Remedial Law

Concepcion Catuira vs Court of Appeals

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G.R. No. 105813 – 236 SCRA 398 – Remedial Law – Criminal Procedure – Offer of Testimony

Evidence – Testimonial Evidence – Offer of Testimony

Concepcion Catuira was being tried for two counts of estafa. After the prosecution rested its case, Catuira filed a demurrer to evidence on the ground that the private complainant’s testimony was not offered hence the same should not be admitted against Catuira. Catuira invoked Sec. 34, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court which prohibits the admission of evidence not formally offered.

The trial court denied Catuira’s demurrer to evidence on the ground that Catuira did not raise a timely objection. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court. Catuira avers that both the trial court and the Court of Appeals are wrong because under Sec. 36, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, objection to evidence offered orally must be made immediately after the offer is made. So how can Catuira make an objection if there was no oral offer made on the testimony of the private complainant? Catuira argues that she could not have waived her right to object to the admissibility of the testimony of private complainant since the rule requires that it must be done only at the time such testimony is presented and the records plainly show that the opportunity for Catuira to object only came when the prosecution attempted, albeit belatedly, to offer the testimony after it has rested its case.

ISSUE: Is the testimony of a witness inadmissible in evidence if not formally offered at the time the witness is called to testify?

HELD: No. The reason for requiring that evidence be formally introduced is to enable the court to rule intelligently upon the objection to the questions which have been asked. As a general rule, the proponent must show its relevancy, materiality and competency. Where the proponent offers evidence deemed by counsel of the adverse party to be inadmissible for any reason, the latter has the right to object. But such right is a mere privilege which can be waived. Necessarily, the objection must be made at the earliest opportunity, lest silence when there is opportunity to speak may operate as a waiver of objections.

Consequently, even if the offer was belatedly made by the prosecution, there is no reason for the testimony to be expunged from the record. On the contrary, the unoffered oral evidence must be admitted if only to satisfy the court’s sense of justice and fairness and to stress that substantial justice may not be denied merely on the ground of technicality.

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