Competence of Sign Language Interpreter

Supreme Court logo with signing hands

In my previous post about the court upholding the credibility of the Deaf witness, I also saw another important aspect that I feel must be emphasized on the decision the highest court of the Philippines made, the competence of a sign language interpreter.

Supreme Court decision states:

This Court, cognizant of the physical handicap of the eyewitness Silvestre Sanggalan, carefully scrutinized his testimony and noted that the same were made, on several occasions from July 10, 1995 when he was called for the first time to testify until July 5, 1996 when he was recalled for the purpose of cross-examination on behalf of accused Sonny Tuangco, in a candid and straightforward manner. While the Court observes minor inconsistencies in his declarations, these are not reasons to render his testimony incredible. On the contrary, it is well-established that minor inconsistencies in the testimony of a witness are indications that the same is not rehearsed and all the more should be considered credible. Thus, discrepancies in minor details indicate veracity rather than prevarication and only tend to bolster the probative value of such testimony.

This Court likewise evaluated very carefully, the qualifications and competence of Eva Sangco, the sign language expert utilized by the prosecution and found the same to be sufficient to put on record with accuracy, the declarations being made by witness Sanggalan on the witness stand.

According to Ms. Eva Sangco, sign language experts have different mode of communications. These are

  • oral method
  • simultaneous method
  • pantomine
  • reverse interpretation
  • speech reading
  • natural signs and gestures and
  • interactive writings which are more on dramatization and drawing illustrations.

In the interpretation of the declarations of witness Sanggalan, Eva Sangco employed the natural homemade sign method. Eva Sangco has undergone several trainings on this particular method.

Hooray for Ms. Sangco! God bless all sign language interpreters, our unsung and often unrecognized heroes. 🙂

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