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Rules of Evidence in the Philippines

 

A. Sources of the Rules

 

1. The Principal Source: Rules 128 to Rule 133 of the Revised Rules of Court

 

a). Origin: The rules are patterned and based on the rules of evidence as developed, applied and interpreted in the English and American  Courts. Thus the rules on the disqualification of witnesses are pattered from the rules applied in the State of California. Our rules concerning confessions are patterned after American rules

 

b). Decisions of the English and American Courts, as well as opinions and works of English and American jurists, such as Wigmore, Clark, Jones,   and others, are given great weight

 

2. The Philippine constitution particularly, its provisions on the Bill of Rights and the Article on the Supreme Court

 

3. Special Laws passed by Congress which either create, amend or supplement existing rules of evidence. The most recent include (i) The Electronic Evidence Act and the (ii) The Child Witness Law

 

4. Decisions of the Supreme Court

 

5. Circulars issued by the Supreme Court

 

B. Power to Prescribe Rules of Evidence

 

1. The power is essentially legislative in that it is Congress which can enact laws concerning the presentation, admissibility, and weight of evidence. However the Supreme Court is not precluded from issuing adopting circulars and rules concerning the rules of evidence

2. New laws maybe issued under the Principle that “ No person has a vested right in the rules of evidence”.  Parties to a pending case can not demand that a new rule of evidence should not apply to them because it will be adverse to their cause. Rules of evidence may be altered or repelled at anytime and will apply to pending cases even if the effect is adverse to a party therein. The exceptions are rules which partake of the nature of Ex post facto laws or Bills of Attainder.

 

C. Stipulation and Waiver of a Rule of Evidence

 

1. Generally parties cannot, either by agreement or by contract, stipulate what rules shall be binding upon the Court. But the parties may however stipulate on the effects of certain types of evidence on their contractual rights as long as the jurisdiction of the court is not affected

 

2. As to waiver:

a). Rules intended for the protection of the parties maybe waived Examples: Rules on the Disqualification of Witnesses, the Privileged Communication Rule, The Best Evidence Rule

b). Rules grounded on public policy can not be waived. Examples: The Rule on the Identity of State Secrets; the rule on the inadmissibility of Coerced Confessions and evidence resulting from illegal searches and seizures; the 2 witness rule on treason                       

 

D. Classification of the Rules of Evidence

 

1. Rules of Probative Policy. These are rules the purposes of which is to improve the probative value of the evidence offered

 

a). Exclusionary Rules- those that exclude certain kinds of evidence on the grounds of policy and relevancy. Example: the rule that character evidence is not admissible in civil cases; the rule disqualifying certain persons from being witnesses.

 

b). Preferential Rules- those which require one kind of evidence in preference to any other in that they are more trustworthy. Example: the rule which require that the original of a document is preferred over any other as proof of the contents of a document

 

c). Analytical rules- those that subject certain kinds of evidence to rigid scrutiny, so as to expose their possible weaknesses and shortcomings. Examples: the rules which require that testimonial evidence be subjected to the opportunity for cross-examination

 

d). Prophylactic rules- those that apply beforehand certain measures to prevent risk, falsity or mistake. Examples: the rules which require that witnesses be placed under oath; the rules on the separation and exclusion of witnesses

 

e). Quantitative Rules- the rules that require certain kinds of evidence to be produced in specific  quantity, or that certain evidence be required to be associated with other evidence when presented. Examples: the 2-witness rule in the crime  of treason; the rule which require that an extra judicial  confession be corroborated by evidence of corpus delicti; that the testimony of a state witness be corroborated  in its material points.

 

2. Rules of Extrinsic Policy- these are rules which seek to exclude useful evidence for the sake of up holding other policies considered more paramount. They may either be absolute or conditional.

 

Examples: The Exclusionary Provisions of the Constitution; the Anti Wire Tapping Law.

 

E. Interpretation: The rules are to be liberally construed and hair-splitting technicalities are to be avoided

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