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Vda. de Onate vs. CA Case Digest


Evidence not formally offered may be admitted and considered by the trial court provided the following requirements are present, first, the same must have been duly identified by testimony duly recorded and, second, the same must have been incorporated in the records of the case.


Facts:

Taguba in her capacity as administratrix of the estate of the deceased Leonor Taguba, filed an action for specific performance with damages against Vda. de Oñate. Taguba alleged that Leonor bought a parcel of land from Vda. de Oñate for a consideration of P5,000 payable in 4 installments. After full payment, the parties however failed to reduce their contract in writing. Leonor died later. Demand was but Vda. de Oñate refused to execute a public document of sale in favor of Leonor.

The trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiff.

Vda. de Oñate appealed to the Court of Appeals faulting the trial court's factual findings. They contended that the trial court erred when it took cognizance of the plaintiff's evidence, particularly Exhibits "F," "F-1," "F-2" and "F-3" (receipts of the 4 installment payments), which had been marked but never formally submitted in evidence as required by the Rules of Court. Consequently, it was claimed that the trial court erred in relying on the said evidence in deciding for private respondents.


Issue:

May the four receipts not formally offered be admitted in evidence?


Held:

Yes. Section 35 (now Section 34) of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court provides:

Sec. 35. Offer of evidence. — The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. The purpose for which the evidence is offered must be specified.

From the foregoing provision, it is clear that for evidence to be considered, the same must be formally offered. Corollarily, the mere fact that a particular document is identified and marked as an exhibit does not mean that it has already been offered as part of the evidence of a party. In Interpacific Transit, Inc. v. Aviles, we had the occasion to make a distinction between identification of documentary evidence and its formal offer as an exhibit. We said that the first is done in the course of the trial and is accompanied by the marking of the evidence as an exhibit while the second is done only when the party rests its case and not before. A party, therefore, may opt to formally offer his evidence if he believes that it will advance his cause or not to do so at all. In the event he chooses to do the latter, the trial court is not authorized by the Rules to consider the same.

However, we relaxed the foregoing rule and allowed evidence not formally offered to be admitted and considered by the trial court provided the following requirements are present, viz.: first, the same must have been duly identified by testimony duly recorded and, second, the same must have been incorporated in the records of the case.

In the case at bench, these requisites have been satisfied.

The evidence in question were marked at the pre-trial for the purpose of identifying them. Taguba identified the said exhibits in her testimony which was duly recorded. Herein subject exhibits were also incorporated and made part of the records of this case. (Vda. de Onate vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 116149, November 23, 1995)

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