REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. T.A.N. PROPERTIES, INC., Respondent. [G.R. NO. 154953 : June 26, 2008]
"x x x.
Public documents are defined under Section 19, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules on Evidence as follows:
(a) The written official acts, or records of the official acts of the sovereign authority, official bodies and tribunals, and public officers, whether of the Philippines, or of a foreign country;
(b) Documents acknowledged before a notary public except last wills and testaments; andcralawlibrary
(c) Public records, kept in the Philippines, of private documents required by law to be entered therein.
Applying Section 24 of Rule 132, the record of public documents referred to in Section 19(a), when admissible for any purpose, may be evidenced by an official publication thereof or by a copy attested by the officer having legal custody of the record, or by his deputy x x x. The CENRO is not the official repository or legal custodian of the issuances of the DENR Secretary declaring public lands as alienable and disposable. The CENRO should have attached an official publication21 of the DENR Secretary's issuance declaring the land alienable and disposable.
Section 23, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules on Evidence provides:
Sec. 23. Public documents as evidence. Documents consisting of entries in public records made in the performance of a duty by a public officer are prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein. All other public documents are evidence, even against a third person, of the fact which gave rise to their execution and of the date of the latter.
The CENRO and Regional Technical Director, FMS-DENR, certifications do not fall within the class of public documents contemplated in the first sentence of Section 23 of Rule 132. The certifications do not reflect "entries in public records made in the performance of a duty by a public officer," such as entries made by the Civil Registrar22 in the books of registries, or by a ship captain in the ship's logbook.23 The certifications are not the certified copies or authenticated reproductions of original official records in the legal custody of a government office. The certifications are not even records of public documents.24 The certifications are conclusions unsupported by adequate proof, and thus have no probative value.25 Certainly, the certifications cannot be considered prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein.
The CENRO and Regional Technical Director, FMS-DENR, certifications do not prove that Lot 10705-B falls within the alienable and disposable land as proclaimed by the DENR Secretary. Such government certifications do not, by their mere issuance, prove the facts stated therein.26 Such government certifications may fall under the class of documents contemplated in the second sentence of Section 23 of Rule 132. As such, the certifications are prima facie evidence of their due execution and date of issuance but they do not constitute prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein.
The Court has also ruled that a document or writing admitted as part of the testimony of a witness does not constitute proof of the facts stated therein.27 Here, Torres, a private individual and respondent's representative, identified the certifications but the government officials who issued the certifications did not testify on the contents of the certifications. As such, the certifications cannot be given probative value.28 The contents of the certifications are hearsay because Torres was incompetent to testify on the veracity of the contents of the certifications.29 Torres did not prepare the certifications, he was not an officer of CENRO or FMS-DENR, and he did not conduct any verification survey whether the land falls within the area classified by the DENR Secretary as alienable and disposable.
x x x."