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298

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Factors Affecting the Credibility of Witnesses

ANNOTATION
FACTORS AFFECTING
WITNESSES

THE

CREDIBILITY

OF

By
ROBERTO A. ABAD
1. Their Behavior at the Witness Stand, p. 298.
2. Delay in Giving Testimony, p. 299.
3. Attitude of Witnesses Toward Litigants, p.
301.
(a) When Neutral, p. 301.
(b) When Friendly, p. 301.
(c) When Hostile, p. 302.
4. Relationship of Witness to Litigants, p. 303.
(a) Relation to Offended Party, p. 303.
(b) Relation to Accused, p. 304.
5. Testimony of Interested Parties, p. 305.

6. SelfContradictions, p. 305.
(a) With Reference to Previous Statements, p. 305.
(b) Selfcontradictions at Trial, p. 306.
(c) In Relation to Statements After Trial, p. 307.
7. Variance with Testimony of Other Witnesses,
p. 308.
_______________

1. Their Behavior at the Witness Stand


The value as evidence of the testimony of a witness given in
open court in the course of a trial had therein is due for the
most part to the following considerations: That under such
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Factors Affecting the Credibility of Witnesses

conditions it is given under the sanction of an oath and of


the penalties prescribed for perjury that the witness story
is told in the presence of an impartial judge in the course of
a solemn trial in court that the witness is subject to cross
examination, with all the facilities afforded thereby to test
the truth and accuracy of his statements and to develop his
attitude of mind toward the parties, and his disposition to
assist the cause of truth rather than to further some
personal end that the proceedings are had under the
protection of the court and under such conditions as to

remove, so far as is humanly possible, all likelihood that


undue or unfair influences will be exercised to induce the
witness to testify falsely and finally that under the
watchful eye of the trained judge his manner, his general
bearing and demeanor and even the intonation of his voice
often disclose unconsciously the degree of credit to which
he is entitled as a witness. U.S. vs. Dacir, 26 Phil. 503
People v. Solaa, L13967, Sept. 29,1962, 6 SCRA 60.
The testimony of a witness whose answers to questions
propounded to him are to the point, straightforward,
plausible and consistent, has the earmarks of sincerity and
may be given full weight and credence. People v. Erit, L
2301, July 11, 1949. A witness demeanor in the witness box
is often better evidence of his veracity than the answers he
gives. People vs. Solaa, supra.
And since the judge who heard the witnesses at the trial
had the opportunity to observe the gestures, features,
demeanor and manner of testifying of the said witnesses,
the reviewing court will not interfere with his judgment in
the determination of their credibility. U.S. vs. Pico, 15 Phil.
549 U.S. vs. Maralit, 36 Phil. 155 U.S. vs. Remigio, 37
Phil. 599 People v. Cabrera, 43 Phil. 64 U.S. v. vs. Rica, 27
Phil. 641 U.S. vs. Agoncillo, 33 Phil. 242 People v. De
Otero, 51 Phil. 201.
2. Delay in Giving Testimony
It has been held that while the criminal responsibility of an
offender is in no wise affected by the silence of those with
knowledge of his guilt prior to the institution of criminal
proceedings, a long and unexplained silence of a
complaining
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Factors Affecting the Credibility of Witnesses

witness may well give rise as to his motive for breaking


that silence, and his creditability will be put in grave doubt
and lead to the suspicion that he is actuated by sinister and
ulterior motives in his charges against a person with the
commission of a crime. U.S. vs. Cardona, 36 Phil. 438.
Thus, where the prosecution of an alleged crime committed
in 1899 is not instituted until 1916, the testimony of
witnesses for the defense should be given special
consideration in case of such a delay in instituting of
proceedings. U.S. vs. Pagaduan, 37 Phil. 90.
However, the credibility of witnesses for the prosecution
cannot be impugned due to their failure to promptly reveal
their knowledge of the crime to the authorities where it
was the result of a conspiracy among members of a certain
political faction to spread terror and some of the witnesses
had been shot at and others threatened. People vs.
Timbang, 74 Phil. 295 People vs. Umali, L8866, January
23, 1957. Moreover, fear of likely retaliation by the several
accused who were still at large has been considered as a
justified reason for the witnesses delay in coming forward
with their testimony. People vs. Gutierrez, L3723, April 27,
1951 People vs. Galiano, L6642, November 18, 1955
People vs. Sampang, L15843, March 31, 1966, 16 SCRA
531 People vs. Egual, L13469, 14340, 14209, May 27,
1965, 14 SCRA 89 People vs. Callado, L12002, Nov. 23,
1960.
In a case, the fact that for several days after the
shooting of a husband and father, his wife and daughter
pretended ignorance of the murderers identity did not
detract from their credibility, such silence having been
sufficiently accounted for because of their fear of revenge.

People vs. Malibiran, L4192, Feb. 27, 1951. See also People
vs. Leyesa, L7842, Aug. 30, 1956 People vs. De Gracia, L
21419, Sept. 29, 1966, 18 SCRA 197 People vs. Antonio, L
16547, May 30, 1964, 11 SCRA 260. Likewise, the fact that
the husband of a woman who was violated by members of a
band of armed robbers did not immediately disclose that
his wife was raped, but only the fact of robbery, to the
authorities, does not affect the credibility of his ultimate
testimony to all the things that occurred on the occasion,
including the rapes. People vs. Santos, L4189, May 21,
1952.
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It has been held that the lapse of several years in charging


a defendant with a particular crime does not discredit
witnesses for the prosecution where they did not know his
name and could only recognize him upon seeing him again,
which did not occur until shortly before the prosecution
was filed. People vs. Ali, L7431, May 30, 1958.
In sum, the delay of witnesses in informing other people
of what they knew about a criminal offense would not affect
their credibility where the delay was satisfactorily
explained. People vs. Lao Wan Sing, L16379, Dec. 17,
1966, 18 SCRA 1076.
3. Attitude of Witnesses Toward Litigants
In many instances, the attitude of the witness toward the
plaintiff or the defendant, or the accused, vis a vis, the

offended party, is relevant in determining the credence to


be given such witness.
(a) When NeutralIn the absence of evidence to show
any reason or motive why witnesses should have testified
falsely, the logical conclusion is that there is no such
improper motive and that their testimony is worthy of full
faith and credit. People vs. Borbano, 76 Phil. 702. And the
testimony of a formidable array of disinterested witnesses
produced by one party cannot be ignored in the absence of
credible evidence, such as a public document, the
authenticity of which is unquestioned or unquestionable,
presented to overcome it. Erlanger & Galinger, Inc. vs.
Exconde, L4792, Sept. 30, 1953 People vs. Nadura, L
6547, Aug. 25, 1954 People vs. Dizon, 76 Phil. 265 People
vs. Gonzales, 76 Phil. 473 People vs. Corpuz, L12718, Feb.
24,1960 People vs. Asi, L17410, June 30, 1962, 5 SCRA
497.
In this connection, the fact that a witness in a murder
case is the landlord of the family of the deceased and sort
of a consultant of his tenants will not, of itself, discredit
his testimony. People vs. Umiad, L9351, May 31, 1957.
(b) When FriendlyWhere the witnesses are in one way
or another bound to accused by ties of friendship or family
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Factors Affecting the Credibility of Witnesses

relation, it has been held that the trial court is in no error


in giving no credence to the defendants alibi and their
witnesses testimony. People vs. Elizaga, L2487, May 18,
1950. In a case, the fact that the witnesses for the

defendant in a murder case are his fellow soldiers may


affect the credibility of said witnesses as the esprit de corps
might have induced said witnesses to protect their
colleague to the extent of not telling the truth. People vs.
Dacudao, L13966, June 30, 1960. However, the solicitude
shown by the offended party for his witnesses is not
sufficient to impugn the latters veracity, since it is
natural and common for a party to a case to attend to the
needs and comforts of his witnesses, especially if these
have no independent means of defraying their own
expenses or are lukewarm. People vs. Elizaga, supra.
(c) When HostileWhere the only witnesses for the
prosecution are enemies of the accused and their testimony
is not altogether reasonable and is in part contradictory,
the accused is entitled to acquittal, when he and his
witnesses tell a fair and reasonable story demonstrating
his innocence. U.S. vs. Chien Suey, 28 Phil. 300. This is so
because the truthfulness of witnesses for the prosecution is
doubtful where they have every reason to be hostile to the
defendant. People vs. Abendan, 82 Phil. 711. See also U.S.
vs. Quiamson, 5 Phil. 444.
In one case, the witnesses for the prosecution in a
murder case were: the father of the deceased a cousin of
the deceased who had nursed ill will towards the defendant
due to the latters failure to intercede in behalf of the
witness son who was convicted of the crime of illegal
possession of firearms a compadre of the deceased and
bitter political enemy of the defendant and lastly, an
intimate friend and frequent companion of the deceased. It
was held that these witnesses were unmistakably biased
against the defendant. People vs. Macatangay, L12942,
Feb. 29, 1960. In another case, some of the witnesses for
the prosecution charging the appellant with theft of large
cattle had consulted a clairvoyant as to who took or stole

the carabaos in question. The Supreme Court considered


their testimony as so tainted and prejudiced by the fact
that the clairvoyants advice indicated appellant as the
thief as to be incredible and not worthy of belief. People vs.
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Pabella, 76 Phil. 508. But the fact that the witness is a


secret agent and is anxious to find out who were connected
with the prohibited importation of opium, does not make
him a biased witness. U.S. vs. Grant and Kennedy, 18 Phil.
122.
4. Relationship of Witness to Litigants
Generally, the mere relationship of a witness to a party to a
controversy does not disqualify him as a witness. People vs.
Bautista, L17772, Oct. 31, 1962, 6 SCRA 522.
(a) Relation to Offended PartySpecifically, it has been
held that a witness relationship to the victim does not, by
itself, impair his credibility. People vs. Villalba, L17243,
Aug. 23, 1966, 17 SCRA 948 People vs. Berganio, L10121,
Dec. 29, 1960 People vs. Divinagracia, L10611, Mar. 13,
1959 People vs. Cabantug, 49 Phil. 482 People vs.
Bautista, L17772, Oct. 31, 1962, 6 SCRA 522 People vs.
Valera, L15662, Aug. 30, 1962, 5 SCRA 910. On the
contrary, it would be unnatural for such persons interested
in seeing retribution exacted for the crime to impute the
same to any person other than those responsible for the
crime. People vs. Bagsican, L13486, Oct. 31, 1962, 6 SCRA

400 People vs. Reyes, L18892, May 30, 1966, 17 SCRA 309
People vs. Tagaro, L18518, Jan. 31, 1963, 7 SCRA 187.
In a case, the fact that two witnesses for the prosecution
in a crime of murder were suitors of the victims daughter
is not a sufficient motive for them to falsely impute on
defendants the said crime. People vs. Libed, L20431, June
23, 1965, 14 SCRA 410.
It has been held, however, that the close relationship of
prosecution witnesses with the victim may taint their
testimonies with bias, and therefore this should not be
accepted without qualification. People vs. Balancio, L
17520, May 31, 1962, 5 SCRA 349. Thus, full credence
cannot be given to the testimony of a prosecution witness
who is a first cousin of the victim and was the only alleged
eyewitness presented for that purpose, considering that the
crime was committed in a dance hall in the presence of
many persons and no other witness was presented to
corroborate his testimony. People vs. Calacala, L
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Factors Affecting the Credibility of Witnesses

18348, May 31, 1965, 14 SCRA 156. But where the


relationship between the appellants and the deceased and
his family was cordial, as accepted by the appellants
themselves, the testimony of the wife of the deceased
cannot be impeached, for there can be no reason why the
widow should point out the appellants as the authors of the
death of her husband unless she and her children actually
saw them do the criminal act. People vs. Alido, May 30,
1961, 2 SCRA 109. And surely, the testimony of the wife of

the victim in favor of the accused is entitled to credence.


People vs. Minuray, L14794, Mar. 30, 1960.
(b) Relation to AccusedIn a case, the testimony of the
mother of the def endant, showing her earnestness to get
the acquittal of the said defendant, has been rejected as
springing f rom her relation to her own son. People vs.
Valera, L20286, Oct. 29, 1965, 15 SCRA 164. In another
case, the testimony of the son of the accused was likewise
rejected on the ground of his natural desire to shield his
father. U.S. vs. Carlos, 21 Phil. 553. The testimony of a
wife and a daughter of the accused were not believable but
in this case, there were exceptionally disinterested
witnesses who contradicted their story. People vs.
Pamintuan, 49 Phil. 793.
However, in a criminal trial, the mother of the accused
is a competent witness in his behalf, and the refusal of the
court to permit her to testify is error. U.S. vs. Estrada, 24
Phil. 401.
Upon the other hand, relatives of the accused who
testify against the latter have been highly credited in their
versions of the offense. In one case, it has been held that it
is highly unlikely that a prosecution witness who is
married to the sister of the defendant would testify falsely
and impute to his brotherinlaw the commission of a
serious crime. People vs. Dayday, L2080607, Aug. 14,
1965, 14 SCRA 935. And where the prosecution witness
owes gratitude to the defendant for having, in effect,
adopted and treated said witness as his own son, said
witness has no possible motive to incriminate the
defendant falsely in a crime of parricide, and therefore his
testimony would be given credence. People vs. Damaso,
L22553, Nov. 24, 1966, 18 SCRA 774. Likewise, a
prosecution witness would have no possible motive to
falsely incriminate

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Factors Affecting the Credibility of Witnesses

the accused who are his first cousins. People vs. Enriquez,
L17388, Oct. 30, 1965, 15 SCRA 205. See also People vs.
Aquidado, L12916, May 25, 1960 People vs. Larosa, L
7133, Apr. 29,1960.
5. Testimony of lnterested Parties
The testimony of interested witnesses, while rightly
subjected to careful scrutiny, should not be rejected on the
ground of bias alone. If their testimony is reasonable and
consistent, and is not contradicted by evidence from any
reliable source, there is no reason, as a general rule for not
accepting it. U.S. vs. Mante, 27 Phil. 134 De Jesus vs. G.
Urrutia, & Co., 33 Phil. 171 U.S. vs. Pagaduan, 37 Phil.
90.
6. SelfContradictions
A witness may contradict his testimony in court in three
possible ways in relation to the time when the other
statement was uttered:
(a) With Reference to Previous StatementsWhen there
are two contradictory testimonies given by a witness who
retracts or recants his previous testimony and swears that
the same is not true because he was not present when the
incident or event took place, the court, taking into
consideration all the circumstances and the probable

reasons that prompted the witness to repudiate his


previous testimony, may rely upon what it believes is true
and correct, given by the witness freely and voluntarily,
and disregard the other. People vs. Camerino, L8228, Apr.
29, 1959.
In one case, it was held that a witness recantation of his
previous testimony is unreliable where, in a previous
testimony freely and voluntarily given, he averred that he
knew the accused very well because they grew up together,
thereby precluding the possibility that he was mistaken in
identifying them in the first testimony. People vs.
Mamalayan, L11210, May 30, 1961, 2 SCRA 88. See also
Cuyugan vs. Baron, 69 Phil. 538 People vs. Ramos, 77 Phil.
4 People vs. Bauden, 77 Phil. 105 People vs. Paras, 80
Phil. 149 People vs. Barrera,
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Factors Affecting the Credibility of Witnesses

82 Phil. 391 People vs. Griar, 84 Phil. 64 People vs. Capua,


L2196, Jan. 31, 1950. A witness who changes his name
and statements, like a chameleon changes color, does not
inspire confidence, and when his testimony is likewise
incompatible with his conduct immediately after the crime
in question, it has little probatory value. People vs. Go Lee,
L2462, March 6, 1950. However, a variation in the
declarations of a witness is not always sufficient to
discredit his testimony in criminal procedure. The mere
fact that a witness declares to a certain set of facts and
circumstances during a preliminary examination especially
where it was not conducted with that degree of impartiality

which should characterize such proceedings, and to another


set of facts and circumstances upon trial of the cause does
not necessarily discredit his testimony nor destroy it, if
such contradictions are satisfactorily explained to the
court. U.S. vs. Magtibay, 17 Phil. 417 U.S. vs. Briones, 28
Phil. 367 U.S. vs. Lazaro, 34 Phil. 871 People vs. Racca, L
15812, Dec. 30, 1961, 3 SCRA 828. Moreover, the apparent
contradictions which may be noted in the declarations of a
witness in a criminal case, before a justice of the peace and
afterwards before the Court of First Instance are not
sufficient to discredit his testimony when it is shown that
the witness has not been given ample opportunity, by
reading to him his declaration, made before the court of the
justice of the peace, to explain the discrepancies. The mere
presentation of an exhibit without its having been read to
the witness while he testified in the Court of First
Instance, is no ground for impeaching his testimony. People
vs. Resabal, 50 Phil. 780 U.S. vs. Baluyot, 40 Phil. 385. See
also People vs. Florencio, 68 Phil. 619.
(b)
Selfcontradictions
at
TrialImmaterial
discrepancies or differences in the statements of witnesses
do not affect their credibility, unless there is something to
show that they originate in willful falsehood. If there are
conflicts in the statements of witnesses, it is the duty of the
court to reconcile them if it can be done, for the law
presumes every witness has sworn the truth. But if the
conflicts can not be reconciled, the court must adopt the
testimony it believes to be true. U.S. vs. Lesada, 18 Phil.
90. But when a witness makes two statements
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Factors Affecting the Credibility of Witnesses

307

in one case, and these statements incur the gravest


contradictions, the court can not accept either the first or
the second statements as proof. Such witness by his own
act of giving false testimony impeaches his own testimony
and the court is compelled to exclude it from all
considerations. U.S. vs. Pala, 19 Phil. 190 U.S. vs.
Ramirez, 4 Phil. 549 Yutuk vs. Manila Electric Co., L
13016, May 31, 1961, 2 SCRA 337.
The fact that a witness contradicts himself as to the
circumstances may be due to a long series of questions on
crossexamination, and his mind becoming tired, he may not
understand the question nor what he is testifying about,
especially when the questions are leading and intended to
make him contradict a former declaration. People vs.
Limbo, 49 Phil. 94 People vs. Decena, L3713, Feb. 9, 1952
People vs. Jistiado, L5478, Apr. 29, 1954 People vs.
Lacson, L8188, Feb. 13, 1961, 1 SCRA 414. Aged and
ignorant witnesses usually contradict themselves in a long
series of tedious questions on crossexamination, and their
testimony must not be discredited for that reason alone,
especially if the principal point has been corroborated by
other facts contained in the record. People vs. Limbo, 49
Phil. 94 People vs. Lacson, supra Tiu Bon Hui vs.
Republic, L8730, Nov. 19, 1956. Likewise, where a trial of
a criminal case does not take place until three years after
commission of the offense, contradictions and errors in the
testimony of witnesses for the prosecution in matters of
detail are to be expected and do not necessarily render
their testimony insufficient to convict. People vs. Sigue, L
2255, April 18, 1950.
Moreover, contradictions of witnesses, after a long series
of questions, far from demonstrating a falsehood, may
constitute evidence of good faith. Not all persons who

witness an incident are impressed in the same manner,


and they are liable to disagree on minor details. People vs.
Limbo, supra People vs. Sanchez, L13335, Nov. 29,1960.
(c) In Relation to Statements After TrialIt has been
held that the mere fact that, after a solemn trial in a court
of justice has terminated, one of the witnesses, out of court
and in conversation with friends or under pressure from
interested
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Factors Affecting the Credibility of Witnesses

parties, makes statements verifying or contradicting his


testimony given at the trial, does not necessarily destroy
the probative value of his testimony when on the witness
stand. U.S. vs. Dacir, 26 Phil. 503.
7. Variance with Testimony of Other Witnesses
Though discrepancies are noted in the statements of the
witnesses as to the details of the occurrence related by
them, yet if they agree on the principal points and there is
not in the record any data against their veracity, such
discrepancies do not constitute sufficient ground for
impeaching the credibility of said witnesses. People vs.
Facturan, 44 Phil. 271 People vs. Tuazon, L1733, Apr. 29,
1950 People vs. Pascual, L4801, June 30, 1953 People vs.
Demetrio, L2124, May 10, 1950 People vs. Moises, L
10876, Sept. 23, 1958. Moreover, the discrepancies in the
testimony of the prosecution witnesses is less a reflection
on their credibility than an indication that they have not

been rehearsed to tell the same story. People vs. Manadi, L


3770, Sept. 27, 1955 People vs. Gracia, L21419, Sept. 29,
1966, 18 SCRA 197 People vs. Valera, L15662, Aug. 30,
1962, 5 SCRA 910 People vs. Bagsican, L13486, Oct. 31,
1962, 6 SCRA 400. As a matter of fact, where two witnesses
coincide in their statements on every detail of an
occurrence in a crowded place and partly under
circumstances of confusion, there is every reason to observe
caution in accepting the veracity of their narrations. People
vs. Mones, L2029, May 6, 1950 People vs. Curiano, L
1525657, Oct. 31, 1963, 9 SCRA 323 People vs. Lopez, L
12704, Sept. 30, 1961, 3 SCRA 165 People vs. Escalona, L
13294, March 29, 1961, 1 SCRA 891. But the fact that
there is not in the record sufficient ground for holding that
there was a previous agreement between the witnesses for
the defense upon the facts of the case does not necessarily
mean that the said witnesses are entitled to credit. People
vs. Durante, 47 Phil. 654.
oOo
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