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G.R. No.

179799 September 11, 2009 famialy relations; (4) right to social intercourse; (5) right to privacy; and (6) right to
peace of mind.
ZENAIDA R. GREGORIO, Petitioner,  The averments in the complaint, taken together, fulfill the elements of Article 2176, in
vs. relation to Article 26 of the Civil Code. Gregorio’s rights to personal dignity, personal
COURT OF APPEALS, SANSIO PHILIPPINES, INC., and EMMA J. DATUIN, Respondents. security, privacy, and peace of mind were infringed by Sansio and Datuin when they
failed to exercise the requisite diligence in determining the identity of the person they
should rightfully accuse of tendering insufficiently funded checks. This fault was
DIGEST
compounded when they failed to ascertain the correct address of petitioner, thus
FACTS:
depriving her of the opportunity to controvert the charges, because she was not given
 Sansio Philippines, Inc. (Sansio), represented by Datuin (employee) filed an affidavit of
proper notice. Because she was not able to refute the charges against her, petitioner
complaint against Zenaida R. Gregorio (Gregorio) and one Vito Belarmino, as proprietors
was falsely indicted for three (3) counts of violation of B.P. Blg. 22. Although she was
of Alvi Marketing, allegedly for delivering insufficiently funded bank checks as payment
never found at No. 76 Peñaranda St., Legaspi City, the office address of Alvi Marketing as
for the numerous appliances bought by Alvi Marketing from Sansio (3 counts of BP 22).
stated in the criminal complaint, Gregorio was conveniently arrested by armed
 The address stated in the complaint was incorrect so Gregorio was unable to controvert operatives of the PARAC-DILG at her city residence at 78 K-2 St., Kamuning, Quezon City,
the charges against her. A warrant for her arrest was issued.
while visiting her family. She suffered embarrassment and humiliation over her sudden
 Gregorio was arrested while visiting her husband and their two daughters at their arrest and detention and she had to spend time, effort, and money to clear her
residence. She was subjected fingerprinting and mug shots and was detained. tarnished name and reputation, considering that she had held several honorable
 Upon reinvestigation, prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss upon filing of Sansio of an positions in different organizations and offices in the public service, particularly her
Affidavit of Desistance, stating that Gregorio was not one of the signatories of the being a Kagawad in Oas, Albay at the time of her arrest.
bounced checks.
 Gregorio then filed a complaint for damages against Sansio before the RTC. In her
DECISION
complaint, she stated the foregoing facts and alleged that “incalculable damage has
been inflicted on the plaintiff on account of the defendants’ wanton, callous and
reckless disregard of the fundamental legal precept that "every person shall respect the NACHURA, J.:
dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons"
 Gregorio alleged that she was “socially humiliated, embarrassed, suffered physical This is a petition1 for certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the Decision2 of the
discomfort, mental anguish, fright, and serious anxiety as a proximate result of her Court of Appeals (CA) dated January 31, 2007 and its Resolution3 dated September 12, 2007 in CA-
unjustified indictment, arrest and detention at the PARAC headquarters” and that G.R. SP No. 63602, entitled "Sansio Philippines, Inc., et al. v. Hon. Romulo SG. Villanueva, et al."
“undue aspersion cast upon her social, professional and business reputation because of
defendants’ tortious act of accusing her of Estafa and/or issuing bouncing checks – even The case arose from the filing of an Affidavit of Complaint4 for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang
without a scintilla of evidence” (B.P. Blg.) 22 (Bouncing Checks Law) by respondent Emma J. Datuin (Datuin), as Officer-in-Charge
 Motion to Dismiss was filed by Sansio: allege that the case is for malicious prosecution of the Accounts Receivables Department, and upon authority of petitioner Sansio Philippines, Inc.
and that Gregorio failed to allege the elements of malicious prosecution. Therefore, the (Sansio), against petitioner Zenaida R. Gregorio (Gregorio) and one Vito Belarmino, as proprietors
complaint must be dismissed for lack of cause of action of Alvi Marketing, allegedly for delivering insufficiently funded bank checks as payment for the
 Gregorio claims that there is a stated cause of action because the case is for Quasi Delict numerous appliances bought by Alvi Marketing from Sansio.
under Art 2176 in relation to Art 26.
 RTC denied the motion to dismiss, but CA granted it. Gregorio appealed to SC.
As the address stated in the complaint was incorrect, Gregorio was unable to controvert the
charges against her. Consequently, she was indicted for three (3) counts of violation of B.P. Blg.
ISSUE: WON the case is for quasi delict in relation to Art 26 22, docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 236544, 236545, and 236546, before the Metropolitan Trial
RULING: YES. Basic is the legal principle that the nature of an action is determined by the material Court (MeTC), Branch 3, Manila.
averments in the complaint and the character of the relief sought.24 Undeniably, Gregorio’s civil
complaint, read in its entirety, is a complaint based on quasi-delict under Article 2176, in relation
The MeTC issued a warrant5 for her arrest, and it was served upon her by the armed operatives of
to Article 26 of the Civil Code, rather than on malicious prosecution.
the Public Assistance and Reaction Against Crime (PARAC) of the Department of Interior and Local
Government (DILG) on October 17, 1997, Friday, at around 9:30 a.m. in Quezon City while she was
 Article 26 of the Civil Code grants a cause of action for damages, prevention, and other visiting her husband and their two (2) daughters at their city residence. Gregorio was brought to
relief in cases of breach, though not necessarily constituting a criminal offense, of the the PARAC-DILG Office where she was subjected to fingerprinting and mugshots and was

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following rights: (1) right to personal dignity; (2) right to personal security; (3) right to detained. She was released in the afternoon of the same day when her husband posted a bond for

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her temporary liberty.
On December 5, 1997, Gregorio filed before the MeTC a Motion6 for Deferment of Arraignment 8. That as a consequence of the aforegoing false and misleading indication of address, plaintiff
and Reinvestigation, alleging that she could not have issued the bounced checks, since she did not was therefore not duly notified of the charges filed against her by defendant Emma J. Datuin;
even have a checking account with the bank on which the checks were drawn, as certified by the and more, she was not able to controvert them before the investigating prosecutor, finally
branch manager of the Philippine National Bank, Sorsogon Branch. She also alleged that her resulting in the filing in court of three (3) informations accusing her of violating B.P. 22;
signature was patently and radically different from the signatures appearing on the bounced
checks. 9. That as pernicious result of the unwarranted and baseless accusation by the defendants
which culminated in the filing of three (3) informations in the Metropolitan Trial Court of
The MeTC granted the Motion and a reinvestigation was conducted. In the course of the Manila, Branch 3 indicting the plaintiff on three counts of the offense of violating B.P. 22, the
reinvestigation, Datuin submitted an Affidavit of Desistance7 dated August 18, 1998, stating, said court issued a Warrant of Arrest on July 22, 1996 ordering the arrest of the plaintiff;
among others, that Gregorio was not one of the signatories of the bounced checks subject of
prosecution. 10. That taking extra effort to expedite the apprehension of plaintiff, defendants’ retained
private prosecutor managed to obtain the Warrant for the Arrest of said plaintiff from the Court
as evidenced by the copy of the letter of lawyer Alquin B. Manguerra of Chua and Associates
Subsequently, the assistant city prosecutor filed a Motion to Dismiss8 dated November 12, 1998
Law Office (Annex "H") so much so that in the morning of October 17, 1997, while plaintiff was
with respect to Criminal Case Nos. 236544-46. The MeTC granted the motion and ordered the B.P.
visiting her husband Jose Gregorio and their two daughters at their city residence at 78 K-2
Blg. 22 cases dismissed.9
Street, Kamuning, Quezon City, and without the slightest premonition that she was wanted by
the law, armed operatives of the Public Assistance and Reaction Against Crime (PARAC) of DILG
On August 18, 2000, Gregorio filed a complaint10 for damages against Sansio and Datuin before suddenly swooped down on their residence, arrested the plaintiff and brought her to the PARAC
the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 12, Ligao, Albay. The complaint, in part, reads — DILG Office in Quezon City where she was fingerprinted and detained like an ordinary criminal;

4. That on or about December 15, 1995, defendant Emma J. Datuin filed with the Office of the 11. That feeling distraught, helpless and hungry (not having eaten for a whole day) the plaintiff
City Prosecutor of Manila an "Affidavit of Complaint" wherein, among others, she alleged under languished in her place of confinement until the late afternoon of October 17, 1997 when her
oath that as an Officer In-charge of the Accounts Receivables Department of SANSIO husband was able to post a bond for her temporary liberty and secure an order of release
PHILIPPINES, INC., she was duly authorized and empowered by said company to file cases (Annex "J") from the court. It was providential that a city judge was available in the late
against debtors, customers and dealers of the company; afternoon of October 17, 1997 which was a Friday, otherwise plaintiff would have remained in
confinement for the entire weekend;
5. That while acting under authority of her employer namely the defendant SANSIO
PHILIPPINES, INC., defendant EMMA J. DATUIN falsely stated in the "Affidavit of Complaint" 12. That because of her desire to prove and establish her innocence of the unjustified charges
(Annex "A"), among others, that plaintiff Zenaida R. Gregorio issued and delivered to their office lodged against her by the defendants, the plaintiff was thus compelled to retain the services of
the following checks, to wit: counsel resulting in the filing of a Motion for Deferment of Arraignment and Reinvestigation
(Annex "K") which was granted by the court; the filing of a Request for Reinvestigation with the
a. PNB Check No. C-347108 dated November 30, 1992 in the amount of ₱9,564.00; prosecutor’s office (Annex "L"); and the submission of a Counter-Affidavit to the investigating
b. PNB Check No. C-347109 dated November 30, 1992 in the amount of ₱19,194.48; and prosecutor. All of these culminated in the filing by the investigating prosecutor of a Motion to
c. PNB Check No. C-347104 dated December 2, 1992 in the amount of ₱10,000.00 Dismiss (Annex "M") the three criminal cases as a consequence of which the Court issued an
Order dated June 1, 1999 (Annex "N") dismissing Criminal Cases No. 236544, No. 236545 and
No. 236546, copy of which was received by plaintiff only on July 7, 2000;
and that the above-mentioned PNB Checks bounced when deposited upon maturity;
13. That previous to the filing of the above-mentioned Motion to Dismiss by the prosecutor and
6. That as a result of the filing of the "Affidavit of Complaint" (Annex "A") wherein defendant having been faced with the truth and righteousness of plaintiff’s avowal of innocence which was
Emma J. Datuin falsely charged the plaintiff with offenses of Estafa and/or violation of B.P. Blg. irrefutable, defendants had no recourse but to concede and recognize the verity that they had
22 on three (3) counts, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila issued a Resolution dated wrongly accused an innocent person, in itself a brazen travesty of justice, so much so that
April 1, 1996 finding the existence of a probable cause against the plaintiff for violation of Batas defendant Emma J. Datuin had to execute an Affidavit of Desistance (Annex "O") admitting that
Pambansa Blg. 22 on three counts; plaintiff is not a signatory to the three bouncing checks in question, rationalizing, albeit lamely,
that the filing of the cases against the plaintiff was by virtue of an honest mistake or
7. That in the "MEMO OF PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION" attached hereto as Annex "C," signed inadvertence on her (Datuin’s) part;
by defendant Emma J. Datuin she falsely indicated the address of plaintiff to be at No. 76
Peñaranda Street, Legaspi City when the truth of the matter is that the latter’s correct address

2
NOTE: UNDERSCORING BY THE COURT. INUNDELINE YUNG MGA FINOCUS NA PART SA
is at Barangay Rizal, Oas, Albay;

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COMPLAINT NI GREGORIO
14. Be that as it may, incalculable damage has been inflicted on the plaintiff on account of the a. ₱3,000,000.00 as moral damages
defendants’ wanton, callous and reckless disregard of the fundamental legal precept that b. ₱50,000.00 as actual damages
"every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors c. ₱50,000.00 as nominal damages
and other persons" (Art. 26, Civil Code of the Philippines); d. ₱70,000.00 as attorney’s fees
e. ₱35,000.00 as litigation expenses
15. That the plaintiff, being completely innocent of the charges against her as adverted to in the
preceding paragraphs, was socially humiliated, embarrassed, suffered physical discomfort, 19. That defendants herein are jointly and solidarily liable for the payment of the above items of
mental anguish, fright, and serious anxiety as a proximate result of her unjustified indictment, damages being co-tortfeasors. Moreover, defendant SANSIO PHILIPPINES, INC. is vicariously
arrest and detention at the PARAC headquarters – all of these ordeals having been exacerbated liable as the employer of defendant Emma J. Datuin who patently acted within the scope of her
by the fact that plaintiff is a woman who comes from a respected family in Oas, Albay, being the assigned tasks (Vide: Art. 2180, Civil Code of the Philippines).11
wife of an executive of the Philippine National Construction Corporation, the mother of two
college students studying in Manila, a pharmacist by profession, a businesswoman by
Sansio and Datuin filed a Motion to Dismiss12 on the ground that the complaint, being one for
occupation, and an incumbent Municipal Councilor (Kagawad) of Oas, Albay, at the time of her
damages arising from malicious prosecution, failed to state a cause of action, as the ultimate facts
arrest and detention; and that she previously held the following positions:
constituting the elements thereof were not alleged in the complaint. Gregorio opposed 13 the
(a). President, Philippine Pharmaceutical Association (Albay Chapter);
Motion. Sansio and Datuin filed their Reply14 to the Opposition. Gregorio, in turn, filed her
(b). Chairman of the Board, Albay Pharmaceutical Marketing Cooperative (ALPHAMAC);
Rejoinder.15
(c). Charter Secretary, Kiwanis Club of Oas;
(d). Chairman, Polangui Ladies Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Polangui, Albay;
(e). Vicarial Regent, Daughters of Mary Immaculate International, District IX; On October 10, 2000, the RTC issued an Order16 denying the Motion to Dismiss. Sansio and Datuin
(f). Chapter President and Municipal Coordinator, Albay Women Volunteers Association, Inc., filed a Motion for Reconsideration17 of the October 10, 2000 Order, but the RTC denied the same
Legaspi City; in its Order18 dated January 5, 2001.
(g). Regent, Daughters of Mary Immaculate International Virgo Clemens Circle, Oas, Albay;
(h). Secretary, Girl Scout of the Philippines District Association; and Sansio and Datuin went to the CA via a petition19 for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court
(i). Director, Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO), alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of the presiding judge of the RTC in denying their
motions to dismiss and for reconsideration.
not to mention the undue aspersion cast upon her social, professional and business reputation
because of defendants’ tortious act of accusing her of Estafa and/or issuing bouncing checks – Meanwhile, on March 20, 2003, the RTC rendered its Decision in the civil case for damages
even without a scintilla of evidence; instituted by Gregorio, directing Sansio and Datuin, jointly and solidarily, to pay Gregorio
₱200,000.00 as moral damages; ₱10,000.00 as nominal damages; ₱35,000.00 as litigation
16. That to compound the aforegoing travails and sufferings of the plaintiff she had to devote expenses; ₱30,000.00 as attorney’s fees; and costs of the suit. The RTC expressly stated in its
and spend much of her time, money and efforts trying to clear her tarnished name and Decision that the complaint was one for damages based on quasi-delict and not on malicious
reputation, including traveling to and from Manila to confer with her lawyer, attend the prosecution.
hearings at the prosecutor’s office and at the Metropolitan Trial Court;
Aggrieved by the March 20, 2003 Decision, Sansio and Datuin appealed to the CA, and the same is
17. By and large, defendants’ fault or, at the very least, their reckless imprudence or negligence, now pending resolution.
in filing the three (3) criminal cases against the plaintiff unequivocally caused damage to the
latter and because of defendants’ baseless and unjustified accusations, plaintiff was constrained On January 31, 2007, the CA rendered a Decision on the certiorari case granting the petition and
to retain the services of a lawyer to represent her at the Metropolitan Trial Court and at the ordering the dismissal of the damage suit of Gregorio. The latter moved to reconsider the said
Office of the City Prosecutor at Manila in order to establish her innocence and cause the Decision but the same was denied in the appellate court’s Resolution dated September 12, 2007.
dismissal of the three (3) criminal cases filed against her, reason for which she spent
₱20,000.00; and in order to institute this instant action for the redress of her grievances, Hence, this petition.
plaintiff have to pay the sum of ₱50,000.00 as attorney’s fees and incur litigation expenses in
the amount of ₱35,000.00;
The core issue to be resolved, as culled from the factual circumstances of this case, is whether the
complaint, a civil suit filed by Gregorio, is based on quasi-delict or malicious prosecution.
18. That by reason of all the aforegoing and pursuant to the provision of law that "whoever by

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act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for
NOTE: CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES

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the damage done," (Article 2176, Civil Code of the Philippines), the plaintiff is entitled to and
hereby claims the following items of damages:
It is the position of Sansio and Datuin that the complaint for damages filed by Gregorio before the person they should rightfully accuse of tendering insufficiently funded checks. This fault was
RTC was for malicious prosecution, but it failed to allege the elements thereof, such that it was compounded when they failed to ascertain the correct address of petitioner, thus depriving her of
aptly dismissed on appeal by the CA on the ground of lack of cause of action. In their comment, the opportunity to controvert the charges, because she was not given proper notice. Because she
citing Albenson Enterprise Corporation v. Court of Appeals,20 they posit that Article 26 of the Civil was not able to refute the charges against her, petitioner was falsely indicted for three (3) counts
Code, cited by Gregorio as one of the bases for her complaint, and Articles 19, 20, and 21 of the of violation of B.P. Blg. 22. Although she was never found at No. 76 Peñaranda St., Legaspi City,
same Code, mentioned by the RTC as bases for sustaining the complaint, are the very same the office address of Alvi Marketing as stated in the criminal complaint, Gregorio was conveniently
provisions upon which malicious prosecution is grounded. And in order to further buttress their arrested by armed operatives of the PARAC-DILG at her city residence at 78 K-2 St., Kamuning,
position that Gregorio’s complaint was indeed one for malicious prosecution, they even pointed Quezon City, while visiting her family. She suffered embarrassment and humiliation over her
out the fact that Gregorio prayed for moral damages, which may be awarded only in case of sudden arrest and detention and she had to spend time, effort, and money to clear her tarnished
malicious prosecution or, if the case is for quasi-delict, only if physical injury results therefrom. name and reputation, considering that she had held several honorable positions in different
organizations and offices in the public service, particularly her being a Kagawad in Oas, Albay at
We disagree. the time of her arrest. There exists no contractual relation between Gregorio and Sansio. On the
other hand, Gregorio is prosecuting Sansio, under Article 2180 of the Civil Code, for its vicarious
liability, as employer, arising from the act or omission of its employee Datuin.
NOTE: RULING OF THE SC

These allegations, assuming them to be true, sufficiently constituted a cause of action against
A perusal of the allegations of Gregorio’s complaint for damages readily shows that she filed a civil
Sansio and Datuin. Thus, the RTC was correct when it denied respondents’ motion to dismiss.
suit against Sansio and Datuin for filing against her criminal charges for violation of B.P. Blg. 22;
that respondents did not exercise diligent efforts to ascertain the true identity of the person who
delivered to them insufficiently funded checks as payment for the various appliances purchased; Sansio and Datuin are in error when they insist that Gregorio’s complaint is based on malicious
and that respondents never gave her the opportunity to controvert the charges against her, prosecution. In an action to recover damages for malicious prosecution, it must be alleged and
because they stated an incorrect address in the criminal complaint. Gregorio claimed damages for established that Sansio and Datuin were impelled by legal malice or bad faith in deliberately
the embarrassment and humiliation she suffered when she was suddenly arrested at her city initiating an action against Gregorio, knowing that the charges were false and groundless,
residence in Quezon City while visiting her family. She was, at the time of her arrest, a respected intending to vex and humiliate her.27 As previously mentioned, Gregorio did not allege this in her
Kagawad in Oas, Albay. Gregorio anchored her civil complaint on Articles 26,21 2176,22 and complaint. Moreover, the fact that she prayed for moral damages did not change the nature of
218023 of the Civil Code. Noticeably, despite alleging either fault or negligence on the part of her action based on quasi-delict. She might have acted on the mistaken notion that she was
Sansio and Datuin, Gregorio never imputed to them any bad faith in her complaint. entitled to moral damages, considering that she suffered physical suffering, mental anguish, fright,
serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, and social humiliation on
account of her indictment and her sudden arrest.
Basic is the legal principle that the nature of an action is determined by the material averments in
the complaint and the character of the relief sought.24 Undeniably, Gregorio’s civil complaint, read
in its entirety, is a complaint based on quasi-delict under Article 2176, in relation to Article 26 of Verily, Gregorio was only acting within her right when she instituted against Sansio and Datuin an
the Civil Code, rather than on malicious prosecution. action she perceived to be proper, given the factual antecedents of the case.

In every tort case filed under Article 2176 of the Civil Code, the plaintiff has to prove by a WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated January 31, 2007 and the Resolution
preponderance of evidence: (1) the damages suffered by him; (2) the fault or negligence of the dated September 12, 2007 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Costs against respondents.
defendant or some other person to whose act he must respond; (3) the connection of cause and
effect between the fault or negligence and the damages incurred; and (4) that there must be no SO ORDERED.
preexisting contractual relation between the parties.25

On the other hand, Article 26 of the Civil Code grants a cause of action for damages, prevention,
and other relief in cases of breach, though not necessarily constituting a criminal offense, of the
following rights: (1) right to personal dignity; (2) right to personal security; (3) right to family
relations; (4) right to social intercourse; (5) right to privacy; and (6) right to peace of mind.26

A scrutiny of Gregorio’s civil complaint reveals that the averments thereof, taken together, fulfill

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the elements of Article 2176, in relation to Article 26 of the Civil Code. It appears that Gregorio’s

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rights to personal dignity, personal security, privacy, and peace of mind were infringed by Sansio
and Datuin when they failed to exercise the requisite diligence in determining the identity of the
G.R. No. 74930 February 13, 1989

RICARDO VALMONTE, OSWALDO CARBONELL, DOY DEL CASTILLO, ROLANDO BARTOLOME, LEO In re Right to Privacy: Respondent cannot assert right to privacy since it can only be asserted by a
OBLIGAR, JUN GUTIERREZ, REYNALDO BAGATSING, JUN "NINOY" ALBA, PERCY LAPID, ROMMEL private individual and not a public and governmental agencies/juridical entities/corporation, also
CORRO and ROLANDO FADUL, petitioners, it cannot assert the right to privacy of its borrowers since such is a personal right.
vs. Full Case:
FELICIANO BELMONTE, JR., respondent.
CORTES, J.:
FACTS:
Petitioners in this special civil action for mandamus with preliminary injunction invoke their right
 Valmonte asserts his right as a lawyer, member of media and citizen and seeks to obtain a list to information and pray that respondent be directed:
of names of the Batasang Pambansa members that were able to obtain a P2M clean loan as
secured by Imelda Marcos from the GSIS, herein respondent is a manager of GSIS. (a) to furnish petitioners the list of the names of the Batasang Pambansa members belonging to
 Valmonte wrote to respondent for such request but it was denied, prior to receiving the the UNIDO and PDP-Laban who were able to secure clean loans immediately before the
letter denying his request petitioner already filed a case in court. February 7 election thru the intercession/marginal note of the then First Lady Imelda Marcos;
 Daily Express carried a news item reporting that 137 former members of the defunct interim and/or
and regular Batasang Pambansa, including ten (10) opposition members, were granted (b) to furnish petitioners with certified true copies of the documents evidencing their respective
housing loans by the GSIS loans; and/or

(c) to allow petitioners access to the public records for the subject information. (Petition, pp. 4-
ISSUE: 5; paragraphing supplied.]

WON petitioners are entitled to access to the documents evidencing loans granted by the GSIS. The controversy arose when petitioner Valmonte wrote respondent Belmonte the following letter:
HELD: YES
June 4, 1986
Requisites that must be met before the right to information may be enforced through mandamus
proceedings: Hon. Feliciano Belmonte
GSIS General Manager
1) the information sought is of "public interest" or "public concern," Arroceros, Manila
2) that the information sought must not be among those excluded by law.
Sir:
As a lawyer, member of the media and plain citizen of our Republic, I am requesting that I be
Both requisites are present in this case: furnished with the list of names of the opposition members of (the) Batasang Pambansa who
were able to secure a clean loan of P2 million each on guarranty (sic) of Mrs. Imelda Marcos.
(1) Petitioners shall be allowed access since the information are of public interest, GSIS is a
We understand that OIC Mel Lopez of Manila was one of those aforesaid MPs. Likewise, may we
government controlled corporation within the ambit of “State” as stated on the constitution, and
be furnished with the certified true copies of the documents evidencing their loan. Expenses in
the loan funds of GSIS was from the public. connection herewith shall be borne by us.
If we could not secure the above documents could we have access to them?

(2) Further, there is absence of any law that prohibits such information to be accessed by the Basis of Petitioner’s request/assertion
public.
We are premising the above request on the following provision of the Freedom Constitution of
the present regime.

However, since there no duty upon the respondent to prepare such list he is only allowed access The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized.
Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts,

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and not obtain the list he desired. GSIS may promulgate reasonable regulations as to the time and
transactions or decisions, shall be afforded the citizen subject to such limitation as may be

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manner of inspection.
provided by law. (Art. IV, Sec. 6).
We trust that within five (5) days from receipt hereof we will receive your favorable response
on the matter. Very truly yours, (Sgd.) RICARDO C. VALMONTE Procedural Issue: failure to exhaust admin. remedies was brushed aside since issue was purely a
question of law
Denied the request of petitioner due to confidentiality of GSIS loan records In his comment respondent raises procedural objections to the issuance of a writ of mandamus,
To the aforesaid letter, the Deputy General Counsel of the GSIS replied: among which is that petitioners have failed to exhaust administrative remedies.
June 17, 1986
Respondent claims that actions of the GSIS General Manager are reviewable by the Board of
Atty. Ricardo C. Valmonte Trustees of the GSIS. Petitioners, however, did not seek relief from the GSIS Board of Trustees. It is
108 E. Benin Street therefore asserted that since administrative remedies were not exhausted, then petitioners have
Caloocan City no cause of action.

Dear Compañero: To this objection, petitioners claim that they have raised a purely legal issue, viz., whether or not
they are entitled to the documents sought, by virtue of their constitutional right to information.
Possibly because he must have thought that it contained serious legal implications, President & Hence, it is argued that this case falls under one of the exceptions to the principle of exhaustion of
General Manager Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. referred to me for study and reply your letter to him of administrative remedies.
June 4, 1986 requesting a list of the opposition members of Batasang Pambansa who were able
to secure a clean loan of P2 million each on guaranty of Mrs. Imelda Marcos. Among the settled principles in administrative law is that before a party can be allowed to resort
to the courts, he is expected to have exhausted all means of administrative redress available
My opinion in this regard is that a confidential relationship exists between the GSIS and all under the law. The courts for reasons of law, comity and convenience will not entertain a case
those who borrow from it, whoever they may be; that the GSIS has a duty to its customers to unless the available administrative remedies have been resorted to and the appropriate
preserve this confidentiality; and that it would not be proper for the GSIS to breach this authorities have been given opportunity to act and correct the errors committed in the
confidentiality unless so ordered by the courts. administrative forum. However, the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies is subject
to settled exceptions, among which is when only a question of law is involved [Pascual v.
Provincial Board, 106 Phil. 466 (1959); Aguilar v. Valencia, et al., G.R. No. L-30396, July 30, 1971,
As a violation of this confidentiality may mar the image of the GSIS as a reputable financial
40 SCRA 210; Malabanan v. Ramento, G.R. No. L-2270, May 21, 1984, 129 SCRA 359.] The issue
institution, I regret very much that at this time we cannot respond positively to your request.
raised by petitioners, which requires the interpretation of the scope of the constitutional right to
information, is one which can be passed upon by the regular courts more competently than the
Very truly yours,
GSIS or its Board of Trustees, involving as it does a purely legal question. Thus, the exception of
this case from the application of the general rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies is
(Sgd.) MEYNARDO A. TIRO warranted. Having disposed of this procedural issue, We now address ourselves to the issue of
Deputy General Counsel whether or not mandamus hes to compel respondent to perform the acts sought by petitioners to
[Rollo, p. 40.] be done, in pursuance of their right to information.

On June 20, 1986, apparently not having yet received the reply of the Government Service and We shall deal first with the second and third alternative acts sought to be done, both of which
Insurance System (GSIS) Deputy General Counsel, petitioner Valmonte wrote respondent another involve the issue of whether or not petitioners are entitled to access to the documents evidencing
letter, saying that for failure to receive a reply, "(W)e are now considering ourselves free to do loans granted by the GSIS.
whatever action necessary within the premises to pursue our desired objective in pursuance of
public interest." [Rollo, p. 8.]
This is not the first time that the Court is confronted with a controversy directly involving the
constitutional right to information. In Tañada v. Tuvera, G.R. No. 63915, April 24,1985, 136 SCRA
On June 26, 1986, Valmonte, joined by the other petitioners, filed the instant suit. 27 and in the recent case of Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 72119, May 29, 1987,150
SCRA 530, the Court upheld the people's constitutional right to be informed of matters of public
On July 19, 1986, the Daily Express carried a news item reporting that 137 former members of the interest and ordered the government agencies concerned to act as prayed for by the petitioners.
defunct interim and regular Batasang Pambansa, including ten (10) opposition members, were
granted housing loans by the GSIS [Rollo, p. 41.] The pertinent provision under the 1987 Constitution is Art. 111, Sec. 7 which states:

Separate comments were filed by respondent Belmonte and the Solicitor General. After The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access

6
petitioners filed a consolidated reply, the petition was given due course and the parties were to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or

Page
required to file their memoranda. The parties having complied, the case was deemed submitted
for decision.
decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be Hence, before mandamus may issue, it must be clear that the information sought is of "public
afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law. interest" or "public concern," and is not exempted by law from the operation of the
constitutional guarantee [Legazpi v. Civil Service Commission, supra, at p. 542.]
The right of access to information was also recognized in the 1973 Constitution, Art. IV Sec. 6 of
which provided: It is for the Courts to determine, on a case by case basis, those within the meaning of "public
interest" and "public concern"
The right of the people to information on 'matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access The Court has always grappled with the meanings of the terms "public interest" and "public
to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or concern". As observed in Legazpi:
decisions, shall be afforded the citizen subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.
In determining whether or not a particular information is of public concern there is no rigid test
Importance/nature of the right of access to information which can be applied. "Public concern" like "public interest" is a term that eludes exact
An informed citizenry with access to the diverse currents in political, moral and artistic thought definition. Both terms embrace a broad spectrum of subjects which the public may want to
and data relative to them, and the free exchange of ideas and discussion of issues thereon, is vital know, either because these directly affect their lives, or simply because such matters naturally
to the democratic government envisioned under our Constitution. The cornerstone of this arouse the interest of an ordinary citezen. In the final analysis, it is for the courts to determine
republican system of government is delegation of power by the people to the State. In this system, on a case by case basis whether the matter at issue is of interest or importance, as it relates
governmental agencies and institutions operate within the limits of the authority conferred by the to or affects the public. [Ibid. at p. 541]
people. Denied access to information on the inner workings of government, the citizenry can
become prey to the whims and caprices of those to whom the power had been delegated. The In the Tañada case the public concern deemed covered by the constitutional right to information
postulate of public office as a public trust, institutionalized in the Constitution (in Art. XI, Sec. 1) to was the need for adequate notice to the public of the various laws which are to regulate the
protect the people from abuse of governmental power, would certainly be were empty words if actions and conduct of citezens. In Legaspi, it was the "legitimate concern of citezens of ensure
access to such information of public concern is denied, except under limitations prescribed by that government positions requiring civil service eligibility are occupied only by persons who are
implementing legislation adopted pursuant to the Constitution. eligibles" [Supra at p. 539.]

Petitioners are practitioners in media. As such, they have both the right to gather and the The information sought by petitioners in this case is the truth of reports that certain Members of
obligation to check the accuracy of information the disseminate. For them, the freedom of the the Batasang Pambansa belonging to the opposition were able to secure "clean" loans from the
press and of speech is not only critical, but vital to the exercise of their professions. The right of GSIS immediately before the February 7, 1986 election through the intercession of th eformer
access to information ensures that these freedoms are not rendered nugatory by the First Lady, Mrs. Imelda Marcos.
government's monopolizing pertinent information. For an essential element of these freedoms
is to keep open a continuing dialogue or process of communication between the government #1 Requisite: Nature of GSIS fund = within the meaning of “matters of public interest & concern”
and the people. It is in the interest of the State that the channels for free political discussion be The GSIS is a trustee of contributions from the government and its employees and the
maintained to the end that the government may perceive and be responsive to the people's will. administrator of various insurance programs for the benefit of the latter. Undeniably, its funds
Yet, this open dialogue can be effective only to the extent that the citizenry is informed and thus assume a public character. More particularly, Secs. 5(b) and 46 of P.D. 1146, as amended (the
able to formulate its will intelligently. Only when the participants in the discussion are aware of Revised Government Service Insurance Act of 1977), provide for annual appropriations to pay the
the issues and have access to information relating thereto can such bear fruit. contributions, premiums, interest and other amounts payable to GSIS by the government, as
employer, as well as the obligations which the Republic of the Philippines assumes or guarantees
The right to information is an essential premise of a meaningful right to speech and expression. to pay. Considering the nature of its funds, the GSIS is expected to manage its resources with
But this is not to say that the right to information is merely an adjunct of and therefore restricted utmost prudence and in strict compliance with the pertinent laws or rules and regulations. Thus,
in application by the exercise of the freedoms of speech and of the press. Far from it. The right to one of the reasons that prompted the revision of the old GSIS law (C.A. No. 186, as amended) was
information goes hand-in-hand with the constitutional policies of full public disclosure and the necessity "to preserve at all times the actuarial solvency of the funds administered by the
honesty in the public service. It is meant to enhance the widening role of the citizenry in System" [Second Whereas Clause, P.D. No. 1146.] Consequently, as respondent himself admits,
governmental decision-making as well as in checking abuse in government. the GSIS "is not supposed to grant 'clean loans.'" [Comment, p. 8.] It is therefore the legitimate
concern of the public to ensure that these funds are managed properly with the end in view of
General Rule and Limitations of right of access to information maximizing the benefits that accrue to the insured government employees. Moreover, the
Yet, like all the constitutional guarantees, the right to information is not absolute. As stated supposed borrowers were Members of the defunct Batasang Pambansa who themselves
in Legaspi, the people's right to information is limited to "matters of public concern," and is appropriated funds for the GSIS and were therefore expected to be the first to see to it that the
further "subject to such limitations as may be provided by law." Similarly, the State's policy of GSIS performed its tasks with the greatest degree of fidelity and that an its transactions were

7
full disclosure is limited to "transactions involving public interest," and is "subject to reasonable above board.

Page
conditions prescribed by law."
In sum, the public nature of the loanable funds of the GSIS and the public office held by the cannot be invoked by juridical entities like the GSIS. As held in the case of Vassar College v. Loose
alleged borrowers make the information sought clearly a matter of public interest and concern. Wills Biscuit Co. [197 F. 982 (1912)], a corporation has no right of privacy in its name since the
entire basis of the right to privacy is an injury to the feelings and sensibilities of the party and a
A second requisite must be met before the right to information may be enforced through corporation would have no such ground for relief.
mandamus proceedings, viz., that the information sought must not be among those excluded by
law. Neither can the GSIS through its General Manager, the respondent, invoke the right to privacy of
its borrowers. The right is purely personal in nature [Cf. Atkinson v. John Doherty & Co., 121 Mich
Respondent’s argument: records are private in nature, he invokes right to privacy 372, 80 N.W. 285, 46 L.RA. 219 (1899); Schuyler v. Curtis, 147 N.Y. 434, 42 N.E. 22, 31 L.R.A. 286
Respondent maintains that a confidential relationship exists between the GSIS and its borrowers. (1895)), and hence may be invoked only by the person whose privacy is claimed to be violated.
It is argued that a policy of confidentiality restricts the indiscriminate dissemination of
information. It may be observed, however, that in the instant case, the concerned borrowers themselves may
not succeed if they choose to invoke their right to privacy, considering the public offices they
Yet, respondent has failed to cite any law granting the GSIS the privilege of confidentiality as were holding at the time the loans were alleged to have been granted. It cannot be denied that
regards the documents subject of this petition. His position is apparently based merely on because of the interest they generate and their newsworthiness, public figures, most especially
considerations of policy. The judiciary does not settle policy issues. The Court can only declare those holding responsible positions in government, enjoy a more limited right to privacy as
what the law is, and not what the law should be. Under our system of government, policy issues compared to ordinary individuals, their actions being subject to closer public scrutiny [Cf.Ayer
are within the domain of the political branches of the government, and of the people themselves Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Capulong, G.R. Nos. 82380 and 82398, April 29, 1988; See also Cohen v.
as the repository of all State power. Marx, 211 P. 2d 321 (1949).]

Respondent however contends that in view of the right to privacy which is equally protected by Respondent next asserts that the documents evidencing the loan transactions of the GSIS
the Constitution and by existing laws, the documents evidencing loan transactions of the GSIS are private in nature and hence, are not covered by the Constitutional right to information on
must be deemed outside the ambit of the right to information. matters of public concern which guarantees "(a)ccess to official records, and to documents, and
papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions" only.
There can be no doubt that right to privacy is constitutionally protected. In the landmark case
of Morfe v. Mutuc [130 Phil. 415 (1968), 22 SCRA 424], this Court, speaking through then Mr. It is argued that the records of the GSIS, a government corporation performing proprietary
Justice Fernando, stated: functions, are outside the coverage of the people's right of access to official records.

... The right to privacy as such is accorded recognition independently of its identification with It is further contended that since the loan function of the GSIS is merely incidental to its insurance
liberty; in itself, it is fully deserving of constitutional protection. The language of Prof. Emerson function, then its loan transactions are not covered by the constitutional policy of full public
is particularly apt: "The concept of limited government has always included the idea that disclosure and the right to information which is applicable only to "official" transactions.
governmental powers stop short of certain intrusions into the personal life of the citizen. This is
indeed one of the basic distinctions between absolute and limited government. Ultimate and #2 Requisite: information sought from GSIS (a GOCC) is included to those within the ambit of the
pervasive control of the individual, in all aspects of his life, is the hallmark of the absolute. State, people's right to be informed, no law prohibits access to such information
In contrast, a system of limited government safeguards a private sector, which belongs to the First of all, the "constituent — ministrant" dichotomy characterizing government function has
individual, firmly distinguishing it from the public sector, which the state can control. Protection long been repudiated. In ACCFA v. Confederation of Unions and Government Corporations and
of this private sector — protection, in other words, of the dignity and integrity of the individual Offices (G.R. Nos. L-21484 and L-23605, November 29, 1969, 30 SCRA 6441, the Court said that the
— has become increasingly important as modem society has developed. All the forces of government, whether carrying out its sovereign attributes or running some business, discharges
technological age — industrialization, urbanization, and organization — operate to narrow the the same function of service to the people.
area of privacy and facilitate intrusion into it. In modern terms, the capacity to maintain and
support this enclave of private life marks the difference between a democratic and a totalitarian Consequently, that the GSIS, in granting the loans, was exercising a proprietary function would
society." [at pp. 444-445.] not justify the exclusion of the transactions from the coverage and scope of the right to
information.
SC: GSIS has no right to privacy
When the information requested from the government intrudes into the privacy of a citizen, a Moreover, the intent of the members of the Constitutional Commission of 1986, to include
potential conflict between the rights to information and to privacy may arise. However, the government-owned and controlled corporations and transactions entered into by them within
competing interests of these rights need not be resolved in this case. Apparent from the above- the coverage of the State policy of fun public disclosure is manifest from the records of the

8
quoted statement of the Court in Morfe is that the right to privacy belongs to the individual in his proceedings:

Page
private capacity, and not to public and governmental agencies like the GSIS. Moreover, the right
xxx xxx xxx Although citizens are afforded the right to information and, pursuant thereto, are entitled to
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Colayco). "access to official records," the Constitution does not accord them a right to compel custodians
Commissioner Suarez is recognized. of official records to prepare lists, abstracts, summaries and the like in their desire to acquire
MR. SUAREZ. Thank you. May I ask the Gentleman a few question? information on matters of public concern.
MR. OPLE. Very gladly.
MR. SUAREZ. Thank you. It must be stressed that it is essential for a writ of mandamus to issue that the applicant has a
When we declare a "policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions" — referring to the well-defined, clear and certain legal right to the thing demanded and that it is the imperative duty
transactions of the State — and when we say the "State" which I suppose would include all of of defendant to perform the act required. The corresponding duty of the respondent to perform
the various agencies, departments, ministries and instrumentalities of the government.... the required act must be clear and specific [Lemi v. Valencia, G.R. No. L-20768, November
MR. OPLE. Yes, and individual public officers, Mr. Presiding Officer. 29,1968,126 SCRA 203; Ocampo v. Subido, G.R. No. L-28344, August 27, 1976, 72 SCRA 443.] The
MR. SUAREZ. Including government-owned and controlled corporations. request of the petitioners fails to meet this standard, there being no duty on the part of
MR. OPLE. That is correct, Mr. Presiding Officer. respondent to prepare the list requested.
MR. SUAREZ. And when we say "transactions" which should be distinguished from contracts,
agreements, or treaties or whatever, does the Gentleman refer to the steps leading to the WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby granted and respondent General Manager of the
consummation of the contract, or does he refer to the contract itself? Government Service Insurance System is ORDERED to allow petitioners access to documents and
MR. OPLE. The "transactions" used here I suppose is generic and, therefore, it can cover both records evidencing loans granted to Members of the former Batasang Pambansa, as petitioners
steps leading to a contract, and already a consummated contract, Mr. Presiding Officer. may specify, subject to reasonable regulations as to the time and manner of inspection, not
incompatible with this decision, as the GSIS may deem necessary.
MR. SUAREZ. This contemplates inclusion of negotiations leading to the consummation of the
transaction. SO ORDERED.

MR. OPLE. Yes, subject only to reasonable safeguards on the national interest.

MR. SUAREZ. Thank you. [V Record of the Constitutional Commission 24-25.] (Emphasis
supplied.)

SC Ruling
Considering the intent of the framers of the Constitution which, though not binding upon the
Court, are nevertheless persuasive, and considering further that government-owned and
controlled corporations, whether performing proprietary or governmental functions are
accountable to the people, the Court is convinced that transactions entered into by the GSIS, a
government-controlled corporation created by special legislation are within the ambit of the
people's right to be informed pursuant to the constitutional policy of transparency in
government dealings.

In fine, petitioners are entitled to access to the documents evidencing loans granted by the GSIS,
subject to reasonable regulations that the latter may promulgate relating to the manner and
hours of examination, to the end that damage to or loss of the records may be avoided, that
undue interference with the duties of the custodian of the records may be prevented and that
the right of other persons entitled to inspect the records may be insured [Legaspi v. Civil Service
Commission, supra at p. 538, quoting Subido v. Ozaeta, 80 Phil. 383, 387.] The petition, as to the
second and third alternative acts sought to be done by petitioners, is meritorious.

However, the same cannot be said with regard to the first act sought by petitioners, i.e., "to
furnish petitioners the list of the names of the Batasang Pambansa members belonging to the

9
UNIDO and PDP-Laban who were able to secure clean loans immediately before the February 7

Page
election thru the intercession/marginal note of the then First Lady Imelda Marcos."
AYER V CAPULONG Enrile was a punlic figure precisely becasue of his participation as a principal actor in the culminayi
ng events of the vhange of gov. In feb 1986. His participation was majot in character, a film reenac
FACTS tment of the peaceful revolutionthat fails to make referencd to the role played by respondent wou
petitioner Hail McElroy an australian filmmaker and his company ws Ayer Productions, envisioned ld be grossly unhistorical.
for commrcial viewing and for PH and Internaional release the histolic peaceful struggleof the Filipi FULL CASE
no a EDSA. Petitioner discussed this project with local movie producer Lope Juban who sugested t
hat they onsult with appropriate gov agencies and also witb gen. Fidel Ramos and Sen Enrie who h
G.R. No. 82380 April 29, 1988
ad played major roles in the events proposed to be filmed. It was entitled “the four day revoluion”
. The agencies as well as gen ramos signifies their approval. The propsed motion picture would be
essentially a re-enactment of the events that made possibe the Edsa revolution. However Sen. Enr AYER PRODUCTIONS PTY. LTD. and McELROY & McELROY FILM PRODUCTIONS, petitioners,
ile replied disapproving the production. He also advised that no reference whatsoever should not vs.
be made to hi or any member of his family much less to any matter purely peronl to them. Petitio HON.IGNACIO M. CAPULONG and JUAN PONCE ENRILE, respondents.
nr acceded and removed the name of enrile from the movie script. Repondent filed acompaint wit
h aplication for a TRO. The complaint aleged that prodution of the mini series without his consent G.R. No. 82398 April 29, 1988
ad over his objection, onstitutes an obvious iolation of his right of privacy. Mcelroy on his part con
tend that te production would no involv the private life of enrile nor that of his family. HAL MCELROY petitioner,
vs.
ISSUE
HON. IGNACIO M. CAPULONG, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of M
Whether or not the right of privacy of Sen. Enrile was violated. akati, Branch 134 and JUAN PONCE ENRILE, respondents.

RULING FELICIANO, J.:


the right of privacy or the right to be alone, like the right of free expression, is not an absolute righ
t. A limited intrusion into a person’s privacy has long been regarded as permissible where that per Petitioner Hal McElroy an Australian film maker, and his movie production company, Petitioner Ay
son is a public figure and the information sought to be elicited from him or to be published aboit h er Productions pty Ltd. (Ayer Productions), 1 envisioned, sometime in 1987, the for commercial vie
im constitute of a public character. The right of privacy cannot be invoked resist publication and di wing and for Philippine and international release, the histolic peaceful struggle of the Filipinos at E
ssemination of matters of public interest. The interest sought to be protected by the rihht of priva DSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue). Petitioners discussed this Project with local movie producer L
vy is the right to be free from unwarranted publicity, from the wrongful publicizing of the private a ope V. Juban who suggested th they consult with the appropriate government agencies and also w
ffairs and activities of an individual which are outside the realm of legitimate punlic concern. ith General Fidel V. Ramos and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who had played major roles in the event
s proposed to be filmed.
The court believes thT the production and filming by petitioners of the projectec motion pictures t
he foir day revolution does not in thr circumsgances of this case, consgiyute an unlawful intrusion i The proposed motion picture entitled "The Four Day Revolution" was endorsed by the Movie Tele
pon private respondents right of privacy. vision Review and Classification Board as wel as the other government agencies consulted. Genera
The subject matter of the foir day revolution relates to the non bloody change of gov that took pla l Fidel Ramos also signified his approval of the intended film production.
ce at epifanio de los santos avenue in feb. 1986 and the trian of events which led up to that denou
ncemtn. Clearly suvh subject matter id one of public interest and concern. The subject therefore r In a letter dated 16 December 1987, petitioner Hal McElroy informed private respondent Juan Pon
elates to a highly critical stage in the hisyory of this cojntry ans as such, must be regarded as havin ce Enrile about the projected motion picture enclosing a synopsis of it, the full text of which is set
g passed into the public domain and as an appropriate subject for speech. It does not relate to the out below:
private life and certainty not to the private life of enrile. What have the project is not a film biohra
phy, more or less fictionalized, of private respondent enrile.the foir day revolition is not principally The Four Day Revolution is a six hour mini-series about People Power—a unique event in moder
about not is it focused upom, the man Juan Pomce Enrile but it is compelled if iy is to be histotival, n history that-made possible the Peaceful revolution in the Philippines in 1986.
to refer to the role played by enrile in the precipitating and the constitute events of vhange of gov

10
in feb 1986. The extent of the intrusion upon the life of enrile would be entailed by the prodiction Faced with the task of dramatising these rerkble events, screenwriter David Williamson and hist

Page
would therefore be limited in vhatacter. It is necesssry to keep that film a ttuthful historival acvou ory Prof Al McCoy have chosen a "docu-drama" style and created [four] fictitious characters to t
nt.
race the revolution from the death of Senator Aquino, to the Feb revolution and the fleeing of The proposed motion picture would be essentially a re-enact. ment of the events that made possi
Marcos from the country. ble the EDSA revolution; it is designed to be viewed in a six-hour mini-series television play, presen
ted in a "docu-drama" style, creating four (4) fictional characters interwoven with real events, and
These character stories have been woven through the real events to help our huge international utilizing actual documentary footage as background.
audience understand this ordinary period inFilipino history.
On 21 December 1987, private respondent Enrile replied that "[he] would not and will not approv
First, there's Tony O'Neil, an American television journalist working for major network. Tony refl e of the use, appropriation, reproduction and/or exhibition of his name, or picture, or that of any
ects the average American attitude to the Phihppinence —once a colony, now the home of cruci member of his family in any cinema or television production, film or other medium for advertising
ally important military bases. Although Tony is aware of the corruption and of Marcos' megalom or commercial exploitation" and further advised petitioners that 'in the production, airing, showin
ania, for him, there appears to be no alternative to Marcos except the Communists. g, distribution or exhibition of said or similar film, no reference whatsoever (whether written, verb
al or visual) should not be made to [him] or any member of his family, much less to any matter pur
ely personal to them.
Next, Angie Fox a fiery Australian photo-journalist. A 'new girl in town,' she is quickly caught up i
n the events as it becomes dear that the time has come for a change. Through Angle and her rel
ationship with one of the Reform Army Movement Colonels (a fictitious character), we follow th It appears that petitioners acceded to this demand and the name of private respondent Enrile was
e developing discontent in the armed forces. Their dislike for General Ver, their strong loyalty to deleted from the movie script, and petitioners proceeded to film the projected motion picture.
Defense Minister Enrile, and ultimately their defection from Marcos.
SEN. ENRILES CONTENTION ON RIGHT TO PRIVACY
The fourth fictitious character is Ben Balano, a middle-aged editor of a Manila newspaper who d
espises the Marcos regime and is a supporter an promoter of Cory Aquino. Ben has two daughte On 23 February 1988, private respondent filed a Complaint with application for Temporary Restrai
rs, Cehea left wing lawyer who is a secret member of the New People's Army, and Eva--a -P.R. gi ning Order and Wilt of Pretion with the Regional Trial Court of Makati, docketed as Civil Case No. 8
rl, politically moderate and very much in love with Tony. Ultimately, she must choose between 8-151 in Branch 134 thereof, seeking to enjoin petitioners from producing the movie "The Four Da
her love and the revolution. y Revolution". The complaint alleged that petitioners' production of the mini-series without privat
e respondent's consent and over his objection, constitutes an obvious violation of his right of priva
Through the interviews and experiences of these central characters, we show the complex natu cy. On 24 February 1988, the trial court issued ex-parte a Temporary Restraining Order and set for
re of Filipino society, and thintertwining series of events and characters that triggered these re hearing the application for preliminary injunction.
markable changes. Through them also, we meet all of the principal characters and experience di
rectly dramatic recreation of the revolution. The story incorporates actual documentary footage PETITIONERS CLAIMED ON RIGHT OF FREE SPEECH
filmed during the period which we hope will capture the unique atmosphere and forces that co
mbined to overthrow President Marcos. On 9 March 1988, Hal McElroy flied a Motion to Dismiss with Opposition to the Petition for Prelimi
nary Injunction contending that the mini-series fim would not involve the private life of Juan Ponc
David Williamson is Australia's leading playwright with some 14 hugely successful plays to his cr e Enrile nor that of his family and that a preliminary injunction would amount to a prior restraint o
edit(Don's Party,' 'The Club,' Travelling North) and 11 feature films (The Year of Living Dangerou n their right of free expression. Petitioner Ayer Productions also filed its own Motion to Dismiss all
sly,' Gallipoli,' 'Phar Lap'). eging lack of cause of action as the mini-series had not yet been completed.

Professor McCoy (University of New South Wales) is an American historian with a deep underst TRIAL COURT DECISION ISSUING THE WRIT OF INJUNCTION
anding of the Philippines, who has worked on the research for this project for some 18 months.
Together with Davi Wilhamgon they have developed a script we believe accurately depicts the c In an Order 2 dated 16 March 1988, respondent court issued a writ of Preliminary Injunction agains
omplex issues and events that occurred during th period . t the petitioners, the dispositive portion of which reads thus:

The six hour series is a McElroy and McElroy co-production with Home Box Office in American, t WHEREFORE, let a writ of preliminary injunction be issued, ordering defendants, and all persons

11
he Australian Broadcast Corporation in Australia and Zenith Productions in the United Kingdom and entities employed or under contract with them, including actors, actresses and members of
the production staff and crew as well as all persons and entities acting on defendants' behalf, to

Page
cease and desist from producing and filming the mini-series entitled 'The Four Day Revolution" a
nd from making any reference whatsoever to plaintiff or his family and from creating any fictitio Considering first petitioners' claim to freedom of speech and of expression the Court would once
us character in lieu of plaintiff which nevertheless is based on, or bears rent substantial or marke more stress that this freedom includes the freedom to film and produce motion pictures and to ex
d resemblance or similarity to, or is otherwise Identifiable with, plaintiff in the production and a hibit such motion pictures in theaters or to diffuse them through television. In our day and age, m
ny similar film or photoplay, until further orders from this Court, upon plaintiff's filing of a bond otion pictures are a univesally utilized vehicle of communication and medium Of expression. Along
in the amount of P 2,000,000.00, to answer for whatever damages defendants may suffer by re with the press, radio and television, motion pictures constitute a principal medium of mass comm
ason of the injunction if the Court should finally decide that plaintiff was not entitled thereto. unication for information, education and entertainment. In Gonzales v. Katigbak, 3former Chief Jus
tice Fernando, speaking for the Court, explained:
xxx xxx xxx
1. Motion pictures are important both as a medium for the communication of Ideas and the exp
(Emphasis supplied) ression of the artistic impulse. Their effect on the perception by our people of issues and public
officials or public figures as well as the pre cultural traits is considerable. Nor as pointed out in B
urstyn v. Wilson(343 US 495 [19421) is the Importance of motion pictures as an organ of public
THE PRESENT PETITION
opinion lessened by the fact that they are designed to entertain as well as to inform' (Ibid, 501).
There is no clear dividing line between what involves knowledge and what affords pleasure. If s
On 22 March 1988, petitioner Ayer Productions came to this Court by a Petition for certiorari date
uch a distinction were sustained, there is a diminution of the basic right to free expression. ...4
d 21 March 1988 with an urgent prayer for Preliminary Injunction or Restraining Order, which peti
tion was docketed as G.R. No. L-82380.
This freedom is available in our country both to locally-owned and to foreign-owned motion pictur
e companies. Furthermore the circumstance that the production of motion picture films is a comm
A day later, or on 23 March 1988, petitiioner Hal McElroy also filed separate Petition for certiorari
ercial activity expected to yield monetary profit, is not a disqualification for availing of freedom of
with Urgent Prayer for a Restraining Order or Preliminary Injunction, dated 22 March 1988, docket
speech and of expression. In our community as in many other countries, media facilities are owne
ed as G.R. No. L-82398.
d either by the government or the private sector but the private sector-owned media facilities co
mmonly require to be sustained by being devoted in whole or in pailt to revenue producing activiti
By a Resolution dated 24 March 1988, the petitions were consolidated and private respondent wa es. Indeed, commercial media constitute the bulk of such facilities available in our country and he
s required to file a consolidated Answer. Further, in the same Resolution, the Court granted a Tem nce to exclude commercially owned and operated media from the exerciseof constitutionally prot
porary Restraining Order partially enjoining the implementation of the respondent Judge's Order o ected om of speech and of expression can only result in the drastic contraction of such constitutio
f 16 March 1988 and the Writ of Preliminary Injunction issued therein, and allowing the petitioner nal liberties in our country.
s to resume producing and filming those portions of the projected mini-series which do not make
any reference to private respondent or his family or to any fictitious character based on or respon
THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY NOT ABSOLUTE JUST LIKE THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH
dent.

The counter-balancing of private respondent is to a right of privacy. It was demonstrated sometim


Private respondent seasonably filed his Consolidated Answer on 6 April 1988 invoking in the main
e ago by the then Dean Irene R. Cortes that our law, constitutional and statutory, does include a ri
a right of privacy.
ght of privacy. 5 It is left to case law, however, to mark out the precise scope and content of this ri
ght in differing types of particular situations. The right of privacy or "the right to be let alone," 6 lik
THE COURTS RULING ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH AS A CONSTIYUTIONAL RIGHT e the right of free expression, is not an absolute right. A limited intrusion into a person's privacy h
as long been regarded as permissible where that person is a public figure and the information sou
I ght to be elicited from him or to be published about him constitute of apublic character. 7 Succinct
ly put, the right of privacy cannot be invoked resist publication and dissemination of matters of pu
The constitutional and legal issues raised by the present Petitions are sharply drawn. Petitioners' cl blic interest. 8 The interest sought to be protected by the right of privacy is the right to be free fro
aim that in producing and "The Four Day Revolution," they are exercising their freedom of speech m unwarranted publicity, from the wrongful publicizing of the private affairs and activities of an in
and of expression protected under our Constitution. Private respondent, upon the other hand, ass dividual which are outside the realm of legitimate public concern. 9
erts a right of privacy and claims that the production and filming of the projected mini-series woul

12
d constitute an unlawful intrusion into his privacy which he is entitled to enjoy. Lagunzad v. Vda. de Gonzales, 10 on which private respondent relies heavily, recognized a right to
privacy in a context which included a claim to freedom of speech and of expression. Lagunzad invo

Page
lved a suit fortion picture producer as licensee and the widow and family of the late Moises Padilla
as licensors. This agreement gave the licensee the right to produce a motion Picture Portraying the The prevailing doctine is that the clear and present danger rule is such a limitation. Another criter
life of Moises Padilla, a mayoralty candidate of the Nacionalista Party for the Municipality of Maga ion for permissible limitation on freedom of speech and the press, which includes such vehicles o
llon, Negros Occidental during the November 1951 elections and for whose murder, Governor Raf f the mass media as radio, television and the movies, is the "balancing of interest test" (Chief Just
ael Lacson, a member of the Liberal Party then in power and his men were tried and convicted. 11 I ice Enrique M. Fernando on the Bill of Rights, 1970 ed. p. 79). The principle "requires a court to ta
n the judgment of the lower court enforcing the licensing agreement against the licensee who had ke conscious and detailed consideration of the interplay of interests observable in given situation
produced the motion picture and exhibited it but refused to pay the stipulated royalties, the Court or type of situation" (Separation Opinion of the late Chief Justice Castro in Gonzales v. Commissio
, through Justice Melencio-Herrera, said: n on Elections, supra, p. 899).

Neither do we agree with petitioner's subon that the Licensing Agreement is null and void for la In the case at bar, the interests observable are the right to privacy asserted by respondent and th
ck of, or for having an illegal cause or consideration, while it is true that petitioner bad pled the e right of freedom of expression invoked by petitioner. taking into account the interplay of those i
rights to the book entitled "The Moises Padilla Story," that did not dispense with the need for pr nterests, we hold that under the particular circumstances presented, and considering the obligati
ior consent and authority from the deceased heirs to portray publicly episodes in said deceased' ons assumed in the Licensing Agreement entered into by petitioner, the validity of such agreemen
s life and in that of his mother and the member of his family. As held in Schuyler v. Curtis, ([189 t will have to be upheld particularly because the limits of freedom of expression are reached when
5],147 NY 434,42 NE 31 LRA 286.49 Am St Rep 671), 'a privilege may be given the surviving relati expression touches upon matters of essentially private concern." 13
ves of a deperson to protect his memory, but the privilege wts for the benefit of the living, to pr
otect their feelings and to preventa violation of their own rights in the character and memory of Whether the "balancing of interests test" or the clear and present danger test" be applied in respe
the deceased.' ct of the instant Petitions, the Court believes that a different conclusion must here be reached: Th
e production and filming by petitioners of the projected motion picture "The Four Day Revolution"
Petitioners averment that private respondent did not have any property right over the life of M does not, in the circumstances of this case, constitute an unlawful intrusion upon private respond
oises Padilla since the latter was a public figure, is neither well taken. Being a public figure ipso f ent's "right of privacy."
acto does not automatically destroy in toto a person's right to privacy. The right to invade a pers
on's privacy to disseminate public information does not extend to a fictional or novelized repres 1. It may be observed at the outset that what is involved in the instant case is a prior and direct re
entation of a person, no matter how public a he or she may be (Garner v. Triangle Publications, straint on the part of the respondent Judge upon the exercise of speech and of expression by petit
DCNY 97 F. Supp., SU 549 [1951]). In the case at bar, while it is true that petitioner exerted effor ioners. The respondent Judge has restrained petitioners from filming and producing the entire pro
ts to present a true-to-life Story Of Moises Padilla, petitioner admits that he included a little ro posed motion picture. It is important to note that in Lagunzad, there was no prior restrain of any k
mance in the film because without it, it would be a drab story of torture and brutality. 12 ind imposed upon the movie producer who in fact completed and exhibited the film biography of
Moises Padilla. Because of the speech and of expression, a weighty presumption of invalidity vitiat
In Lagunzad, the Court had need, as we have in the instant case, to deal with contraposed claims t es. 14 The invalidity of a measure of prior restraint doesnot, of course, mean that no subsequent lia
o freedom of speech and of expression and to privacy. Lagunzad the licensee in effect claimed, in t bility may lawfully be imposed upon a person claiming to exercise such constitutional freedoms. T
he name of freedom of speech and expression, a right to produce a motion picture biography at le he respondent Judge should have stayed his hand, instead of issuing an ex-parte Temporary Restra
ast partly "fictionalized" of Moises Padilla without the consent of and without paying pre-agreed r ining Order one day after filing of a complaint by the private respondent and issuing a Preliminary
oyalties to the widow and family of Padilla. In rejecting the licensee's claim, the Court said: Injunction twenty (20) days later; for the projected motion picture was as yet uncompleted and he
nce not exhibited to any audience. Neither private respondent nor the respondent trial Judge kne
Lastly, neither do we find merit in petitioners contention that the Licensing Agreement infringes w what the completed film would precisely look like. There was, in other words, no "clear and pres
on the constitutional right of freedom of speech and of the press, in that, as a citizen and as a ne ent danger" of any violation of any right to privacy that private respondent could lawfully assert.
wspaperman, he had the right to express his thoughts in film on the public life of Moises Padilla
without prior restraint.The right freedom of expression, indeed, occupies a preferred position in t 2. The subject matter of "The Four Day Revolution" relates to the non-bloody change of governme
he "hierarchy of civil liberties" (Philippine Blooming Mills Employees Organization v. Philippine Bl nt that took place at Epifanio de los Santos Avenue in February 1986, and the trian of events whic
ooming Mills Co., Inc., 51 SCRA 191 [1963]). It is not, however, without limitations. As held in Gon h led up to that denouement. Clearly, such subject matter is one of public interest and concern. In
zales v. Commission on Elections, 27 SCRA 835, 858 [1960]: deed, it is, petitioners' argue, of international interest. The subject thus relates to a highly critical s
tage in the history of this countryand as such, must be regarded as having passed into the public d

13
xxx xxx xxx omain and as an appropriate subject for speech and expression and coverage by any form of mass
media. The subject mater, as set out in the synopsis provided by the petitioners and quoted above

Page
, does not relate to the individual life and certainly not to the private life of private respondent Po
nce Enrile. Unlike in Lagunzad, which concerned the life story of Moises Padilla necessarily includin om of the press and other agencies of information to tell it. "News" includes all events and items
g at least his immediate family, what we have here is not a film biography, more or less fictionalize of information which are out of the ordinary hum-drum routine, and which have 'that indefinabl
d, of private respondent Ponce Enrile. "The Four Day Revolution" is not principally about, nor is it f e quality of information which arouses public attention.' To a very great extent the press, with it
ocused upon, the man Juan Ponce Enrile' but it is compelled, if it is to be historical, to refer to the s experience or instinct as to what its readers will want, has succeeded in making its own definin
role played by Juan Ponce Enrile in the precipitating and the constituent events of the change of g ation of news, as a glance at any morning newspaper will sufficiently indicate. It includes homici
overnment in February 1986. de and othe crimes, arrests and police raides, suicides, marriages and divorces, accidents, a deat
h from the use of narcotics, a woman with a rare disease, the birth of a child to a twelve year ol
3. The extent of the instrusion upon the life of private respondent Juan Ponce Enrile that would be d girl, the reappearance of one supposed to have been murdered years ago, and undoubtedly m
entailed by the production and exhibition of "The Four Day Revolution" would, therefore, be limite any other similar matters of genuine, if more or less deplorable, popular appeal.The privilege of
d in character. The extent of that intrusion, as this Court understands the synopsis of the proposed enlightening the public was not, however, limited, to the dissemination of news in the scene of c
film, may be generally described as such intrusion as is reasonably necessary to keep that film a tr urrent events. It extended also to information or education, or even entertainment and amusem
uthful historical account. Private respondent does not claim that petitioners threatened to depict i ent, by books, articles, pictures, films and broadcasts concerning interesting phases of human ac
n "The Four Day Revolution" any part of the private life of private respondent or that of any memb tivity in general, as well as the reproduction of the public scene in newsreels and travelogues. In
er of his family. determining where to draw the line, the courts were invited to exercise a species of censorship
over what the public may be permitted to read; and they were understandably liberal in allowin
g the benefit of the doubt. 15
SEN ENRILE IS A PUBLIC FIGURE AND THEREFORE CANNOT CLAIM THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY TO THE
PRODUCTION. AS WHAT ATTY MUYOT SAID HE ALREADY EXPOSED HIMSELF AS A PUBLIC CHARACT
ER AND THEREFORE ALREADY WAIVED SOME OF ITS RIGHT TO PRIVACY Private respondent is a "public figure" precisely because, inter alia, of his participation as a princ
ipal actor in the culminating events of the change of government in February 1986. Because his
participation therein was major in character, a film reenactment of the peaceful revolution that
4. At all relevant times, during which the momentous events, clearly of public concern, that petitio
fails to make reference to the role played by private respondent would be grossly unhistorical. T
ners propose to film were taking place, private respondent was what Profs. Prosser and Keeton ha
he right of privacy of a "public figure" is necessarily narrower than that of an ordinary citizen. Pr
ve referred to as a "public figure:"
ivate respondent has not retired into the seclusion of simple private citizenship. he continues to
be a "public figure." After a successful political campaign during which his participation in the E
A public figure has been defined as a person who, by his accomplishments, fame, or mode of livi
DSA Revolution was directly or indirectly referred to in the press, radio and television, he sits in
ng, or by adopting a profession or calling which gives the public a legitimate interest in his doing
a very public place, the Senate of the Philippines.
s, his affairs, and his character, has become a 'public personage.' He is, in other words, a celebrit
y. Obviously to be included in this category are those who have achieved some degree of reputat
5. The line of equilibrium in the specific context of the instant case between the constitutional f
ion by appearing before the public, as in the case of an actor, a professional baseball player, a p
reedom of speech and of expression and the right of privacy, may be marked out in terms of a r
ugilist, or any other entertainment. The list is, however, broader than this. It includes public offic
equirement that the proposed motion picture must be fairly truthful and historical in its present
ers, famous inventors and explorers, war heroes and even ordinary soldiers, an infant prodigy, a
ation of events. There must, in other words, be no knowing or reckless disregard of truth in depi
nd no less a personage than the Grand Exalted Ruler of a lodge. It includes, in short, anyone who
cting the participation of private respondent in the EDSA Revolution. 16 There must, further, be
has arrived at a position where public attention is focused upon him as a person.
no presentation of the private life of the unwilling private respondent and certainly no revelatio
n of intimate or embarrassing personal facts. 17 The proposed motion picture should not enter i
Such public figures were held to have lost, to some extent at least, their tight to privacy. Three re
nto what Mme. Justice Melencio-Herrera in Lagunzad referred to as "matters of essentially priv
asons were given, more or less indiscrimately, in the decisions" that they had sought publicity a
ate concern." 18 To the extent that "The Four Day Revolution" limits itself in portraying the part
nd consented to it, and so could not complaint when they received it; that their personalities an
icipation of private respondent in the EDSA Revolution to those events which are directly and re
d their affairs has already public, and could no longer be regarded as their own private business;
asonably related to the public facts of the EDSA Revolution, the intrusion into private responde
and that the press had a privilege, under the Constitution, to inform the public about those who
nt's privacy cannot be regarded as unreasonable and actionable. Such portrayal may be carried
have become legitimate matters of public interest. On one or another of these grounds, and so
out even without a license from private respondent.
metimes all, it was held that there was no liability when they were given additional publicity, as
to matters legitimately within the scope of the public interest they had aroused.

14
II

The privilege of giving publicity to news, and other matters of 6public interest, was held to arise

Page
out of the desire and the right of the public to know what is going on in the world, and the freed
In a Manifestation dated 30 March 1988, petitioner Hal McElroy informed this Court that a Tem No pronouncement as to costs.
porary Restraining Order dated 25 March 1988, was issued by Judge Teofilo Guadiz of the Regio
nal Trial Court of Makati, Branch 147, in Civil Case No. 88-413, entitled "Gregorio B. Honasan vs. SO ORDERED.
Ayer Productions Pty. Ltd., McElroy Film Productions, Hal McElroy, Lope Juban and PMP Motion
for Pictures Production" enjoining him and his production company from further filimg any scen
e of the projected mini-series film. Petitioner alleged that Honasan's complaint was a "scissors a
nd paste" pleading, cut out straight grom the complaint of private respondent Ponce Enrile in Ci
vil Case No. 88-151. Petitioner Ayer Productions, in a separate Manifestation dated 4 April 1988,
brought to the attention of the Court the same information given by petitoner Hal McElroy, reit
erating that the complaint of Gregorio B. Honasan was substantially identical to that filed by pri
vate respondent herein and stating that in refusing to join Honasan in Civil Case No. 88-151, cou
nsel for private respondent, with whom counsel for Gregorio Honasan are apparently associate
d, deliberately engaged in "forum shopping."

Private respondent filed a Counter-Manifestation on 13 April 1988 stating that the "slight similarit
y" between private respondent's complaint and that on Honasan in the construction of their legal
basis of the right to privacy as a component of the cause of action is understandable considering t
hat court pleadings are public records; that private respondent's cause of action for invasion of pri
vacy is separate and distinct from that of Honasan's although they arose from the same tortious ac
t of petitioners' that the rule on permissive joinder of parties is not mandatory and that, the cited
cases on "forum shopping" were not in point because the parties here and those in Civil Case No.
88-413 are not identical.

For reasons that by now have become clear, it is not necessary for the Court to deal with the quest
ion of whether or not the lawyers of private respondent Ponce Enrile have engaged in "forum sho
pping." It is, however, important to dispose to the complaint filed by former Colonel Honasan who
, having refused to subject himself to the legal processes of the Republic and having become once
again in fugitive from justice, must be deemed to have forfeited any right the might have had to pr
otect his privacy through court processes.

WHEREFORE,

a) the Petitions for Certiorari are GRANTED DUE COURSE, and the Order dated 16 March 1988 of r
espondent trial court granting a Writ of Preliminary Injunction is hereby SET ASIDE. The limited Te
mporary Restraining Order granted by this Court on 24 March 1988 is hereby MODIFIED by enjoini
ng unqualifiedly the implementation of respondent Judge's Order of 16 March 1988 and made PER
MANENT, and

b) Treating the Manifestations of petitioners dated 30 March 1988 and 4 April 1988 as separate Pe
titions for Certiorari with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction or Restraining Order, the Court, in the e
xercise of its plenary and supervisory jurisdiction, hereby REQUIRES Judge Teofilo Guadiz of the Re

15
gional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 147, forthwith to DISMISS Civil Case No. 88-413 and accordingl
y to SET ASIDE and DISSOLVE his Temporary Restraining Order dated 25 March 1988 and any Preli

Page
minary Injunction that may have been issued by him.
G.R. No. L-46061 November 14, 1984 The same advertisement appeared in the Sunday Times dated January 5, 1969. Doctor Aramil a
neuropsychiatrist and a member of the faculty of the U. E. Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Hospital,
ST. LOUIS REALTY CORPORATION, petitioner, noticed the mistake. On that same date, he wrote St. Louis Realty the following letter of protest:
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and CONRADO J. ARAMIL, respondents. Dear Sirs:

SUMMARY: St. Louis Realty published twice a photo of the house and lot of Doctor Aramil, but This is anent to your advertisements appearing in the December 15, 1968 and January 5, 1969
stating that it is owned by Arcadio. This was done with the permission of Arcadio, but not with issues of the Sunday Times which boldly depicted my house at the above-mentioned address
Aramil. Aramil sent a letter to St. Louis, indicating that such publication caused damage to his and implying that it belonged to another person. I am not aware of any permission or authority
profession and have resulted a mental anguish in his part. St. Louis officer offered his apologies, on my part for the use of my house for such publicity.
but no rectification or apology was published. St. Louis the published a new advertisement with
the Arcadio family and their real house. But it did not publish any apology to Doctor Aramil and an This unauthorized use of my house for your promotional gain and much more the apparent
explanation of the error. distortions therein are I believe not only transgression to my private property but also damaging
to my prestige in the medical profession I have had invited in several occasions numerous
The Court, in affirming the RTC and CA decision, held that Dr. Aramil is entitled for damages, medical colleagues, medical students and friends to my house and after reading your December
because St. Louis Realty should have immediately published a rectification and apology. 15 advertisement some of them have uttered some remarks purporting doubts as to my
Moreover, there was violation of Aramil's right to privacy (Art. 26, Civil Code). Persons, who know professional and personal integrity. Such sly remarks although in light vein as "it looks like your
the residence of Doctor Aramil, were confused by the distorted, lingering impression that he was house," "how much are you renting from the Arcadios?", " like your wife portrayed in the papers
renting his residence from Arcadio or that Arcadio had leased it from him. Either way, his private as belonging to another husband," etc., have resulted in no little mental anguish on my part.
life was mistakenly and unnecessarily exposed. He suffered diminution of income and mental
anguish. I have referred this matter to the Legal Panel of the Philippine Medical Association and their
final advice is pending upon my submission of supporting ownership papers.
AQUINO, J.:
I will therefore be constrained to pursue court action against your corporation unless you could
This case is about the recovery of damages for a wrongful advertisement in the Sunday satisfactorily explain this matter within a week upon receipt of this letter.
Times where Saint Louis Realty Corporation misrepresented that the house of Doctor Conrado J.
Aramil belonged to Arcadio S. Arcadio. The letter was received by Ernesto Magtoto, an officer of St. Louis Realty in charge of advertising.
He stopped publication of the advertisement. He contacted Doctor Aramil and offered his
FACTS: apologies. However, no rectification or apology was published.

St. Louis Realty caused to be published with the permission of Arcadio S. Arcadio (but without On February 20, 1969, Aramil's counsel demanded from St. Louis Realty actual, moral and
permission of Doctor Aramil) in the issue of the Sunday Times of December 15, 1968 an exemplary damages of P110,000 (Exh. D). In its answer dated March 10, St. Louis Realty claimed
advertisement with the heading "WHERE THE HEART IS". Below that heading was the photograph that there was an honest mistake and that if Aramil so desired, rectification would be published in
of the residence of Doctor Aramil and the Arcadio family and then below the photograph was the the Manila Times (Exh. 3).
following write-up:
It published in the issue of the Manila Times of March 18, 1969 a new advertisement with the
Home is where the heart is. And the hearts of MR. AND MRS. ARCADIO S. ARCADIO and their Arcadio family and their real house. But it did not publish any apology to Doctor Aramil and an
family have been captured by BROOKSIDE HILLS. They used to rent a small 2-bedroom house in explanation of the error.
a cramped neighborhood, sadly inadequate and unwholesome for the needs of a large family.
They dream(ed) of a more pleasant place free from the din and dust of city life yet near all On March 29, Aramil filed his complaint for damages. St. Louis Realty published in the issue of
facilities. Plans took shape when they heard of BROOKSIDE HILLS. With thrift and determination, the Manila Times of April 15, 1969 the following "NOTICE OF RECTIFICATION" in a space 4 by 3
they bought a lot and built their dream house ... for P31,000. The Arcadios are now part of the inches:
friendly, thriving community of BROOKSIDE HILLS... a beautiful first-class subdivision planned for

16
wholesome faily living.
This will serve as a notice that our print ad 'Where the Heart is' which appeared in the Manila
Times issue of March 18, 1969 is a rectification of the same ad that appeared in the Manila

Page
Times issues rectification of the same ad that appeal of December 15, 1968 and January 5, 1969
wherein a photo of the house of another Brookside Homeowner (Dr. Aramil-private St. Louis Realty's employee was grossly negligent in mixing up the Aramil and Arcadio residences
respondent) was mistakenly used as a background for the featured homeowner's the Arcadio in a widely circulated publication like the Sunday Times. To suit its purpose, it never made any
family. written apology and explanation of the mix-up. It just contented itself with a cavalier "rectification
".
The ad of March 18, 1969 shows the Arcadio family with their real house in the background, as
was intended all along. Persons, who know the residence of Doctor Aramil, were confused by the distorted, lingering
impression that he was renting his residence from Arcadio or that Arcadio had leased it from him.
RTC: Either way, his private life was mistakenly and unnecessarily exposed. He suffered diminution of
income and mental anguish.
Judge Jose M. Leuterio observed that St. Louis Realty should have immediately published a
rectification and apology. He found that as a result of St. Louis Realty's mistake, magnified by its WHEREFORE, the judgment of the Appellate Court is affirmed. Costs against the petitioner.
utter lack of sincerity, Doctor Aramil suffered mental anguish and his income was reduced by
about P1,000 to P1,500 a month. Moreover, there was violation of Aramil's right to privacy (Art. SO ORDERED.
26, Civil Code).

The trial court awarded Aramil P8,000 as actual damages, P20,000 as moral damages and P2,000
as attorney's fees. St. Louis Realty appealed to the Court of Appeals.

CA:

The Appellate Court affirmed that judgment, with Acting Presiding Justice Magno S. Gatmaitan
as ponente, and Justices Sixto A. Domondon and Samuel F. Reyes concurring.

The Appellate Court reasoned out that St. Louis Realty committed an actionable quasi-delict under
articles 21 and 26 of the Civil Code because the questioned advertisements pictured a beautiful
house which did not belong to Arcadio but to Doctor Aramil who, naturally, was annoyed by that
contretemps.

ST. LOUIS CONTENTION IN ITS APPEAL:

In this appeal, St. Louis Realty contends that the Appellate Court ignored certain facts and
resorted to surmises and conjectures. This contention is unwarranted. The Appellate Court
adopted the facts found by the trial court. Those factual findings are binding on this Court.

St. Louis Realty also contends that the decision is contrary to law and that the case was decided in
a way not in conformity with the rulings of this Court. It argues that the case is not covered by
article 26 which provides that "every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and
peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons". "Prying into the privacy of another's
residence" and "meddling with or disturbing the private life or family relations of another" and
"similar acts", "though they may not constitute a criminal offense, shall produce a cause of action
for damages, prevention and other relief".

17
The damages fixed by Judge Leuterio are sanctioned by Articles 2200, 2208 and 2219 of the Civil
Code. Article 2219 allows moral damages for acts and actions mentioned in Article 26. As lengthily

Page
explained by Justice Gatmaitan, the acts and omissions of the firm fan under Article 26.
States. On 22 August 1950, she filed a verified complaint for divorce against the herein plaintiff in
PASTOR B. TENCHAVEZ, plaintiff-appellant, vs.
the Second Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada in and for the County of Washoe, on the
VICENTA F. ESCAÑO, ET AL., defendants-appellees.
ground of "extreme cruelty, entirely mental in character." On 21 October 1950, a decree of
divorce, "final and absolute", was issued in open court by the said tribunal.
FACTS: (love story to)
In 1951 Mamerto and Mena Escaño filed a petition with the Archbishop of Cebu to annul their
Vicenta missing her late afternoon classes on 24 February 1948 in the University of San Carlos, daughter's marriage to Pastor (Exh. "D"). On 10 September 1954, Vicenta sought papal
Cebu City, where she was then enrolled as a second year student of commerce, Vicenta Escaño, 27 dispensation of her marriage. Vicenta then married an American, Russell Leo Moran, in Nevada.
years of age (scion of a well-to-do and socially prominent Filipino family of Spanish ancestry and a She now lives with him in California, and, by him, has begotten children. She acquired American
"sheltered colegiala"), exchanged marriage vows with Pastor Tenchavez, 32 years of age, an citizenship on 8 August 1958.
engineer, ex-army officer and of undistinguished stock, without the knowledge of her parents,
before a Catholic chaplain, Lt. Moises Lavares, in the house of one Juan Alburo in the said city. The
Filing: Tenchavez had initiated the proceedings at bar by a complaint in the Court of First Instance
marriage was the culmination of a previous love affair and was duly registered with the local civil
of Cebu, an, against Vicenta F. Escaño, her parents, Mamerto and Mena Escaño, whom he charged
register. Together with a friend, Pacita Noel, their matchmaker and go-between, they had planned
with having dissuaded and discouraged Vicenta from joining her husband, and alienating her
out their marital future whereby Pacita would be the governess of their first-born; they started
affections, and against the Roman Catholic Church, for having, through its Diocesan Tribunal,
saving money in a piggy bank. A few weeks before their secret marriage, their engagement was
decreed the annulment of the marriage, and asked for legal separation and one million pesos in
broken; Vicenta returned the engagement ring and accepted another suitor, Joseling Lao. Her love
damages.
for Pastor beckoned; she pleaded for his return, and they reconciled. This time they planned to get
married and then elope. To facilitate the elopement, Vicenta had brought some of her clothes to
the room of Pacita Noel in St. Mary's Hall, which was their usual trysting place. On th other hand, Vicenta argues that when she contracted the marriage she was under the
undue influence of Pacita Noel, whom she charges to have been in conspiracy with appellant
Tenchavez CFI: the judgment did not decree a legal separation, but freed the plaintiff from
However, the elopement did not materialize because when Vicente went back to her classes after
supporting his wife and to acquire property to the exclusion of his wife. It allowed the
the marriage, her mother, who got wind of the intended nuptials, was already waiting for her at
counterclaim of Mamerto Escaño and Mena Escaño for moral and exemplary damages and
the college. Vicenta was taken home where she admitted that she had already married Pastor. Her
attorney's fees against the plaintiff-appellant, to the extent of P45,000.00, and plaintiff resorted
parents were surprised because Pastor never asked for the hand of Vicente, and were disgusted
directly to this Court.
because of the great scandal that the clandestine marriage would provoke. The following
morning, the Escaño spouses sought priestly advice. Father Reynes suggested a recelebration to
validate what he believed to be an invalid marriage, from the standpoint of the Church, due to the PFR ISSUES:
lack of authority from the Archbishop or the parish priest for the officiating chaplain to celebrate
the marriage. The recelebration did not take place, because on 26 February 1948 Mamerto **Chaplain’s lack of authority is irrelevant in our civil law, not only because of the separation of
Escaño(father of Vicenta) was handed by a maid, whose name he claims he does not remember, a Church and State but also because Act 3613 of the Philippine Legislature, it is not an essential
letter purportedly coming from San Carlos college students and disclosing an amorous relationship requisite. The good faith of all the parties to the marriage (and hence the validity of their
between Pastor Tenchavez and Pacita Noel; Vicenta translated positively It is well to note here marriage) will be presumed until the contrary is
that in the case at bar, doubts as to the authority of the solemnizing priest arose only after the
marriage, when Vicenta's parents consulted Father Reynes and the archbishop of Cebu. Moreover, **Divorce decree obtained by Vicenta. The Civil Code of the Philippines, now in force, does not
the very act of Vicenta in abandoning her original action for annulment and subsequently suing for admit absolute divorce. From the preceding facts and considerations, there flows as a necessary
divorce implies an admission that her the letter to her father, and thereafter would not agree to a consequence that in this jurisdiction Vicenta Escaño's divorce and second marriage are not
new marriage. Vicenta and Pastor met that day in the house of Mrs. Pilar Mendezona. Thereafter, entitled to recognition as valid; for her previous union to plaintiff Tenchavez must be declared to
Vicenta continued living with her parents while Pastor returned to his job in Manila. be existent and undissolved. It follows, likewise, that her refusal to perform her wifely duties, and
her denial of consortium and her desertion of her husband constitute in law a wrong caused
She was not prevented by her parents from communicating with Pastor, but her letters became through her fault, for which the husband is entitled to the corresponding indemnity (Civil Code,
less frequent as the days passed. As of June, 1948 the newlyweds were already estranged. Vicenta Art. 2176). Neither an unsubstantiated charge of deceit nor an anonymous letter charging
had gone to Jimenez, Misamis Occidental, to escape from the scandal that her marriage stirred in immorality against the husband constitute, contrary to her claim, adequate excuse. Wherefore,
Cebu society. There, a lawyer filed for her a petition, drafted by then Senator Emmanuel Pelaez, to her marriage and cohabitation with Russell Leo Moran is technically "intercourse with a person
annul her marriage. She did not sign the petition .The case was dismissed without prejudice not her husband" from the standpoint of Philippine Law, and entitles plaintiff-appellant Tenchavez
because of her non-appearance at the hearing. to a decree of "legal separation under our law, on the basis of adultery" (Revised Penal Code, Art.
333).

18
Without informing her husband, she applied for a passport, indicating in her application that she
was single, that her purpose was to study, and she was domiciled in Cebu City, and that she MAIN ISSUE: WON the parents of Vicenta are liable for damages.

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intended to return after two years. The application was approved, and she left for the United
NO. Theclaim of Tenchaves that his wife's parents, Dr. Mamerto Escaño and his wife, the late Doña caused them unrest and anxiety, entitling them to recover damages in the amount of P5,000, and
Mena Escaño, alienated the affections of their daughter and influenced her conduct toward her not 45,000
husband are not supported by credible evidence. The testimony of Pastor Tenchavez about the
Escaños' animosity toward him strikes us to be merely conjecture and exaggeration, and are
belied by Pastor's own letters written. In these letters he expressly apologized to the defendants
for "misjudging them" and for the "great unhappiness" caused by his "impulsive blunders" and
"sinful pride," "effrontery and audacity" [sic]. Plaintiff was admitted to the Escaño house to visit
and court Vicenta, and the record shows nothing to prove that he would not have been accepted
to marry Vicente had he openly asked for her hand, as good manners and breeding demanded.
Even after learning of the clandestine marriage, and despite their shock at such unexpected event,
the parents of Vicenta proposed and arranged that the marriage be recelebrated in strict
conformity with the canons of their religion upon advice that the previous one was canonically
defective. If no recelebration of the marriage ceremony was had it was not due to defendants
Mamerto Escaño and his wife, but to the refusal of Vicenta to proceed with it. That the spouses
Escaño did not seek to compel or induce their daughter to assent to the recelebration but
respected her decision, or that they abided by her resolve, does not constitute in law an
alienation of affections. Neither does the fact that Vicenta's parents sent her money while she
was in the United States; for it was natural that they should not wish their daughter to live in
penury even if they did not concur in her decision to divorce Tenchavez (27 Am. Jur. 130-132).

There is no evidence that the parents of Vicenta, out of improper motives, aided and abetted her
original suit for annulment, or her subsequent divorce; she appears to have acted independently,
and being of age, she was entitled to judge what was best for her and ask that her decisions be
respected. Her parents, in so doing, certainly cannot be charged with alienation of affections in
the absence of malice or unworthy motives, which have not been shown, good faith being
always presumed until the contrary is proved.

SEC. 529. Liability of Parents, Guardians or Kin. — The law distinguishes between the
right of a parent to interest himself in the marital affairs of his child and the absence of
rights in a stranger to intermeddle in such affairs. However, such distinction between
the liability of parents and that of strangers is only in regard to what will justify
interference. A parent is liable for alienation of affections resulting from his own
malicious conduct, as where he wrongfully entices his son or daughter to leave his or her
spouse, but he is not liable unless he acts maliciously, without justification and from
unworthy motives. He is not liable where he acts and advises his child in good faith
with respect to his child's marital relations in the interest of his child as he sees it, the
marriage of his child not terminating his right and liberty to interest himself in, and be
extremely solicitous for, his child's welfare and happiness, even where his conduct and
advice suggest or result in the separation of the spouses or the obtaining of a divorce
or annulment, or where he acts under mistake or misinformation, or where his advice
or interference are indiscreet or unfortunate, although it has been held that the
parent is liable for consequences resulting from recklessness. He may in good faith take
his child into his home and afford him or her protection and support, so long as he has
not maliciously enticed his child away, or does not maliciously entice or cause him or her
to stay away, from his or her spouse. This rule has more frequently been applied in the
case of advice given to a married daughter, but it is equally applicable in the case of
advice given to a son.

19
Plaintiff Tenchavez, in falsely charging Vicenta's aged parents with racial or social discrimination

Page
and with having exerted efforts and pressured her to seek annulment and divorce, unquestionably
VEXATION serious, (b) relate to the performance of employee’s duties, and (c) show that employee has
become unfit to continue working for employer.
PHL AEOLUS AUTOMOTIVE UNITED CORP. V. NLRC, 04/28/2000
In the case at bar, the perusal of termination letter indicates that private respondent was
FACTS: discharged from employment for “serious misconduct, gross and habitual neglect of duties, and
1. Petitioner PHL Aeolus Automotive United Corp. (PAAUC) is a corporation where fraud or will breach of trust”. Specifically –
Petitioner Francis Chua is the President and Private respondent Rosalinda Cortez was a (1) Acts constituting gross disrespect to superior Mr. William Chua
company nurse until her termination on 11/07/1994. (2) P1488 was allegedly lost in possession and not recovered which was entrusted by Plant
 Personnel Manager Myrna Palomares issued a memorandum addressed to Manager to be sent to CLMC for Mr. Fang
private respondent Rosalinda Cortez requiring her to explain w/in 48 hours (3) Causing someone to punch-in time card at 0802H but only arrived at 1235H.
why no disciplinary action should be taken against her for (a) throwing a (4) No application and deposit of P900 from Miss Lucy Lao for opening of ATM card of nine
stapler at Plant Manager William Chua, her superior, and uttering invectives employees.
against him, and (b) for losing the amount of P1488 entrusted to her by Plant
Manager Chua to be given to Mr. Fang of CLMC Department, and (c) for asking FIRST CHARGE
co-employee to punch-in her time card making it appear that she was in the
office where in fact she was not. Respondent Cortez claims that as early as her first year of employment her Plant Manager,
 Private Respondent Cortez refused the memorandum and did not William Chua, already manifested a special liking for her, so much so that she was receiving
submit the required explanation ∴ she was placed under preventive special treatment from him who would oftentimes invite her "for a date," which she would
suspension. as often refuse and that he would make sexual advances — touching her hands, putting his
 Second memorandum was issued by petitioner corporation giving her 72 arms around her shoulders, running his fingers on her arms and telling her she looked
hours to explain why no disciplinary action should be taken against her for beautiful. The special treatment and sexual advances continued during her employment
allegedly failing to process ATM applications of her 9 co-employees with Allied for four (4) years, but she never reciprocated his flirtations, until finally, she noticed that
Banking Corporation, which private respondent also refused to receive. his attitude towards her changed. He made her understand that if she would not give in to
 Private Respondent submitted a written explanation with respect to his sexual advances, he would cause her termination from the service; and he made good
the loss of P1488 and the punching-in of her time card by a co- his threat when he started harassing her. She just found out one day that her table which
employee. was equipped with telephone and intercom units and containing her personal belongings
 Third memorandum was issued informing her of her termination from the was transferred without her knowledge to a place with neither telephone nor intercom, for
service on the grounds of gross and habitual neglect of duties, serious which reason, an argument ensued when she confronted William Chua resulting in her
misconduct and fraud or willful breach of trust. being charged with gross disrespect.
2. Private respondent filed with Labor Arbiter a complaint for illegal dismissal, non- The Court said that the act of throwing a stapler and uttering abusive language may be
payment of annual service incentive leave pay, 13th month pay, and damages against considered serious misconduct, however, it must have been done in relation to the
PAAUC and President Chua. performance of her duties as would show her to be unfit to continue working for her
3. Labor Arbiter rendered a decision holding the termination of Cortez as valid and legal; employer. The acts complained of did not in any way pertain to her duties as a nurse.
NLRC reversed the decision and found petitioner corporation guilty of illegal dismissal of
private respondent Cortez. SECOND CHARGE

ISSUE: W/N NLRC committed a grave abuse of discretion in holding private respondent’s Respondent Cortez explains that money was given to company perssonel in-charge for
dismissal as illegal. NO. proper transmittal as evidenced by a receipt.
W/N private respondent is entitled to damages. YES.
THIRD CHARGE
HELD: NLRC decision AFFIRMED.
Respondent claims that she caused the punching-in of her time card in good faith,
ILLEGAL DISMISSAL considering that the errand was for a company’s officer, Richard Tan, with permission of
William Chua.
Labor Code provides specific grounds for an employer to validly terminate the services of an
employee, which grounds to be strictly construed since person’s employment constitutes The Court said that the act of asking a co-employee to punch-in her time card does not

20
“property” under context of constitutional protection provided in Sec. 1, Art. III. Any missteps constitute serious misconduct because (1) it was done in good faith being done for the

Page
committed by labor ought not to be visited w/ a consequence so severe. To warrant dismissal of benefit of company, (2) it was her first time to commit such infraction in five-year service
an employee on serious misconduct, improper behavior to be just cause for dismissal must be (a) in the company, and (3) company did not lose anything by reason thereof.
FOURTH CHARGE

Respondent denies it all, having no knowledge of failure to process ATM cards of co-
employees, considering that she was a company nurse.

The Court said that mere delay/failure to open an ATM account for nine employees is not
sufficient by itself to support a conclusion that the employee is guilty of gross and habitual
neglect of duties because (1) petitioner did not show that it is one of her primary duties as
nurse, and (2) petitioner failed to show that Rosalinda intentionally and purposely delayed
the opening of ATM accounts.

Gross negligence implies a want or absence of or failure to exercise slight care or diligence, or the
entire absence of care, evincing a thoughtless disregard of consequences without exerting any
effort to avoid them. To warrant removal from service, negligence should not merely be gross but
also habitual. Also, ground of willful breach by employee of trust must be founded on facts
established by employer which must clearly and convincingly be proved by substantial evidence.
In the instant case, all these requirements prescribed by law and jurisprudence are wanting in this
case.

DAMAGES

The gravamen of offense in sexual harassment is not violation of employee’s sexuality but abuse
of power by employer. There is no time period within which an employee is expected to complain
thru proper channels since the time may vary depending upon circumstances.

In the case at bar, private respondent finally came out with her employer’s sexual impositions
after four years. The dearth of quality employment has become a daily “monster” roaming the
streets that one may not be expected to give up one’s employment easily. This uneasiness in her
place of work thrived in an atmosphere of tolerance for four years and one could only imagine the
prevailing anxiety and resentment, if not bitterness, that beset her all that time.

The grant of moral damages requires the proof that claimant has suffered anxiety, sleepless
nights, besmirched reputation, and social humiliation by reason of the act complained of.
Exemplary damages are granted in addition to moral damages by way of example if the employer
acted in wanton, fraudulent, reckless, and oppressive or malevolent manner.

In this case, private respondent’s anxiety began when her plant manager showed an obvious
partiality for her which went out of hand when he started to make it clear that he would
terminate her services if she would not give in to his sexual advances. Thus, petitioner should be
made to pay her moral damages, plus exemplary damages, for the oppressive manner which
petitioners made in her dismissal from service and to serve as forewarning to lecherous officers
and employers.

All told, penalty of (a) dismissal and even (b) suspension while the case was pending investigation
is (a) too excessive and not proportionate for alleged infractions and (b) appears to be unjustified
and uncalled for.

21
Page
G.R. No. 120706 January 31, 2000 Yes, the Spouses Nicolas are entitled to the award of damages. The philosophy behind Art. 26 is
that the human personality must be exalted. Article 26 provides examples of acts that would
RODRIGO CONCEPCION, petitioner, tarnish human dignity but the ones listed are not an exclusive enumeration and does not preclude
vs. the court from giving damages by reason of analogous circumstances. The incident charged of
COURT OF APPEALS and SPS. NESTOR NICOLAS and ALLEM NICOLAS, respondents. petitioner was no less than an invasion on the right of respondent Nestor as a person. Damages
therefore are allowable for actions against a person's dignity, such as profane, insulting,
humiliating, scandalous or abusive language.
BELLOSILLO, J.:

FULL CASE:
FACTS: (PFR case ito. Yung may furniture business sa Baguio then inaccuse siya na kabit niya yung
business partner niya. Tapos nagka problema mag asawa sila, din a siya makatingin sa mga
kapitbahay niya. Very factual ang case to really support that vexation happened) Petitioner Rodrigo Concepcion assails in this petition for review on certiorari the Decision of the
Court of Appeals dated 12 December 1994 which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court
of Pasig City ordering him to pay respondent spouses Nestor Nicolas and Allem Nicolas the sums
Nestor Nicolas was then engaged in the business of supplying government agencies and private
of P50,000.00 for moral damages, P25,000.00 for exemplary damages and P10,000.00 for
entities with office equipment, appliances and other fixtures on a cash purchase or credit basis.
attorney's fees, plus the costs of suit.* Petitioner claims absence of factual and legal basis for the
Florence Concepcion joined this venture by contributing capital on condition that after her capital
award of damages.
investment was returned to her, any profit earned would be divided equally between her and
Nestor.
The courts a quo found that sometime in 1985 the spouses Nestor Nicolas and Allem Nicolas
resided at No. 51 M. Concepcion St., San Joaquin, Pasig City, in an apartment leased to them by
Spouses Nestor Nicolas and Allem Nicolas lived in an apartment. Florence “Bing” Concepcion also
the owner thereof, Florence "Bing" Concepcion, who also resided in the same compound where
lived in the same compound where the apartment was located.
the apartment was located. Nestor Nicolas was then engaged in the business of supplying
government agencies and private entities with office equipment, appliances and other fixtures on
Sometime in the second week of July 1985 Rodrigo Concepcion, brother of the deceased husband a cash purchase or credit basis. Florence Concepcion joined this venture by contributing capital on
of Florence, angrily accosted Nestor at the latter's apartment and accused him of conducting an condition that after her capital investment was returned to her, any profit earned would be
adulterous relationship with Florence. He shouted these allegations in front of the spouses’ house divided equally between her and Nestor.
which can be heard by the neighbors.
VEXING ACT OF RODRIGO
Nestor went with Rodrigo to clarify matters with the Concepcion family who allegedly heard of the
affair but none verified that they were the one who knew of the affair. Rodrigo even threatened
Sometime in the second week of July 1985 Rodrigo Concepcion, brother of the deceased husband
to kill Florence over the phone in the event that something happens to his sick mother if she hears
of Florence, angrily accosted Nestor at the latter's apartment and accused him of conducting an
of the affair.
adulterous relationship with Florence. He shouted, "Hoy Nestor, kabit ka ni Bing! . . . Binigyan ka
pa pala ni Bing Concepcion ng P100,000.00 para umakyat ng Baguio. Pagkaakyat mo at ng asawa
Nestor Nicolas felt extreme embarrassment and shame to the extent that he could no longer face mo doon ay bababa ka uli para magkasarilinan kayo ni Bing."
his neighbors. Florence Concepcion also ceased to do business with him by not contributing
capital anymore and this affected their business commitments. And the marital relationship of the
To clarify matters, Nestor went with Rodrigo, upon the latter's dare, to see some relatives of the
Spouses Nicolas turned sour because of doubts.
Concepcion family who allegedly knew about the relationship. However, those whom they were
able to see denied knowledge of the alleged affair. The same accusation was hurled by Rodrigo
Nestor demanded for a public apology and this was ignored by Rodrigo. The spouses then filed a against Nestor when the two (2) confronted Florence at the terrace of her residence. Florence
civil suit for damages. denied the imputations and Rodrigo backtracked saying that he just heard the rumor from a
relative. Thereafter, however, Rodrigo called Florence over the telephone reiterating his
Rodrigo contends that there is no legal basis in their claim because what he did was not a crime accusation and threatening her that should something happen to his sick mother, in case the latter
falling under the RPC and that Article 26 provides an enumeration of those that will give rise to a learned about the affair, he would kill Florence.
cause of action or damages.
RESULT OF ACT TO NESTOR’S LIFE
ISSUE: Whether or not the Spouses Nicolas have a valid claim for damages.
As a result of this incident, Nestor Nicolas felt extreme embarrassment and shame to the extent

22
RULING: that he could no longer face his neighbors. Florence Concepcion also ceased to do business with
him by not contributing capital anymore so much so that the business venture of the Nicolas

Page
spouses declined as they could no longer cope with their commitments to their clients and
customers. To make matters worse, Allem Nicolas started to doubt Nestor's fidelity resulting in factual findings may nonetheless be reversed if by the evidence on record or lack of it, it appears
frequent bickerings and quarrels during which Allem even expressed her desire to leave her that the trial court erred.6 In this respect, the Court is not generally inclined to review the findings
husband. Consequently, Nestor was forced to write Rodrigo demanding public apology and of fact of the Court of Appeals unless its findings are erroneous, absurd, speculative, conjectural,
payment of damages. Rodrigo pointedly ignored the demand, for which reason the Nicolas conflicting, tainted with grave abuse of discretion, or contrary to the findings culled by the trial
spouses filed a civil suit against him for damages. court of origin.7 This rule of course cannot be unqualifiedly applied to a case where the judge who
penned the decision was not the one who heard the case, because not having heard the
DEFENSE: testimonies himself, the judge would not be in a better position than the appellate courts to make
such determination.8
In his defense, Rodrigo denied that he maligned Nestor by accusing him publicly of being
Florence's lover. He reasoned out that he only desired to protect the name and reputation of the However, it is also axiomatic that the fact alone that the judge who heard the evidence was not
Concepcion family which was why he sought an appointment with Nestor through Florence's son the one who rendered the judgment but merely relied on the record of the case does not render
Roncali to ventilate his feelings about the matter. Initially, he discussed with Nestor certain his judgment erroneous or irregular. This is so even if the judge did not have the fullest
aspects of the joint venture in a friendly and amiable manner, and then only casually asked the opportunity to weigh the testimonies not having heard all the witnesses speak nor observed their
latter about his rumored affair with his sister-in-law. deportment and manner of testifying. Thus the Court generally will not find any misapprehension
of facts as it can be fairly assumed under the principle of regularity of performance of duties of
public officers that the transcripts of stenographic notes were thoroughly scrutinized and
In contesting the decision of the appellate court, petitioner Rodrigo Concepcion raises the
evaluated by the judge himself.
following issues: (a) whether there is basis in law for the award of damages to private
respondents, the Nicolas spouses; and, (b) whether there is basis to review the facts which are of
weight and influence but which were overlooked and misapplied by the respondent appellate Has sufficient reason then been laid before us by petitioner to engender doubt as to the factual
court. findings of the court a quo? We find none. A painstaking review of the evidence on record
convinces us not to disturb the judgment appealed from. The fact that the case was handled by
different judges brooks no consideration at all, for preponderant evidence consistent with their
RODRIGO’S ARGUMENT – CHARGES ARE WITHOUT LEGAL BASIS
claim for damages has been adduced by private respondents as to foreclose a reversal. Otherwise,
everytime a Judge who heard a case, wholly or partially, dies or lives the service, the case cannot
Petitioner argues that in awarding damages to private respondents, the Court of Appeals was be decided and a new trial will have to be conducted. That would be absurd; inconceivable.
without legal basis to justify its verdict. The alleged act imputed to him by respondent spouses
does not fall under Arts. 262 and 22193 of the Civil Code since it does not constitute libel,
According to petitioner, private respondents' evidence is inconsistent as to time, place and
slander, or any other form of defamation. Neither does it involve prying into the privacy of
persons who heard the alleged defamatory statement. We find this to be a gratuitous observation,
another's residence or meddling with or disturbing the private life or family relation of another.
for the testimonies of all the witnesses for the respondents are unanimous that the defamatory
Petitioner also insists that certain facts and circumstances of the case were manifestly overlooked,
incident happened in the afternoon at the front door of the apartment of the Nicolas spouses in
misunderstood or glossed over by respondent court which, if considered, would change the
the presence of some friends and neighbors, and later on, with the accusation being repeated in
verdict. Impugning the credibility of the witnesses for private respondents and the manner by
the presence of Florence, at the terrace of her house. That this finding appears to be in conflict
which the testimonial evidence was analyzed and evaluated by the trial court, petitioner criticized
with the allegation in the complaint as to the time of the incident bears no momentous
the appellate court for not taking into account the fact that the trial judge who penned the
significance since an allegation in a pleading is not evidence; it is a declaration that has to be
decision was in no position to observe first-hand the demeanor of the witnesses of respondent
proved by evidence. If evidence contrary to the allegation is presented, such evidence controls,
spouses as he was not the original judge who heard the case. Thus, his decision rendered was
not the allegation in the pleading itself, although admittedly it may dent the credibility of the
flawed.
witnesses. But not in the instant case.

The Court has ruled often enough that its jurisdiction in a petition for review on certiorari under
It is also argued by petitioner that private respondents failed to present as witnesses the persons
Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court is limited to reviewing only errors of law, not of fact, unless
they named as eyewitnesses to the incident and that they presented instead one Romeo Villaruel
the factual findings complained of are devoid of support by the evidence on record or the assailed
who was not named as a possible witness during the pre-trial proceedings. Charging that
judgment is based on misapprehension of facts.4The reason behind this is that the Supreme Court
Villaruel's testimony is not credible and should never have been accorded any weight at all,
respects the findings of the trial court on the issue of credibility of witnesses, considering that it is
petitioner capitalizes on the fact that a great distance separates Villaruel's residence and that of
in a better position to decide the question, having heard the witnesses themselves and observed
private respondents as reflected in their house numbers, the former's number being No. 223 M.
their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial. 5 Thus it accords the highest respect,
Concepcion St., while that of the Nicolas spouses, No. 51 along the same street. This being so,
even finality, to the evaluation made by the lower court of the testimonies of the witnesses
petitioner concludes, Villaruel could not have witnessed the ugly confrontation between Rodrigo
presented before it.
and Nestor. It appears however from Villaruel's testimony that at the time of the incident

23
complained of, he was staying in an apartment inside the compound adjacent to that of the
The Court is also aware of the long settled rule that when the issue is on the credibility of Nicolas spouses. Whether his apartment was then numbered 223 is not stated. What is definite

Page
witnesses, appellate courts will not generally disturb the findings of the trial court; however, its and clear is his statement that he and Nestor Nicolas were neighbors on 14 July 1985.
There are other inconsistencies pointed out by petitioner in the testimonial evidence of private Testifying that until that very afternoon of his meeting with Nestor he never knew respondent,
respondents but these are not of such significance as to alter the finding of facts of the lower had never seen him before, and was unaware of his business partnership with Florence, his
court. Minor inconsistencies even guarantee truthfulness and candor, for they erase any suspicion subsequent declarations on the witness stand however belie this lack of knowledge about the
of a rehearsed testimony.9 Inconsistencies in the testimonies of witnesses with on minor details business venture for in that alleged encounter he asked Nestor how the business was going, what
and collateral matters do not affect the substance of their testimonies.10 were the collection problems, and how was the money being spent. He even knew that the name
of the business, Floral Enterprises, was coined by combining the first syllables of the name
NATURE OF ARTICLE 26 Florence and Allem, the name of Nestor's wife. He said that he casually asked Nestor about the
rumor between him and Florence which Nestor denied. Not content with such denial, he dared
Nestor to go with him to speak to his relatives who were the source of his information. Nestor
All told, these factual findings provide enough basis in law for the award of damages by the Court
went with him and those they were able to talk to denied the rumor.
of Appeals in favor of respondents. We reject petitioner's posture that no legal provision supports
such award, the incident complained of neither falling under Art. 2219 nor Art. 26 of the Civil
Code. It does not need further elucidation that the incident charged of petitioner was no less than REITERATION OF THE VEXING EVENT
an invasion on the right of respondent Nestor as a person. The philosophy behind Art. 26
underscores the necessity for its inclusion in our civil law. The Code Commission stressed in no We cannot help noting this inordinate interest of petitioner to know the truth about the rumor
uncertain terms that the human personality must be exalted. The sacredness of human and why he was not satisfied with the separate denials made by Florence and Nestor. He had to
personality is a concomitant consideration of every plan for human amelioration. The touchstone confront Nestor face to face, invade the latter's privacy and hurl defamatory words at him in the
of every system of law, of the culture and civilization of every country, is how far it dignifies man. presence of his wife and children, neighbors and friends, accusing him — a married man — of
If the statutes insufficiently protect a person from being unjustly humiliated, in short, if human having an adulterous relationship with Florence. This definitely caused private respondent much
personality is not exalted — then the laws are indeed defective.11 Thus, under this article, the shame and embarrassment that he could no longer show himself in his neighborhood without
rights of persons are amply protected, and damages are provided for violations of a person's feeling distraught and debased. This brought dissension and distrust in his family where before
dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind. there was none. This is why a few days after the incident, he communicated with petitioner
demanding public apology and payment of damages, which petitioner ignored.
ARTICLE 26 IS NOT AN EXCLUSIVE ENUMERATION
If indeed the confrontation as described by private respondents did not actually happen, then
It is petitioner's position that the act imputed to him does not constitute any of those enumerated there would have been no cause or motive at all for them to consult with their lawyer,
in Arts 26 and 2219. In this respect, the law is clear. The violations mentioned in the codal immediately demand an apology, and not obtaining a response from petitioner, file an action for
provisions are not exclusive but are merely examples and do not preclude other similar or damages against the latter. That they decided to go to court to seek redress bespeaks of the
analogous acts. Damages therefore are allowable for actions against a person's dignity, such as validity of their claim. On the other hand, it is interesting to note that while explaining at great
profane, insulting, humiliating, scandalous or abusive language.12 Under Art. 2217 of the Civil length why Florence Concepcion testified against him, petitioner never advanced any reason why
Code, moral damages which include physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, the Nicolas spouses, persons he never knew and with whom he had no dealings in the past, would
besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury, sue him for damages. It also has not escaped our attention that, faced with a lawsuit by private
although incapable of pecuniary computation, may be recovered if they are the proximate result respondents, petitioner sent his lawyer, a certain Atty. Causapin, to talk not to the Nicolas spouses
of the defendant's wrongful act or omission. but to Florence, asking her not to be involved in the case, otherwise her name would be messily
dragged into it. Quite succinctly, Florence told the lawyer that it was not for her to decide and that
she could not do anything about it as she was not a party to the court case.
MORAL DAMAGES

WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing premises, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals
There is no question that private respondent Nestor Nicolas suffered mental anguish,
affirming the judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Br. 167, holding Rodrigo
besmirched reputation, wounded feelings and social humiliation as a proximate result of
Concepcion liable to the spouses Nestor Nicolas and Allem Nicolas for F50,000.00 as moral
petitioner's abusive, scandalous and insulting language. Petitioner attempted to exculpate
damages, P25,000.00 for exemplary damages, P10,000.00 for attorney's fees, plus costs of suit, is
himself by claiming that he made an appointment to see Nestor through a nephew, Roncali, the
AFFIRMED.
son of Florence, so he could talk with Nestor to find out the truth about his rumored illicit
relationship with Florence. He said that he wanted to protect his nephews and nieces and the
name of his late brother (Florence's husband).13 How he could be convinced by some way other SO ORDERED.
than a denial by Nestor, and how he would protect his nephews and nieces and his family's name
if the rumor were true, he did not say. Petitioner admitted that he had already talked with
Florence herself over the telephone about the issue, with the latter vehemently denying the

24
alleged immoral relationship. Yet, he could not let the matter rest on the strength of the denial
of his sister-in-law. He had to go and confront Nestor, even in public, to the latter's humiliation.

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G.R. No. 166803 October 11, 2012 DECISION

CREWLINK, INC. and/or GULF MARINE SERVICES, Petitioners, PERALTA, J.:


vs.
EDITHA TERINGTERING, for her behalf and in behalf of minor EIMAEREACH ROSE DE GARCIA This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking the reversal
TERINGTERING, Respondents. of the Decision1dated July H, 2004 and Resolution2 dated January 17, 2005 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 79966, setting aside the Resolutions dated February 20, 2003 3 and July 31,
DIGEST 20034 of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), which affirmed in toto the
Decision5 dated February 12, 2002 of the Labor Arbiter.
FACTS:
 Editha Teringtering, widow of Jacinto, filed a complaint against Crewlink and its foreign The facts, as culled from the records, are as follows:
principal Gulf Marine Services for payment of death benefits for the death of her
husband. Respondent Editha Teringtering (Teringtering), spouse of deceased Jacinto Teringtering (Jacinto),
 Jacinto was an OFW with an overseas employment contract with Crewlink for and in and in behalf of her minor child, filed a complaint against petitioner Crewlink, Inc. (Crewlink), and
behalf of the foreign principal GMS. Employed as an Oilerin a vessel in UAE its foreign principal Gulf Marine Services for the payment of death benefits, benefit for minor
 Jacinto died because of drowning after having jumped from the vessel into the sea. child, burial assistance, damages and attorney's fees.
 Employer claims that Jacinto’s heirs are not entitled to death benefits since he died of
suicide. That despite his non-entitlement, the company still gave the wife burial Respondent alleged that her husband Jacinto entered into an overseas employment contract with
assistance. Crewlink, Inc. for and in behalf of its foreign principal Gulf Marine Services, the details of which
 NLRC dismissed the claim but CA reversed. Editha appealed to SC. are as follows:
 CREWLINK CLAIMS: That Jacinto's death is not compensable, considering that the latter's
death resulted from his willful act. It argued that the rule that the employer becomes
liable once it is established that the seaman died during the effectivity of his Duration of Contract : 12 months
employment contract is not absolute. The employer may be exempt from liability if he Position : Oiler
can successfully prove that the seaman's death was caused by an injury directly Basic Monthly Salary : US $385.00
attributable to his deliberate or willful act, as in this case. Hours of Work : 48 hrs/wk
 Editha claims: Jacinto was suffering from a mental disorder and his jumping off the Overtime : US $115.50
vessel was not deliberate. Vacation Leave with pay : 1 mo. leave after 12 months
Point of Hire : Manila, Philippines
ISSUE: WON Editha may claim death benefits from Crewlink
RULING: NO. Teringtering claimed that before her husband was employed, he was subjected to a pre-
employment medical examination wherein he was pronounced as "fit to work." Thus, her husband
joined his vessel of assignment and performed his duties as Oiler.
 Section C, Part II of the POEA "Standard Employment Contract Governing the
Employment of All Filipino Seamen On-Board Ocean-Going Vessels" (POEA-SEC ):
6. No compensation shall be payable in respect of any injury, incapacity, disability or On or about April 18, 2001, a death certificate was issued by the Ministry of Health of the United
death resulting from a willful act on his own life by the seaman, provided, however, that Arab Emirates wherein it was stated that Jacinto died on April 9, 2001 due to asphyxia of
the employer can prove that such injury, incapacity, disability or death is directly drowning. Later on, an embalming and sealing certificate was issued after which the remains of
attributable to him. Jacinto was brought back to the Philippines.
 As found by the Labor Arbiter, Jacinto's jumping into the sea was not an accident but
was deliberately done. Indeed, Jacinto jumped off twice into the sea and it was on his After learning of the death of Jacinto, respondent claimed from petitioners the payment of death
second attempt that caused his death. compensation in the amount of US$50,000.00 and burial expenses in the amount of US$1,000.00,
 In order to avail of death benefits, the death of the employee should occur during the as well as additional death compensation in the amount of US$7,000.00, for the minor Eimaereach
effectivity of the employment contract. The death of a seaman during the term of Rose de Gracia Teringtering but was refused without any valid cause. Hence, a complaint was filed
employment makes the employer liable to his heirs for death compensation benefits. against the petitioners.
This rule, however, is not absolute. The employer may be exempt from liability if it can
successfully prove that the seaman's death was caused by an injury directly attributable Respondent claimed that in order for her husband's death to be compensable it is enough that he

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to his deliberate or willful act. Moreover, Editha DID NOT ADDUCE PROOF of Jacinto’s died during the term of his contract and while still on board. Respondent asserted that Jacinto was
mental disorder. suffering from a psychotic disorder, or Mood Disorder Bipolar Type, which resulted to his jumping

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into the sea and his eventual death. Respondent further asserted that her husband’s death was Teringtering then appealed before the NLRC which affirmed in toto the ruling of the Labor Arbiter.
not deliberate and not of his own will, but was a result of a mental disorder, thus, compensable.
Unsatisfied, Teringtering filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 before the Court of Appeals
For its part, petitioner Crewlink alleged that sometime on April 9, 2001, around 8:20 p.m. while at and sought the nullification of the NLRC Resolution, dated February 20, 2003, which affirmed the
Nasr Oilfield, the late Jacinto Teringtering suddenly jumped into the sea, but the second engineer Labor Arbiter’s Decision dated February 12, 2002.
was able to recover him. Because of said incident, one personnel was directed to watch Jacinto.
On July 8, 2004, the CA reversed and set aside the assailed Resolution of the NLRC, the dispositive
However, around 10:30 p.m., while the boat dropped anchor south of Nasr Oilfield and went on portion of which reads:
standby, Jacinto jumped off the boat again. Around 11:00 p.m., the A/B watchman reported that
Jacinto was recovered but despite efforts to revive him, he was already dead from drowning. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Resolution dated February 20, 2003 is hereby REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. Respondents Crewlink, Inc. and Gulf Marine Services are hereby DECLARED jointly
Petitioner asserted that Teringtering was not entitled to the benefits being claimed, because and severally liable and, accordingly, are directed to pay deceased Jacinto Teringtering's
Jacinto committed suicide. Despite the non-entitlement, however, Teringtering was even given beneficiaries, namely respondent Editha Teringtering and her daughter Eimaereach Rose de
burial assistance in the amount of P35,800.00 and P13,273.00 on May 21, 2001. She likewise Gracia, the Philippine Currency equivalent to US$50,000.00, and an additional amount of
received the amount of US$792.51 representing donations from the GMS staff and crew. US$7,000, both at the exchange rate prevailing at the time of payment.
Petitioner likewise argued that Teringtering is not entitled to moral and exemplary damages, SO ORDERED.7
because petitioner had nothing to do with her late husband's untimely demise as the same was
due to his own doing. Thus, before this Court, Crewlink, Inc. and/or Gulf Marine Services, as petitioner, raised the
following issues:
As part of the record, respondent submitted Ship Captain Oscar C. Morado's report on the
incident, which we quote: I WHETHER A SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION OF CERTIORARI INCLUDES CORRECTION OF THE NLRC'S
EVALUATION OF THE EVIDENCE AND FACTUAL FINDINGS BASED THEREON OR CORRECTION OF
At arround 2000 hrs. M/V Raja 3404 still underway to Nasr Complex w/ 1 passenger. 2018 hrs. ERRORS OF FACTS IN THE JUDGMENT OF THE NLRC;
A/side Nasr Complex boatlanding to drop 1 passenger At 2020 hrs. Mr. Jacinto Tering Tering
suddenly jump to the sea, while the boat cast off from Nasr Complex boatlanding. And the second II WHETHER THE NEGLIGENT ACTS OF SUPPOSEDLY FAILING TO TAKE SUCH MEASURES FOR THE
Engr. Mr. Sudarto jump and recover Mr. Jacinto Tering Tering the oiler. COMFORT AND SAFETY OF THE DECEASED SEAFARER, AMONG OTHERS, WHICH WERE ESPECIALLY
EMPHASIZED IN THE ASSAILED CA DECISION AND WHICH ACTUALLY REFERRED TO ACTS
2040 hrs. Dropped anchor south of Nasr oilfield and standby. And that time informed to GMS COMMITTED BY THE SHIPMATES OF THE DECEASED, BUT POSITIVELY ATTRIBUTED TO
personnel about the accident, And we informed to A/B on duty to watch Mr. Jacinto Tering Tering. PETITIONERS AND FOR WHICH THE LATTER ARE NOW BEING HELD LIABLE – ARE IN THE NATURE
2230 hrs. The A/B watch man informed that Mr. Jacinto Tering Tering jump again to the sea. And OF AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SOURCE OF OBLIGATION THAT IS PREDICATED ON QUASI-DELICT OR
that time the wind NW 10-14 kts. and strong current. And the second Engr. jump to the sea with TORT AS PROVIDED UNDER OUR CIVIL LAWS AND, THUS, HAS NO REFERENCE TO OUR LABOR
life ring to recover Mr. Jacinto Tering Tering. 2300 hrs. We recovered Mr. Jacinto Tering Tering CODE;
onboard the vessel and apply Respiration Kiss of life Mouth to Mouth, And proceed to Nasr
Complex to take doctor. III WHETHER THE DEATH OF SEAFARER IN THIS CASE WAS A RESULT OF A DELIBERATE/WILLFUL
ACT ON HIS OWN LIFE, AN ACT DIRECTLY ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE DECEASED, AND NO OTHER, AS
2320 hrs. A/side Nasr Complex boatlanding and the doctor on-board to check the patient. 2330 FOUND AND SO RULED BY THE LABOR ARBITER AND NLRC, AS TO RENDER HIS DEATH NOT
hrs. As per Nasr Complex Doctor the patient was already dead. Then informed to GMS personnel COMPENSABLE.
about the accident.
Petitioner claimed that Jacinto's death is not compensable, considering that the latter's death
I Captain Oscar C. Morado certify this report true and correct with the best of my knowledge and resulted from his willful act. It argued that the rule that the employer becomes liable once it is
reserve the right, modify, ratify and/or enlarge this statement at any time and place, According to established that the seaman died during the effectivity of his employment contract is not
the law.6 absolute. The employer may be exempt from liability if he can successfully prove that the
seaman's death was caused by an injury directly attributable to his deliberate or willful act, as in
In a Decision dated February 12, 2002, the Labor Arbiter, after hearing, dismissed the case for lack this case.
of merit. The Labor Arbiter held that, while it is true that Jacinto Teringtering died during the

26
effectivity of his contract of employment and that he died of asphyxiation, nevertheless, his death We find merit in the petition.
was the result of his deliberate or intentional jumping into the sea. Thus, his death was directly

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attributable to him.
In a petition for review on certiorari, our jurisdiction is limited to reviewing errors of law in the her bare allegation that her husband was suffering from a mental disorder, no evidence, witness,
absence of any showing that the factual findings complained of are devoid of support in the or any medical report was given to support her claim of Jacinto's insanity. The record does not
records or are glaringly erroneous. We are not a trier of facts, and this applies with greater force in even show when the alleged insanity of Jacinto did start. Homesickness and/or family problems
labor cases. Findings of fact of administrative agencies and quasi-judicial bodies, which have may result to depression, but the same does not necessarily equate to mental disorder. The issue
acquired expertise because their jurisdiction is confined to specific matters, are generally of insanity is a question of fact; for insanity is a condition of the mind not susceptible of the usual
accorded not only great respect but even finality. They are binding upon this Court unless there is means of proof. As no man would know what goes on in the mind of another, the state or
a showing of grave abuse of discretion or where it is clearly shown that they were arrived at condition of a person’s mind can only be measured and judged by his behavior. Establishing the
arbitrarily or in utter disregard of the evidence on record. This case is no different. insanity of an accused requires opinion testimony which may be given by a witness who is
intimately acquainted with the person claimed to be insane, or who has rational basis to conclude
As found by the Labor Arbiter, Jacinto's jumping into the sea was not an accident but was that a person was insane based on the witness’ own perception of the person, or who is qualified
deliberately done. Indeed, Jacinto jumped off twice into the sea and it was on his second attempt as an expert, such as a psychiatrist.8 No such evidence was presented to support respondent's
that caused his death. The accident report of Captain Oscar Morado narrated in detail the claim.
circumstances that led to Jacinto's death. The circumstances of Jacinto's actions before and at the
time of his death were likewise entered in the Chief Officer's Log Book and were attested to by The Court commiserates with the respondent, but absent substantial evidence from which
Captain Morado before the Philippine Embassy. Even the A/B personnel, Ronald Arroga, who was reasonable basis for the grant of benefits prayed for can be drawn, the Court is left with no choice
tasked to watch over Jacinto after his first attempt of committing suicide, testified that despite his but to deny her petition, lest an injustice be caused to the employer. Otherwise slated, while it is
efforts to prevent Jacinto from jumping again overboard, Jacinto was determined and even true that labor contracts are impressed with public interest and the provisions of the POEA-SEC
shoved him and jumped anew which eventually caused his death. must be construed logically and liberally in favor of Filipino seamen in the pursuit of their
employment on board ocean-going vessels, still the rule is that justice is in every case for the
Considering the foregoing, we do not find any reason to discredit the evidence presented as well deserving, to be dispensed with in the light of established facts, the applicable law, and existing
as the findings of the Labor Arbiter. Settled is the rule that factual findings of labor officials, who jurisprudence.9
are deemed to have acquired expertise in matters within their jurisdiction, are generally accorded
not only respect but even finality by the courts when supported by substantial evidence, i.e., the WHEREFORE, the petition Is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a 79966, dated July 8, 2004, and its January 17, 2005 Resolution denying the motion for
conclusion. More so, when there is no showing that said findings were arrived at arbitrarily or in reconsideration are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The February 20, 2003 and July 31, 2003
disregard of the evidence on record. Resolutions of the National Labor Relations Commission in NLRC NCR OFW Case No. (M) 01-06-
1144-00, affirming the February 12, 2002 Decision of the Labor Arbiter, are hereby REINSTATED
Likewise, the provisions of the Code of Commerce are certainly inapplicable in this case. For and AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED.
precisely, the issue for resolution here is the obligation of the employer to its employee should the
latter die during the term of his employment. The relationship between the petitioner and Jacinto
is one based on contract of employment and not one of contract of carriage.

Under No. 6, Section C, Part II of the POEA "Standard Employment Contract Governing the
Employment of All Filipino Seamen On-Board Ocean-Going Vessels" (POEA-SEC), it is provided
that:

6. No compensation shall be payable in respect of any injury, incapacity, disability or death


resulting from a willful act on his own life by the seaman, provided, however, that the employer
can prove that such injury, incapacity, disability or death is directly attributable to him. (Emphasis
ours)

Indeed, in order to avail of death benefits, the death of the employee should occur during the
effectivity of the employment contract. The death of a seaman during the term of employment
makes the employer liable to his heirs for death compensation benefits. This rule, however, is not
absolute. The employer may be exempt from liability if it can successfully prove that the seaman's
death was caused by an injury directly attributable to his deliberate or willful act.

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In the instant case, petitioner was able to substantially prove that Jacinto's death was attributable

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to his deliberate act of killing himself by jumping into the sea. Meanwhile, respondent, other than
G.R. No. 74431 November 6, 1989 According to Manresa the obligation imposed by Article 2183 of the Civil Code is not
based on the negligence or on the presumed lack of vigilance of the possessor or user of
PURITA MIRANDA VESTIL and AGUSTIN VESTIL, petitioners, the animal causing the damage. It is based on natural equity and on the principle of
vs. social interest that he who possesses animals for his utility, pleasure or service must
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, DAVID UY and TERESITA UY, respondents. answer for the damage which such animal may cause.

FACTS: Full Case:


 Little Theness Tan Uy was bitten by a dog while she was playing with a child of the petitioners CRUZ, J.:
in the house of the late Vicente Miranda, the father of Purita Vestil
 She was rushed to the Cebu General Hospital, where she was treated for "multiple lacerated
wounds on the forehead" and administered an anti-rabies vaccine by Dr. Antonio Tautjo. She Little Theness Tan Uy was dead at the age of three. Her parents said she died because she was
was discharged after nine days but was readmitted one week later due to "vomiting of bitten by a dog of the petitioners, but the latter denied this, claiming they had nothing to do with
saliva." the dog. The Uys sued the Vestils, who were sustained by the trial court. On appeal, the decision
 The following day, the child died due to broncho-pneumonia of the court a quo was reversed in favor of the Uys. The Vestils are now before us. They ask us to
 Seven months later, the Uys sued for damages, alleging that the Vestils were liable to them as set aside the judgment of the respondent court and to reinstate that of the trial court.
the possessors of "Andoy," the dog that bit and eventually killed their daughter.
 The Vestils rejected the charge, insisting that the dog belonged to the deceased Vicente On July 29, 1915, Theness was bitten by a dog while she was playing with a child of the petitioners
Miranda, that it was a tame animal, and that in any case no one had witnessed it bite in the house of the late Vicente Miranda, the father of Purita Vestil, at F. Ramos Street in Cebu
Theness. City. She was rushed to the Cebu General Hospital, where she was treated for "multiple lacerated
 CFI: ruled in favor of Vestils wounds on the forehead" 1 and administered an anti-rabies vaccine by Dr. Antonio Tautjo. She
 CA: reversed in favor of Uys was discharged after nine days but was readmitted one week later due to "vomiting of
 Purita Vestil appealed in SC
saliva." 2 The following day, on August 15, 1975, the child died. The cause of death was certified as
broncho-pneumonia. 3
ISSUE:
Seven months later, the Uys sued for damages, alleging that the Vestils were liable to them as the
WON the petitioners are liable under Art. 2183 possessors of "Andoy," the dog that bit and eventually killed their daughter. The Vestils rejected
HELD: YES the charge, insisting that the dog belonged to the deceased Vicente Miranda, that it was a tame
animal, and that in any case no one had witnessed it bite Theness. After trial, Judge Jose R.
Purita Vestil insists that: Ramolete of the Court of First Instance of Cebu sustained the defendants and dismissed the
complaint. 4
 she is not the owner of the house or of the dog left by her father as his estate has not yet
been partitioned and there are other heirs to the property.
The respondent court arrived at a different conclusion when the case was appealed. 5 It found that
SC: What must be determined is the possession of the dog that admittedly was staying
the Vestils were in possession of the house and the dog and so should be responsible under Article
in the house in question, regardless of the ownership of the dog or of the house. In this
2183 of the Civil Code for the injuries caused by the dog. It also held that the child had died as a
case, it was proved that the petitioners was in possession of the house and the dog w/c
result of the dog bites and not for causes independent thereof as submitted by the appellees.
bit the child.
Accordingly, the Vestils were ordered to pay the Uys damages in the amount of P30,000.00 for the
 that they could not be expected to exercise remote control of the dog is not acceptable. death of Theness, P12,000.00 for medical and hospitalization expenses, and P2,000.00 as
SC: Article 2183 of the Civil Code holds the possessor liable even if the animal should attorney's fees.
"escape or be lost" and so be removed from his control. And it does not matter either
that, as the petitioners also contend, the dog was tame and was merely provoked by the In the proceedings now before us, Purita Vestil insists that she is not the owner of the house or of
child into biting her. The law does not speak only of vicious animals but covers even the dog left by her father as his estate has not yet been partitioned and there are other heirs to
tame ones as long as they cause injury. As for the alleged provocation, the petitioners the property. Pursuing the logic of the Uys, she claims, even her sister living in Canada would be

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forget that Theness was only three years old at the time she was attacked and can held responsible for the acts of the dog simply because she is one of Miranda's heirs. However,
hardly be faulted for whatever she might have done to the animal. that is hardly the point. What must be determined is the possession of the dog that admittedly

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was staying in the house in question, regardless of the ownership of the dog or of the house.
Article 2183 reads as follows: when the incident in question occurred. It is also noteworthy that the petitioners offered to assist
the Uys with their hospitalization expenses although Purita said she knew them only casually. 16
The possessor of an animal or whoever may make use of the same is
responsible for the damage which it may cause, although it may escape or be
lost. 'This responsibility shall cease only in case the damages should come The caused of death was proved to be because of the rabies
from force majeure from the fault of the person who has suffered damage.
The petitioners also argue that even assuming that they were the possessors of the dog that bit
6
Thus, in Afialda v. Hisole, a person hired as caretaker of a carabao gored him to death and his Theness there was no clear showing that she died as a result thereof. On the contrary, the death
heirs thereupon sued the owner of the animal for damages. The complaint was dismissed on the certificate 17 declared that she died of broncho-pneumonia, which had nothing to do with the dog
ground that it was the caretaker's duty to prevent the carabao from causing injury to any one, bites for which she had been previously hospitalized. The Court need not involve itself in an
including himself. extended scientific discussion of the causal connection between the dog bites and the certified
cause of death except to note that, first, Theness developed hydrophobia, a symptom of rabies, as
a result of the dog bites, and second, that asphyxia broncho-pneumonia, which ultimately caused
her death, was a complication of rabies. That Theness became afraid of water after she was bitten
Testimony of Vestil is proved by the court as fabricated by the dog is established by the following testimony of Dr. Tautjo:
Purita Vestil's testimony that she was not in possession of Miranda's house is hardly credible. She COURT: I think there was mention of rabies in the report in the second admission?
said that the occupants of the house left by her father were related to him ("one way or the A: Now, the child was continuously vomiting just before I referred to Dr. Co earlier in the
other") and maintained themselves out of a common fund or by some kind of arrangement (on morning and then the father, because the child was asking for water, the father tried to give the
which, however, she did not elaborate ). 7 She mentioned as many as ten of such relatives who child water and this child went under the bed, she did not like to drink the water and there was
had stayed in the house at one time or another although they did not appear to be close kin. 8 She fright in her eyeballs. For this reason, because I was in danger there was rabies, I called Dr. Co.
at least implied that they did not pay any rent, presumably because of their relation with Vicente Q: In other words, the child had hydrophobia?
Miranda notwithstanding that she herself did not seem to know them very well. A: Yes, sir. 18
There is contrary evidence that the occupants of the house, were boarders (or more of boarders As for the link between rabies and broncho-pneumonia, the doctor had the following to say under
than relatives) who paid the petitioners for providing them with meals and accommodations. It oath:
also appears that Purita Vestil had hired a maid, Dolores Jumao-as, who did the cooking and A: Now, as 1 said before, broncho-pneumonia can result from physical, chemical and bacterial
cleaning in the said house for its occupants. 9 Her mother, Pacita, who was a nursemaid of Purita means. ... It can be the result of infection, now, so if you have any other disease which can
herself, categorically declared that the petitioners were maintaining boarders in the house where lower your resistance you can also get pneumonia.
Theness was bitten by a dog.10 Another witness, Marcial Lao, testified that he was indeed a xxx xxx xxx
boarder and that the Vestils were maintaining the house for business purposes. 11 And although Q: Would you say that a person who has rabies may die of complication which is broncho-
Purita denied paying the water bills for the house, the private respondents submitted pneumonia?
documentary evidence of her application for water connection with the Cebu Water District, A: Yes.
which strongly suggested that she was administering the house in question. 12 Q: For the record, I am manifesting that this book shown the witness is know as CURRENT
DIANOSIS & TREATMENT, 1968 by Henry Brainerd, Sheldon Margen and Milton Chaton. Now, I
invite your attention, doctor, to page 751 of this book under the title "Rabies." There is on this
page, "Prognosis" as a result of rabies and it says: Once the symptoms, have appeared death
Though Petitioner was not the owner, they were the one in possession of the property at the inevitably occurs after 2-3 days as a result of cardiac or respiratory failure or generalized
time of the incident paralysis. After a positive diagnosis of rabies or after a bite by a suspected animal if the animal
cannot be observed or if the bite is on the head, give rabies vaccine (duck embryo). Do you
While it is true that she is not really the owner of the house, which was still part of Vicente
believe in this statement?
Miranda's estate, there is no doubt that she and her husband were its possessors at the time of
A: Yes.
the incident in question. She was the only heir residing in Cebu City and the most logical person to
Q: Would you say therefore that persons who have rabies may die of respiratory failure which
take care of the property, which was only six kilometers from her own house. 13 Moreover, there
leave in the form of bronco-pneumonia?
is evidence showing that she and her family regularly went to the house, once or twice weekly,
A: Broncho-pneumonia can be a complication of rabies. 19
according to at least one witness, 14 and used it virtually as a second house. Interestingly, her own

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daughter was playing in the house with Theness when the little girl was bitten by the dog. 15 The
dog itself remained in the house even after the death of Vicente Miranda in 1973 and until 1975, SC ruling

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On the strength of the foregoing testimony, the Court finds that the link between the dog bites VELASCO VS. MANILA ELECTRIC CO
and the certified cause of death has beep satisfactorily established. We also reiterate our ruling
in Sison v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, 20 that the death certificate is not conclusive FACTS:
proof of the cause of death but only of the fact of death. Indeed, the evidence of the child's Appellant Pedro Velasco bought 3 adjoining lots in Diliman, Quezon City. Appellant sold 2 lots to
hydrophobia is sufficient to convince us that she died because she was bitten by the dog even if Meralco and retained the third lot where he built his house.
the death certificate stated a different cause of death. The petitioner's contention that they could
not be expected to exercise remote control of the dog is not acceptable. In fact, Article 2183 of Appellee Meralco started the construction of the sub-station in question and finished it without
the Civil Code holds the possessor liable even if the animal should "escape or be lost" and so be prior building permit or authority from the Public Service Commission. The facility reduces high
removed from his control. And it does not matter either that, as the petitioners also contend, the voltage electricity to a current suitable for distribution to the company's consumers, numbering
dog was tame and was merely provoked by the child into biting her. The law does not speak only not less than 8,500 residential homes, over 300 commercial establishments and about 30
of vicious animals but covers even tame ones as long as they cause injury. As for the alleged industries. The substation has a rated capacity of "2 transformers at 5000 Kva each or a total of
provocation, the petitioners forget that Theness was only three years old at the time she was 10,000 Kva without fan cooling. It was constructed at a distance of 10 to 20 meters from the
attacked and can hardly be faulted for whatever she might have done to the animal. appellant's house.

The company built a stone and cement wall at the sides along the streets but along the side
It is worth observing that the above defenses of the petitioners are an implied rejection of their
adjoining the appellant's property it put up a sawale wall but later changed it to an interlink wire
original posture that there was no proof that it was the dog in their father's house that bit
fence.
Theness.
It is undisputed that a sound unceasingly emanates from the substation.
According to Manresa the obligation imposed by Article 2183 of the Civil Code is not based on the
negligence or on the presumed lack of vigilance of the possessor or user of the animal causing the Plaintiff-appellant Velasco contends that the sound constitutes an actionable nuisance under
damage. It is based on natural equity and on the principle of social interest that he who possesses Article 694 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, reading as follows:
animals for his utility, pleasure or service must answer for the damage which such animal may A nuisance is any act, omission, establishment, business condition of property or anything
cause. 21 else which:
(1) Injuries or endangers the health or safety of others; or
We sustain the findings of the Court of Appeals and approve the monetary awards except only as (2) Annoys or offends the senses;
to the medical and hospitalization expenses, which are reduced to P2,026.69, as prayed for in the
complaint. While there is no recompense that can bring back to the private respondents the child
they have lost, their pain should at least be assuaged by the civil damages to which they are because subjection to the sound since 1954 had disturbed the concentration and sleep of said
entitled. appellant, and impaired his health and lowered the value of his property. Wherefore, he sought a
judicial decree for the abatement of the nuisance and asked that he be declared entitled to
WHEREFORE, the challenged decision is AFFIRMED as above modified. The petition is DENIED, with recover compensatory, moral and other damages under Article 2202
costs against the petitioners. It is so ordered. TC dismissed the claim of plaintiff.

ISSUE: Whether the sound constitutes an actionable nuisance or not.

RULING: Actionable Nuisance. The general rule is that everyone is bound to bear the habitual or
customary inconveniences that result from the proximity of others, and so long as this level is not
surpassed, he may not complain against them. But if the prejudice exceeds the inconveniences
that such proximity habitually brings, the neighbor who causes such disturbance is held
responsible for the resulting damage, being guilty of causing nuisance.

Basic principles laid down in Tortorella vs. Traiser & Co., Inc (US Case)

A noise may constitute an actionable nuisance, but it must be a noise which affects injuriously the

30
health or comfort of ordinary people in the vicinity to an unreasonable extent. Injury to a
particular person in a peculiar position or of specially sensitive characteristics will not render the

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noise an actionable nuisance. The test is whether rights of property of health or of comfort are so
injuriously affected by the noise in question that the sufferer is subjected to a loss which goes
beyond the reasonable limit imposed upon him by the condition of living, or of holding property, REYES, its Vice-Presidents; and ANASTACIO A. AGAN, City Engineer of Quezon City, defendants-
in a particular locality in fact devoted to uses which involve the emission of noise although appellees.
ordinary care is taken to confine it within reasonable bounds; or in the vicinity of property of
another owner who though creating a noise is acting with reasonable regard for the rights of REYES, J.B.L., J.:
those affected by it. xx
The present case is direct appeal (prior to Republic Act 5440) by the herein plaintiff-appellant,
With particular reference to noise emanating from electrical machinery and appliances, the court,
Pedro J. Velasco (petitioner in L-14035; respondent in L-13992) * from the decision of the Court of
in Kentucky & West Virginia Power Co. v. Anderson: First Instance of Rizal, Quezon City Branch, in its Civil Case No. 1355, absolving the defendants
from a complaint for the abatement of the sub-station as a nuisance and for damages to his health
The determinating factor when noise alone is the cause of complaint is not its intensity or volume.
and business in the amount of P487,600.00.
It is that the noise is of such character as to produce actual physical discomfort and annoyance to
a person of ordinary sensibilities, rendering adjacent property less comfortable and valuable. xx
In 1948, appellant Velasco bought from the People's Homesite and Housing Corporation three (3)
The court relied on quantitative measurements. Samplings of sound intensity were taken. adjoining lots situated at the corner of South D and South 6 Streets, Diliman, Quezon City. These
lots are within an area zoned out as a "first residence" district by the City Council of Quezon City.
Time & date Under the sampaloc tree Plaintiff’s kitchen Subsequently, the appellant sold two (2) lots to the Meralco, but retained the third lot, which was
within compound of plaintiff farthest from the street-corner, whereon he built his house.
11:45am – Aug 27 46-48 decibels 49-50 decibels
6 am – Aug 29 56-59 61-62 In September, 1953, the appellee company started the construction of the sub-station in question
9:30 am – Sep 7 74-76 and finished it the following November, without prior building permit or authority from the Public
3:35 am – Sep 8 70 79-80 Service Commission (Meralco vs. Public Service Commission, 109 Phil. 603). The facility reduces
high voltage electricity to a current suitable for distribution to the company's consumers,
numbering not less than 8,500 residential homes, over 300 commercial establishments and about
The ambient sound of the locality, or that sound level characteristic of it or that sound 30 industries (T.s.n., 19 October 1959, page 1765). The substation has a rated capacity of "2
predominating minus the sound of the sub-station is from 28 to 32 decibels. The court compared transformers at 5000 Kva each or a total of 10,000 Kva without fan cooling; or 6250 Kva each or a
the intensity levels with some familiar sounds - average residence: 40; average office: 55; average total of 12,500 Kva with fan cooling" (Exhibit "A-3"). It was constructed at a distance of 10 to 20
automobile, 15 feet: 70; noisiest spot at Niagara Falls: 92; average dwelling: 35; quiet office: 40; meters from the appellant's house (T.s.n., 16 July 1956, page 62; 19 December 1956, page 343; 1
average office: 50; conversation: 60; pneumatic rock drill: 130 June 1959, page 29). The company built a stone and cement wall at the sides along the streets but
along the side adjoining the appellant's property it put up a sawale wall but later changed it to an
Thus the impartial and objective evidence points to the sound emitted by the appellee's interlink wire fence.
substation transformers being of much higher level than the ambient sound of the locality.
It is undisputed that a sound unceasingly emanates from the substation. Whether this sound
The noise continuously emitted, day and night, constitutes an actionable nuisance for which the
constitutes an actionable nuisance or not is the principal issue in this case.
appellant is entitled to relief, by requiring the appellee company to adopt the necessary measures
to deaden or reduce the sound at the plaintiff's house, by replacing the interlink wire fence with a
Plaintiff-appellant Velasco contends that the sound constitutes an actionable nuisance under
partition made of sound absorbent material, since the relocation of the substation is manifestly
Article 694 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, reading as follows:
impracticable and would be prejudicial to the customers of the Electric Company who are being
A nuisance is any act, omission, establishment, business condition of property or anything else
serviced from the substation. which:
(1) Injuries or endangers the health or safety of others; or
The medical evidence is to the effect that the basic root of the appellant's ailments was his
(2) Annoys or offends the senses;
inability to sleep due to the incessant noise with consequent irritation, thus weakening his
xxx xxx xxx
constitution and making him easy prey to pathogenic germs that could not otherwise affect a
person of normal health.
because subjection to the sound since 1954 had disturbed the concentration and sleep of said
appellant, and impaired his health and lowered the value of his property. Wherefore, he sought a
G.R. No. L-18390 August 6, 1971 judicial decree for the abatement of the nuisance and asked that he be declared entitled to
recover compensatory, moral and other damages under Article 2202 of the Civil Code.
PEDRO J. VELASCO, plaintiff-appellant,

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vs. ART. 2202. In crimes and quasi-delicts, the defendant shall be liable for all damages which are
MANILA ELECTRIC CO., WILLIAM SNYDER, its President; JOHN COTTON and HERMENEGILDO B. the natural and probable consequences of the act or omission complained of. It is not necessary

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that such damages have been foreseen or could have reasonably been foreseen by the With particular reference to noise emanating from electrical machinery and appliances, the court,
defendant. in Kentucky & West Virginia Power Co. v. Anderson, 156 S. W. 2d 857, after a review of authorities,
ruled as follows:
LOWER COURT RULING
There can be no doubt but that commercial and industrial activities which are lawful in
After trial, as already observed, the court below dismissed the claim of the plaintiff, finding that themselves may become nuisances if they are so offensive to the senses that they render the
the sound of substation was unavoidable and did not constitute nuisance; that it could not have enjoyment of life and property uncomfortable. It is no defense that skill and care have been
caused the diseases of anxiety neurosis, pyelonephritis, ureteritis, lumbago and anemia; and that exercised and the most improved methods and appliances employed to prevent such
the items of damage claimed by plaintiff were not adequate proved. Plaintiff then appealed to this result. Wheat Culvert Company v. Jenkins, 246 Ky. 319, 55 S. W. 2d 4; 46 C.J. 683, 705; 20 R. C. L.
Court. 438; Annotations, 23 A. L. R. 1407; 90 A. L. R. 1207. Of course, the creation of trifling annoyance
and inconvenience does not constitute an actionable nuisance, and the locality and
surroundings are of importance. The fact that the cause of the complaint must be substantial
RULING
has often led to expressions in the opinions that to be a nuisance the noise must be deafening
or loud or excessive and unreasonable. Usually it was shown to be of that character. The
The general rule is that everyone is bound to bear the habitual or customary inconveniences that determinating factor when noise alone is the cause of complaint is not its intensity or volume. It
result from the proximity of others, and so long as this level is not surpassed, he may not complain is that the noise is of such character as to produce actual physical discomfort and annoyance to
against them. But if the prejudice exceeds the inconveniences that such proximity habitually a person of ordinary sensibilities, rendering adjacent property less comfortable and valuable. If
brings, the neighbor who causes such disturbance is held responsible for the resulting the noise does that it can well be said to be substantial and unreasonable in degree; and
damage,1 being guilty of causing nuisance. reasonableness is a question of fact dependent upon all the circumstances and conditions. 20 R.
C. L. 445, 453; Wheat Culvert Company v. Jenkins, supra. There can be no fixed standard as to
While no previous adjudications on the specific issue have been made in the Philippines, our law what kind of noise constitutes a nuisance. It is true some witnesses in this case say they have
of nuisances is of American origin, and a review of authorities clearly indicates the rule to be that been annoyed by the humming of these transformers, but that fact is not conclusive as to the
the causing or maintenance of disturbing noise or sound may constitute an actionable nuisance (V. nonexistence of the cause of complaint, the test being the effect which is had upon an ordinary
Ed. Note, 23 ALR, 2d 1289). The basic principles are laid down in Tortorella vs. Traiser & Co., Inc., person who is neither sensitive nor immune to the annoyance concerning which the complaint
90 ALR 1206: is made. In the absence of evidence that the complainant and his family are supersensitive to
distracting noises, it is to be assumed that they are persons of ordinary and normal
A noise may constitute an actionable nuisance, Rogers vs. Elliott, 146 Mass, 349, 15 N.E. 768, 4 sensibilities. Roukovina v. Island Farm Creamery Company, 160 Minn. 335, 200 N. W. 350, 38 A.
Am. St. Rep. 316, Stevens v. Rockport Granite Co., 216 Mass. 486, 104 N.E. 371, Ann. Cas. 1915B, L. R. 1502.
1954, Stodder v. Rosen Talking Machine Co., 241 Mass. 245, 135 N. E. 251, 22 A. L. R. 1197, but
it must be a noise which affects injuriously the health or comfort of ordinary people in the xxx xxx xxx
vicinity to an unreasonable extent. Injury to a particular person in a peculiar position or of
specially sensitive characteristics will not render the noise an actionable nuisance. Rogers v. In Wheat Culvert Company vs. Jenkins, supra, we held an injunction was properly decreed to
Elliott, 146 Mass. 349, 15 N. E. 768, 4 Am. St. Rep. 316. In the conditions of present living noise stop the noise from the operation of a metal culvert factory at night which interfered with the
seems inseparable from the conduct of many necessary occupations. Its presence is a nuisance sleep of the occupants of an adjacent residence. It is true the clanging, riveting and hammering
in the popular sense in which that word is used, but in the absence of statute noise becomes of metal plates produces a sound different in character from the steady hum or buzz of the
actionable only when it passes the limits of reasonable adjustment to the conditions of the electric machinery described in this case. In the Jenkins case the noise was loud, discordant and
locality and of the needs of the maker to the needs of the listener. What those limits are cannot intermittent. Here it is interminable and monotonous. Therein lies the physical annoyance and
be fixed by any definite measure of quantity or quality. They depend upon the circumstances of disturbance. Though the noise be harmonious and slight and trivial in itself, the constant and
the particular case. They may be affected, but are not controlled, by zoning ordinances. Beane monotonous sound of a cricket on the earth, or the drip of a leaking faucet is irritating,
v. H. J. Porter, Inc., 280 Mass. 538, 182 N. E. 823, Marshal v. Holbrook, 276 Mass. 341, 177 N. E. uncomfortable, distracting and disturbing to the average man and woman. So it is that the
504, Strachan v. Beacon Oil Co., 251 Mass. 479, 146 N. E. 787. The delimitation of designated intolerable, steady monotony of this ceaseless sound, loud enough to interfere with ordinary
areas to use for manufacturing, industry or general business is not a license to emit every noise conversation in the dwelling, produces a result generally deemed sufficient to constitute the
profitably attending the conduct of any one of them. Bean v. H. J. Porter, Inc.. 280 Mass. 538, cause of it an actionable nuisance. Thus, it has been held the continuous and monotonous
182 N. E. 823. The test is whether rights of property of health or of comfort are so injuriously playing of a phonograph for advertising purposes on the street even though there were various
affected by the noise in question that the sufferer is subjected to a loss which goes beyond the records, singing, speaking and instrumental, injuriously affected plaintiff's employees by a
reasonable limit imposed upon him by the condition of living, or of holding property, in a gradual wear on their nervous systems, and otherwise, is a nuisance authorizing an injunction
particular locality in fact devoted to uses which involve the emission of noise although ordinary and damages. Frank F. Stodder, et al. v. Rosen Talking Machine Company, 241 Mass. 245, 135 N.

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care is taken to confine it within reasonable bounds; or in the vicinity of property of another E. 251, 22 A. L. R. 1197.
owner who though creating a noise is acting with reasonable regard for the rights of those

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affected by it. Stevens v. Rockport Granite Co., 216 Mass. 486, 104 NE 371, Ann. Cas. 1915B,
1054.
The principles thus laid down make it readily apparent that inquiry must be directed at the SIMPLICIO BELISARIO, Army captain, ____ (on a visit to Velasco) "I can compare the noise to an
character and intensity of the noise generated by the particular substation of the appellee. As can airplane C-47 being started - the motor." [Did not notice the noise from the substation when
be anticipated, character and loudness of sound being of subjective appreciation in ordinary passing by, in a car, Velasco's house] (T.s.n., 7 January 1957, pages 11-12)
witnesses, not much help can be obtained from the testimonial evidence. That of plaintiff Velasco
is too plainly biased and emotional to be of much value. His exaggerations are readily apparent in MANOLO CONSTANTINO, businessman, appellant's neighbor ____ "It disturbs our concentration
paragraph V of his amended complaint, signed by him as well as his counsel, wherein the noise of mind." (T.s.n., 10 January 1957, page 11)
complained of as —
PEDRO PICA, businessman, appellant's neighbor: "..... We can hear it very well [at a distance of
fearful hazardous noise and clangor are produced by the said electric transformer of the MEC's 100 to 150 meters]. (T.s.n., 10 January 1957, page 41)
substation, approximating a noise of a reactivated about-to-explode volcano, perhaps like the
nerve wracking noise of the torture chamber in Germany's Dachau or Buchenwald (Record on
CIRENEO PUNZALAN, lawyer ____ "..... a continuous droning, ..... like the sound of an airplane."
Appeal, page 6).
(T.s.n., 17 January 1957, page 385)

The estimate of the other witnesses on the point of inquiry are vague and imprecise, and fail to
JAIME C. ZAGUIRRE, Chief, Neuro-Psychiatry Section, V. Luna Gen. Hospital ____ ".....
give a definite idea of the intensity of the sound complained of. Thus:
comparatively the sound was really loud to bother a man sleeping." (T.s.n., 17 January 1957, page
406)
OSCAR SANTOS, Chief Building Inspector, Department of Engineering, Quezon City ____ "the
sound (at the front door of plaintiff Velasco's house) becomes noticeable only when I tried to
SOUND INTENSITY SAMPLING
concentrate ........" (T.s.n., 16 July 1956, page 50)

We are thus constrained to rely on quantitative measurements shown by the record. Under
SERAFIN VILLARAZA, Building Inspector ____ "..... like a high pitch note." (the trial court's
instructions from the Director of Health, samplings of the sound intensity were taken by Dr. Jesus
description as to the imitation of noise made by witness:"........ more of a hissing sound) (T.s.n., 16
Almonte using a sound level meter and other instruments. Within the compound of the plaintiff-
July 1956, pages 59-60)
appellant, near the wire fence serving as property line between him and the appellee, on 27
August 1957 at 11:45 a.m., the sound level under the sampaloc tree was 46-48 decibels, while
CONSTANCIO SORIA, City Electrician ____ "........ humming sound" ..... "of a running car". (T.s.n., 16 behind Velasco's kitchen, the meter registered 49-50; at the same places on 29 August 1957, at
July 1956, page 87) 6:00 a.m., the readings were 56-59 and 61-62 decibels, respectively; on 7 September 1957, at 9:30
a.m., the sound level under the sampaloc tree was 74-76 decibels; and on 8 September 1957 at
JOSE R. ALVAREZ, Sanitary Engineer, Quezon City Health Department ____ "..... substation emits a 3:35 in the morning, the reading under the same tree was 70 decibels, while near the kitchen it
continuous rumbling sound which is audible within the premises and at about a radius of 70 was 79-80 decibels. Several measurements were also taken inside and outside the house (Exhibit
meters." "I stayed there from 6:00 p.m. to about 1:00 o'clock in the morning" ..... "increases with "NN-7, b-f"). The ambient sound of the locality, or that sound level characteristic of it or that
the approach of twilight." (T.s.n., 5 September 1956, pages 40-44) sound predominating minus the sound of the sub-station is from 28 to 32 decibels. (T.s.n., 26
March 1958, pages 6-7)
NORBERTO S. AMORANTO, Quezon City Mayor ____ (for 30 minutes in the street at a distance of
12 to 15 meters from sub-station) "I felt no effect on myself." "..... no [piercing noise]" (T.s.n., 18 Mamerto Buenafe, superintendent of the appellee's electrical laboratory, also took sound level
September 1956, page 189) samplings. On 19 December 1958, between 7:00 to 7:30 o'clock in the evening, at the substation
compound near the wire fence or property line, the readings were 55 and 54 and still near the
PACIFICO AUSTRIA, architect, appellant's neighbor: "..... like an approaching airplane ..... around fence close to the sampaloc tree, it was 52 decibels; outside but close to the concrete wall, the
five kilometers away." (T.s.n., 19 November 1956, pages 276-277) readings were 42 to 43 decibels; and near the transformers, it was 76 decibels (Exhibit "13").

ANGEL DEL ROSARIO, radiologist, appellant's neighbor: "..... as if it is a running motor or a running Buenafe also took samplings at the North General Hospital on 4 January 1959 between 9:05 to
dynamo, which disturbs the ear and the hearing of a person." T.s.n., 4 December 1956, page 21) 9:45 in the evening. In the different rooms and wards from the first to the fourth floors, the
readings varied from 45 to 67 decibels.
ANTONIO D. PAGUIA, lawyer ____ "It may be likened to the sound emitted by the whistle of a
boat at a far distance but it is very audible." (T.s.n., 19 December 1956, page 309) Technical charts submitted in evidence show the following intensity levels in decibels of some
familiar sounds: average residence: 40; average office: 55; average automobile, 15 feet: 70;

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noisiest spot at Niagara Falls: 92 (Exhibit "11- B"); average dwelling: 35; quiet office: 40; average
RENE RODRIGUEZ, sugar planter and sugar broker, appellant's neighbor ____ "It sounds like a big
office: 50; conversation: 60; pneumatic rock drill: 130 (Exhibit "12"); quiet home — average living
motor running continuously." (T.s.n., 19 December 1956, page 347)

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room: 40; home ventilation fan, outside sound of good home airconditioner or automobile at 50
feet: 70 (Exhibit "15-A").
Thus the impartial and objective evidence points to the sound emitted by the appellee's As to the damages caused by the noise, appellant Velasco, himself a physician, claimed that the
substation transformers being of much higher level than the ambient sound of the locality. The noise, as a precipitating factor, has caused him anxiety neurosis, which, in turn, predisposed him
measurements taken by Dr. Almonte, who is not connected with either party, and is a physician to to, or is concomitant with, the other ailments which he was suffering at the time of the trial,
boot (unlike appellee's electrical superintendent Buenafe), appear more reliable. The conclusion namely, pyelonephritis, ureteritis and others; that these resulted in the loss of his professional
must be that, contrary to the finding of the trial court, the noise continuously emitted, day and income and reduced his life expectancy. The breakdown of his claims is as follows:
night, constitutes an actionable nuisance for which the appellant is entitled to relief, by requiring
the appellee company to adopt the necessary measures to deaden or reduce the sound at the Loss of professional earnings P12,600
plaintiff's house, by replacing the interlink wire fence with a partition made of sound absorbent Damage to life expectancy 180,000
material, since the relocation of the substation is manifestly impracticable and would be Moral damages 100,000
prejudicial to the customers of the Electric Company who are being serviced from the substation. Loss due to frustration of sale of house 125,000
Exemplary damages 25,000
Appellee company insists that as the plaintiff's own evidence (Exhibit "NN-7[c]") the intensity of Attorneys' fees 45,000
the sound (as measured by Dr. Almonte) inside appellant's house is only 46 to 47 decibels at the
consultation room, and 43 to 45 decibels within the treatment room, the appellant had no ground A host of expert witnesses and voluminous medical literature, laboratory findings and statistics of
to complain. This argument is not meritorious, because the noise at the bedrooms was income were introduced in support of the above claims.
determined to be around 64-65 decibels, and the medical evidence is to the effect that the basic
root of the appellant's ailments was his inability to sleep due to the incessant noise with
The medical evidence of plaintiff's doctors preponderates over the expert evidence for defendant-
consequent irritation, thus weakening his constitution and making him easy prey to pathogenic
appellee, not merely because of its positive character but also because the physicians presented
germs that could not otherwise affect a person of normal health.
by plaintiff had actually treated him, while the defense experts had not done so. Thus the
evidence of the latter was to a large extent conjectural. That appellant's physical ailments should
In Kentucky and West Virginia Co., Inc. vs. Anderson, 156 SW. 857, the average of three readings be due to infectious organisms does not alter the fact that the loss of sleep, irritation and tension
along the plaintiff's fence was only 44 decibels but, because the sound from the sub-station was due to excessive noise weakened his constitution and made him easy prey to the infection.
interminable and monotonous, the court authorized an injunction and damages. In the present
case, the three readings along the property line are 52, 54 and 55 decibels. Plaintiff's case is
AWARD OF DAMAGES
manifestly stronger.

Regarding the amount of damages claimed by appellant, it is plain that the same are exaggerated.
MERALCO’S ARGUMENT: SOUND LEVEL AT HOSPITAL IS HIGHER
To begin with, the alleged loss of earnings at the rate of P19,000 per annum is predicated on the
Internal Revenue assessment, Exhibit "QQ-1", wherein appellant was found to have undeclared
Appellee company argues that the plaintiff should not be heard to complain because the sound income of P8,338.20 in additional to his declared gross income of P10,975.00 for 1954. There is no
level at the North General Hospital, where silence is observed, is even higher than at his residence. competent showing, however, that the source of such undeclared income was appellant's
This comparison lacks basis because it has not been established that the hospital is located in profession. In fact, the inference would be to the contrary, for his gross income from the previous
surroundings similar to the residential zone where the plaintiff lived or that the sound at the years 1951 to 1953 [Exhibits "QQ-1 (d)" to "QQ-1 (f)"] was only P8,085.00, P5,860.00 and
hospital is similarly monotonous and ceaseless as the sound emitted by the sub-station. P7,120.00, respectively, an average of P7,000.00 per annum. Moreover, while his 1947 and 1948
income was larger (P9,995.00 and P11,900.00), it appears that P5,000 thereof was the appellant's
Constancio Soria testified that "The way the transformers are built, the humming sound cannot be annual salary from the Quezon Memorial Foundation, which was not really connected with the
avoided". On this testimony, the company emphasizes that the substation was constructed for usual earnings derived from practice as a physician. Considering, therefore, his actual earnings,
public convenience. Admitting that the sound cannot be eliminated, there is no proof that it the claimed moral damages of P100,000.00 are utterly disproportionate. The alleged losses for
cannot be reduced. That the sub-station is needed for the Meralco to be able to serve well its shortening of appellant's, life expectancy are not only inflated but speculative.
customers is no reason, however, why it should be operated to the detriment and discomfort of
others.2 As to the demand for exemplary or punitive damages, there appears no adequate basis for their
award. While the appellee Manila Electric Company was convicted for erecting the substation in
MERALCO’S ARGUMENT: NO COMPLAINT FOR 50 YRS question without permit from the Public Service Commission, We find reasonable its explanation
that its officials and counsel had originally deemed that such permit was not required as the
The fact that the Meralco had received no complaint although it had been operating hereabouts installation was authorized by the terms of its franchise (as amended by Republic Act No. 150)
for the past 50 years with substations similar to the one in controversy is not a valid argument. requiring it to spend within 5 years not less than forty million pesos for maintenance and additions
The absence of suit neither lessens the company's liability under the law nor weakens the right of to its electric system, including needed power plants and substations. Neither the absence of such

34
others against it to demand their just due. permit from the Public Service Commission nor the lack of permit from the Quezon City
authorities (a permit that was subsequently granted) is incompatible with the Company's good

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faith, until the courts finally ruled that its interpretation of the franchise was incorrect.
PLAINTIFF’S CLAIM FOR DAMAGES
FACTORS THAT MITIGATE MERALCO’S LIABILITY he truly intended to dispose of it. He had no actual need to do so in order to escape deterioration
of his health, as heretofore noted.
There are, moreover, several factors that mitigate defendant's liability in damages. The first is that
the noise from the substation does not appear to be an exclusive causative factor of plaintiff- Despite the wide gap between what was claimed and what was proved, the plaintiff is entitled to
appellant's illnesses. This is proved by the circumstance that no other person in Velasco's own damages for the annoyance and adverse effects suffered by him since the substation started
household nor in his immediate neighborhood was shown to have become sick despite the noise functioning in January, 1954. Considering all the circumstances disclosed by the record, as well as
complained of. There is also evidence that at the time the plaintiff-appellant appears to have been appellant's failure to minimize the deleterious influences from the substation, this Court is of the
largely indebted to various credit institutions, as a result of his unsuccessful gubernatorial opinion that an award in the amount of P20,000.00, by way of moderate and moral damages up to
campaign, and this court can take judicial cognizance of the fact that financial worries can affect the present, is reasonable. Recovery of attorney's fees and litigation expenses in the sum of
unfavorably the debtor's disposition and mentality. P5,000.00 is also
justified — the factual and legal issues were intricate (the transcript of the stenographic notes is
The other factor militating against full recovery by the petitioner Velasco in his passivity in the face about 5,000 pages, side from an impressive number of exhibits), and raised for the first time in
of the damage caused to him by the noise of the substation. Realizing as a physician that the latter this jurisdiction.4
was disturbing or depriving him of sleep and affecting both his physical and mental well being, he
did not take any steps to bring action to abate the nuisance or remove himself from the affected IN RE: SOLIDARY LIABILITY OF CITY ENGINEER OF QC
area as soon as the deleterious effects became noticeable. To evade them appellant did not even
have to sell his house; he could have leased it and rented other premises for sleeping and The last issue is whether the City Engineer of Quezon City, Anastacio A. Agan, a co-defendant, may
maintaining his office and thus preserve his health as ordinary prudence demanded. Instead he be held solidarily liable with Meralco.
obstinately stayed until his health became gravely affected, apparently hoping that he would
thereby saddle appellee with large damages.
Agan was included as a party defendant because he allegedly (1) did not require the Meralco to
secure a building permit for the construction of the substation; (2) even defended its construction
The law in this jurisdiction is clear. Article 2203 prescribes that "The party suffering loss or injury by not insisting on such building permit; and (3) did not initiate its removal or demolition and the
must exercise the diligence of a good father of a family to minimize the damages resulting from criminal prosecution of the officials of the Meralco.
the act or omission in question". This codal rule, which embodies the previous jurisprudence on
the point,3 clearly obligates the injured party to undertake measures that will alleviate and not
The record does not support these allegations. On the first plea, it was not Agan's duty to require
aggravate his condition after the infliction of the injury, and places upon him the burden of
the Meralco to secure a permit before the construction b-ut for Meralco to apply for it, as per
explaining why he could not do so. This was not done.
Section 1. Ordinance No. 1530, of Quezon City. The second allegation is not true, because Agan
wrote the Meralco requiring it to submit the plan and to pay permit fees (T.s.n., 14 January 1960,
Appellant Velasco introduced evidence to the effect that he tried to sell his house to Jose Valencia, pages 2081-2082). On the third allegation, no law or ordinance has been cited specifying that it is
Jr., in September, 1953, and on a 60 day option, for P95,000.00, but that the prospective buyer the city engineer's duty to initiate the removal or demolition of, or for the criminal prosecution of,
backed out on account of his wife objecting to the noise of the substation. There is no reliable those persons who are responsible for the nuisance. Republic Act 537, Section 24 (d), relied upon
evidence, however, how much were appellant's lot and house worth, either before the option was by the plaintiff, requires an order by, or previous approval of, the mayor for the city engineer to
given to Valencia or after he refused to proceed with the sale or even during the intervening cause or order the removal of buildings or structures in violation of law or ordinances, but the
period. The existence of a previous offer for P125,000.00, as claimed by the plaintiff, was not mayor could not be expected to take action because he was of the belief, as he testified, that the
corroborated by Valencia. What Valencia testified to in his deposition is that when they were sound "did not have any effect on his body."
negotiating on the price Velasco mentioned to him about an offer by someone for P125,000.00.
The testimony of Valencia proves that in the dialogue between him and Velasco, part of the
FOR THE FOREGOING REASONS, the appealed decision is hereby reversed in part and affirmed in
subject of their conversation was about the prior offer, but it does not corroborate or prove the
part. The defendant-appellee Manila Electric Company is hereby ordered to either transfer its
reality of the offer for P125,000.00. The testimony of Velasco on this point, standing alone, is not
substation at South D and South 6 Streets, Diliman, Quezon City, or take appropriate measures to
credible enough, what with his penchant for metaphor and exaggeration, as previously adverted
reduce its noise at the property line between the defendant company's compound and that of the
to. It is urged in appellant's brief, along the lines of his own testimony, that since one (1)
plaintiff-appellant to an average of forty (40) to fifty (50) decibels within 90 days from finality of
transformer was measured by witness, Jimenez with a noise intensity of 47.2 decibels at a
this decision; and to pay the said plaintiff-appellant P20,000.00 in damages and P5,000.00 for
distance of 30.48 meters, the two (2) transformers of the substation should create an intensity of
attorney's fees. In all other respects, the appealed decision is affirmed. No costs.
94.4 decibels at the same distance. If this were true, then the residence of the plaintiff is more
noisy than the noisiest spot at the Niagara Falls, which registers only 92 decibels (Exhibit "15-A").

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Since there is no evidence upon which to compute any loss or damage allegedly incurred by the
plaintiff by the frustration of the sale on account of the noise, his claim therefore was correctly

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disallowed by the trial court. It may be added that there is no showing of any further attempts on
the part of appellant to dispose of the house, and this fact suffices to raise doubts as to whether