Trial court's findings SELDOM disturbed on appeal

The issue on which witness to believe is one that should be best addressed by a trial, rather than by an appellate, court. Findings of fact of a trial judge are accorded great respect and are seldom disturbed on appeal. The rationale is explained in People vs. Yadao: "This Court accords respect to the factual findings of the trial judge, who has the opportunity to directly observe the witneses and to determine by their demeanor on the stand the probative value of their testimonies. The witnesses reveal much when they testify that is not reflected in the transcript, which only records what they said but not how they said it. The meaningful pause, the ready reply, the angry denial, the elusive eyes or the forthright stare, the sudden pallor when a lie is exposed or the flush of face that accentuates a sincere assertion these and many other tell-tale marks of honesty or invention are not lost on the trial judge. It is for this reason that his factual findings are generally not disturbed by the appellate court unless they are found to be clearly biased or arbitrary. They are not so in the case at bar." [G.R. No. 116610. December 2, 1996]