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SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 125948. December 29, 1998]

FIRST PHILIPPINE INDUSTRIAL CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, HONORABLE


PATERNO V. TAC-AN, BATANGAS CITY and ADORACION C. ARELLANO, in her official capacity as
City Treasurer of Batangas, respondents.
DECISION
MARTINEZ, J.:
This petition for review on certiorari assails the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated November 29, 1995, in
CA-G.R. SP No. 36801, affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Batangas City, Branch 84, in Civil Case
No. 4293, which dismissed petitioners' complaint for a business tax refund imposed by the City of Batangas.
Petitioner is a grantee of a pipeline concession under Republic Act No. 387, as amended, to contract, install and
operate oil pipelines. The original pipeline concession was granted in 1967[1] and renewed by the Energy Regulatory
Board in 1992.[2]
Sometime in January 1995, petitioner applied for a mayor's permit with the Office of the Mayor of Batangas
City. However, before the mayor's permit could be issued, the respondent City Treasurer required petitioner to pay a
local tax based on its gross receipts for the fiscal year 1993 pursuant to the Local Government Code. [3] The
respondent City Treasurer assessed a business tax on the petitioner amounting to P956,076.04 payable in four
installments based on the gross receipts for products pumped at GPS-1 for the fiscal year 1993 which amounted
to P181,681,151.00. In order not to hamper its operations, petitioner paid the tax under protest in the amount
of P239,019.01 for the first quarter of 1993.
On January 20, 1994, petitioner filed a letter-protest addressed to the respondent City Treasurer, the pertinent
portion of which reads:
"Please note that our Company (FPIC) is a pipeline operator with a government concession granted under the
Petroleum Act. It is engaged in the business of transporting petroleum products from the Batangas refineries, via
pipeline, to Sucat and JTF Pandacan Terminals. As such, our Company is exempt from paying tax on gross receipts
under Section 133 of the Local Government Code of 1991 x x x x
"Moreover, Transportation contractors are not included in the enumeration of contractors under Section 131,
Paragraph (h) of the Local Government Code. Therefore, the authority to impose tax 'on contractors and other
independent contractors' under Section 143, Paragraph (e) of the Local Government Code does not include the
power to levy on transportation contractors.
"The imposition and assessment cannot be categorized as a mere fee authorized under Section 147 of the Local
Government Code. The said section limits the imposition of fees and charges on business to such amounts as may
be commensurate to the cost of regulation, inspection, and licensing. Hence, assuming arguendo that FPIC is liable
for the license fee, the imposition thereof based on gross receipts is violative of the aforecited provision. The amount
of P956,076.04 (P239,019.01 per quarter) is not commensurate to the cost of regulation, inspection and
licensing. The fee is already a revenue raising measure, and not a mere regulatory imposition."[4]
On March 8, 1994, the respondent City Treasurer denied the protest contending that petitioner cannot be
considered engaged in transportation business, thus it cannot claim exemption under Section 133 (j) of the Local
Government Code.[5]
On June 15, 1994, petitioner filed with the Regional Trial Court of Batangas City a complaint [6] for tax refund with
prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction against respondents City of Batangas and Adoracion Arellano in her capacity
as City Treasurer. In its complaint, petitioner alleged, inter alia, that: (1) the imposition and collection of the business
tax on its gross receipts violates Section 133 of the Local Government Code; (2) the authority of cities to impose and

collect a tax on the gross receipts of "contractors and independent contractors" under Sec. 141 (e) and 151 does not
include the authority to collect such taxes on transportation contractors for, as defined under Sec. 131 (h), the term
"contractors" excludes transportation contractors; and, (3) the City Treasurer illegally and erroneously imposed and
collected the said tax, thus meriting the immediate refund of the tax paid.[7]
Traversing the complaint, the respondents argued that petitioner cannot be exempt from taxes under Section
133 (j) of the Local Government Code as said exemption applies only to "transportation contractors and persons
engaged in the transportation by hire and common carriers by air, land and water." Respondents assert that pipelines
are not included in the term "common carrier" which refers solely to ordinary carriers such as trucks, trains, ships and
the like. Respondents further posit that the term "common carrier" under the said code pertains to the mode or
manner by which a product is delivered to its destination.[8]
On October 3, 1994, the trial court rendered a decision dismissing the complaint, ruling in this wise:
"xxx Plaintiff is either a contractor or other independent contractor.
xxx the exemption to tax claimed by the plaintiff has become unclear. It is a rule that tax exemptions are to be strictly
construed against the taxpayer, taxes being the lifeblood of the government. Exemption may therefore be granted
only by clear and unequivocal provisions of law.
"Plaintiff claims that it is a grantee of a pipeline concession under Republic Act 387, (Exhibit A) whose concession
was lately renewed by the Energy Regulatory Board (Exhibit B). Yet neither said law nor the deed of concession grant
any tax exemption upon the plaintiff.
"Even the Local Government Code imposes a tax on franchise holders under Sec. 137 of the Local Tax Code. Such
being the situation obtained in this case (exemption being unclear and equivocal) resort to distinctions or other
considerations may be of help:
1. That the exemption granted under Sec. 133 (j) encompasses only common carriers so as not to
overburden the riding public or commuters with taxes. Plaintiff is not a common carrier, but
a special carrier extending its services and facilities to a single specific or "special
customer" under a "special contract."
2. The Local Tax Code of 1992 was basically enacted to give more and effective local autonomy to
local governments than the previous enactments, to make them economically and
financially viable to serve the people and discharge their functions with a concomitant
obligation to accept certain devolution of powers, x x x So, consistent with this policy even
franchise grantees are taxed (Sec. 137) and contractors are also taxed under Sec. 143 (e)
and 151 of the Code."[9]
Petitioner assailed the aforesaid decision before this Court via a petition for review. On February 27, 1995, we
referred the case to the respondent Court of Appeals for consideration and adjudication. [10]On November 29, 1995,
the respondent court rendered a decision[11] affirming the trial court's dismissal of petitioner's complaint. Petitioner's
motion for reconsideration was denied on July 18, 1996.[12]
Hence, this petition. At first, the petition was denied due course in a Resolution dated November 11, 1996.
Petitioner moved for a reconsideration which was granted by this Court in a Resolution [14]of January 20,
1997. Thus, the petition was reinstated.
[13]

Petitioner claims that the respondent Court of Appeals erred in holding that (1) the petitioner is not a common
carrier or a transportation contractor, and (2) the exemption sought for by petitioner is not clear under the law.
There is merit in the petition.
A "common carrier" may be defined, broadly, as one who holds himself out to the public as engaged in the
business of transporting persons or property from place to place, for compensation, offering his services to the public
generally.
Article 1732 of the Civil Code defines a "common carrier" as "any person, corporation, firm or association
engaged in the business of carrying or transporting passengers or goods or both, by land, water, or air, for
compensation, offering their services to the public."

The test for determining whether a party is a common carrier of goods is:
1. He must be engaged in the business of carrying goods for others as a public employment, and must
hold himself out as ready to engage in the transportation of goods for person generally as a
business and not as a casual occupation;
2. He must undertake to carry goods of the kind to which his business is confined;
3. He must undertake to carry by the method by which his business is conducted and over his established
roads; and
4. The transportation must be for hire.[15]
Based on the above definitions and requirements, there is no doubt that petitioner is a common carrier. It is
engaged in the business of transporting or carrying goods, i.e. petroleum products, for hire as a public employment. It
undertakes to carry for all persons indifferently, that is, to all persons who choose to employ its services, and
transports the goods by land and for compensation. The fact that petitioner has a limited clientele does not exclude it
from the definition of a common carrier. In De Guzman vs. Court of Appeals[16] we ruled that:
"The above article (Art. 1732, Civil Code) makes no distinction between one whose principal business activity is the
carrying of persons or goods or both, and one who does such carrying only as an ancillary activity (in local idiom, as a
'sideline'). Article 1732 x x x avoids making any distinction between a person or enterprise offering
transportation service on a regular or scheduled basis and one offering such service on an occasional,
episodic or unscheduled basis. Neither does Article 1732 distinguish between a carrier offering its services
to the 'general public,' i.e., the general community or population, and one who offers services or solicits
business only from a narrow segment of the general population. We think that Article 1877 deliberately
refrained from making such distinctions.
So understood, the concept of 'common carrier' under Article 1732 may be seen to coincide neatly with the notion of
'public service,' under the Public Service Act (Commonwealth Act No. 1416, as amended) which at least partially
supplements the law on common carriers set forth in the Civil Code. Under Section 13, paragraph (b) of the Public
Service Act, 'public service' includes:
'every person that now or hereafter may own, operate, manage, or control in the Philippines, for hire or
compensation, with general or limited clientele, whether permanent, occasional or accidental, and done for general
business purposes, any common carrier, railroad, street railway, traction railway, subway motor vehicle, either for
freight or passenger, or both, with or without fixed route and whatever may be its classification, freight or carrier
service of any class, express service, steamboat, or steamship line, pontines, ferries and water craft, engaged in the
transportation of passengers or freight or both, shipyard, marine repair shop, wharf or dock, ice plant, icerefrigeration plant, canal, irrigation system gas, electric light heat and power, water supply and power petroleum,
sewerage system, wire or wireless communications systems, wire or wireless broadcasting stations and other similar
public services.' "(Underscoring Supplied)
Also, respondent's argument that the term "common carrier" as used in Section 133 (j) of the Local Government
Code refers only to common carriers transporting goods and passengers through moving vehicles or vessels either
by land, sea or water, is erroneous.
As correctly pointed out by petitioner, the definition of "common carriers" in the Civil Code makes no distinction
as to the means of transporting, as long as it is by land, water or air. It does not provide that the transportation of the
passengers or goods should be by motor vehicle. In fact, in the United States, oil pipe line operators are considered
common carriers.[17]
Under the Petroleum Act of the Philippines (Republic Act 387), petitioner is considered a "common
carrier." Thus, Article 86 thereof provides that:
"Art. 86. Pipe line concessionaire as a common carrier. - A pipe line shall have the preferential right to utilize
installations for the transportation of petroleum owned by him, but is obligated to utilize the remaining transportation
capacity pro rata for the transportation of such other petroleum as may be offered by others for transport, and to

charge without discrimination such rates as may have been approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural
Resources."
Republic Act 387 also regards petroleum operation as a public utility. Pertinent portion of Article 7 thereof
provides:
"that everything relating to the exploration for and exploitation of petroleum x x and everything relating to the
manufacture, refining, storage, or transportation by special methods of petroleum, is hereby declared to be
a public utility." (Underscoring Supplied)
The Bureau of Internal Revenue likewise considers the petitioner a "common carrier." In BIR Ruling No. 069-83,
it declared:
"x x x since [petitioner] is a pipeline concessionaire that is engaged only in transporting petroleum products, it is
considered a common carrier under Republic Act No. 387 x x x. Such being the case, it is not subject to withholding
tax prescribed by Revenue Regulations No. 13-78, as amended."
From the foregoing disquisition, there is no doubt that petitioner is a "common carrier" and, therefore, exempt
from the business tax as provided for in Section 133 (j), of the Local Government Code, to wit:
"Section 133. Common Limitations on the Taxing Powers of Local Government Units. - Unless otherwise provided
herein, the exercise of the taxing powers of provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays shall not extend to the
levy of the following :
xxxxxxxxx
(j) Taxes on the gross receipts of transportation contractors and persons engaged in the transportation of
passengers or freight by hire and common carriers by air, land or water, except as provided in this
Code."
The deliberations conducted in the House of Representatives on the Local Government Code of 1991 are
illuminating:
"MR. AQUINO (A). Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, we would like to proceed to page 95, line 1. It states : "SEC.121 [now Sec. 131]. Common Limitations
on the Taxing Powers of Local Government Units." x x x
MR. AQUINO (A.). Thank you Mr. Speaker.
Still on page 95, subparagraph 5, on taxes on the business of transportation. This appears to be one of those being
deemed to be exempted from the taxing powers of the local government units. May we know the reason why the
transportation business is being excluded from the taxing powers of the local government units?
MR. JAVIER (E.). Mr. Speaker, there is an exception contained in Section 121 (now Sec. 131), line 16, paragraph 5. It
states that local government units may not impose taxes on the business of transportation, except as otherwise
provided in this code.
Now, Mr. Speaker, if the Gentleman would care to go to page 98 of Book II, one can see there that provinces have
the power to impose a tax on business enjoying a franchise at the rate of not more than one-half of 1 percent of the
gross annual receipts. So, transportation contractors who are enjoying a franchise would be subject to tax by the
province. That is the exception, Mr. Speaker.
What we want to guard against here, Mr. Speaker, is the imposition of taxes by local government units on the
carrier business. Local government units may impose taxes on top of what is already being imposed by the National
Internal Revenue Code which is the so-called "common carriers tax." We do not want a duplication of this tax, so

we just provided for an exception under Section 125 [now Sec. 137] that a province may impose this tax at a
specific rate.
MR. AQUINO (A.). Thank you for that clarification, Mr. Speaker. x x x[18]
It is clear that the legislative intent in excluding from the taxing power of the local government unit the imposition
of business tax against common carriers is to prevent a duplication of the so-called "common carrier's tax."
Petitioner is already paying three (3%) percent common carrier's tax on its gross sales/earnings under the
National Internal Revenue Code.[19] To tax petitioner again on its gross receipts in its transportation of petroleum
business would defeat the purpose of the Local Government Code.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The decision of the respondent Court of Appeals dated
November 29, 1995 in CA-G.R. SP No. 36801 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Puno, and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-47822 December 22, 1988


PEDRO DE GUZMAN, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and ERNESTO CENDANA, respondents.
Vicente D. Millora for petitioner.
Jacinto Callanta for private respondent.

FELICIANO, J.:
Respondent Ernesto Cendana, a junk dealer, was engaged in buying up used bottles and scrap metal in Pangasinan.
Upon gathering sufficient quantities of such scrap material, respondent would bring such material to Manila for resale.
He utilized two (2) six-wheeler trucks which he owned for hauling the material to Manila. On the return trip to
Pangasinan, respondent would load his vehicles with cargo which various merchants wanted delivered to differing
establishments in Pangasinan. For that service, respondent charged freight rates which were commonly lower than
regular commercial rates.
Sometime in November 1970, petitioner Pedro de Guzman a merchant and authorized dealer of General Milk
Company (Philippines), Inc. in Urdaneta, Pangasinan, contracted with respondent for the hauling of 750 cartons of
Liberty filled milk from a warehouse of General Milk in Makati, Rizal, to petitioner's establishment in Urdaneta on or
before 4 December 1970. Accordingly, on 1 December 1970, respondent loaded in Makati the merchandise on to his
trucks: 150 cartons were loaded on a truck driven by respondent himself, while 600 cartons were placed on board the
other truck which was driven by Manuel Estrada, respondent's driver and employee.
Only 150 boxes of Liberty filled milk were delivered to petitioner. The other 600 boxes never reached petitioner, since
the truck which carried these boxes was hijacked somewhere along the MacArthur Highway in Paniqui, Tarlac, by
armed men who took with them the truck, its driver, his helper and the cargo.
On 6 January 1971, petitioner commenced action against private respondent in the Court of First Instance of
Pangasinan, demanding payment of P 22,150.00, the claimed value of the lost merchandise, plus damages and
attorney's fees. Petitioner argued that private respondent, being a common carrier, and having failed to exercise the
extraordinary diligence required of him by the law, should be held liable for the value of the undelivered goods.
In his Answer, private respondent denied that he was a common carrier and argued that he could not be held
responsible for the value of the lost goods, such loss having been due to force majeure.

On 10 December 1975, the trial court rendered a Decision 1 finding private respondent to be a common carrier and
holding him liable for the value of the undelivered goods (P 22,150.00) as well as for P 4,000.00 as damages and P
2,000.00 as attorney's fees.
On appeal before the Court of Appeals, respondent urged that the trial court had erred in considering him a common
carrier; in finding that he had habitually offered trucking services to the public; in not exempting him from liability on
the ground of force majeure; and in ordering him to pay damages and attorney's fees.
The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the trial court and held that respondent had been engaged in
transporting return loads of freight "as a casual
occupation a sideline to his scrap iron business" and not as a common carrier. Petitioner came to this Court by
way of a Petition for Review assigning as errors the following conclusions of the Court of Appeals:
1. that private respondent was not a common carrier;
2. that the hijacking of respondent's truck was force majeure; and
3. that respondent was not liable for the value of the undelivered cargo. (Rollo, p. 111)
We consider first the issue of whether or not private respondent Ernesto Cendana may, under the facts earlier set
forth, be properly characterized as a common carrier.
The Civil Code defines "common carriers" in the following terms:
Article 1732. Common carriers are persons, corporations, firms or associations engaged in the
business of carrying or transporting passengers or goods or both, by land, water, or air for
compensation, offering their services to the public.
The above article makes no distinction between one whose principal business activity is the carrying of persons or
goods or both, and one who does such carrying only as an ancillary activity (in local Idiom as "a sideline"). Article
1732 also carefully avoids making any distinction between a person or enterprise offering transportation service on
a regular or scheduled basis and one offering such service on an occasional, episodic or unscheduled basis. Neither
does Article 1732 distinguish between a carrier offering its services to the "general public," i.e., the general
community or population, and one who offers services or solicits business only from a narrow segment of the general
population. We think that Article 1733 deliberaom making such distinctions.
So understood, the concept of "common carrier" under Article 1732 may be seen to coincide neatly with the notion of
"public service," under the Public Service Act (Commonwealth Act No. 1416, as amended) which at least partially
supplements the law on common carriers set forth in the Civil Code. Under Section 13, paragraph (b) of the Public
Service Act, "public service" includes:
... every person that now or hereafter may own, operate, manage, or control in the Philippines, for
hire or compensation, with general or limited clientele, whether permanent, occasional or
accidental, and done for general business purposes, any common carrier, railroad, street railway,
traction railway, subway motor vehicle, either for freight or passenger, or both, with or without fixed
route and whatever may be its classification, freight or carrier service of any class, express service,
steamboat, or steamship line, pontines, ferries and water craft, engaged in the transportation of
passengers or freight or both, shipyard, marine repair shop, wharf or dock, ice plant,
ice-refrigeration plant, canal, irrigation system, gas, electric light, heat and power, water supply and
power petroleum, sewerage system, wire or wireless communications systems, wire or wireless
broadcasting stations and other similar public services. ... (Emphasis supplied)
It appears to the Court that private respondent is properly characterized as a common carrier even though he merely
"back-hauled" goods for other merchants from Manila to Pangasinan, although such back-hauling was done on a
periodic or occasional rather than regular or scheduled manner, and even though private
respondent'sprincipal occupation was not the carriage of goods for others. There is no dispute that private
respondent charged his customers a fee for hauling their goods; that fee frequently fell below commercial freight rates
is not relevant here.

The Court of Appeals referred to the fact that private respondent held no certificate of public convenience, and
concluded he was not a common carrier. This is palpable error. A certificate of public convenience is not a requisite
for the incurring of liability under the Civil Code provisions governing common carriers. That liability arises the
moment a person or firm acts as a common carrier, without regard to whether or not such carrier has also complied
with the requirements of the applicable regulatory statute and implementing regulations and has been granted a
certificate of public convenience or other franchise. To exempt private respondent from the liabilities of a common
carrier because he has not secured the necessary certificate of public convenience, would be offensive to sound
public policy; that would be to reward private respondent precisely for failing to comply with applicable statutory
requirements. The business of a common carrier impinges directly and intimately upon the safety and well being and
property of those members of the general community who happen to deal with such carrier. The law imposes duties
and liabilities upon common carriers for the safety and protection of those who utilize their services and the law
cannot allow a common carrier to render such duties and liabilities merely facultative by simply failing to obtain the
necessary permits and authorizations.
We turn then to the liability of private respondent as a common carrier.
Common carriers, "by the nature of their business and for reasons of public policy" 2 are held to a very high degree of
care and diligence ("extraordinary diligence") in the carriage of goods as well as of passengers. The specific import of
extraordinary diligence in the care of goods transported by a common carrier is, according to Article 1733, "further
expressed in Articles 1734,1735 and 1745, numbers 5, 6 and 7" of the Civil Code.
Article 1734 establishes the general rule that common carriers are responsible for the loss, destruction or
deterioration of the goods which they carry, "unless the same is due to any of the following causes only:
(1) Flood, storm, earthquake, lightning or other natural disaster or calamity;
(2) Act of the public enemy in war, whether international or civil;
(3) Act or omission of the shipper or owner of the goods;
(4) The character-of the goods or defects in the packing or-in the containers; and
(5) Order or act of competent public authority.
It is important to point out that the above list of causes of loss, destruction or deterioration which exempt the common
carrier for responsibility therefor, is a closed list. Causes falling outside the foregoing list, even if they appear to
constitute a species of force majeure fall within the scope of Article 1735, which provides as follows:
In all cases other than those mentioned in numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the preceding article, if the
goods are lost, destroyed or deteriorated, common carriers are presumed to have been at fault or
to have acted negligently, unless they prove that they observed extraordinary diligence as required
in Article 1733. (Emphasis supplied)
Applying the above-quoted Articles 1734 and 1735, we note firstly that the specific cause alleged in the instant case
the hijacking of the carrier's truck does not fall within any of the five (5) categories of exempting causes listed in
Article 1734. It would follow, therefore, that the hijacking of the carrier's vehicle must be dealt with under the
provisions of Article 1735, in other words, that the private respondent as common carrier is presumed to have been at
fault or to have acted negligently. This presumption, however, may be overthrown by proof of extraordinary diligence
on the part of private respondent.
Petitioner insists that private respondent had not observed extraordinary diligence in the care of petitioner's goods.
Petitioner argues that in the circumstances of this case, private respondent should have hired a security guard
presumably to ride with the truck carrying the 600 cartons of Liberty filled milk. We do not believe, however, that in the
instant case, the standard of extraordinary diligence required private respondent to retain a security guard to ride with
the truck and to engage brigands in a firelight at the risk of his own life and the lives of the driver and his helper.
The precise issue that we address here relates to the specific requirements of the duty of extraordinary diligence in
the vigilance over the goods carried in the specific context of hijacking or armed robbery.
As noted earlier, the duty of extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over goods is, under Article 1733, given additional
specification not only by Articles 1734 and 1735 but also by Article 1745, numbers 4, 5 and 6, Article 1745 provides in
relevant part:

Any of the following or similar stipulations shall be considered unreasonable, unjust and contrary to
public policy:
xxx xxx xxx
(5) that the common carrier shall not be responsible for the acts or omissions of
his or its employees;
(6) that the common carrier's liability for acts committed by thieves, or of
robbers who donot act with grave or irresistible threat, violence or force, is
dispensed with or diminished; and
(7) that the common carrier shall not responsible for the loss, destruction or
deterioration of goods on account of the defective condition of the car vehicle,
ship, airplane or other equipment used in the contract of carriage. (Emphasis
supplied)
Under Article 1745 (6) above, a common carrier is held responsible and will not be allowed to divest or to diminish
such responsibility even for acts of strangers like thieves or robbers, except where such thieves or robbers in fact
acted "with grave or irresistible threat, violence or force." We believe and so hold that the limits of the duty of
extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods carried are reached where the goods are lost as a result of a
robbery which is attended by "grave or irresistible threat, violence or force."
In the instant case, armed men held up the second truck owned by private respondent which carried petitioner's
cargo. The record shows that an information for robbery in band was filed in the Court of First Instance of Tarlac,
Branch 2, in Criminal Case No. 198 entitled "People of the Philippines v. Felipe Boncorno, Napoleon Presno,
Armando Mesina, Oscar Oria and one John Doe." There, the accused were charged with willfully and unlawfully
taking and carrying away with them the second truck, driven by Manuel Estrada and loaded with the 600 cartons of
Liberty filled milk destined for delivery at petitioner's store in Urdaneta, Pangasinan. The decision of the trial court
shows that the accused acted with grave, if not irresistible, threat, violence or force. 3 Three (3) of the five (5) holduppers were armed with firearms. The robbers not only took away the truck and its cargo but also kidnapped the
driver and his helper, detaining them for several days and later releasing them in another province (in Zambales). The
hijacked truck was subsequently found by the police in Quezon City. The Court of First Instance convicted all the
accused of robbery, though not of robbery in band. 4
In these circumstances, we hold that the occurrence of the loss must reasonably be regarded as quite beyond the
control of the common carrier and properly regarded as a fortuitous event. It is necessary to recall that even common
carriers are not made absolute insurers against all risks of travel and of transport of goods, and are not held liable for
acts or events which cannot be foreseen or are inevitable, provided that they shall have complied with the rigorous
standard of extraordinary diligence.
We, therefore, agree with the result reached by the Court of Appeals that private respondent Cendana is not liable for
the value of the undelivered merchandise which was lost because of an event entirely beyond private respondent's
control.
ACCORDINGLY, the Petition for Review on certiorari is hereby DENIED and the Decision of the Court of Appeals
dated 3 August 1977 is AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Bidin and Cortes, JJ., concur.
G.R. No. 101089. April 7, 1993.
ESTRELLITA M. BASCOS, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and RODOLFO A. CIPRIANO, respondents.

Modesto S. Bascos for petitioner.


Pelaez, Adriano & Gregorio for private respondent.
SYLLABUS
1. CIVIL LAW; COMMON CARRIERS; DEFINED; TEST TO DETERMINE COMMON CARRIER. Article 1732 of
the Civil Code defines a common carrier as "(a) person, corporation or firm, or association engaged in the business of
carrying or transporting passengers or goods or both, by land, water or air, for compensation, offering their services to
the public." The test to determine a common carrier is "whether the given undertaking is a part of the business
engaged in by the carrier which he has held out to the general public as his occupation rather than the quantity or
extent of the business transacted." . . . The holding of the Court in De Guzman vs. Court of Appeals is instructive. In
referring to Article 1732 of the Civil Code, it held thus: "The above article makes no distinction between one whose
principal business activity is the carrying of persons or goods or both, and one who does such carrying only as an
ancillary activity (in local idiom, as a "sideline"). Article 1732 also carefully avoids making any distinction between a
person or enterprise offering transportation service on a regular or scheduled basis and one offering such service on
an occasional, episodic or unscheduled basis. Neither does Article 1732 distinguished between a carrier offering its
services to the "general public," i.e., the general community or population, and one who offers services or solicits
business only from a narrow segment of the general population. We think that Article 1732 deliberately refrained from
making such distinctions."
2. ID.; ID.; DILIGENCE REQUIRED IN VIGILANCE OVER GOODS TRANSPORTED; WHEN PRESUMPTION OF
NEGLIGENCE ARISES; HOW PRESUMPTION OVERCAME; WHEN PRESUMPTION MADE ABSOLUTE.
Common carriers are obliged to observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods transported by them.
Accordingly, they are presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently if the goods are lost, destroyed or
deteriorated. There are very few instances when the presumption of negligence does not attach and these instances
are enumerated in Article 1734. In those cases where the presumption is applied, the common carrier must prove that
it exercised extraordinary diligence in order to overcome the presumption . . . The presumption of negligence was
raised against petitioner. It was petitioner's burden to overcome it. Thus, contrary to her assertion, private respondent
need not introduce any evidence to prove her negligence. Her own failure to adduce sufficient proof of extraordinary
diligence made the presumption conclusive against her.
3. ID.; ID.; HIJACKING OF GOODS; CARRIER PRESUMED NEGLIGENT; HOW CARRIER ABSOLVED FROM
LIABILITY. In De Guzman vs. Court of Appeals, the Court held that hijacking, not being included in the provisions
of Article 1734, must be dealt with under the provisions of Article 1735 and thus, the common carrier is presumed to
have been at fault or negligent. To exculpate the carrier from liability arising from hijacking, he must prove that the
robbers or the hijackers acted with grave or irresistible threat, violence, or force. This is in accordance with Article
1745 of the Civil Code which provides: "Art. 1745. Any of the following or similar stipulations shall be considered
unreasonable, unjust and contrary to public policy . . . (6) That the common carrier's liability for acts committed by
thieves, or of robbers who do not act with grave or irresistible threat, violences or force, is dispensed with or
diminished"; In the same case, the Supreme Court also held that: "Under Article 1745 (6) above, a common carrier is
held responsible and will not be allowed to divest or to diminish such responsibility even for acts of strangers
like thieves or robbers, except where such thieves or robbers in fact acted "with grave of irresistible threat, violence of
force," We believe and so hold that the limits of the duty of extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods
carried are reached where the goods are lost as a result of a robbery which is attended by "grave or irresistible threat,
violence or force."
4. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; JUDICIAL ADMISSIONS CONCLUSIVE. In this case, petitioner herself has
made the admission that she was in the trucking business, offering her trucks to those with cargo to move. Judicial
admissions are conclusive and no evidence is required to prove the same.
5. ID.; ID.; BURDEN OF PROOF RESTS WITH PARTY WHO ALLEGES A FACT. Petitioner presented no other
proof of the existence of the contract of lease. He who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it.
6. ID.; ID.; AFFIDAVITS NOT CONSIDERED BEST EVIDENCE IF AFFIANTS AVAILABLE AS WITNESSES. While
the affidavit of Juanito Morden, the truck helper in the hijacked truck, was presented as evidence in court, he himself
was a witness as could be gleaned from the contents of the petition. Affidavits are not considered the best evidence if
the affiants are available as witnesses.

7. CIVIL LAW; OBLIGATIONS AND CONTRACTS; CONTRACT IS WHAT LAW DEFINES IT TO BE. Granting that
the said evidence were not self-serving, the same were not sufficient to prove that the contract was one of lease. It
must be understood that a contract is what the law defines it to be and not what it is called by the contracting parties.
DECISION
CAMPOS, JR., J p:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision ** of the Court of Appeals in "RODOLFO A. CIPRIANO, doing
business under the name CIPRIANO TRADING ENTERPRISES plaintiff-appellee, vs. ESTRELLITA M. BASCOS,
doing business under the name of BASCOS TRUCKING, defendant-appellant," C.A.-G.R. CV No. 25216, the
dispositive portion of which is quoted hereunder:
"PREMISES considered, We find no reversible error in the decision appealed from, which is hereby affirmed in toto.
Costs against appellant." 1
The facts, as gathered by this Court, are as follows:
Rodolfo A. Cipriano representing Cipriano Trading Enterprise (CIPTRADE for short) entered into a hauling contract 2
with Jibfair Shipping Agency Corporation whereby the former bound itself to haul the latter's 2,000 m/tons of soya
bean meal from Magallanes Drive, Del Pan, Manila to the warehouse of Purefoods Corporation in Calamba, Laguna.
To carry out its obligation, CIPTRADE, through Rodolfo Cipriano, subcontracted with Estrellita Bascos (petitioner) to
transport and to deliver 400 sacks of soya bean meal worth P156,404.00 from the Manila Port Area to Calamba,
Laguna at the rate of P50.00 per metric ton. Petitioner failed to deliver the said cargo. As a consequence of that
failure, Cipriano paid Jibfair Shipping Agency the amount of the lost goods in accordance with the contract which
stated that:
"1. CIPTRADE shall be held liable and answerable for any loss in bags due to theft, hijacking and non-delivery or
damages to the cargo during transport at market value, . . ." 3
Cipriano demanded reimbursement from petitioner but the latter refused to pay. Eventually, Cipriano filed a complaint
for a sum of money and damages with writ of preliminary attachment 4 for breach of a contract of carriage. The
prayer for a Writ of Preliminary Attachment was supported by an affidavit 5 which contained the following allegations:
"4. That this action is one of those specifically mentioned in Sec. 1, Rule 57 the Rules of Court, whereby a writ of
preliminary attachment may lawfully issue, namely:
"(e) in an action against a party who has removed or disposed of his property, or is about to do so, with intent to
defraud his creditors;"
5. That there is no sufficient security for the claim sought to be enforced by the present action;
6. That the amount due to the plaintiff in the above-entitled case is above all legal counterclaims;"
The trial court granted the writ of preliminary attachment on February 17, 1987.
In her answer, petitioner interposed the following defenses: that there was no contract of carriage since CIPTRADE
leased her cargo truck to load the cargo from Manila Port Area to Laguna; that CIPTRADE was liable to petitioner in
the amount of P11,000.00 for loading the cargo; that the truck carrying the cargo was hijacked along Canonigo St.,
Paco, Manila on the night of October 21, 1988; that the hijacking was immediately reported to CIPTRADE and that
petitioner and the police exerted all efforts to locate the hijacked properties; that after preliminary investigation, an
information for robbery and carnapping were filed against Jose Opriano, et al.; and that hijacking, being a force
majeure, exculpated petitioner from any liability to CIPTRADE.
After trial, the trial court rendered a decision *** the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:

"WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff and against defendant ordering the latter to pay the
former:
1. The amount of ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-SIX THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED FOUR PESOS (P156,404.00) as an
(sic) for actual damages with legal interest of 12% per cent per annum to be counted from December 4, 1986 until
fully paid;
2. The amount of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00) as and for attorney's fees; and
3. The costs of the suit.
The "Urgent Motion To Dissolve/Lift preliminary Attachment" dated March 10, 1987 filed by defendant is DENIED for
being moot and academic.
SO ORDERED." 6
Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals but respondent Court affirmed the trial court's judgment.
Consequently, petitioner filed this petition where she makes the following assignment of errors; to wit:
"I. THE RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN
PETITIONER AND PRIVATE RESPONDENT WAS CARRIAGE OF GOODS AND NOT LEASE OF CARGO TRUCK.
II. GRANTING, EX GRATIA ARGUMENTI, THAT THE FINDING OF THE RESPONDENT COURT THAT THE
CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PETITIONER AND PRIVATE RESPONDENT WAS CARRIAGE OF
GOODS IS CORRECT, NEVERTHELESS, IT ERRED IN FINDING PETITIONER LIABLE THEREUNDER BECAUSE
THE LOSS OF THE CARGO WAS DUE TO FORCE MAJEURE, NAMELY, HIJACKING.
III. THE RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE FINDING OF THE TRIAL COURT THAT
PETITIONER'S MOTION TO DISSOLVE/LIFT THE WRIT OF PRELIMINARY ATTACHMENT HAS BEEN
RENDERED MOOT AND ACADEMIC BY THE DECISION OF THE MERITS OF THE CASE." 7
The petition presents the following issues for resolution: (1) was petitioner a common carrier?; and (2) was the
hijacking referred to a force majeure?
The Court of Appeals, in holding that petitioner was a common carrier, found that she admitted in her answer that she
did business under the name A.M. Bascos Trucking and that said admission dispensed with the presentation by
private respondent, Rodolfo Cipriano, of proofs that petitioner was a common carrier. The respondent Court also
adopted in toto the trial court's decision that petitioner was a common carrier, Moreover, both courts appreciated the
following pieces of evidence as indicators that petitioner was a common carrier: the fact that the truck driver of
petitioner, Maximo Sanglay, received the cargo consisting of 400 bags of soya bean meal as evidenced by a cargo
receipt signed by Maximo Sanglay; the fact that the truck helper, Juanito Morden, was also an employee of petitioner;
and the fact that control of the cargo was placed in petitioner's care.
In disputing the conclusion of the trial and appellate courts that petitioner was a common carrier, she alleged in this
petition that the contract between her and Rodolfo A. Cipriano, representing CIPTRADE, was lease of the truck. She
cited as evidence certain affidavits which referred to the contract as "lease". These affidavits were made by Jesus
Bascos 8 and by petitioner herself. 9 She further averred that Jesus Bascos confirmed in his testimony his statement
that the contract was a lease contract. 10 She also stated that: she was not catering to the general public. Thus, in
her answer to the amended complaint, she said that she does business under the same style of A.M. Bascos
Trucking, offering her trucks for lease to those who have cargo to move, not to the general public but to a few
customers only in view of the fact that it is only a small business. 11
We agree with the respondent Court in its finding that petitioner is a common carrier.
Article 1732 of the Civil Code defines a common carrier as "(a) person, corporation or firm, or association engaged in
the business of carrying or transporting passengers or goods or both, by land, water or air, for compensation, offering

their services to the public." The test to determine a common carrier is "whether the given undertaking is a part of the
business engaged in by the carrier which he has held out to the general public as his occupation rather than the
quantity or extent of the business transacted." 12 In this case, petitioner herself has made the admission that she was
in the trucking business, offering her trucks to those with cargo to move. Judicial admissions are conclusive and no
evidence is required to prove the same. 13
But petitioner argues that there was only a contract of lease because they offer their services only to a select group of
people and because the private respondents, plaintiffs in the lower court, did not object to the presentation of
affidavits by petitioner where the transaction was referred to as a lease contract.
Regarding the first contention, the holding of the Court in De Guzman vs. Court of Appeals 14 is instructive. In
referring to Article 1732 of the Civil Code, it held thus:
"The above article makes no distinction between one whose principal business activity is the carrying of persons or
goods or both, and one who does such carrying only as an ancillary activity (in local idiom, as a "sideline"). Article
1732 also carefully avoids making any distinction between a person or enterprise offering transportation service on a
regular or scheduled basis and one offering such service on an occasional, episodic or unscheduled basis. Neither
does Article 1732 distinguish between a carrier offering its services to the "general public," i.e., the general
community or population, and one who offers services or solicits business only from a narrow segment of the general
population. We think that Article 1732 deliberately refrained from making such distinctions."
Regarding the affidavits presented by petitioner to the court, both the trial and appellate courts have dismissed them
as self-serving and petitioner contests the conclusion. We are bound by the appellate court's factual conclusions. Yet,
granting that the said evidence were not self-serving, the same were not sufficient to prove that the contract was one
of lease. It must be understood that a contract is what the law defines it to be and not what it is called by the
contracting parties. 15 Furthermore, petitioner presented no other proof of the existence of the contract of lease. He
who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it. 16
Likewise, We affirm the holding of the respondent court that the loss of the goods was not due to force majeure.
Common carriers are obliged to observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods transported by them.
17 Accordingly, they are presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently if the goods are lost, destroyed
or deteriorated. 18 There are very few instances when the presumption of negligence does not attach and these
instances are enumerated in Article 1734. 19 In those cases where the presumption is applied, the common carrier
must prove that it exercised extraordinary diligence in order to overcome the presumption.
In this case, petitioner alleged that hijacking constituted force majeure which exculpated her from liability for the loss
of the cargo. In De Guzman vs. Court of Appeals, 20 the Court held that hijacking, not being included in the
provisions of Article 1734, must be dealt with under the provisions of Article 1735 and thus, the common carrier is
presumed to have been at fault or negligent. To exculpate the carrier from liability arising from hijacking, he must
prove that the robbers or the hijackers acted with grave or irresistible threat, violence, or force. This is in accordance
with Article 1745 of the Civil Code which provides:
"Art. 1745. Any of the following or similar stipulations shall be considered unreasonable, unjust and contrary to public
policy;
xxx xxx xxx
(6) That the common carrier's liability for acts committed by thieves, or of robbers who do not act with grave or
irresistible threat, violences or force, is dispensed with or diminished;"
In the same case, 21 the Supreme Court also held that:
"Under Article 1745 (6) above, a common carrier is held responsible and will not be allowed to divest or to diminish
such responsibility even for acts of strangers like thieves or robbers except where such thieves or robbers in fact
acted with grave or irresistible threat, violence or force. We believe and so hold that the limits of the duty of
extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods carried are reached where the goods are lost as a result of a
robbery which is attended by "grave or irresistible threat, violence or force."

To establish grave and irresistible force, petitioner presented her accusatory affidavit, 22 Jesus Bascos' affidavit, 23
and Juanito Morden's 24 "Salaysay". However, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals have concluded that
these affidavits were not enough to overcome the presumption. Petitioner's affidavit about the hijacking was based on
what had been told her by Juanito Morden. It was not a first-hand account. While it had been admitted in court for
lack of objection on the part of private respondent, the respondent Court had discretion in assigning weight to such
evidence. We are bound by the conclusion of the appellate court. In a petition for review on certiorari, We are not to
determine the probative value of evidence but to resolve questions of law. Secondly, the affidavit of Jesus Bascos did
not dwell on how the hijacking took place. Thirdly, while the affidavit of Juanito Morden, the truck helper in the
hijacked truck, was presented as evidence in court, he himself was a witness as could be gleaned from the contents
of the petition. Affidavits are not considered the best evidence if the affiants are available as witnesses. 25 The
subsequent filing of the information for carnapping and robbery against the accused named in said affidavits did not
necessarily mean that the contents of the affidavits were true because they were yet to be determined in the trial of
the criminal cases.
The presumption of negligence was raised against petitioner. It was petitioner's burden to overcome it. Thus, contrary
to her assertion, private respondent need not introduce any evidence to prove her negligence. Her own failure to
adduce sufficient proof of extraordinary diligence made the presumption conclusive against her.
Having affirmed the findings of the respondent Court on the substantial issues involved, We find no reason to disturb
the conclusion that the motion to lift/dissolve the writ of preliminary attachment has been rendered moot and
academic by the decision on the merits.
In the light of the foregoing analysis, it is Our opinion that the petitioner's claim cannot be sustained. The petition is
DISMISSED and the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 148496. March 19, 2002]

VIRGINES CALVO doing business under the name and style TRANSORIENT CONTAINER TERMINAL
SERVICES, INC., petitioner, vs. UCPB GENERAL INSURANCE CO., INC. (formerly Allied Guarantee
Ins. Co., Inc.) respondent.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
This is a petition for review of the decision, [1] dated May 31, 2001, of the Court of Appeals, affirming the
decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court, Makati City, Branch 148, which ordered petitioner to pay respondent, as
subrogee, the amount of P93,112.00 with legal interest, representing the value of damaged cargo handled by
petitioner, 25% thereof as attorneys fees, and the cost of the suit.
The facts are as follows:
Petitioner Virgines Calvo is the owner of Transorient Container Terminal Services, Inc. (TCTSI), a sole
proprietorship customs broker. At the time material to this case, petitioner entered into a contract with San Miguel
Corporation (SMC) for the transfer of 114 reels of semi-chemical fluting paper and 124 reels of kraft liner board from
the Port Area in Manila to SMCs warehouse at the Tabacalera Compound, Romualdez St., Ermita, Manila. The cargo
was insured by respondent UCPB General Insurance Co., Inc.
On July 14, 1990, the shipment in question, contained in 30 metal vans, arrived in Manila on board M/V
Hayakawa Maru and, after 24 hours, were unloaded from the vessel to the custody of the arrastre operator, Manila
Port Services, Inc. From July 23 to July 25, 1990, petitioner, pursuant to her contract with SMC, withdrew the cargo
from the arrastre operator and delivered it to SMCs warehouse in Ermita, Manila. On July 25, 1990, the goods were

inspected by Marine Cargo Surveyors, who found that 15 reels of the semi-chemical fluting paper were
wet/stained/torn and 3 reels of kraft liner board were likewise torn. The damage was placed at P93,112.00.
SMC collected payment from respondent UCPB under its insurance contract for the aforementioned amount. In
turn, respondent, as subrogee of SMC, brought suit against petitioner in the Regional Trial Court, Branch 148, Makati
City, which, on December 20, 1995, rendered judgment finding petitioner liable to respondent for the damage to the
shipment.
The trial court held:
It cannot be denied . . . that the subject cargoes sustained damage while in the custody of defendants. Evidence such
as the Warehouse Entry Slip (Exh. E); the Damage Report (Exh. F) with entries appearing therein, classified as TED
and TSN, which the claims processor, Ms. Agrifina De Luna, claimed to be tearrage at the end and tearrage at the
middle of the subject damaged cargoes respectively, coupled with the Marine Cargo Survey Report (Exh. H - H-4-A)
confirms the fact of the damaged condition of the subject cargoes. The surveyor[s] report (Exh. H-4-A) in particular,
which provides among others that:
. . . we opine that damages sustained by shipment is attributable to improper handling in transit presumably whilst in
the custody of the broker . . . .
is a finding which cannot be traversed and overturned.
The evidence adduced by the defendants is not enough to sustain [her] defense that [she is] are not liable. Defendant
by reason of the nature of [her] business should have devised ways and means in order to prevent the damage to the
cargoes which it is under obligation to take custody of and to forthwith deliver to the consignee. Defendant did not
present any evidence on what precaution [she] performed to prevent [the] said incident, hence the presumption is that
the moment the defendant accepts the cargo [she] shall perform such extraordinary diligence because of the nature
of the cargo.
....
Generally speaking under Article 1735 of the Civil Code, if the goods are proved to have been lost, destroyed or
deteriorated, common carriers are presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, unless they prove that
they have observed the extraordinary diligence required by law. The burden of the plaintiff, therefore, is to prove
merely that the goods he transported have been lost, destroyed or deteriorated. Thereafter, the burden is shifted to
the carrier to prove that he has exercised the extraordinary diligence required by law. Thus, it has been held that the
mere proof of delivery of goods in good order to a carrier, and of their arrival at the place of destination in bad order,
makes out a prima facie case against the carrier, so that if no explanation is given as to how the injury occurred, the
carrier must be held responsible. It is incumbent upon the carrier to prove that the loss was due to accident or some
other circumstances inconsistent with its liability. (cited in Commercial Laws of the Philippines by Agbayani, p. 31, Vol.
IV, 1989 Ed.)
Defendant, being a customs brother, warehouseman and at the same time a common carrier is supposed [to]
exercise [the] extraordinary diligence required by law, hence the extraordinary responsibility lasts from the time the
goods are unconditionally placed in the possession of and received by the carrier for transportation until the same are
delivered actually or constructively by the carrier to the consignee or to the person who has the right to receive the
same.[3]
Accordingly, the trial court ordered petitioner to pay the following amounts
1. The sum of P93,112.00 plus interest;
2. 25% thereof as lawyers fee;
3. Costs of suit.[4]
The decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals on appeal. Hence this petition for review on certiorari.
Petitioner contends that:

I. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS AND REVERSIBLE ERROR [IN] DECIDING THE
CASE NOT ON THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED BUT ON PURE SURMISES, SPECULATIONS AND
MANIFESTLY MISTAKEN INFERENCE.
II. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS AND REVERSIBLE ERROR IN CLASSIFYING
THE PETITIONER AS A COMMON CARRIER AND NOT AS PRIVATE OR SPECIAL CARRIER WHO
DID NOT HOLD ITS SERVICES TO THE PUBLIC.[5]
It will be convenient to deal with these contentions in the inverse order, for if petitioner is not a common carrier,
although both the trial court and the Court of Appeals held otherwise, then she is indeed not liable beyond what
ordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods transported by her, would require. [6] Consequently, any damage to
the cargo she agrees to transport cannot be presumed to have been due to her fault or negligence.
Petitioner contends that contrary to the findings of the trial court and the Court of Appeals, she is not a common
carrier but a private carrier because, as a customs broker and warehouseman, she does not indiscriminately hold her
services out to the public but only offers the same to select parties with whom she may contract in the conduct of her
business.
The contention has no merit. In De Guzman v. Court of Appeals, [7] the Court dismissed a similar contention and
held the party to be a common carrier, thus
The Civil Code defines common carriers in the following terms:
Article 1732. Common carriers are persons, corporations, firms or associations engaged in the business of carrying
or transporting passengers or goods or both, by land, water, or air for compensation, offering their services to the
public.
The above article makes no distinction between one whose principal business activity is the carrying of persons or
goods or both, and one who does such carrying only as an ancillary activity . . . Article 1732 also carefully avoids
making any distinction between a person or enterprise offering transportation service on a regular or scheduled
basis and one offering such service on an occasional, episodic or unscheduled basis. Neither does Article 1732
distinguish between a carrier offering its services to the general public, i.e., the general community or population, and
one who offers services or solicits business only from a narrow segment of the general population. We think that
Article 1732 deliberately refrained from making such distinctions.
So understood, the concept of common carrier under Article 1732 may be seen to coincide neatly with the notion of
public service, under the Public Service Act (Commonwealth Act No. 1416, as amended) which at least partially
supplements the law on common carriers set forth in the Civil Code. Under Section 13, paragraph (b) of the Public
Service Act, public service includes:
x x x every person that now or hereafter may own, operate, manage, or control in the Philippines, for hire or
compensation, with general or limited clientele, whether permanent, occasional or accidental, and done for general
business purposes, any common carrier, railroad, street railway, traction railway, subway motor vehicle, either for
freight or passenger, or both, with or without fixed route and whatever may be its classification, freight or carrier
service of any class, express service, steamboat, or steamship line, pontines, ferries and water craft, engaged in the
transportation of passengers or freight or both, shipyard, marine repair shop, wharf or dock, ice plant, ice-refrigeration
plant, canal, irrigation system, gas, electric light, heat and power, water supply and power petroleum, sewerage
system, wire or wireless communications systems, wire or wireless broadcasting stations and other similar public
services. x x x [8]
There is greater reason for holding petitioner to be a common carrier because the transportation of goods is an
integral part of her business. To uphold petitioners contention would be to deprive those with whom she contracts the
protection which the law affords them notwithstanding the fact that the obligation to carry goods for her customers, as
already noted, is part and parcel of petitioners business.
Now, as to petitioners liability, Art. 1733 of the Civil Code provides:
Common carriers, from the nature of their business and for reasons of public policy, are bound to observe
extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods and for the safety of the passengers transported by them,
according to all the circumstances of each case. . . .

In Compania Maritima v. Court of Appeals, [9] the meaning of extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over goods
was explained thus:
The extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods tendered for shipment requires the common carrier to
know and to follow the required precaution for avoiding damage to, or destruction of the goods entrusted to it for sale,
carriage and delivery. It requires common carriers to render service with the greatest skill and foresight and to use all
reasonable means to ascertain the nature and characteristic of goods tendered for shipment, and to exercise due
care in the handling and stowage, including such methods as their nature requires.
In the case at bar, petitioner denies liability for the damage to the cargo. She claims that the spoilage or wettage
took place while the goods were in the custody of either the carrying vessel M/V Hayakawa Maru, which transported
the cargo to Manila, or the arrastre operator, to whom the goods were unloaded and who allegedly kept them in open
air for nine days from July 14 to July 23, 1998 notwithstanding the fact that some of the containers were deformed,
cracked, or otherwise damaged, as noted in the Marine Survey Report (Exh. H), to wit:
MAXU-2062880 - rain gutter deformed/cracked
ICSU-363461-3 - left side rubber gasket on door distorted/partly loose
PERU-204209-4 - with pinholes on roof panel right portion
TOLU-213674-3 - wood flooring we[t] and/or with signs of water soaked
MAXU-201406-0 - with dent/crack on roof panel
ICSU-412105-0 - rubber gasket on left side/door panel partly detached loosened.[10]
In addition, petitioner claims that Marine Cargo Surveyor Ernesto Tolentino testified that he has no personal
knowledge on whether the container vans were first stored in petitioners warehouse prior to their delivery to the
consignee. She likewise claims that after withdrawing the container vans from the arrastre operator, her driver,
Ricardo Nazarro, immediately delivered the cargo to SMCs warehouse in Ermita, Manila, which is a mere thirtyminute drive from the Port Area where the cargo came from. Thus, the damage to the cargo could not have taken
place while these were in her custody.[11]
Contrary to petitioners assertion, the Survey Report (Exh. H) of the Marine Cargo Surveyors indicates that when
the shipper transferred the cargo in question to the arrastre operator, these were covered by clean Equipment
Interchange Report (EIR) and, when petitioners employees withdrew the cargo from the arrastre operator, they did so
without exception or protest either with regard to the condition of container vans or their contents. The Survey
Report pertinently reads
Details of Discharge:
Shipment, provided with our protective supervision was noted discharged ex vessel to dock of Pier #13 South Harbor,
Manila on 14 July 1990, containerized onto 30 x 20 secure metal vans, covered by clean EIRs. Except for slight dents
and paint scratches on side and roof panels, these containers were deemed to have [been] received in good
condition.
....
Transfer/Delivery:
On July 23, 1990, shipment housed onto 30 x 20 cargo containers was [withdrawn] by Transorient Container
Services, Inc. . . . without exception.
[The cargo] was finally delivered to the consignees storage warehouse located at Tabacalera Compound, Romualdez
Street, Ermita, Manila from July 23/25, 1990.[12]

As found by the Court of Appeals:


From the [Survey Report], it [is] clear that the shipment was discharged from the vessel to the arrastre, Marina Port
Services Inc., in good order and condition as evidenced by clean Equipment Interchange Reports (EIRs). Had
there been any damage to the shipment, there would have been a report to that effect made by the arrastre
operator. The cargoes were withdrawn by the defendant-appellant from the arrastre still in good order and condition
as the same were received by the former without exception, that is, without any report of damage or loss. Surely, if
the container vans were deformed, cracked, distorted or dented, the defendant-appellant would report it immediately
to the consignee or make an exception on the delivery receipt or note the same in the Warehouse Entry Slip
(WES). None of these took place. To put it simply, the defendant-appellant received the shipment in good order and
condition and delivered the same to the consignee damaged. We can only conclude that the damages to the cargo
occurred while it was in the possession of the defendant-appellant. Whenever the thing is lost (or damaged) in the
possession of the debtor (or obligor), it shall be presumed that the loss (or damage) was due to his fault, unless there
is proof to the contrary. No proof was proffered to rebut this legal presumption and the presumption of negligence
attached to a common carrier in case of loss or damage to the goods.[13]
Anent petitioners insistence that the cargo could not have been damaged while in her custody as she
immediately delivered the containers to SMCs compound, suffice it to say that to prove the exercise of extraordinary
diligence, petitioner must do more than merely show the possibility that some other party could be responsible for the
damage. It must prove that it used all reasonable means to ascertain the nature and characteristic of goods tendered
for [transport] and that [it] exercise[d] due care in the handling [thereof]. Petitioner failed to do this.
Nor is there basis to exempt petitioner from liability under Art. 1734(4), which provides
Common carriers are responsible for the loss, destruction, or deterioration of the goods, unless the same is due to
any of the following causes only:
....
(4) The character of the goods or defects in the packing or in the containers.
....
For this provision to apply, the rule is that if the improper packing or, in this case, the defect/s in the container,
is/are known to the carrier or his employees or apparent upon ordinary observation, but he nevertheless accepts the
same without protest or exception notwithstanding such condition, he is not relieved of liability for damage
resulting therefrom.[14] In this case, petitioner accepted the cargo without exception despite the apparent defects in
some of the container vans. Hence, for failure of petitioner to prove that she exercised extraordinary diligence in the
carriage of goods in this case or that she is exempt from liability, the presumption of negligence as provided under
Art. 1735[15] holds.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals, dated May 31, 2001, is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.
G.R. No. 101503 September 15, 1993
PLANTERS PRODUCTS, INC., petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, SORIAMONT STEAMSHIP AGENCIES AND KYOSEI KISEN KABUSHIKI
KAISHA,respondents.
Gonzales, Sinense, Jimenez & Associates for petitioner.
Siguion Reyna, Montecillo & Ongsiako Law Office for private respondents.

BELLOSILLO, J.:
Does a charter-party 1 between a shipowner and a charterer transform a common carrier into a private one as to
negate the civil law presumption of negligence in case of loss or damage to its cargo?
Planters Products, Inc. (PPI), purchased from Mitsubishi International Corporation (MITSUBISHI) of New York,
U.S.A., 9,329.7069 metric tons (M/T) of Urea 46% fertilizer which the latter shipped in bulk on 16 June 1974 aboard
the cargo vessel M/V "Sun Plum" owned by private respondent Kyosei Kisen Kabushiki Kaisha (KKKK) from Kenai,
Alaska, U.S.A., to Poro Point, San Fernando, La Union, Philippines, as evidenced by Bill of Lading No. KP-1 signed
by the master of the vessel and issued on the date of departure.
On 17 May 1974, or prior to its voyage, a time charter-party on the vessel M/V "Sun Plum" pursuant to the Uniform
General Charter 2 was entered into between Mitsubishi as shipper/charterer and KKKK as shipowner, in Tokyo,
Japan. 3 Riders to the aforesaid charter-party starting from par. 16 to 40 were attached to the pre-printed agreement.
Addenda Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 to the charter-party were also subsequently entered into on the 18th, 20th, 21st and 27th
of May 1974, respectively.
Before loading the fertilizer aboard the vessel, four (4) of her holds 4 were all presumably inspected by the charterer's
representative and found fit to take a load of urea in bulk pursuant to par. 16 of the charter-party which reads:
16. . . . At loading port, notice of readiness to be accomplished by certificate from National Cargo
Bureau inspector or substitute appointed by charterers for his account certifying the vessel's
readiness to receive cargo spaces. The vessel's hold to be properly swept, cleaned and dried at
the vessel's expense and the vessel to be presented clean for use in bulk to the satisfaction of the
inspector before daytime commences. (emphasis supplied)
After the Urea fertilizer was loaded in bulk by stevedores hired by and under the supervision of the shipper, the steel
hatches were closed with heavy iron lids, covered with three (3) layers of tarpaulin, then tied with steel bonds. The
hatches remained closed and tightly sealed throughout the entire voyage. 5
Upon arrival of the vessel at her port of call on 3 July 1974, the steel pontoon hatches were opened with the use of
the vessel's boom. Petitioner unloaded the cargo from the holds into its steelbodied dump trucks which were parked
alongside the berth, using metal scoops attached to the ship, pursuant to the terms and conditions of the charterpartly (which provided for an F.I.O.S. clause). 6 The hatches remained open throughout the duration of the discharge. 7
Each time a dump truck was filled up, its load of Urea was covered with tarpaulin before it was transported to the
consignee's warehouse located some fifty (50) meters from the wharf. Midway to the warehouse, the trucks were
made to pass through a weighing scale where they were individually weighed for the purpose of ascertaining the net
weight of the cargo. The port area was windy, certain portions of the route to the warehouse were sandy and the
weather was variable, raining occasionally while the discharge was in progress. 8 The petitioner's warehouse was
made of corrugated galvanized iron (GI) sheets, with an opening at the front where the dump trucks entered and
unloaded the fertilizer on the warehouse floor. Tarpaulins and GI sheets were placed in-between and alongside the
trucks to contain spillages of the ferilizer. 9
It took eleven (11) days for PPI to unload the cargo, from 5 July to 18 July 1974 (except July 12th, 14th and 18th).10 A
private marine and cargo surveyor, Cargo Superintendents Company Inc. (CSCI), was hired by PPI to determine the
"outturn" of the cargo shipped, by taking draft readings of the vessel prior to and after discharge. 11 The survey report
submitted by CSCI to the consignee (PPI) dated 19 July 1974 revealed a shortage in the cargo of 106.726 M/T and
that a portion of the Urea fertilizer approximating 18 M/T was contaminated with dirt. The same results were
contained in a Certificate of Shortage/Damaged Cargo dated 18 July 1974 prepared by PPI which showed that the
cargo delivered was indeed short of 94.839 M/T and about 23 M/T were rendered unfit for commerce, having been
polluted with sand, rust and
dirt. 12
Consequently, PPI sent a claim letter dated 18 December 1974 to Soriamont Steamship Agencies (SSA), the resident
agent of the carrier, KKKK, for P245,969.31 representing the cost of the alleged shortage in the goods shipped and
the diminution in value of that portion said to have been contaminated with dirt. 13

Respondent SSA explained that they were not able to respond to the consignee's claim for payment because,
according to them, what they received was just a request for shortlanded certificate and not a formal claim, and that
this "request" was denied by them because they "had nothing to do with the discharge of the shipment." 14Hence, on
18 July 1975, PPI filed an action for damages with the Court of First Instance of Manila. The defendant carrier argued
that the strict public policy governing common carriers does not apply to them because they have become private
carriers by reason of the provisions of the charter-party. The court a quo however sustained the claim of the plaintiff
against the defendant carrier for the value of the goods lost or damaged when it ruled thus: 15
. . . Prescinding from the provision of the law that a common carrier is presumed negligent in case
of loss or damage of the goods it contracts to transport, all that a shipper has to do in a suit to
recover for loss or damage is to show receipt by the carrier of the goods and to delivery by it of less
than what it received. After that, the burden of proving that the loss or damage was due to any of
the causes which exempt him from liability is shipted to the carrier, common or private he may be.
Even if the provisions of the charter-party aforequoted are deemed valid, and the defendants
considered private carriers, it was still incumbent upon them to prove that the shortage or
contamination sustained by the cargo is attributable to the fault or negligence on the part of the
shipper or consignee in the loading, stowing, trimming and discharge of the cargo. This they failed
to do. By this omission, coupled with their failure to destroy the presumption of negligence against
them, the defendants are liable (emphasis supplied).
On appeal, respondent Court of Appeals reversed the lower court and absolved the carrier from liability for the value
of the cargo that was lost or damaged. 16 Relying on the 1968 case of Home Insurance Co. v. American Steamship
Agencies, Inc., 17 the appellate court ruled that the cargo vessel M/V "Sun Plum" owned by private respondent KKKK
was a private carrier and not a common carrier by reason of the time charterer-party. Accordingly, the Civil Code
provisions on common carriers which set forth a presumption of negligence do not find application in the case at bar.
Thus
. . . In the absence of such presumption, it was incumbent upon the plaintiff-appellee to adduce
sufficient evidence to prove the negligence of the defendant carrier as alleged in its complaint. It is
an old and well settled rule that if the plaintiff, upon whom rests the burden of proving his cause of
action, fails to show in a satisfactory manner the facts upon which he bases his claim, the
defendant is under no obligation to prove his exception or defense (Moran, Commentaries on the
Rules of Court, Volume 6, p. 2, citing Belen v. Belen, 13 Phil. 202).
But, the record shows that the plaintiff-appellee dismally failed to prove the basis of its cause of
action, i.e. the alleged negligence of defendant carrier. It appears that the plaintiff was under the
impression that it did not have to establish defendant's negligence. Be that as it may, contrary to
the trial court's finding, the record of the instant case discloses ample evidence showing that
defendant carrier was not negligent in performing its obligation . . . 18 (emphasis supplied).
Petitioner PPI appeals to us by way of a petition for review assailing the decision of the Court of Appeals. Petitioner
theorizes that the Home Insurance case has no bearing on the present controversy because the issue raised therein
is the validity of a stipulation in the charter-party delimiting the liability of the shipowner for loss or damage to goods
cause by want of due deligence on its part or that of its manager to make the vessel seaworthy in all respects, and
not whether the presumption of negligence provided under the Civil Code applies only to common carriers and not to
private carriers. 19 Petitioner further argues that since the possession and control of the vessel remain with the
shipowner, absent any stipulation to the contrary, such shipowner should made liable for the negligence of the captain
and crew. In fine, PPI faults the appellate court in not applying the presumption of negligence against respondent
carrier, and instead shifting the onus probandi on the shipper to show want of due deligence on the part of the carrier,
when he was not even at hand to witness what transpired during the entire voyage.
As earlier stated, the primordial issue here is whether a common carrier becomes a private carrier by reason of a
charter-party; in the negative, whether the shipowner in the instant case was able to prove that he had exercised that
degree of diligence required of him under the law.
It is said that etymology is the basis of reliable judicial decisions in commercial cases. This being so, we find it fitting
to first define important terms which are relevant to our discussion.

A "charter-party" is defined as a contract by which an entire ship, or some principal part thereof, is let by the owner to
another person for a specified time or use; 20 a contract of affreightment by which the owner of a ship or other vessel
lets the whole or a part of her to a merchant or other person for the conveyance of goods, on a particular voyage, in
consideration of the payment of freight; 21 Charter parties are of two types: (a) contract of affreightment which
involves the use of shipping space on vessels leased by the owner in part or as a whole, to carry goods for others;
and, (b) charter by demise or bareboat charter, by the terms of which the whole vessel is let to the charterer with a
transfer to him of its entire command and possession and consequent control over its navigation, including the
master and the crew, who are his servants. Contract of affreightment may either be time charter, wherein the vessel is
leased to the charterer for a fixed period of time, or voyage charter, wherein the ship is leased for a single
voyage. 22 In both cases, the charter-party provides for the hire of vessel only, either for a determinate period of time
or for a single or consecutive voyage, the shipowner to supply the ship's stores, pay for the wages of the master and
the crew, and defray the expenses for the maintenance of the ship.
Upon the other hand, the term "common or public carrier" is defined in Art. 1732 of the Civil Code. 23 The definition
extends to carriers either by land, air or water which hold themselves out as ready to engage in carrying goods or
transporting passengers or both for compensation as a public employment and not as a casual occupation. The
distinction between a "common or public carrier" and a "private or special carrier" lies in the character of the
business, such that if the undertaking is a single transaction, not a part of the general business or occupation,
although involving the carriage of goods for a fee, the person or corporation offering such service is a private
carrier. 24
Article 1733 of the New Civil Code mandates that common carriers, by reason of the nature of their business, should
observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods they carry. 25 In the case of private carriers, however,
the exercise of ordinary diligence in the carriage of goods will suffice. Moreover, in the case of loss, destruction or
deterioration of the goods, common carriers are presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, and the
burden of proving otherwise rests on them. 26 On the contrary, no such presumption applies to private carriers, for
whosoever alleges damage to or deterioration of the goods carried has the onus of proving that the cause was the
negligence of the carrier.
It is not disputed that respondent carrier, in the ordinary course of business, operates as a common carrier,
transporting goods indiscriminately for all persons. When petitioner chartered the vessel M/V "Sun Plum", the ship
captain, its officers and compliment were under the employ of the shipowner and therefore continued to be under its
direct supervision and control. Hardly then can we charge the charterer, a stranger to the crew and to the ship, with
the duty of caring for his cargo when the charterer did not have any control of the means in doing so. This is evident
in the present case considering that the steering of the ship, the manning of the decks, the determination of the
course of the voyage and other technical incidents of maritime navigation were all consigned to the officers and crew
who were screened, chosen and hired by the shipowner. 27
It is therefore imperative that a public carrier shall remain as such, notwithstanding the charter of the whole or portion
of a vessel by one or more persons, provided the charter is limited to the ship only, as in the case of a time-charter or
voyage-charter. It is only when the charter includes both the vessel and its crew, as in a bareboat or demise that a
common carrier becomes private, at least insofar as the particular voyage covering the charter-party is concerned.
Indubitably, a shipowner in a time or voyage charter retains possession and control of the ship, although her holds
may, for the moment, be the property of the charterer. 28
Respondent carrier's heavy reliance on the case of Home Insurance Co. v. American Steamship Agencies, supra, is
misplaced for the reason that the meat of the controversy therein was the validity of a stipulation in the charter-party
exempting the shipowners from liability for loss due to the negligence of its agent, and not the effects of a special
charter on common carriers. At any rate, the rule in the United States that a ship chartered by a single shipper to
carry special cargo is not a common carrier, 29 does not find application in our jurisdiction, for we have observed that
the growing concern for safety in the transportation of passengers and /or carriage of goods by sea requires a more
exacting interpretation of admiralty laws, more particularly, the rules governing common carriers.
We quote with approval the observations of Raoul Colinvaux, the learned barrister-at-law 30
As a matter of principle, it is difficult to find a valid distinction between cases in which a ship is used
to convey the goods of one and of several persons. Where the ship herself is let to a charterer, so
that he takes over the charge and control of her, the case is different; the shipowner is not then a
carrier. But where her services only are let, the same grounds for imposing a strict responsibility
exist, whether he is employed by one or many. The master and the crew are in each case his

servants, the freighter in each case is usually without any representative on board the ship; the
same opportunities for fraud or collusion occur; and the same difficulty in discovering the truth as to
what has taken place arises . . .
In an action for recovery of damages against a common carrier on the goods shipped, the shipper or consignee
should first prove the fact of shipment and its consequent loss or damage while the same was in the possession,
actual or constructive, of the carrier. Thereafter, the burden of proof shifts to respondent to prove that he has
exercised extraordinary diligence required by law or that the loss, damage or deterioration of the cargo was due to
fortuitous event, or some other circumstances inconsistent with its liability. 31
To our mind, respondent carrier has sufficiently overcome, by clear and convincing proof, the prima faciepresumption
of negligence.
The master of the carrying vessel, Captain Lee Tae Bo, in his deposition taken on 19 April 1977 before the Philippine
Consul and Legal Attache in the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, testified that before the fertilizer was loaded,
the four (4) hatches of the vessel were cleaned, dried and fumigated. After completing the loading of the cargo in bulk
in the ship's holds, the steel pontoon hatches were closed and sealed with iron lids, then covered with three (3) layers
of serviceable tarpaulins which were tied with steel bonds. The hatches remained close and tightly sealed while the
ship was in transit as the weight of the steel covers made it impossible for a person to open without the use of the
ship's boom. 32
It was also shown during the trial that the hull of the vessel was in good condition, foreclosing the possibility of
spillage of the cargo into the sea or seepage of water inside the hull of the vessel. 33 When M/V "Sun Plum" docked at
its berthing place, representatives of the consignee boarded, and in the presence of a representative of the
shipowner, the foreman, the stevedores, and a cargo surveyor representing CSCI, opened the hatches and inspected
the condition of the hull of the vessel. The stevedores unloaded the cargo under the watchful eyes of the shipmates
who were overseeing the whole operation on rotation basis. 34
Verily, the presumption of negligence on the part of the respondent carrier has been efficaciously overcome by the
showing of extraordinary zeal and assiduity exercised by the carrier in the care of the cargo. This was confirmed by
respondent appellate court thus
. . . Be that as it may, contrary to the trial court's finding, the record of the instant case discloses
ample evidence showing that defendant carrier was not negligent in performing its obligations.
Particularly, the following testimonies of plaintiff-appellee's own witnesses clearly show absence of
negligence by the defendant carrier; that the hull of the vessel at the time of the discharge of the
cargo was sealed and nobody could open the same except in the presence of the owner of the
cargo and the representatives of the vessel (TSN, 20 July 1977, p. 14); that the cover of the
hatches was made of steel and it was overlaid with tarpaulins, three layers of tarpaulins and
therefore their contents were protected from the weather (TSN, 5 April 1978, p. 24); and, that to
open these hatches, the seals would have to be broken, all the seals were found to be intact (TSN,
20 July 1977, pp. 15-16) (emphasis supplied).
The period during which private respondent was to observe the degree of diligence required of it as a public carrier
began from the time the cargo was unconditionally placed in its charge after the vessel's holds were duly inspected
and passed scrutiny by the shipper, up to and until the vessel reached its destination and its hull was reexamined by
the consignee, but prior to unloading. This is clear from the limitation clause agreed upon by the parties in the
Addendum to the standard "GENCON" time charter-party which provided for an F.I.O.S., meaning, that the loading,
stowing, trimming and discharge of the cargo was to be done by the charterer, free from all risk and expense to the
carrier. 35 Moreover, a shipowner is liable for damage to the cargo resulting from improper stowage only when the
stowing is done by stevedores employed by him, and therefore under his control and supervision, not when the same
is done by the consignee or stevedores under the employ of the latter. 36
Article 1734 of the New Civil Code provides that common carriers are not responsible for the loss, destruction or
deterioration of the goods if caused by the charterer of the goods or defects in the packaging or in the containers. The
Code of Commerce also provides that all losses and deterioration which the goods may suffer during the
transportation by reason of fortuitous event, force majeure, or the inherent defect of the goods, shall be for the
account and risk of the shipper, and that proof of these accidents is incumbent upon the carrier. 37 The carrier,
nonetheless, shall be liable for the loss and damage resulting from the preceding causes if it is proved, as against

him, that they arose through his negligence or by reason of his having failed to take the precautions which usage has
established among careful persons. 38
Respondent carrier presented a witness who testified on the characteristics of the fertilizer shipped and the expected
risks of bulk shipping. Mr. Estanislao Chupungco, a chemical engineer working with Atlas Fertilizer, described Urea as
a chemical compound consisting mostly of ammonia and carbon monoxide compounds which are used as fertilizer.
Urea also contains 46% nitrogen and is highly soluble in water. However, during storage, nitrogen and ammonia do
not normally evaporate even on a long voyage, provided that the temperature inside the hull does not exceed eighty
(80) degrees centigrade. Mr. Chupungco further added that in unloading fertilizer in bulk with the use of a clamped
shell, losses due to spillage during such operation amounting to one percent (1%) against the bill of lading is deemed
"normal" or "tolerable." The primary cause of these spillages is the clamped shell which does not seal very tightly.
Also, the wind tends to blow away some of the materials during the unloading process.
The dissipation of quantities of fertilizer, or its daterioration in value, is caused either by an extremely high
temperature in its place of storage, or when it comes in contact with water. When Urea is drenched in water, either
fresh or saline, some of its particles dissolve. But the salvaged portion which is in liquid form still remains potent and
usable although no longer saleable in its original market value.
The probability of the cargo being damaged or getting mixed or contaminated with foreign particles was made greater
by the fact that the fertilizer was transported in "bulk," thereby exposing it to the inimical effects of the elements and
the grimy condition of the various pieces of equipment used in transporting and hauling it.
The evidence of respondent carrier also showed that it was highly improbable for sea water to seep into the vessel's
holds during the voyage since the hull of the vessel was in good condition and her hatches were tightly closed and
firmly sealed, making the M/V "Sun Plum" in all respects seaworthy to carry the cargo she was chartered for. If there
was loss or contamination of the cargo, it was more likely to have occurred while the same was being transported
from the ship to the dump trucks and finally to the consignee's warehouse. This may be gleaned from the testimony
of the marine and cargo surveyor of CSCI who supervised the unloading. He explained that the 18 M/T of alleged
"bar order cargo" as contained in their report to PPI was just an approximation or estimate made by them after the
fertilizer was discharged from the vessel and segregated from the rest of the cargo.
The Court notes that it was in the month of July when the vessel arrived port and unloaded her cargo. It rained from
time to time at the harbor area while the cargo was being discharged according to the supply officer of PPI, who also
testified that it was windy at the waterfront and along the shoreline where the dump trucks passed enroute to the
consignee's warehouse.
Indeed, we agree with respondent carrier that bulk shipment of highly soluble goods like fertilizer carries with it the
risk of loss or damage. More so, with a variable weather condition prevalent during its unloading, as was the case at
bar. This is a risk the shipper or the owner of the goods has to face. Clearly, respondent carrier has sufficiently proved
the inherent character of the goods which makes it highly vulnerable to deterioration; as well as the inadequacy of its
packaging which further contributed to the loss. On the other hand, no proof was adduced by the petitioner showing
that the carrier was remise in the exercise of due diligence in order to minimize the loss or damage to the goods it
carried.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals, which reversed the trial
court, is AFFIRMED. Consequently, Civil Case No. 98623 of the then Court of the First Instance, now Regional Trial
Court, of Manila should be, as it is hereby DISMISSED.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 149038. April 9, 2003]

PHILIPPINE
AMERICAN
GENERAL
COMPANY, respondent.

INSURANCE

COMPANY, petitioner, vs.

PKS

SHIPPING

DECISION
VITUG, J.:
The petition before the Court seeks a review of the decision of the Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. CV No. 56470,
promulgated on 25 June 2001, which has affirmed in toto the judgment of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 65,
of Makati, dismissing the complaint for damages filed by petitioner insurance corporation against respondent shipping
company.
Davao Union Marketing Corporation (DUMC) contracted the services of respondent PKS Shipping Company
(PKS Shipping) for the shipment to Tacloban City of seventy-five thousand (75,000) bags of cement worth Three
Million Three Hundred Seventy-Five Thousand Pesos (P3,375,000.00). DUMC insured the goods for its full value with
petitioner Philippine American General Insurance Company (Philamgen). The goods were loaded aboard the dumb
barge Limar I belonging to PKS Shipping. On the evening of 22 December 1988, about nine oclock, while Limar I was
being towed by respondents tugboat, MT Iron Eagle, the barge sank a couple of miles off the coast of Dumagasa
Point, in Zamboanga del Sur, bringing down with it the entire cargo of 75,000 bags of cement.
DUMC filed a formal claim with Philamgen for the full amount of the insurance. Philamgen promptly made
payment; it then sought reimbursement from PKS Shipping of the sum paid to DUMC but the shipping company
refused to pay, prompting Philamgen to file suit against PKS Shipping with the Makati RTC.
The RTC dismissed the complaint after finding that the total loss of the cargo could have been caused either by
a fortuitous event, in which case the ship owner was not liable, or through the negligence of the captain and crew of
the vessel and that, under Article 587 of the Code of Commerce adopting the Limited Liability Rule, the ship owner
could free itself of liability by abandoning, as it apparently so did, the vessel with all her equipment and earned
freightage.
Philamgen interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals which affirmed in toto the decision of the trial court. The
appellate court ruled that evidence to establish that PKS Shipping was a common carrier at the time it undertook to
transport the bags of cement was wanting because the peculiar method of the shipping companys carrying goods for
others was not generally held out as a business but as a casual occupation. It then concluded that PKS Shipping, not
being a common carrier, was not expected to observe the stringent extraordinary diligence required of common
carriers in the care of goods. The appellate court, moreover, found that the loss of the goods was sufficiently
established as having been due to fortuitous event, negating any liability on the part of PKS Shipping to the shipper.
In the instant appeal, Philamgen contends that the appellate court has committed a patent error in ruling that
PKS Shipping is not a common carrier and that it is not liable for the loss of the subject cargo. The fact that
respondent has a limited clientele, petitioner argues, does not militate against respondents being a common carrier
and that the only way by which such carrier can be held exempt for the loss of the cargo would be if the loss were
caused by natural disaster or calamity. Petitioner avers that typhoon "APIANG" has not entered the Philippine area of
responsibility and that, even if it did, respondent would not be exempt from liability because its employees,
particularly the tugmaster, have failed to exercise due diligence to prevent or minimize the loss.
PKS Shipping, in its comment, urges that the petition should be denied because what Philamgen seeks is not a
review on points or errors of law but a review of the undisputed factual findings of the RTC and the appellate court. In
any event, PKS Shipping points out, the findings and conclusions of both courts find support from the evidence and
applicable jurisprudence.
The determination of possible liability on the part of PKS Shipping boils down to the question of whether it is a
private carrier or a common carrier and, in either case, to the other question of whether or not it has observed the
proper diligence (ordinary, if a private carrier, or extraordinary, if a common carrier) required of it given the
circumstances.
The findings of fact made by the Court of Appeals, particularly when such findings are consistent with those of
the trial court, may not at liberty be reviewed by this Court in a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
[1]
The conclusions derived from those factual findings, however, are not necessarily just matters of fact as when
they are so linked to, or inextricably intertwined with, a requisite appreciation of the applicable law. In such instances,
the conclusions made could well be raised as being appropriate issues in a petition for review before this Court. Thus,
an issue whether a carrier is private or common on the basis of the facts found by a trial court or the appellate court
can be a valid and reviewable question of law.

The Civil Code defines common carriers in the following terms:


Article 1732. Common carriers are persons, corporations, firms or associations engaged in the business of carrying
or transporting passengers or goods or both, by land, water, or air for compensation, offering their services to the
public.
Complementary to the codal definition is Section 13, paragraph (b), of the Public Service Act; it defines public service
to be
x x x every person that now or hereafter may own, operate, manage, or control in the Philippines, for hire or
compensation, with general or limited clientele, whether permanent, occasional or accidental, and done for general
business purposes, any common carrier, railroad, street railway, subway motor vehicle, either for freight or
passenger, or both, with or without fixed route and whatever may be its classification, freight or carrier service of any
class, express service, steamboat, or steamship, or steamship line, pontines, ferries and water craft, engaged in the
transportation of passengers or freight or both, shipyard, marine repair shop, wharf or dock, ice plant, ice refrigeration
plant, canal, irrigation system, gas, electric light, heat and power, water supply and power petroleum, sewerage
system, wire or wireless communication systems, wire or wireless broadcasting stations and other similar public
services. x x x. (Underscoring supplied).
The prevailing doctrine on the question is that enunciated in the leading case of De Guzman vs. Court of
Appeals.[2] Applying Article 1732 of the Code, in conjunction with Section 13(b) of the Public Service Act, this Court
has held:
The above article makes no distinction between one whose principal business activity is the carrying of persons or
goods or both, and one who does such carrying only as an ancillary activity (in local idiom, as `a sideline). Article
1732 also carefully avoids making any distinction between a person or enterprise offering transportation service on
a regular or scheduled basis and one offering such service on anoccasional, episodic or unscheduled basis. Neither
does Article 1732 distinguish between a carrier offering its services to the `general public, i.e., the general community
or population, and one who offers services or solicits business only from a narrow segment of the general
population. We think that Article 1732 deliberately refrained from making such distinctions.
So understood, the concept of `common carrier under Article 1732 may be seen to coincide neatly with the notion of
`public service, under the Public Service Act (Commonwealth Act No. 1416, as amended) which at least partially
supplements the law on common carriers set forth in the Civil Code.
Much of the distinction between a common or public carrier and a private or special carrier lies in the character
of the business, such that if the undertaking is an isolated transaction, not a part of the business or occupation, and
the carrier does not hold itself out to carry the goods for the general public or to a limited clientele, although involving
the carriage of goods for a fee,[3] the person or corporation providing such service could very well be just a private
carrier. A typical case is that of a charter party which includes both the vessel and its crew, such as in a bareboat or
demise, where the charterer obtains the use and service of all or some part of a ship for a period of time or a voyage
or voyages[4] and gets the control of the vessel and its crew.[5] Contrary to the conclusion made by the appellate court,
its factual findings indicate that PKS Shipping has engaged itself in the business of carrying goods for others,
although for a limited clientele, undertaking to carry such goods for a fee. The regularity of its activities in this area
indicates more than just a casual activity on its part. [6] Neither can the concept of a common carrier change merely
because individual contracts are executed or entered into with patrons of the carrier. Such restrictive interpretation
would make it easy for a common carrier to escape liability by the simple expedient of entering into those distinct
agreements with clients.
Addressing now the issue of whether or not PKS Shipping has exercised the proper diligence demanded of
common carriers, Article 1733 of the Civil Code requires common carriers to observe extraordinary diligence in the
vigilance over the goods they carry. In case of loss, destruction or deterioration of goods, common carriers are
presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, and the burden of proving otherwise rests on them.
[7]
The provisions of Article 1733, notwithstanding, common carriers are exempt from liability for loss, destruction, or
deterioration of the goods due to any of the following causes:
(1) Flood, storm, earthquake, lightning, or other natural disaster or calamity;
(2) Act of the public enemy in war, whether international or civil;

(3) Act or omission of the shipper or owner of the goods;


(4) The character of the goods or defects in the packing or in the containers; and
(5) Order or act of competent public authority.[8]
The appellate court ruled, gathered from the testimonies and sworn marine protests of the respective vessel
masters of Limar I and MT Iron Eagle, that there was no way by which the barges or the tugboats crew could have
prevented the sinking of Limar I. The vessel was suddenly tossed by waves of extraordinary height of six (6) to eight
(8) feet and buffeted by strong winds of 1.5 knots resulting in the entry of water into the barges hatches. The official
Certificate of Inspection of the barge issued by the Philippine Coastguard and the Coastwise Load Line Certificate
would attest to the seaworthiness of Limar I and should strengthen the factual findings of the appellate court.
Findings of fact of the Court of Appeals generally conclude this Court; none of the recognized exceptions from
the rule - (1) when the factual findings of the Court of Appeals and the trial court are contradictory; (2) when the
conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises, or conjectures; (3) when the inference made by
the Court of Appeals from its findings of fact is manifestly mistaken, absurd, or impossible; (4) when there is a grave
abuse of discretion in the appreciation of facts; (5) when the appellate court, in making its findings, went beyond the
issues of the case and such findings are contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee; (6) when the
judgment of the Court of Appeals is premised on a misapprehension of facts; (7) when the Court of Appeals failed to
notice certain relevant facts which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion; (8) when the findings of
fact are themselves conflicting; (9) when the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of the specific evidence
on which they are based; and (10) when the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the absence of
evidence but such findings are contradicted by the evidence on record would appear to be clearly extant in this
instance.
All given then, the appellate court did not err in its judgment absolving PKS Shipping from liability for the loss of
the DUMC cargo.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.