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

Friday, October 5, 2012

National Power Corp. vs. Hon. Ramon G. Codilla, Jr. et al.

G.R. No. 170491     April 4, 2007
Chico-Nazario, J.     Third Division


M/V Dibena Win, a vessel of foreign registry owned and operated by private respondent Bangpai Shipping, Co., allegedly bumped and damaged petitioner’s Power Barge 209 which was then moored at the Cebu International Port. Petitioner filed before the Cebu RTC a complaint for damages. Petitioner later impleaded herein private respondent Wallem Shipping, Inc., as additional defendant.

Petitioner, after adducing evidence during the trial of the case, filed a formal offer of evidence consisting of Exhibits "A" to "V" together with the sub-marked portions thereof. Consequently, private respondents filed their respective objections to petitioner’s formal offer of evidence.

The Court found merit in the objections raised and the motion to strike out filed respectively by the defendants. It denied admission of petitioner’s Exhibits A, C, D, E, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, and S on the ground that the pieces of documentary evidence were merely photocopies of purported documents or papers.

The record shows that the plaintiff has been given every opportunity to present the originals of the Xerox or photocopies of the documents it offered. It never produced the originals. The plaintiff attempted to justify the admission of the photocopies by contending that "the photocopies offered are equivalent to the original of the document" on the basis of the Electronic Evidence.

Further the Xerox or photocopies offered were not properly identified by any competent witness and the loss of the principals thereof was not established by any competent proof.


Whether or not the photocopies offered as formal evidence before the trial court are the functional equivalent of their original based on the petitioner’s inimitable interpretation of the Rules on Electronic Evidence.


The instant petition was DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals was AFFIRMED.

The rules use the word "information" to define an electronic document received, recorded, transmitted, stored, processed, retrieved or produced electronically. This would suggest that an electronic document is relevant only in terms of the information contained therein, similar to any other document which is presented in evidence as proof of its contents. However, what differentiates an electronic document from a paper-based document is the manner by which the information is processed; clearly, the information contained in an electronic document is received, recorded, transmitted, stored, processed, retrieved or produced electronically.

A perusal of the information contained in the photocopies submitted by petitioner will reveal that not all of the contents therein, such as the signatures of the persons who purportedly signed the documents, may be recorded or produced electronically. By no stretch of the imagination can a person’s signature affixed manually be considered as information electronically received, recorded, transmitted, stored, processed, retrieved or produced. Hence, the argument of petitioner that since these paper printouts were produced through an electronic process, then these photocopies are electronic documents as defined in the Rules on Electronic Evidence is obviously an erroneous, if not preposterous, interpretation of the law. Having thus declared that the offered photocopies are not tantamount to electronic documents, it is consequential that the same may not be considered as the functional equivalent of their original as decreed in the law.

Furthermore, no error can be ascribed to the court a quo in denying admission and excluding from the records petitioner’s Exhibits. The trial court was correct in rejecting these photocopies as they violate the best evidence rule and are therefore of no probative value being incompetent pieces of evidence.

When the original document has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, the offeror, upon proof of its execution or existence and the cause of its unavailability without bad faith on his part, may prove its contents by a copy, or by a recital of its contents in some authentic document, or by the testimony of witnesses in the order stated. The offeror of secondary evidence is burdened to prove the predicates thereof: (a) the loss or destruction of the original without bad faith on the part of the proponent/offeror which can be shown by circumstantial evidence of routine practices of destruction of documents; (b) the proponent must prove by a fair preponderance of evidence as to raise a reasonable inference of the loss or destruction of the original copy; and (c) it must be shown that a diligent and bona fide but unsuccessful search has been made for the document in the proper place or places. However, in the case at bar, though petitioner insisted in offering the photocopies as documentary evidence, it failed to establish that such offer was made in accordance with the exceptions as enumerated under the abovequoted rule. Accordingly, we find no error in the Order of the court a quo denying admissibility of the photocopies offered by petitioner as documentary evidence.

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