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G.R. No.

71049

May 29, 1987

BERNARDINO JIMENEZ, petitioner,


vs.
CITY OF MANILA and INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, respondents.

PARAS, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari of: (1) the decision * of the Intermediate
Appellate Court in AC-G.R. No. 013887-CV Bernardino Jimenez v. Asiatic Integrated
Corporation and City of Manila, reversing the decision ** of the Court of First
Instance of Manila, Branch XXII in Civil Case No. 96390 between the same parties,
but only insofar as holding Asiatic Integrated Corporation solely liable for damages
and attorney's fees instead of making the City of Manila jointly and solidarily liable
with it as prayed for by the petitioner and (2) the resolution of the same Appellate
Court denying his Partial Motion for Reconsideration (Rollo, p. 2).

The dispositive portion of the Intermediate Appellate Court's decision is as follows:

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby REVERSED. A new one is hereby
entered ordering the defendant Asiatic Integrated Corporation to pay the plaintiff
P221.90 actual medical expenses, P900.00 for the amount paid for the operation
and management of a school bus, P20,000.00 as moral damages due to pains,
sufferings and sleepless nights and P l0,000.00 as attorney's fees.

SO ORDERED. (p. 20, Rollo)

The findings of respondent Appellate Court are as follows:

The evidence of the plaintiff (petitioner herein) shows that in the morning of August
15, 1974 he, together with his neighbors, went to Sta. Ana public market to buy
"bagoong" at the time when the public market was flooded with ankle deep
rainwater. After purchasing the "bagoong" he turned around to return home but he
stepped on an uncovered opening which could not be seen because of the dirty
rainwater, causing a dirty and rusty four- inch nail, stuck inside the uncovered
opening, to pierce the left leg of plaintiff-petitioner penetrating to a depth of about
one and a half inches. After administering first aid treatment at a nearby drugstore,
his companions helped him hobble home. He felt ill and developed fever and he had
to be carried to Dr. Juanita Mascardo. Despite the medicine administered to him by
the latter, his left leg swelled with great pain. He was then rushed to the Veterans
Memorial Hospital where he had to be confined for twenty (20) days due to high
fever and severe pain.

Upon his discharge from the hospital, he had to walk around with crutches for
fifteen (15) days. His injury prevented him from attending to the school buses he is
operating. As a result, he had to engage the services of one Bienvenido Valdez to
supervise his business for an aggregate compensation of nine hundred pesos
(P900.00). (Decision, AC-G.R. CV No. 01387, Rollo, pp. 13-20).

Petitioner sued for damages the City of Manila and the Asiatic Integrated
Corporation under whose administration the Sta. Ana Public Market had been placed
by virtue of a Management and Operating Contract (Rollo, p. 47).

The lower court decided in favor of respondents, the dispositive portion of the
decision reading:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the defendants and against


the plaintiff dismissing the complaint with costs against the plaintiff. For lack of
sufficient evidence, the counterclaims of the defendants are likewise dismissed.
(Decision, Civil Case No. 96390, Rollo, p. 42).

As above stated, on appeal, the Intermediate Appellate Court held the Asiatic
Integrated Corporation liable for damages but absolved respondent City of Manila.

Hence this petition.

The lone assignment of error raised in this petition is on whether or not the
Intermediate Appellate Court erred in not ruling that respondent City of Manila
should be jointly and severally liable with Asiatic Integrated Corporation for the
injuries petitioner suffered.

In compliance with the resolution of July 1, 1985 of the First Division of this Court
(Rollo, p. 29) respondent City of Manila filed its comment on August 13, 1985 (Rollo,
p. 34) while petitioner filed its reply on August 21, 1985 (Reno, p. 51).

Thereafter, the Court in the resolution of September 11, 1985 (Rollo, p. 62) gave
due course to the petition and required both parties to submit simultaneous
memoranda

Petitioner filed his memorandum on October 1, 1985 (Rollo, p. 65) while respondent
filed its memorandum on October 24, 1985 (Rollo, p. 82).

In the resolution of October 13, 1986, this case was transferred to the Second
Division of this Court, the same having been assigned to a member of said Division
(Rollo, p. 92).

The petition is impressed with merit.

As correctly found by the Intermediate Appellate Court, there is no doubt that the
plaintiff suffered injuries when he fell into a drainage opening without any cover in
the Sta. Ana Public Market. Defendants do not deny that plaintiff was in fact injured
although the Asiatic Integrated Corporation tries to minimize the extent of the
injuries, claiming that it was only a small puncture and that as a war veteran,
plaintiff's hospitalization at the War Veteran's Hospital was free. (Decision, AC-G.R.
CV No. 01387, Rollo, p. 6).

Respondent City of Manila maintains that it cannot be held liable for the injuries
sustained by the petitioner because under the Management and Operating

Contract, Asiatic Integrated Corporation assumed all responsibility for damages


which may be suffered by third persons for any cause attributable to it.

It has also been argued that the City of Manila cannot be held liable under Article 1,
Section 4 of Republic Act No. 409 as amended (Revised Charter of Manila) which
provides:

The City shall not be liable or held for damages or injuries to persons or property
arising from the failure of the Mayor, the Municipal Board, or any other City Officer,
to enforce the provisions of this chapter, or any other law or ordinance, or from
negligence of said Mayor, Municipal Board, or any other officers while enforcing or
attempting to enforce said provisions.

This issue has been laid to rest in the case of City of Manila v. Teotico (22 SCRA 269272 [1968]) where the Supreme Court squarely ruled that Republic Act No. 409
establishes a general rule regulating the liability of the City of Manila for "damages
or injury to persons or property arising from the failure of city officers" to enforce
the provisions of said Act, "or any other law or ordinance or from negligence" of the
City "Mayor, Municipal Board, or other officers while enforcing or attempting to
enforce said provisions."

Upon the other hand, Article 2189 of the Civil Code of the Philippines which provides
that:

Provinces, cities and municipalities shall be liable for damages for the death of, or
injuries suffered by any person by reason of defective conditions of roads, streets,
bridges, public buildings and other public works under their control or supervision.

constitutes a particular prescription making "provinces, cities and municipalities ...


liable for damages for the death of, or injury suffered by any person by reason"
specifically "of the defective condition of roads, streets, bridges, public buildings,
and other public works under their control or supervision." In other words, Art. 1,
sec. 4, R.A. No. 409 refers to liability arising from negligence, in general, regardless
of the object, thereof, while Article 2189 of the Civil Code governs liability due to

"defective streets, public buildings and other public works" in particular and is
therefore decisive on this specific case.

In the same suit, the Supreme Court clarified further that under Article 2189 of the
Civil Code, it is not necessary for the liability therein established to attach, that the
defective public works belong to the province, city or municipality from which
responsibility is exacted. What said article requires is that the province, city or
municipality has either "control or supervision" over the public building in question.

In the case at bar, there is no question that the Sta. Ana Public Market, despite the
Management and Operating Contract between respondent City and Asiatic
Integrated Corporation remained under the control of the former.

For one thing, said contract is explicit in this regard, when it provides:

II

That immediately after the execution of this contract, the SECOND PARTY shall start
the painting, cleaning, sanitizing and repair of the public markets and talipapas and
within ninety (90) days thereof, the SECOND PARTY shall submit a program of
improvement, development, rehabilitation and reconstruction of the city public
markets and talipapas subject to prior approval of the FIRST PARTY. (Rollo, p. 44)

xxx

xxx

xxx

VI

That all present personnel of the City public markets and talipapas shall be retained
by the SECOND PARTY as long as their services remain satisfactory and they shall
be extended the same rights and privileges as heretofore enjoyed by them.
Provided, however, that the SECOND PARTY shall have the right, subject to prior
approval of the FIRST PARTY to discharge any of the present employees for cause.
(Rollo, p. 45).

VII

That the SECOND PARTY may from time to time be required by the FIRST PARTY, or
his duly authorized representative or representatives, to report, on the activities and
operation of the City public markets and talipapas and the facilities and
conveniences installed therein, particularly as to their cost of construction,
operation and maintenance in connection with the stipulations contained in this
Contract. (lbid)

The fact of supervision and control of the City over subject public market was
admitted by Mayor Ramon Bagatsing in his letter to Secretary of Finance Cesar
Virata which reads:

These cases arose from the controversy over the Management and Operating
Contract entered into on December 28, 1972 by and between the City of Manila and
the Asiatic Integrated Corporation, whereby in consideration of a fixed service fee,
the City hired the services of the said corporation to undertake the physical
management, maintenance, rehabilitation and development of the City's public
markets and' Talipapas' subject to the control and supervision of the City.

xxx

xxx

xxx

It is believed that there is nothing incongruous in the exercise of these powers vis-avis the existence of the contract, inasmuch as the City retains the power of
supervision and control over its public markets and talipapas under the terms of the
contract. (Exhibit "7-A") (Emphasis supplied.) (Rollo, p. 75).

In fact, the City of Manila employed a market master for the Sta. Ana Public Market
whose primary duty is to take direct supervision and control of that particular
market, more specifically, to check the safety of the place for the public.

Thus the Asst. Chief of the Market Division and Deputy Market Administrator of the
City of Manila testified as follows:

Court This market master is an employee of the City of Manila?

Mr. Ymson Yes, Your Honor.

Q What are his functions?

A Direct supervision and control over the market area assigned to him."(T.s.n.,pp.
41-42, Hearing of May 20, 1977.)

xxx

xxx

xxx

Court As far as you know there is or is there any specific employee assigned with
the task of seeing to it that the Sta. Ana Market is safe for the public?

Mr. Ymson Actually, as I stated, Your Honor, that the Sta. Ana has its own market
master. The primary duty of that market master is to make the direct supervision
and control of that particular market, the check or verifying whether the place is
safe for public safety is vested in the market master. (T.s.n., pp. 2425, Hearing of
July 27, 1977.) (Emphasis supplied.) (Rollo, p. 76).

Finally, Section 30 (g) of the Local Tax Code as amended, provides:

The treasurer shall exercise direct and immediate supervision administration and
control over public markets and the personnel thereof, including those whose duties
concern the maintenance and upkeep of the market and ordinances and other
pertinent rules and regulations. (Emphasis supplied.) (Rollo, p. 76)

The contention of respondent City of Manila that petitioner should not have
ventured to go to Sta. Ana Public Market during a stormy weather is indeed
untenable. As observed by respondent Court of Appeals, it is an error for the trial

court to attribute the negligence to herein petitioner. More specifically stated, the
findings of appellate court are as follows:

... The trial court even chastised the plaintiff for going to market on a rainy day just
to buy bagoong. A customer in a store has the right to assume that the owner will
comply with his duty to keep the premises safe for customers. If he ventures to the
store on the basis of such assumption and is injured because the owner did not
comply with his duty, no negligence can be imputed to the customer. (Decision, ACG. R. CV No. 01387, Rollo, p. 19).

As a defense against liability on the basis of a quasi-delict, one must have exercised
the diligence of a good father of a family. (Art. 1173 of the Civil Code).

There is no argument that it is the duty of the City of Manila to exercise reasonable
care to keep the public market reasonably safe for people frequenting the place for
their marketing needs.

While it may be conceded that the fulfillment of such duties is extremely difficult
during storms and floods, it must however, be admitted that ordinary precautions
could have been taken during good weather to minimize the dangers to life and
limb under those difficult circumstances.

For instance, the drainage hole could have been placed under the stalls instead of
on the passage ways. Even more important is the fact, that the City should have
seen to it that the openings were covered. Sadly, the evidence indicates that long
before petitioner fell into the opening, it was already uncovered, and five (5) months
after the incident happened, the opening was still uncovered. (Rollo, pp. 57; 59).
Moreover, while there are findings that during floods the vendors remove the iron
grills to hasten the flow of water (Decision, AC-G.R. CV No. 0 1387; Rollo, p. 17),
there is no showing that such practice has ever been prohibited, much less
penalized by the City of Manila. Neither was it shown that any sign had been placed
thereabouts to warn passersby of the impending danger.

To recapitulate, it appears evident that the City of Manila is likewise liable for
damages under Article 2189 of the Civil Code, respondent City having retained

control and supervision over the Sta. Ana Public Market and as tort-feasor under
Article 2176 of the Civil Code on quasi-delicts

Petitioner had the right to assume that there were no openings in the middle of the
passageways and if any, that they were adequately covered. Had the opening been
covered, petitioner could not have fallen into it. Thus the negligence of the City of
Manila is the proximate cause of the injury suffered, the City is therefore liable for
the injury suffered by the peti- 4 petitioner.

Respondent City of Manila and Asiatic Integrated Corporation being joint tort-feasors
are solidarily liable under Article 2194 of the Civil Code.

PREMISES CONSIDERED, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby MODIFIED,


making the City of Manila and the Asiatic Integrated Corporation solidarily liable to
pay the plaintiff P221.90 actual medical expenses, P900.00 for the amount paid for
the operation and management of the school bus, P20,000.00 as moral damages
due to pain, sufferings and sleepless nights and P10,000.00 as attorney's fees.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-15692

May 31, 1961

ENGRACIA ALARCON, plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
JUAN ALARCON, defendant-appellee.

Flaviano T. Dalisay and Briones, Briones and Bongon for plaintiff-appellant.


Blancaflor, San Andres and San Andres for defendant-appellee.

CONCEPCION, J.:

Appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur dismissing
the complaint in this case. The record was certified to us by the Court of Appeals,
the only question raised in the appeal being one of law.

The facts are set forth in said decision, from which we quote:

On June 3, 1955 the defendant hired Urzino Azaa and his brother to dig a well on
his land in Caramoan, Camarines Sur. After the day's work the two had dug a hole
about five feet meters deep without striking water.

On the next day Urzino resumed his work with one Generoso Zulueta as co-worker.
Generoso was also hired by the defendant in place of Urzino's brother who did not
return to work.

Urzino and Generoso started their work early in the morning. Urzino was lowered
into the hole with a rope to dig deeper. On reaching the bottom he quickly remarked
that he was not feeling well. Generoso told him to get ready to be pulled up, but a
moment later Urzino fainted and slumped helplessly into a sitting position.

Generoso quickly called for help. A policeman and other persons immediately
responded. After their arrival Generoso lowered a ladder and proceeded to descend
into the hole. After having gone down about two meters, he felt a current of hot air
with an obnoxious odor around him. He soon realized that he was not feeling well.
Accordingly, he desisted from descending farther and instead he climbed up out of
the hole. One of the men then volunteered to go down in his place, but he too could
not reach the bottom for the same reason.

Realizing that it was not safe to go into the hole, Generoso and others thought of
another method to get Urzino out. With a rope tied into a loop on one end, they
caught one of his legs and pulled up his body. They next put him on bed while
someone summoned a doctor. In less than five minutes the municipal health officer
arrived. He quickly attempted to revive Urzino but his efforts proved unavailing
because he was already dead. He certified that Urzino died of asphyxia (Exhibit A).

On the day of his death Urzino was single, 20 years old, and living with his mother
who is the plaintiff. She filed this action to recover compensation for her son's death
under the provisions of Art. 1711 of the Civil Code.

Apart from admitting in his answer some allegations of the complaint and denying
other allegations thereof, defendant alleged, as special defense, that "plaintiff is in
estoppel from filing this action . . . she having previously raised the same question
with the Workmen's Compensation Commission", and set up a counterclaim for
P3,000.00, as actual and moral damages.

In due course, the Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur rendered judgment
dismissing the complaint upon the ground that, "not being owner of enterprises or
employer of laborers in industry or business", defendant herein is not liable under
Article 1711 of the Civil Code of the Philippines to pay compensation for the death
of Urzino Azaa, the same being purely accidental in nature. Hence, this appeal by
plaintiff.

The only issue in this case is whether the defendant falls under the provisions of
said Article 1711 reading:

Owners of enterprises and other employers are obliged to pay compensation for the
death of or injuries to their laborers, workmen, mechanics or other employees, even
though the event may have been purely accidental or entirely due to a fortuitous
cause, if the death or personal injury arose out of and in the course of the
employment. The employer is also liable for compensation if the employee
contracts any illness or disease caused by such employment or as the result of the
nature of the employment. If the mishap was due to the employee's own notorious
negligence, or voluntary act, or drunkenness, the employer shall not be liable for
compensation. When the employee's lack of due care contributed to his death or
injury, the compensation shall be equitably reduced.

Defendant herein does not own any enterprise. He is merely a school teacher who
needed a well. Neither does he fall under the category of "other employers"
mentioned in said Article 1711. Under the principle of ejusdem generis, said "other
employers" must be construed to refer to persons who belong to a class analogous
to "owners of enterprises", such as those operating a business or engaged in a

particular industry or trade, requiring its managers to contract the services of


laborers, workers and/or employees.

Indeed, said Article 1711 is part of Section 2, Chapter 3, Title VIII of our Civil Code.
Speaking about the purpose of said section 2, the Code Commission said:

The Republic of the Philippines, through the people's constitutional mandate, is


definitely committed to the present-day principle of social justice. In keeping with
this fundamental policy, the Project of Civil Code, while on the one hand
guaranteeing property rights, has on the other seen to it that the toiling masses are
assured of a fair and just treatment by capital or management. (Report, p. 13.)

Referring particularly to Article 1707 of said Code, which is part of the


aforementioned section 2, the Commission expressed itself as follows:

By virtue of this new lien, the laborers who are not paid by an unscrupulous and
irresponsible industrialist or manager may by legal means have the goods
manufactured through the sweat of their brow, sold and out of the proceeds get
their salary, returning the excess, if any. . . . (Report, p. 14.)

As His Honor, the trial Judge had correctly observed the terms "capital",
"management", "industrialist", "manager" and "owners of enterprises", used to
describe the employers alluded to in said section 2, indicate that they contemplate
those engaged more or less in business or industry. In fact, the aforementioned
Article 1711 merely states the philosophy underlying the Workmen's Compensation
Act (Act No. 3428) and must be interpreted in relation thereto, for Article 2196 of
the same Code provides that "compensation for workmen and other employees in
case of death, injury or illness is regulated by special laws". Pursuant to section
39(b) of Act No. 3428, as amended:

Laborer' is used as a synonym of 'Employee' and means every person who has
entered the employment of, or works under a service or apprenticeship contract for
an employer. It does not include a person whose employment is purely casual and is
not for the purposes of the occupation or business of the employer. . . (Emphasis
supplied.)

Inasmuch as the employment of Urzino Azaa by defendant herein was "purely


casual" and was not "for the purposes of the occupation or business" of said
defendant, it is clear to us that Urzino Azaa is not covered by the provisions of the
Workmen's Compensation Act. Neither may plaintiff herein avail of the benefits of
the Employer's Liability Act (Act No. 1874), which she does not invoke, for it is not
claimed that Urzino's death was due to "a defect in the condition of the ways, works
or machinery connected with or used in the business of the employer," or to "the
negligence of a person in the service of the employer." Hence, there is no means by
which defendant herein may be held liable for Azaa's death, due to an accidental
cause or fortuitous event (Cerezo vs. Atlantic Gulf and Pacific Co., 33 Phil. 425).

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, without costs,


considering that plaintiff-appellant is litigating as a pauper. It is so ordered.