G.R. No. 152375 : December 16 2011

FACTS: A Complaint for reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution, and damages was filed against the respondents before the Sandiganbayan. It was alleged that that respondents illegally manipulated the purchase of the major shareholdings of Cable and Wireless Limited in Eastern Telecommunications Philippines, Inc. (ETPI). In the proceedings for Civil Case 0130, the testimony of Mr. Bane was taken by way of deposition upon oral examination before the consul general of the Philippine Embassy in London. The purpose was for Bane to identify and testify on the facts set forth in his affidavit in order to prove the ownership issue in favor of the petitioner and/or establish the prima facie factual foundation for sequestration of ETPI’s Class A stock. As to Civil Case 009, the petitioner filed a motion to adopt the testimonies of the witnesses in Civil Case 0130, including the deposition of Mr. Bane which was denied by the Sandiganbayan because he was not available for cross-examination. The petitioners did not question the said denial, and instead made its Formal Offer of Evidence. The Bane deposition was not included as part of the exhibit. Thus, they filed a second motion with prayer for re-opening of the case for the purpose of introducing additional evidence and requested the court to take judicial notice of the facts established by the Bane deposition. This was denied by the Sandiganbayan.

ISSUE: Whether or not Bane’s deposition is admissible under the Rules of Court? Yes.

HELD: YES.  Before a party can make use of the deposition taken at the trial of a pending action, Section 4, Rule 23 of the Rules of Court does not only require due observance of its sub-paragraphs (a) to (d); it also requires, as a condition for admissibility, compliance with “the rules on evidence.” Thus, even Section 4, Rule 23 of the Rules of Court makes an implied reference to Section 47, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court before the deposition may be used in evidence. In this case, the deponent Maurice V. Bane was the Executive Vice-President and Treasurer of ETPI from 1974 until his retirement in 1987. Maurice V. Bane had personal knowledge of and involvement in the circumstances leading to the formation of ETPI in 1974, which is crucial to petitioner’s allegation that private respondents’ interest in ETPI rightfully belongs to the Government. To dismiss the Bane deposition as inadmissible based on the tenuous ground that there was no “actual consolidation” of cases is to disregard the obvious fact that the Bane deposition was taken in CIVIL CASE NO. 0009 (Incident Case No. 0130 and G.R. No. 107789) and that all the defendants (now private respondents) in Civil Case No. 0009 were duly notified of the scheduled deposition-taking.