“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. - Oscar Wilde

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Emmanuel B. Aznar vs. Citibank, N.A. (Philippines)

G.R. No. 164273     March 28, 2007
Austria-Martinez, J.     Third Division


Emmanuel B. Aznar (hereafter Aznar) is a holder of a Preferred Master Credit Card (hereafter Mastercard). Aznar claims that when he presented his Mastercard in some establishments in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, the same was not honored. And when he tried to use the same in Ingtan Tour and Travel Agency (Ingtan Agency) in Indonesia to purchase plane tickets to Bali, it was again dishonored for the reason that his card was blacklisted by Citibank.

To prove that Citibank blacklisted his Mastercard, Aznar presented a computer print-out, denominated as ON-LINE AUTHORIZATIONS FOREIGN ACCOUNT ACTIVITY REPORT, issued to him by Ingtan Agency with the signature of one Victrina Elnado Nubi (hereafter Nubi) which shows that his card in question was "DECL OVERLIMIT" or declared over the limit.

The Regional Trial Court rendered its decision dismissing Aznar’s complaint for lack of merit. It held that as between the computer print-out presented by Aznar and the Warning Cancellation Bulletins presented by Citibank, the latter had more weight as their due execution and authenticity were duly established by Citibank.

Upon motion for reconsideration, the decision was reversed. Judge De la Peña ruled that the computer print-out was printed out by Nubi in the ordinary or regular course of business in the modern credit card industry and Nubi was not able to testify as she was in a foreign country and cannot be reached by subpoena. The same took judicial notice of the practice of automated teller machines (ATMs) and credit card facilities which readily print out bank account status, therefore the print-out can be received as prima facie evidence of the dishonor of Aznar’s Mastercard;

On appeal, the Court of Appeals (hereafter CA) ruled that the computer print-out is an electronic document which must be authenticated pursuant to Section 2, Rule 5 of the Rules on Electronic Evidence or under Section 20 of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court by anyone who saw the document executed or written; Aznar, however, failed to prove its authenticity, thus it must be excluded;


Whether or not the "On Line Authorization Report" is an electronic document."

Whether or not the "On Line Authorization Report" constitutes electronic evidence;


The Supreme Court (hereafter Court) denied the petition for lack of merit.

Aznar puts much weight on the ON-LINE AUTHORIZATION FOREIGN ACCOUNT ACTIVITY REPORT, a computer print-out handed to Aznar by Ingtan Agency, to prove that his Mastercard was dishonored for being blacklisted. On said print-out appears the words "DECL OVERLIMIT".

As correctly pointed out by the RTC and the CA, however, such exhibit cannot be considered admissible as its authenticity and due execution were not sufficiently established by petitioner.

The prevailing rule at the time of the promulgation of the RTC Decision is Section 20 of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court. It provides that whenever any private document offered as authentic is received in evidence, its due execution and authenticity must be proved either by (a) anyone who saw the document executed or written; or (b) by evidence of the genuineness of the signature or handwriting of the maker.

Aznar, who testified on the authenticity did not actually see the document executed or written, neither was he able to provide evidence on the genuineness of the signature or handwriting of Nubi, who handed to him said computer print-out.

Even if examined under the Rules on Electronic Evidence, which took effect on August 1, 2001, and which is being invoked by Aznar in this case, the authentication of the computer print-out would still be found wanting.

Aznar claims that his testimony complies with par. (c), i.e., it constitutes the "other evidence showing integrity and reliability of Exh. "G" to the satisfaction of the judge." The Court is not convinced. Aznar’s testimony that the person from Ingtan Agency merely handed him the computer print-out and that he thereafter asked said person to sign the same cannot be considered as sufficient to show said print-out’s integrity and reliability.

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