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G.R. No.

85044 June 3, 1992 petitioner in the trial court as having interrupted the reglementary period for
MACARIO TAMARGO, CELSO TAMARGO and AURELIA TAMARGO, appeal. As the Court held in Gregorio v. Court of Appeals: 3
petitioners,vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, THE HON. ARISTON L. RUBIO, Dismissal of appeal; purely on technical grounds is frowned upon where
the policy of the courts is to encourage hearings of appeal on their merits.
On 20 October 1982, Adelberto Bundoc, then a minor of 10 years of age, shot The rules of procedure ought not be applied in a very rigid technical
Jennifer Tamargo with an air rifle causing injuries which resulted in her death. sense, rules of procedure are used only to help secure not override,
Accordingly, a civil complaint for damages was filed with the Regional Trial substantial justice. if d technical and rigid enforcement of the rules is
Court, Branch 20, Vigan, Ilocos Sur, docketed as Civil Case No. 3457-V, by made their aim would be defeated. 4
petitioner Macario Tamargo, Jennifer's adopting parent, and petitioner 2. It is not disputed that Adelberto Bundoc's voluntary act of shooting Jennifer
spouses Celso and Aurelia Tamargo, Jennifer's natural parents against Tamargo with an air rifle gave rise to a cause of action on quasi-delict against
respondent spouses Victor and Clara Bundoc, Adelberto's natural parents with him. As Article 2176 of the Civil Code provides:
whom he was living at the time of the tragic incident. In addition to this case Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault
for damages, a criminal information or Homicide through Reckless or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or
Imprudence was filed [Criminal Case No. 1722-V] against Adelberto Bundoc. negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the
Adelberto, however, was acquitted and exempted from criminal liability on the parties, is called a quasi-delict . . .
ground that he bad acted without discernment. Upon the other hand, the law imposes civil liability upon the father and, in case
Prior to the incident, or on 10 December 1981, the spouses Sabas and Felisa of his death or incapacity, the mother, for any damages that may be caused
Rapisura had filed a petition to adopt the minor Adelberto Bundoc in Special by a minor child who lives with them. Article 2180 of the Civil Code reads:
Proceedings No. 0373-T before the then Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur. The obligation imposed by article 2176 is demandable not only for one's
This petition for adoption was grunted on, 18 November 1982, that is, after own acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is
Adelberto had shot and killed Jennifer. responsible.
In their Answer, respondent spouses Bundoc, Adelberto's natural parents, The father and, in case of his death or incapacity, the mother, are
reciting the result of the foregoing petition for adoption, claimed that not they, responsible for the damages caused by the minor children who live in
but rather the adopting parents, namely the spouses Sabas and Felisa their company.
Rapisura, were indispensable parties to the action since parental authority had xxx xxx xxx
shifted to the adopting parents from the moment the successful petition for The responsibility treated of in this Article shall cease when the person
adoption was filed. herein mentioned prove that they observed all the diligence of a good
Petitioners in their Reply contended that since Adelberto Bundoc was then father of a family to prevent damage. (Emphasis supplied)
actually living with his natural parents, parental authority had not ceased nor This principle of parental liability is a species of what is frequently designated
been relinquished by the mere filing and granting of a petition for adoption. as vicarious liability, or the doctrine of "imputed negligence" under Anglo-
The trial court on 3 December 1987 dismissed petitioners' complaint, ruling American tort law, where a person is not only liable for torts committed by
that respondent natural parents of Adelberto indeed were not indispensable himself, but also for torts committed by others with whom he has a certain
parties to the action. relationship and for whom he is responsible. Thus, parental liability is made a
Petitioners received a copy of the trial court's Decision on 7 December 1987. natural or logical consequence of the duties and responsibilities of parents —
Within the 15-day reglementary period, or on 14 December 1987, petitioners their parental authority — which includes the instructing, controlling and
filed a motion for reconsideration followed by a supplemental motion for disciplining of the child. 5 The basis for the doctrine of vicarious liability was
reconsideration on 15 January 1988. It appearing, however, that the motions explained by the Court in Cangco v. Manila Railroad Co. 6 in the following
failed to comply with Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 15 of the Revised Rules of Court terms:
— that notice of the motion shall be given to all parties concerned at least With respect to extra-contractual obligation arising from negligence,
three (3) days before the hearing of said motion; and that said notice shall whether of act or omission, it is competent for the legislature to elect —
state the time and place of hearing — both motions were denied by the trial and our Legislature has so elected — to limit such liability to cases in
court in an Order dated 18 April 1988. On 28 April 1988, petitioners filed a which the person upon whom such an obligation is imposed is morally
notice of appeal. In its Order dated 6 June 1988, the trial court dismissed the culpable or, on the contrary, for reasons of public policy. to extend that
notice at appeal, this time ruling that the notice had been filed beyond the 15- liability, without regard to the lack of moral culpability, so as to include
day reglementary period ending 22 December 1987. responsibility for the negligence of those persons whose acts or
Petitioners went to the Court of Appeals on a petition for mandamus and omissions are imputable, by a legal fiction, to others who are in a position
certiorari questioning the trial court's Decision dated 3 December 1987 and to exercise an absolute or limited control over them. The legislature which
the Orders dated 18 April 1988 and 6 June 1988, The Court of Appeals adopted our Civil Code has elected to limit extra-contractual liability —
dismissed the petition, ruling that petitioners had lost their right to appeal. with certain well-defined exceptions — to cases in which moral culpability
In the present Petition for Review, petitioners once again contend that can be directly imputed to the persons to be charged. This moral
respondent spouses Bundoc are the indispensable parties to the action for responsibility may consist in having failed to exercise due care in one's
damages caused by the acts of their minor child, Adelberto Bundoc. own acts, or in having failed to exercise due care in the selection and
Resolution of this Petition hinges on the following issues: (1) whether or not control of one's agent or servants, or in the control of persons who, by
petitioners, notwithstanding loss of their right to appeal, may still file the instant reasons of their status, occupy a position of dependency with respect to
Petition; conversely, whether the Court may still take cognizance of the case the person made liable for their conduct. 7 (Emphasis Supplied)
even through petitioners' appeal had been filed out of time; and (2) whether or The civil liability imposed upon parents for the torts of their minor children living
not the effects of adoption, insofar as parental authority is concerned may be with them, may be seen to be based upon the parental authority vested by the
given retroactive effect so as to make the adopting parents the indispensable Civil Code upon such parents. The civil law assumes that when an
parties in a damage case filed against their adopted child, for acts committed unemancipated child living with its parents commits a tortious acts, the parents
by the latter, when actual custody was yet lodged with the biological parents. were negligent in the performance of their legal and natural duty closely to
1. It will be recalled that, petitioners' motion (and supplemental motion) for supervise the child who is in their custody and control. Parental liability is, in
reconsideration filed before the trial court, not having complied with the other words, anchored upon parental authority coupled with presumed
requirements of Section 13, Rule 41, and Section 4, Rule 15, of the Revised parental dereliction in the discharge of the duties accompanying such
Rules of Court, were considered pro forma and hence did not interrupt and authority. The parental dereliction is, of course, only presumed and the
suspend the reglementary period to appeal: the trial court held that the presumption can be overtuned under Article 2180 of the Civil Code by proof
motions, not having contained a notice of time and place of hearing, had that the parents had exercised all the diligence of a good father of a family to
become useless pieces of paper which did not interrupt the reglementary prevent the damage.
period. 1 As in fact repeatedly held by this Court, what is mandatory is the In the instant case, the shooting of Jennifer by Adelberto with an air rifle
service of the motion on the opposing counsel indicating the time and place of occured when parental authority was still lodged in respondent Bundoc
hearing. 2 spouses, the natural parents of the minor Adelberto. It would thus follow that
In view, however, of the nature of the issue raised in the instant. Petition, and the natural parents who had then actual custody of the minor Adelberto, are
in order that substantial justice may be served, the Court, invoking its right to the indispensable parties to the suit for damages.
suspend the application of technical rules to prevent manifest injustice, elects The natural parents of Adelberto, however, stoutly maintain that because a
to treat the notice of appeal as having been seasonably filed before the trial decree of adoption was issued by the adoption court in favor of the Rapisura
court, and the motion (and supplemental motion) for reconsideration filed by spouses, parental authority was vested in the latter as adopting parents as of
the time of the filing of the petition for adoption that is, before Adelberto had
shot Jennifer which an air rifle. The Bundoc spouses contend that they were the indispensable parties being already before the court, constituted grave
therefore free of any parental responsibility for Adelberto's allegedly tortious abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
conduct. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition for Review is hereby
Respondent Bundoc spouses rely on Article 36 of the Child and Youth Welfare GRANTED DUE COURSE and the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 6
Code 8 which reads as follows: September 1988, in C.A.-G.R. No. SP-15016 is hereby REVERSED and SET
Art. 36. Decree of Adoption. — If, after considering the report of the ASIDE. Petitioners' complaint filed before the trial court is hereby
Department of Social Welfare or duly licensed child placement agency REINSTATED and this case is REMANDED to that court for further
and the evidence submitted before it, the court is satisfied that the proceedings consistent with this Decision. Costs against respondent Bundoc
petitioner is qualified to maintain, care for, and educate the child, that spouses. This Decision is immediately executory.
the trial custody period has been completed, and that the best interests SO ORDERED.
of the child will be promoted by the adoption, a decree of adoption shall
be entered, which shall be effective he date the original petition was PASCUAL ROMANO and JUANA LLEANZA DE ROMANO, Plaintiffs-
filed. The decree shall state the name by which the child is thenceforth Appellants, v. CRISOSTOMO PARINAS and CARIDAD DONATO DE
to be known. (Emphasis supplied) PARINAS, Defendants-Appellees.
The Bundoc spouses further argue that the above Article 36 should be
read in relation to Article 39 of the same Code: 1. QUASI-DELICT; PERSONS LIABLE; LIABILITY OF FATHER AND
Art. 39. Effect of Adoption. — The adoption shall: MOTHER FOR DAMAGES CAUSED BY THEIR MINOR CHILDREN,
xxx xxx xxx ALTERNATE. — The responsibility of the father and the mother for the
(2) Dissolve the authority vested in the natural parents, except where damages caused by their minor children who live in their company is not
the adopter is the spouse of the surviving natural parent; simultaneous, but alternate, the father being primarily responsible, and the
xxx xxx xxx mother answering only in case of his death or incapacity." Since in the instant
(Emphasis supplied) case the father is both living and capable, it is improper to joint the mother as
and urge that their Parental authority must be deemed to have been dissolved party-defendant.
as of the time the Petition for adoption was filed.
The Court is not persuaded. As earlier noted, under the Civil Code, the basis This is an action instituted by plaintiffs against defendants in the Court of First
of parental liability for the torts of a minor child is the relationship existing Instance of Abra to recover damages in the amount of P10,000. Basis of the
between the parents and the minor child living with them and over whom, the action is that defendants, being the legitimate parents of Antonio Parinas, a
law presumes, the parents exercise supervision and control. Article 58 of the minor, allowed the latter to drive a motor vehicle having a passenger one
Child and Youth Welfare Code, re-enacted this rule: Editha Romano, and because of his lack of foresight and experience, the
Article 58 Torts — Parents and guardians are responsible for the vehicle overturned resulting in the death of Editha.
damage caused by the child under their parental authority in accordance
with the civil Code. (Emphasis supplied) Defendants, in their answer, set up the defense that they never permitted their
Article 221 of the Family Code of the Philippines 9 has similarly insisted upon son to drive any motor vehicle, and if on the occasion alleged in the complaint
the requisite that the child, doer of the tortious act, shall have beer in the actual he drove a jeep, it was upon the persistent plea of Editha Romano. They
custody of the parents sought to be held liable for the ensuing damage: alleged that the accident, if it happened, was due to her fault and negligence.
Art. 221. Parents and other persons exercising parental authority shall be
civilly liable for the injuries and damages caused by the acts or omissions After filing their answer, defendant also filed a motion asking that Caridad
of their unemancipated children living in their company and under their Donato, wife of defendant Crisostomo Parinas, be dropped from the complaint
parental authority subject to the appropriate defenses provided by law. on the ground of misjoinder of parties-defendants, contending that under
(Emphasis supplied) Article 2180 of the new Civil Code, the father is primarily responsible for the
We do not believe that parental authority is properly regarded as having been damages caused by the minor children, except only in case of his death or
retroactively transferred to and vested in the adopting parents, the Rapisura incapacity when the mother also becomes answerable.
spouses, at the time the air rifle shooting happened. We do not consider that
retroactive effect may be giver to the decree of adoption so as to impose a On February 14, 1955, the court sustained the motion, ordering that Caridad
liability upon the adopting parents accruing at a time when adopting parents Donato be dropped from the complaint on the ground of misjoinder of parties,
had no actual or physically custody over the adopted child. Retroactive affect pursuant to Section 11, Rule 3, of the Rules of Court. Hence this appeal.
may perhaps be given to the granting of the petition for adoption where such
is essential to permit the accrual of some benefit or advantage in favor of the There is no dispute that defendants are the parents of minor Antonio Parinas
adopted child. In the instant case, however, to hold that parental authority had whose negligent act gave rise to the untimely death of Editha Romano. There
been retroactively lodged in the Rapisura spouses so as to burden them with is also no dispute that both are living and are not incapacitated. The question
liability for a tortious act that they could not have foreseen and which they now to be determined is whether their inclusion in the complaint as defendants
could not have prevented (since they were at the time in the United States and is proper, or whether the lower court acted correctly in dropping the mother on
had no physical custody over the child Adelberto) would be unfair and the ground of misjoinder of parties-defendants.
unconscionable. Such a result, moreover, would be inconsistent with the
philosophical and policy basis underlying the doctrine of vicarious liability. Put The legal provisions on which the action of plaintiffs is predicated are Articles
a little differently, no presumption of parental dereliction on the part of the 2176 and 2180 of the new Civil Code, the pertinent portions of which are
adopting parents, the Rapisura spouses, could have arisen since Adelberto quoted hereunder for ready reference:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
was not in fact subject to their control at the time the tort was committed.
Article 35 of the Child and Youth Welfare Code fortifies the conclusion reached "ART. 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there
above. Article 35 provides as follows: being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or
Art. 35. Trial Custody. — No petition for adoption shall be finally granted negligence, if there is so pre-existing contractual relation between the parties,
unless and until the adopting parents are given by the courts a supervised is called a quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this
trial custody period of at least six months to assess their adjustment and Chapter."cralaw virtua1aw library
emotional readiness for the legal union. During the period of trial custody,
parental authority shall be vested in the adopting parents. (Emphasis "ART. 2180. The obligation imposed by article 2176 is demandable not only
supplied) for one’s own acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is
Under the above Article 35, parental authority is provisionally vested in the responsible.
adopting parents during the period of trial custody, i.e., before the issuance of
a decree of adoption, precisely because the adopting parents are given actual "The father and, in case of his death or incapacity, the mother, are responsible
custody of the child during such trial period. In the instant case, the trial for the damages caused by the minor children who live in their
custody period either had not yet begun or bad already been completed at the company."cralaw virtua1aw library
time of the air rifle shooting; in any case, actual custody of Adelberto was then
with his natural parents, not the adopting parents. It appears clear from the above that whoever by act or omission causes
Accordingly, we conclude that respondent Bundoc spouses, Adelberto's damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the
natural parents, were indispensable parties to the suit for damages brought by damage done, and this obligation is demandable not only for one’s own acts
petitioners, and that the dismissal by the trial court of petitioners' complaint, or omissions, but also for those persons for whom one is responsible. And one
of the cases mentioned therein is that "The father and, in case of his death or deplorable incident which took place and from which she died on January 14,
incapacity, the mother", answers for the damages caused by their minor 1979, was an 18-year old first year commerce student of the University of San
children who live in their company. It is therefore clear that the responsibility Carlos, Cebu City; while petitioners are the parents of Wendell Libi, then a
of the father and mother is not simultaneous, but alternate, the father being minor between 18 and 19 years of age living with his aforesaid parents, and
primarily responsible, and the mother answering only "In case of his death or who also died in the same event on the same date.
incapacity." Since in the instant case the father is both living and capable, as
can be gleaned from the allegations of the complaint, it follows that it is For more than two (2) years before their deaths, Julie Ann Gotiong and
improper to join the mother as party- defendant. Wendell Libi were sweethearts until December, 1978 when Julie Ann broke up
her relationship with Wendell after she supposedly found him to be sadistic
It is true, as appellants contend, that there is sufficient averment in the and irresponsible. During the first and second weeks of January, 1979,
complaint that both the father and the mother have allowed their son to drive Wendell kept pestering Julie Ann with demands for reconciliation but the latter
a motor vehicle without proper license or permit thereby imputing acts of persisted in her refusal, prompting the former to resort to threats against her.
negligence to both of them. But from this it cannot be inferred that there is a In order to avoid him, Julie Ann stayed in the house of her best friend, Malou
cause of action against the mother, for under the law her liability can only be Alfonso, at the corner of Maria Cristina and Juana Osmeña Streets, Cebu City,
exacted in case of death or incapacity of her husband. The lower court from January 7 to 13, 1978.
therefore acted properly in dropping her from the complaint.
On January 14, 1979, Julie Ann and Wendell died, each from a single gunshot
The order appealed from is affirmed, with costs against appellants. wound inflicted with the same firearm, a Smith and Wesson revolver licensed
in the name of petitioner Cresencio Libi, which was recovered from the scene
of the crime inside the residence of private respondents at the corner of
CRESENCIO LIBI * and AMELIA YAP LIBI, Petitioners, v. HON. General Maxilom and D. Jakosalem streets of the same city.
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, FELIPE GOTIONG and SHIRLEY
GOTIONG, Respondents. Due to the absence of an eyewitness account of the circumstances
surrounding the death of both minors, their parents, who are the contending
1. CIVIL LAW; QUASI DELICT; LIABILITY OF PARENTS FOR CIVIL parties herein, posited their respective theories drawn from their interpretation
LIABILITY ARISING FROM CRIMINAL OFFENSES COMMITTED BY THEIR of circumstantial evidence, available reports, documents and evidence of
MINOR CHILDREN; RULE. — The parents are and should be held primarily physical facts.
liable for the civil liability arising from criminal offenses committed by their
minor children under their legal authority or control, or who live in their Private respondents, bereaved over the death of their daughter, submitted that
company, unless it is proven that the former acted with the diligence of a good Wendell caused her death by shooting her with the aforesaid firearm and,
father of a family to prevent such damages. That primary liability is premised thereafter, turning the gun on himself to commit suicide. On the other hand,
on the provisions of Article 101 of the Revised Penal Code with respect to Petitioners, puzzled and likewise distressed over the death of their son,
damages ex delicto caused by their children 9 years of age or under, or over rejected the imputation and contended that an unknown third party, whom
9 but under 15 years of age who acted without discernment; and, with regard Wendell may have displeased or antagonized by reason of his work as a
to their children over 9 but under 15 years of age who acted with discernment, narcotics informer of the Constabulary Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), must have
or 15 years or over but under 21 years of age, such primary liability shall be caused Wendell’s death and then shot Julie Ann to eliminate any witness and
imposed pursuant to Article 2180 of the Civil Code. Under said Article 2180, thereby avoid identification.chanrobles.com:cralaw:red
the enforcement of such liability shall be effected against the father and, in
case of his death or incapacity, the mother. This was amplified by the Child As a result of the tragedy, the parents of Julie Ann filed Civil Case No. R-17774
and Youth Welfare Code which provides that the same shall devolve upon the in the then Court of First Instance of Cebu against the parents of Wendell to
father and, in case of his death or incapacity, upon the mother or, in case of recover damages arising from the latter’s vicarious liability under Article 2180
her death or incapacity, upon the guardian, but the liability may also be of the Civil Code. After trial, the court below rendered judgment on October
voluntarily assumed by a relative or family friend of the youthful offender. 20, 1980 as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
However, under the Family Code, this civil liability is now, without such
alternative qualification, the responsibility of the parents and those who "WHEREFORE, premises duly considered, judgment is hereby rendered
exercise parental authority over the minor offender. For civil liability arising dismissing plaintiffs’ complaint for insufficiency of the evidence. Defendants’
from quasi-delicts committed by minors, the same rules shall apply in counterclaim is likewise denied for lack of sufficient merit." 2
accordance with Articles 2180 and 2182 of the Civil Code, as so modified.
On appeal to respondent court, said judgment of the lower court dismissing
One of the ironic verities of life, it has been said, is that sorrow is sometimes the complaint of therein plaintiffs-appellants was set aside and another
a touchstone of love. A tragic illustration is provided by the instant case, judgment was rendered against defendants-appellees who, as petitioners in
wherein two lovers died while still in the prime of their years, a bitter episode the present appeal by certiorari, now submit for resolution the following issues
for those whose lives they have touched. While we cannot expect to award in this case:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
complete assuagement to their families through seemingly prosaic legal
verbiage, this disposition should at least terminate the acrimony and rancor of 1. Whether or not respondent court correctly reversed the trial court in
an extended judicial contest resulting from the unfortunate occurrence. accordance with established decisional laws; and

In this final denouement of the judicial recourse the stages whereof were 2. Whether or not Article 2180 of the Civil Code was correctly interpreted by
alternately initiated by the parties, petitioners are now before us seeking the respondent court to make petitioners liable for vicarious liability. 3
reversal of the judgment of respondent court promulgated on January 2, 1985
in AC-G.R. CV No. 69060 with the following decretal In the proceedings before the trial court, Dr. Jesus P. Cerna, Police Medico-
portion:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph Legal Officer of Cebu, submitted his findings and opinions on some postulates
for determining whether or not the gunshot wound was inflicted on Wendell
"WHEREFORE, the decision of the lower court dismissing plaintiff’s complaint Libi by his own suicidal act. However, undue emphasis was placed by the
is hereby reversed; and instead, judgment is hereby rendered sentencing lower court on the absence of gunpowder or tattooing around the wound at the
defendants, jointly and solidarily, to pay to plaintiffs the following point of entry of the bullet. It should be emphasized, however, that this is not
amounts:chanrobles.com : virtual law library the only circumstance to be taken into account in the determination of whether
it was suicide or not.
1. Moral damages, P30,000.000;
2. Exemplary damages, P10,000.00; It is true that said witness declared that he found no evidence of contact or
3. Attorney’s fees, P20,000.00, and costs. close-contact of an explosive discharge in the entrance wound. However, as
pointed out by private respondents, the body of deceased Wendell Libi must
However, denial of defendants-appellees’ counterclaims is affirmed." 1 have been washed at the funeral parlor, considering the hasty interment
thereof a little after eight (8) hours from the occurrence wherein he died. Dr.
Synthesized from the findings of the lower courts, it appears that respondent Cerna himself could not categorically state that the body of Wendell Libi was
spouses are the legitimate parents of Julie Ann Gotiong who, at the time of the left untouched at the funeral parlor before he was able to conduct his autopsy.
It will also be noted that Dr. Cerna was negligent in not conducting a paraffin "Q Now, will you please use yourself as Wendell Libi, and following the
test on Wendell Libi, hence possible evidence of gunpowder residue on entrance of the wound, the trajectory of the bullet and the exit of the wound,
Wendell’s hands was forever lost when Wendell was hastily buried.cralawnad and measuring yourself 24 inches, will you please indicate to the Honorable
Court how would it have been possible for Wendell Libi to kill himself? Will
More specifically, Dr. Cerna testified that he conducted an autopsy on the body you please indicate the 24 inches?
of Wendell Libi about eight (8) hours after the incident or, to be exact, eight (8)
hours and twenty (20) minutes based on the record of death; that when he WITNESS:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
arrived at the Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes, the body of the deceased was
already on the autopsy table and in the stage of rigor mortis; and that said A Actually, sir, the 24 inches is approximately one arm’s length.
body was not washed, but it was dried. 4 However, on redirect examination,
he admitted that during the 8-hour interval, he never saw the body nor did he ATTY. SENINING:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
see whether said body was wiped or washed in the area of the wound on the
head which he examined because the deceased was inside the morgue. 5 In I would like to make of record that the witness has demonstrated by
fact, on cross-examination, he had earlier admitted that as far as the entrance extending his right arm almost straight towards his head." 11
of the wound, the trajectory of the bullet and the exit of the wound are
concerned, it is possible that Wendell Libi shot himself. 6 Private respondents assail the fact that the trial court gave credence to the
testimonies of defendants’ witnesses Lydia Ang and James Enrique Tan, the
He further testified that the muzzle of the gun was not pressed on the head of first being a resident of an apartment across the street from the Gotiongs
the victim and that he found no burning or singeing of the hair or extensive and the second, a resident of the house adjacent to the Gotiong residence,
laceration on the gunshot wound of entrance which are general characteristics who declared having seen a "shadow" of a person at the gate of the Gotiong
of contact or near-contact fire. On direct examination, Dr. Cerna nonetheless house after hearing shots therefrom.
made these clarification:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
On cross-examination, Lydia Ang testified that the apartment where she was
"Q Is it not a fact that there are certain guns which are so made that there staying faces the gas station; that it is the second apartment; that from her
would be no black residue or tattooing that could result from these guns window she can see directly the gate of the Gotiongs and, that there is a
because they are what we call clean? firewall between her apartment and the gas station. 12 After seeing a man
jump from the gate of the Gotiongs to the rooftop of the Tans, she called the
A Yes, sir. I know that there are what we call smokeless powder. police station but the telephone lines were busy. Later on, she talked with
James Enrique Tan and told him that she saw a man leap from the gate
ATTY. ORTIZ:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library towards his rooftop. 13

Q Yes. So, in cases, therefore, of guns where the powder is smokeless, However, James Enrique Tan testified that he saw a "shadow" on top of the
those indications that you said may not rule out the possibility that the gun gate of the Gotiongs, but denied having talked with anyone regarding what
was closer than 24 inches, is that correct? he saw. He explained that he lives in a duplex house with a garden in front of
it; that his house is next to Felipe Gotiong’s house; and he further gave the
A If the . . . assuming that the gun used was .. the bullet used was a following answers to these questions:chanrobles.com : virtual law library
smokeless powder.

Q At any rate, doctor, from . . . disregarding those other matters that you "ATTY. ORTIZ: (TO WITNESS).
have noticed, the singeing, etc., from the trajectory, based on the trajectory Q What is the height of the wall of the Gotiong’s in relation to your house?
of the bullet as shown in your own sketch, is it not a fact that the gun could WITNESS:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
have been fired by the person himself, the victim himself, Wendell Libi, A It is about 8 feet.
because it shows a point of entry a little above the right ear and point of exit ATTY. ORTIZ: (TO WITNESS)
a little above that, to be very fair and on your oath? Q And where were you looking from?
WITNESS:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
A As far as the point of entrance is concerned and as far as the trajectory of A From upstairs in my living room.
the bullet is concerned and as far as the angle or the manner of fire is ATTY. ORTIZ (TO WITNESS)
concerned, it could have been fired by the victim." 7 Q From Your living room window, is that correct?
WITNESS:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
As shown by the evidence, there were only two used bullets 8 found at the A Yes, but not very clear because the wall is high." 14
scene of the crime, each of which were the bullets that hit Julie Ann Gotiong
and Wendell Libi, respectively. Also, the sketch prepared by the Medico- Analyzing the foregoing testimonies, we agree with respondent court that the
Legal Division of the National Bureau of Investigation, 9 shows that there is same do not inspire credence as to the reliability and accuracy of the
only one gunshot wound of entrance located at the right temple of Wendell witnesses’ observations, since the visual perceptions of both were obstructed
Libi. The necropsy report prepared by Dr. Cerna states:chanrob1es virtual by high walls in their respective houses in relation to the house of herein
1aw library private respondents. On the other hand, witness Manolo Alfonso, testifying on
x x x rebuttal, attested without contradiction that he and his sister, Malou Alfonso,
"Gunshot wound, ENTRANCE, ovaloid, 0.5 x 0.4 cm., with contusion collar were waiting for Julie Ann Gotiong when they heard her scream; that when
widest inferiorly by 0.2 cm., edges inverted, oriented upward, located at the Manolo climbed the fence to see what was going on inside the Gotiong house,
head, temporal region, right, 2.8 cms. behind and 5.5 cms. above right he heard the first shot; and, not more than five (5) seconds later, he heard
external auditory meatus, directed slightly forward, upward and to the left, another shot. Consequently, he went down from the fence and drove to the
involving skin and soft tissues, making a punch-in fracture on the temporal police station to report the incident. 15 Manolo’s direct and candid testimony
bone, right, penetrating cranial cavity, lacerating extensively along its course establishes and explains the fact that it was he whom Lydia Ang and James
the brain tissues, fracturing parietal bone, left, and finally making an EXIT Enrique Tan saw as the "shadow" of a man at the gate of the Gotiong house.
wound, irregular, 2.0 x 1.8 cms., edges (e)verted, parietal region, left, 2.0
cms. behind and 12.9 cms. above left external auditory meatus.chanrobles We have perforce to reject petitioners’ effete and unsubstantiated pretension
virtualawlibrary chanrobles.com:chanrobles.com.ph that it was another man who shot Wendell and Julie Ann. It is significant that
x x x the Libi family did not even point to or present any suspect in the crime nor did
"Evidence of contact or close-contact fire, such as burning around the they file any case against any alleged "John Doe." Nor can we sustain the trial
gunshot wound of entrance, gunpowder tatooing (sic), smudging, singeing of court’s dubious theory that Wendell Libi did not die by his own hand because
hair, extensive laceration or bursting of the gunshot wound of entrance, or of the overwhelming evidence — testimonial, documentary and pictorial — the
separation of the skin from the underlying tissue, are absent." 10 confluence of which point to Wendell as the assailant of Julie Ann, his motive
being revenge for her rejection of his persistent pleas for a
On cross-examination, Dr. Cerna demonstrated his theory which was made reconciliation.chanrobles.com:cralaw:red
of record, thus:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
Petitioners’ defense that they had exercised the due diligence of a good father
of a family, hence they should not be civilly liable for the crime committed by x x x
their minor son, is not borne out by the evidence on record either. "Based on the foregoing discussions of the assigned errors, this Court holds
that the lower court was not correct in dismissing herein plaintiffs-appellants’
Petitioner Amelita Yap Libi, mother of Wendell, testified that her husband, complaint because as preponderantly shown by evidence, defendants-
Cresencio Libi, owns a gun which he kept in a safety deposit box inside a appellees utterly failed to exercise all the diligence of a good father of the
drawer in their bedroom. Each of these petitioners holds a key to the safety family in preventing their minor son from committing this crime by means of
deposit box and Amelita’s key is always in her bag, all of which facts were the gun of defendants-appellees which was freely accessible to Wendell Libi
known to Wendell. They have never seen their son Wendell taking or using for they have not regularly checked whether said gun was still under lock, but
the gun. She admitted, however, that on that fateful night the gun was no learned that it was missing from the safety deposit box only after the crime had
longer in the safety deposit box. 16 We, accordingly, cannot but entertain been committed." (Emphases ours.) 19
serious doubts that petitioner spouses had really been exercising the diligence
of a good father of a family by safely locking the fatal gun away. Wendell could We agree with the conclusion of respondent court that petitioners should be
not have gotten hold thereof unless one of the keys to the safety deposit box held liable for the civil liability based on what appears from all indications was
was negligently left lying around or he had free access to the bag of his mother a crime committed by their minor son. We take this opportunity, however, to
where the other key was. digress and discuss its ratiocination therefor on jurisprudential dicta which we
feel require clarification.
The diligence of a good father of a family required by law in a parent and child
relationship consists, to a large extent, of the instruction and supervision of the In imposing sanctions for the so-called vicarious liability of petitioners,
child. Petitioners were gravely remiss in their duties as parents in not diligently respondent court cites Fuellas v. Cadano, Et. Al. 20 which supposedly holds
supervising the activities of their son, despite his minority and immaturity, so that" (t)he subsidiary liability of parents for damages caused by their minor
much so that it was only at the time of Wendell’s death that they allegedly children imposed by Article 2180 of the New Civil Code covers obligations
discovered that he was a CANU agent and that Cresencio’s gun was missing arising from both quasi-delicts and criminal offenses," followed by an extended
from the safety deposit box. Both parents were sadly wanting in their duty and quotation ostensibly from the same case explaining why under Article 2180 of
responsibility in monitoring and knowing the activities of their children who, for the Civil Code and Article 101 of the Revised Penal Code parents should
all they know, may be engaged in dangerous work such as being drug assume subsidiary liability for damages caused by their minor children. The
informers, 17 or even drug users. Neither was a plausible explanation given quoted passages are set out two paragraphs back, with pertinent underscoring
for the photograph of Wendell, with a handwritten dedication to Julie Ann at for purposes of the discussion hereunder.chanrobles law library
the back thereof, 18 holding upright what clearly appears as a revolver and on
how or why he was in possession of that firearm. Now, we do not have any objection to the doctrinal rule holding, the parents
liable, but the categorization of their liability as being subsidiary, and not
In setting aside the judgment of the court a quo and holding petitioners civilly primary, in nature requires a hard second look considering previous decisions
liable, as explained at the start of this opinion, respondent court waved aside of this court on the matter which warrant comparative analyses. Our concern
the protestations of diligence on the part of petitioners and had this to stems from our readings that if the liability of the parents for crimes or quasi-
say:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph delicts of their minor children is subsidiary, then the parents can neither invoke
nor be absolved of civil liability on the defense that they acted with the
". . . It is still the duty of parents to know the activity of their children who may diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damages. On the other hand,
be engaged in this dangerous activity involving the menace of drugs. Had the if such liability imputed to the parents is considered direct and primary, that
defendants-appellees been diligent in supervising the activities of their son, diligence would constitute a valid and substantial defense.
Wendell, and in keeping said gun from his reach, they could have prevented
Wendell from killing Julie Ann Gotiong. Therefore, appellants are liable under We believe that the civil liability of parents for quasi-delicts of their minor
Article 2180 of the Civil Code which provides:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library children, as contemplated in Article 2180 of the Civil Code, is primary and not
subsidiary. In fact, if we apply Article 2194 of said code which provides for
‘The father, and in case of his death or incapacity, the mother, are responsible solidary liability of joint tortfeasors, the persons responsible for the act or
for the damages caused by their minor children who live in their company.’ omission, in this case the minor and the father and, in case of his death of
incapacity, the mother, are solidarily liable. Accordingly, such parental liability
"Having been grossly negligent in preventing Wendell Libi from having access is primary and not subsidiary, hence the last paragraph of Article 2180
to said gun which was allegedly kept in a safety deposit box, defendants- provides that" (t)he responsibility treated of in this article shall cease when the
appellees are subsidiarily liable for the natural consequence of the criminal act persons herein mentioned prove that they observed all the diligence of a good
of said minor who was living in their company. This vicarious liability of herein father of a family to prevent damages."cralaw virtua1aw library
defendants-appellees has been reiterated by the Supreme Court in many
cases, prominent of which is the case of Fuellas v. Cadano, et. al. (L-14409, We are also persuaded that the liability of the parents for felonies committed
Oct. 31, 1961, 3 SCRA 361-367), which held that:chanrob1es virtual 1aw by their minor children is likewise primary, not subsidiary. Article 101 of the
library Revised Penal Code provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

‘The subsidiary liability of parents for damages caused by their minor children "ARTICLE 101. Rules regarding civil liability in certain cases. —
imposed by Article 2180 of the New Civil Code covers obligations arising from x x x
both quasi-delicts and criminal offenses.’ First. In cases of subdivisions . . . 2, and 3 of Article 12, the civil liability for
acts committed by . . . a person under nine years of age, or by one over nine
‘The subsidiary liability of parent’s arising from the criminal acts of their minor but under fifteen years of age, who has acted without discernment, shall
children who acted with discernment is determined under the provisions of devolve upon those having such person under their legal authority or control,
Article 2180, N.C.C. and under Article 101 of the Revised Penal Code, unless it appears that there was no fault or negligence on their part."
because to hold that the former only covers obligations which arise from quasi- (Emphasis supplied.) 21
delicts and not obligations which arise from criminal offenses, would result in
the absurdity that while for an act where mere negligence intervenes the father Accordingly, just like the rule in Article 2180 of the Civil Code, under the
or mother may stand subsidiarily liable for the damages caused by his or her foregoing provision the civil liability of the parents for crimes committed by their
son, no liability would attach if the damage is caused with criminal intent.’ (3 minor children is likewise direct and primary, and also subject to the defense
SCRA 361-362). of lack of fault or negligence on their part, that is, the exercise of the diligence
of a good father of a family.
". . . In the instant case, minor son of herein defendants-appellees, Wendell
Libi somehow got hold of the key to the drawer where said gun was kept under That in both quasi-delicts and crimes the parents primarily respond for such
lock without defendant-spouses ever knowing that said gun had been missing damages is buttressed by the corresponding provisions in both codes that the
from that safety box since 1978 when Wendell Libi had) a picture taken minor transgressor shall be answerable or shall respond with his own property
wherein he proudly displayed said gun and dedicated this picture to his only in the absence or in case of insolvency of the former. Thus, for civil liability
sweetheart, Julie Ann Gotiong; also since then, Wendell Libi was said to have ex quasi delicto of minors, Article 2182 of the Civil Code states that" (i)f the
kept said gun in his car, in keeping up with his supposed role of a CANU agent minor causing damage has no parents or guardian, the minor . . . shall be
. . ." chanrobles lawlibrary : rednad answerable with his own property in an action against him where a guardian
ad litem shall be appointed." For civil liability ex delicto of minors, an equivalent wise:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
provision is found in the third paragraph of Article 101 of the Revised Penal
Code, to wit:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph "Moreover, the case at bar was decided by the Court of Appeals on the basis
of evidence submitted therein by both parties, independent of the criminal
"Should there be no person having such . . . minor under his authority, legal case. And responsibility for fault or negligence under Article 2176 upon which
guardianship or control, or if such person be insolvent, said . . . minor shall the present action was instituted, is entirely separate and distinct from the civil
respond with (his) own property, excepting property exempt from execution, in liability arising from fault or negligence under the Penal Code (Art. 2177), and
accordance with civil law."cralaw virtua1aw library having in mind the reasons behind the law as heretofore stated, any
discussion as to the minor’s criminal responsibility is of no moment."cralaw
The civil liability of parents for felonies committed by their minor children virtua1aw library
contemplated in the aforesaid rule in Article 101 of the Revised Penal Code in
relation to Article 2180 of the Civil Code has, aside from the aforecited case Under the foregoing considerations, therefore, we hereby rule that the parents
of Fuellas, been the subject of a number of cases adjudicated by this Court, are and should be held primarily liable for the civil liability arising from criminal
viz.: Exconde v. Capuno, Et Al., 22 Araneta v. Arreglado, 23 Salen, Et. Al. v. offenses committed by their minor children under their legal authority or
Balce, 24 Paleyan, etc., Et. Al. v. Bangkili, Et Al., 25 and Elcano, et al, v. Hill, control, or who live in their company, unless it is proven that the former acted
Et. Al. 26 Parenthetically, the aforesaid cases were basically on the issue of with the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent such damages. That
the civil liability of parents for crimes committed by their minor children over 9 primary liability is premised on the provisions of Article 101 of the Revised
but under 15 years of age, who acted with discernment, and also of minors 15 Penal Code with respect to damages ex delicto caused by their children 9
years of aye or over, since these situations are not covered by Article 101, years of age or under, or over 9 but under 15 years of age who acted without
Revised Penal Code. In both instances, this Court held that the issue of discernment; and, with regard to their children over 9 but under 15 years of
parental civil liability should be resolved in accordance with the provisions of age who acted with discernment, or 15 years or over but under 21 years of
Article 2180 of the Civil Code for the reasons well expressed in Salen and age, such primary liability shall be imposed pursuant to Article 2180 of the Civil
adopted in the cases hereinbefore enumerated that to hold that the civil liability Code. 31
under Article 2180 would apply only to quasi-delicts and not to criminal
offenses would result in the absurdity that in an act involving mere negligence Under said Article 2180, the enforcement of such liability shall be effected
the parents would be liable but not where the damage is caused with criminal against the father and, in case of his death or incapacity, the mother. This was
intent. In said cases, however, there are unfortunate variances resulting in a amplified by the Child and Youth Welfare Code which provides that the same
regrettable inconsistency in the Court’s determination of whether the liability shall devolve upon the father and, in case of his death or incapacity, upon the
of the parents, in cases involving either crimes or quasi-delicts of their minor mother or, in case of her death or incapacity, upon the guardian, but the liability
children, is primary or subsidiary. may also be voluntarily assumed by a relative or family friend of the youthful
offender. 32 However, under the Family Code, this civil liability is now, without
In Exconde, where the 15-year old minor was convicted of double homicide such alternative qualification, the responsibility of the parents and those who
through reckless imprudence, in a separate civil action arising from the crime exercise parental authority over the minor offender. 33 For civil liability arising
the minor and his father were held jointly and severally liable for failure of the from quasi-delicts committed by minors, the same rules shall apply in
latter to prove the diligence of a good father of a family. The same liability in accordance with Articles 2180 and 2182 of the Civil Code, as so modified.
solidum and, therefore, primary liability was imposed in a separate civil action
in Araneta on the parents and their 14-year old son who was found guilty of In the case at bar, whether the death of the hapless Julie Ann Gotiong was
frustrated homicide, but on the authority of Article 2194 of the Civil Code caused by a felony or a quasi-delict committed by Wendell Libi, respondent
providing for solidary responsibility of two or more persons who are liable for court did not err in holding petitioners liable for damages arising therefrom.
a quasi-delict. Subject to the preceding modifications of the premises relied upon by it
therefor and on the bases of the legal imperatives herein explained, we conjoin
However, in Salen, the father was declared subsidiarily liable for damages in its findings that said petitioners failed to duly exercise the requisite
arising from the conviction of his son, who was over 15 but less than 18 years diligentissimi patris familias to prevent such damages.
of age, by applying Article 2180 but, this time, disregarding Article 2194 of the
Civil Code. In the present case, as already explained, the petitioners herein ACCORDINGLY, the instant Petition is DENIED and the assailed judgment of
were also held liable but supposedly in line with Fuellas which purportedly respondent Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED, with costs against
declared the parents subsidiarily liable for the civil liability for serious physical petitioners.
injuries committed by their 13-year old son. On the other hand, in Paleyan, the
mother and her 19-year old son were adjudged solidarily liable for damages ST. MARYS ACADEMY, petitioner, vs. WILLIAM CARPITANOS and LUCIA
arising from his conviction for homicide by the application of Article 2180 of S. CARPITANOS, GUADA DANIEL, JAMES DANIEL II, JAMES DANIEL,
the Civil Code since this is likewise not covered by Article 101 of the Revised SR., and VIVENCIO VILLANUEVA, respondents.
Penal Code. Finally, in Elcano, although the son was acquitted in a homicide The case is an appeal via certiorari from the decisioni[1] of the Court of
charge due to "lack of intent, coupled with mistake," it was ruled that while Appeals as well as the resolution denying reconsideration, holding petitioner
under Article 2180 of the Civil Code there should be solidary liability for liable for damages arising from an accident that resulted in the death of a
damages, since the son, "although married, was living with his father and student who had joined a campaign to visit the public schools in Dipolog City
getting subsistence from him at the time of the occurrence," but "is now of age, to solicit enrollment.
as a matter of equity" the father was only held subsidiarily liable. The Facts
The facts, as found by the Court of Appeals, are as follows:
It bears stressing, however, that the Revised Penal Code provides for Claiming damages for the death of their only son, Sherwin Carpitanos,
subsidiary liability only for persons causing damages under the compulsion of spouses William Carpitanos and Lucia Carpitanos filed on June 9, 1995 a case
irresistible force or under the impulse of an uncontrollable fear; 27 innkeepers, against James Daniel II and his parents, James Daniel Sr. and Guada Daniel,
tavernkeepers and proprietors of establishments; 28 employers, teachers, the vehicle owner, Vivencio Villanueva and St. Marys Academy before the
persons and corporations engaged in industry; 29 and principals, accomplices Regional Trial Court of Dipolog City.
and accessories for the unpaid civil liability of their co-accused in the other On 20 February 1997, Branch 6 of the Regional Trial Court of Dipolog City
classes. 30 rendered its decision the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, judgment is hereby rendered in
Also, coming back to respondent court’s reliance on Fuellas in its decision in the following manner:
the present case, it is not exactly accurate to say that Fuellas provided for 1. Defendant St. Marys Academy of Dipolog City, is hereby ordered to
subsidiary liability of the parents therein. A careful scrutiny shows that what pay plaintiffs William Carpitanos and Luisa Carpitanos, the following sums of
respondent court quoted verbatim in its decision now on appeal in the present money:
case, and which it attributed to Fuellas, was the syllabus on the law report of a. FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) indemnity for the loss of
said case which spoke of "subsidiary" liability. However, such categorization life of Sherwin S. Carpitanos;
does not specifically appear in the text of the decision in Fuellas. In fact, after b. FORTY THOUSAND PESOS (P40,000.00) actual damages
reviewing therein the cases of Exconde, Araneta and Salen and the incurred by plaintiffs for burial and related expenses;
discussions in said cases of Article 101 of the Revised Penal Code in relation c. TEN THOUSAND PESOS (P10,000.00) for attorneys fees;
to Article 2180 of the Civil Code, this Court concluded its decision in this
d. FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P500,000.00) for moral In this case, the respondents failed to show that the negligence of petitioner
damages; and to pay costs. was the proximate cause of the death of the victim.
2. Their liability being only subsidiary, defendants James Daniel, Sr. Respondents Daniel spouses and Villanueva admitted that the immediate
and Guada Daniel are hereby ordered to pay herein plaintiffs the amount of cause of the accident was not the negligence of petitioner or the reckless
damages above-stated in the event of insolvency of principal obligor St. Marys driving of James Daniel II, but the detachment of the steering wheel guide of
Academy of Dipolog City; the jeep.
3. Defendant James Daniel II, being a minor at the time of the In their comment to the petition, respondents Daniel spouses and Villanueva
commission of the tort and who was under special parental authority of admitted the documentary exhibits establishing that the cause of the accident
defendant St. Marys Academy, is ABSOLVED from paying the above-stated was the detachment of the steering wheel guide of the jeep. Hence, the cause
damages, same being adjudged against defendants St. Marys Academy, and of the accident was not the recklessness of James Daniel II but the mechanical
subsidiarily, against his parents; defect in the jeep of Vivencio Villanueva. Respondents, including the spouses
4. Defendant Vivencio Villanueva is hereby ABSOLVED of any liability. Carpitanos, parents of the deceased Sherwin Carpitanos, did not dispute the
His counterclaim not being in order as earlier discussed in this decision, is report and testimony of the traffic investigator who stated that the cause of the
hereby DISMISSED. accident was the detachment of the steering wheel guide that caused the jeep
IT IS SO ORDERED. (Decision, pp. 32-33; Records, pp. 205-206). to turn turtle.
From the records it appears that from 13 to 20 February 1995, defendant- Significantly, respondents did not present any evidence to show that the
appellant St. Marys Academy of Dipolog City conducted an enrollment drive proximate cause of the accident was the negligence of the school authorities,
for the school year 1995-1996. A facet of the enrollment campaign was the or the reckless driving of James Daniel II. Hence, the respondents reliance on
visitation of schools from where prospective enrollees were studying. As a Article 219 of the Family Code that those given the authority and responsibility
student of St. Marys Academy, Sherwin Carpitanos was part of the under the preceding Article shall be principally and solidarily liable for
campaigning group. Accordingly, on the fateful day, Sherwin, along with other damages caused by acts or omissions of the unemancipated minor was
high school students were riding in a Mitsubishi jeep owned by defendant unfounded.
Vivencio Villanueva on their way to Larayan Elementary School, Larayan, Further, there was no evidence that petitioner school allowed the minor James
Dapitan City. The jeep was driven by James Daniel II then 15 years old and a Daniel II to drive the jeep of respondent Vivencio Villanueva. It was Ched
student of the same school. Allegedly, the latter drove the jeep in a reckless Villanueva, grandson of respondent Vivencio Villanueva, who had possession
manner and as a result the jeep turned turtle. and control of the jeep. He was driving the vehicle and he allowed James
Sherwin Carpitanos died as a result of the injuries he sustained from the Daniel II, a minor, to drive the jeep at the time of the accident.
accident.ii[2] Hence, liability for the accident, whether caused by the negligence of the minor
In due time, petitioner St. Marys academy appealed the decision to the Court driver or mechanical detachment of the steering wheel guide of the jeep, must
of Appeals.iii[3] be pinned on the minors parents primarily. The negligence of petitioner St.
On February 29, 2000, the Court of Appeals promulgated a decision reducing Marys Academy was only a remote cause of the accident. Between the remote
the actual damages to P25,000.00 but otherwise affirming the decision a quo, cause and the injury, there intervened the negligence of the minors parents or
in toto.iv[4] the detachment of the steering wheel guide of the jeep.
On February 29, 2000, petitioner St. Marys Academy filed a motion for The proximate cause of an injury is that cause, which, in natural and
reconsideration of the decision. However, on May 22, 2000, the Court of continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces
Appeals denied the motion.v[5] the injury, and without which the result would not have occurred.xiii[13]
Hence, this appeal.vi[6] Considering that the negligence of the minor driver or the detachment of the
The Issues steering wheel guide of the jeep owned by respondent Villanueva was an
1) Whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding the petitioner liable event over which petitioner St. Marys Academy had no control, and which was
for damages for the death of Sherwin Carpitanos. the proximate cause of the accident, petitioner may not be held liable for the
2) Whether the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the award of moral death resulting from such accident.
damages against the petitioner. Consequently, we find that petitioner likewise cannot be held liable for moral
The Courts Ruling damages in the amount of P500,000.00 awarded by the trial court and affirmed
We reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals. by the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals held petitioner St. Marys Academy liable for the death Though incapable of pecuniary computation, moral damages may be
of Sherwin Carpitanos under Articles 218vii[7] and 219viii[8] of the Family recovered if they are the proximate result of the defendants wrongful act or
Code, pointing out that petitioner was negligent in allowing a minor to drive omission.xiv[14] In this case, the proximate cause of the accident was not
and in not having a teacher accompany the minor students in the jeep. attributable to petitioner.
Under Article 218 of the Family Code, the following shall have special parental For the reason that petitioner was not directly liable for the accident, the
authority over a minor child while under their supervision, instruction or decision of the Court of Appeals ordering petitioner to pay death indemnity to
custody: (1) the school, its administrators and teachers; or (2) the individual, respondent Carpitanos must be deleted. Moreover, the grant of attorneys fees
entity or institution engaged in child care. This special parental authority and as part of damages is the exception rather than the rule.xv[15] The power of
responsibility applies to all authorized activities, whether inside or outside the the court to award attorneys fees under Article 2208 of the Civil Code demands
premises of the school, entity or institution. Thus, such authority and factual, legal and equitable justification.xvi[16] Thus, the grant of attorneys
responsibility applies to field trips, excursions and other affairs of the pupils fees against the petitioner is likewise deleted.
and students outside the school premises whenever authorized by the school Incidentally, there was no question that the registered owner of the vehicle
or its teachers.ix[9] was respondent Villanueva. He never denied and in fact admitted this fact. We
Under Article 219 of the Family Code, if the person under custody is a minor, have held that the registered owner of any vehicle, even if not used for public
those exercising special parental authority are principally and solidarily liable service, would primarily be responsible to the public or to third persons for
for damages caused by the acts or omissions of the unemancipated minor injuries caused the latter while the vehicle was being driven on the highways
while under their supervision, instruction, or custody.x[10] or streets.xvii[17] Hence, with the overwhelming evidence presented by
However, for petitioner to be liable, there must be a finding that the act or petitioner and the respondent Daniel spouses that the accident occurred
omission considered as negligent was the proximate cause of the injury because of the detachment of the steering wheel guide of the jeep, it is not the
caused because the negligence must have a causal connection to the school, but the registered owner of the vehicle who shall be held responsible
accident.xi[11] for damages for the death of Sherwin Carpitanos.
In order that there may be a recovery for an injury, however, it must be shown The Fallo
that the injury for which recovery is sought must be the legitimate WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the decision of the
consequence of the wrong done; the connection between the negligence and Court of Appealsxviii[18] and that of the trial court.xix[19] The Court remands
the injury must be a direct and natural sequence of events, unbroken by the case to the trial court for determination of the liability of defendants,
intervening efficient causes. In other words, the negligence must be the excluding petitioner St. Marys Academy, Dipolog City.
proximate cause of the injury. For, negligence, no matter in what it consists, No costs.
cannot create a right of action unless it is the proximate cause of the injury SO ORDERED.
complained of. And the proximate cause of an injury is that cause, which, in
natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening JOSE S. AMADORA, vs.HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, COLEGIO
cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not have DE SAN JOSE-RECOLETOS,
occurred.xii[12]
Like any prospective graduate, Alfredo Amadora was looking forward to the of schools of arts and trades in particular. The modifying clause "of
commencement exercises where he would ascend the stage and in the establishments of arts and trades" should apply only to "heads" and not
presence of his relatives and friends receive his high school diploma. These "teachers."
ceremonies were scheduled on April 16, 1972. As it turned out, though, fate Exconde was reiterated in the Mercado Case, and with an elaboration. A
would intervene and deny him that awaited experience. On April 13, 1972, student cut a classmate with a razor blade during recess time at the Lourdes
while they were in the auditorium of their school, the Colegio de San Jose- Catholic School in Quezon City, and the parents of the victim sued the culprits
Recoletos, a classmate, Pablito Damon, fired a gun that mortally hit Alfredo, parents for damages. Through Justice Labrador, the Court declared in another
ending all his expectations and his life as well. The victim was only seventeen obiter (as the school itself had also not been sued that the school was not
years old. 1 liable because it was not an establishment of arts and trades. Moreover, the
Daffon was convicted of homicide thru reckless imprudence . 2 Additionally, custody requirement had not been proved as this "contemplates a situation
the herein petitioners, as the victim's parents, filed a civil action for damages where the student lives and boards with the teacher, such that the control,
under Article 2180 of the Civil Code against the Colegio de San Jose- direction and influences on the pupil supersede those of the parents." Justice
Recoletos, its rector the high school principal, the dean of boys, and the J.B.L. Reyes did not take part but the other members of the court concurred
physics teacher, together with Daffon and two other students, through their in this decision promulgated on May 30, 1960.
respective parents. The complaint against the students was later dropped. In Palisoc vs. Brillantes, decided on October 4, 1971, a 16-year old student
After trial, the Court of First Instance of Cebu held the remaining defendants was killed by a classmate with fist blows in the laboratory of the Manila
liable to the plaintiffs in the sum of P294,984.00, representing death Technical Institute. Although the wrongdoer — who was already of age — was
compensation, loss of earning capacity, costs of litigation, funeral expenses, not boarding in the school, the head thereof and the teacher in charge were
moral damages, exemplary damages, and attorney's fees .3 On appeal to the held solidarily liable with him. The Court declared through Justice Teehankee:
respondent court, however, the decision was reversed and all the defendants The phrase used in the cited article — "so long as (the students) remain
were completely absolved .4 in their custody" — means the protective and supervisory custody that
In its decision, which is now the subject of this petition for certiorari under Rule the school and its heads and teachers exercise over the pupils and
45 of the Rules of Court, the respondent court found that Article 2180 was not students for as long as they are at attendance in the school, including
applicable as the Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos was not a school of arts and recess time. There is nothing in the law that requires that for such liability
trades but an academic institution of learning. It also held that the students to attach, the pupil or student who commits the tortious act must live and
were not in the custody of the school at the time of the incident as the semester board in the school, as erroneously held by the lower court, and the dicta
had already ended, that there was no clear identification of the fatal gun and in Mercado (as well as in Exconde) on which it relied, must now be
that in any event the defendant, had exercised the necessary diligence in deemed to have been set aside by the present decision.
preventing the injury. 5 This decision was concurred in by five other members, 10 including Justice
The basic undisputed facts are that Alfredo Amadora went to the San Jose- J.B.L. Reyes, who stressed, in answer to the dissenting opinion, that even
Recoletos on April 13, 1972, and while in its auditorium was shot to death by students already of age were covered by the provision since they were equally
Pablito Daffon, a classmate. On the implications and consequences of these in the custody of the school and subject to its discipline. Dissenting with three
facts, the parties sharply disagree. others,11 Justice Makalintal was for retaining the custody interpretation in
The petitioners contend that their son was in the school to show his physics Mercado and submitted that the rule should apply only to torts committed by
experiment as a prerequisite to his graduation; hence, he was then under the students not yet of age as the school would be acting only in loco parentis.
custody of the private respondents. The private respondents submit that In a footnote, Justice Teehankee said he agreed with Justice Reyes' dissent
Alfredo Amadora had gone to the school only for the purpose of submitting his in the Exconde Case but added that "since the school involved at bar is a non-
physics report and that he was no longer in their custody because the academic school, the question as to the applicability of the cited codal
semester had already ended. provision to academic institutions will have to await another case wherein it
There is also the question of the identity of the gun used which the petitioners may properly be raised."
consider important because of an earlier incident which they claim This is the case.
underscores the negligence of the school and at least one of the private Unlike in Exconde and Mercado, the Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos has been
respondents. It is not denied by the respondents that on April 7, 1972, Sergio directly impleaded and is sought to be held liable under Article 2180; and
Damaso, Jr., the dean of boys, confiscated from Jose Gumban an unlicensed unlike in Palisoc, it is not a school of arts and trades but an academic institution
pistol but later returned it to him without making a report to the principal or of learning. The parties herein have also directly raised the question of
taking any further action .6 As Gumban was one of the companions of Daffon whether or not Article 2180 covers even establishments which are technically
when the latter fired the gun that killed Alfredo, the petitioners contend that not schools of arts and trades, and, if so, when the offending student is
this was the same pistol that had been confiscated from Gumban and that their supposed to be "in its custody."
son would not have been killed if it had not been returned by Damaso. The After an exhaustive examination of the problem, the Court has come to the
respondents say, however, that there is no proof that the gun was the same conclusion that the provision in question should apply to all schools, academic
firearm that killed Alfredo. as well as non-academic. Where the school is academic rather than technical
Resolution of all these disagreements will depend on the interpretation of or vocational in nature, responsibility for the tort committed by the student will
Article 2180 which, as it happens, is invoked by both parties in support of their attach to the teacher in charge of such student, following the first part of the
conflicting positions. The pertinent part of this article reads as follows: provision. This is the general rule. In the case of establishments of arts and
Lastly, teachers or heads of establishments of arts and trades, it is the head thereof, and only he, who shall be held liable as an
trades shall be liable for damages caused by their pupils exception to the general rule. In other words, teachers in general shall be liable
and students or apprentices so long as they remain in their for the acts of their students except where the school is technical in nature, in
custody. which case it is the head thereof who shall be answerable. Following the canon
Three cases have so far been decided by the Court in connection with the of reddendo singula singulis "teachers" should apply to the words "pupils and
above-quoted provision, to wit: Exconde v. Capuno 7 Mercado v. Court of students" and "heads of establishments of arts and trades" to the word
Appeals, 8 and Palisoc v. Brillantes. 9 These will be briefly reviewed in this "apprentices."
opinion for a better resolution of the case at bar. The Court thus conforms to the dissenting opinion expressed by Justice J.B.L.
In the Exconde Case, Dante Capuno, a student of the Balintawak Elementary Reyes in Exconde where he said in part:
School and a Boy Scout, attended a Rizal Day parade on instructions of the I can see no sound reason for limiting Art. 1903 of the Old Civil Code to
city school supervisor. After the parade, the boy boarded a jeep, took over its teachers of arts and trades and not to academic ones. What substantial
wheel and drove it so recklessly that it turned turtle, resulting in the death of difference is there between them insofar as concerns the proper
two of its passengers. Dante was found guilty of double homicide with reckless supervision and vice over their pupils? It cannot be seriously contended
imprudence. In the separate civil action flied against them, his father was held that an academic teacher is exempt from the duty of watching that his
solidarily liable with him in damages under Article 1903 (now Article 2180) of pupils do not commit a tort to the detriment of third Persons, so long as
the Civil Code for the tort committed by the 15-year old boy. they are in a position to exercise authority and Supervision over the pupil.
This decision, which was penned by Justice Bautista Angelo on June 29,1957, In my opinion, in the phrase "teachers or heads of establishments of arts
exculpated the school in an obiter dictum (as it was not a party to the case) on and trades" used in Art. 1903 of the old Civil Code, the words "arts and
the ground that it was riot a school of arts and trades. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, trades" does not qualify "teachers" but only "heads of establishments."
with whom Justices Sabino Padilla and Alex Reyes concurred, dissented, The phrase is only an updated version of the equivalent terms
arguing that it was the school authorities who should be held liable Liability "preceptores y artesanos" used in the Italian and French Civil Codes.
under this rule, he said, was imposed on (1) teachers in general; and (2) heads
If, as conceded by all commentators, the basis of the presumption of view of the Court, the student is in the custody of the school authorities as long
negligence of Art. 1903 in some culpa in vigilando that the parents, as he is under the control and influence of the school and within its premises,
teachers, etc. are supposed to have incurred in the exercise of their whether the semester has not yet begun or has already ended.
authority, it would seem clear that where the parent places the child under It is too tenuous to argue that the student comes under the discipline of the
the effective authority of the teacher, the latter, and not the parent, should school only upon the start of classes notwithstanding that before that day he
be the one answerable for the torts committed while under his custody, has already registered and thus placed himself under its rules. Neither should
for the very reason/that the parent is not supposed to interfere with the such discipline be deemed ended upon the last day of classes notwithstanding
discipline of the school nor with the authority and supervision of the that there may still be certain requisites to be satisfied for completion of the
teacher while the child is under instruction. And if there is no authority, course, such as submission of reports, term papers, clearances and the like.
there can be no responsibility. During such periods, the student is still subject to the disciplinary authority of
There is really no substantial distinction between the academic and the non- the school and cannot consider himself released altogether from observance
academic schools insofar as torts committed by their students are concerned. of its rules.
The same vigilance is expected from the teacher over the students under his As long as it can be shown that the student is in the school premises in
control and supervision, whatever the nature of the school where he is pursuance of a legitimate student objective, in the exercise of a legitimate
teaching. The suggestion in the Exconde and Mercado Cases is that the student right, and even in the enjoyment of a legitimate student right, and even
provision would make the teacher or even the head of the school of arts and in the enjoyment of a legitimate student privilege, the responsibility of the
trades liable for an injury caused by any student in its custody but if that same school authorities over the student continues. Indeed, even if the student
tort were committed in an academic school, no liability would attach to the should be doing nothing more than relaxing in the campus in the company of
teacher or the school head. All other circumstances being the same, the his classmates and friends and enjoying the ambience and atmosphere of the
teacher or the head of the academic school would be absolved whereas the school, he is still within the custody and subject to the discipline of the school
teacher and the head of the non-academic school would be held liable, and authorities under the provisions of Article 2180.
simply because the latter is a school of arts and trades. During all these occasions, it is obviously the teacher-in-charge who must
The Court cannot see why different degrees of vigilance should be exercised answer for his students' torts, in practically the same way that the parents are
by the school authorities on the basis only of the nature of their respective responsible for the child when he is in their custody. The teacher-in-charge is
schools. There does not seem to be any plausible reason for relaxing that the one designated by the dean, principal, or other administrative superior to
vigilance simply because the school is academic in nature and for increasing exercise supervision over the pupils in the specific classes or sections to which
such vigilance where the school is non-academic. Notably, the injury subject they are assigned. It is not necessary that at the time of the injury, the teacher
of liability is caused by the student and not by the school itself nor is it a result be physically present and in a position to prevent it. Custody does not connote
of the operations of the school or its equipment. The injury contemplated may immediate and actual physical control but refers more to the influence exerted
be caused by any student regardless of the school where he is registered. The on the child and the discipline instilled in him as a result of such influence.
teacher certainly should not be able to excuse himself by simply showing that Thus, for the injuries caused by the student, the teacher and not the parent
he is teaching in an academic school where, on the other hand, the head would shag be held responsible if the tort was committed within the premises of the
be held liable if the school were non-academic. school at any time when its authority could be validly exercised over him.
These questions, though, may be asked: If the teacher of the academic school In any event, it should be noted that the liability imposed by this article is
is to be held answerable for the torts committed by his students, why is it the supposed to fall directly on the teacher or the head of the school of arts and
head of the school only who is held liable where the injury is caused in a school trades and not on the school itself. If at all, the school, whatever its nature,
of arts and trades? And in the case of the academic or non- technical school, may be held to answer for the acts of its teachers or even of the head thereof
why not apply the rule also to the head thereof instead of imposing the liability under the general principle of respondeat superior, but then it may exculpate
only on the teacher? itself from liability by proof that it had exercised the diligence of a bonus
The reason for the disparity can be traced to the fact that historically the head paterfamilias.
of the school of arts and trades exercised a closer tutelage over his pupils than Such defense is, of course, also available to the teacher or the head of the
the head of the academic school. The old schools of arts and trades were school of arts and trades directly held to answer for the tort committed by the
engaged in the training of artisans apprenticed to their master who personally student. As long as the defendant can show that he had taken the necessary
and directly instructed them on the technique and secrets of their craft. The precautions to prevent the injury complained of, he can exonerate himself from
head of the school of arts and trades was such a master and so was personally the liability imposed by Article 2180, which also states that:
involved in the task of teaching his students, who usually even boarded with The responsibility treated of in this article shall cease when the Persons
him and so came under his constant control, supervision and influence. By herein mentioned prove that they observed all the diligence of a good
contrast, the head of the academic school was not as involved with his father of a family to prevent damages.
students and exercised only administrative duties over the teachers who were In this connection, it should be observed that the teacher will be held liable not
the persons directly dealing with the students. The head of the academic only when he is acting in loco parentis for the law does not require that the
school had then (as now) only a vicarious relationship with the students. offending student be of minority age. Unlike the parent, who wig be liable only
Consequently, while he could not be directly faulted for the acts of the if his child is still a minor, the teacher is held answerable by the law for the act
students, the head of the school of arts and trades, because of his closer ties of the student under him regardless of the student's age. Thus, in the Palisoc
with them, could be so blamed. Case, liability attached to the teacher and the head of the technical school
It is conceded that the distinction no longer obtains at present in view of the although the wrongdoer was already of age. In this sense, Article 2180 treats
expansion of the schools of arts and trades, the consequent increase in their the parent more favorably than the teacher.
enrollment, and the corresponding diminution of the direct and personal The Court is not unmindful of the apprehensions expressed by Justice
contract of their heads with the students. Article 2180, however, remains Makalintal in his dissenting opinion in Palisoc that the school may be unduly
unchanged. In its present state, the provision must be interpreted by the Court exposed to liability under this article in view of the increasing activism among
according to its clear and original mandate until the legislature, taking into the students that is likely to cause violence and resulting injuries in the school
account the charges in the situation subject to be regulated, sees fit to enact premises. That is a valid fear, to be sure. Nevertheless, it should be repeated
the necessary amendment. that, under the present ruling, it is not the school that will be held directly liable.
The other matter to be resolved is the duration of the responsibility of the Moreover, the defense of due diligence is available to it in case it is sought to
teacher or the head of the school of arts and trades over the students. Is such be held answerable as principal for the acts or omission of its head or the
responsibility co-extensive with the period when the student is actually teacher in its employ.
undergoing studies during the school term, as contended by the respondents The school can show that it exercised proper measures in selecting the head
and impliedly admitted by the petitioners themselves? or its teachers and the appropriate supervision over them in the custody and
From a reading of the provision under examination, it is clear that while the instruction of the pupils pursuant to its rules and regulations for the
custody requirement, to repeat Palisoc v. Brillantes, does not mean that the maintenance of discipline among them. In almost all cases now, in fact, these
student must be boarding with the school authorities, it does signify that the measures are effected through the assistance of an adequate security force
student should be within the control and under the influence of the school to help the teacher physically enforce those rules upon the students. Ms
authorities at the time of the occurrence of the injury. This does not necessarily should bolster the claim of the school that it has taken adequate steps to
mean that such, custody be co-terminous with the semester, beginning with prevent any injury that may be committed by its students.
the start of classes and ending upon the close thereof, and excluding the time A fortiori, the teacher himself may invoke this defense as it would otherwise
before or after such period, such as the period of registration, and in the case be unfair to hold him directly answerable for the damage caused by his
of graduating students, the period before the commencement exercises. In the students as long as they are in the school premises and presumably under his
influence. In this respect, the Court is disposed not to expect from the teacher WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, without any pronouncement as to
the same measure of responsibility imposed on the parent for their influence costs. It is so ordered.
over the child is not equal in degree. Obviously, the parent can expect more
obedience from the child because the latter's dependence on him is greater E. MERRITT, plaintiff-appellant, vs. GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINE
than on the teacher. It need not be stressed that such dependence includes ISLANDS, defendant-appellant.
the child's support and sustenance whereas submission to the teacher's This is an appeal by both parties from a judgment of the Court of First Instance
influence, besides being coterminous with the period of custody is usually of the city of Manila in favor of the plaintiff for the sum of P14,741, together
enforced only because of the students' desire to pass the course. The parent with the costs of the cause.
can instill more las discipline on the child than the teacher and so should be Counsel for the plaintiff insist that the trial court erred (1) "in limiting the general
held to a greater accountability than the teacher for the tort committed by the damages which the plaintiff suffered to P5,000, instead of P25,000 as claimed
child. in the complaint," and (2) "in limiting the time when plaintiff was entirely
And if it is also considered that under the article in question, the teacher or the disabled to two months and twenty-one days and fixing the damage
head of the school of arts and trades is responsible for the damage caused by accordingly in the sum of P2,666, instead of P6,000 as claimed by plaintiff in
the student or apprentice even if he is already of age — and therefore less his complaint."
tractable than the minor — then there should all the more be justification to The Attorney-General on behalf of the defendant urges that the trial court
require from the school authorities less accountability as long as they can erred: (a) in finding that the collision between the plaintiff's motorcycle and the
prove reasonable diligence in preventing the injury. After all, if the parent ambulance of the General Hospital was due to the negligence of the chauffeur;
himself is no longer liable for the student's acts because he has reached (b) in holding that the Government of the Philippine Islands is liable for the
majority age and so is no longer under the former's control, there is then all damages sustained by the plaintiff as a result of the collision, even if it be true
the more reason for leniency in assessing the teacher's responsibility for the that the collision was due to the negligence of the chauffeur; and (c) in
acts of the student. rendering judgment against the defendant for the sum of P14,741.
Applying the foregoing considerations, the Court has arrived at the following The trial court's findings of fact, which are fully supported by the record, are
conclusions: as follows:
1. At the time Alfredo Amadora was fatally shot, he was still in the custody of It is a fact not disputed by counsel for the defendant that when the
the authorities of Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos notwithstanding that the plaintiff, riding on a motorcycle, was going toward the western part of
fourth year classes had formally ended. It was immaterial if he was in the Calle Padre Faura, passing along the west side thereof at a speed of ten
school auditorium to finish his physics experiment or merely to submit his to twelve miles an hour, upon crossing Taft Avenue and when he was ten
physics report for what is important is that he was there for a legitimate feet from the southwestern intersection of said streets, the General
purpose. As previously observed, even the mere savoring of the company of Hospital ambulance, upon reaching said avenue, instead of turning
his friends in the premises of the school is a legitimate purpose that would toward the south, after passing the center thereof, so that it would be on
have also brought him in the custody of the school authorities. the left side of said avenue, as is prescribed by the ordinance and the
2. The rector, the high school principal and the dean of boys cannot be held Motor Vehicle Act, turned suddenly and unexpectedly and long before
liable because none of them was the teacher-in-charge as previously defined. reaching the center of the street, into the right side of Taft Avenue, without
Each of them was exercising only a general authority over the student body having sounded any whistle or horn, by which movement it struck the
and not the direct control and influence exerted by the teacher placed in plaintiff, who was already six feet from the southwestern point or from the
charge of particular classes or sections and thus immediately involved in its post place there.
discipline. The evidence of the parties does not disclose who the teacher-in- By reason of the resulting collision, the plaintiff was so severely injured
charge of the offending student was. The mere fact that Alfredo Amadora had that, according to Dr. Saleeby, who examined him on the very same day
gone to school that day in connection with his physics report did not that he was taken to the General Hospital, he was suffering from a
necessarily make the physics teacher, respondent Celestino Dicon, the depression in the left parietal region, a would in the same place and in
teacher-in-charge of Alfredo's killer. the back part of his head, while blood issued from his nose and he was
3. At any rate, assuming that he was the teacher-in-charge, there is no entirely unconscious.
showing that Dicon was negligent in enforcing discipline upon Daffon or that The marks revealed that he had one or more fractures of the skull and
he had waived observance of the rules and regulations of the school or that the grey matter and brain was had suffered material injury. At ten
condoned their non-observance. His absence when the tragedy happened o'clock of the night in question, which was the time set for performing the
cannot be considered against him because he was not supposed or required operation, his pulse was so weak and so irregular that, in his opinion,
to report to school on that day. And while it is true that the offending student there was little hope that he would live. His right leg was broken in such
was still in the custody of the teacher-in-charge even if the latter was physically a way that the fracture extended to the outer skin in such manner that it
absent when the tort was committed, it has not been established that it was might be regarded as double and the would be exposed to infection, for
caused by his laxness in enforcing discipline upon the student. On the which reason it was of the most serious nature.
contrary, the private respondents have proved that they had exercised due At another examination six days before the day of the trial, Dr. Saleeby
diligence, through the enforcement of the school regulations, in maintaining noticed that the plaintiff's leg showed a contraction of an inch and a half
that discipline. and a curvature that made his leg very weak and painful at the point of
4. In the absence of a teacher-in-charge, it is probably the dean of boys who the fracture. Examination of his head revealed a notable readjustment of
should be held liable especially in view of the unrefuted evidence that he had the functions of the brain and nerves. The patient apparently was slightly
earlier confiscated an unlicensed gun from one of the students and returned deaf, had a light weakness in his eyes and in his mental condition. This
the same later to him without taking disciplinary action or reporting the matter latter weakness was always noticed when the plaintiff had to do any
to higher authorities. While this was clearly negligence on his part, for which difficult mental labor, especially when he attempted to use his money for
he deserves sanctions from the school, it does not necessarily link him to the mathematical calculations.
shooting of Amador as it has not been shown that he confiscated and returned According to the various merchants who testified as witnesses, the
pistol was the gun that killed the petitioners' son. plaintiff's mental and physical condition prior to the accident was
5. Finally, as previously observed, the Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos cannot excellent, and that after having received the injuries that have been
be held directly liable under the article because only the teacher or the head discussed, his physical condition had undergone a noticeable
of the school of arts and trades is made responsible for the damage caused depreciation, for he had lost the agility, energy, and ability that he had
by the student or apprentice. Neither can it be held to answer for the tort constantly displayed before the accident as one of the best constructors
committed by any of the other private respondents for none of them has been of wooden buildings and he could not now earn even a half of the income
found to have been charged with the custody of the offending student or has that he had secured for his work because he had lost 50 per cent of his
been remiss in the discharge of his duties in connection with such custody. efficiency. As a contractor, he could no longer, as he had before done,
In sum, the Court finds under the facts as disclosed by the record and in the climb up ladders and scaffoldings to reach the highest parts of the
light of the principles herein announced that none of the respondents is liable building.
for the injury inflicted by Pablito Damon on Alfredo Amadora that resulted in As a consequence of the loss the plaintiff suffered in the efficiency of his
the latter's death at the auditorium of the Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos on work as a contractor, he had to dissolved the partnership he had formed
April 13, 1972. While we deeply sympathize with the petitioners over the loss with the engineer. Wilson, because he was incapacitated from making
of their son under the tragic circumstances here related, we nevertheless are mathematical calculations on account of the condition of his leg and of
unable to extend them the material relief they seek, as a balm to their grief, his mental faculties, and he had to give up a contract he had for the
under the law they have invoked. construction of the Uy Chaco building."
We may say at the outset that we are in full accord with the trial court to the legislative enactment, is well settled. "The Government," says Justice Story,
effect that the collision between the plaintiff's motorcycle and the ambulance "does not undertake to guarantee to any person the fidelity of the officers or
of the General Hospital was due solely to the negligence of the chauffeur. agents whom it employs, since that would involve it in all its operations in
The two items which constitute a part of the P14,741 and which are drawn in endless embarrassments, difficulties and losses, which would be subversive
question by the plaintiff are (a) P5,000, the award awarded for permanent of the public interest." (Claussen vs. City of Luverne, 103 Minn., 491, citing U.
injuries, and (b) the P2,666, the amount allowed for the loss of wages during S. vs. Kirkpatrick, 9 Wheat, 720; 6 L. Ed., 199; and Beers vs. States, 20 How.,
the time the plaintiff was incapacitated from pursuing his occupation. We find 527; 15 L. Ed., 991.)
nothing in the record which would justify us in increasing the amount of the In the case of Melvin vs. State (121 Cal., 16), the plaintiff sought to recover
first. As to the second, the record shows, and the trial court so found, that the damages from the state for personal injuries received on account of the
plaintiff's services as a contractor were worth P1,000 per month. The court, negligence of the state officers at the state fair, a state institution created by
however, limited the time to two months and twenty-one days, which the the legislature for the purpose of improving agricultural and kindred industries;
plaintiff was actually confined in the hospital. In this we think there was error, to disseminate information calculated to educate and benefit the industrial
because it was clearly established that the plaintiff was wholly incapacitated classes; and to advance by such means the material interests of the state,
for a period of six months. The mere fact that he remained in the hospital only being objects similar to those sought by the public school system. In passing
two months and twenty-one days while the remainder of the six months was upon the question of the state's liability for the negligent acts of its officers or
spent in his home, would not prevent recovery for the whole time. We, agents, the court said:
therefore, find that the amount of damages sustained by the plaintiff, without No claim arises against any government is favor of an individual, by
any fault on his part, is P18,075. reason of the misfeasance, laches, or unauthorized exercise of powers
As the negligence which caused the collision is a tort committed by an agent by its officers or agents. (Citing Gibbons vs. U. S., 8 Wall., 269; Clodfelter
or employee of the Government, the inquiry at once arises whether the vs. State, 86 N. C., 51, 53; 41 Am. Rep., 440; Chapman vs. State, 104
Government is legally-liable for the damages resulting therefrom. Cal., 690; 43 Am. St. Rep., 158; Green vs. State, 73 Cal., 29; Bourn vs.
Act No. 2457, effective February 3, 1915, reads: Hart, 93 Cal., 321; 27 Am. St. Rep., 203; Story on Agency, sec. 319.)
An Act authorizing E. Merritt to bring suit against the Government of the As to the scope of legislative enactments permitting individuals to sue the state
Philippine Islands and authorizing the Attorney-General of said Islands to where the cause of action arises out of either fort or contract, the rule is stated
appear in said suit. in 36 Cyc., 915, thus:
Whereas a claim has been filed against the Government of the Philippine By consenting to be sued a state simply waives its immunity from suit. It
Islands by Mr. E. Merritt, of Manila, for damages resulting from a collision does not thereby concede its liability to plaintiff, or create any cause of
between his motorcycle and the ambulance of the General Hospital on action in his favor, or extend its liability to any cause not previously
March twenty-fifth, nineteen hundred and thirteen; recognized. It merely gives a remedy to enforce a preexisting liability and
Whereas it is not known who is responsible for the accident nor is it submits itself to the jurisdiction of the court, subject to its right to interpose
possible to determine the amount of damages, if any, to which the any lawful defense.
claimant is entitled; and In Apfelbacher vs. State (152 N. W., 144, advanced sheets), decided April 16,
Whereas the Director of Public Works and the Attorney-General 1915, the Act of 1913, which authorized the bringing of this suit, read:
recommended that an Act be passed by the Legislature authorizing Mr. SECTION 1. Authority is hereby given to George Apfelbacher, of the town
E. Merritt to bring suit in the courts against the Government, in order that of Summit, Waukesha County, Wisconsin, to bring suit in such court or
said questions may be decided: Now, therefore, courts and in such form or forms as he may be advised for the purpose
By authority of the United States, be it enacted by the Philippine of settling and determining all controversies which he may now have with
Legislature, that: the State of Wisconsin, or its duly authorized officers and agents, relative
SECTION 1. E. Merritt is hereby authorized to bring suit in the Court of to the mill property of said George Apfelbacher, the fish hatchery of the
First Instance of the city of Manila against the Government of the State of Wisconsin on the Bark River, and the mill property of Evan
Philippine Islands in order to fix the responsibility for the collision between Humphrey at the lower end of Nagawicka Lake, and relative to the use of
his motorcycle and the ambulance of the General Hospital, and to the waters of said Bark River and Nagawicka Lake, all in the county of
determine the amount of the damages, if any, to which Mr. E. Merritt is Waukesha, Wisconsin.
entitled on account of said collision, and the Attorney-General of the In determining the scope of this act, the court said:
Philippine Islands is hereby authorized and directed to appear at the trial Plaintiff claims that by the enactment of this law the legislature admitted
on the behalf of the Government of said Islands, to defendant said liability on the part of the state for the acts of its officers, and that the suit
Government at the same. now stands just as it would stand between private parties. It is difficult to
SEC. 2. This Act shall take effect on its passage. see how the act does, or was intended to do, more than remove the
Enacted, February 3, 1915. state's immunity from suit. It simply gives authority to commence suit for
Did the defendant, in enacting the above quoted Act, simply waive its immunity the purpose of settling plaintiff's controversies with the estate. Nowhere
from suit or did it also concede its liability to the plaintiff? If only the former, in the act is there a whisper or suggestion that the court or courts in the
then it cannot be held that the Act created any new cause of action in favor of disposition of the suit shall depart from well established principles of law,
the plaintiff or extended the defendant's liability to any case not previously or that the amount of damages is the only question to be settled. The act
recognized. opened the door of the court to the plaintiff. It did not pass upon the
All admit that the Insular Government (the defendant) cannot be sued by an question of liability, but left the suit just where it would be in the absence
individual without its consent. It is also admitted that the instant case is one of the state's immunity from suit. If the Legislature had intended to change
against the Government. As the consent of the Government to be sued by the the rule that obtained in this state so long and to declare liability on the
plaintiff was entirely voluntary on its part, it is our duty to look carefully into the part of the state, it would not have left so important a matter to mere
terms of the consent, and render judgment accordingly. inference, but would have done so in express terms. (Murdock Grate Co.
The plaintiff was authorized to bring this action against the Government "in vs. Commonwealth, 152 Mass., 28; 24 N.E., 854; 8 L. R. A., 399.)
order to fix the responsibility for the collision between his motorcycle and the In Denning vs. State (123 Cal., 316), the provisions of the Act of 1893, relied
ambulance of the General Hospital and to determine the amount of the upon and considered, are as follows:
damages, if any, to which Mr. E. Merritt is entitled on account of said collision, All persons who have, or shall hereafter have, claims on contract or for
. . . ." These were the two questions submitted to the court for determination. negligence against the state not allowed by the state board of examiners,
The Act was passed "in order that said questions may be decided." We have are hereby authorized, on the terms and conditions herein contained, to
"decided" that the accident was due solely to the negligence of the chauffeur, bring suit thereon against the state in any of the courts of this state of
who was at the time an employee of the defendant, and we have also fixed competent jurisdiction, and prosecute the same to final judgment. The
the amount of damages sustained by the plaintiff as a result of the collision. rules of practice in civil cases shall apply to such suits, except as herein
Does the Act authorize us to hold that the Government is legally liable for that otherwise provided.
amount? If not, we must look elsewhere for such authority, if it exists. And the court said:
The Government of the Philippine Islands having been "modeled after the This statute has been considered by this court in at least two cases,
Federal and State Governments in the United States," we may look to the arising under different facts, and in both it was held that said statute did
decisions of the high courts of that country for aid in determining the purpose not create any liability or cause of action against the state where none
and scope of Act No. 2457. existed before, but merely gave an additional remedy to enforce such
In the United States the rule that the state is not liable for the torts committed liability as would have existed if the statute had not been enacted.
by its officers or agents whom it employs, except when expressly made so by
(Chapman vs. State, 104 Cal., 690; 43 Am. St. Rep., 158; Melvin vs. the diligence of a good father of a family to avoid the damage, and among
State, 121 Cal., 16.) these persons, called upon to answer in a direct and not a subsidiary
A statute of Massachusetts enacted in 1887 gave to the superior court manner, are found, in addition to the mother or the father in a proper case,
"jurisdiction of all claims against the commonwealth, whether at law or in guardians and owners or directors of an establishment or enterprise, the
equity," with an exception not necessary to be here mentioned. In construing state, but not always, except when it acts through the agency of a special
this statute the court, in Murdock Grate Co. vs. Commonwealth (152 Mass., agent, doubtless because and only in this case, the fault or negligence,
28), said: which is the original basis of this kind of objections, must be presumed to
The statute we are discussing disclose no intention to create against the lie with the state.
state a new and heretofore unrecognized class of liabilities, but only an That although in some cases the state might by virtue of the general
intention to provide a judicial tribunal where well recognized existing principle set forth in article 1902 respond for all the damage that is
liabilities can be adjudicated. occasioned to private parties by orders or resolutions which by fault or
In Sipple vs. State (99 N. Y., 284), where the board of the canal claims had, negligence are made by branches of the central administration acting in
by the terms of the statute of New York, jurisdiction of claims for damages for the name and representation of the state itself and as an external
injuries in the management of the canals such as the plaintiff had sustained, expression of its sovereignty in the exercise of its executive powers, yet
Chief Justice Ruger remarks: "It must be conceded that the state can be made said article is not applicable in the case of damages said to have been
liable for injuries arising from the negligence of its agents or servants, only by occasioned to the petitioners by an executive official, acting in the
force of some positive statute assuming such liability." exercise of his powers, in proceedings to enforce the collections of certain
It being quite clear that Act No. 2457 does not operate to extend the property taxes owing by the owner of the property which they hold in
Government's liability to any cause not previously recognized, we will now sublease.
examine the substantive law touching the defendant's liability for the negligent That the responsibility of the state is limited by article 1903 to the case
acts of its officers, agents, and employees. Paragraph 5 of article 1903 of the wherein it acts through a special agent (and a special agent, in the sense
Civil Code reads: in which these words are employed, is one who receives a definite and
The state is liable in this sense when it acts through a special agent, but fixed order or commission, foreign to the exercise of the duties of his
not when the damage should have been caused by the official to whom office if he is a special official) so that in representation of the state and
properly it pertained to do the act performed, in which case the provisions being bound to act as an agent thereof, he executes the trust confided to
of the preceding article shall be applicable. him. This concept does not apply to any executive agent who is an
The supreme court of Spain in defining the scope of this paragraph said: employee of the acting administration and who on his own responsibility
That the obligation to indemnify for damages which a third person causes performs the functions which are inherent in and naturally pertain to his
to another by his fault or negligence is based, as is evidenced by the office and which are regulated by law and the regulations." (Supreme
same Law 3, Title 15, Partida 7, on that the person obligated, by his own Court of Spain, May 18, 1904; 98 Jur. Civ., 389, 390.)
fault or negligence, takes part in the act or omission of the third party who That according to paragraph 5 of article 1903 of the Civil Code and the
caused the damage. It follows therefrom that the state, by virtue of such principle laid down in a decision, among others, of the 18th of May, 1904,
provisions of law, is not responsible for the damages suffered by private in a damage case, the responsibility of the state is limited to that which it
individuals in consequence of acts performed by its employees in the contracts through a special agent, duly empowered by a definite order or
discharge of the functions pertaining to their office, because neither fault commission to perform some act or charged with some definite purpose
nor even negligence can be presumed on the part of the state in the which gives rise to the claim, and not where the claim is based on acts or
organization of branches of public service and in the appointment of its omissions imputable to a public official charged with some administrative
agents; on the contrary, we must presuppose all foresight humanly or technical office who can be held to the proper responsibility in the
possible on its part in order that each branch of service serves the general manner laid down by the law of civil responsibility. Consequently, the trial
weal an that of private persons interested in its operation. Between these court in not so deciding and in sentencing the said entity to the payment
latter and the state, therefore, no relations of a private nature governed of damages, caused by an official of the second class referred to, has by
by the civil law can arise except in a case where the state acts as a judicial erroneous interpretation infringed the provisions of articles 1902 and
person capable of acquiring rights and contracting obligations. (Supreme 1903 of the Civil Code. (Supreme Court of Spain, July 30, 1911; 122 Jur.
Court of Spain, January 7, 1898; 83 Jur. Civ., 24.) Civ., 146.)
That the Civil Code in chapter 2, title 16, book 4, regulates the obligations It is, therefore, evidence that the State (the Government of the Philippine
which arise out of fault or negligence; and whereas in the first article Islands) is only liable, according to the above quoted decisions of the Supreme
thereof. No. 1902, where the general principle is laid down that where a Court of Spain, for the acts of its agents, officers and employees when they
person who by an act or omission causes damage to another through act as special agents within the meaning of paragraph 5 of article 1903, supra,
fault or negligence, shall be obliged to repair the damage so done, and that the chauffeur of the ambulance of the General Hospital was not such
reference is made to acts or omissions of the persons who directly or an agent.
indirectly cause the damage, the following articles refers to this persons For the foregoing reasons, the judgment appealed from must be reversed,
and imposes an identical obligation upon those who maintain fixed without costs in this instance. Whether the Government intends to make itself
relations of authority and superiority over the authors of the damage, legally liable for the amount of damages above set forth, which the plaintiff has
because the law presumes that in consequence of such relations the evil sustained by reason of the negligent acts of one of its employees, by legislative
caused by their own fault or negligence is imputable to them. This legal enactment and by appropriating sufficient funds therefor, we are not called
presumption gives way to proof, however, because, as held in the last upon to determine. This matter rests solely with the Legislature and not with
paragraph of article 1903, responsibility for acts of third persons ceases the courts.
when the persons mentioned in said article prove that they employed all