Examination of witnesses is a proceeding in court where the witness is called on the witness stand to testify on some facts that support the case of the counsel examining him/her. But sometimes, in the eagerness of lawyers to extract information from the witness, they ask weird questions that would rather be swept under the rugs. On the other hand, in response to the questions of the opposing counsel, witnesses also say strange things that will leave you scratching your head; some compromised the case that let the accused walk free. Here are some of the exchanges between lawyers and witnesses that are actually said in court:
#1 She saw the cobra standing (but not tall?)
It is really puzzling why the counsel asked the condition of the cobra:
“Q : Has he any under pants or brief after taking off his pants?
A : Yes, sir.
Q : What did he do with his under pants?
A : He also took off his under pants, sir.
Q : What did you notice after he took off his under pants?
A : I saw his penis.
Q : What was the condition of his penis when you saw it?
A : It was standing, sir.”
Source: People of the Philippines vs. Potenciano Arco [G.R. No. 132062 August 14, 2000]
#2 For the fiscal, size does matter.
In another case, the prosecutor, maybe to establish whether the victim really saw the cobra, he posed these questions:
“Q What about before he went on top of you, according to you, he [was] already undress[ed], did you see his sex organ?
“A Yes sir.
“Q Now Arlene, could you inform the Honorable Court whether there was light where you were sleeping or was it dark that time?
“A It was dark, sir.
“Q How did you see the sex organ of your father?
“A Because our neighbor ha[d] light, sir.
“Q How far is the house of your neighbor where there [was] a light?
“A Nasisinagan ang aming bahay sa ilaw; ng aming kapitbahay.
“Q How far is the house of your neighbor which according to you [was] lighted at that time?
“A Very near, sir.
“Q From the place where you [were] seated, will you point the distance?
“A Adjacent sir, to our house.
“COURT : Witness indicating a distance of about one and one-half (1 ½) meters.
“Q According to you, you saw the sex organ of your father, could you describe [it]?
“A About seven to eighth inches, sir.
Source: People of the Philippines vs. Francisco Baniqued [G.R. No. 130653 & G.R. No. 139384. December 11, 2001]
#3 Smiling is not always good.
In a rape cases, usually, the victim breaks into sobs when narrating her fate in the hands of her assailant. Here, she smiles.
Q: I will read to you question no. 16 — Sino ang taong iyong inirereklamo? Sagot — Si Erick Clemente po, 23 taong gulang, binata at nakatira sa Kalayaan C Brgy. Batasan Hills, Quezon City. Now Miss Witness, you said a while ago that he never mentioned his name, his address, his age, how come you were able to know all of these informations (sic) even before he was arrested?
(Witness is smiling while answering)
I would like to make it of record, Your Honor that the time the witness was answering she was smiling.
A I remember that at the time we were walking I asked the name of the accused, his age and address, sir.
Consequently, the Court acquitted the accused.
The “actuation of the victim before, during and after the alleged rape fails to convince us that she was raped against her will”, the Court said in its decision.
Source: PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. LUIS ERICK CLEMENTE [G.R. No. 130202 October 13, 1999]
#4 Better to keep mum than tell my “medyo makulit” husband.
The wife has allegedly received a call from a former employee threatening to harm and/or kidnap her family if she will not give him the ransom money. She never warned or informed her husband about the threat of being kidnaped. Here’s why…
Q: During the direct examination, the Honorable Court asked you whether you told this matter to your husband and you said you did not?
A: I am not [the] type of person who don’t usually tell [sic] everything to my husband specially [sic] regarding things like this because he is medyo makulit and I don’t want him asking same questions again and again (sic).
Q: Instead of telling your husband, you went to the NBI to report the matter?
A: Yes, sir.
Source: Nilo Macayan, Jr. vs. People of the Philippines [ March 18, 2015 G.R. No. 175842]
#5 Ecchymosis is not at all itchy.
Q: Mr. Witness, you mentioned that you conducted the physical examination, what was the result of the said physical examination?
A: The physical examination alone shows injury on the left breast, and let me read from the report, “ecchymosis, left breast measuring 0.5 cm. x 0.05 cm. From the anterior midline, ma’am.
Q: What do you mean by the word “ecchymosis?”
A: It means type of injury akin to the sanctioned injury as identified by other agency, ma’am.
Q: In layman’s term?
A: Kissmark, ma’am.
Source: PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. JOMAR SISRACON Y RUPISAN, MARK VALDERAMA Y RUPISAN, ROBERTO CORTEZ Y BADILLA,LUIS PADUA Y MITRA AND ADONIS MOTIL Y GOLONDRINA [ G.R. No. 226494, February 14, 2018 ]
#6 I would rather escape with clean clothes.
A rape victim, who was left alone by her assailant in a motel room after the alleged rape to buy her new clothes (because her clothes were wet and dirty) choose to wait for the rapist to return instead of seizing the perfect opportunity to escape or call for help…
“Q: You also mentioned in your previous testimony that the accused Salvador Bambilla went out for about 30 minutes?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: When he was out, do you mean to say that he left you from the room?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And for that 30 minutes what did you do in order to escape?
A: I was trying to open the door by turning the knob but I could not and how could I also escape since my clothes were wet and dirty and the jalousies because there are also jalousies, there is still a screen covering the said window, so how could I go out, sir.”
“Q: Do you mean to say that you waited for Salvador Bambilla to return?
A: It is like this, before he left he told me to stay because according to him he will buy me a skirt and a t-shirt, sir.
Q: In other words, you want to tell the Honorable Court that it was Salvador Bambilla who suggested to buy you skirt and t-shirt?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And you trusted him to still come back and give you the skirt and t-shirt, am I correct?
A: Yes, sir.”
In absolving the accused, the Supreme Court observed, “It is simply unlikely for a woman who has just been robbed of her honor and chastity to still think of wet and dirty clothes instead of seizing upon every opportunity to escape from her malefactor.”
Source: PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. NINOY MALBOG, ET AL G.R. No. 106634 October 12, 2000
#7 “Push and Pull” – is easier to explain by demonstrating it
….but the fiscal wants the harder way.
Q: And when (sic) after receiving this report from Mr. Echavez that somebody was asking for help, what did you do?
A: I requested the desk officer to call the mobile patrol to assist Mr. Echavez together with me (sic).
Q: And where did you proceed after that?
A: Well, we proceeded to Magsaysay Park wherein Severo Echavez reported the call for help.
x x x
Q: And what did you find out later?
A I saw a man wearing a black jacket (swaying) with a push and pull motion.
Q: What was he doing? If any?
A: He was half(-)naked. His hands was (sic) on the brace on the makeshift of the brace he was holding. His buttocks is (sic) moving push and pull.
Q: When you say, ‘push and pull’, can you describe specifically, in the more understandable language when you said he was making a push and pull?
A: Can I demonstrate.
Q: No, when you said push and pull, what do you mean by making a push and pull position.
Source: PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ERNESTO ATUEL [G.R. No. 106962 September 3, 1996]
#8 To commit the crime the courteous way – ask permission first.
Here, the Supreme Court finds it unusual the narration of the victim how the accused made his advances to her…
Q: Now, according to this affidavit of yours, particularly paragraph 2 which I quote and read: “that when he was about to leave our house, Rogelio Abuan ask permission from my parents that I will sleep in their house that evening because in the morning he would give me some ampalaya fruits”, whereas yesterday when you testified you said that you were asleep, then while you were sleeping, the accused woke you up and forced you to come with him, now, whereas in this affidavit you said that Rogelio Abuan asked permission from your parents that you would sleep in their house that evening because in the morning he will give you some ampalaya fruits, what is true, your testimony yesterday or your sworn statement which is part of the record of the case?
A: He first asked permission from my mother.
Q: When you reached the house of Rogelio Abuan, what happened?
A: He told me, “don’t tell anybody that I will kiss you”.
Q: After he uttered those words, what did he do next?
A: He removed my short pants, sir.
Q: Did he kiss you?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: After he kissed you, what happened next?
A: He told me, “don’t tell to anybody because I will have sexual intercourse with you”.
The Supreme Court said, “It is strange, if not comical, that accused-appellant should announce every move he intended to make and for complainant to just passively wait for accused-appellant to do what he had said he would do.”
“Continuing her fantastic story, complainant said that after accused-appellant was through with his dastardly act, he became weak and fell asleep. It is as though accused-appellant simply took his prey to the kitchen and then fell asleep there. As for complainant, she made no attempt to flee from her captor farther than the toilet “beside the sineguelas tree.”, the Court said.
The accused was acquitted.
Source: People of the Philippines vs Rogelio Abuan [G.R. No. 111710 January 7, 1998]
#9 Burn it (my pubic hair)! It is useless anyway.
The person accused of rape and murder was arrested and put to jail. Tragically, the cousin of the alleged victim was also confined (for the crime of murder) at the same cell where he was detained. The accused claimed that he was tortured and maltreated (his pubic hair and penis was burned) by the police and was forced to confess to the crime he did not commit. On the other hand, the police attributed the burning to the cousin of the victim. On cross-examination, the cousin admitted that he tortured him (alleged accused) inside the cell. How?….
ATTY. APORTADERA: (On Cross Examination)
Q. And after you learned that Saturday evening could he, Lucio Lumayok, was the perpetrator of the crime against your niece, you slept together in the cell, is that correct
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Why did you not burn his pubic hair immediately when you came to know that he was the one who raped your niece in the evening of Saturday ?
A. I just allowed him to sleep because he was tired and hungry, Your Honor.
Q. Why did you not burn his pubic hair that Sunday morning?
A. Because I allowed him first to take a bath.
Q. But you would not have burned his pubic hair had he not offered you to burn it?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. You want this Court to believe that Lucio Lumayok was the one who offered to you that his pubic hair will be burned?
A. No. I told him, “Bay, I’m going to burn your pubic hair.” He said, “All right, burn it.” So I burned it, Sir.
The Supreme Court believed the allegation of the accused that he was coerced by the police investigators into acknowledging his guilty for crimes he did not commit. It finds dubious testimony of the cousin admitting the burning.
“Considering basic human instincts and the ordinary normal behavior of persons, We find difficulty to conceive that anyone would willingly permit another to burn his pubic hair and penis or that Sanciano Satorre (cousin of the victim) allegedly affronted by the murder and rape of his niece would first allow the offender to rest, sleep and take a bath before maltreating Lucio Lumayok. The version of Sanciano Satorre of said incident becomes more incredulous for he maintained that while he was burning the pubic hair of the accused, the latter did not even shout because of the pain.”, the Court said.
See full text of the case: PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. LUCIO LUMAYOK