Does silence mean yes? Is there such a thing as admission by silence?
Yes there is such a thing. While the right to remain silent is a basic constitutional right of any accused, Section 32, Rule 130 of the Rules of Evidence says:
Sec. 32. Admission by silence. – An act or declaration made in the presence and within the hearing or observation of a party who does or says nothing when the act or declaration is such as naturally to call for action or comment if not true, and when proper and possible for him to do so, may be given in evidence against him.
The requirements for this to apply are as follows:
- There must be an act or declaration by one person
- This act or declaration must be made in the presence or within earshot of another party
- This act of declaration must be of such nature as to natually call that other person to action or comment if not true.
- Even when proper and possible for this other party to act or comment (to deny it), he remains silent.
Can you give a concrete example?
Richard and Bobby were talking in a loud voice within earshot of Angel and Angelu.
Richard said to Bobby, “You know, Angel already agreed to be my girlfriend.”
When Angel heard this, she turned to the two yakking men, looked at them but was silent…
Angel’s silence may be admissible as evidence to prove that Richard and Angel are already “on.”
Bobby and Angelu can testify that Angel was silent when Richard made his revelation…
(This is especially useful if you are the lawyer for the accused [Richard, in our example] in a rape case…filed by Angel…)
Any application to “Gloriagate”?
Its application here, I think, is very limited and very theoretical. This probably has to be in a personal conversation context like my example above and not in the battle of speeches and press releases, like we have now.
Of course, the press corps can just ask her point blank. If she is silent, it may mean a yes.
But she can just argue, “Of course I answered…and my answer is I will not answer it…”
So this time, she may have every reason to invoke her right to remain silent because cheating is an election offense (aside from being an impeachable one).
But of course, you are all welcome to disagree with me and argue the opposite way…You’ll get points depending on the soundness of your arguments…
Already, Sen. Salonga and Rep. Escudero may have something to say about this…
Anything else I have to know?
Only that admissibility does not equal credibility. A judge may allow (or admit) this kind of evidence into the records but it does not necessarily mean the judge will believe it.
Now go back to eating…Me too, I’m hungry!