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G.R. No. 147076 June 17, 2004 MWSS vs ACT THEATER


METROPOLITAN WATERWORS AN! SEWERAGE S"STEM, petitioner,
vs.
ACT THEATER, INC., respondent.
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari filed by the Metropolitan
Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS, seeking to reverse and set aside the
!ecision
"
dated #anuary $", %&&" of the Court of 'ppeals in C'().*. C+ ,o.
-.-.", which affirmed the civil aspect of the !ecision
%
dated May -, "//0 of the
*egional 1rial Court of 2ue3on City, Branch 00, directing the petitioner MWSS to
pay the respondent 'ct 1heater, 4nc. damages and attorney5s fees.
1he present case stemmed from the consolidated cases of Criminal Case ,o. 2(./(
%6"% entitled People of the Philippines v. Rodolfo Tabian, et al., for violation of
7residential !ecree (7.!. ,o. 6&", as amended by Batas 7ambansa Blg. .08, and
Civil Case ,o. 2(..(08. entitled Act Theater, Inc. v. Metropolitan Waterworks and
Sewerage Syste. 1he two cases were 9ointly tried in the court a !"o as they arose
from the same factual circumstances, to wit:
;n September %%, "/.., four employees of the respondent 'ct 1heater,
4nc., namely, *odolfo 1abian, 'rmando 'guilar, 'rnel Concha and
Modesto *uales, were apprehended by members of the 2ue3on City police
force for allegedly tampering a water meter in violation of 7.!. ,o. 6&", as
amended by B.7. Blg. .08. 1he respondent5s employees were subse<uently
criminally charged (Criminal Case ,o. 2(./(%6"% before the court a !"o.
;n account of the incident, the respondent5s water service connection was
cut off. Conse<uently, the respondent filed a complaint for in9unction with
damages (Civil Case ,o. 2(..(08. against the petitioner MWSS.
4n the civil case, the respondent alleged in its complaint filed with the court a !"o
that the petitioner acted arbitrarily, whimsically and capriciously, in cutting off the
respondent5s water service connection without prior notice. !ue to lack of water,
the health and sanitation, not only of the respondent5s patrons but in the surrounding
premises as well, were adversely affected. 1he respondent prayed that the petitioner
be directed to pay damages.
'fter due trial, the court a !"o rendered its decision, the dispositive portion of
which reads:
4n Criminal Case ,o. 2(./(%6"%
W=>*>?;*>, for failure of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the
accused beyond reasonable doubt, the four (6 above(named 'ccused are
hereby 'C2@411>! of the crime charged.
$
4n Civil Case ,o. 2(..(08.
...
". ;rdering defendant MWSS to pay plaintiff actual or
compensatory damages in the amount of 7%-,&&&.&&A and to return
the sum of 7%&&,&&&.&& deposited by the plaintiff for the
restoration of its water services after its disconnection on
September %$, "/..A
%. !efendant5s counterclaim for undercollection of 7-$&,0-/./8 is
dismissed for lack of meritA
$. ;rdering defendant MWSS to pay costs of suitA
6. ;rdering defendant MWSS to pay plaintiff the amount of
7-,&&&.&& as attorney5s feesA
-. Making the mandatory in9unction earlier issued to plaintiff 'ct
1heater, 4nc. permanent.
S; ;*!>*>!.
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'ggrieved, the petitioner appealed the civil aspect of the aforesaid decision to the
C'. 1he appellate court, however, dismissed the appeal. 'ccording to the C', the
court a !"o correctly found that the petitioner5s act of cutting off the respondent5s
water service connection without prior notice was arbitrary, in9urious and
pre9udicial to the latter 9ustifying the award of damages under 'rticle "/ of the Civil
Code.
@ndaunted, the petitioner now comes to this Court alleging as follows:
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W=>1=>* ;* ,;1 1=> =;,;*'BB> C;@*1 ;? '77>'BCSD
+'B4!BE '??4*M>! 1=> !>C4S4;, ;? 1=> *>)4;,'B 1*4'B
C;@*1 4, *>S;B+4,) 1=> 7>1414;,>*5S '77>'BA
44
W=>1=>* ;* ,;1 1=> =;,;*'BB> C;@*1 ;? '77>'BS
+'B4!BE @7=>B! 1=> 'W'*! ;? '11;*,>E5S ?>>SA
444
W=>1=>* ;* ,;1 1=> =;,;*'BB> C;@*1 ;? '77>'BCSD
C;**>C1BE '77B4>! 1=> 7*;+4S4;, ;? '*14CB> "/ ;? 1=>
,>W C4+4B C;!> W41=;@1 C;,S4!>*4,) 1=> '77B4C'BB>
7*;+4S4;, ;? '*14CB> 6%/ ;? 1=> S'M> C;!>.
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7reliminarily, the petitioner harps on the fact that, in <uoting the decretal portion of
the court a !"o5s decision, the C' erroneously typed 7-&&,&&& as the attorney5s fees
awarded in favor of the respondent when the same should only be 7-,&&&. 4n any
case, according to the petitioner, whether the amount is 7-&&,&&& or 7-,&&&, the
award of attorney5s fees is improper considering that there was no discussion or
statement in the body of the assailed decision 9ustifying such award. 1he petitioner
insists that in cutting off the respondent5s water service connection, the petitioner
merely eFercised its proprietary right under 'rticle 6%/ of the Civil Code.
1he petition is devoid of merit.
'rticle 6%/ of the Civil Code, relied upon by the petitioner in 9ustifying its act of
disconnecting the water supply of the respondent without prior notice, reads:
'rt. 6%/. 1he owner or lawful possessor of a thing has the right to eFclude
any person from the en9oyment and disposal thereof. ?or this purpose, he
may use such force as may be reasonable to repel or prevent an actual or
threatened unlawful physical invasion or usurpation of his property.
' right is a power, privilege, or immunity guaranteed under a constitution, statute or
decisional law, or recogni3ed as a result of long usage,
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constitutive of a legally
enforceable claim of one person against the other.
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Concededly, the petitioner, as the owner of the utility providing water supply to
certain consumers including the respondent, had the right to eFclude any person
from the en9oyment and disposal thereof. =owever, the eFercise of rights is not
without limitations. =aving the right should not be confused with the manner by
which such right is to be eFercised.
.
'rticle "/ of the Civil Code precisely sets the norms for the eFercise of one5s rights:
'rt. "/. >very person must, in the eFercise of his rights and in the
performance of his duties, act with 9ustice, give everyone his due, and
observe honesty and good faith.
When a right is eFercised in a manner which discards these norms resulting in
damage to another, a legal wrong is committed for which actor can be held
accountable.
/
4n this case, the petitioner failed to act with 9ustice and give the
respondent what is due to it when the petitioner unceremoniously cut off the
respondent5s water service connection. 's correctly found by the appellate court:
While it is true that MWSS had sent a notice of investigation to plaintiff(
appellee prior to the disconnection of the latter5s water services, this was
done only a few hours before the actual disconnection. @pon receipt of the
notice and in order to ascertain the matter, 'ct sent its assistant manager
1eodulo )umalid, #r. to the MWSS office but he was treated badly on the
flimsy eFcuse that he had no authority to represent 'ct. 'ct5s water
services were cut at midnight of the day following the apprehension of the
employees. Clearly, the plaintiff(appellee was denied due process when it
was deprived of the water services. 's a conse<uence thereof, 'ct had to
contract another source to provide water for a number of days. 7laintiff(
appellee was also compelled to deposit with MWSS the sum of
7%&&,&&&.&& for the restoration of their water services.
"&

1here is, thus, no reason to deviate from the uniform findings and conclusion of the
court a !"o and the appellate court that the petitioner5s act was arbitrary, in9urious
and pre9udicial to the respondent, 9ustifying the award of damages under 'rticle "/
of the Civil Code.
?inally, the amount of 7-&&,&&& as attorney5s fees in that portion of the assailed
decision which <uoted the fallo of the court a !"o5s decision was obviously a
typographical error. 's attorney5s fees, the court a <uo awarded the amount of
7-,&&& only. 4t was this amount, as well as actual and compensatory damages of
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7%-,&&& and the reimbursement of 7%&&,&&& deposited by the respondent for the
restoration of its water supply, that the C' affirmed, as it eFpressly stated in its
dispositive portion that Gfinding no cogent reason to reverse the appealed !ecision
which is in conformity with the law and evidence, the same is hereby
'??4*M>!.G
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1he award of 7-,&&& as attorney5s fees is reasonable and warranted. 'ttorney5s fees
may be awarded when a party is compelled to litigate or incur eFpenses to protect
his interest by reason of an un9ustified act of the other party.
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WHERE#ORE, the petition is !ENIE!. 1he !ecision of the Court of 'ppeals
dated #anuary $", %&&" in C'().*. C+ ,o. -.-." is A##IRME! in toto.