Santamaria vs. Cleary
G.R. No. 197122. June 15, 2016.
MAIN TOPIC – Rule 23
Thomas Cleary, an American citizen and Los Angeles resident filed a complaint for specific performance and damages against Miranila Land Development Corporation (MLDC) involving shares of stock. Cleary moved for court authorization to take deposition before the Consulate-General of the Philippines in Los Angeles and be used as his direct testimony. The respondents argued that the right to take deposition is not absolute and since Cleary chose the Philippine system to file his suit, the court and the parties must have opportunity to observe his demeanor and directly propound questions on him. The trial court denied Cleary’s Motion and held that depositions are not meant to be a substitute for actual testimony in open court. Cleary elevated the case to the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals granted Cleary’s petition and reversed the trial court’s ruling. It held that Rule 23, Section 1 of the Rules of Court allows the taking of depositions, and that it is immaterial that Cleary is the plaintiff himself.
Whether or not a foreigner residing abroad who chose to file a civil suit in the Philippines is allowed to take deposition abroad for his direct testimony on the ground that he is “out of the Philippines” pursuant to Rule 23, Section 4(c)(2) of the Rules of Court.
YES, depositions may be used without the deponent being actually called to the witness stand by the proponent, under certain conditions and for certain limited purposes.” These exceptional cases are enumerated in Rule 23, Section 4(c) as follows:
2) that the witness resides at distance more than one hundred (100) kilometers from the place of trial or hearing, or is out of the Philippines, unless it appears that his absence was procured by the party offering the deposition;
The rules and jurisprudence support greater leeway in allowing the parties and their witnesses to be deposed in the interest of collecting information for the speedy and complete disposition of cases.
Rule 23, Section 1 of the Rules of Court no longer requires leave of court for the taking of deposition after an answer has been served.