Thursday, May 10, 2012

Request for subpoena denied for being irrelevant and immaterial. - G.R. Nos. 184379-80

G.R. Nos. 184379-80

"x x x.

Second issue: Denial of the issuance of a subpoena 
ad testificandum
This Court, in Roco v. Contreras,[72] ruled that for a subpoena to issue, it must first appear that the person or documents sought to be presented are prima facie relevant to the issue subject of the controversy, to wit:
A subpoena is a process directed to a person requiring him to attend and to testify at the hearing or trial of an action or at any investigation conducted under the laws of the Philippines, or for the taking of his deposition.
In this jurisdiction, there are two (2) kinds of subpoena, to wit: subpoena ad testificandum and subpoena duces tecum. The first is used to compel a person to testify, while the second is used to compel the production of books, records, things or documents therein specified. As characterized in H.C. Liebenow vs. The Philippine Vegetable Oil Company:

The subpoena duces tecum is, in all respects, like the ordinary subpoena ad testificandum with the exception that it concludes with an injunction that the witness shall bring with him and produce at the examination the books, documents, or things described in the subpoena.

Well-settled is the rule that before a subpoena duces tecum may issue, the court must first be satisfied that the following requisites are present: (1) the books, documents or other things requested must appear prima facie relevant to the issue subject of the controversy (test of relevancy); and (2) such books must be reasonably described by the parties to be readily identified (test of definiteness).[73] (Emphasis supplied.)
In the present case, the CA correctly denied petitioners’ Motion for the Issuance of Subpoena Ad Testificandum on the ground that the testimonies of the witnesses sought to be presented during trial were prima facie irrelevant to the issues of the case. The court a quo aptly ruled in this manner:
The alleged acts and statements attributed by the petitioner to Neri and Abalos are not relevant to the instant Amparo Petition where the issue involved is whether or not Lozada’s right to life, liberty and security was threatened or continues to be threatened with violation by the unlawful act/s of the respondents. Evidence, to be relevant, must have such a relation to the fact in issue as to induce belief in its existence or nonexistence. Further, Neri, Abalos and a certain driver “Jaime” are not respondents in this AmparoPetition and the vague allegations averred in the Motion with respect to them do not pass the test of relevancy. To Our mind, petitioner appears to be embarking on a “fishing expedition”. Petitioner should present the aggrieved party [Lozada], who has been regularly attending the hearings, to prove the allegations in the Amparo Petition, instead of dragging the names of other people into the picture. We have repeatedly reminded the parties, in the course of the proceedings, that the instant Amparo Petition does not involve the investigation of the ZTE-[NBN] contract. Petitioner should focus on the fact in issue and not embroil this Court into said ZTE-NBN contract, which is now being investigated by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and the Office of the Ombudsman.[74](Emphasis supplied.)
All the references of petitioners to either Sec. Neri or Abalos were solely with respect to the ZTE-NBN deal, and not to the events that transpired on 5-6 February 2008, or to the ensuing threats that petitioners purportedly received. Although the present action is rooted from the involvement of Lozada in the said government transaction, the testimonies of Sec. Neri or Abalos are nevertheless not prima facie relevant to the main issue of whether there was an unlawful act or omission on the part of respondents that violated the right to life, liberty and security of Lozada. Thus, the CA did not commit any reversible error in denying the Motion for the Issuance of Subpoena Ad Testificandum.
x x x."