Posted by: Elmer Brabante | October 1, 2009

Alvarez vs. Ramirez


ALVAREZ vs. RAMIREZ

GR No.143439

October 14, 2005

FACTS:

Respondent Susan Ramirez was the complaining witness in a criminal case or arson pending before the RTC. The accused was petitioner Maximo Alvarez, stranged husband of Esperanza Alvarez, sister of respondent.  On June 21, 1999, Esperanza Alvarez was called to the witness stand as the first witness against petitioner, her husband. Petitioner filed a motion to disqualify Esperanza from testifying against him pursuant to Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court on marital disqualification.

Respondent filed an opposition to the motion. Pending resolution of the motion, the trial court directed the prosecution to proceed with the presentation of the other witnesses.  On September 2, 1999, the trial court issued the questioned Order disqualifying Esperanza Alvarez from further testifying and deleting her testimony from the records.  The prosecution filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied in the other assailed Order dated October 19, 1999.  This prompted respondent to file with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari with application for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order. On May 31, 2000, the Appellate Court rendered a Decision nullifying and setting aside the assailed Orders issued by the trial court. Hence, this petition for review on certiorari.

ISSUE:   Whether or not Esperanza can testify over the objection of her estranged husband on the ground of marital privilege.

HELD:

Yes, Esperanza may testify over the objection of her husband. The disqualification of a witness by reason of marriage under Sec. 22, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court has its exceptions as where the marital relations are so strained that there is no more harmony to be preserved. The acts of the petitioner stamp out all major aspects of marital life. On the other hand, the State has an interest in punishing the guilty and exonerating the innocent, and must have the right to offer the testimony of Esperanza over the objection of her husband.

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