THE RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN PRESUMING NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE PETITIONER, AND MERELY RELYING IN CONJECTURE, SURMISE AND SPECULATION THEREBY DIRECTLY CONTRAVENING THE FINDINGS OF FACT OF THE TRIAL COURT.

On the first assigned error, petitioner cites the findings of fact of the CA and alleges that the same was “in direct contravention to the findings of fact of the trial court.” He then cites certain portions of the trial court’s Decision to show the supposed disparity. Upon scrutiny, however, this Court notes that the said quoted portion of the RTC Decision, which was purportedly contravened by the CA, was nothing more than the portion of the RTC Decision which merely narrates the accused’s version of the incident. A reading of the RTC Decision shows that the RTC first narrated the version of the prosecution, and thereafter did the same with the version of the defense. Ultimately, however, the trial court did find that the prosecution’s version was worthy of credence, as amply supported by the evidence submitted.

The RTC found:

After a thorough and careful evaluation of the foregoing evidence of the prosecution and the defense and after going over the transcripts of stenographic notes, . . . the Court finds that the prosecution, by the streng[th] of its own evidence, has established beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused ROBERT VENERACION of the offense of reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property charged against him.

. . .

. . .  [T]he Court is convinced that the evidence of the    prosecution clearly and beyond doubt established that on December 10, 1989 at about 10:45 a.m., Dr. Conrado Triguero was driving his two-door Toyota Corolla car, model 1981 with Certificate of Registration No. 05248901 of the Land Transportation Office (Exh. “A”) and O.R. No. 33405884 dated October 12, 1990 (Exh. “B”) along EDSA and turning left to B. Serrano St., Kalookan City. He exhibited his driver’s license (Exh. “D”) during the trial.

In contrast, the accused during his entire testimony never so much as produced his driver’s license. All he did was to state that it has never been confiscated.

The pictures (Exhs. “E” to “M”) introduced by the prosecution were all admitted by the accused to be true and correct pictures of the traffic accident. Not one of those pictures ever showed that the trailer-truck being driven by the accused was ahead of the car being driven by Dr. Triguero. On the contrary, those pictures depicted that the car of Dr. Triguero was the one ahead even at the time of impact. These pictures also substantiated the testimony of Dr. Triguero that his car was ahead of, and was being followed by[,] the trailer truck. That fact was seen by him through his side mirror. Moreover, those pictures tended to substantiate, the truth of Dr. Triguero’s testimony that when he was already at full stop and thereafter making the left turn to B. Serrano St., the trailer truck was still about ten (10) meters away from his truck.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Accused could say his version of the accident in so many words as testified to by him in his defense, but the prosecution’s Exh[s.] “E” to “M” would belie these words.

Also duly proved by said pictures was the fact that the trailer truck was not making a left turn to B. Serrano St., prior to the time of impact. It was Dr. Triguero’s car which was already making a left turn but while doing so, the trailer truck bumped its left side.

. . .

Another circumstance which established the truth of D[r]. Triguero’s testimony as to how the accident occurred, was the introduction of the documentary exhibit by the prosecution to support said testimony, (actually from Exh[s.] “A” to “T”), as compared to absolutely none at all from the accused. Even the latter’s purported Exh. “1” was not introduced by the defense.

. . .

Coming now to the issue of who was recklessly driving his vehicle at the time of the accident, the people’s evidence overwhelmingly points to the accused as the culprit. 

Upon its review, the CA fully agreed with findings of the RTC and consequently affirmed said Decision in toto. The appellate Court found that “[c]ontrary to the appellant’s position, though, the record is teeming with evidence supporting the version of the prosecution.”

The CA found:

Moreover, a close examination of the left side of the car as seen from the pictures (Exhibits “F”, “J”, “K” and “L”), reveals scratch marks running from the back of the car towards its center. It is therefore not a far-fetched conclusion that the scratch marks were caused by the right fender of the trailer-truck before it rested on the center of the car. The presence of those scratch marks at the back of the car indicates that the trailer-truck bumped the car from behind.

Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code provides that reckless imprudence consists in voluntarily, but without malice, doing or failing to do an act from which material damage results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person performing or failing to perform such act, taking into consideration his employment or occupation, degree of intelligence, physical condition and other circumstances regarding persons, time and place. Here, the prosecution proved and as sustained by the lower court, the car was clearly ahead of the trailer truck prior to the collision. Hence, it was incumbent upon the appellant to reduce his speed or apply on the brakes of the truck in order to allow the car to safely negotiate a left turn at the intersection. Failing, thus, in observing the necessary precaution to avoid inflicting injury or damage to others, We consider appellant to be recklessly imprudent in operating his vehicle.

Appellant further laments the lower court’s opinion finding him negligent in his driving on the ground that as between him and Dr. Triguero, he was the one with the shorter driving experience. He argues that Dr. Triguero’s considerable driving experience does not guarantee that at the time of the accident he was not recklessly driving his car. We agree to some extent with this contention. It is true that lack of experience in the operation of a vehicle may cause damage or injury.  But if a person, with a short period of experience in the operation a motor vehicle, operates it with that degree of care and skill that is required of a seasoned driver, negligence cannot be predicated upon the mere fact of inexperience on the part of a driver. However, the issue involved in the instant case is whether appellant operated the truck imprudently at the time of the accident. This is where Our concurrence should cease. Having found earlier that appellant was imprudent in the operation of the trailer-truck, the fact of appellant’s inexperience thus becomes relevant. Besides, his conviction was not based solely on his relative inexperience. 

In conclusion, the CA stated that “the court a quo based its ruling on the totality of the testimonial and documentary evidence[] proffered in the case,” such that the CA refused to disturb said factual findings, there being no overlooked facts of substance nor other compelling reason to warrant a change or modification.

Thus, the argument that the CA contravened the findings of fact of the RTC has no basis.

Another look at petitioner’s assigned errors, as well as the arguments he advanced in support thereof, would show that petitioner is asking for a review of the facts and circumstances of the incident in question. The main thrust of his defense is that it was Dr. Triguero who was at fault, who was negligent and who was the proximate cause of the collision.

Both the RTC and the CA are in agreement as to the particulars of what happened. In such a case, the rule is that their findings on the facts will not be disturbed.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, and the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 14512 are AFFIRMED.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

SOURCE: [ G.R. NO. 137447, January 31, 2005 ] ROBERT VENERACION, PETITIONER VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT. Tags: Alcantara Alcoy moral damages Alegria actual damages Aloguinsan Argao Asturias Badian Balamban Bantayan Barili Boljoon Borbon Carmen Catmon Compostela Consolacion Cordova Daanbantayan Dumaguete Bais Sibulan Tampi Bacong Negros Bacolod Separation pay Resign Resignation Back wages Backwages Length of service pay benefit employee employer relationship Silay Kabankalan Daan Bantayan Dalaguete Dumanjug Ginatilan Liloan compensatory damages Madridejos Malabuyoc Medellin Minglanilla Moalboal Oslob Pilar Pinamungajan Poro Ronda Samboan San Fernando San Francisco San Remigio Sante Fe Santander Sibonga Sogod Tabogon Tabuelan Tuburan attorney’s fees Tudela exemplary damages Camotes General Luna Siargao Cagayan Davao Kidapawan Attorney Abogado Lawyer Architect Real Estate Broker nominal damages Sales Agent Properties for Sale Looking for Buyers Design Build House and Lot for Sale for Rent Talisay City Mandaue City Lapu Lapu Lapu-Lapu City Yncierto Sesante Villanueva Ruz Jan Edmond Marc Tim Timothy temperate damages Luz liquidated damages Kristin tct transfer certificate of title tax declaration birth certificate relocation survey surveying judicial titling administrative titling patent title denr cenro foreshore lease ecc environmental compliance certificate design build architect cebu engineer interior design designer residential commercial cebu property warehouse for rent for lease marc Christian yncierto ruz jan Edmond yncierto ruz Kristin Villanueva ruz Edmond mabalot ruz marriage certificate timber land forest land watershed agricultural lot land use conversion hearing trial illegal drugs trial lawyer business corporate lawyer labor lawyer immigration law bureau of immigration cebu 9g visa search warrant warrant of arrest motion to quash information complaint police officers buy bust physical suffering shocked horrified mental anguish fright serious anxiety besmirched reputation sleepless nights wounded feelings moral shock social humiliation similar injuries

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