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People v Cayabyab G.R. No. 123073.

June 19, 1997

At any rate, the issue on which witness is to be believed is one best addressed by a trial court
rather than by an appellate tribunal. Having the advantage of directly observing witnesses, the
trial judge is able to detect that sometimes thin line between fact and prevarication that
will determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. That line may not be discernible from
a mere reading of the impersonal record by the reviewing court. The record will not reveal
those tell-tale signs that will affirm the truth or expose the contrivance, like the angry flush of an
insisted assertion or the sudden pallor of a discovered lie or the tremulous mutter of a reluctant
answer or the forthright tone of a ready reply. The record will not show if the eyes have darted in
evasion or looked down in confession or gazed steadily with a serenity that has nothing to distort
or conceal. The record will not show if tears were shed in anger, or in shame, or in remembered
pain, or in feigned innocence. Only the judge trying the case can see all these and on the
basis of his observations arrive at an informed and reasoned verdict.i[36] Thus, his factual
findings are accorded high respect and are generally not disturbed by the appellate court unless
found to be clearly arbitrary or unfounded. We do not find them to be so in the instant case;
therefore, there is no reason to alter the findings of the court a quo.

iPeople v. Maribung G.R. No. L-47500 April 29, 1987Edgardo Calaoan executed an
affidavit as an eyewitness on May 23, 1974, 12 days after the alleged commission of
the offense and six days after the complaint against the appellants was filed.
He was not listed as an eyewitness nor investigated before the filing of said criminal
complaint.
In his testimony, both appellants were apparently unarmed when the alleged incidents
took place. It is but human and natural for a person to help his companion in
need, or if unable to do so, to seek help. Contrary to this natural reaction, the
records show that after Calaoan witnessed the incidents leading to the killing and the
appellants burying the deceased, he went home. He never told anyone nor reported
the incident to the police despite numerous opportunities to do so until he
executed his "eyewitness" affidavit on May 23, 1974
Evidently, under our jurisprudence, Calaoan does not meet the test for a
credible witness.
Testimony of witnesses must be reasonable or probable to be believed. Failure to
immediately report occurrence of crime affects the credibility of the witness.
[People vs. Beltran, 61 SCRA 156]
A witness who keeps silent about the incident cannot be believed. [People vs.
Madarang, 30 SCRA 812]
The testimony of the sole eyewitness of a crime of murder was not believed. After
seeing the incident he left home without helping the victim, did not mention the
incident to the people of his own house and never informed the police authorities
about it. [People vs. Bulawin, 29 SCRA 710]
The circumstances surrounding Calaoan's "eyewitness" testimony raise grave
doubts as to the veracity of his declarations and his credibility as a witness. His
long continued silence and his failure to report the offense to the authorities
engender serious doubts as to his motives and taints his testimony with suspicion.