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[REPUBLIC v. SANDIGANBAYAN](https://lawyerly.ph/juris/view/cde3b?user=fbGU2WFpmaitMVEVGZ2lBVW5xZ2RVdz09)
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DIVISION

[ GR No. 188881, Apr 21, 2014 ]

REPUBLIC v. SANDIGANBAYAN +

DECISION



FIRST DIVISION

[ G.R. No. 188881, April 21, 2014 ]

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, PETITIONER, VS. SANDIGANBAYAN, BIENVENIDO R. TANTOCO, JR., DOMINADOR R. SANTIAGO, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, IMELDA MARCOS, BIENVENIDO R. TANTOCO, SR., GLICERIA R. TANTOCO, AND MARIA LOURDES TANTOCO-PINEDA, RESPONDENTS.

D E C I S I O N

SERENO, C.J.:

This Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court seeks to nullify the Sandiganbayan Resolution dated 3 June 2009 in Civil Case No. 0008.[1] The Second Division of the graft court denied admission of Exhibits "MMM" to "AAAAAAA" in the Formal Offer of Evidence filed by petitioner Republic.[2]

Twenty four years ago, the Republic, through the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), commenced a complaint[3] for "reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution and damages" against Bienvenido R. Tantoco, Jr. (Tantoco), Dominador R. Santiago (Santiago), Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda, R. Marcos, Bienvenido R. Tantoco, Sr., Gliceria R. Tantoco, and Maria Lourdes Tantoco-Pineda. Instead of filing an Answer, respondents Tantoco and Santiago filed a "Motion To Strike Out Some Portions of the Complaint and For Bill of Particulars," which were both denied for lack of bases.

On 27 July 1989, Tantoco and Santiago filed with the Sandiganbayan a pleading denominated "Interrogatories to Plaintiff." A month later, they filed both an "Amended Interrogatories to Plaintiff" and a Motion for Production and Inspection of Documents. This time, the Sandiganbayan admitted the Amended Interrogatories and granted the Motion for Production and Inspection of Documents. When the PCGG elevated the issue to the Supreme Court, this Court, through then Justice Andres R. Narvasa, affirmed the Orders of the Sandiganbayan in this wise:

The Court finally finds that, contrary to the petitioner's theory, there is good cause for the production and inspection of the documents subject of the motion dated August 3, 1989. Some of the documents are, according to the verification of the amended complaint, the basis of several of the material allegations of said complaint. Others, admittedly, are to be used in evidence by the plaintiff. It is matters such as these into which inquiry is precisely allowed by the rules of discovery, to the end that the parties may adequately prepare for pre-trial and trial. xxx.

x x x x

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, without pronouncement as to costs. The temporary restraining order issued on October 27, 1989 is hereby LIFTED AND SET ASIDE. SO ORDERED.[4]

Pre-trial commenced, and from 3 January to 14 July 1993, the PCGG produced documents pre-marked as Exhibit "A" to "LLL" before Atty. Renato T. Bocar and respondents' counsel.[5] On 10 September 1996, the pre-trial was declared closed.[6] On 23 and 25 September 1996, the temporary markings of Exhibits "A" to "LLL," together with their sub-markings, were adopted. However, over the objections of respondents Tantoco and Santiago, the PCGG produced and caused the pre-marking of additional documents, Exhibits "MMM" to "AAAAAAA."[7]

Tantoco and Santiago filed a "Motion under Rule 29 of the Rules of Court," claiming that the additional documents were never produced at the discovery proceedings and praying that petitioner be sanctioned for contempt. The Sandiganbayan denied the motion on 17 February 1997 (First Resolution).[8] Trial proceeded; however, new documents not shown at discovery were still being marked. Tantoco and Santiago again filed a "Motion to Ban Plaintiff From Offering Exhibits Not Earlier Marked During the Discovery Proceedings," which the graft court denied on 29 May 2002.[9]

Petitioner filed its Formal Offer of Evidence on 16 March 2007.[10] On 15 January 2008, the Sandiganbayan ruled that with the exception of some documents,[11] "all Exhibits... are denied admission. The due execution and authenticity of these documents remain challenged since the prosecution failed to show otherwise."[12] On petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration, the Sandiganbayan partly relented and admitted Exhibits "MMM" to "AAAAAAA" (Second Resolution).[13] As certified to by the Chief Administrative Officer of the PCGG,[14] Exhibits "MMM" to "AAAAAAA" were turned over to its Legal Division and include the following:

Exh. MMM
Memorandum for Hon. Teodoro Pena, signed by Juan C. Tuvera
Xerox
NNN
Undated handwritten letter purportedly written by Glecy R. Tantoco
No remarks whether original or photocopy
OOO
Letter to Ferdinand E. Marcos from Bienvenido Tantoco with handwritten marginal note dated 8 May 1982
No remarks whether original or photocopy
PPP
Undated letter to "Mam" from "Glecy"
Xerox
QQQ

(missing)

(missing)
RRR
Proclamation No. 50 dated Dec. 15, 1986, signed by Pres. Corazon Aquino
From APT
RRR
Complaint filed by RP thru Asset Privatization Trust (APT) against Rustan Investment & Management Corporation
Xerox
SSS
Administrative Order No. 14 dated Feb. 3, 1987 signed by Pres. Corazon Aquino
From APT
SSS
Answer with Compulsory Counterclaim filed by Rustan Investment & Management Corporation
Xerox
TTT
Contract dated Feb. 27, 1987 by and between RP and DEBP
No remarks whether original or photocopy
TTT
Order- Civil Case No. 89-5268, RP v. Rustan Investment
From APT
UUU
Order- Civil Case No. 89-5268, RP v. Rustan Investment
From APT
VVV
(missing)
(missing)
WWW
Eastern Inspection Bureau for Phil. Eagle Mines, Inc. dated Oct. 18, 1989
From APT
XXX
Letter dated Dec. 20, 1990 for Asset Privatization Trust from Dominador R. Santiago

Xerox

YYY- YYY-22
Articles of Incorporation of Rustan Investment &Management Corp. dated Feb. 21, 1966
Xerox
YYY-23-YYY-33

Certificate of Filing of Amended Articles of Incorporation dated Nov. 20, 1981

Xerox
ZZZ
NBI Questioned Documents Report No. 729-1101 dated Jan. 21, 2002
Original
AAAA-1
Undated, handwritten note signed by Ferdinand Marcos
Malacañang Lib
AAAA-2
Memo for the Pres. Dated 23 Jul 79 with handwritten markings
Malacañang Lib
AAAA-3
Handwritten note Office of the President stationery paper (undated)
Malacañang Lib
AAAA-4
Handwritten note Office of the President stationery paper (undated)
Malacañang Lib
AAAA-5
Handwritten note Office of the President stationery paper (undated)
Malacañang Lib
AAAA-6
Handwritten note Office of the President stationery paper (undated)
Malacañang Lib
AAAA-7
Handwritten note Office of the President stationery paper (undated)
Malacañang Lib
AAAA-8-11
Handwritten note dated Dec. 28, 1978 Office of the President stationery paper
Malacañang Lib
AAAA-12-17
Handwritten note Office of the President stationery paper
Malacañang Lib
AAAA-18
Handwritten note dated Jan. 7, 1978 Office of the President stationery paper
Malacañang Lib
AAAA-19-25
Handwritten note Office of the President stationery paper (undated)
Malacañang Lib
AAAA-27-29
Handwritten note Office of the President stationery paper (undated)
Malacañang Lib
AAAA-30-34
Handwritten note Office of the President stationery paper (undated)
Malacañang Lib
AAAA-35-41
Handwritten note Office of the President stationery paper (undated)
Malacañang Lib
BBBB-1a-1b
Microfilm of "Questioned" documents
No remarks whether original or photocopy
BBBB-2-7
Microfilm of "Questioned" documents
No remarks whether original or photocopy
BBBB-8-12
Microfilm of "Questioned" documents
No remarks whether original or photocopy
BBBB-13-20
Microfilm of "Questioned" documents
No remarks whether original or photocopy
BBBB-21-28
Microfilm of "Questioned" documents
No remarks whether original or photocopy
BBBB-29-33
Microfilm of "Questioned" documents
No remarks whether original or photocopy
CCCC-1-11
Executive Summary of Phil. Eagle Mines, Inc.
Xerox
DDDD-1-28
SEC Records of Phil. Eagle Mines, Inc.
Xerox
EEEE-1-13
TSN Evelyn Singson
Xerox
FFFF-1-13
Affidavit of Evelyn R. Singson dated Aug. 18, 1986
Xerox
GGGG-1-6
SBTC (Security Bank and Trust Company) bank documents/ credit ticket/ certificate of deposit/telegraphic transfer/ telex/ money transfer
PCGG Lib
HHHH-1-9
SBTC debit tickets/ transmittal documents/ telexes
PCGG Lib
IIII-1-5
SBTC debit tickets/ telexes/ wire transfers
PCGG Lib
JJJJ-1-7
SBTC debit tickets/ wire transfers/ telexes/ transmittal letters
PCGG Lib
KKKK-1-4
SBTC debit tickets/ transmittal documents/ Irving Trust documents
PCGG Lib
LLLL-1-4
SBTC debit tickets/ transmittal documents/ Irving Trust documents
PCGG Lib
MMMM-1-3
SBTC debit tickets/ transmittal documents/ Irving Trust documents
PCGG Lib
NNNN-1-3
SBTC debit tickets/ transmittal documents/ Irving Trust documents
PCGG Lib
OOOO-1-6
SBTC debit tickets/ transmittal documents/ Irving Trust documents
PCGG Lib
PPPP-1-2
SBTC money transfers/ telex
PCGG Lib
QQQQ-1-2
SBTC money transfers/ telex
PCGG Lib
RRRR-1-2
SBTC debit tickets/ money transfers/ telex
PCGG Lib
SSSS- SSSS-2
SBTC debit tickets/ money transfer/ Irving Trust documents
PCGG Lib
TTTT-1-4
SBTC debit tickets/ money transfer/ telex/ Irving Trust documents
PCGG Lib
UUUU-1-4
SBTC debit tickets/ money transfer/ telex/ Irving Trust documents
PCGG Lib
VVVV-1-5
SBTC debit tickets/ money transfer/ telegraphic transfer/ Irving Trust documents
PCGG Lib
WWWW-1-3
SBTC debit tickets/ telex/ Irving Trust documents
PCGG Lib
XXXX-1-5
SBTC debit tickets/ money transfer/ telegraphic transfer/ Irving Trust documents
PCGG Lib
YYYY-1-3
SBTC debit tickets/ money transfer/ Irving Trust documents
PCGG Lib
ZZZZ to ZZZZ-1
SBTC debit tickets/ telegraphic transfer
PCGG Lib
AAAAA-1-3
SBTC debit tickets/ telex/ telegraphic transfer
PCGG Lib
BBBBB-1-16
SBTC credit ticket/ debit ticket/ money transfer/ telegraphic transfer, etc.
PCGG Lib
CCCCC-1-10
SBTC credit ticket/ debit ticket/ money transfer/ telegraphic transfer, etc.
PCGG Lib
DDDDD-DDDDD-1
SBTC debit tickets/ telegraphic transfer
PCGG Lib
EEEEE-1-6
SBTC credit ticket/ debit ticket/ telex
PCGG Lib
FFFFF-1-5
SBTC document/ credit ticket/ debit ticket/ telex
PCGG Lib
HHHHH-1-7
SBTC certificate of deposit/ debit & credit ticket/ money transfer/ telex
PCGG Lib
IIIII-1-6
SBTC debit & credit tickets/ money & wire transfers
PCGG Lib
JJJJJ-1-3
SBTC debit & credit tickets/ telex
PCGG Lib
KKKKK-1-4
SBTC credit ticket/ money transfer/ telex
PCGG Lib
LLLLL-1-4
SBTC Certificate of Deposit/ debit & credit tickets/ telex
PCGG Lib
MMMMM-1-11
SBTC debit & credit tickets/ certificate of deposits/ telex
PCGG Lib
NNNNN-1-5
SBTC debit & credit tickets/ telex
PCGG Lib
OOOOO-1-6
SBTC Certificate of Deposit/ debit & credit tickets/ telex
PCGG Lib
PPPPP-1-2
SBTC credit ticket/ debit advise/ telegraphic transfer
PCGG Lib
QQQQQ-1-5

SBTC Certificate of Deposit/ debit & credit tickets/ telex

PCGG Lib
RRRRR-1-10
SBTC Certificate of Deposit/ debit & credit tickets/ telex
PCGG Lib
SSSSS-1-5
SBTC Certificate of Deposit/ debit & credit tickets/ telex/ debit advise
PCGG Lib
TTTTT-1-28
Affidavit of Apolinario K. Medina dated July 23, 1987
Xerox
UUUUU-1-21
Affidavit of Dominador Pangilinan dated July 24, 1987
Xerox
VVVVV
Memo for Comm Ruben Carranza, Jr. from Dir. Danilo R.V. Daniel dated June 6, 2003
Xerox
WWWWW-1
Letter dated Dec. 8, 1982 to Gallery Bleue from Richard Lynch (Hammer Galleries), unsigned
Xerox
XXXXX to 1
Invoice dated Dec. 8, 1982 for Gallery Bleue total $545,000.00
Xerox
YYYYY-1-2
Invoice dated Dec. 8, 1982 for Gallery Bleue total $545,000.00 signed by Mrs. Tantoco
Xerox
ZZZZZ
Letter dated Dec. 8, 1982 to Gallery Bleue
Xerox
AAAAAA-1-3
Fe R. Gimenez- Bankers' Trust Check #485 dated Dec. 8, 1982 pay to Hammer Galleries
Xerox
BBBBBB-1-2
Memo for Comm Ruben Carranza, Jr. from Dir. Danilo
Xerox
CCCCCC-1-2
Knoedler-Modarco S.A. New York for Gallery Bleue dated July 20, 1983
Xerox
DDDDDD-1-5
Citibank, N.A. debit advice for $810,005.00
Xerox
EEEEEE-1-4
Citibank, N.A. cashier's check #38865 dated Nov. 22, 1983 for $810,000.00
Xerox
FFFFFF-1-3
Letter dated Nov. 22,1983 to Mrs. Tantoco from Peter Sansone of Knoedler-Modarco
Xerox
GGGGGG-1-26
Declaration of Oscar M. Carino dated June 23, 1987
Original
HHHHHH-1-2
Agreement between Leslie R. Samuels and Gliceria R. Tantoco
Xerox
IIIIII to 1
Bankers' Trust Company Check #02002598 dated Sept. 3, 1981 for $1,000,000.00
Xerox
JJJJJJ to 1
Letter dated Sept. 4, 1981 from Alan Forster of Sotheby's
Xerox
KKKKKK-1-3
Bankers' Trust Check #02002282 dated Sept. 18, 1981 for $4,950,000.00
Xerox
LLLLLL-1-2
Hammer Galleries' Invoice dated Dec. 9, 1982 for Gallery Bleue total $323,000.00
Xerox
MMMMMM-1-3
Bankers' Trust Check #200 for Hammer Galleries dated Dec. 20, 1982 for $323,000.00 issued by Fe Gimenez
Xerox
NNNNNN-1-2
Hammer Galleries' Commercial Invoice dated Dec. 27, 1982 for Gallery Bleue
Xerox
OOOOOO-1
Bankers Trust Statement of Account
Xerox
PPPPPP-1-4
Credit Suisse/ Trinidad Foundation/ Debit Advice/ $480,015.79
Xerox
QQQQQQ-1-4
Credit Suisse/ Palmy Foundation/ Debit Advice/$700,006
Xerox
RRRRRR-1-3
Credit Suisse/ Palmy Foundation/ Debit Advice/$2,000,005.62
Xerox
SSSSSS
Certificate of the Swiss Authority executing request for documents/ Peter Cossandy
Xerox
SSSSSS-1
Certificate of Authenticity of Business Records/ Martin Grossman
Xerox
SSSSSS-2
List of documents numbered by the Examining Magistrate/ Peter Cossandy
Xerox
TTTTTT-1-10
Letter dated Feb. 3, 1984 for Mrs. Gliceria Tantoco Re: Glockhurst Corp.
Xerox
UUUUUU-1
Debit Advice for Php3,241,393.00
Xerox
VVVVVV-1-3
Traders' Royal Bank Manager's Check #00671 dated July 28,1981 for Php3, 241,393.00
Xerox
WWWWWW-1
Traders' Royal Bank Debit Advise for Php4,283,440.29
Xerox
XXXXXX-1-3
TRB Manager's Check #001282 for Php3,200,000.00
Xerox
YYYYYY-1-3
Letter from Rico Tantoco dated 5/6/82 to Fe
Xerox
ZZZZZZ-1-4
Status of Holdings in Phil. Eagle Mines, Inc. (PEMI) grand total of Php2,640,351.90
Xerox
AAAAAAA-1-105
Affidavit of Rolando Gapud dated Aug. 1, 1987 with annexes
PCGG Lib

Respondents, in turn, filed their Motion for Reconsideration, to which the graft court issued the assailed Resolution, stating:

After a thorough review of the circumstances, this Court is convinced that it is fair and just to grant defendants' Motion under Rule 29 of the Rules of Court filed on October 1, 1996 and to sanction the plaintiff for its deliberate refusal and failure to comply with the directive of this Court which was confirmed no less (sic) by the Supreme Court. The plaintiff must be prevented from offering in evidence all the documents that were not produced and exhibited at the time the plaintiff was under a directive to do so, i.e. Exhibits "MMM" to "AAAAAAA" xxx. In arriving at this conclusion, the Court is not unmindful of the fact that the exhibits involved have not passed the test of admissibility in any event.[15]

Petitioner Republic now raises the sole issue of whether or not the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion in excluding the documents due to petitioner's own failure to produce them at the pre-trial.

We deny the petition.

After a careful scrutiny of the records, We find that in excluding Exhibits "MMM" to "AAAAAAA," the Sandiganbayan properly exercised its discretion over evidence formally offered by the prosecution. Nothing therein shows that the court gravely exceeded its jurisdiction. For the reviewing court to interfere with the exercise of discretion by the lower court, the petitioner must show that the former's action was attended by grave abuse of discretion, defined as a capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment, equivalent to lack of jurisdiction; or the exercise of power in an arbitrary manner by reason of passion, prejudice, or personal hostility, so patent or so gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty, to a virtual refusal to perform the mandated duty, or to act at all in contemplation of the law.[16]

Petitioner would have us reverse the Sandiganbayan solely because the latter purportedly made contrary rulings in its earlier Resolutions. The Republic invokes the First Resolution, specifically the graft court's view that the exclusion of the Exhibits "would be too technical," since their non-production "could be attributed to inadvertence rather than willful disobedience." However, this First Resolution merely disposed of respondents' Motion to cite petitioner in contempt. It does not constitute an irrevocable stamp of admissibility.

Petitioner conveniently disregards the basic rule of evidence, namely, that the issue of the admissibility of documentary evidence arises only upon formal offer thereof. This is why objection to the documentary evidence must be made at the time it is formally offered, and not earlier.[17] Accordingly, the Court ruled in Interpacific Transit, Inc. v. Aviles as follows:

x x x. The identification of the document before it is marked as an exhibit does not constitute the formal offer of the document as evidence for the party presenting it. Objection to the identification and marking of the document is not equivalent to objection to the document when it is formally offered in evidence. What really matters is the objection to the document at the time it is formally offered as an exhibit.

x x x x

It would have been so simple for the defense to reiterate its former objection, this time seasonably, when the formal offer of exhibits was made. It is curious that it did not, especially so since the objections to the formal offer of exhibits was made in writing. In fact, the defense filed no objection at all not only to the photocopies but to all the other exhibits of the prosecution.[18] (Emphases supplied)

Seasonable objection to the subject "Exhibits" can only be properly made upon formal offer. The Sandiganbayan acknowledged that Tantoco and Santiago had been consistent in reiterating their objections. The court even clarified in its First Resolution that their "Motion Filed Under Rule 29," was but in pursuance of their continuing objection to the marking of evidence not produced at discovery. Hence, nothing in the said Resolution can be read as a ruling on its admissibility. Its dispositive portion clearly states: "Under all these circumstances, there is no basis for the Court to declare plaintiff in contempt of court and it would be too much of a technicality to bar it from introducing the additional exhibits in evidence."[19]

The Second Resolution, while issued after petitioner had submitted its Formal Offer of Evidence, noted that all the documents contained therein were photocopies.[20] It stated that a mere certification from the Clerk of Court that they "appear to be the original copy" would not suffice. The Sandiganbayan still admitted them as evidence, yet the only reason cited for doing so was liberality, viz: "There is nothing in the rules which categorically prohibits the admission of additional documentary evidence when called for as a case progress [sic]. What is clear is that it is the Court's discretion to allow or disallow its reception."[21] Thus, the Sandiganbayan fittingly corrected itself when once and for all, it excluded the photocopies in its latest Resolution.

This Court discusses the contents and implications of the two earlier Resolutions, because petitioner simply has no other argument supporting its claim to reverse the Sandiganbayan. For those documents introduced in evidence as proof of their contents, the assailed Resolution stated that petitioner has not made any effort whatsoever to explain why it submitted mere photocopies. When the subject of inquiry is the content of a document, submission of a certified true copy is justified only in clearly delineated instances such as the following:

a) When the original has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, without bad faith on the part of the offeror;

b) When the original is in the custody or under the control of the party against whom the evidence is offered, and the latter fails to produce it after reasonable notice;

(c) When the original consists of numerous accounts or other documents which cannot be examined in court without great loss of time and the fact sought to be established from them is only the general result of the whole; and

(d) When the original is a public record in the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a public office.[22]

Nothing on record shows, and petitioner itself makes no claim, that the Exhibits fall under any of the exceptions to the Best Evidence rule. Secondary evidence of the contents of writings is admitted on the theory that the original cannot be produced by the party who offers the evidence within a reasonable time by the exercise of reasonable diligence. Even then, the general rule is that secondary evidence is still not admissible until the non-production of the primary evidence has been sufficiently accounted for.[23]

The Separate Opinion concurs in our dismissal of the petition for failure to show that the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion. However, it disagrees with the latter's misapplication of the Best Evidence Rule. While the Sandiganbayan provided several reasons for its ultimate exclusion of the documents, it did not distinguish: 1) Which particular documents are to be excluded for violation of the Best Evidence Rule; and 2) Which of the remaining ones it has treated as private documents that lacked proper authentication. The detailed analysis of each piece of evidence vis-à-vis the purpose for which they were presented falls squarely under the purview and competence of the trial court. The Supreme Court cannot substitute its own conclusions for the factual determinations of the trial court. It is not the function of this Court to examine, review or evaluate the evidence. Absent any showing of grave abuse of discretion, as discussed above, this Court is then constrained to uphold the reasons forwarded by the Sandiganbayan.

The authority of the trial court to control its own discovery processes cannot be undermined. In this case, the Sandiganbayan's exercise of this power is neither whimsical nor oppressive. A writ of certiorari is available only to review final judgments or decrees, and will be refused where there has been no final judgment or order and the proceeding for which the writ is sought is still pending and undetermined in the lower tribunal. Pursuant to this rule, it has been held that certiorari will not lie to review or correct discovery orders made prior to trial.[24]

As for the documentary evidence which are purportedly transmittal letters, petitioner remains unable to prove their due execution and authenticity. We subscribe to the view forwarded by the Sandiganbayan in its Second Resolution, which we quote below:

The fact that the documents were certified as true copies of the original by the PCGG does not enhance its admissibility. These documents have remained private even if it is in the custody of the PCGG. What became public are not the private documents (themselves) but the recording of it in the PCGG. For, "while public records kept in the Philippines, of private writings are also public documents...the public writing is not the writing itself but the public record thereof. Stated otherwise, if a private writing itself is inserted officially into a public record, its record, its recordation, or its incorporation into the public record becomes a public document, but that does not make the private writing itself a public document so as to make it admissible without authentication."[25] (Citation omitted, emphasis supplied.)

Aside from lack of authentication and failure to present the originals of these documents, what ultimately tipped the scales against petitioner in the view of the graft court was the former's lack of forthrightness in complying with the Supreme Court directive. The Sandiganbayan said:

Thereafter, it did not take long in the process of the presentation of plaintiff's evidence before it became apparent that plaintiff's exhibits consist mostly of documents which have not been exhibited during the discovery proceedings despite the directive of this Court as confirmed by the Supreme Court. Plaintiff's failure to offer a plausible explanation for its concealment of the main bulk of its exhibits even when it was under a directive to produce them and even as the defendants were consistently objecting to the presentation of the concealed documents gives rise to a reasonable [inference] that the plaintiff, at the very outset, had no intention whatsoever of complying with the directive of this Court.[26]

Petitioner failed to obey the mandate of G.R. No. 90478, which remains an important case on pre-trial and discovery measures to this day; the rationale of these rules, especially on the production of documents, must be constantly kept in mind by the bar:

The message is plain. It is the duty of each contending party to lay before the court the facts in issue-fully and fairly; i.e., to present to the court all the material and relevant facts known to him, suppressing or concealing nothing, nor preventing another party, by clever and adroit manipulation of the technical rules of pleading and evidence, from also presenting all the facts within his knowledge.

x x x x

The truth is that "evidentiary matters" may be inquired into and learned by the parties before the trial. Indeed, it is the purpose and policy of the law that the parties before the trial if not indeed even before the pre-trial should discover or inform themselves of all the facts relevant to the action, not only those known to them individually, but also those known to adversaries; in other words, the desideratum is that civil trials should not be carried on in the dark; and the Rules of Court make this ideal possible through the deposition-discovery mechanism set forth in Rules 24 to 29. xxx.

x x x x

x x x.   (I)t is the precise purpose of discovery to ensure mutual knowledge of all the relevant facts on the part of all parties even before trial, this being deemed essential to proper litigation. This is why either party may compel the other to disgorge whatever facts he has in his possession; and the stage at which disclosure of evidence is made is advanced from the time of trial to the period preceding it.[27] (Emphasis supplied)

After failing to submit the documentary evidence during discovery, when it was clearly ordered by both the Sandiganbayan and the Supreme Court to do so, petitioner also repeatedly failed to prove the due execution and authenticity of the documents. Having failed in its belated attempts to assuage the Sandiganbayan through the submission of secondary evidence, petitioner may not use the present forum to gain relief under the guise of Rule 65.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, we deny the instant Petition for lack of merit. The Resolution of the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case No. 0008 (dated 3 June 2009) is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Leonardo-De Castro, Villarama, Jr., and Reyes, JJ., concur.
Bersamin, J., with concurring and dissenting opinion.



[1] Rollo, pp. 25-27; Penned by Associate Justice Edilberto G. Sandoval and concurred in by Associate Justices Teresita V. Diaz-Baldos and Samuel R. Martires.

[2] Filed on 13 March 2007.

[3] Docketed as Civil Case No. 0008.

[4] Republic v. Sandiganbayan, G. R. No. 90478, 21 November 1991, 204 SCRA 212, 232- 234.

[5] Rollo, p. 159.

[6] Id. at 160.

[7] Id.

[8] Sandiganbayan Resolution dated 17 February 1997; id. at 158-165.

[9] Sandiganbayan Resolution dated 29 May 2002; id. at 179-180.

[10] Attached as Annex "G" to the Petition; id. at 74-113.

[11] Exhibits "EEE" to "EEEE-15," "O," "S," "XX," "DDD," "RRR," "SSS," "TTT," "UUU," "DDDD-1" to "DDDD-28," "TTTT," to "TTTT-3," "UUUUU" to "UUUUU-3," "AAAAAAA" to "AAAAAAA-9," "G," "II," "QQQ," "VVV," "AAAA," "AAAA-26," "III-1," "KKK-1," and "LLL."

[12] Rollo, pp. 213-215.

[13] Id. at 56-58.

[14] Id. at 45-54.

[15] Id. at 24-27; Sandiganbayan Resolution dated 3 June 2009.

[16] Land Bank of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, 456 Phil. 755 (2003).

[17] 264 Phil. 753 (1990).

[18] Id. at 759-760.

[19] Rollo, p. 164.

[20] Id. at 29.

[21] Id. at 58.

[22] Rules of Court, Rule 130, Sec. 3.

[23] Department of Education, Culture and Sports v. Del Rosario, 490 Phil. 194, 204 (2005).

[24] Northwest Airlines v. Cruz and Court of Appeals, 376 Phil. 96 (1999).

[25] Rollo, p. 30.

[26] Id. at 25-26.

[27] Supra note 4 at 222-228.


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