TESTIMONIAL EVIDENCE (Qualification of Witnesses)

“Section 21. Witnesses; their qualifications. – All persons who can perceive, and perceiving, can make known their perception to others, may be witnesses. 

Religious or political belief, interest in the outcome of the case, or conviction of a crime, unless otherwise provided by law, shall not be a ground for disqualification”. 

General rule: All persons who can perceive, and perceiving, can make known their perception to others, may be a witness.

The following are NOT the grounds to disqualify a witness:

  1. Religious belief, unless otherwise provided by law,
  2. Political belief, unless otherwise provided by law,
  3. Interest in the outcome of the case, unless otherwise provided by law, or
  4. Conviction of a crime, unless otherwise provided by law.

Illustration of conviction of a crime: 

Under Article 821 of the Civil Code it provides that those who have been convicted of: 

Falsification of a document – are disqualified from being a witness to a will.

Perjury – are disqualified from being a witness to a will.

False testimony – are disqualified from being a witness to a will.

But kindly take note that those convicted of dishonesty in administrative case are still qualified to become a witness to a will. Dishonesty is not included as one of the grounds to be disqualified. Those convicted of a criminal offense of falsification, perjury or false testimony is disqualified. Their guilt or conviction was proved beyond reasonable doubt. Whereas, conviction of “dishonesty” in an administrative case was proved by substantial evidence only which is lesser degree of proof. Hence, convicted of dishonesty may be a witness to a will.

Whether children of tender years can testify.

A four-year old boy can already speak clearly, can understand things happening around him, and ready to study, to read and to write. For families who can afford, a four-year old child is already sent to the nursery to begin his/her studies. An intelligent boy is undoubtedly the best observer to be found. He is little influenced by the suggestion of others and describes objects and occurrences as he has really seen them (People of the Philippines v. Bustos, 45 Phil. 9).

Unless a child’s testimony is punctured with serious inconsistencies as to lead one to believe that he was coached, if he can perceive and make known his perception, he is considered a competent witness (People of the Philippines v. Cidro, Et Al., 56 O.G. 3547).

Every child is presumed qualified to be a witness. The party challenging the child’s competency as a witness has the burden of substantiating his challenge. (The People of the Philippines v. Alvin Esugon y Avila, G.R. No. 195244, June 22, 2015, Bersamin, J.).
In People v. Mendiola, G.R. No. 134846, August 8, 2000, 337 SCRA 418, the Court considered a 6-year-old victim competent, and regarded her testimony against the accused credible. In Dulla v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 123164, February 18, 2000, 326 SCRA 32, the testimony of the three-year-old victim was deemed acceptable. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *