Sec. 34. Similar acts as evidence. – Evidence that one did or did not do a certain thing at one time is not admissible to prove that he did or did not do the same or a similar thing at another time; but it may be received to prove a specific intent or knowledge, identity, plan, system, scheme, habit, custom or usage, and the like.
Reason for the rule
It is clear that evidence of other crimes compels the defendant to meet charges of which the indictment gives him no information, confuses him in his defense, raises a variety of issue, and thus diverts the attention of the court from the charge immediately before it. The rule may be said to be an application of the principle that the evidence must be confined to the point in issue in the case on trial. In other words, evidence of collateral offenses must not be received as substantive evidence of the offenses on trial.
Sec. 34 is the second branch of the rule of res inter alios acta (Rule 130, Sec. 28) and applies to both civil and criminal cases.
US v. Evangelista
24 Phil 453 (1913)
In a trial for arson, the prosecution may prove that the accused had attempted to set fire to the house on the day previous to the burning alleged in the information, for the purpose of showing the intent of the accused in subsequently setting fire to the house. Where a person is charged wit the commission of a specific crime, testimony may be received of the other similar acts committed about the same time, only for the purpose of establishing the criminal intent of the accused.
US v. Pineda
37 Phil 457 (1918)
Facts: A druggist filled a prescription for protassium chlorate with barium chlorate, a poison, causing the death of two horses. After analyzing the packages, two chemists went to the drug store of the defendant and bought potassium chlorate, which when analyzed was found to be barium chlorate.
Held: The testimony of the chemist was admissible in order to demonstrate defendant's motive and negligence. It is permissible to ascertain defendant's knowledge and intent and to fix his negligence. If the defendant has on more than one occasion performed similar acts, accident in good faith is possibly excluded, negligence is intensified, and fraudulent intent may even be established. There is no better evidence of negligence than the frequency of accidents. Evidence is admissible in a criminal action which tends to show motive, although it tends to prove the commission of another offense by the defendant.
People v. Irang
64 Phil 285 (1937)
Facts: After barging into her home, a man ordered Maximiniana Vicente to bring out her money and jewelry. As she turned over the items, she looked at the man's face and saw that he had pockmarks and a scar on his left eyelid. Irang was identified by Maximiana from a police line-up and was charged. During the trial, Maximiana’s neighbor, Juana de la Cruz, testified that on the night in question, her house was assaulted by malefactors. de la Cruz noticed that one of them had pockmarks and a scar on the left eyelid. She identified that man to be Irang.
Held: The testimony of Juana de la Cruz indirectly corroborates Maximiniana’s testimony that the man of the same description was the one who went to her house and demanded delivery of her money and jewelry. While evidence of another crime is, as a rule, not admissible in a prosecution for robbery, it is admissible when it is otherwise relevant, as where it tends to identify defendant as the perpetrator of the robbery charged, or tends to show his presence at the scene or in the vicinity of the crime at the time charged, or when it is evidence of a circumstance connected with the crime.
People v. Soliman, 53 O.G. 8083 (1957)
People v. Babiera, 52 Phil. 97 (1928)
US v. Mercado, 26 Phil. 127 (1913)