REPUBLIC v. SANDIGANBAYAN G.R. No. 188881 (2014)

G.R. No. 188881 : April 21 2014

FACTS: Republic, through the Presidential Commission on Good Government, commenced a complaint for “reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution and damages” against Bienvenido R. Tantoco, Jr., Dominador R. 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. Thereafter, 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. The Sandiganbayan admitted the Amended Interrogatories and granted the Motion for Production and Inspection of Documents. At the conclusion of the pre-trial, the temporary markings of Exhibits “A” to “LLL,” together with their sub-markings, were adopted. However, the PCGG produced and caused the pre-marking of additional documents, Exhibits “MMM” to “AAAAAAA” to which Tantoco and Santiago objected. 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. It was denied by the Sandiganbayan. 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.” Again, it was denied. Petitioner filed its Formal Offer of Evidence. The Sandiganbayan ruled that with the exception of some documents, “all Exhibits… are denied admission. The due execution and authenticity of these documents remain challenged since the prosecution failed to show otherwise. Exhibits “MMM” to “AAAAAAA” were admitted. Respondents, in turn, filed their Motion for Reconsideration, to which the graft court issued a resolution stating that the plaintiff Republic 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.”

ISSUE: Whether or not the documents due to petitioner’s own failure to produce them at the pre-trial should be excluded? Yes.

HELD: YES. Court finds that in excluding Exhibits “MMM” to “AAAAAAA,” the Sandiganbayan properly exercised its discretion over evidence formally offered by the prosecution. 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. 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.


G.R. No. 182738 : February 24 2014

FACTS: Respondent Sanchez, a stockholder of petitioner Capitol Hills Golf & Country Club, Inc. (Corporation), filed a petition for the nullification of the annual meeting of stockholder and the special meeting of stockholders. Petitioners, along with their co–defendants, filed an Answer with Counterclaims. A Motion for Preliminary Hearing of Defendants’ Affirmative Defenses was denied. Respondent’s Motion for Production and Inspection of Documents was granted. MR was filed by petitioners, but was denied, and considered respondent’s omnibus motion as a reiteration of his earlier motion for inspection and production of documents; thus, the immediate implementation of the Order. Petitioners elevated the Case to CA which was denied. MR was likewise denied. Supposed inspection did not push through as defendants again moved for its deferment. Corporate Secretary of the Corporation was, however, out of town, and Petitioner Roman showed no willingness to conform with the directive (Order). This was reported to trial court. When the inspection finally happened, the only document produced by the Acting Corporate Secretary was the Stock and Transfer Book of the Corporation. They alleged that they could not find from the corporate records the copies of the proxies submitted by the stockholders, including the tape recordings taken during the stockholders’ meetings, and that they needed more time to locate and find the list of stockholders which was in the bodega of the Corporation. This prompted respondent to file a Manifestation with Omnibus Motion praying that an order be issued in accordance with Section 3, Paragraphs (a) to (d) of Rule 29 of the Rules of Court, in relation to Section 4, Rule 3 of the Interim Rules of Procedure Governing Intra–Corporate Controversies under Republic Act No. 8799. The same was granted. The same was affirmed by CA.

ISSUE: Whether or not the procedure with respect to contempt cases was correctly followed? No.

HELD: NO. The proceedings for indirect contempt have not been initiated. To the Court’s mind, the September 3, 2007 Resolution could be treated as a mere reiteration of the September 10, 2002 Order. It is not yet a “judgment or final order of a court in a case of indirect contempt” as contemplated under the Rules. The penalty mentioned therein only serves as a reminder to caution petitioners of the consequence of possible non–observance of the long–overdue order to produce and make available for inspection and photocopying of the requested records/documents. In case of another failure or refusal to comply with the directive, the court or respondent could formally initiate the indirect contempt proceedings pursuant to the mandatory requirements of the Rules and existing jurisprudence.


G.R. No. 204700 : November 24 2014

FACTS: For resolution is respondent Cameron Granville 3 Asset Management, Inc.’s motion for reconsideration of  the Supreme Court’s decision, which reversed and set aside the CA’s resolutions and ordered respondent to produce the Loan Sale and Purchase Agreement (LSPA) dated April 7, 2006, including its annexes and/or attachments, if any, in order that petitioners may inspect or photocopy the same. The motion for reconsideration raises the following points: (1) The motion for production was filed out of time; (2) The production of the LSPA would violate the parol evidence rule; and (3) The LSPA is a privileged and confidential document under the Special Purpose Vehicle Act . Petitioners Eagleridge Development Corporation, Marcelo N. Naval, and Crispin I. Oben filed on June 7, 2013 their motion to admit attached opposition. Subsequently, respondent filed its reply and petitioners their motion to admit attached rejoinder.

ISSUE: Whether or not the discovery mode of production/inspection of document may be availed of even beyond the pre-trial upon a showing of good cause? Yes.

HELD: YES. The discovery mode of production/inspection of document may be availed of even beyond the pre-trial upon a showing of good cause. The availment of a motion for production, as one of the modes of discovery, is not limited to the pre-trial stage. Rule 27 does not provide for any time frame within which the discovery mode of production or inspection of documents can be utilized. The rule only requires leave of court “upon due application and a showing of due cause.” Rule 27, Section 1 of the 1997 Rules of Court. The LSPA is relevant and material to the issue on the validity of the deed of assignment raised by petitioners in the court a quo and allowing its production and inspection by petitioners would be more in keeping with the objectives of the discovery rules. We find no great practical difficulty, and respondent continuously fails to allege any, in presenting the document for inspection and copying of petitioners. On the other hand, to deny petitioners the opportunity to inquire into the LSPA would bar their access to relevant evidence and impair their fundamental right to due process.


G.R. No. 185145 : February 5, 2014

FACTS: Petitioners, Sps. Vicente and Leticia Afulugencia, filed a Complaint for nullification of mortgage, foreclosure, auction sale, certificate of sale and other documents, with damages, against respondents Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank, a domestic banking corporation) and Ortega (Clerk of Court and Ex-Officio Sheriff) before the RTC of Malolos City. After the filing of the parties’ pleadings and with the conclusion of pre-trial, petitioners filed a Motion for Issuance of Subpoena Duces Tecum Ad Testificandum to require Metrobank’s officers to appear and testify as the petitioners’ initial witnesses during the hearing for the (1) presentation of their evidence-in-chief, and  (2) to bring the documents relative to their loan with Metrobank, as well as those covering the extrajudicial foreclosure and sale of petitioners’ 200-square meter land in Meycauayan, Bulacan. Metrobank filed an Opposition arguing that for lack of a proper notice of hearing, the Motion must be denied; that being a litigated motion, the (1) failure of petitioners to set a date and time for the hearing renders the Motion ineffective and pro forma; (2) that pursuant to Sections 1 and 611 of Rule 25 of the Rules, Metrobank’s officers – who are considered adverse parties – may not be compelled to appear and testify in court for the petitioners since they were not initially served with written interrogatories; (3) that petitioners have not shown the materiality and relevance of the documents sought to be produced in court; and that petitioners were merely fishing for evidence. Petitioners submitted a Reply  stating that (1) the lack of a proper notice of hearing was cured by the filing of Metrobank’s Opposition; (2) that applying the principle of liberality, the defect may be ignored; (3) that leave of court is not necessary for the taking of Metrobank’s officers’ depositions; that for their case, (4) the issuance of a subpoena is not unreasonable and oppressive, but instead favorable to Metrobank, since it will present the testimony of these officers just the same during the presentation of its own evidence; (5) that the documents sought to be produced are relevant and will prove whether petitioners have paid their obligations to Metrobank in full, and will settle the issue relative to the validity or invalidity of the foreclosure proceedings; (6) and that the Rules do not prohibit a party from presenting the adverse party as its own witness.

ISSUE: Whether or not the Notice and Hearing apply to Motion for subpoena of respondent bank’s officers? Yes.

Held: YES. It is quite clear that Metrobank was notified of the Motion for Issuance of Subpoena Duces Tecum Ad Testificandum; in fact, it filed a timely Opposition thereto. The technical defect of lack of notice of hearing was thus cured by the filing of the Opposition. As officers of the adverse party Metrobank are being compelled to testify as the calling party’s main witnesses; likewise, they are tasked to bring with them documents which shall comprise the petitioners’ principal evidence. This is not without significant consequences that affect the interests of the adverse party, as will be shown below. As a rule, in civil cases, the procedure of calling the adverse party to the witness stand is not allowed, unless written interrogatories are first served upon the latter. This can be found in Section 6, Rule 25 of the Rules. One of the purposes of such rule is to prevent fishing expeditions and needless delays; it is there to maintain order and facilitate the conduct of trial. It will be presumed that a party who does not serve written interrogatories on the adverse party beforehand will most likely be unable to elicit facts useful to its case if it later opts to call the adverse party to the witness stand as its witness. On the procedural issue, it is quite clear that Metrobank was notified of the Motion for Issuance of Subpoena Duces Tecum Ad Testificandum; in fact, it filed a timely Opposition thereto. The technical defect of lack of notice of hearing was thus cured by the filing of the Opposition. As officers of the adverse party Metrobank are being compelled to testify as the calling party’s main witnesses; likewise, they are tasked to bring with them documents which shall comprise the petitioners’ principal evidence. This is not without significant consequences that affect the interests of the adverse party. It is true that under the Rules, a party may, for good cause shown and to prevent a failure of justice, be compelled to give testimony in court by the adverse party who has not served written interrogatories. But what petitioners seek goes against the very principles of justice and fair play. They would want that Metrobank provide the very evidence with which to prosecute and build their case from the start.


G.R. No. 203335: February 18 2014

Topic: Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012

FACTS: On September 12, 2012, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was approved. The law aimed to address legal issues concerning online interactions and the Internet in the Philippines. It penalizes illegal acts done via the Internet that were not covered by old laws. However, the act received criticisms for its provision criminalizing libel, which is perceived to be a curtailment of the freedom of expression. Hence, consolidated petitions were filed before the Supreme Court to question the constitutionality of several provisions of the act. Focusing on the libel aspect, petitioners claim that the libel provisions of the Revised Penal Code and, in effect, the libel provisions of the cybercrime law carry with them the requirement of “presumed malice” even when the latest jurisprudence already replaces it with the higher standard of “actual malice” as a basis for conviction. Petitioners argue that inferring “presumed malice” from the accused’s defamatory statement by virtue of Article 354 of the penal code infringes on the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression.


  1. Whether or not Section 4(c)(4) on Cyber-Libel, insofar as it penalizes the author of the libelous statement or article, is constitutional?


  1. Yes. Section 4(c)(4) on Cyber-Libel is constitutional. The Court ruled that Section 4(c)(4) penalizing online libel is valid and constitutional with respect to the original author of the post; but void and unconstitutional with respect to others who simply receive the post and react to it. It explained that libel is not a constitutionally protected speech and that the government has an obligation to protect private individuals from defamation. Indeed, cyberlibel is actually not a new crime since Article 353, in relation to Article 355 of the penal code, already punishes it. In effect, Section 4(c)(4) above merely affirms that online defamation constitutes “similar means” for committing libel. But the Courts acquiescence goes only insofar as the cybercrime law penalizes the author of the libelous statement or article. Cyberlibel brings with it certain intricacies, unheard of when the penal code provisions on libel were enacted. The culture associated with internet media is distinct from that of print.  The internet is characterized as encouraging a freewheeling, anything-goes writing style. In a sense, they are a world apart in terms of quickness of the readers reaction to defamatory statements posted in cyberspace, facilitated by one-click reply options offered by the networking site as well as by the speed with which such reactions are disseminated down the line to other internet users.