither have they belied that personal
animosities between them and the same Anent the first alleged error, it is readily to be
respondent which went unfettered during the noted that the conclusions of fact of the Court of
pre-trial, might endanger the peaceful and Appeals being assailed are binding upon the
objective conduct of the deposition upon oral parties and this Court. Indeed, the finding of that
examination. appellate court to the effect that appellee has
already disclosed all his evidence during the
It is significant that the respondent Judge pre-trial and that personal animosities between
deferred the resolution of his co-respondent's the parties "might endanger the peaceful and
first motion to prevent the taking of his deposition objective conduct of the deposition upon oral
or to restrict its scope, until after the pre-trial examination" proposed appears well
(See Annex H). Likewise, the second urgent substantiated in the records before Us. As aptly
motion of the same tenor (Annex M) and the stated in the appealed decision:
petitioners' opposition thereto (Annex N) were
resolved only after the completion of the pre-trial It is significant that the respondent Judge
and in fact after the parties' joint petition for deferred the resolution of his co-respondent's
hearing on the merits had been granted (Annex first motion to prevent the taking of his deposition
J). The fact that the controverted orders were or to restrict its scope, until after the pre-trial (see
issued only after the pre-trial supports Annex H). Likewise, the second urgent motion of
respondent Caguiat's affirmation that he had the same tenor (Annex M) and the petitioners'
revealed his defense during the trial, and that the opposition thereto (Annex N) were resolved only
respondent Judge had satisfied himself that after after the completion of the pre-trial and in fact
such revelation there was no more need to take after the parties' joint petition for hearing on the
the former's deposition upon oral examination. merits had been granted (Annex J). The fact that
Indubitably this view must have been shared by the controverted orders were issued only after
the petitioners, otherwise they would not have the pre-trial supports respondent Caguiat's
filed a joint motion for hearing on the merits even affirmation that he had revealed his defense
before the orders in question were issued. during the trial, and that the respondent Judge
(Decision of Court of Appeals, pp. 1-2 & 4-5) had satisfied himself that after such revelation
there was no more need to take the former's
Appellants assign the following alleged errors of deposition upon oral examination. Indubitably
the Court of Appeals: this view must have been shared by the
petitioners, otherwise they would not have filed a
I joint motion for hearing on the merits even
before the orders in question were issued. (p. 5,
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN MAKING CA's decision)
ITS DECISION DEPEND ON THE
UNSUPPORTED CONCLUSION THAT 'SINCE In their second assignment of error, appellants
THE RESPONDENT FRANCISCO CAGUIAT contend that the disclosure by appellee of
HAD PRACTICALLY DISCLOSED ALL HIS practically all his evidence at the pre-trial and the
EVIDENCE DURING THE PRE-TRIAL danger of heightening the animosities between
CONFERENCE' THE NECESSITY OF A the parties during the proposed taking of the
DEPOSITION THROUGH ORAL deposition of appellee are not enough to warrant
EXAMINATION BY THE PETITIONERS WAS the trial court's order preventing completely the
OBVIATED. taking of said deposition. Such contention is
untenable.
II
There can be no question that the trial court has GONZAGA-REYES, J.:
jurisdiction to direct, in its discretion, that a
deposition shall not be taken, if there are valid This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking
reasons for so ruling. (Cojuangco v. Caluag, the reversal of the decision1 of the Court of
L-7952, July 30, 1955, unreported) That the right Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 13363 entitled People v.
of a party to take depositions as means of Jonathan Cariaga, promulgated on April 24,
discovery is not exactly absolute is implicit in the 1995 affirming the decision of the Regional Trial
provisions of the Rules of Court cited by Court of Davao City, Branch 11,2 which
appellants themselves, sections 16 and 18 of convicted petitioner Jonathan Cariaga of the
Rule 24, which are precisely designed to protect crime of Qualified Theft.
parties and their witnesses, whenever in the
opinion of the trial court, the move to take their In an amended Information3 dated October 3,
depositions under the guise of discovery is 1989, petitioner was charged with qualified theft
actually intended to only annoy, embarrass or as follows:
oppress them. In such instances, these
provisions expressly authorize the court to either "That sometime during the period from October,
prevent the taking of a deposition or stop one 1988 to January, 1989, in the City of Davao,
that is already being taken. Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-mentioned accused,
In the case at bar, aside from having practically being then an employee of Davao Light & Power
disclosed all his evidence at the pre-trial, Co. Inc., Davao City, and as such has access to
appellee expressed willingness to enter into a the said company, with intent to gain, with grave
stipulation of facts, which offer, appellants abuse of confidence and without the knowledge
rejected. Moreover, according to Court of and consent of the owner thereof, did then and
Appeals, the parties herein filed a joint motion for there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take,
hearing on the merits even before the orders in steal and carry away electrical equipment,
question were issued. Under these supplies and materials totaling P7,038.96
circumstances, it is inevitable to conclude that belonging to Davao Light & Power Company, to
there was indeed no further need for the the damage and prejudice of the said company,
deposition desired by appellants. It could have in the aforesaid amount of P7,038.96.
served no useful purpose, for there was nothing
anymore to discover. Appellants have not shown Contrary to law."
any real concrete reason for such deposition.
The factual background of this case as
Appellants' inference in their third assignment of summarized by the trial court and adopted by the
error that the Court of Appeals has limited their Court of Appeals is as follows:
modes of discovery only to other means than a
deposition is entirely baseless. All that has been "Luis Miguel Aboitiz, employed at the time of the
done here is to hold, and rightly, that appellants incident in question and for sometime prior
have failed to show that the trial court gravely thereto as Systems Analyst of the Davao Light &
abused its discretion in holding that, under the Power Company, Inc. (DLPC), whose duty was
circumstances proven in the records, there to devise systems, procedures or controls to
existed good reasons to prevent them from promote efficiency, prevent losses due to waste,
taking the deposition of appellee. pilferage or theft of company property, etc.,
received reports that some private electricians
It is Our conclusion that this appeal is absolutely were engaged in the clandestine sale of DLPC
without merit. Instead of availing themselves of materials and supplies. He initiated a covert
the modes of discovery provided in the Rules in operation with the following objectives: (1)
the manner that would accomplish one of the ascertain how DLPC materials were being stolen,
basic purposes for which they have been the frequency of the thefts, who were
designed, namely, to cut down trivial discussion perpetrating the thefts; and (2) `catch' at least
about issues of fact which are better agreed one (1) DLPC employee that may be involved.
upon rather than formally tried, appellants have
chosen to unduly delay this case by taking the In October, 1988, he sought the assistance of
simple incident herein involved to the Court of Sgt. Fermin Villasis, Chief, Theft & Robbery
Appeals and later to this Court. Section, San Pedro Patrol Station, Davao
METRODISCOM. He also hired one Florencio
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed. Siton, a welder by occupation and a Civilian
Treble costs against appellants in this instance. Home Defense Forces (CHDF) member, as his
undercover agent under the pseudonym 'Canuto
G.R. No. 143561 June 6, 2001 Duran', an 'electrician from Kabakan, Cotabato.'

JONATHAN D. CARIAGA, petitioner, 'Canuto Duran' struck an acquaintance with one


vs. Ricardo Cariaga, a private electrician, at the
COURT OF APPEALS, PEOPLE OF THE Miguel Store, situated in front of the DLPC office
PHILIPPINES and DAVAO LIGHT and POWER along Ponciano Reyes (now Bangoy) Street,
CO., respondents. Davao City. He told Ricardo that his boss
ordered him to buy electrical materials to be Ricardo revealed that he acted as a fence for his
brought to Diwalwal, a gold panning area in cousin, Jonathan Cariaga and 'Canuto Duran' on
Monkayo, Davao (formerly Davao del Norte). November 27, 1988 and again on January 23,
1989; that the items that 'Canuto Duran' bought
Ricardo offered to supply 'Canuto Duran' with from Jonathan, thru him, were DLPC properties.
electrical materials, saying that he has a cousin
from whom he can procure the same. 'Canuto' Jamero also confessed that Ricardo was his
purchased small electrical wires which, fence in disposing of DLPC electrical materials
according to Ricardo, came from his cousin, that he pilfered but the items were not sold to
Jonathan Cariaga, nicknamed Totoy. 'Canuto Duran' but to someone else.

On November 17, 1988, Ricardo introduced The recitals of Ricardo and Jamero in their
'Canuto' to Jonathan at Miguel Store. It turned sworn statements are substantially corroborated
out that Jonathan was the assigned driver of by entries in the Daily Record of Events (blotter)
DLPC Service Truck 'S-143' assigned to Work of the San Pedro Patrol Station (Exhs. B, B-1; C,
Gang 'Venus'. 'Canuto' inquired from Jonathan if C-1; D, D-1; E, E-1; and F, F-1).
he could supply him with two (2) 15 KVA
transformers. Jonathan replied that he could for The accused was also invited to the San Pedro
P16,000. 'Canuto' placed an order for the Patrol Station but, according to Sgt. Villasis, he
transformers. The deal did not materialize, refused to give a statement.
however, as 'Canuto's' boss (Miguel Aboitiz) who
would provide the funds happened to be out of The prosecution was unable to present Ricardo
town. Jonathan appeared piqued. To appease as its witness as the subpoena could not be
him, 'Canuto' assured him that they shall personally served upon him as according to his
continue their 'business' relationship. Not long wife, Antonieta Cariaga, he was in Sultan
after, he placed an order for a lightning arrester. Kudarat and the date of his return to Davao City
Ricardo, Jonathan and 'Canuto' agreed to meet was not certain (Exhs. Y, Y-1).
at the corner of Jacinto and Arellano Streets.
Acting on the extrajudicial confessions of the
Jonathan got DLPC Truck 'S-143' which was suspects, the reports of Siton to the police and
inside the DLPC Compound at Ponciano Reyes the bust, the team under Sgt. Villasis recovered
Street and drove it to the designated meeting the following items:
place, leaving 'Canuto' and Ricardo at Miguel
Store. After a while, Ricardo and 'Canuto' 1. 1 pc. Lightning Arrester MEW Valve Type V
followed. On the way, 'Canuto gave Ricardo (Exh. "I");
P1,800. At the meeting place, Ricardo gave the
money to Jonathan, after which the latter got a 2. 1 pc. Lightning Arrester MEW Valve Type
lightning arrester (Exh. M) from his truck's (Exh. "I-1");
toolbox and handed it to Ricardo, who, in turn
gave it to 'Canuto'. 3. 1 pc. Lightning Arrester MEW Thorex Type
(unmarked);
On January 23, 1989, Ricardo accompanied
'Canuto' to Jonathan's house at Doña Pilar 4. 1 pc. Fuse Cut-out S&C Brand with Bracket
Village, Sasa, Davao City, to get a roll of (unmarked);
Electrical Wire No. 2 (300 meters long) valued
P5,010 (Exh. J) and 2 lightning arresters with 5. 1 pc. Fuse Cut-out with Fuse Holder, AB
cutout, valued P1,185.75 each, or P2,371.50 for Chance (Exh. "M");
both (Exhs. I and I-1) from Jonathan. 'Canuto'
paid P2,500.00 only for the items. He gave the 6. 1 roll (330 meters) Aluminum Wire No. 8 (Exh.
money to Ricardo; Ricardo, in turn, gave it to "K");
Jonathan.
7. 1 roll (300 meters) Aluminum Wire No. 2 (Exh.
Siton's undercover work came to an abrupt end "J");
on February 1, 1989 when members of Sgt.
Villasis' team 'apprehended' 'Canuto' and turned 8. 1 roll (36 coils) Aluminum Wire No. 6; ) One of
him over, including the electrical wires that he these
previously purchased from Jonathan through
Ricardo, to the San Pedro Patrol Station. The 9. 1 roll (74 coils) Aluminum Wire No. 8; ) rolls is
team was unable to arrest Ricardo as he had
already left when the team arrived at his house. 10. 1 roll (41 coils) Aluminum Wire No. 2; )
'Canuto Duran' 'confessed' in order to persuade marked Exh.
Ricardo – and the others who were involved – to
likewise come out with the truth. Thus, when 11. 1 set bracket for cut-out. ) "AA"
Ricardo and Sergio Jamero appeared at the San
Pedro Patrol Station on the invitation of the Sgt. Villasis testified that Exh. "U" and Exh. "AA"
police, they confessed to their crimes (Exhs. A were the wires recovered from Siton during the
and G, respectively). bust while the rest, particularly Exhs. "I" and "I-1"
"J" and "M" were recovered at Roselo Toledo's Ricardo Cariaga's sworn statement is not
house where Siton ("Canuto Duran") brought admissible under Section 1(f), Rule 115 of the
them; x x x."4 Revised Rules of Court for failure of the
prosecution to comply with the strict
According to the trial court, "the prosecution's requirements of said rule, to wit:
evidence considered as a whole is strong, clear
and convincing. The statements in the a] Ricardo Cariaga did not orally testify in the
extrajudicial confessions of Ricardo Cariaga labor case;
(Exhs. A; O,O-1) implicative of the accused as
the source of the stolen articles, corroborated by b] Inability to testify must be for a grave cause
Siton's testimony and the police records (Exhs. almost amounting to death and the prosecution
D to F-2, inclusive) are formidable compared to must exhaust all available remedies to secure
the mere puny denial of the accused." the presence of its witnesses at the trial;

In due course, the trial court on November 18, c] That the former proceeding must also be
1991, rendered judgment, the decretal portion criminal in nature.
reading:
II. The appellate court erred in holding that the
"WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused lone testimony of the prosecution's alleged
Jonathan Cariaga guilty beyond reasonable eyewitness who is a paid witness and whose
doubt of theft, qualified by grave abuse of testimony was admittedly corrected or revised on
confidence, under Article 310, in relation to the witness stand and which materially and
Article 309, par. 2, of the Revised Penal Code, significantly varies with his previous sworn
as charged, aggravated by the use of motor statement on very vital and pivotal details is
vehicle which is not offset by any mitigating sufficient to prove the guilt of the accused
circumstance. Applying the Indeterminate beyond reasonable doubt.
Sentence Law, he is sentenced to suffer an
indeterminate penalty ranging from TEN (10) III.The appellate court erred in failing to
Years, EIGHT (8) MONTHS AND ONE (1) DAY, appreciate the reasonable doubt engendered by
of prision mayor, as minimum, to EIGHTEEN (18) the exculpatory statements of the superiors of
YEARS, TWO (2) MONTHS AND TWENTY the accused in favor of the latter."6
ONE (21) DAYS of reclusion temporal, as
maximum; and to pay the costs. In his first assignment of error, petitioner argues
that the sworn statement of Ricardo Cariaga who
No civil indemnity is awarded to DLPC, the was not presented in court is inadmissible. The
private complainant, as the items stolen were prosecution presented in evidence as Exh. P-2,
recovered. The return to DLPC of all the items Ricardo Cariaga's sworn statement which was
recovered by the police is ordered. attached as Annex "8-A" to DLPC's position
paper in the labor case filed by Jonathan
SO ORDERED."5 Cariaga against the latter for illegal dismissal.
The trial court admitted the same in evidence
On appeal by Jonathan Cariaga, the Court of despite the timely objection of the defense
Appeals affirmed on April 24, 1995, the decision counsel; and the Court of Appeals upheld the
of the trial court. The Court of Appeals reasoned admission thereof citing as basis, Section 47,
out that the sworn statement of Ricardo Cariaga Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence and Section
who did not testify in open court during the 1(f), Rule 115 of the Rules on Criminal
criminal proceedings against petitioner is Procedure.
admissible in evidence and properly considered
by the trial court as this was annexed as part of Section 47 of Rule 130 reads:
DLPC's position paper submitted to the National
Labor Relations Commission in Case No. SEC. 47. Testimony or deposition at a former
RAB-11-05-00308-89, a complaint filed by the proceeding. – The testimony or deposition of a
accused for illegal dismissal, as an exception to witness deceased or unable to testify, given in a
the hearsay rule under Section 47, Rule 130 of former case or proceeding, judicial or
the Revised Rules of Court. The Court of administrative, involving the same parties and
Appeals likewise upheld the credibility of Siton's subject matter, may be given in evidence against
testimony which corroborated that of Ricardo the adverse party who had the opportunity to
Cariaga's sworn statement. cross-examine him.

Hence, the instant petition raising the following More specific however is the rule prescribed in
errors: Rule 115, Section 1(f) of the Rules of Court in
respect of the admissibility in evidence in a
"I The trial court erred in admitting in evidence criminal case of the previous testimony of
the sworn statement of Ricardo Cariaga without unavailable witnesses which reads:
him taking the witness stand since it violates the
fundamental right of the accused to meet the
witnesses against him face to face. Hence,
Section 1. Rights of accused at the trial. – In all score alone, the sworn statement of Ricardo
criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be Cariaga should not have been admitted as
entitled: evidence for the prosecution, and we shall no
longer delve into the other aspects of this rule.
f) To confront and cross-examine the witnesses
against him at the trial. Either party may utilize In his second assignment of error, petitioner
as part of its evidence the testimony of a witness assails the testimony of prosecution witness
who is deceased, out of or can not with due Florencio Siton alias "Canuto Duran", the
diligence be found in the Philippines, unavailable undercover agent, as not credible because it is
or otherwise unable to testify, given in another allegedly inconsistent in very material and pivotal
case or proceeding, judicial or administrative, details from the sworn statement he made at the
involving the same parties and subject matter, police station and that he is admitted by the
the adverse party having had the opportunity to prosecution to be a paid witness. According to
cross-examine him; petitioner, Siton's testimony was overhauled and
corrected to meet the crisis created by
In Toledo, Jr. vs. People,7 this Court eyewitness Ricardo Cariaga's non-appearance
emphasized that "the preconditions set forth in in court. Petitioner argues further that Siton had
Section 47, Rule 130 for the admission of thousands of reasons to vary or exaggerate or
testimony given by a witness out of court must pervert the truth in his testimony because he
be strictly complied with and that there is more admitted that he was given by DLPC through Mr.
reason to adopt such a strict rule in the case of Aboitiz, a 15 KVA transformer worth P15,000.00
Section 1(f) of Rule 115, for apart from being a to P18, 000.00 and he also admitted on
rule of evidence with additional specific cross-examination that "after the hearing he (Mr.
requisites to those prescribed by Section 47, Aboitiz) will hire me as an employee or that he
more importantly, said provision is an will give me privilege."
implementing translation of the constitutional
right of an accused person "to meet the He alleges that Siton never mentioned in his
witnesses (against him) face to face." In Tan vs. sworn statement that he bought anything directly
Court of Appeals,8 it was ruled that "'unable to from petitioner and only stated that the latter was
testify' or for that matter 'unavailability', does not around when he bought some wires and
cover the case of witnesses who were lightning arresters from Bondying and Bebing
subpoenaed but did not appear. It may refer to Tumali, and then claimed on the witness stand
inability proceeding from a grave cause, almost that he had direct dealings with petitioner. Siton
amounting to death, as when the witness is old also failed to state in his sworn statement that he
and has lost the power of speech. It does not went to the house of petitioner to purchase
refer to tampering of witnesses." DLPC materials; and he mentioned therein that
the arrangement was that the materials will be
The threshold question then is the admissibility delivered three days after payment, but in his
of the sworn statement of Ricardo Cariaga which testimony, the materials were delivered upon
was attached to DLPC's position paper in the payment.
labor case filed by Jonathan Cariaga against it
for illegal dismissal. As we have so frequently ruled, the trial judge
who sees and hears witnesses testify has
The records reveal that witness Ricardo Cariaga exceptional opportunities to form a correct
was subpoenaed only once and did not appear conclusion as to the degree of credit which
to testify in the criminal case against petitioner. should be accorded their testimonies.11 Next, the
Concededly, this witness was not deceased or rule has also always been that the contradictions
out of the Philippines. In fact, the private between the contents of an affiant's affidavit and
prosecutor informed the court that he is in Sultan his testimony on the witness stand do not always
Kudarat,9 and previously, his wife informed the militate against the witness' credibility because
sheriff that he was in Sultan Kudarat which is in we have long taken judicial notice that affidavits,
Cotabato, a mere four hours drive from Davao which are usually taken ex parte, are often
City. Against this backdrop, can this witness be incomplete and inaccurate.12 Indeed, a sworn
categorized as one that cannot be found despite statement taken ex parte is generally considered
due diligence, unavailable or unable to testify. to be inferior to a testimony given in open court
We are inclined to rule in the negative and as the latter is subject to the test of cross
reverse the Court of Appeals on this point. examination.13

It must be emphasized that this rule is strictly We have carefully gone over the records and
complied with in criminal cases, hence, "mere evidence in this case and we are persuaded that
sending of subpoena and failure to appear is not Siton's testimony in court deserves credence.
sufficient to prove inability to testify. The Court We further find the same sufficient for conviction.
must exercise its coercive power to arrest."10 In Siton was consistent and straightforward in his
the instant case, no efforts were exerted to have testimony and had not been shaken by the
the witness arrested which is a remedy available lengthy and exhaustive cross-examination by the
to a party-litigant in instances where witnesses defense counsel. Having thoroughly convinced
who are duly subpoenaed fail to appear. On this the trial and appellate courts as well as this
Court of the truth of his testimony, we do not see sufficiency of evidence, what matters is not the
how he could have fabricated the entire story. number of witnesses but their credibility and the
The fact that he stated on direct examination that nature and quality of their testimonies.18 It is
he "corrected" his statement and that he was axiomatic that witnesses are weighed, not
offered compensation for his undercover work numbered and the testimony of only one witness,
does not necessarily discredit him. There is no if credible and positive and if it satisfies the court
rule of evidence to the effect that omission of beyond reasonable doubt, is sufficient to convict.
certain particulars in a sworn statement would The inadmissibility of Ricardo Cariaga's sworn
estop an affiant from making an elaboration statement as discussed above will not exculpate
thereof or from correcting inaccuracies during him.
the trial. It appears that he was paid for his
services rendered as an undercover agent and The defense, verily, anchors itself on the bare
not for purposes of concocting a story and denial of petitioner of the specific acts imputed
imputing a crime as that made out in the by the prosecution against him. Certainly, this
information. Similarly, the alleged inaccuracies in negative assertion cannot prevail over the
the testimony of Siton in open court relating to unimpeached testimony of the prosecution
such minute details as whether the petitioner's witness, Florencio Siton alias "Canuto Duran"
house was two-stories high and located in a describing in sufficient detail the active
corner are too negligible to consider. participation of petitioner in the commission of
the crime charged. As aptly observed by the trial
Finally, we reject petitioner's claim that the court:
testimonies of three witnesses for the
prosecution, namely, Sauro, Saligan and Aboitiz, "The accused's defense consisted of a general
engendered reasonable doubt sufficient to denial; that the items alleged by the prosecution
exculpate him. He points out that "Rodolfo Sauro, as having been pilfered from DLPC were
gang crew supervisor of petitioner testified that available in any store selling electrical supplies.
he has not reported any missing materials in the Despite having been positively pointed to as the
truck driven by the petitioner; that Luis Aboitiz person who sold small electrical wires, lightning
testified that he asked Estelito Saligan to arresters and a roll of Electrical Wire No. 2 that
conduct investigation if there were materials were pilfered from DLPC to "Canuto Duran"
missing `but the latter came out with the report (Siton), thru Ricardo Cariaga, he did not
that he could not find any missing materials'; and categorically deny the imputation: he merely
that Estelito Saligan, head of Materials declared that he did not know Siton (he did not
Management Department of the DLPC say that he did not know "Canuto Duran") nor did
confirmed on cross-examination that there were he say that he did not sell anything to "Canuto
no properties lost or missing." Duran" thru Ricardo Cariaga. As a rule, positive
testimony as to a particular fact, uncontradicted
However, a more accurate reading of the by anyone, should control the decision of the
testimonies of the said witnesses reveals that court (Ko Tieck vs. People, L-48535-36, Dec. 21,
Rodolfo Sauro14 testified that petitioner is 1991)."
permanently assigned as driver to the S-143
truck; that he is in charge of all the equipment We note that the information alleged that
and supplies stored in the truck; that there were petitioner was an employee of DLPC; that he
always reserve materials kept in the truck for had access to the electrical supplies of said
emergency operations during the night and that company; and that with grave abuse of
he trusted him that these materials were being confidence, he stole electrical materials
used for emergencies.15 He also testified that he belonging to DLPC. The prosecution established
took Jonathan's word that the reserve materials that petitioner who was permanently assigned as
were used for emergencies because he found driver of Truck "S-143" had charge of all the
him trustworthy.16 On the other hand, Engr. DLPC equipment and supplies kept in his vehicle,
Estelito Saligan was recalled to the witness including lightning arresters, cut-out and wires,
stand to clarify Mr. Aboitiz's statement that "he which were generally used for the installation of
was ordered to make inventories and that he did transformers and power lines; and specifically
not find any missing." He clarified that he only stored therein for emergency operations at night
inventoried the materials inside the warehouse when the stockroom is closed. While the mere
which are within his jurisdiction, but he did not circumstance that the petitioner is an employee
conduct inventory of materials or properties or laborer of DLPC does not suffice to create the
already in the possession of the operations relation of confidence and intimacy that the law
department17 of which petitioner belonged to. In requires to designate the crime as qualified theft,
sum, nothing in the cited testimonies confirm it has been held that access to the place where
petitioner's insistence that there were no stolen the taking took place or access to the stolen
electrical supplies and materials from DLPC. items changes the complexion of the crime
committed to that of qualified theft.19 Thus, theft
In fine, we are satisfied that the participation of by a truck driver who takes the load of his truck
the petitioner in the commission of the crime at belonging to his employer is guilty of qualified
bar was well established by the testimony of theft20as was proven in this case. The trial court
witness Siton. In the determination of the correctly considered petitioner's use of a motor
vehicle in the commission of the crime as a
generic aggravating circumstance thus raising
the penalty to its maximum.21 While the
aggravating circumstance of "by means of motor
vehicle" was not alleged in the information, there
is evidence that the same was employed to
facilitate the commission of the crime. A generic
aggravating circumstance may be proved even if
not alleged.22 The theft could not have been
effected without the aid of the motor vehicle,23 as
proven by the prosecution, the service truck was
used in storing and then transporting the stolen
electrical materials to the place where they were
sold.1âwphi1.nêt

We now come to the correctness of the penalty


imposed. The trial court meted on petitioner an
indeterminate penalty ranging from ten (10)
years, eight (8) months and one (1) day,
of prision mayor, as minimum, to eighteen (18)
years, two (2) months and twenty one (21) days
of reclusion temporal as maximum. Since the
value of the electrical materials is P7,038.96, the
imposable penalty for the felony of theft is prision
correccional in its medium and maximum
periods in accordance with Article 309,
paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal
Code.24 However, under Article 310 of the
Revised Penal Code,25 the crime of qualified
theft is punished by the penalties next higher by
two (2) degrees than that specified in Article 309
of the Revised Penal Code. Under Article 25 of
the Revised Penal Code, two (2) degrees higher
than prision correccional in its medium and
maximum periods is prision mayor in its
maximum period to reclusion temporal in its
minimum period which is ten (10) years and one
(1) day to fourteen (14) years and eight (8)
months. Considering there is one generic
aggravating circumstance, the penalty should
be reclusion temporal in its minimum period.
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the
correct penalty is eight (8) years, eight (8)
months and one (1) day of prision mayor as
minimum to thirteen (13) years, one (1) month
and eleven (11) days of reclusion temporal as
maximum.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of


Appeals dated April 24, 1995 is hereby
AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the
penalty is reduced to EIGHT (8) years, EIGHT (8)
months and ONE (1) day of prisionmayor as
minimum to THIRTEEN (13) years, ONE (1)
month and ELEVEN (11) days of reclusion
temporal as maximum.

SO ORDERED.