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PEOPLE vs ESTENZO

FACTS: In a case "People of the Philippines, plaintiff, versus Gregorio Ojoy, accused", after the accused himself had testified in his defense, his counsel manifested that for his subsequent witnesses he was filing only their affidavits subject to crossexamination by the prosecution on matters stated in the affidavits and on all other matters pertinent and material to the case. Private prosecutor Atty. Amelia K. del Rosario, one of the petitioners here, objected to the proposed procedure Respondent Judge gave his conformity and issued the questioned Order. Contending that respondent Judge gravely abused his discretion because the aforesaid Orders violates Sections 1 and 2 of Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Court, which requires that the testimony of the witness should be given orally in open court, and there is no appeal nor any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent judge erred in sustaining the manifestation of the defense counsel in filing only affidavits of his subsequent witnesses. HELD: Yes. Petition Granted. RATIO: Sections 1 and 2, Rule 132 and Section 1, Rule 133 of the Revised Rules of Court clearly require that the testimony of a witness shall be given orally in open court. The afore-cited Sections 1 and 2 provide:
SEC 1. Testimony to be given in open court. The testimony of witnesses shall be given orally in open court and under oath or affirmation. SEC. 2. Testimony in superior courts to be reduced to writing.- In superior courts the testimony of each witness shall be taken in shorthand or stenotype, the name, residence, and occupation of the witness being stated, and all questions put to the witness and his answers thereto being included. If a question put is objected to and the objection is ruled on, the nature of the objection and the ground on which it was sustained or overruled must be stated, or if a witness declines to answer a question put, the fact and the proceedings taken thereon shall be entered in the record. A transcript of the record made by the official stenographer or stenotypist and certified as correct by him shall be prima facie a correct statement of such testimony and proceedings.

The main and essential purpose of requiring a witness to appear and testify orally at a trial is to secure for the adverse party the opportunity of cross-examination. "The opponent", demands confrontation, for the purpose of cross-examination which cannot be had except by the direct and personal putting of questions and obtaining immediate answers." Another advantage is that it enables the judge as the trier of facts "to obtain the elusive and incommunicable evidence of a witness deportment while testifying, and a certain subjective moral effect is produced upon the witness. It is only when the witness testifies orally that the judge may have a true idea of his countenance, manner and expression, which may confirm or detract from the weight of his testimony. Certainly, the physical condition of the witness will reveal his capacity for accurate observation and memory, and his deportment and physiognomy will reveal clues to his character. Thus, Section 1 of Rule 133 of the Rulerequires that in determining the superior weight of evidence on the issues involved, the court, aside from the other factors therein enumerated, may consider the "witness manner of testifying" which can only be done if the witness gives his testimony orally in open court". If a trial judge prepares his opinion immediately after the conclusion of the trial, with the evidence and his impressions of the witnesses fresh in his mind, it is obvious that he is much more likely to reach a correct result than if he simply reviews the evidence from a typewritten transcript, without having had the opportunity to see, hear and observe the actions and utterances of the witnesses. Rules governing the examination of witnesses are intended to protect the rights of litigants and to secure orderly dispatch of the business of the courts. Under the rules, only questions directed to the eliciting of testimony which, under the general rules of evidence, is relevant to, and competent to prove, the issue of the case, may be propounded to the witness. A witness can testify only on those facts which he knows of his own knowledge. Thus, on direct examination, leading questions are not allowed, except or, preliminary matters, or when there is difficult in getting direct and intelligible answer from the witness who is ignorant, a child of tender years, or feebleminded, or a deaf mute. It is obvious that such purpose may be subverted, and the orderly dispatch of the business of the courts thwarted if trial judges are allowed, as in the case at bar, to adopt any procedure in the presentation of evidence other than what is specifically authorized by the Rules of Court.