Many non-lawyers might have heard of such terms as “guilt beyond reasonable doubt” or “preponderance of evidence”. The former is the measure or weight of proof required to convict an accused in a criminal case while the latter is the one required for the plaintiff to win his suit in civil cases. The Rules of Court states that: Preponderance of evidence, how determined. In civil cases, the party having the burden of proof must establish his case by a preponderance of evidence. In determining where the preponderance or superior weight of evidence on the issues involved lies, the court may consider all the facts and circumstances of the case, the witnesses’ manner of testifying, their intelligence, their means and opportunity of knowing the facts to which they are testifying, the nature of the facts to which they testify, the probability or improbability of their testimony, their interest or want of interest, and also their personal credibility so far as the same may legitimately appear upon the trial. The court may also consider the number of witnesses, though the preponderance is not necessarily with the greater number.
Encinas vs. National Bookstore
This case involves a parcel of land titled to two different persons. Encinas claimed that the land is hers and that the original title in her name was among those burned in the Registry of Deeds in Quezon City in 1988. The Land Registration Authority upon determining that the alleged title does not overlap with other properties ordered the issuance of a reconstituted title to Encinas. When Encinas offered to sell the property to respondent it was discovered that her title covers the same lot already owned by National Bookstore. Meanwhile, the LRA after discovering its error of issuing a reconstituted title over the same lot, retracted its decision set aside its earlier order or reconstitution. Encinas filed a case of quieting of title before the Regional Trial Court. The Court decided in favor of National Bookstore but upon the filing a motion for reconsideration it reversed its own decision and ordered the cancellation of the latter’s title since Encinas is the supposed real owner of the property. National appealed to the Court of Appeals which reversed the RTC decision. Encinas then appealed the CA decision to the Supreme Court.
Encinas is not the True Owner of the Property
In upholding the ownership of the National Bookstore over the subject property, the SC agreed that National sufficiently proved its ownership of the land. Encinas heavily relied on the probative value of her reconstituted title and did not present any evidence as to how she came to own the land considering the fact that she is a resident of the United States. Also, the documents she presented such as tax declarations pertain to a different lot and not the subject property.The High Tribunal declared that National Bookstore “…was able to overcome the burden of proof and prove by preponderant evidence that it has a superior right and title to the subject property. In contrast, petitioners as defendants seem to rely only on the alleged weakness of respondents evidence, without asserting any proof other than her reconstituted title to the subject property.” (G.R. No. 162704, November 19, 2004) The SC also added that: In civil cases, the party having the burden of proof must establish his case by a preponderance of evidence. Preponderance of evidence is the weight, credit, and value of the aggregate evidence on either side and is usually considered to be synonymous with the term greater weight of the evidence or greater weight of the credible evidence. Preponderance of evidence is a phrase which, in the last analysis, means probability of the truth. It is evidence which is more convincing to the court as worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto. In other words, the Court found the claim of National more believable and is most probably the true owner as against the claim of Encinas. With that, the SC upheld the decision of the CA.