G.R. No. 119602, October 06, 2000
The Philippine Roxas, a vessel owned by Philippine President Lines, was grounded and as a result blocked the passage of Malandrinon, a vessel owned by Wildvalley, which caused its failure to sail out of Puerto Ordaz on that day. Due to this, Wildvalley filed a suit with the Regional Trial Court of Manila against Philippine President Lines, Inc for damages.
The trial court rendered its decision in favor of the petitioner,
The CA reversed the Trial Court’s decision and provided that under the PH Law, no fault or negligence can be attributed to Philippine Roxas.
Whether or not Venezuelan law is applicable to the case at bar.
NO. It is well-settled that foreign laws do not prove themselves in our jurisdiction and our courts are not authorized to take judicial notice of them. Like any other fact, they must be alleged and proved. The Venezuelan law was not pleaded before the lower court. A foreign law is considered to be pleaded if there is an allegation in the pleading about the existence of the foreign law, its import and legal consequence on the event or transaction in issue. A review of the Complaint revealed that it was never alleged or invoked despite the fact that the grounding of the M/V Philippine Roxas occurred within the territorial jurisdiction of Venezuela.
Under the rules of private international law, a foreign law must be properly pleaded and proved as a fact. In the absence of pleading and proof, the laws of a foreign country, or state, will be presumed to be the same as our own local or domestic law and this is known as processual presumption.
Capt. Oscar Leon Monzon, the Assistant Harbor Master and Chief of Pilots at Puerto Ordaz, is competent to testify on the existence of Reglamento General de la Ley de Pilotaje (pilotage law of Venezuela)29 and the Reglamento Para la Zona de Pilotaje No. 1 del Orinoco (rules governing the navigation of the Orinoco River). However, these written laws were not proven in the manner provided by Section 24 of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court. For a copy of a foreign public document to be admissible, the following requisites are mandatory: (1) It must be attested by the officer having legal custody of the records or by his deputy; and (2) It must be accompanied by a certificate by a secretary of the embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice consular or consular agent or foreign service officer, and with the seal of his office. The latter requirement is not a mere technicality but is intended to justify the giving of full faith and credit to the genuineness of a document in a foreign country.
It is not enough that the Gaceta Oficial, or a book published by the Ministerio de Comunicaciones of Venezuela, was presented as evidence with Captain Monzon attesting it. It is also required by Section 24 of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court that a certificate that Captain Monzon, who attested the documents, is the officer who had legal custody of those records made by a secretary of the embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice consul or consular agent or by any officer in the foreign service of the Philippines stationed in Venezuela, and authenticated by the seal of his office accompanying the copy of the public document. No such certificate could be found in the records of the case. According to the weight of authority, when a foreign statute is involved, the best evidence rule requires that it be proved by a duly authenticated copy of the statute.
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