Sec. 42. Part of the res gestae.—Statements made by a person while a startling occurrence is taking place or immediately prior or subsequent thereto with respect to the circumstances thereof, may be given in evidence as part of the res gestae. So, also, statements accompanying an equivocal act material to the issue, and giving it a legal significance, may be received as part of the res gestae.
The rule of res gestae, which literally means "things done" refers to:
a. spontaneous statements in connection with a startling occurrence relating to that fact and in effect forming part thereof, and
b. statements accompanying and equivocal act, otherwise known as verbal acts, on the theory that they are the verbal parts of the act to be explained.
Test for admissibility
The test for the admissibility of evidence as part of the res gestae is whether the act, declaration or exclamation is so intimately interwoven or connected with the principal fact or event which it characterizes as to be regarded as a part of the transaction itself, and also whether it clearly negative any premeditation or purpose to manufacture testimony (32 CJS 21).
Factors to consider to determine whether statements offered in evidence as part of res gestae have been made spontaneous or not:
a) The time that has elapsed between the occurrence of the act or transaction and the making of the statement;
b) The place where the statement was made;
c) The condition of the declarant when he made the statement;
d) The presence or absence of intervening occurrences between the occurrence and the statement relative thereto;
e) The nature and circumstances of the statement itself.
● Notes taken regarding a transaction by a person who is not a party thereto and who has not been required to take down notes are not part of the res gestae. (Borromeo vs. CA, L-31342, April 7, 1976)
A. Spontaneous statements
Sec. 42. Part of the res gestae.—Statements made by a person while a startling occurrence is taking place or immediately prior or subsequent thereto with respect to the circumstances thereof, may be given in evidence as part of the res gestae. xxx
● Statement or exclamation made immediately after some exciting occasion by a participant or spectator and asserting the circumstances of that occasion as it is observed by him.
● Spontaneous exclamation may be prior to, simultaneous with, or subsequent to the startling occurrence.
Requisites for admissibility
A declaration or an utterance is deemed as part of the res gestae that is admissible in evidence as an exception to the hearsay rule when the following requisites concur:
1. the principal act, the res gestae, is a startling occurrence;
2. the statements were made before the declarant had time to contrive or devise; and
3. the statements refer to the occurrence in question and its immediately attending circumstances.
Reason for admissibility
Trustworthiness and necessity - because statements are made instinctively, and because said natural and spontaneous utterances are more convincing than the testimony of the same person on the stand.
People v. Putian, 74 SCRA 133 (1976) A declaration made by a person immediately after being wounded, pointing out or naming his assailant, may be considered as part of the res gestae and is admissible in evidence. A statement was given sometime after the stabbing while the declarant was undergoing treatment at a medical clinic, where he had no time to concoct a falsehood or to fabricate a malicious charge against the accused and no motive has been shown as to why he would frame-up the accused would render the statement admissible as a part of the res gestae.
People v. Peralta, 237 SCRA 218 (1994)
Facts: Atanacia Ramos had a daughter Rosita. Rosita married Domiciano Peralta. They had a daughter Siony. On morning, Siony came to Atanacia at her house frantically told her that Domiciano was strangling Rosita. They went to the Peralta home and found Rosita dead. Domiciano was not there. They immediately reported the matter to the police, who eventually arrested the Domiciano. At the preliminary investigation, Siony executed a sworn statement implicating her father. Domiciano was charged with Parricide. At the trial Atanacia testified as to Siony’s declaration. However, Siony testified for her father and said that though she saw someone strangling her mother, she did not see who it was. After the defense rested, the prosecution presented the investigating judge who testified as to the regularity of the conduct of the preliminary investigation. TC convicts.
Held: The statement Siony made to her grandmother when she rushed to inform her of her father's attack on her mother was part of the res gestae. Res gestae means the "thing done." It refers to those exclamations and statements made by either the participants, victims or spectators to a crime immediately before, during or immediately after the commission of the crime, when the circumstances are such that the statements were made as a spontaneous reaction or utterance inspired by the excitement of the occasion and there was no opportunity for the declarant to deliberate and to fabricate a false statement. Siony rushed to Atanacia immediately upon seeing her father strangling her mother to death. Her spontaneous declaration to Atanacia was part of the res gestae and is assumed to preclude the probability of premeditation of fabrication. Since the utterance was made under the immediate and uncontrolled domination of the senses rather than reason and reflection, and during the brief period when consideration of self-interest could not have been fully brought to bear, the utterance may be taken as expressing Siony's real belief as to the facts just observed by her.
Besides, where a witness executes a statement for the prosecution and retracts his testimony and subsequently testified for the defense, the test to decide which testimony to believe is one of comparison coupled with the application of the general rules of evidence. Retractions are generally unreliable and are looked upon with considerable disfavor by the courts. Siony testified during the preliminary examination conducted by Judge Paano that the appellant choked her mother to death. Her subsequent retraction was an afterthought and has no probative value at all.
Furthermore, there are certain circumstances that may have persuaded the daughter to change her former declaration and testify in favor of her father. First, the accused was her father after all, and she probably felt that she should not be responsible for his incarceration for the rest of his life. Second, her testimony was given 7 years after the incident and therefore could not be expected to be as accurate as the statement she made in the preliminary investigation only hours after the killing. Third, during all this time, her father had been under detention and she must have believed that this was punishment enough for him. Lastly, she was, at the time she testified in court, living with her father's sister, who may have greatly influenced her testimony and caused her to recant her earlier statement.
B. Verbal acts
Sec. 42. Part of the res gestae. – So, also, statements accompanying an equivocal act material to the issue, and giving it a legal significance, may be received as part of the res gestae.
● Utterances which accompany some act or conduct to which it is desired to give a legal effect. When such act has intrinsically no definite legal significance, or only an ambiguous one, its legal purport or tenormay be ascertained by considering the words accompanying it, and these utterances thus enter merely as verbal part of the act.
● Verbal act must be contemporaneous with or must accompany the equivocal act to be admissible. Verbal act must have been made at the time, and not after, the equivocal act was being performed, unlike spontaneous exclamations which may have been made before, during or immediately subsequent to the startling occurrence.
Requisites for admissibility
For verbal acts to be admissible, it is required that:
1. The res gestae or principal act to be characterized must be equivocal
2. Such act must be material to the issue
3. The statements must accompany the equivocal act
4. The statements give a legal significance to the equivocal act
Reason for admissibility:
The motive, character and object of an act are frequently indicated by what was said by the person engaged in the act.
Dusepec v. Torres, 39 Phil 760 (1919)
Facts: Tan Po Pik died in the Philippines intestate. After he died, Marta Torres, claiming to be his widow, took possession of his estate and partitioned it between herself and her children by the deceased. Plaintiffs claim to be the legal wife and children of the deceased from China. They now sue to recover their supposed share of the estate. The SC found numerous inconsistencies as to the testimonial and documentary evidence of the plaintiffs as to lead to the conclusion that the plaintiffs are not who they claim to be. However, plaintiffs offered in evidence a sworn declaration of the deceased that the plaintiffs were his children. Defendants offered letters between the deceased and his brother showing that deceased’s sworn declaration was to deceive the customs authorities to allow plaintiffs to enter the country. Plaintiffs object to the admissibility of such letters.
Held: The declaration was made in proceedings before customs authorities upon arrival of the plaintiffs from China. The arrival and admission of these plaintiffs and the declaration of Tan Po Pik are isolated parts of an event which is the voyage from China to the Philippines of these supposed children of the deceased. Their preparations for the voyage and the plans conceived by them to obtain their sure entrance into this country are also part of the voyage. In order to consider the declaration made by Tan Po Pik before the customs authorities, the other acts, declarations, and events occurring before the said entrance into the country, which may have an essential bearing or which have led to the realization of their entrance into the country are admissible in evidence in this case on the ground that they constitute parts of the same transaction, or of the res gestae. A word, an expression, or an act of a person, considered apart from the circumstances surrounding them, does not signify anything, and in many cases it signifies the opposite of the true sense of the said word, expression, or act. It is imprudent and illegal to consider the declaration made by Tan Po Pik before the customs authorities separately from the circumstances which prompted him to make such a declaration. We must therefore inquire into circumstances which surrounded the entrance of the plaintiffs and the declaration made by Tan Po Pik on that occasion.
In this case, letters between Tan Po Pik and his brother in China contained an agreement that for plaintiffs to enter the Philippines, Tan Po Pik was to declare before the customs authorities that plaintiffs were his children. The names of the children whom Tan were supposed to declare as his children were the same as the names of the plaintiffs, except that they now bear the surname Tan. The letters even refer to one of the plaintiffs as the deceased’s nephew. If these plaintiffs were really children of Tan Po Pik, there would have been no necessity for the above letters. Thus, Tan Po Pik’s declaration before the customs authorities is for the sole purpose of allowing the children to enter the Philippines, and such a declaration is entirely false. All these letters formed an essential part of the fact of the coming of these plaintiffs to Manila, because if these letters had not been transmitted and received the plaintiffs could not have succeeded in entering the Philippines. Therefore, all the statements and declarations of Tan Po Ho in these documents relative to the prosecution of the object of the conspiracy are admissible in evidence.
People v. Lungayan, 162 SCRA 100 (1988)
People v. Tolentino, 218 SCRA 337 (1993)
People v. Berame, L-27606, July 30, 1976
Res Gestae vs. Dying Declaration
Res gestae in connection with a homicidal act may be distinguished from dying declaration in that:
1. A dying declaration can be made only by the victim, while a statement as part of the res gestae may be that of the killer himself after or during the killing (People vs Reyes, 82 Phil 563) or that of a third person.
2. Dying declarations are made only after the homicidal attack has been committed; but in res gestae, the statement may precede, accompany or be made after the homicidal act was committed.
3. The trustworthiness of a dying declaration is based upon its being given under an awareness of impending death, while the rule of res gestae has its justification in the spontaneity of the statement.
Consequently, while the statements of the victim may not qualify as a dying declaration because it was not made under the consciousness of impending death, it may still be admissible as part of the res gestae if it was made immediately after the incident. However, were the elements of both are present, the statement may be admitted both as a dying declaration and as part of the res gestae.