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Interpacific Transit vs. Aviles Case Digest


● The rule is that evidence not objected to is deemed admitted and may be validly considered by the court in arriving at its judgment. This is true even if by its nature the evidence is inadmissible and would have surely been rejected if it had been challenged at the proper time.

● Objection to documentary evidence must be made at the time it was formally offered, and not when the particular document is marked is identified and marked as an exhibit.


Facts:

Rufo and Josephine Aviles were charged with the crime of estafa. The information alleged alleged that being then sub-agents of Interpacific Transit, Inc. and as such enjoying its trust and confidence, the Aviles collected from its various clients payments for airway bills in the amount of P204,030.66 which, instead of remitting it to their principal, they unlawfully converted to their own personal use and benefit.

In the course of the direct examination of one of the prosecution witnesses, the prosecution introduced photocopies of the airway bills which the Aviles had not rendered proper accounting. The defense objected to their presentation, invoking the best evidence rule. The prosecution said it would submit the original airway bills in due time. Upon such undertaking, the trial court allowed the marking of the said documents as Exhibits "B" to "OO." The prosecution did not submit the original airway bills nor did it prove their loss to justify their substitution with secondary evidence. Nevertheless, when the certified photocopies of the said bills formally were offered in evidence, the defense interposed no objection.

The trial court acquitted the Aviles, ruling that the certified photocopies of the airway by were not admissible. 


Issue:

Whether or not the certified photocopies of the airway bills are admissible in evidence


Held:

Yes. In assessing this evidence, the lower courts confined themselves to the best evidence rule and the nature of the documents being presented, which they held did not come under any of the exceptions to the rule. There is no question that the photocopies were secondary evidence and as such were not admissible unless there was ample proof of the loss of the originals; and neither were the other exceptions allowed by the Rules applicable. The trouble is that in rejecting these copies under Rule 130, Section 2, the respondent court disregarded an equally important principle long observed in our trial courts and amply supported by jurisprudence.

The rule is that objection to documentary evidence must be made at the time it is formally offered as an exhibit and not before. Objection prior to that time is premature.

It is instructive at this paint to make a distinction between identification of documentary evidence and its formal offer as an exhibit. The first is done in the course of the trial and is accompanied by the marking of the evidence an an exhibit. The second is done only when the party rests its case and not before. The mere fact that a particular document is identified and marked as an exhibit does not mean it will be or has been offered as part of the evidence of the party. The party may decide to formally offer it if it believes this will advance its cause, and then again it may decide not to do so at all. In the latter event, the trial court is, under Rule 132, Section 35, not authorized to consider it.

Objection to the documentary evidence must be made at the time it is formally offered, not earlier. 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.

In the case at bar, the photocopies of the airway bills were objected to by the private respondents as secondary evidence only when they were being identified for marking by the prosecution. They were nevertheless marked as exhibits upon the promise that the original airway bills would be submitted later. It is true that the originals were never produced. Yet, notwithstanding this omission, the defense did not object when the exhibits as previously marked were formally offered in evidence. And these were subsequently admitted by the trial court.

The objection of the defense to the photocopies of the airway bills while they were being identified and marked as exhibits did not constitute the objection it should have made when the exhibits were formally offered in evidence by the prosecution. No valid and timely objection was made at that time. And it is no argument to say that the earlier objection should be considered a continuing objection under Sec. 37 of Rule 132, for that provision obviously refers to a single objection to a class of evidence (testimonial or documentary) which when first offered is considered to encompass the rest of the evidence. The presumption is, of course, that there was an offer and a seasonable objection thereto. But, to repeat, no objection was really made in the case before us because it was not made at the proper time.

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.

The effect of such omission is obvious. The rule is that evidence not objected to is deemed admitted and may be validly considered by the court in arriving at its judgment. This is true even if by its nature the evidence is inadmissible and would have surely been rejected if it had been challenged at the proper time (Interpacific Transit vs. Aviles, G.R. No. 86062, June 6, 1990).

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