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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 81262 August 25, 1989

GLOBE MACKAY CABLE AND RADIO CORP., and HERBERT C. HENDRY, petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and RESTITUTO M. TOBIAS, respondents.

Atencia & Arias Law Offices for petitioners.

Romulo C. Felizmena for private respondent.

CORTES, J.:

Private respondent Restituto M. Tobias was employed by petitioner Globe Mackay Cable and
Radio Corporation (GLOBE MACKAY) in a dual capacity as a purchasing agent and
administrative assistant to the engineering operations manager. In 1972, GLOBE MACKAY
discovered fictitious purchases and other fraudulent transactions for which it lost several
thousands of pesos.

According to private respondent it was he who actually discovered the anomalies and reported
them on November 10, 1972 to his immediate superior Eduardo T. Ferraren and to petitioner
Herbert C. Hendry who was then the Executive Vice-President and General Manager of GLOBE
MACKAY.

On November 11, 1972, one day after private respondent Tobias made the report, petitioner
Hendry confronted him by stating that he was the number one suspect, and ordered him to take
a one week forced leave, not to communicate with the office, to leave his table drawers open,
and to leave the office keys.

On November 20, 1972, when private respondent Tobias returned to work after the forced
leave, petitioner Hendry went up to him and called him a "crook" and a "swindler." Tobias was
then ordered to take a lie detector test. He was also instructed to submit specimen of his
handwriting, signature, and initials for examination by the police investigators to determine his
complicity in the anomalies.

On December 6,1972, the Manila police investigators submitted a laboratory crime report (Exh.
"A") clearing private respondent of participation in the anomalies.

Not satisfied with the police report, petitioners hired a private investigator, retired Col. Jose G.
Fernandez, who on December 10, 1972, submitted a report (Exh. "2") finding Tobias guilty. This
report however expressly stated that further investigation was still to be conducted.
Nevertheless, on December 12, 1972, petitioner Hendry issued a memorandum suspending
Tobias from work preparatory to the filing of criminal charges against him.

On December 19,1972, Lt. Dioscoro V. Tagle, Metro Manila Police Chief Document Examiner,
after investigating other documents pertaining to the alleged anomalous transactions, submitted
a second laboratory crime report (Exh. "B") reiterating his previous finding that the handwritings,
signatures, and initials appearing in the checks and other documents involved in the fraudulent
transactions were not those of Tobias. The lie detector tests conducted on Tobias also yielded
negative results.

Notwithstanding the two police reports exculpating Tobias from the anomalies and the fact that
the report of the private investigator, was, by its own terms, not yet complete, petitioners filed
with the City Fiscal of Manila a complaint for estafa through falsification of commercial
documents, later amended to just estafa. Subsequently five other criminal complaints were filed
against Tobias, four of which were for estafa through Falsification of commercial document
while the fifth was for of Article 290 of' the Revised Penal Code (Discovering Secrets Through
Seizure of Correspondence).lâwphî1.ñèt Two of these complaints were refiled with the Judge
Advocate General's Office, which however, remanded them to the fiscal's office. All of the six
criminal complaints were dismissed by the fiscal. Petitioners appealed four of the fiscal's
resolutions dismissing the criminal complaints with the Secretary of Justice, who, however,
affirmed their dismissal.

In the meantime, on January 17, 1973, Tobias received a notice (Exh. "F") from petitioners that
his employment has been terminated effective December 13, 1972. Whereupon, Tobias filed a
complaint for illegal dismissal. The labor arbiter dismissed the complaint. On appeal, the
National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) reversed the labor arbiter's decision. However,
the Secretary of Labor, acting on petitioners' appeal from the NLRC ruling, reinstated the labor
arbiter's decision. Tobias appealed the Secretary of Labor's order with the Office of the
President. During the pendency of the appeal with said office, petitioners and private
respondent Tobias entered into a compromise agreement regarding the latter's complaint for
illegal dismissal.

Unemployed, Tobias sought employment with the Republic Telephone Company (RETELCO).
However, petitioner Hendry, without being asked by RETELCO, wrote a letter to the latter
stating that Tobias was dismissed by GLOBE MACKAY due to dishonesty.

Private respondent Tobias filed a civil case for damages anchored on alleged unlawful,
malicious, oppressive, and abusive acts of petitioners. Petitioner Hendry, claiming illness, did
not testify during the hearings. The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch IX, through
Judge Manuel T. Reyes rendered judgment in favor of private respondent by ordering
petitioners to pay him eighty thousand pesos (P80,000.00) as actual damages, two hundred
thousand pesos (P200,000.00) as moral damages, twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) as
exemplary damages, thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00) as attorney's fees, and costs.
Petitioners appealed the RTC decision to the Court of Appeals. On the other hand, Tobias
appealed as to the amount of damages. However, the Court of Appeals, an a decision dated
August 31, 1987 affirmed the RTC decision in toto. Petitioners' motion for reconsideration
having been denied, the instant petition for review on certiorari was filed.

The main issue in this case is whether or not petitioners are liable for damages to private
respondent.
Petitioners contend that they could not be made liable for damages in the lawful exercise of their
right to dismiss private respondent.

On the other hand, private respondent contends that because of petitioners' abusive manner in
dismissing him as well as for the inhuman treatment he got from them, the Petitioners must
indemnify him for the damage that he had suffered.

One of the more notable innovations of the New Civil Code is the codification of "some basic
principles that are to be observed for the rightful relationship between human beings and for the
stability of the social order." [REPORT ON THE CODE COMMISSION ON THE PROPOSED
CIVIL CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES, p. 39]. The framers of the Code, seeking to remedy the
defect of the old Code which merely stated the effects of the law, but failed to draw out its spirit,
incorporated certain fundamental precepts which were "designed to indicate certain norms that
spring from the fountain of good conscience" and which were also meant to serve as "guides for
human conduct [that] should run as golden threads through society, to the end that law may
approach its supreme ideal, which is the sway and dominance of justice" (Id.) Foremost among
these principles is that pronounced in Article 19 which provides:

Art. 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of
his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good
faith.

This article, known to contain what is commonly referred to as the principle of abuse of rights,
sets certain standards which must be observed not only in the exercise of one's rights but also
in the performance of one's duties. These standards are the following: to act with justice; to give
everyone his due; and to observe honesty and good faith. The law, therefore, recognizes a
primordial limitation on all rights; that in their exercise, the norms of human conduct set forth in
Article 19 must be observed. A right, though by itself legal because recognized or granted by
law as such, may nevertheless become the source of some illegality. When a right is exercised
in a manner which does not conform with the norms enshrined in Article 19 and results in
damage to another, a legal wrong is thereby committed for which the wrongdoer must be held
responsible. But while Article 19 lays down a rule of conduct for the government of human
relations and for the maintenance of social order, it does not provide a remedy for its violation.
Generally, an action for damages under either Article 20 or Article 21 would be proper.

Article 20, which pertains to damage arising from a violation of law, provides that:

Art. 20. Every person who contrary to law, wilfully or negligently causes damage
to another, shall indemnify the latter for the same.

However, in the case at bar, petitioners claim that they did not violate any provision of law since
they were merely exercising their legal right to dismiss private respondent. This does not,
however, leave private respondent with no relief because Article 21 of the Civil Code provides
that:

Art. 21. Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that
is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter
for the damage.
This article, adopted to remedy the "countless gaps in the statutes, which leave so many victims
of moral wrongs helpless, even though they have actually suffered material and moral injury"
[Id.] should "vouchsafe adequate legal remedy for that untold number of moral wrongs which it
is impossible for human foresight to provide for specifically in the statutes" [Id. it p. 40; See
also PNB v. CA, G.R. No. L-27155, May 18,1978, 83 SCRA 237, 247].

In determining whether or not the principle of abuse of rights may be invoked, there is no rigid
test which can be applied. While the Court has not hesitated to apply Article 19 whether the
legal and factual circumstances called for its application [See for e.g., Velayo v. Shell Co. of the
Phil., Ltd., 100 Phil. 186 (1956); PNB v. CA, supra; Grand Union Supermarket, Inc. v. Espino,
Jr., G.R. No. L-48250, December 28, 1979, 94 SCRA 953; PAL v. CA, G.R. No. L-46558, July
31,1981,106 SCRA 391; United General Industries, Inc, v. Paler G.R. No. L-30205, March
15,1982,112 SCRA 404; Rubio v. CA, G.R. No. 50911, August 21, 1987, 153 SCRA 183] the
question of whether or not the principle of abuse of rights has been violated resulting in
damages under Article 20 or Article 21 or other applicable provision of law, depends on the
circumstances of each case. And in the instant case, the Court, after examining the record and
considering certain significant circumstances, finds that all petitioners have indeed abused the
right that they invoke, causing damage to private respondent and for which the latter must now
be indemnified.

The trial court made a finding that notwithstanding the fact that it was private respondent Tobias
who reported the possible existence of anomalous transactions, petitioner Hendry "showed
belligerence and told plaintiff (private respondent herein) that he was the number one suspect
and to take a one week vacation leave, not to communicate with the office, to leave his table
drawers open, and to leave his keys to said defendant (petitioner Hendry)" [RTC Decision, p. 2;
Rollo, p. 232]. This, petitioners do not dispute. But regardless of whether or not it was private
respondent Tobias who reported the anomalies to petitioners, the latter's reaction towards the
former upon uncovering the anomalies was less than civil. An employer who harbors suspicions
that an employee has committed dishonesty might be justified in taking the appropriate action
such as ordering an investigation and directing the employee to go on a leave. Firmness and
the resolve to uncover the truth would also be expected from such employer. But the high-
handed treatment accorded Tobias by petitioners was certainly uncalled for. And this
reprehensible attitude of petitioners was to continue when private respondent returned to work
on November 20, 1972 after his one week forced leave. Upon reporting for work, Tobias was
confronted by Hendry who said. "Tobby, you are the crook and swindler in this company."
Considering that the first report made by the police investigators was submitted only on
December 10, 1972 [See Exh. A] the statement made by petitioner Hendry was baseless. The
imputation of guilt without basis and the pattern of harassment during the investigations of
Tobias transgress the standards of human conduct set forth in Article 19 of the Civil Code. The
Court has already ruled that the right of the employer to dismiss an employee should not be
confused with the manner in which the right is exercised and the effects flowing therefrom. If the
dismissal is done abusively, then the employer is liable for damages to the employee [Quisaba
v. Sta. Ines-Melale Veneer and Plywood Inc., G.R. No. L-38088, August 30, 1974, 58 SCRA
771; See also Philippine Refining Co., Inc. v. Garcia, G.R. No. L-21871, September 27,1966, 18
SCRA 107] Under the circumstances of the instant case, the petitioners clearly failed to exercise
in a legitimate manner their right to dismiss Tobias, giving the latter the right to recover
damages under Article 19 in relation to Article 21 of the Civil Code.

But petitioners were not content with just dismissing Tobias. Several other tortious acts were
committed by petitioners against Tobias after the latter's termination from work. Towards the
latter part of January, 1973, after the filing of the first of six criminal complaints against Tobias,
the latter talked to Hendry to protest the actions taken against him. In response, Hendry cut
short Tobias' protestations by telling him to just confess or else the company would file a
hundred more cases against him until he landed in jail. Hendry added that, "You Filipinos
cannot be trusted." The threat unmasked petitioner's bad faith in the various actions taken
against Tobias. On the other hand, the scornful remark about Filipinos as well as Hendry's
earlier statements about Tobias being a "crook" and "swindler" are clear violations of 'Tobias'
personal dignity [See Article 26, Civil Code].

The next tortious act committed by petitioners was the writing of a letter to RETELCO sometime
in October 1974, stating that Tobias had been dismissed by GLOBE MACKAY due to
dishonesty. Because of the letter, Tobias failed to gain employment with RETELCO and as a
result of which, Tobias remained unemployed for a longer period of time. For this further
damage suffered by Tobias, petitioners must likewise be held liable for damages consistent with
Article 2176 of the Civil Code. Petitioners, however, contend that they have a "moral, if not legal,
duty to forewarn other employers of the kind of employee the plaintiff (private respondent
herein) was." [Petition, p. 14; Rollo, p. 15]. Petitioners further claim that "it is the accepted moral
and societal obligation of every man to advise or warn his fellowmen of any threat or danger to
the latter's life, honor or property. And this includes warning one's brethren of the possible
dangers involved in dealing with, or accepting into confidence, a man whose honesty and
integrity is suspect" [Id.]. These arguments, rather than justify petitioners' act, reveal a seeming
obsession to prevent Tobias from getting a job, even after almost two years from the time
Tobias was dismissed.

Finally, there is the matter of the filing by petitioners of six criminal complaints against Tobias.
Petitioners contend that there is no case against them for malicious prosecution and that they
cannot be "penalized for exercising their right and prerogative of seeking justice by filing criminal
complaints against an employee who was their principal suspect in the commission of forgeries
and in the perpetration of anomalous transactions which defrauded them of substantial sums of
money" [Petition, p. 10, Rollo, p. 11].

While sound principles of justice and public policy dictate that persons shall have free resort to
the courts for redress of wrongs and vindication of their rights [Buenaventura v. Sto. Domingo,
103 Phil. 239 (1958)], the right to institute criminal prosecutions can not be exercised
maliciously and in bad faith [Ventura v. Bernabe, G.R. No. L-26760, April 30, 1971, 38 SCRA
5871.] Hence, in Yutuk V. Manila Electric Co., G.R. No. L-13016, May 31, 1961, 2 SCRA 337,
the Court held that the right to file criminal complaints should not be used as a weapon to force
an alleged debtor to pay an indebtedness. To do so would be a clear perversion of the function
of the criminal processes and of the courts of justice. And in Hawpia CA, G.R. No. L-20047,
June 30, 1967. 20 SCRA 536 the Court upheld the judgment against the petitioner for actual
and moral damages and attorney's fees after making a finding that petitioner, with persistence,
filed at least six criminal complaints against respondent, all of which were dismissed.

To constitute malicious prosecution, there must be proof that the prosecution was prompted by
a design to vex and humiliate a person and that it was initiated deliberately by the defendant
knowing that the charges were false and groundless [Manila Gas Corporation v. CA, G.R. No. L-
44190, October 30,1980, 100 SCRA 602]. Concededly, the filing of a suit by itself, does not
render a person liable for malicious prosecution [Inhelder Corporation v. CA, G.R. No. 52358,
May 301983122 SCRA 576]. The mere dismissal by the fiscal of the criminal complaint is not a
ground for an award of damages for malicious prosecution if there is no competent evidence to
show that the complainant had acted in bad faith [Sison v. David, G.R. No. L-11268, January
28,1961, 1 SCRA 60].

In the instant case, however, the trial court made a finding that petitioners acted in bad faith in
filing the criminal complaints against Tobias, observing that:

xxx

Defendants (petitioners herein) filed with the Fiscal's Office of Manila a total of six
(6) criminal cases, five (5) of which were for estafa thru falsification of
commercial document and one for violation of Art. 290 of the Revised Penal
Code "discovering secrets thru seizure of correspondence," and all were
dismissed for insufficiency or lack of evidence." The dismissal of four (4) of the
cases was appealed to the Ministry of Justice, but said Ministry invariably
sustained the dismissal of the cases. As above adverted to, two of these cases
were refiled with the Judge Advocate General's Office of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines to railroad plaintiffs arrest and detention in the military stockade, but
this was frustrated by a presidential decree transferring criminal cases involving
civilians to the civil courts.

xxx

To be sure, when despite the two (2) police reports embodying the findings of Lt.
Dioscoro Tagle, Chief Document Examiner of the Manila Police Department,
clearing plaintiff of participation or involvement in the fraudulent transactions
complained of, despite the negative results of the lie detector tests which
defendants compelled plaintiff to undergo, and although the police investigation
was "still under follow-up and a supplementary report will be submitted after all
the evidence has been gathered," defendants hastily filed six (6) criminal cases
with the city Fiscal's Office of Manila, five (5) for estafa thru falsification of
commercial document and one (1) for violation of Art. 290 of the Revised Penal
Code, so much so that as was to be expected, all six (6) cases were dismissed,
with one of the investigating fiscals, Asst. Fiscal de Guia, commenting in one
case that, "Indeed, the haphazard way this case was investigated is evident.
Evident likewise is the flurry and haste in the filing of this case against
respondent Tobias," there can be no mistaking that defendants would not but be
motivated by malicious and unlawful intent to harass, oppress, and cause
damage to plaintiff.

xxx

[RTC Decision, pp. 5-6; Rollo, pp. 235-236].

In addition to the observations made by the trial court, the Court finds it significant that the
criminal complaints were filed during the pendency of the illegal dismissal case filed by Tobias
against petitioners. This explains the haste in which the complaints were filed, which the trial
court earlier noted. But petitioners, to prove their good faith, point to the fact that only six
complaints were filed against Tobias when they could have allegedly filed one hundred cases,
considering the number of anomalous transactions committed against GLOBE MACKAY.
However, petitioners' good faith is belied by the threat made by Hendry after the filing of the first
complaint that one hundred more cases would be filed against Tobias. In effect, the possible
filing of one hundred more cases was made to hang like the sword of Damocles over the head
of Tobias. In fine, considering the haste in which the criminal complaints were filed, the fact that
they were filed during the pendency of the illegal dismissal case against petitioners, the threat
made by Hendry, the fact that the cases were filed notwithstanding the two police reports
exculpating Tobias from involvement in the anomalies committed against GLOBE MACKAY,
coupled by the eventual dismissal of all the cases, the Court is led into no other conclusion than
that petitioners were motivated by malicious intent in filing the six criminal complaints against
Tobias.

Petitioners next contend that the award of damages was excessive. In the complaint filed
against petitioners, Tobias prayed for the following: one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00)
as actual damages; fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) as exemplary damages; eight hundred
thousand pesos (P800,000.00) as moral damages; fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) as
attorney's fees; and costs. The trial court, after making a computation of the damages incurred
by Tobias [See RTC Decision, pp. 7-8; Rollo, pp. 154-1551, awarded him the following: eighty
thousand pesos (P80,000.00) as actual damages; two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00)
as moral damages; twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) as exemplary damages; thirty
thousand pesos (P30,000.00) as attorney's fees; and, costs. It must be underscored that
petitioners have been guilty of committing several actionable tortious acts, i.e., the abusive
manner in which they dismissed Tobias from work including the baseless imputation of guilt and
the harassment during the investigations; the defamatory language heaped on Tobias as well as
the scornful remark on Filipinos; the poison letter sent to RETELCO which resulted in Tobias'
loss of possible employment; and, the malicious filing of the criminal complaints. Considering
the extent of the damage wrought on Tobias, the Court finds that, contrary to petitioners'
contention, the amount of damages awarded to Tobias was reasonable under the
circumstances.

Yet, petitioners still insist that the award of damages was improper, invoking the principle of
damnum absque injuria. It is argued that "[t]he only probable actual damage that plaintiff
(private respondent herein) could have suffered was a direct result of his having been dismissed
from his employment, which was a valid and legal act of the defendants-appellants (petitioners
herein).lâwphî1.ñèt " [Petition, p. 17; Rollo, p. 18].

According to the principle of damnum absque injuria, damage or loss which does not constitute
a violation of a legal right or amount to a legal wrong is not actionable [Escano v. CA, G.R. No.
L-47207, September 25, 1980, 100 SCRA 197; See also Gilchrist v. Cuddy 29 Phil, 542 (1915);
The Board of Liquidators v. Kalaw, G.R. No. L-18805, August 14, 1967, 20 SCRA 987]. This
principle finds no application in this case. It bears repeating that even granting that petitioners
might have had the right to dismiss Tobias from work, the abusive manner in which that right
was exercised amounted to a legal wrong for which petitioners must now be held liable.
Moreover, the damage incurred by Tobias was not only in connection with the abusive manner
in which he was dismissed but was also the result of several other quasi-delictual acts
committed by petitioners.

Petitioners next question the award of moral damages. However, the Court has already ruled
in Wassmer v. Velez, G.R. No. L-20089, December 26, 1964, 12 SCRA 648, 653, that [p]er
express provision of Article 2219 (10) of the New Civil Code, moral damages are recoverable in
the cases mentioned in Article 21 of said Code." Hence, the Court of Appeals committed no
error in awarding moral damages to Tobias.
Lastly, the award of exemplary damages is impugned by petitioners. Although Article 2231 of
the Civil Code provides that "[i]n quasi-delicts, exemplary damages may be granted if the
defendant acted with gross negligence," the Court, in Zulueta v. Pan American World Airways,
Inc., G.R. No. L- 28589, January 8, 1973, 49 SCRA 1, ruled that if gross negligence warrants
the award of exemplary damages, with more reason is its imposition justified when the act
performed is deliberate, malicious and tainted with bad faith. As in the Zulueta case, the nature
of the wrongful acts shown to have been committed by petitioners against Tobias is sufficient
basis for the award of exemplary damages to the latter.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED and the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CV No. 09055 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Fernan, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr. and Bidin, JJ., concur.

Feliciano, J., took no part.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 82146 January 22, 1990

EULOGIO OCCENA, petitioner,


vs.
HON. PEDRO M. ICAMINA, Presiding Judge, Branch X of the Regional Trial Court Sixth
Judicial Region, San Jose, Antique; THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by
the Honorable Provincial Fiscal of Antique; and CRISTINA VEGAFRIA, respondents.

Comelec Legal Assistance Office for petitioner.


Comelec Legal Assistance Officer for private respondent.

FERNAN, C.J.:

On May 31, 1979, herein petitioner Eulogio Occena instituted before the Second Municipal
Circuit Trial Court of Sibalom, San Remigio — Belison, Province of Antique, Criminal Case No.
1717, a criminal complaint for Grave Oral Defamation against herein private respondent Cristina
Vegafria for allegedly openly, publicly and maliciously uttering the following insulting words and
statements: "Gago ikaw nga Barangay Captain, montisco, traidor, malugus, Hudas," which,
freely translated, mean: "You are a foolish Barangay Captain, ignoramus, traitor, tyrant, Judas"
and other words and statements of similar import which caused great and irreparable damage
and injury to his person and honor.

Private respondent as accused therein entered a plea of not guilty. Trial thereafter ensued, at
which petitioner, without reserving his right to file a separate civil action for damages actively
intervened thru a private prosecutor.

After trial, private respondent was convicted of the offense of Slight Oral Defamation and was
sentenced to pay a fine of Fifty Pesos (P50.00) with subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency and to pay the costs. No damages were awarded to petitioner in view of the trial
court's opinion that "the facts and circumstances of the case as adduced by the evidence do not
warrant the awarding of moral damages." 1

Disagreeing, petitioner sought relief from the Regional Trial Court, which in a decision dated
March 16, 1987 disposed of petitioner's appeal as follows:

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the civil aspect of the lower court's decision of
April 20, 1981 subject of this appeal, for lack of merit, is hereby DENIED.
After the decision shall have become final, remand the records of this case to the court
of origin, Second Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Sibalom, San Remigio-Belison, Antique,
for the execution of its decision on the criminal aspect.

SO ORDERED. 2

Petitioner is now before us by way of a petition for review on certiorari seeking to annul the RTC
decision for being contrary to Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code providing that every person
criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable, and Article 2219 of the New Civil Code providing
that moral damages may be recovered in libel, slander or any other form of defamation. He
submits that public respondent RTC erred in relying on the cases of Roa vs. de la Cruz, 107
Phil. 10 and Tan vs. Standard Vacuum Oil Co., et al., 91 Phil. 672 cited therein. He
differentiates said cases from the case at bar by saying that in the case of Roa, the decision of
the trial court had become final before Maria C. Roa instituted a civil action for damages;
whereas in the instant case, the decision of the trial court has not yet become final by reason of
the timely appeal interposed by him and no civil action for damages has been instituted by
petitioner against private respondent for the same cause. Tan, on the other hand, contemplates
of two actions, one criminal and one civil, and the prosecution of the criminal case had resulted
in the acquittal of the accused, which is not the situation here where the civil aspect was
impliedly instituted with the criminal action in accordance with Section 1, Rule 111, of the Rules
of Court.

Private respondent for her part argues that the decision of the trial court carries with it the final
adjudication of her civil liability. Since petitioner chose to actively intervene in the criminal action
without reserving his right to file a separate civil action for damages, he assumed the risk that in
the event he failed to recover damages he cannot appeal from the decision of the lower court.

We find merit in the petition.

The issues confronting us in the instant petition is whether or not the decision of the Second
Municipal Trial Court of Sibalom, San-Remigio-Belison, Province of Antique constitutes the final
adjudication on the merits of private respondent's civil liability; and whether or not petitioner is
entitled to an award of damages arising from the remarks uttered by private respondent and
found by the trial court to be defamatory.

The decision of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court as affirmed by the Regional Trial Court in
Criminal Case No. 1709 cannot be considered as a final adjudication on the civil liability of
private respondent simply because said decision has not yet become final due to the timely
appeal filed by petitioner with respect to the civil liability of the accused in said case. It was only
the unappealed criminal aspect of the case which has become final.

In the case of People vs. Coloma, 105 Phil. 1287, we categorically stated that from a judgment
convicting the accused, two (2) appeals may, accordingly, be taken. The accused may seek a
review of said judgment, as regards both civil and criminal actions; while the complainant may
appeal with respect only to the civil action, either because the lower court has refused to award
damages or because the award made is unsatisfactory to him. The right of either to appeal or
not to appeal in the event of conviction of the accused is not dependent upon the other. Thus,
private respondent's theory that in actively intervening in the criminal action, petitioner waived
his right to appeal from the decision that may be rendered therein, is incorrect and inaccurate.
Petitioner may, as he did, appeal from the decision on the civil aspect which is deemed
instituted with the criminal action and such appeal, timely taken, prevents the decision on the
civil liability from attaining finality.

We tackle the second issue by determining the basis of civil liability arising from crime. Civil
obligations arising from criminal offenses are governed by Article 100 of the Revised Penal
Code which provides that "(E)very person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable," in
relation to Article 2177 of the Civil Code on quasi-delict, the provisions for independent civil
actions in the Chapter on Human Relations and the provisions regulating damages, also found
in the Civil Code.

Underlying the legal principle that a person who is criminally liable is also civilly liable is the view
that from the standpoint of its effects, a crime has dual character: (1) as an offense against the
state because of the disturbance of the social order; and (2) as an offense against the private
person injured by the crime unless it involves the crime of treason, rebellion, espionage,
contempt and others wherein no civil liability arises on the part of the offender either because
there are no damages to be compensated or there is no private person injured by the crime. 3

In the ultimate analysis, what gives rise to the civil liability is really the obligation of everyone to
repair or to make whole the damage caused to another by reason of his act or omission,
whether done intentional or negligently and whether or not punishable by law. 4

In the case at bar, private respondent was found guilty of slight oral defamation and sentenced
to a fine of P50.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, but no civil liability arising
from the felonious act of the accused was adjudged. This is erroneous. As a general rule, a
person who is found to be criminally liable offends two (2) entities: the state or society in which
he lives and the individual member of the society or private person who was injured or damaged
by the punishable act or omission. The offense of which private respondent was found guilty is
not one of those felonies where no civil liability results because either there is no offended party
or no damage was caused to a private person. There is here an offended party, whose main
contention precisely is that he suffered damages in view of the defamatory words and
statements uttered by private respondent, in the amount of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00)
as moral damages and the further sum of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000) as exemplary
damages.

Article 2219, par. (7) of the Civil Code allows the recovery of moral damages in case of libel,
slander or any other form of defamation This provision of law establishes the right of an
offended party in a case for oral defamation to recover from the guilty party damages for injury
to his feelings and reputation. The offended party is likewise allowed to recover punitive or
exemplary damages.

It must be remembered that every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it


be true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown. And malice may be
inferred from the style and tone of publication 5 subject to certain exceptions which are not
present in the case at bar.

Calling petitioner who was a barangay captain an ignoramus, traitor, tyrant and Judas is clearly
an imputation of defects in petitioner's character sufficient to cause him embarrassment and
social humiliation. Petitioner testified to the feelings of shame and anguish he suffered as a
result of the incident complained of. 6 It is patently error for the trial court to overlook this vital
piece of evidence and to conclude that the "facts and circumstances of the case as adduced by
the evidence do not warrant the awarding of moral damages." Having misapprehended the
facts, the trial court's findings with respect thereto is not conclusive upon us.

From the evidence presented, we rule that for the injury to his feelings and reputation, being a
barangay captain, petitioner is entitled to moral damages in the sum of P5,000.00 and a further
sum of P5,000.00 as exemplary damages.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The decision of the Regional Trial Court is
hereby MODIFIED and private respondent is ordered to pay petitioner the amount of P5,000.00
as moral damages and another P5,000.00 as exemplary damages. Costs against private
respondent.

SO ORDERED.

Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano, Bidin and Cortés JJ., concur


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-17396 May 30, 1962

CECILIO PE, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants,


vs.
ALFONSO PE, defendant-appellee.

Cecilio L. Pe for and in his own behalf as plaintiff-appellant.


Leodegario L. Mogol for defendant-appellee.

BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.:

Plaintiffs brought this action before the Court of First Instance of Manila to recover moral,
compensatory, exemplary and corrective damages in the amount of P94,000.00 exclusive of
attorney's fees and expenses of litigation.

Defendant, after denying some allegations contained in the complaint, set up as a defense that
the facts alleged therein, even if true, do not constitute a valid cause of action.

After trial, the lower court, after finding that defendant had carried on a love affair with one Lolita
Pe, an unmarried woman, being a married man himself, declared that defendant cannot be held
liable for moral damages it appearing that plaintiffs failed to prove that defendant, being aware
of his marital status, deliberately and in bad faith tried to win Lolita's affection. So it rendered
decision dismissing the complaint.1äwphï1.ñët

Plaintiffs brought this case on appeal before this Court on the ground that the issues involved
are purely of law.

The facts as found by the trial court are: Plaintiffs are the parents, brothers and sisters of one
Lolita Pe. At the time of her disappearance on April 14, 1957, Lolita was 24 years old and
unmarried. Defendant is a married man and works as agent of the La Perla Cigar and Cigarette
Factory. He used to stay in the town of Gasan, Marinduque, in connection with his aforesaid
occupation. Lolita was staying with her parents in the same town. Defendant was an adopted
son of a Chinaman named Pe Beco, a collateral relative of Lolita's father. Because of such fact
and the similarity in their family name, defendant became close to the plaintiffs who regarded
him as a member of their family. Sometime in 1952, defendant frequented the house of Lolita on
the pretext that he wanted her to teach him how to pray the rosary. The two eventually fell in
love with each other and conducted clandestine trysts not only in the town of Gasan but also in
Boac where Lolita used to teach in a barrio school. They exchanged love notes with each other
the contents of which reveal not only their infatuation for each other but also the extent to which
they had carried their relationship. The rumors about their love affairs reached the ears of
Lolita's parents sometime, in 1955, and since then defendant was forbidden from going to their
house and from further seeing Lolita. The plaintiffs even filed deportation proceedings against
defendant who is a Chinese national. The affair between defendant and Lolita continued
nonetheless.
Sometime in April, 1957, Lolita was staying with her brothers and sisters at their residence at
54-B España Extension, Quezon City. On April 14, 1957, Lolita disappeared from said house.
After she left, her brothers and sisters checked up her thing and found that Lolita's clothes were
gone. However, plaintiffs found a note on a crumpled piece of paper inside Lolita's aparador.
Said note, written on a small slip of paper approximately 4" by 3" in size, was in a handwriting
recognized to be that of defendant's. In English it reads:

Honey, suppose I leave here on Sunday night, and that's 13th of this month and we will
have a date on the 14th, that's Monday morning at 10 a.m.

Reply

Love

The disappearance of Lolita was reported to the police authorities and the NBI but up to the
present there is no news or trace of her whereabouts.

The present action is based on Article 21 of the New Civil Code which provides:

Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner which is contrary to
morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage.

There is no doubt that the claim of plaintiffs for damages is based on the fact that defendant,
being a married man, carried on a love affair with Lolita Pe thereby causing plaintiffs injury in a
manner contrary to morals, good customs and public policy. But in spite of the fact that plaintiffs
have clearly established that in illicit affair was carried on between defendant and Lolita which
caused great damage to the name and reputation of plaintiffs who are her parents, brothers and
sisters, the trial court considered their complaint not actionable for the reason that they failed to
prove that defendant deliberately and in bad faith tried to win Lolita's affection Thus, the trial
court said: "In the absence of proof on this point, the court may not presume that it was the
defendant who deliberately induced such relationship. We cannot be unmindful of the
uncertainties and sometimes inexplicable mysteries of the human emotions. It is a possibility
that the defendant and Lolita simply fell in love with each other, not only without any desire on
their part, but also against their better judgment and in full consciousness of what it will bring to
both of them. This is specially so with respect to Lolita, being an unmarried woman, falling in
love with defendant who is a married man."

We disagree with this view. The circumstances under which defendant tried to win Lolita's
affection cannot lead, to any other conclusion than that it was he who, thru an ingenious
scheme or trickery, seduced the latter to the extent of making her fall in love with him. This is
shown by the fact that defendant frequented the house of Lolita on the pretext that he wanted
her to teach him how to pray the rosary. Because of the frequency of his visits to the latter's
family who was allowed free access because he was a collateral relative and was considered as
a member of her family, the two eventually fell in love with each other and conducted
clandestine love affairs not only in Gasan but also in Boac where Lolita used to teach in a barrio
school. When the rumors about their illicit affairs reached the knowledge of her parents,
defendant was forbidden from going to their house and even from seeing Lolita. Plaintiffs even
filed deportation proceedings against defendant who is a Chinese national. Nevertheless,
defendant continued his love affairs with Lolita until she disappeared from the parental home.
Indeed, no other conclusion can be drawn from this chain of events than that defendant not only
deliberately, but through a clever strategy, succeeded in winning the affection and love of Lolita
to the extent of having illicit relations with her. The wrong he has caused her and her family is
indeed immeasurable considering the fact that he is a married man. Verily, he has committed an
injury to Lolita's family in a manner contrary to morals, good customs and public policy as
contemplated in Article 21 of the new Civil Code.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is reversed. Defendant is hereby sentenced to pay
the plaintiffs the sum of P5,000.00 as damages and P2,000.00 as attorney's fees and expenses
of litigations. Costs against appellee.

Padilla, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Paredes and Dizon, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-17396 May 30, 1962

CECILIO PE, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants,


vs.
ALFONSO PE, defendant-appellee.

Cecilio L. Pe for and in his own behalf as plaintiff-appellant.


Leodegario L. Mogol for defendant-appellee.

BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.:

Plaintiffs brought this action before the Court of First Instance of Manila to recover moral,
compensatory, exemplary and corrective damages in the amount of P94,000.00 exclusive of
attorney's fees and expenses of litigation.

Defendant, after denying some allegations contained in the complaint, set up as a defense that
the facts alleged therein, even if true, do not constitute a valid cause of action.

After trial, the lower court, after finding that defendant had carried on a love affair with one Lolita
Pe, an unmarried woman, being a married man himself, declared that defendant cannot be held
liable for moral damages it appearing that plaintiffs failed to prove that defendant, being aware
of his marital status, deliberately and in bad faith tried to win Lolita's affection. So it rendered
decision dismissing the complaint.1äwphï1.ñët

Plaintiffs brought this case on appeal before this Court on the ground that the issues involved
are purely of law.

The facts as found by the trial court are: Plaintiffs are the parents, brothers and sisters of one
Lolita Pe. At the time of her disappearance on April 14, 1957, Lolita was 24 years old and
unmarried. Defendant is a married man and works as agent of the La Perla Cigar and Cigarette
Factory. He used to stay in the town of Gasan, Marinduque, in connection with his aforesaid
occupation. Lolita was staying with her parents in the same town. Defendant was an adopted
son of a Chinaman named Pe Beco, a collateral relative of Lolita's father. Because of such fact
and the similarity in their family name, defendant became close to the plaintiffs who regarded
him as a member of their family. Sometime in 1952, defendant frequented the house of Lolita on
the pretext that he wanted her to teach him how to pray the rosary. The two eventually fell in
love with each other and conducted clandestine trysts not only in the town of Gasan but also in
Boac where Lolita used to teach in a barrio school. They exchanged love notes with each other
the contents of which reveal not only their infatuation for each other but also the extent to which
they had carried their relationship. The rumors about their love affairs reached the ears of
Lolita's parents sometime, in 1955, and since then defendant was forbidden from going to their
house and from further seeing Lolita. The plaintiffs even filed deportation proceedings against
defendant who is a Chinese national. The affair between defendant and Lolita continued
nonetheless.
Sometime in April, 1957, Lolita was staying with her brothers and sisters at their residence at
54-B España Extension, Quezon City. On April 14, 1957, Lolita disappeared from said house.
After she left, her brothers and sisters checked up her thing and found that Lolita's clothes were
gone. However, plaintiffs found a note on a crumpled piece of paper inside Lolita's aparador.
Said note, written on a small slip of paper approximately 4" by 3" in size, was in a handwriting
recognized to be that of defendant's. In English it reads:

Honey, suppose I leave here on Sunday night, and that's 13th of this month and we will
have a date on the 14th, that's Monday morning at 10 a.m.

Reply

Love

The disappearance of Lolita was reported to the police authorities and the NBI but up to the
present there is no news or trace of her whereabouts.

The present action is based on Article 21 of the New Civil Code which provides:

Any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner which is contrary to
morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage.

There is no doubt that the claim of plaintiffs for damages is based on the fact that defendant,
being a married man, carried on a love affair with Lolita Pe thereby causing plaintiffs injury in a
manner contrary to morals, good customs and public policy. But in spite of the fact that plaintiffs
have clearly established that in illicit affair was carried on between defendant and Lolita which
caused great damage to the name and reputation of plaintiffs who are her parents, brothers and
sisters, the trial court considered their complaint not actionable for the reason that they failed to
prove that defendant deliberately and in bad faith tried to win Lolita's affection Thus, the trial
court said: "In the absence of proof on this point, the court may not presume that it was the
defendant who deliberately induced such relationship. We cannot be unmindful of the
uncertainties and sometimes inexplicable mysteries of the human emotions. It is a possibility
that the defendant and Lolita simply fell in love with each other, not only without any desire on
their part, but also against their better judgment and in full consciousness of what it will bring to
both of them. This is specially so with respect to Lolita, being an unmarried woman, falling in
love with defendant who is a married man."

We disagree with this view. The circumstances under which defendant tried to win Lolita's
affection cannot lead, to any other conclusion than that it was he who, thru an ingenious
scheme or trickery, seduced the latter to the extent of making her fall in love with him. This is
shown by the fact that defendant frequented the house of Lolita on the pretext that he wanted
her to teach him how to pray the rosary. Because of the frequency of his visits to the latter's
family who was allowed free access because he was a collateral relative and was considered as
a member of her family, the two eventually fell in love with each other and conducted
clandestine love affairs not only in Gasan but also in Boac where Lolita used to teach in a barrio
school. When the rumors about their illicit affairs reached the knowledge of her parents,
defendant was forbidden from going to their house and even from seeing Lolita. Plaintiffs even
filed deportation proceedings against defendant who is a Chinese national. Nevertheless,
defendant continued his love affairs with Lolita until she disappeared from the parental home.
Indeed, no other conclusion can be drawn from this chain of events than that defendant not only
deliberately, but through a clever strategy, succeeded in winning the affection and love of Lolita
to the extent of having illicit relations with her. The wrong he has caused her and her family is
indeed immeasurable considering the fact that he is a married man. Verily, he has committed an
injury to Lolita's family in a manner contrary to morals, good customs and public policy as
contemplated in Article 21 of the new Civil Code.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is reversed. Defendant is hereby sentenced to pay
the plaintiffs the sum of P5,000.00 as damages and P2,000.00 as attorney's fees and expenses
of litigations. Costs against appellee.

Padilla, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Paredes and Dizon, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. L-46061 November 14, 1984

ST. LOUIS REALTY CORPORATION, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and CONRADO J. ARAMIL, respondents.

Romeo Z. Comia for petitioner.

Roman R. Bersamin for private respondent.

AQUINO, J.:

This case is about the recovery of damages for a wrongful advertisement in the Sunday
Times where Saint Louis Realty Corporation misrepresented that the house of Doctor Conrado
J. Aramil belonged to Arcadio S. Arcadio.

St. Louis Realty caused to be published with the permission of Arcadio S. Arcadio (but without
permission of Doctor Aramil) in the issue of the Sunday Times of December 15, 1968 an
advertisement with the heading "WHERE THE HEART IS". Below that heading was the
photograph of the residence of Doctor Aramil and the Arcadio family and then below the
photograph was the following write-up:

Home is where the heart is. And the hearts of MR. AND MRS. ARCADIO S.
ARCADIO and their family have been captured by BROOKSIDE HILLS. They
used to rent a small 2-bedroom house in a cramped neighborhood, sadly
inadequate and unwholesome for the needs of a large family. They dream(ed) of
a more pleasant place free from the din and dust of city life yet near all facilities.
Plans took shape when they heard of BROOKSIDE HILLS. With thrift and
determination, they bought a lot and built their dream house ... for P31,000. The
Arcadios are now part of the friendly, thriving community of BROOKSIDE
HILLS... a beautiful first-class subdivision planned for wholesome family living.

The same advertisement appeared in the Sunday Times dated January 5, 1969. Doctor Aramil
a neuropsychiatrist and a member of the faculty of the U. E. Ramon Magsaysay Memorial
Hospital, noticed the mistake. On that same date, he wrote St. Louis Realty the following letter
of protest:

Dear Sirs:

This is anent to your advertisements appearing in the December 15, 1968 and
January 5, 1969 issues of the Sunday Times which boldly depicted my house at
the above-mentioned address and implying that it belonged to another person. I
am not aware of any permission or authority on my part for the use of my house
for such publicity.

This unauthorized use of my house for your promotional gain and much more the
apparent distortions therein are I believe not only transgression to my private
property but also damaging to my prestige in the medical profession I have had
invited in several occasions numerous medical colleagues, medical students and
friends to my house and after reading your December 15 advertisement some of
them have uttered some remarks purporting doubts as to my professional and
personal integrity. Such sly remarks although in light vein as "it looks like your
house," "how much are you renting from the Arcadios?", " like your wife portrayed
in the papers as belonging to another husband," etc., have resulted in no little
mental anguish on my part.

I have referred this matter to the Legal Panel of the Philippine Medical
Association and their final advice is pending upon my submission of supporting
ownership papers.

I will therefore be constrained to pursue court action against your corporation


unless you could satisfactorily explain this matter within a week upon receipt of
this letter.

The letter was received by Ernesto Magtoto, an officer of St. Louis Realty in charge of
advertising. He stopped publication of the advertisement. He contacted Doctor Aramil and
offered his apologies. However, no rectification or apology was published.

On February 20, 1969, Aramil's counsel demanded from St. Louis Realty actual, moral and
exemplary damages of P110,000 (Exh. D). In its answer dated March 10, St. Louis Realty
claimed that there was an honest mistake and that if Aramil so desired, rectification would be
published in the Manila Times (Exh. 3).

It published in the issue of the Manila Times of March 18, 1969 a new advertisement with the
Arcadio family and their real house. But it did not publish any apology to Doctor Aramil and an
explanation of the error.

On March 29, Aramil filed his complaint for damages. St. Louis Realty published in the issue of
the Manila Times of April 15, 1969 the following "NOTICE OF RECTIFICATION" in a space 4 by
3 inches:

This will serve as a notice that our print ad 'Where the Heart is' which appeared
in the Manila Timesissue of March 18, 1969 is a rectification of the same ad that
appeared in the Manila Times issues rectification of the same ad that appeal of
December 15, 1968 and January 5, 1969 wherein a photo of the house of
another Brookside Homeowner (Dr. Aramil-private respondent) was mistakenly
used as a background for the featured homeowner's the Arcadio family.

The ad of March 18, 1969 shows the Arcadio family with their real house in the
background, as was intended all along.
Judge Jose M. Leuterio observed that St. Louis Realty should have immediately published a
rectification and apology. He found that as a result of St. Louis Realty's mistake, magnified by
its utter lack of sincerity, Doctor Aramil suffered mental anguish and his income was reduced by
about P1,000 to P1,500 a month. Moreover, there was violation of Aramil's right to privacy (Art.
26, Civil Code).

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

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

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

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

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

The damages fixed by Judge Leuterio are sanctioned by Articles 2200, 2208 and 2219 of the
Civil Code. Article 2219 allows moral damages for acts and actions mentioned in Article 26. As
lengthily explained by Justice Gatmaitan, the acts and omissions of the firm fan under Article 26.

St. Louis Realty's employee was grossly negligent in mixing up the Aramil and Arcadio
residences in a widely circulated publication like the Sunday Times. To suit its purpose, it never
made any written apology and explanation of the mix-up. It just contented itself with a cavalier
"rectification ".

Persons, who know the residence of Doctor Aramil, were confused by the distorted, lingering
impression that he was renting his residence from Arcadio or that Arcadio had leased it from
him. Either way, his private life was mistakenly and unnecessarily exposed. He suffered
diminution of income and mental anguish.

WHEREFORE, the judgment of the Appellate Court is affirmed. Costs against the petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

Makasiar, Concepcion, Jr., Abad Santos, Escolin and Cuevas, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD dIVISION

G.R. No. L-54598 April 15, 1988

JOSE B. LEDESMA, petitioner,


vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, Spouses PACIFICO DELMO and SANCHA DELMO (as private
respondents), respondents.

The Solicitor General for petitioner.

Luzel D. Demasu-ay for respondent.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:

This petition seeks to reverse the decision of the respondent Court of Appeals which afirmed the
decision of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo, adjudging the petitioner, who was then the
President of the West Visayas College liable for damages under Article 27 of the Civil Code of
the Philippines for failure to graduate a student with honors.

The facts are not disputed.

An organization named Student Leadership Club was formed by some students of the West
Visayas College. They elected the late Violets Delmo as the treasurer. In that capacity, Delmo
extended loans from the funds of the club to some of the students of the school. "the petitioner
claims that the said act of extending loans was against school rules and regulations. Thus, the
petitioner, as President of the School, sent a letter to Delmo informing her that she was being
dropped from the membership of the club and that she would not be a candidate for any award
or citation from the school.

Delmo asked for a reconsideration of the decision but the petitioner denied it. Delmo, thus,
appealed to the Office of the Director of the Bureau of Public Schools.

The Director after due investigation, rendered a decison on April 13, 1966 which provided:

Records of the preliminary investigation conducted by one of the legal officers of


this Office disclosed the following: That Violeta Delmo was the treasurer of the
Student Leadership Club, an exclusive student organization; that pursuant to
Article IX of the of the Constitution and By-Laws of the club, it passed Resolution
No. 2, authorizing the treasurer to disburse funds of the Club to student for
financial aid and other humanitarian purposes; that in compliance with said
resolution and as treasurer of the Club, Violeta Delmo extended loans to some
officers and members of the Club upon proper application duly approved by the
majority of the members of the Executive Board; and that upon receiving the
report from Mr. Jesse Dagoon, adviser of the funds of the Club, that Office
conducted an investigation on the matter and having been convinced of the guilt
of Violets Delmo and the other officers and members of the Club, that Office
rendered the order or decision in question. In justifying that Office's order or
decision, it is contended that approval by that Office of the Constitution and By-
Laws of the Club is necessary for its effectivity and validity and since it was never
submitted to that Office, the Club had no valid constitution and By-Laws and that
as a consequence, Resolution No. 2 which was passed based on the
Constitution and By-Laws- is without any force and effect and the treasurer,
Violeta Delmo, who extended loans to some officers and members of the Club
pursuant thereto are illegal (sic), hence, she and the other students involved are
deemed guilty of misappropriating the funds of the Club. On the other hand,
Raclito Castaneda, Nestor Golez and Violeta Delmo, President, Secretary and
Treasurer of the Club, respectively, testified that the Club had adopted its
Constitution and By-Laws in a meeting held last October 3, 1965, and that
pursuant to Article I of said Constitution and By-Laws, the majority of the
members of the Executive Board passed Resolution No. 2, which resolution
became the basis for the extension on of loans to some officers and members of
the Club, that the Club honestly believed that its Constitution and By-Laws has
been approved by the superintendent because the adviser of the Club, Mr. Jesse
Dagoon, assured the President of the Club that he will cause the approval of the
Constitution and By-Laws by the Superintendent; the officers of the Club have
been inducted to office on October 9,1965 by the Superintendent and that the
Club had been likewise allowed to cosponsor the Education Week Celebration.

After a careful study of the records, this Office sustains the action taken by the
Superintendent in penalizing the adviser of the Club as well as the officers and
members thereof by dropping them from membership therein. However, this
Office is convinced that Violets M. Delmo had acted in good faith, in her capacity
as Club Treasurer, in extending loans to the officers and members of the Student
partnership Club. Resolution No. 2 authorizing the Club treasurer to discharge
finds to students in need of financial assistance and other humanitarian purposes
had been approved by the Club adviser, Mr. Jesse Dagoon, with the notation that
approval was given in his capacity as adviser of the Club and extension of the
Superintendent's personality. Aside from misleading the officers and members of
the Club, Mr. Dagoon, had unsatisfactorily explained why he failed to give the
Constitution and By-Laws of the Club to the Superintendent for approval despite
his assurance to the Club president that he would do so. With this finding of
negligence on the part of the Club adviser, not to mention laxity in the
performance of his duties as such, this Office considers as too severe and
unwarranted that portion of the questioned order stating that Violeta Delmo "shall
not be a candidate for any award or citation from this school or any organization
in this school." Violeta Delmo, it is noted, has been a consistent full scholar of the
school and she alone has maintained her scholarship. The decision in question
would, therefore, set at naught all her sacrifice and frustrate her dreams of
graduating with honors in this year's commencement exercises.
In view of all the foregoing, this Office believes and so holds and hereby directs
that appellant Violeta. M. Delmo, and for that matter all other Club members or
officers involved in this case, be not deprived of any award, citation or honor from
the school, if they are otherwise entitled thereto. (Rollo, pp. 28-30)

On April 27, 1966, the petitioner received by mail the decision of the Director and all the records
of the case. On the same day, petitioner received a telegram stating the following:

"AIRMAIL RECORDS DELMO CASE MISSENT THAT OFFICE"

The Director asked for the return only of the records but the petitioner allegedly mistook the
telegram as ordering him to also send the decision back. On the same day, he returned by mail
all the records plus the decision of the Director to the Bureau of Public Schools.

The next day, the petitioner received another telegram from the Director order him to furnish
Delmo with a copy of the decision. The petitioner, in turn, sent a night letter to the Director
informing the latter that he had sent the decision back and that he had not retained a copy
thereof..

On May 3, 1966, the day of the graduation, the petitioner received another telegram from the
Director ordering him not to deprive Delmo of any honors due her. As it was impossible by this
time to include Delmo's name in the program as one of the honor students, the petitioner let her
graduate as a plain student instead of being awarded the Latin honor of Magna Cum Laude.

To delay the matter further, the petitioner on May 5, 1966, wrote the Director for a
reconsideration of the latters" decision because he believed that Delmo should not be allowed
to graduate with honors. The Director denied the petitioner's request.

On July 12, 1966, the petitioner finally instructed the Registrar of the school to enter into the
scholastic records of Delmo the honor, "Magna Cum Laude."

On July 30, 1966, Delmo, then a minor, was joined by her parents in flag action for damages
against the petitioner. During the pendency of the action, however, Delmo passed away, and
thus, an Amended and Supplemental Complaint was filed by her parents as her sole and only
heirs.

The trial court after hearing rendered judgment against the petitioner and in favor of the spouses
Delmo. The court said:

Let us go to specific badges of the defendants (now petitioners) bad faith. Per
investigation of Violeta Delmo's appeal to Director Vitaliano Bernardino of the
Bureau of Public Schools (Exhibit L it was the defendant who inducted the
officers of the Student Leadership Club on October 9, 1965. In fact the Club was
allowed to cosponsor the Education Week Celebration. (Exh. "L"). If the
defendant he not approve of the constitution and by-laws of the Club, why did he
induct the officers into office and allow the Club to sponsor the Education Week
Celebration"? It was through his own act that the students were misled to do as
they did. Coupled with the defendants tacit recognition of the Club was the
assurance of Mr. Jemm Dagoon, Club Adviser, who made the students believe
that he was acting as an extension of Mr. Ledesma's personality. (Exhibit "L").
Another badge of the defendan'ts want of good faith is the fact that, although, he
kaew as early as April 27,1966 that per on of r Bernardino, Exhibit "L," he was
directed to give honors to Miss Delmo, he kept Id information to . He told the
Court that he knew that the letter of Director Bernardino directed him not to
deprive Miss Delmo the honors due her, but she (sic) says that he has not
finished reading the letter-decision, Exhibit "L," of Director Bernardino 0, him to
give honors to Miss Delmo. (Tsn, Feb. 5, 1974, testimony of Mr. Ledesma, pp.
.33-35). It could not be true that he has not finished reading the letter-decision,
Exh. "L," because said letter consisted of only three pages, and the portion which
directed that Miss Delmo "be not deprived of any award, citation or honor from
the school, if otherwise entitled thereto is found at the last paragraph of the
same. How did he know the last paragraph if he did not read the letter.

Defendants actuations regarding Miss Delmo's cam had been one of bias and
prejudice. When his action would favor him, he was deliberate and aspect to the
utter prejudice and detriment of Miss Delmo. Thus, although, as early as April 27,
1966, he knew of the exoneration of Miss Delino by Director Bernardino, he
withheld the information from Miss Delmo. This is eloquently dramatized by Exh.
"11" and Exh. "13" On April 29,1966, Director Bernardino cabled him to furnish
Violeta Delmo copy of the Decision, Exh. "L," but instead of informing Miss
Delmo about the decision, since he said he mailed back the decision on April
28,1966, he sent a night letter on April 29,1966, to Director Bernardino, informing
the latter that he had returned the decision (Exh. "l3"), together with the record.
Why a night letter when the matter was of utmost urgency to the parties in the
case, because graduation day was only four days ahead? An examination of the
telegrams sent by the defendant shows that he had been sending ordinary
telegram and not night letters. (Exh. "5", Exhibit "7"). At least, if the defendant
could not furnish a copy of the decision, (Exh. "L"), to Miss Delmo, he should
have told her about it or that Miss Delmo's honors and citation in the
commencement be announced or indicated. But Mr. Ledesma is one who cannot
admit a mistake. Very ungentlemanly this is home out by his own testimony
despite his knowledge that his decision to deprive Miss Delmo of honors due to
her was overturned by Director Bernardino, he on his wrong belief. To quote the
defendant,1 believed that she did not deserve those honors(Tsn Feb. 5, 1974, p.
43,Empasized supplied). Despite the telegram of Director Bernardino which the
defendant received hours before the commencement executory on May 3-
4,1966, he did not obey Director Bernardino because he said in his testimony
that he would be embarrassment . Tan Feb 5,1974, P. 46). Evidently, he knew
only his embarrassment and not that of r Bernardino whose order was being
flagrantly and wantonly disregarded by bim And certainly, not the least of Miss
Delmo's embarrassment. His acts speak eloquently of ho bad faith and unjust of
mindwarped by his delicate sensitivity for having been challenged by Miss
Delmo, a mere student.

xxx xxx xxx

Finally the defendant's behaviour relative to Miss s case smacks of


contemptuous arrogance, oppression and abuse of power. Come to think of it.
He refused to obey the directive of Be o and instead, chose to feign ignorance of
it." (Reward on Appeal, p. 72-76).
The trial court awarded P20,000.00 to the estate of Violeta Delmo and P10,000.00 to her
parents for moral damages; P5,000.00 for nominal damages to Violeta's estate; exemplary
damages of P10,000.00 and P2,000.00 attorney's fees.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision. Hence, this petition.

The issues raised in this petition can be reduced to the sole question of whether or not the
respondent Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial court's finding that petitioner is liable for
damages under Article 27 of the New Civil Code.

We find no reason why the findings of the trial and appellate courts should be reversed. It
cannot be disputed that Violeta Delmo went through a painful ordeal which was brought about
by the petitioner's neglect of duty and callousness. Thus, moral damages are but proper. As we
have affirmed in the case of (Prudenciado v. Alliance Transport System, Inc., 148 SCRA 440,
448):

There is no argument that moral damages include physical suffering, mental


anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral
shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though incapable of pecuniary
computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are the proximate result
of defendant's wrongly act or omission." (People v. Baylon, 129 SCRA 62 (1984).

The Solicitor-General tries to cover-up the petitioner's deliberate omission to inform Miss Delmo
by stating that it was not the duty of the petitioner to furnish her a copy of the Director's
decision. Granting this to be true, it was nevertheless the petitioner's duty to enforce the said
decision. He could have done so considering that he received the decision on April 27, 1966
and even though he sent it back with the records of the case, he undoubtedly read the whole of
it which consisted of only three pages. Moreover, the petitioner should have had the decency to
meet with Mr. Delmo, the girl's father, and inform the latter, at the very least of the decision.
This, the petitioner likewise failed to do, and not without the attendant bad faith which the
appellate court correctly pointed out in its decision, to wit:

Third, assuming that defendant could not furnish Miss Delmo of a copy of the
decision, he could have used his discretion and plain common sense by
informing her about it or he could have directed the inclusion of Miss Delmo's
honor in the printed commencement program or announced it during the
commencement exercises.

Fourth, defendant despite receipt of the telegram of Director Benardino hours


before the commencement exercises on May 3-4, 1966, disobeyed his superior
by refusing to give the honors due Miss Delmo with a lame excuse that he would
be embarrassed if he did so, to the prejudice of and in complete disregard of
Miss Delmo's rights.

Fifth, defendant did not even extend the courtesy of meeting Mr. Pacifico Delmo,
father of Miss Delmo, who tried several times to see defendant in his office thus
Mr. Delmo suffered extreme disappointment and humiliation.

xxx xxx xxx


Defendant, being a public officer should have acted with circumspection and due
regard to the rights of Miss Delmo. Inasmuch as he exceeded the scope of his
authority by defiantly disobeying the lawful directive of his superior, Director
Bernardino, defendant is liable for damages in his personal capacity. . . . (Rollo,
pp- 57-58)

Based on the undisputed facts, exemplary damages are also in order. In the same case
of Prudenciado v. Alliance Transport System, Inc., supra., at p. 450, we ruled:

The rationale behind exemplary or corrective damages is, as the name implies,
to provide an example or correction for the public good (Lopez, et al. v. Pan
American World Airways, 16 SCRA 431).

However, we do not deem it appropriate to award the spouses Delmo damages


in the amount of P10,000.00 in their individual capacity, separately from and in
addition to what they are already entitled to as sole heirs of the deceased Violeta
Delmo. Thus, the decision is modified insofar as moral damages are awarded to
the spouses in their own behalf.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The decision of the Court of
Appeals is AFFIRMED with the slight modification as stated in the preceding paragraph. This
decision is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.

Fernan (Chairman), Feliciano, Bidin and Cortes, JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 72964 January 7, 1988

FILOMENO URBANO, petitioner,


vs.
HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT AND PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondents.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:

This is a petition to review the decision of the then Intermediate Appellate Court which affirmed
the decision of the then Circuit Criminal Court of Dagupan City finding petitioner Filomeno
Urban guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide.

The records disclose the following facts of the case.

At about 8:00 o'clock in the morning of October 23, 1980, petitioner Filomeno Urbano went to
his ricefield at Barangay Anonang, San Fabian, Pangasinan located at about 100 meters from
the tobacco seedbed of Marcelo Javier. He found the place where he stored his palay flooded
with water coming from the irrigation canal nearby which had overflowed. Urbano went to the
elevated portion of the canal to see what happened and there he saw Marcelo Javier and Emilio
Erfe cutting grass. He asked them who was responsible for the opening of the irrigation canal
and Javier admitted that he was the one. Urbano then got angry and demanded that Javier pay
for his soaked palay. A quarrel between them ensued. Urbano unsheathed his bolo (about 2
feet long, including the handle, by 2 inches wide) and hacked Javier hitting him on the right palm
of his hand, which was used in parrying the bolo hack. Javier who was then unarmed ran away
from Urbano but was overtaken by Urbano who hacked him again hitting Javier on the left leg
with the back portion of said bolo, causing a swelling on said leg. When Urbano tried to hack
and inflict further injury, his daughter embraced and prevented him from hacking Javier.

Immediately thereafter, Antonio Erfe, Emilio Erfe, and Felipe Erfe brought Javier to his house
about 50 meters away from where the incident happened. Emilio then went to the house of
Barangay Captain Menardo Soliven but not finding him there, Emilio looked for barrio
councilman Felipe Solis instead. Upon the advice of Solis, the Erfes together with Javier went to
the police station of San Fabian to report the incident. As suggested by Corporal Torio, Javier
was brought to a physician. The group went to Dr. Guillermo Padilla, rural health physician of
San Fabian, who did not attend to Javier but instead suggested that they go to Dr. Mario
Meneses because Padilla had no available medicine.

After Javier was treated by Dr. Meneses, he and his companions returned to Dr. Guillermo
Padilla who conducted a medico-legal examination. Dr. Padilla issued a medico-legal certificate
(Exhibit "C" dated September 28, 1981) which reads:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

This is to certify that I have examined the wound of Marcelo Javier, 20 years of
age, married, residing at Barangay Anonang, San Fabian, Pangasinan on
October 23, 1980 and found the following:

1 -Incised wound 2 inches in length at the upper portion of the lesser palmar
prominence, right.

As to my observation the incapacitation is from (7-9) days period. This wound


was presented to me only for medico-legal examination, as it was already treated
by the other doctor. (p. 88, Original Records)

Upon the intercession of Councilman Solis, Urbano and Javier agreed to settle their differences.
Urbano promised to pay P700.00 for the medical expenses of Javier. Hence, on October 27,
1980, the two accompanied by Solis appeared before the San Fabian Police to formalize their
amicable settlement. Patrolman Torio recorded the event in the police blotter (Exhibit A), to wit:

xxx xxx xxx

Entry Nr 599/27 Oct '80/103OH/ Re entry Nr 592 on page 257 both parties
appeared before this Station accompanied by brgy. councilman Felipe Solis and
settled their case amicably, for they are neighbors and close relatives to each
other. Marcelo Javier accepted and granted forgiveness to Filomeno Urbano who
shoulder (sic) all the expenses in his medical treatment, and promising to him
and to this Office that this will never be repeated anymore and not to harbour any
grudge against each other. (p. 87, Original Records.)

Urbano advanced P400.00 to Javier at the police station. On November 3, 1980, the additional
P300.00 was given to Javier at Urbano's house in the presence of barangay captain Soliven.

At about 1:30 a.m. on November 14, 1980, Javier was rushed to the Nazareth General Hospital
in a very serious condition. When admitted to the hospital, Javier had lockjaw and was having
convulsions. Dr. Edmundo Exconde who personally attended to Javier found that the latter's
serious condition was caused by tetanus toxin. He noticed the presence of a healing wound in
Javier's palm which could have been infected by tetanus.

On November 15, 1980 at exactly 4:18 p.m., Javier died in the hospital. The medical findings of
Dr. Exconde are as follows:

Date Diagnosis

11-14-80 ADMITTED due to trismus

adm. at DX TETANUS

1:30 AM Still having frequent muscle spasm. With diffi-

#35, 421 culty opening his mouth. Restless at times. Febrile


11-15-80 Referred. Novaldin 1 amp. inj. IM. Sudden cessa-

tion of respiration and HR after


muscular spasm.

02 inhalation administered. Ambo


bag resuscita-

tion and cardiac massage done but


to no avail.

Pronounced dead by Dra. Cabugao


at 4:18 P.M.

PMC done and cadaver brought


home by rela-

tives. (p. 100, Original Records)

In an information dated April 10, 1981, Filomeno Urbano was charged with the crime of
homicide before the then Circuit Criminal Court of Dagupan City, Third Judicial District.

Upon arraignment, Urbano pleaded "not guilty." After trial, the trial court found Urbano guilty as
charged. He was sentenced to suffer an indeterminate prison term of from TWELVE (12)
YEARS of prision mayor, as minimum to SEVENTEEN (17) years, FOUR (4) MONTHS and
ONE (1) DAY of reclusion temporal, as maximum, together with the accessories of the law, to
indemnify the heirs of the victim, Marcelo Javier, in the amount of P12,000.00 without subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs. He was ordered confined at the New
Bilibid Prison, in Muntinlupa, Rizal upon finality of the decision, in view of the nature of his
penalty.

The then Intermediate Appellate Court affirmed the conviction of Urbano on appeal but raised
the award of indemnity to the heirs of the deceased to P30,000.00 with costs against the
appellant.

The appellant filed a motion for reconsideration and/or new trial. The motion for new trial was
based on an affidavit of Barangay Captain Menardo Soliven (Annex "A") which states:

That in 1980, I was the barrio captain of Barrio Anonang, San Fabian,
Pangasinan, and up to the present having been re-elected to such position in the
last barangay elections on May 17, 1982;

That sometime in the first week of November, 1980, there was a typhoon that
swept Pangasinan and other places of Central Luzon including San Fabian, a
town of said province;

That during the typhoon, the sluice or control gates of the Bued irrigation dam
which irrigates the ricefields of San Fabian were closed and/or controlled so
much so that water and its flow to the canals and ditches were regulated and
reduced;

That due to the locking of the sluice or control gates of the dam leading to the
canals and ditches which will bring water to the ricefields, the water in said
canals and ditches became shallow which was suitable for catching mudfishes;

That after the storm, I conducted a personal survey in the area affected, with my
secretary Perfecto Jaravata;

That on November 5, 1980, while I was conducting survey, I saw the late Marcelo
Javier catching fish in the shallow irrigation canals with some companions;

That few days there after,or on November l5, l980, I came to know that said
Marcelo Javier died of tetanus. (p. 33, Rollo)

The motion was denied. Hence, this petition.

In a resolution dated July 16, 1986, we gave due course to the petition.

The case involves the application of Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code which provides that
"Criminal liability shall be incurred: (1) By any person committing a felony (delito) although the
wrongful act done be different from that which he intended ..." Pursuant to this provision "an
accused is criminally responsible for acts committed by him in violation of law and for all the
natural and logical consequences resulting therefrom." (People v. Cardenas, 56 SCRA 631).

The record is clear that Marcelo Javier was hacked by the petitioner who used a bolo as a result
of which Javier suffered a 2-inch incised wound on his right palm; that on November 14, 1981
which was the 22nd day after the incident, Javier was rushed to the hospital in a very serious
condition and that on the following day, November 15, 1981, he died from tetanus.

Under these circumstances, the lower courts ruled that Javier's death was the natural and
logical consequence of Urbano's unlawful act. Hence, he was declared responsible for Javier's
death. Thus, the appellate court said:

The claim of appellant that there was an efficient cause which supervened from
the time the deceased was wounded to the time of his death, which covers a
period of 23 days does not deserve serious consideration. True, that the
deceased did not die right away from his wound, but the cause of his death was
due to said wound which was inflicted by the appellant. Said wound which was in
the process of healing got infected with tetanus which ultimately caused his
death.

Dr. Edmundo Exconde of the Nazareth General Hospital testified that the victim
suffered lockjaw because of the infection of the wound with tetanus. And there is
no other way by which he could be infected with tetanus except through the
wound in his palm (tsn., p. 78, Oct. 5, 1981). Consequently, the proximate cause
of the victim's death was the wound which got infected with tetanus. And the
settled rule in this jurisdiction is that an accused is liable for all the consequences
of his unlawful act. (Article 4, par. 1, R.P.C. People v. Red, CA 43 O.G. 5072;
People v. Cornel 78 Phil. 418).

Appellant's allegation that the proximate cause of the victim's death was due to
his own negligence in going back to work without his wound being properly
healed, and lately, that he went to catch fish in dirty irrigation canals in the first
week of November, 1980, is an afterthought, and a desperate attempt by
appellant to wiggle out of the predicament he found himself in. If the wound had
not yet healed, it is impossible to conceive that the deceased would be reckless
enough to work with a disabled hand. (pp. 20-21, Rollo)

The petitioner reiterates his position that the proximate cause of the death of Marcelo Javier
was due to his own negligence, that Dr. Mario Meneses found no tetanus in the injury, and that
Javier got infected with tetanus when after two weeks he returned to his farm and tended his
tobacco plants with his bare hands exposing the wound to harmful elements like tetanus germs.

The evidence on record does not clearly show that the wound inflicted by Urbano was infected
with tetanus at the time of the infliction of the wound. The evidence merely confirms that the
wound, which was already healing at the time Javier suffered the symptoms of the fatal ailment,
somehow got infected with tetanus However, as to when the wound was infected is not clear
from the record.

In Vda. de Bataclan, et al. v. Medina (102 Phil. 1181), we adopted the following definition of
proximate cause:

xxx xxx xxx

... A satisfactory definition of proximate cause is found in Volume 38, pages 695-
696 of American Jurisprudence, cited by plaintiffs-appellants in their brief. It is as
follows:

... "that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any
efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result
would not have occurred."And more comprehensively, "the proximate legal cause
is that acting first and producing the injury, either immediately or by setting other
events in motion, all constituting a natural and continuous chain of events, each
having a close causal connection with its immediate predecessor, the final event
in the chain immediately effecting the injury as a natural and probable result of
the cause which first acted, under such circumstances that the person
responsible for the first event should, as an ordinarily prudent and intelligent
person, have reasonable ground to expect at the moment of his act or default
that an injury to some person might probably result therefrom." (at pp. 185-186)

The issue, therefore, hinges on whether or not there was an efficient intervening cause from the
time Javier was wounded until his death which would exculpate Urbano from any liability for
Javier's death.

We look into the nature of tetanus-


The incubation period of tetanus, i.e., the time between injury and the
appearance of unmistakable symptoms, ranges from 2 to 56 days. However,
over 80 percent of patients become symptomatic within 14 days. A short
incubation period indicates severe disease, and when symptoms occur within 2
or 3 days of injury the mortality rate approaches 100 percent.

Non-specific premonitory symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, and


headache are encountered occasionally, but the commonest presenting
complaints are pain and stiffness in the jaw, abdomen, or back and difficulty
swallowing. As the progresses, stiffness gives way to rigidity, and patients often
complain of difficulty opening their mouths. In fact, trismus in the commonest
manifestation of tetanus and is responsible for the familiar descriptive name of
lockjaw. As more muscles are involved, rigidity becomes generalized, and
sustained contractions called risus sardonicus. The intensity and sequence of
muscle involvement is quite variable. In a small proportion of patients, only local
signs and symptoms develop in the region of the injury. In the vast majority,
however, most muscles are involved to some degree, and the signs and
symptoms encountered depend upon the major muscle groups affected.

Reflex spasm usually occur within 24 to 72 hours of the first symptom, an interval
referred to as the onset time. As in the case of the incubation period, a short
onset time is associated with a poor prognosis. Spasms are caused by sudden
intensification of afferent stimuli arising in the periphery, which increases rigidity
and causes simultaneous and excessive contraction of muscles and their
antagonists. Spasms may be both painful and dangerous. As the disease
progresses, minimal or inapparent stimuli produce more intense and longer
lasting spasms with increasing frequency. Respiration may be impaired by
laryngospasm or tonic contraction of respiratory muscles which prevent adequate
ventilation. Hypoxia may then lead to irreversible central nervous system damage
and death.

Mild tetanus is characterized by an incubation period of at least 14 days and an


onset time of more than 6 days. Trismus is usually present, but dysphagia is
absent and generalized spasms are brief and mild. Moderately severe tetanus
has a somewhat shorter incubation period and onset time; trismus is marked,
dysphagia and generalized rigidity are present, but ventilation remains adequate
even during spasms. The criteria for severe tetanus include a short incubation
time, and an onset time of 72 hrs., or less, severe trismus, dysphagia and rigidity
and frequent prolonged, generalized convulsive spasms. (Harrison's Principle of
Internal Medicine, 1983 Edition, pp. 1004-1005; Emphasis supplied)

Therefore, medically speaking, the reaction to tetanus found inside a man's body depends on
the incubation period of the disease.

In the case at bar, Javier suffered a 2-inch incised wound on his right palm when he parried the
bolo which Urbano used in hacking him. This incident took place on October 23, 1980. After 22
days, or on November 14, 1980, he suffered the symptoms of tetanus, like lockjaw and muscle
spasms. The following day, November 15, 1980, he died.
If, therefore, the wound of Javier inflicted by the appellant was already infected by tetanus
germs at the time, it is more medically probable that Javier should have been infected with only
a mild cause of tetanus because the symptoms of tetanus appeared on the 22nd day after the
hacking incident or more than 14 days after the infliction of the wound. Therefore, the onset time
should have been more than six days. Javier, however, died on the second day from the onset
time. The more credible conclusion is that at the time Javier's wound was inflicted by the
appellant, the severe form of tetanus that killed him was not yet present. Consequently, Javier's
wound could have been infected with tetanus after the hacking incident. Considering the
circumstance surrounding Javier's death, his wound could have been infected by tetanus 2 or 3
or a few but not 20 to 22 days before he died.

The rule is that the death of the victim must be the direct, natural, and logical consequence of
the wounds inflicted upon him by the accused. (People v. Cardenas, supra) And since we are
dealing with a criminal conviction, the proof that the accused caused the victim's death must
convince a rational mind beyond reasonable doubt. The medical findings, however, lead us to a
distinct possibility that the infection of the wound by tetanus was an efficient intervening cause
later or between the time Javier was wounded to the time of his death. The infection was,
therefore, distinct and foreign to the crime. (People v. Rellin, 77 Phil. 1038).

Doubts are present. There is a likelihood that the wound was but the remote cause and its
subsequent infection, for failure to take necessary precautions, with tetanus may have been
the proximate cause of Javier's death with which the petitioner had nothing to do. As we ruled
in Manila Electric Co. v. Remoquillo, et al. (99 Phil. 118).

"A prior and remote cause cannot be made the be of an action if such remote
cause did nothing more than furnish the condition or give rise to the occasion by
which the injury was made possible, if there intervened between such prior or
remote cause and the injury a distinct, successive, unrelated, and efficient cause
of the injury, even though such injury would not have happened but for such
condition or occasion. If no danger existed in the condition except because of the
independent cause, such condition was not the proximate cause. And if an
independent negligent act or defective condition sets into operation the instances
which result in injury because of the prior defective condition, such subsequent
act or condition is the proximate cause." (45 C.J. pp. 931-932). (at p. 125)

It strains the judicial mind to allow a clear aggressor to go scot free of criminal liability. At the
very least, the records show he is guilty of inflicting slight physical injuries. However, the
petitioner's criminal liability in this respect was wiped out by the victim's own act. After the
hacking incident, Urbano and Javier used the facilities of barangay mediators to effect a
compromise agreement where Javier forgave Urbano while Urbano defrayed the medical
expenses of Javier. This settlement of minor offenses is allowed under the express provisions of
Presidential Decree G.R. No. 1508, Section 2(3). (See also People v. Caruncho, 127 SCRA 16).

We must stress, however, that our discussion of proximate cause and remote cause is limited to
the criminal aspects of this rather unusual case. It does not necessarily follow that the petitioner
is also free of civil liability. The well-settled doctrine is that a person, while not criminally liable,
may still be civilly liable. Thus, in the recent case of People v. Rogelio Ligon y Tria, et al. (G.R.
No. 74041, July 29, 1987), we said:

xxx xxx xxx


... While the guilt of the accused in a criminal prosecution must be established
beyond reasonable doubt, only a preponderance of evidence is required in a civil
action for damages. (Article 29, Civil Code). The judgment of acquittal
extinguishes the civil liability of the accused only when it includes a declaration
that the facts from which the civil liability might arise did not exist. (Padilla v.
Court of Appeals, 129 SCRA 559).

The reason for the provisions of article 29 of the Civil Code, which provides that
the acquittal of the accused on the ground that his guilt has not been proved
beyond reasonable doubt does not necessarily exempt him from civil liability for
the same act or omission, has been explained by the Code Commission as
follows:

The old rule that the acquittal of the accused in a criminal case
also releases him from civil liability is one of the most serious
flaws in the Philippine legal system. It has given use to
numberless instances of miscarriage of justice, where the acquittal
was due to a reasonable doubt in the mind of the court as to the
guilt of the accused. The reasoning followed is that inasmuch as
the civil responsibility is derived from the criminal offense, when
the latter is not proved, civil liability cannot be demanded.

This is one of those causes where confused thinking leads to


unfortunate and deplorable consequences. Such reasoning fails to
draw a clear line of demarcation between criminal liability and civil
responsibility, and to determine the logical result of the distinction.
The two liabilities are separate and distinct from each other. One
affects the social order and the other, private rights. One is for the
punishment or correction of the offender while the other is for
reparation of damages suffered by the aggrieved party. The two
responsibilities are so different from each other that article 1813 of
the present (Spanish) Civil Code reads thus: "There may be a
compromise upon the civil action arising from a crime; but the
public action for the imposition of the legal penalty shall not
thereby be extinguished." It is just and proper that, for the
purposes of the imprisonment of or fine upon the accused, the
offense should be proved beyond reasonable doubt. But for the
purpose of indemnity the complaining party, why should the
offense also be proved beyond reasonable doubt? Is not the
invasion or violation of every private right to be proved only by a
preponderance of evidence? Is the right of the aggrieved person
any less private because the wrongful act is also punishable by
the criminal law?

"For these reasons, the Commission recommends the adoption of


the reform under discussion. It will correct a serious defect in our
law. It will close up an inexhaustible source of injustice-a cause for
disillusionment on the part of the innumerable persons injured or
wronged."
The respondent court increased the P12,000.00 indemnification imposed by the trial court to
P30,000.00. However, since the indemnification was based solely on the finding of guilt beyond
reasonable doubt in the homicide case, the civil liability of the petitioner was not thoroughly
examined. This aspect of the case calls for fuller development if the heirs of the victim are so
minded.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The questioned decision of the then
Intermediate Appellate Court, now Court of Appeals, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
petitioner is ACQUITTED of the crime of homicide. Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.

Fernan, (Chairman), Feliciano, Bidin and,Cortes, JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-69866 April 15, 1988

ROGELIO ABERCA, RODOLFO BENOSA, NESTOR BODINO NOEL ETABAG DANILO DE


LA FUENTE, BELEN DIAZ-FLORES, MANUEL MARIO GUZMAN, ALAN JAZMINEZ, EDWIN
LOPEZ, ALFREDO MANSOS, ALEX MARCELINO, ELIZABETH PROTACIO-MARCELINO,
JOSEPH OLAYER, CARLOS PALMA, MARCO PALO, ROLANDO SALUTIN, BENJAMIN
SESGUNDO, ARTURO TABARA, EDWIN TULALIAN and REBECCA TULALIAN petitioners,
vs.
MAJ. GEN. FABIAN VER, COL. FIDEL SINGSON, COL. ROLANDO ABADILLA, COL.
GERARDO B. LANTORIA, COL. GALILEO KINTANAR, 1ST LT. COL. PANFILO M.
LACSON, MAJ. RODOLFO AGUINALDO, CAPT. DANILO PIZARRO, 1ST LT. PEDRO
TANGO, 1ST LT. ROMEO RICARDO, 1ST LT. RAUL BACALSO, MSGT BIENVENIDO
BALABA and REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, National Capital Judicial Region, Branch XCV
(95), Quezon City, respondents.

YAP, J.:

This petition for certiorari presents vital issues not heretofore passed upon by this Court. It
poses the question whether the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus bars a
civil action for damages for illegal searches conducted by military personnel and other violations
of rights and liberties guaranteed under the Constitution. If such action for damages may be
maintained, who can be held liable for such violations: only the military personnel directly
involved and/or their superiors as well.

This case stems from alleged illegal searches and seizures and other violations of the rights and
liberties of plaintiffs by various intelligence units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, known
as Task Force Makabansa (TFM) ordered by General Fabian Ver "to conduct pre-emptive
strikes against known communist-terrorist (CT) underground houses in view of increasing
reports about CT plans to sow disturbances in Metro Manila," Plaintiffs allege, among others,
that complying with said order, elements of the TFM raided several places, employing in most
cases defectively issued judicial search warrants; that during these raids, certain members of
the raiding party confiscated a number of purely personal items belonging to plaintiffs; that
plaintiffs were arrested without proper warrants issued by the courts; that for some period after
their arrest, they were denied visits of relatives and lawyers; that plaintiffs were interrogated in
violation of their rights to silence and counsel; that military men who interrogated them
employed threats, tortures and other forms of violence on them in order to obtain incriminatory
information or confessions and in order to punish them; that all violations of plaintiffs
constitutional rights were part of a concerted and deliberate plan to forcibly extract information
and incriminatory statements from plaintiffs and to terrorize, harass and punish them, said plans
being previously known to and sanctioned by defendants.
Plaintiffs sought actual/compensatory damages amounting to P39,030.00; moral damages in
the amount of at least P150,000.00 each or a total of P3,000,000.00; exemplary damages in the
amount of at least P150,000.00 each or a total of P3,000,000.00; and attorney's fees amounting
to not less than P200,000.00.

A motion to dismiss was filed by defendants, through their counsel, then Solicitor-General
Estelito Mendoza, alleging that (1) plaintiffs may not cause a judicial inquiry into the
circumstances of their detention in the guise of a damage suit because, as to them, the privilege
of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended; (2) assuming that the courts can entertain the
present action, defendants are immune from liability for acts done in the performance of their
official duties; and (3) the complaint states no cause of action against the defendants.
Opposition to said motion to dismiss was filed by plaintiffs Marco Palo, Danilo de la Fuente,
Benjamin Sesgundo, Nel Etabag, Alfredo Mansos and Rolando Salutin on July 8, 1983, and by
plaintiffs Edwin Lopez, Manuel Mario Guzman, Alan Jasminez, Nestor Bodino, Carlos Palma,
Arturo Tabara, Joseph Olayer, Rodolfo Benosa, Belen Diaz, Flores, Rogelio Aberca, Alex
Marcelino and Elizabeth Marcelino on July 21, 1983. On November 7, 1983, a Consolidated
Reply was filed by defendants' counsel.

Then, on November 8, 1983, the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Region, Branch 95,
Judge Willelmo C. Fortun, Presiding, 1 issued a resolution granting the motion to dismiss. I
sustained, lock, stock and barrel, the defendants' contention (1) the plaintiffs may not cause a
judicial inquiry into the circumstances of their detention in the guise of a damage suit because,
as to them, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended; (2) that assuming that the
court can entertain the present action, defendants are immune from liability for acts done in the
performance of their official duties; and (3) that the complaint states no cause of action against
defendants, since there is no allegation that the defendants named in the complaint confiscated
plaintiffs' purely personal properties in violation of their constitutional rights, and with the
possible exception of Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Sergeant Bienvenido Balabo committed acts
of torture and maltreatment, or that the defendants had the duty to exercise direct supervision
and control of their subordinates or that they had vicarious liability as employers under Article
2180 of the Civil Code. The lower court stated, "After a careful study of defendants' arguments,
the court finds the same to be meritorious and must, therefore, be granted. On the other hand,
plaintiffs' arguments in their opposition are lacking in merit."

A motion to set aside the order dismissing the complaint and a supplemental motion for
reconsideration was filed by the plaintiffs on November 18, 1983, and November 24, 1983,
respectively. On December 9, 1983, the defendants filed a comment on the aforesaid motion of
plaintiffs, furnishing a copy thereof to the attorneys of all the plaintiffs, namely, Attys. Jose W.
Diokno, Procopio Beltran, Rene Sarmiento, Efren Mercado, Auguso Sanchez, Antonio L.
Rosales, Pedro B. Ella Jr., Arno V. Sanidad, Alexander Padilla, Joker Arroyo, Rene Saguisag,
Ramon Esguerra and Felicitas Aquino.

On December 15, 1983, Judge Fortun issued an order voluntarily inhibiting himself from further
proceeding in the case and leaving the resolution of the motion to set aside the order of
dismissal to Judge Lising, "to preclude any suspicion that he (Judge Fortun) cannot resolve [the]
aforesaid pending motion with the cold neutrality of an impartial judge and to put an end to
plaintiffs assertion that the undersigned has no authority or jurisdiction to resolve said pending
motion." This order prompted plaintiffs to reesolve an amplificatory motion for reconsideration
signed in the name of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) of Mabini Legal Aid Committee,
by Attys. Joker P. Arroyo, Felicitas Aquino and Arno Sanidad on April 12, 1984. On May 2,1984,
the defendants filed a comment on said amplificatory motion for reconsideration.

In an order dated May 11, 1984, the trial court, Judge Esteban Lising, Presiding, without acting
on the motion to set aside order of November 8, 1983, issued an order, as follows:

It appearing from the records that, indeed, the following plaintiffs, Rogelio
Aberca, Danilo de la Fuente and Marco Palo, represented by counsel, Atty. Jose
W. Diokno, Alan Jasminez represented by counsel, Atty. Augusta Sanchez,
Spouses Alex Marcelino and Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino, represented by
counsel, Atty. Procopio Beltran, Alfredo Mansos represented by counsel, Atty.
Rene Sarmiento, and Rolando Salutin, represented by counsel, Atty. Efren
Mercado, failed to file a motion to reconsider the Order of November 8, 1983,
dismissing the complaint, nor interposed an appeal therefrom within the
reglementary period, as prayed for by the defendants, said Order is now final
against said plaintiffs.

Assailing the said order of May 11, 1984, the plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration on May
28,1984, alleging that it was not true that plaintiffs Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de la Fuente, Marco
Palo, Alan Jasminez, Alex Marcelino, Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino, Alfredo Mansos and
Rolando Salutin failed to file a motion to reconsider the order of November 8, 1983 dismissing
the complaint, within the reglementary period. Plaintiffs claimed that the motion to set aside the
order of November 8, 1983 and the amplificatory motion for reconsideration was filed for all the
plaintiffs, although signed by only some of the lawyers.

In its resolution of September 21, 1984, the respondent court dealt with both motions (1) to
reconsider its order of May 11, 1984 declaring that with respect to certain plaintiffs, the
resolution of November 8, 1983 had already become final, and (2) to set aside its resolution of
November 8, 1983 granting the defendants' motion to dismiss. In the dispositive portion of the
order of September 21, 1984, the respondent court resolved:

(1) That the motion to set aside the order of finality, dated May 11, 1984, of the
Resolution of dismissal of the complaint of plaintiffs Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de la
Fuente, Marco Palo, Alan Jasminez Alex Marcelino, Elizabeth Protacio-
Marcelino, Alfredo Mansos and Rolando Salutin is deed for lack of merit;

(2) For lack of cause of action as against the following defendants, to wit:

1. Gen Fabian Ver

2. Col. Fidel Singson

3. Col. Rolando Abadilla

4. Lt. Col. Conrado Lantoria, Jr.

5. Col. Galileo Montanar

6. Col. Panfilo Lacson


7. Capt. Danilo Pizaro

8. 1 Lt Pedro Tango

9. Lt. Romeo Ricardo

10. Lt. Raul Bacalso

the motion to set aside and reconsider the Resolution of dismissal of the present
action or complaint, dated November 8, 1983, is also denied but in so far as it
affects and refers to defendants, to wit:

1. Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo, and

2. Master Sgt. Bienvenido Balaba

the motion to reconsider and set aside the Resolution of dismissal dated
November 3, 1983 is granted and the Resolution of dismissal is, in this respect,
reconsidered and modified.

Hence, petitioners filed the instant petition for certiorari on March 15, 1985 seeking to annul and
set aside the respondent court's resolution of November 8, 1983, its order of May 11, 1984, and
its resolution dated September 21, 1984. Respondents were required to comment on the
petition, which it did on November 9, 1985. A reply was filed by petitioners on August 26, 1986.

We find the petition meritorious and decide to give it due course.

At the heart of petitioners' complaint is Article 32 of the Civil Code which provides:

ART. 32. Any public officer or employee, or any private individual who directly or
indirectly obstructs, defeats, violates or in any manner impedes or impairs any of
the following rights and liberties of another person shall be liable to the latter for
damages:

(1) Freedom of religion;

(2) Freedom of speech;

(3) Freedom to write for the press or to maintain a periodical publication;

(4) Freedom from arbitrary or illegal detention;

(5) Freedom of suffrage;

(6) The right against deprivation of property without due process

(7) of law;

(8) The right to a just compensation when private property is taken for public use;
(9) The right to the equal protection of the laws;

(10) The right to be secure in one's person, house, papers, and effects against
unreasonable searches and seizures;

(11) The liberty of abode and of changing the same;

(12) The privacy of cmmunication and correspondence;

(13) The right to become a member of associations or societies for purposes not
contrary to law;

(14) The right to take part in a peaceable assembly to petition the Government
for redress of grievances;

(15) The right to be free from involuntary servitude in any form;

(16) The rigth of the accused against excessive bail;

(17) The rigth of the aaccused to be heard by himself and counsel, to be


informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a
speedy and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have
compulsory process to secure the attendance of witness in behalf;

(18) Freedom from being compelled to be a witness against ones self, or from
being forced to confess guilt, or from being induced by a promise of immunity or
reward to make such confession, except when the person confessing becomes a
State witness;

(19) Freedom from excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishment, unless the
same is imposed or inflicted in accordance with a statute which has not been
judicially declared unconstitutional; and

(20) Freedom of access to the courts.

In any of the cases referred to in this article, whether or not the defendant's act or
omission constitutes a criminal offense, the against grieved party has a right to
commence an entirely separate and distinct civil action for damages, and for
other relief. Such civil action shall proceed independently of any criminal
prosecution (if the latter be instituted), and may be proved by a preponderance of
evidence.

The indemnity shall include moral damages. Exemplary damages may also be
adjudicated.

The responsibility herein set forth is not demandable from a judge unless his act
or omission constitutes a violation of the Penal Code or other penal statute.
It is obvious that the purpose of the above codal provision is to provide a sanction to the deeply
cherished rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution. Its message is clear; no man may
seek to violate those sacred rights with impunity. In times of great upheaval or of social and
political stress, when the temptation is strongest to yield — borrowing the words of Chief Justice
Claudio Teehankee — to the law of force rather than the force of law, it is necessary to remind
ourselves that certain basic rights and liberties are immutable and cannot be sacrificed to the
transient needs or imperious demands of the ruling power. The rule of law must prevail, or else
liberty will perish. Our commitment to democratic principles and to the rule of law compels us to
reject the view which reduces law to nothing but the expression of the will of the predominant
power in the community. "Democracy cannot be a reign of progress, of liberty, of justice, unless
the law is respected by him who makes it and by him for whom it is made. Now this respect
implies a maximum of faith, a minimum of Idealism. On going to the bottom of the matter, we
discover that life demands of us a certain residuum of sentiment which is not derived from
reason, but which reason nevertheless controls. 2

Seeking to justify the dismissal of plaintiffs' complaint, the respondents postulate the view that
as public officers they are covered by the mantle of state immunity from suit for acts done in the
performance of official duties or function In support of said contention, respondents maintain
that —

Respondents are members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Their primary
duty is to safeguard public safety and order. The Constitution no less provides
that the President may call them "to prevent or supress lawless violence,
invasion, insurrection or rebellion, or imminent danger thereof." (Constitution,
Article VII, Section 9).

On January 17, 1981, the President issued Proclamation No. 2045 lifting martial
law but providing for the continued suspension of the privilege of the writ of
habeas corpus in view of the remaining dangers to the security of the nation. The
proclamation also provided "that the call to the Armed Forces of the Philippines
to prevent or suppress lawless violence, insuitection rebellion and subversion
shall continue to be in force and effect."

Petitioners allege in their complaint that their causes of action proceed from
respondent General Ver's order to Task Force Makabansa to launch pre-emptive
strikes against communist terrorist underground houses in Metro Manila.
Petitioners claim that this order and its subsequent implementation by elements
of the task force resulted in the violation of their constitutional rights against
unlawful searches, seizures and arrest, rights to counsel and to silence, and the
right to property and that, therefore, respondents Ver and the named members of
the task force should be held liable for damages.

But, by launching a pre-emptive strike against communist terrorists, respondent


members of the armed forces merely performed their official and constitutional
duties. To allow petitioners to recover from respondents by way of damages for
acts performed in the exercise of such duties run contrary to the policy
considerations to shield respondents as public officers from undue interference
with their duties and from potentially disabling threats of hability (Aarlon v.
Fitzgerald 102 S. Ct. 2731-1 Forbes v. Chuoco Tiaco, 16 Phil. 634), and upon the
necessity of protecting the performance of governmental and public functions
from being harassed unduly or constantly interrupted by private suits (McCallan
v. State, 35 Cal. App. 605; Metran v. Paredes, 79 Phil. 819).

xxx xxx xxx

The immunity of public officers from liability arising from the performance of their
duties is now a settled jurisprudence Alzua v. Johnson, 21 Phil. 308; Zulueta v.
Nicolas, 102 Phil. 944; Spalding v. Vilas, 161 US 483; 40 L. Ed. 780, 16 S. Ct.
631; Barr v. Mateo, 360; Butz v. Economon, 438 US 478; 57 L. Ed. 2d 895, 98 S.
Ct. 2894; Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 US 232; Forbes v. Chuoco Tiaco, supra; Miller
v. de Leune, 602 F. 2d 198; Sami v. US, 617 F. 2d 755).

Respondents-defendants who merely obeyed the lawful orders of the President


and his call for the suppression of the rebellion involving petitioners enjoy such
immunity from Suit.3

We find respondents' invocation of the doctrine of state immunity from suit totally misplaced.
The cases invoked by respondents actually involved acts done by officers in the performance of
official duties written the ambit of their powers. As held in Forbes, etc. vs. Chuoco Tiaco and
Crossfield: 4

No one can be held legally responsible in damages or otherwise for doing in a


legal manner what he had authority, under the law, to do. Therefore, if the
Governor-General had authority, under the law to deport or expel the defendants,
and circumstances justifying the deportation and the method of carrying it out are
left to him, then he cannot be held liable in damages for the exercise of this
power. Moreover, if the courts are without authority to interfere in any manner, for
the purpose of controlling or interferring with the exercise of the political powers
vested in the chief executive authority of the Government, then it must follow that
the courts cannot intervene for the purpose of declaring that he is liable in
damages for the exeercise of this authority.

It may be that the respondents, as members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, were
merely responding to their duty, as they claim, "to prevent or suppress lawless violence,
insurrection, rebellion and subversion" in accordance with Proclamation No. 2054 of President
Marcos, despite the lifting of martial law on January 27, 1981, and in pursuance of such
objective, to launch pre- emptive strikes against alleged communist terrorist underground
houses. But this cannot be construed as a blanket license or a roving commission untramelled
by any constitutional restraint, to disregard or transgress upon the rights and liberties of the
individual citizen enshrined in and protected by the Constitution. The Constitution remains the
supreme law of the land to which all officials, high or low, civilian or military, owe obedience and
allegiance at all times.

Article 32 of the Civil Code which renders any public officer or employee or any private
individual liable in damages for violating the Constitutional rights and liberties of another, as
enumerated therein, does not exempt the respondents from responsibility. Only judges are
excluded from liability under the said article, provided their acts or omissions do not constitute a
violation of the Penal Code or other penal statute.
This is not to say that military authorities are restrained from pursuing their assigned task or
carrying out their mission with vigor. We have no quarrel with their duty to protect the Republic
from its enemies, whether of the left or of the right, or from within or without, seeking to destroy
or subvert our democratic institutions and imperil their very existence. What we are merely
trying to say is that in carrying out this task and mission, constitutional and legal safeguards
must be observed, otherwise, the very fabric of our faith will start to unravel. In the battle of
competing Ideologies, the struggle for the mind is just as vital as the struggle of arms. The
linchpin in that psychological struggle is faith in the rule of law. Once that faith is lost or
compromised, the struggle may well be abandoned.

We do not find merit in respondents' suggestion that plaintiffs' cause of action is barred by the
suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Respondents contend that "Petitioners
cannot circumvent the suspension of the privilege of the writ by resorting to a damage suit
aimed at the same purpose-judicial inquiry into the alleged illegality of their detention. While the
main relief they ask by the present action is indemnification for alleged damages they suffered,
their causes of action are inextricably based on the same claim of violations of their
constitutional rights that they invoked in the habeas corpus case as grounds for release from
detention. Were the petitioners allowed the present suit, the judicial inquiry barred by the
suspension of the privilege of the writ will take place. The net result is that what the courts
cannot do, i.e. override the suspension ordered by the President, petitioners will be able to do
by the mere expedient of altering the title of their action."

We do not agree. We find merit in petitioners' contention that the suspension of the privilege of
the writ of habeas corpus does not destroy petitioners' right and cause of action for damages for
illegal arrest and detention and other violations of their constitutional rights. The suspension
does not render valid an otherwise illegal arrest or detention. What is suspended is merely the
right of the individual to seek release from detention through the writ of habeas corpus as a
speedy means of obtaining his liberty.

Moreover, as pointed out by petitioners, their right and cause of action for damages are
explicitly recognized in P.D. No. 1755 which amended Article 1146 of the Civil Code by adding
the following to its text:

However, when the action (for injury to the rights of the plaintiff or for a quasi-
delict) arises from or out of any act, activity or conduct of any public officer
involving the exercise of powers or authority arising from Martial Law including
the arrest, detention and/or trial of the plaintiff, the same must be brought within
one (1) year.

Petitioners have a point in contending that even assuming that the suspension of the privilege of
the writ of habeas corpus suspends petitioners' right of action for damages for illegal arrest and
detention, it does not and cannot suspend their rights and causes of action for injuries suffered
because of respondents' confiscation of their private belongings, the violation of their right to
remain silent and to counsel and their right to protection against unreasonable searches and
seizures and against torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment.

However, we find it unnecessary to address the constitutional issue pressed upon us. On March
25, 1986, President Corazon C. Aquino issued Proclamation No. 2, revoking Proclamation Nos.
2045 and 2045-A and lifting the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. The
question therefore has become moot and academic.
This brings us to the crucial issue raised in this petition. May a superior officer under the notion
of respondent superior be answerable for damages, jointly and severally with his subordinates,
to the person whose constitutional rights and liberties have been violated?

Respondents contend that the doctrine of respondent superior is applicable to the case. We
agree. The doctrine of respondent superior has been generally limited in its application to
principal and agent or to master and servant (i.e. employer and employee) relationship. No such
relationship exists between superior officers of the military and their subordinates.

Be that as it may, however, the decisive factor in this case, in our view, is the language of Article
32. The law speaks of an officer or employee or person 'directly' or "indirectly" responsible for
the violation of the constitutional rights and liberties of another. Thus, it is not the actor alone
(i.e. the one directly responsible) who must answer for damages under Article 32; the person
indirectly responsible has also to answer for the damages or injury caused to the aggrieved
party.

By this provision, the principle of accountability of public officials under the


Constitution 5 acquires added meaning and asgilrnes a larger dimension. No longer may a
superior official relax his vigilance or abdicate his duty to supervise his subordinates, secure in
the thought that he does not have to answer for the transgressions committed by the latter
against the constitutionally protected rights and liberties of the citizen. Part of the factors that
propelled people power in February 1986 was the widely held perception that the government
was callous or indifferent to, if not actually responsible for, the rampant violations of human
rights. While it would certainly be go naive to expect that violators of human rights would easily
be deterred by the prospect of facing damage suits, it should nonetheless be made clear in no
ones terms that Article 32 of the Civil Code makes the persons who are directly, as well as
indirectly, responsible for the transgression joint tortfeasors.

In the case at bar, the trial court dropped defendants General Fabian Ver, Col. Fidel Singson,
Col. Rolando Abadilla, Col. Gerardo Lantoria, Jr., Col. Galileo Kintanar, Col. Panfilo Lacson,
Capt. Danilo Pizarro, lst Lt. Pedro Tango, Lt. Romeo Ricardo and Lt. Ricardo Bacalso from the
acts of their subordinates. Only Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Master Sgt. Bienvenido Balaba
were kept as defendants on the ground that they alone 'have been specifically mentioned and
Identified to have allegedly caused injuries on the persons of some of the plaintiff which acts of
alleged physical violence constitute a delict or wrong that gave rise to a cause of action. But
such finding is not supported by the record, nor is it in accord with law and jurisprudence.

Firstly, it is wrong to at the plaintiffs' action for damages 5 Section 1, Article 19. to 'acts of
alleged physical violence" which constituted delict or wrong. Article 32 clearly specifies as
actionable the act of violating or in any manner impeding or impairing any of the constitutional
rights and liberties enumerated therein, among others —

1. Freedom from arbitrary arrest or illegal detention;

2. The right against deprivation of property without due process of law;

3. The right to be secure in one's person, house, papers and effects against
unreasonable searches and seizures;

4. The privacy of communication and correspondence;


5. Freedom from being compelled to be a witness against one's self, or from
being forced to confess guilt, or from being induced by a promise of immunity or
reward to make a confession, except when the person confessing becomes a
state witness.

The complaint in this litigation alleges facts showing with abundant clarity and details, how
plaintiffs' constitutional rights and liberties mentioned in Article 32 of the Civil Code were
violated and impaired by defendants. The complaint speaks of, among others, searches made
without search warrants or based on irregularly issued or substantially defective warrants;
seizures and confiscation, without proper receipts, of cash and personal effects belonging to
plaintiffs and other items of property which were not subversive and illegal nor covered by the
search warrants; arrest and detention of plaintiffs without warrant or under irregular, improper
and illegal circumstances; detention of plaintiffs at several undisclosed places of 'safehouses"
where they were kept incommunicado and subjected to physical and psychological torture and
other inhuman, degrading and brutal treatment for the purpose of extracting incriminatory
statements. The complaint contains a detailed recital of abuses perpetrated upon the plaintiffs
violative of their constitutional rights.

Secondly, neither can it be said that only those shown to have participated "directly" should be
held liable. Article 32 of the Civil Code encompasses within the ambit of its provisions those
directly, as well as indirectly, responsible for its violation.

The responsibility of the defendants, whether direct or indirect, is amply set forth in the
complaint. It is well established in our law and jurisprudence that a motion to dismiss on the
ground that the complaint states no cause of action must be based on what appears on the face
of the complaint. 6 To determine the sufficiency of the cause of action, only the facts alleged in
the complaint, and no others, should be considered. 7 For this purpose, the motion to dismiss
must hypothetically admit the truth of the facts alleged in the complaint. 8

Applying this test, it is difficult to justify the trial court's ruling, dismissing for lack of cause of
action the complaint against all the defendants, except Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Master
Sgt. Bienvenido Balaba. The complaint contained allegations against all the defendants which, if
admitted hypothetically, would be sufficient to establish a cause or causes of action against all
of them under Article 32 of the Civil Code.

This brings us to the last issue. Was the trial court correct in dismissing the complaint with
respect to plaintiffs Rogelio Aberca, Danilo de la Puente, Marco Palo, Alan Jazminez, Alex
Marcelino, Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino, Alfredo Mansos and Rolando Salutin, on the basis of
the alleged failure of said plaintiffs to file a motion for reconsideration of the court's resolution of
November 8, 1983, granting the respondent's motion to dismiss?

It is undisputed that a timely motion to set aside said order of November 8, 1983 was filed by
'plaintiffs, through counsel. True, the motion was signed only by Atty. Joker P. Arroyo, counsel
for Benjamin Sesgulido; Atty. Antonio Rosales, counsel for Edwin Lopez and Manuel Martin
Guzman; Atty. Pedro B. Ella, Jr., counsel for Nestor Bodino and Carlos Palma; Atty. Arno V.
Sanidad, counsel for Arturo Tabara; Atty. Felicitas S. Aquino, counsel for Joseph Olayer; and
Atty. Alexander Padilla, counsel for Rodolfo Benosa.

But the body of the motion itself clearly indicated that the motion was filed on behalf of all the
plaintiffs. And this must have been also the understanding of defendants' counsel himself for
when he filed his comment on the motion, he furnished copies thereof, not just to the lawyers
who signed the motion, but to all the lawyers of plaintiffs, to wit: Attys. Jose Diokno, Procopio
Beltran, Rene Sarmiento, Efren Mercado, Augusto Sanchez, Antonio Rosales, Pedro Efla Jr.,
Arno Sanidad, Alexander Padilla, Joker Arroyo, Rene Saguisag, Ramon Esguerra and Felicitas
S. Aquino.

In filing the motion to set aside the resolution of November 8, 1983, the signing attorneys did so
on behalf of all the plaintiff. They needed no specific authority to do that. The authority of an
attorney to appear for and in behalf of a party can be assumed, unless questioned or challenged
by the adverse party or the party concerned, which was never done in this case. Thus, it was
grave abuse on the part of respondent judge to take it upon himself to rule that the motion to set
aside the order of November 8, 1953 dismissing the complaint was filed only by some of the
plaintiffs, when by its very language it was clearly intended to be filed by and for the benefit of
all of them. It is obvious that the respondent judge took umbrage under a contrived technicality
to declare that the dismissal of the complaint had already become final with respect to some of
the plaintiffs whose lawyers did not sign the motion for reconsideration. Such action tainted with
legal infirmity cannot be sanctioned.

Accordingly, we grant the petition and annul and set aside the resolution of the respondent
court, dated November 8, 1983, its order dated May 11, 1984 and its resolution dated
September 21, 1984. Let the case be remanded to the respondent court for further proceedings.
With costs against private respondents.

SO ORDERED.

Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Bidin, Sarmiento,


Cortes and Griño-Aquino, JJ., concur.

Gutierrez, Jr., J., concur in the result.

Padilla, J., took no part.

Separate Opinions

TEEHANKEE, C.J., concurring:

The Court's judgment at bar makes clear that all persons, be they public officers or employees,
or members of the military or police force or private individuals who directly or indirectly
obstruct, defeat, violate or in any manner impede or impair the constitutional rights and civil
liberties of another person, stand liable and may be sued in court for damages as provided in
Art. 32 of the Civil Code.
The case at bar specifically upholds and reinstates the civil action for damages filed in the court
below by petitioners-plaintiffs for illegal searches conducted by military personnel and other
violations of their constitutional rights and liberties. At the same time it rejects the automatic
application of the principle of respondeat superior or command responsibility that would hold a
superior officer jointly and severally accountable for damages, including moral and exemplary,
with his subordinates who committed such transgressions. However, the judgment gives the
caveat that a superior officer must not abdicate his duty to properly supervise his subordinates
for he runs the risk of being held responsible for gross negligence and of being held under the
cited provision of the Civil Code as indirectly and solidarily accountable with the tortfeasor.

The rationale for this rule of law was best expressed by Brandeis in wise: "In a government of
laws, existence of the government be imperilled following it fails to observe the law
scrupulously. Our government is the potent omnipresent teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the
whole people by example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes the law breaker, it
breeds contempt for the law, it invites every man to become a law unto himself, it invites
anarchy. To declare that in the administration of criminal law the end justifies the means ...
would bring terrible retribution." 1

As the writer stress in Hildawa vs. Enrile 2 Which Was an action to enjoin the operations of the
dreaded secret marshals during the past regime, 'In a democratic state, you don't stoop to the
level of criminals. If we stoop to what they do, then we're no better than they ... there would be
no difference. ... The Supreme Court stands as the guarantor of the Constitutional and human
rights of all persons within its jurisdiction and cannot abdicate its basic role under the
Constitution that these rights be respected and enforced. The spirit and letter of the Constitution
negates as contrary to the basic precepts of human rights and freedom that a person's life be
snuffed out without due process in a split second even if he is caught in flagrante delicto —
unless it was caned for as an act of self-defense by the law agents using reasonable means to
prevent or repel an unlawful aggression on the part of the deceased.

Needless to say, the criminal acts of the "Sparrow Units" or death squads of the NPA which
have infutrated the cities and suburbs and performed their despicable killings of innocent
civilians and military and police officers constitute an equally perverse violation of the sanctity of
human life and must be severely condemned by all who adhere tothe Rule of the Law.

It need only be pointed out that one of the first acts of the present government under President
Corazon C. Aquino after her assumption of office in February, 1986 was to file our government's
ratification and access to all human rights instruments adopted under the auspices of the United
Nations, declaring thereby the government's commitment to observe the precepts of the United
Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More than this, pursuant to our
Constitution which the people decisively ratified on February 2, 1987, the independent office of
the Commission on Human Rights hats been created and organized with ample powers to
investigate human rights violations and take remedial measures against all such violations by
the military as well as by the civilian groups.

Separate Opinions

TEEHANKEE, C.J., concurring:


The Court's judgment at bar makes clear that all persons, be they public officers or employees,
or members of the military or police force or private individuals who directly or indirectly
obstruct, defeat, violate or in any manner impede or impair the constitutional rights and civil
liberties of another person, stand liable and may be sued in court for damages as provided in
Art. 32 of the Civil Code.

The case at bar specifically upholds and reinstates the civil action for damages filed in the court
below by petitioners-plaintiffs for illegal searches conducted by military personnel and other
violations of their constitutional rights and liberties. At the same time it rejects the automatic
application of the principle of respondeat superior or command responsibility that would hold a
superior officer jointly and severally accountable for damages, including moral and exemplary,
with his subordinates who committed such transgressions. However, the judgment gives the
caveat that a superior officer must not abdicate his duty to properly supervise his subordinates
for he runs the risk of being held responsible for gross negligence and of being held under the
cited provision of the Civil Code as indirectly and solidarily accountable with the tortfeasor.

The rationale for this rule of law was best expressed by Brandeis in wise: "In a government of
laws, existence of the government be imperilled following it fails to observe the law
scrupulously. Our government is the potent omnipresent teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the
whole people by example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes the law breaker, it
breeds contempt for the law, it invites every man to become a law unto himself, it invites
anarchy. To declare that in the administration of criminal law the end justifies the means ...
would bring terrible retribution." 1

As the writer stress in Hildawa vs. Enrile 2 Which Was an action to enjoin the operations of the
dreaded secret marshals during the past regime, 'In a democratic state, you don't stoop to the
level of criminals. If we stoop to what they do, then we're no better than they ... there would be
no difference. ... The Supreme Court stands as the guarantor of the Constitutional and human
rights of all persons within its jurisdiction and cannot abdicate its basic role under the
Constitution that these rights be respected and enforced. The spirit and letter of the Constitution
negates as contrary to the basic precepts of human rights and freedom that a person's life be
snuffed out without due process in a split second even if he is caught in flagrante delicto —
unless it was caned for as an act of self-defense by the law agents using reasonable means to
prevent or repel an unlawful aggression on the part of the deceased.

Needless to say, the criminal acts of the "Sparrow Units" or death squads of the NPA which
have infutrated the cities and suburbs and performed their despicable killings of innocent
civilians and military and police officers constitute an equally perverse violation of the sanctity of
human life and must be severely condemned by all who adhere tothe Rule of the Law.

It need only be pointed out that one of the first acts of the present government under President
Corazon C. Aquino after her assumption of office in February, 1986 was to file our government's
ratification and access to all human rights instruments adopted under the auspices of the United
Nations, declaring thereby the government's commitment to observe the precepts of the United
Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More than this, pursuant to our
Constitution which the people decisively ratified on February 2, 1987, the independent office of
the Commission on Human Rights hats been created and organized with ample powers to
investigate human rights violations and take remedial measures against all such violations by
the military as well as by the civilian groups.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-40486 August 29, 1975

PAULINO PADUA and LUCENA BEBIN PADUA, plaintiffs-appellants,


vs.
GREGORIO N. ROBLES and BAY TAXI CAB, defendants-appellees.

Alberto R. de Joya for plaintiffs-appellants.

Cardenas & Peralta Law Office for defendants-appellees.

CASTRO, J.:

Resolving this appeal by the spouses Paulino and Lucena Bebin Padua, we set aside the order
dated October 25, 1972 of the Court of First Instance of Zambales dismissing their complaint, in
civil case 1079-O, and remand this case for further proceedings.

In the early morning of New Year's Day of 1969 a taxicab (bearing 1968 plate no. TX-9395 and
driven by Romeo N. Punzalan but operated by the Bay Taxi Cab owned by Gregorio N. Robles)
struck ten-year old Normandy Padua on the national road in barrio Barretto, Olongapo City. The
impact hurled Normandy about forty meters away from the point where the taxicab struck him,
as a result of which he died.

Subsequently, Normandy's parents (Paulino and Lucena Bebin Padua), by complaint filed with
the Court of First Instance of Zambales (civil case 427-O), sought damages from Punzalan and
the Bay Taxi Cab; likewise, the city Fiscal of Olongapo, by information filed with the same court
(criminal case 1158-O), charged Punzalan with homicide through reckless imprudence.

On October 27, 1969 the court a quo, in civil case 427-O, adjudged for the Paduas as follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the defendant Romeo


Punzalan to pay the plaintiffs the sums of P12,000.00 as actual damages,
P5,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages, and P10,000.00 as attorney's fees;
and dismissing the complaint insofar as the Bay Taxicab Company is concerned.
With costs against the defendant Romeo Punzalan. (Emphasis supplied)

Almost a year later, on October 5, 1970, the court a quo, in criminal case 1158-O, convicted
Punzalan, as follows:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused Romeo Punzalan y Narciso guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide through reckless imprudence,
as defined and penalized under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, attended
by the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender, and hereby sentences him
to suffer the indeterminate penalty of TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and
ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional, as minimum, to SIX (6) YEARS and ONE
(1) DAY of prision mayor, as maximum, and to pay the cost. The civil liability of
the accused has already been determined and assessed in Civil Case No. 427-
O, entitled Paulino Padua, et al. vs. Romeo Punzalan, et al.' (Emphasis supplied)

After the judgment in civil case 427-O became final, the Paduas sought execution thereof. This
proved futile; the corresponding court officer returned the writ of execution unsatisfied.

Unable to collect the amount of P27,000 awarded in their favor, the Paduas instituted action in
the same court against Gregorio N. Robles to enforce the latter's subsidiary responsibility under
the provisions of article 103 of the Revised Penal Code. Robles filed a motion to dismiss based
on (1) bar of the cause of action by a prior judgment and (2) failure of the complaint to state a
cause of action.

Thereafter, the court a quo, in an order dated October 25, 1972, granted Robles' motion to
dismiss on the ground that the Paduas' complaint states no cause of action. This order the
Paduas questioned in the Court of Appeals which, by resolution dated March 5, 1975, certified
the case to this Court for the reason that the appeal involves only questions of law.

The Paduas predicate their appeal on eighteen errors allegedly committed by the court a quo.
These assigned errors, however, raise only one substantial issue: whether the judgment dated
October 5, 1970 in criminal case 1158-O includes a determination and adjudication of
Punzalan's civil liability arising from his criminal act upon which Robles' subsidiary civil
responsibility may be based.

The sufficiency and efficacy of a judgment must be tested by its substance rather than its form.
In construing a judgment, its legal effects including such effects that necessarily follow because
of legal implications, rather than the language used govern. Also, its meaning, operation, and
consequences must be ascertained like any other written instrument. Thus, a judgment rests on
the intention of the court as gathered from every part thereof, including the situation to which it
applies and the attendant circumstances.

It would appear that a plain reading, on its face, of the judgment in criminal case 1158-O,
particularly its decretal portion, easily results in the same conclusion reached by the court a quo:
that the said judgment no civil liability arising from the offense charged against Punzalan.
However, a careful study of the judgment in question, the situation to which it applies, and the
attendant circumstances, would yield the conclusion that the court a quo, on the contrary,
recognized the enforceable right of the Paduas to the civil liability arising from the offense
committed by Punzalan and awarded the corresponding indemnity therefor.

Civil liability coexists with criminal responsibility. In negligence cases the offended party (or his
heirs) has the option between an action for enforcement of civil liability based on culpa
criminal under article 100 of the Revised Penal Code and an action for recovery of damages
based on culpa aquiliana under article 2177 of the Civil Code. The action for enforcement of civil
liability based on culpa criminal section 1 of Rule 111 of the Rules of Court deems
simultaneously instituted with the criminal action, unless expressly waived or reserved for a
separate application by the offended party. Article 2177 of the Civil Code, however, precludes
recovery of damages twice for the same negligent act or omission.

In the case at bar, the Court finds it immaterial that the Paduas chose, in the first instance, an
action for recovery of damages based on culpa aquiliana under articles 2176, 2177, and 2180 of
the Civil Code, which action proved ineffectual. The Court also takes note of the absence of any
inconsistency between the aforementioned action priorly availed of by the Paduas and their
subsequent application for enforcement of civil liability arising from the offense committed by
Punzalan and consequently, for exaction of Robles' subsidiary responsibility. Allowance of the
latter application involves no violation of the proscription against double recovery of damages
for the same negligent act or omission. For, as hereinbefore stated, the corresponding officer of
the court a quo returned unsatisfied the writ of execution issued against Punzalan to satisfy the
amount of indemnity awarded to the Paduas in civil case 427-O. Article 2177 of the Civil Code
forbids actual double recovery of damages for the same negligent act or omission. Finally, the
Court notes that the same judge * tried, heard, and determined both civil case 427-O and
criminal case 115-O. Knowledge of an familiarity with all the facts and circumstances relevant
and relative to the civil liability of Punzalan may thus be readily attributed to the judge when he
rendered judgment in the criminal action.

In view of the above considerations, it cannot reasonably be contended that the court a
quo intended, in its judgment in criminal case 1158-O, to omit recognition of the right of the
Paduas to the civil liability arising from the offense of which Punzalan was adjudged guilty and
the corollary award of the corresponding indemnity therefor. Surely, it cannot be said that the
court intended the statement in the decretal portion of the judgment in criminal case 1158-O
referring to the determination and assessment of Punzalan's civil liability in civil case 427-O to
be pure jargon or "gobbledygook" and to be absolutely of no meaning and effect whatever. The
substance of such statement, taken in the light of the situation to which it applies and the
attendant circumstances, makes unmistakably clear the intention of the court to accord
affirmation to the Paduas' right to the civil liability arising from the judgment against Punzalan in
criminal case 1158-O. Indeed, by including such statement in the decretal portion of the said
judgment, the court intended to adopt the same adjudication and award it made in civil case
427-O as Punzalan's civil liability in criminal case 1158-O.

There is indeed much to be desired in the formulation by Judge Amores of that part of the
decretal portion of the judgment in criminal case 1158-O referring to the civil liability of Punzalan
resulting from his criminal conviction. The judge could have been forthright and direct instead of
circuitous and ambiguous. But, as we have explained, the statement on the civil liability of
Punzalan must surely have a meaning and even if the statement were reasonably susceptible of
two or more interpretations, that which achieves moral justice should be adopted, eschewing the
other interpretations which in effect would negate moral justice.

It is not amiss at this juncture to emphasize to all magistrates in all levels of the judicial
hierarchy that extreme degree of care should be exercise in the formulation of the dispositive
portion of a decision, because it is this portion that is to be executed once the decision becomes
final. The adjudication of the rights and obligations of the parties, and the dispositions made as
well as the directions and instructions given by the court in the premises in conformity with the
body of the decision, must all be spelled out clearly, distinctly and unequivocally, leaving
absolutely no room for dispute, debate or interpretation.
We therefore hold that the Paduas' complaint in civil case 1079-O states a cause of action
against Robles whose concommitant subsidiary responsibility, per the judgment in criminal case
1158-O, subsists.

ACCORDINGLY, the order a quo dated October 25, 1972 dismissing the complaint in civil case
1079-O is set aside, and this case is hereby remanded to the court a quo for further
proceedings conformably with this decision and with law. No pronouncement as to costs.

Makalintal, C.J., Teehankee, Makasiar, Esguerra, Aquino, Concepcion Jr. and Martin, JJ.,
concur.

Fernando, J., concurs and submits a brief opinion.

Barredo, J., concurs with a separate opinion.

Muñoz Palma, J., took no part.

Antonio, J., is on leave.

Separate Opinions

FERNANDO, J., concurring:

The clarity and lucidity with which Justice Castro spelled out the decisive issue and how to
resolve it to achieve the desirable goal of moral justice in adjudication compels concurrence. I
do so. What is more, there is to my mind a distinct advance in the juridical frontiers in the mode
in which the novel question raised was settled. If the trend manifest in the view taken by the
Court would thereafter be followed, then the protective ramparts the law throws ground victims
of vehicular accidents, unfortunately of rather frequent occurrence here, will be further
strengthened. That dissipates whatever doubts I may have originally felt in view of certain
traditional procedural concepts about the correctness of the decision reached. It is true this is
one of those hard cases which, if an old law is to be believed, may result in bad law. It need not
be so, of course, as pointed out with great persuasiveness in the 1971 inaugural lecture at
Oxford given by Professor Ronald Dworkin, the successor in the chair of jurisprudence to one of
the most eminent men in the field H.L.A. Hart.1 The more accurate way of viewing the matter is
that whenever there is an apparent gap in the law and settled principles of adjudication may not
clearly indicate the answer, then a judge may rely either on an argument of policy or an
argument of principle, the former having kinship with the sociological school of jurisprudence
and the latter with the analytical. As I hope I may be able to indicate in this brief concurrence,
the decision reached by us is in consonance with either approach. With the natural law thinking
manifest in the opinion of the Court, witness its stress on moral justice, I am comforted by the
reflection that the procedural barrier is not insurmountable, the decision reached deriving
support from the viewpoint of law as logic, justice, or social control.

1. Dworkin identifies a matter of principle from the standpoint of a right either granted or
recognized by law. As was so clearly pointed out in the opinion of Justice Castro: "It would
appear that a plain reading, on its face, of the judgment in criminal case 1158-O, particularly its
decretal portion, easily results in the same conclusion reached by the court a quo: that the said
judgment assessed no civil liability arising from the offense charged against Punzalan.
However, a careful study of the judgment in question, the situation to which it applies, and the
attendant circumstances, would yield the conclusion that the court a quo, on the contrary,
recognized the enforceable right of the Paduas to the civil liability arising from the offense
committed by Punzalan and awarded the corresponding indemnity therefor."2 There is much to
be said therefor for the view expressed therein that "it cannot reasonably be contended that the
court a quo intended, in its judgment in criminal case 1158-O, to omit recognition of the right of
the Paduas to the civil liability arising from the offense of which Punzalan was adjudged guilty
and the corollary award of the corresponding indemnity therefor. Surely, it cannot be said that
the court intended the statement in the decretal portion of the judgment in criminal case 1158-O
referring to the determination and assessment of Punzalan's civil liability in civil case 427-O to
be pure jargon or 'gobbledygook' and to be absolutely of no meaning and effect whatsoever.
The substance of such statement, taken in the light of the situation to which it applies and the
attendant circumstances, makes unmistakably clear the intention of the court to accord
affirmation to the Padua's right to the civil liability arising from the judgment against Punzalan in
criminal case 1158-O."3 Whatever misgivings therefore may be felt because in the civil case No.
427-O the complaint against Bay Taxi Cab Co. is dismissed, do not suffice, to my mind, to
render nugatory the admitted subsidiary liability arising from a decision in criminal case No.
1158-O which is necessarily attendant upon the conviction of the driver, Romeo N. Punzalan.
Such a difficulty could have been avoided had greater care been exercised by the lower court,
but precisely recourse may be had to our corrective powers to avoid a right granted in law from
being rendered illusory in fact.

2. There is thus the strongest policy consideration that buttresses the conclusion reached by us.
It would conduce to less respect for the law as an agency of social control if there be recognition
in the codes of the right of next kin to damages arising from the tragic occurrence of young lives
being snuffed out due to reckless driving on the part of what had been accurately described as
dealers of death on the road and then by lack of care on the part of a judge assure that it is
nothing more than a barren form of words. This is what Dean Pound referred to as law in books
as distinguished from law in action. To recall an expression from Justice Jackson, it is
comparable to a munificent bequest in a pauper's will. It is less than realistic to assert that
anyway the guilty driver can be made to pay. The obvious answer is:' With what?"

This is not to deny that a previous judgment that certainly lends itself to ambiguity considering
the facts disclosed and found by the trial court does interpose juristic difficulty to the imposition
of liability on the offending taxicab company. There can be no blinking the fact though that if it
did not place such vehicles on the road driven in such a reckless and culpable manner resulting
in a ten-year old boy being hurled about forty meters away from the point of impact, this tragedy
could have been avoided. To say now that doubts engendered by the previous ruling in the
culpa aquiliana suit could nullify what the law decrees as to the subsidiary liability of the
employer in the criminal case finding the accused guilty would be fraught with pernicious
consequences. The party just as much responsible for the mishap, with his operation of the
transportation service, would be absolved from liability. It need not be so, but certainly for
entrepreneurs more enterprising than careful, not excessively concerned with the safety of the
traveling public, it could be a green light for less vigilance over the conduct of their drivers. The
resulting injury to public safety is not hard to imagine. Moreover, from the standpoint of the
feelings of the bereaved parents, and this is just as important a policy consideration, I feel that
no avenue should be left unexplored to mitigate the harshness of fate. To paraphrase Justice
Malcolm, there is not enough money in the entire world to compensate the parents for the loss
of their child.4 To repeat, the decision reached has my full concurrence.

BARREDO, J., concurring:

On strictly legal considerations, it would seem possible to dismiss the petition for review in this
case. But there are certain considerations of equity and substantial justice obviously underlying
the cause of petitioners which I find difficult to ignore. It would be unfair and unjust to deprive
said petitioners of their right to damages for the death of their child unquestionably caused by
the fault of respondent's employee merely because the dispositive portion of the decision of
Judge Amores in the criminal case appears to be rather equivocal on its face as to respondent's
liability therefor, albeit under the incontrovertible facts extant in the record such liability is
indisputable in law and the language of Judge Amores' judgment does not anyway exonerate
either respondent's driver or private respondent, and what is more, does not exclude the idea
that, as explained in the able main opinion of Mr. Justice Castro, the judge intended to merely
adopt and incorporate in said judgment the assessment of amount of damages which said judge
himself had already made in the civil case he had previously decided. It is on these fundamental
considerations that I base my concurrence in the judgment in this case.

As I have already indicated, from the standpoint of strict adjective law, the petition should be
dismissed because in truth, there is yet no showing that any attempt has been made by
petitioners to have the judgment in the criminal cases, assuming it includes an imposition of civil
liability upon the accused driver, Romeo N. Punzalan, executed. What appears in the record is
that it was the writ of execution issued against said Punzalan in the previous civil case that was
returned unsatisfied. Of course, this point is highly technical, because all that has to be done is
for petitioners to have another execution in the criminal case, which it can even now be forseen
will have exactly the same result. I am therefore agreeable as a matter of equity that the Court
hold that for all legal intents and purposes, We may consider the return of insolvency of
Punzalan in the civil case as in effect the return in the criminal case, since equity considers as
done what ought to have been done when otherwise injustice would result. And so, the
paramount question arises, was there any civil liability to impose in the criminal judgment of
Judge Amores? As related in the main opinion, the judgment of October 27, 1969 in the civil
case ordered Punzalan "to pay plaintiffs (herein petitioners) the sums of P12,000.00 as actual
damages P5,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages, and P10,000.00 as attorney's fees,"
although absolving at the same time the herein private respondent, and then, on October 5,
1970, the judgment in the criminal case was as follows:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused Romeo Punzalan y Narciso guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide through reckless imprudence,
as defined and penalized under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, attended
by the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender, and hereby sentences him
to suffer the indeterminate penalty of TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and
ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional, as minimum, to SIX (6) YEARS and ONE
(1) DAY of prision mayor, as maximum, and to pay the costs. The civil liability of
the accused has already been determined and assessed in Civil Case No. 427-
O, entitled 'Paulino Padua, et al. vs. Romeo Punzalan, et al. (Emphasis supplied)

Succintly, the decisive issue presented to Us now is whether this judgment just transcribed
imposes upon Punzalan a civil liability by adoption by reference of the civil liability already a
judged in the civil case or it exonerates him from any civil liability arising from the offense of
which he has been found guilty inasmuch as he was already found civilly liable in the civil case.
It must be admitted in candor that both constructions are literally tenable, with the particularity,
however, that the first interpretation, if adopted could not involve the assumption that the judge
committed a grievous and palpable error of law whereas the second would necessarily mean
that he did.

It is by now settled beyond all cavil as to dispense with the citation of jurisprudence, that a
negligent act such as that committed by Punzalan gives rise to at least two separate and
independent kinds of liabilities, (1) the civil liability arising from crime or culpa criminal and (2)
the liability arising from civil negligence or the so-called culpa aquiliana. These two concepts of
fault are so distinct from each other that exoneration from one does not result in exoneration
from the other. Adjectively and substantively, they can be prosecuted separately and
independently of each other, although Article 2177 of the Civil Code precludes recovery of
damages twice for the same negligent act or omission, which means that should there be
varying amounts awarded in two separate cases, the plaintiff may recover, in effect, only the
bigger amount. That is to say, if the plaintiff has already been ordered paid an amount in one
case and in the other case the amount adjudged is bigger, he shall be entitled in the second
case only to the excess over the one fixed in the first case, but if he has already been paid a
bigger amount in the first case, he may not recover anymore in the second case. Thus, in the
case at bar, inasmuch as Punzalan had already been sentenced to pay the herein petitioners
the amounts above-stated, in the subsequent criminal case, he could not be adjudged to pay a
higher amount.

Now, under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, a person criminally liable is also civilly liable,
hence, the judgment in the criminal case is supposed to include the imposition of civil liability,
unless the basis therefor has been shown not to exist, which is not the case here. And since the
judgment in question says that "the civil liability of the accused has already been determined
and assessed in Civil Case No. 427-O entitled Paulino Padua et al. vs. Romeo Punzalan et al.,"
it is but logical to conclude that the meaning of such statement is that the same amounts of
damages fixed in the previous case were being awarded to the offended party in the criminal
case. Otherwise, We would have to indulge in the assumption that Judge Amores committed the
grievous and palpable error of law of exonerating Punzalan of all civil liabilities in the criminal
case just because he had already been sentenced to pay damages in the civil case. I am not
ready to accept such assumption. The law and jurisprudence on the matter are so clear and
well-settled that I refuse to believe that a judge of the experience of Judge Amores would not be
cognizant thereof. Besides, Judge Amores knew or ought to have known that having absolved
herein respondent in the civil case, the only possible recourse has left to petitioners to recover
from said respondent damages for the death of their child caused by the indisputable
negligence of his employee Punzalan is in the form of the subsidiary liability of the employer
under the Penal Code. Indeed, I cannot believe that Judge Amores intended to allow
respondent to escape liability altogether, it being evident under the circumstances which he
himself has found in both cases, civil and criminal, that Punzalan, their employee, had cause the
death of the ten-year-old child of petitioners thru reckless imprudence and that in such a
situation in the law exacts liability from both the employee and the employer. What is more, I
consider it but equitable to hold that the rather equivocal phraseology of the decision of Judge
Amores should be read in the sense it was understood by the petitioners, who in the faith and
reliance that the law had been complied with by Judge Amores and that he had accordingly
awarded them in the criminal case the civil liability that by law goes with it, did not anymore
move for clarification or reconsideration nor appeal from said decision. My understanding is that
the filing of the subject civil action by petitioners proceeded from that assumption, namely, that
Punzalan has been found civilly liable for the same amounts adjudged in the civil case and,
therefore, respondent is subsidiarily liable therefor in the face of Punzalan's insolvency.

Accordingly, I concur in that the order of dismissal of respondent judge should be set aside and
that petitioners' action should be tried on the merits.

Separate Opinions

FERNANDO, J., concurring:

The clarity and lucidity with which Justice Castro spelled out the decisive issue and how to
resolve it to achieve the desirable goal of moral justice in adjudication compels concurrence. I
do so. What is more, there is to my mind a distinct advance in the juridical frontiers in the mode
in which the novel question raised was settled. If the trend manifest in the view taken by the
Court would thereafter be followed, then the protective ramparts the law throws ground victims
of vehicular accidents, unfortunately of rather frequent occurrence here, will be further
strengthened. That dissipates whatever doubts I may have originally felt in view of certain
traditional procedural concepts about the correctness of the decision reached. It is true this is
one of those hard cases which, if an old law is to be believed, may result in bad law. It need not
be so, of course, as pointed out with great persuasiveness in the 1971 inaugural lecture at
Oxford given by Professor Ronald Dworkin, the successor in the chair of jurisprudence to one of
the most eminent men in the field H.L.A. Hart.1 The more accurate way of viewing the matter is
that whenever there is an apparent gap in the law and settled principles of adjudication may not
clearly indicate the answer, then a judge may rely either on an argument of policy or an
argument of principle, the former having kinship with the sociological school of jurisprudence
and the latter with the analytical. As I hope I may be able to indicate in this brief concurrence,
the decision reached by us is in consonance with either approach. With the natural law thinking
manifest in the opinion of the Court, witness its stress on moral justice, I am comforted by the
reflection that the procedural barrier is not insurmountable, the decision reached deriving
support from the viewpoint of law as logic, justice, or social control.

1. Dworkin identifies a matter of principle from the standpoint of a right either granted or
recognized by law. As was so clearly pointed out in the opinion of Justice Castro: "It would
appear that a plain reading, on its face, of the judgment in criminal case 1158-O, particularly its
decretal portion, easily results in the same conclusion reached by the court a quo: that the said
judgment assessed no civil liability arising from the offense charged against Punzalan.
However, a careful study of the judgment in question, the situation to which it applies, and the
attendant circumstances, would yield the conclusion that the court a quo, on the contrary,
recognized the enforceable right of the Paduas to the civil liability arising from the offense
committed by Punzalan and awarded the corresponding indemnity therefor."2 There is much to
be said therefor for the view expressed therein that "it cannot reasonably be contended that the
court a quo intended, in its judgment in criminal case 1158-O, to omit recognition of the right of
the Paduas to the civil liability arising from the offense of which Punzalan was adjudged guilty
and the corollary award of the corresponding indemnity therefor. Surely, it cannot be said that
the court intended the statement in the decretal portion of the judgment in criminal case 1158-O
referring to the determination and assessment of Punzalan's civil liability in civil case 427-O to
be pure jargon or 'gobbledygook' and to be absolutely of no meaning and effect whatsoever.
The substance of such statement, taken in the light of the situation to which it applies and the
attendant circumstances, makes unmistakably clear the intention of the court to accord
affirmation to the Padua's right to the civil liability arising from the judgment against Punzalan in
criminal case 1158-O."3 Whatever misgivings therefore may be felt because in the civil case No.
427-O the complaint against Bay Taxi Cab Co. is dismissed, do not suffice, to my mind, to
render nugatory the admitted subsidiary liability arising from a decision in criminal case No.
1158-O which is necessarily attendant upon the conviction of the driver, Romeo N. Punzalan.
Such a difficulty could have been avoided had greater care been exercised by the lower court,
but precisely recourse may be had to our corrective powers to avoid a right granted in law from
being rendered illusory in fact.

2. There is thus the strongest policy consideration that buttresses the conclusion reached by us.
It would conduce to less respect for the law as an agency of social control if there be recognition
in the codes of the right of next kin to damages arising from the tragic occurrence of young lives
being snuffed out due to reckless driving on the part of what had been accurately described as
dealers of death on the road and then by lack of care on the part of a judge assure that it is
nothing more than a barren form of words. This is what Dean Pound referred to as law in books
as distinguished from law in action. To recall an expression from Justice Jackson, it is
comparable to a munificent bequest in a pauper's will. It is less than realistic to assert that
anyway the guilty driver can be made to pay. The obvious answer is:' With what?"

This is not to deny that a previous judgment that certainly lends itself to ambiguity considering
the facts disclosed and found by the trial court does interpose juristic difficulty to the imposition
of liability on the offending taxicab company. There can be no blinking the fact though that if it
did not place such vehicles on the road driven in such a reckless and culpable manner resulting
in a ten-year old boy being hurled about forty meters away from the point of impact, this tragedy
could have been avoided. To say now that doubts engendered by the previous ruling in the
culpa aquiliana suit could nullify what the law decrees as to the subsidiary liability of the
employer in the criminal case finding the accused guilty would be fraught with pernicious
consequences. The party just as much responsible for the mishap, with his operation of the
transportation service, would be absolved from liability. It need not be so, but certainly for
entrepreneurs more enterprising than careful, not excessively concerned with the safety of the
traveling public, it could be a green light for less vigilance over the conduct of their drivers. The
resulting injury to public safety is not hard to imagine. Moreover, from the standpoint of the
feelings of the bereaved parents, and this is just as important a policy consideration, I feel that
no avenue should be left unexplored to mitigate the harshness of fate. To paraphrase Justice
Malcolm, there is not enough money in the entire world to compensate the parents for the loss
of their child.4 To repeat, the decision reached has my full concurrence.
BARREDO, J., concurring:

On strictly legal considerations, it would seem possible to dismiss the petition for review in this
case. But there are certain considerations of equity and substantial justice obviously underlying
the cause of petitioners which I find difficult to ignore. It would be unfair and unjust to deprive
said petitioners of their right to damages for the death of their child unquestionably caused by
the fault of respondent's employee merely because the dispositive portion of the decision of
Judge Amores in the criminal case appears to be rather equivocal on its face as to respondent's
liability therefor, albeit under the incontrovertible facts extant in the record such liability is
indisputable in law and the language of Judge Amores' judgment does not anyway exonerate
either respondent's driver or private respondent, and what is more, does not exclude the idea
that, as explained in the able main opinion of Mr. Justice Castro, the judge intended to merely
adopt and incorporate in said judgment the assessment of amount of damages which said judge
himself had already made in the civil case he had previously decided. It is on these fundamental
considerations that I base my concurrence in the judgment in this case.

As I have already indicated, from the standpoint of strict adjective law, the petition should be
dismissed because in truth, there is yet no showing that any attempt has been made by
petitioners to have the judgment in the criminal cases, assuming it includes an imposition of civil
liability upon the accused driver, Romeo N. Punzalan, executed. What appears in the record is
that it was the writ of execution issued against said Punzalan in the previous civil case that was
returned unsatisfied. Of course, this point is highly technical, because all that has to be done is
for petitioners to have another execution in the criminal case, which it can even now be forseen
will have exactly the same result. I am therefore agreeable as a matter of equity that the Court
hold that for all legal intents and purposes, We may consider the return of insolvency of
Punzalan in the civil case as in effect the return in the criminal case, since equity considers as
done what ought to have been done when otherwise injustice would result. And so, the
paramount question arises, was there any civil liability to impose in the criminal judgment of
Judge Amores? As related in the main opinion, the judgment of October 27, 1969 in the civil
case ordered Punzalan "to pay plaintiffs (herein petitioners) the sums of P12,000.00 as actual
damages P5,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages, and P10,000.00 as attorney's fees,"
although absolving at the same time the herein private respondent, and then, on October 5,
1970, the judgment in the criminal case was as follows:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused Romeo Punzalan y Narciso guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide through reckless imprudence,
as defined and penalized under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, attended
by the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender, and hereby sentences him
to suffer the indeterminate penalty of TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and
ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional, as minimum, to SIX (6) YEARS and ONE
(1) DAY of prision mayor, as maximum, and to pay the costs. The civil liability of
the accused has already been determined and assessed in Civil Case No. 427-
O, entitled 'Paulino Padua, et al. vs. Romeo Punzalan, et al. (Emphasis supplied)

Succintly, the decisive issue presented to Us now is whether this judgment just transcribed
imposes upon Punzalan a civil liability by adoption by reference of the civil liability already a
judged in the civil case or it exonerates him from any civil liability arising from the offense of
which he has been found guilty inasmuch as he was already found civilly liable in the civil case.
It must be admitted in candor that both constructions are literally tenable, with the particularity,
however, that the first interpretation, if adopted could not involve the assumption that the judge
committed a grievous and palpable error of law whereas the second would necessarily mean
that he did.

It is by now settled beyond all cavil as to dispense with the citation of jurisprudence, that a
negligent act such as that committed by Punzalan gives rise to at least two separate and
independent kinds of liabilities, (1) the civil liability arising from crime or culpa criminal and (2)
the liability arising from civil negligence or the so-called culpa aquiliana. These two concepts of
fault are so distinct from each other that exoneration from one does not result in exoneration
from the other. Adjectively and substantively, they can be prosecuted separately and
independently of each other, although Article 2177 of the Civil Code precludes recovery of
damages twice for the same negligent act or omission, which means that should there be
varying amounts awarded in two separate cases, the plaintiff may recover, in effect, only the
bigger amount. That is to say, if the plaintiff has already been ordered paid an amount in one
case and in the other case the amount adjudged is bigger, he shall be entitled in the second
case only to the excess over the one fixed in the first case, but if he has already been paid a
bigger amount in the first case, he may not recover anymore in the second case. Thus, in the
case at bar, inasmuch as Punzalan had already been sentenced to pay the herein petitioners
the amounts above-stated, in the subsequent criminal case, he could not be adjudged to pay a
higher amount.

Now, under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, a person criminally liable is also civilly liable,
hence, the judgment in the criminal case is supposed to include the imposition of civil liability,
unless the basis therefor has been shown not to exist, which is not the case here. And since the
judgment in question says that "the civil liability of the accused has already been determined
and assessed in Civil Case No. 427-O entitled Paulino Padua et al. vs. Romeo Punzalan et al.,"
it is but logical to conclude that the meaning of such statement is that the same amounts of
damages fixed in the previous case were being awarded to the offended party in the criminal
case. Otherwise, We would have to indulge in the assumption that Judge Amores committed the
grievous and palpable error of law of exonerating Punzalan of all civil liabilities in the criminal
case just because he had already been sentenced to pay damages in the civil case. I am not
ready to accept such assumption. The law and jurisprudence on the matter are so clear and
well-settled that I refuse to believe that a judge of the experience of Judge Amores would not be
cognizant thereof. Besides, Judge Amores knew or ought to have known that having absolved
herein respondent in the civil case, the only possible recourse has left to petitioners to recover
from said respondent damages for the death of their child caused by the indisputable
negligence of his employee Punzalan is in the form of the subsidiary liability of the employer
under the Penal Code. Indeed, I cannot believe that Judge Amores intended to allow
respondent to escape liability altogether, it being evident under the circumstances which he
himself has found in both cases, civil and criminal, that Punzalan, their employee, had cause the
death of the ten-year-old child of petitioners thru reckless imprudence and that in such a
situation in the law exacts liability from both the employee and the employer. What is more, I
consider it but equitable to hold that the rather equivocal phraseology of the decision of Judge
Amores should be read in the sense it was understood by the petitioners, who in the faith and
reliance that the law had been complied with by Judge Amores and that he had accordingly
awarded them in the criminal case the civil liability that by law goes with it, did not anymore
move for clarification or reconsideration nor appeal from said decision. My understanding is that
the filing of the subject civil action by petitioners proceeded from that assumption, namely, that
Punzalan has been found civilly liable for the same amounts adjudged in the civil case and,
therefore, respondent is subsidiarily liable therefor in the face of Punzalan's insolvency.
Accordingly, I concur in that the order of dismissal of respondent judge should be set aside and
that petitioners' action should be tried on the merits.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-14534 February 28, 1962

MERARDO L. ZAPANTA, petitioner,


vs.
THE HON. AGUSTIN P. MONTESA, ETC., ET AL., respondents.

Pedro M. Santos and Jorge C. Salonga for petitioner.


Office of the Solicitor General, Romulo L. Chua and Dewey G. Soriano for respondents.

DIZON, J.:

This is a petition for prohibition filed by Merardo L. Zapanta against the Hon. Agustin P.
Montesa, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan, Fernando A. Cruz, Provincial Fiscal of
Bulacan, and Olimpia A. Yco, to enjoin the former from proceeding with the trial of Criminal
Case No. 3405 pending the final determination of Civil Case No. 1446 of the Court of First
Instance of Pampanga.

Upon complaint filed by respondent Olimpia A. Yco on May 20, 1958, an information for Bigamy
was filed by respondent Provincial Fiscal against petitioner in the Court of First Instance of
Bulacan (Criminal Case No. 3405), alleging that the latter, having previously married one
Estrella Guarin, and without said marriage having been dissolved, contracted a second
marriage with said complainant.

On June 16, 1958, petitioner filed in the Court of First Instance of Pampanga Civil Case No.
1446 against respondent Olimpia A. Yco for the annulment of their marriage on the ground of
duress, force and intimidation. On the 30th of the same month respondent Yco, as defendant in
said case, filed a motion to dismiss the complaint upon the ground that it stated no cause of
action, but the same was denied on July 7 of the same year. 1äwphï1.ñët

On September 2, 1958, petitioner, in turn, filed a motion in Criminal Case No. 3405 to suspend
proceedings therein, on the ground that the determination of the issue involved in Civil Case No.
1446 of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga was a prejudicial question. Respondent judge
denied the motion on September 20, 1958 as well as petitioner's motion for reconsideration, and
ordered his arraignment. After entering a plea of not guilty, petitioner filed the present action.

We have heretofore defined a prejudicial question as that which arises in a case, the resolution
of which is a logical antecedent of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which
pertains to another tribunal (People vs. Aragon, G.R. No. L-5930, February 17, 1954). The
prejudicial question — we further said — must be determinative of the case before the court,
and jurisdiction to try the same must be lodged in another court (People vs. Aragon, supra).
These requisites are present in the case at bar. Should the question for annulment of the
second marriage pending in the Court of First Instance of Pampanga prosper on the ground
that, according to the evidence, petitioner's consent thereto was obtained by means of duress,
force and intimidation, it is obvious that his act was involuntary and can not be the basis of his
conviction for the crime of bigamy with which he was charged in the Court of First Instance of
Bulacan. Thus, the issue involved in the action for the annulment of the second marriage is
determinative of petitioner's guilt or innocence of the crime of bigamy. On the other hand, there
can be no question that the annulment of petitioner's marriage with respondent Yco on the
grounds relied upon in the complaint filed in the Court of First Instance of Pampanga is within
the jurisdiction of said court.

In the Aragon case already mentioned (supra) we held that if the defendant in a case for bigamy
claims that the first marriage is void and the right to decide such validity is vested in another
court, the civil action for annulment must first be decided before the action for bigamy can
proceed. There is no reason not to apply the same rule when the contention of the accused is
that the second marriage is void on the ground that he entered into it because of duress, force
and intimidation.

WHEREFORE, the writ prayed for in the petition is hereby granted. Without costs.

Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Paredes
and De Leon, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-22579 February 23, 1968

ROLANDO LANDICHO, petitioner,


vs.
HON. LORENZO RELOVA, in his capacity as Judge of the Court of First Instance of
Batangas, Branch I, and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

Jose W. Diokno for petitioner.


Office of the Solicitor General for respondents.

FERNANDO, J.:

In this petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction, the question before
the Court is whether or not the existence of a civil suit for the annulment of marriage at the
instance of the second wife against petitioner, with the latter in turn filing a third party complaint
against the first spouse for the annulment of the first marriage, constitutes a prejudicial question
in a pending suit for bigamy against him. Respondent, Judge Relova answered in the negative.
We sustain him.

The pertinent facts as set forth in the petition follow. On February 27, 1963, petitioner was
charged before the Court of First Instance of Batangas, Branch I, presided over by respondent
Judge, with the offense, of bigamy. It was alleged in the information that petitioner "being then
lawfully married to Elvira Makatangay, which marriage has not been legally dissolved, did then
and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a second marriage with Fe Lourdes Pasia."
On March 15, 1963, an action was filed before the Court of First Instance ofBatangas, likewise
presided plaintiff respondent Judge Fe Lourdes Pasia, seeking to declare her marriage to
petitioner as null and void ab initio because of the alleged use of force, threats and intimidation
allegedly employed by petitioner and because of its allegedly bigamous character. On June 15,
1963, petitioner as defendant in said case, filed a third-party complaint, against the third-party
defendant Elvira Makatangay, the first spouse, praying that his marriage with the said third-party
defendant be declared null and void, on the ground that by means of threats, force and
intimidation, she compelled him to appear and contract marriage with her before the Justice of
the Peace of Makati, Rizal.

Thereafter, on October 7, 1963, petitioner moved to suspend the hearing of the criminal
case pending the decision on the question of the validity of the two marriages involved in the
pending civil suit. Respondent Judge on November 19, 1963 denied the motion for lack of merit.
Then came a motion for reconsideration to set aside the above order, which was likewise
denied on March 2, 1964. Hence this petition, filed on March 13, 1964.

In a resolution of this Court of March 17, 1964, respondent Judge was required to answer
within ten (10) days, with a preliminary injunction being issued to restrain him from further
proceeding with the prosecution of the bigamy case. In the meanwhile, before the answer was
filed there was an amended petition for certiorari, the amendment consisting solely in the
inclusion of the People of the Philippines as another respondent. This Court admitted such
amended petition in a resolution of April 3, 1964.

Then came the answer to the amended petition on May 14 of that year where the
statement of facts as above detailed was admitted, with the qualifications that the bigamy
charge was filed upon the complaint of the first spouse Elvira Makatangay. It alleged as one of
its special and affirmative defenses that the mere fact that "there are actions to annul the
marriages entered into by the accused in a bigamy case does not mean that 'prejudicial
questions are automatically raised in said civil actions as to warrant the suspension of the
criminal case for bigamy." 1 The answer stressed that even on the assumption that the first
marriage was null and void on the ground alleged by petitioner, the fact would not be material to
the outcome of the criminal case. It continued, referring to Viada, that "parties to the marriage
should not be permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, for this must be submitted to the
judgment of competent courts and only when the nullity of a marriage is so declared can it be
held as void, and so long as there is no such declaration the presumption is that the marriage
exists. Therefore, according to Viada, he who contracts a second marriage before the judicial
declaration of nullity of the first marriage incurs the penalty provided for in this Article. . . ." 2

This defense is in accordance with the principle implicit in authoritative decisions of this
Court. In Merced v. Diez, 3 what was in issue was the validity of the second marriage, "which
must be determined before hand in the civil action before the criminal action can proceed."
According to the opinion of Justice Labrador: "We have a situation where the issue of the
validity of the second marriage can be determined or must first be determined in the civil action
before the criminal action for bigamy can be prosecuted. The question of the validity of the
second marriage is, therefore, a prejudicial question because determination of the validity of the
second marriage is determinable in the civil action and must precede the criminal action for
bigamy." It was the conclusion of this Court then that for petitioner Merced to be found guilty of
bigamy, the second marriage which he contracted "must first be declared valid." Its validity
having been questioned in the civil action, there must be a decision in such a case "before the
prosecution for bigamy can proceed."

To the same effect is the doctrine announced in Zapanta v. Mendoza. 4 As explained in


the opinion of Justice Dizon: "We have heretofore defined a prejudicial question as that which
arises in a case, the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of the issue involved therein, and
the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal. . . . The prejudicial question — we further
said — must be determinative of the case before the court, and jurisdiction to try the same must
be lodged in another court. . . . These requisites are present in the case at bar. Should the
question for annulment of the second marriage pending in the Court of First Instance of
Pampanga prosper on the ground that, according to the evidence, petitioner's consent thereto
was obtained by means of duress, force and intimidation, it is obvious that his act was
involuntary and can not be the basis of his conviction for the crime of bigamy with which he was
charged in the Court of First Instance of Bulacan. Thus the issue involved in the action for the
annulment of the second marriage is determinative of petitioner's guilt or innocence of the crime
of bigamy. . . ."

The situation in this case is markedly different. At the time the petitioner was indicted for
bigamy on February 27, 1963, the fact that two marriage ceremonies had been contracted
appeared to be indisputable. Then on March 15, 1963, it was the second spouse, not petitioner
who filed an action for nullity on the ground of force, threats and intimidation. It was sometime
later, on June 15, 1963, to be precise, when petitioner, as defendant in the civil action, filed a
third-party complaint against the first spouse alleging that his marriage with her should be
declared null and void on the ground of force, threats and intimidation. As was correctly
stressed in the answer of respondent Judge relying on Viada, parties to a marriage should not
be permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, only competent courts having such authority.
Prior to such declaration of nullity, the validity of the first marriage is beyond question. A party
who contracts a second marriage then assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy.

Such was the situation of petitioner. There is no occasion to indulge in the probability that
the third-party complaint against the first wife brought almost five months after the prosecution
for bigamy was started could have been inspired by the thought that he could thus give color to
a defense based on an alleged prejudicial question. The above judicial decisions as well as the
opinion of Viada preclude a finding that respondent Judge abused, much less gravely abused,
his discretion in failing to suspend the hearing as sought by petitioner.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is denied and the writ of preliminary injunction
issued dissolved. With costs.1äwphï1.ñët

Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro
and Angeles, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-53642 April 15, 1988

LEONILO C. DONATO, petitioners,


vs.
HON. ARTEMON D. LUNA, PRESIDING JUDGE, COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF MANIIA,
BRANCH XXXII HON. JOSE FLAMINIANO, CITY FISCAL OF MANILA; PAZ B.
ABAYAN, respondents.

Leopoldo P. Dela Rosa for petitioner.

Emiterio C. Manibog for private respondent.

City Fiscal of Manila for public respondent.

GANCAYCO, J.:

In this petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction, the question for the
resolution of the Court is whether or not a criminal case for bigamy pending before the Court of
First Itance of Manila should be suspended in view of a civil case for annulment of marriage
pending before the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on the ground that the latter
constitutes a prejudicial question. The respondent judge ruled in the negative. We sustain him.

The pertinent facts as set forth in the records follow. On January 23, 1979, the City Fiscal of
Manila acting thru Assistant City Fiscal Amado N. Cantor filed an information for bigamy against
herein petitioner, Leonilo C. Donato with the Court of First Instance of Manila, docketed as
Criminal Case No. 43554 and assigned to Branch XXXII of said court. The information was filed
based on the complaint of private respondent Paz B. Abayan.

On September 28, 1979, before the petitioner's arraignment, private respondent filed with the
Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of Manila a civil action for declaration of nullity of her
marriage with petitioner contracted on September 26, 1978, which action was docketed as Civil
Case No. E-02627. Said civil case was based on the ground that private respondent consented
to entering into the marriage, which was petitioner Donato's second one, since she had no
previous knowledge that petitioner was already married to a certain Rosalinda R. Maluping on
June 30, 1978. Petitioner Donato's answer in the civil case for nullity interposed the defense
that his second marriage was void since it was solemnized without a marriage license and that
force, violence, intimidation and undue influence were employed by private respondent to obtain
petitioner's consent to the marriage. Prior to the solemnization of the subsequent or second
marriage, petitioner and private respondent had lived together and deported themselves as
husband and wife without the benefit of wedlock for a period of at least five years as evidenced
by a joint affidavit executed by them on September 26, 1978, for which reason, the requisite
marriage license was dispensed with pursuant to Article 76 of the New Civil Code pertaining to
marriages of exceptional character.

Prior to the date set for the trial on the merits of Criminal Case No. 43554, petitioner filed a
motion to suspend the proceedings of said case contending that Civil Case No. E-02627
seeking the annulment of his second marriage filed by private respondent raises a prejudicial
question which must first be determined or decided before the criminal case can proceed.

In an order dated April 7, 1980. Hon. Artemon D. Luna denied the motion to suspend the
proceedings in Criminal Case No. 43554 for bigamy. Respondent judge's basis for denial is the
ruling laid down in the case of Landicho vs. Relova. 1 The order further directed that the
proceedings in the criminal case can proceed as scheduled.

A motion for reconsideration was flied by herein petitioner thru counsel citing as one of his
grounds for suspension of proceedings the ruling laid down by this Court in the case of De la
Cruz vs. Ejercito 2 which was a much later case than that cited by respondent judge in his order
of denial.

The motion for reconsideration of the said order was likewise denied in an order dated April 14,
1980, for lack of merit. Hence, the present petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary
injunction.

A prejudicial question has been defined to be one which arises in a case, the resolution of which
question is a logical antecedent of the issue involved in said case, and the cognizance of which
pertains to another tribunal.3 It is one based on a fact distinct and separate from the crime but
so intimately connected with it that it determines the guilt or innocence of the accused, and for it
to suspend the criminal action, it must appear not only that said case involves facts intimately
related to those upon which the criminal prosecution would be based but also that in the
resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the accused
would necessarily be determined. 4 A prejudicial question usually comes into play in a situation
where a civil action and a criminal action may proceed, because howsoever the issue raised in
the civil action is resolved would be determinative juris et de jure of the guilt or innocence of the
accused in a criminal case.5

The requisites of a prejudicial question do not obtain in the case at bar. It must be noted that the
issue before the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court touching upon the nullity of the second
marriage is not determinative of petitioner Donato's guilt or innocence in the crime of bigamy.
Furthermore, it was petitioner's second wife, the herein private respondent Paz B. Abayan who
filed the complaint for annulment of the second marriage on the ground that her consent was
obtained through deceit.

Petitioner Donato raised the argument that the second marriage should have been declared null
and void on the ground of force, threats and intimidation allegedly employed against him by
private respondent only sometime later when he was required to answer the civil action for
anulment of the second marriage. The doctrine elucidated upon by the case of Landicho vs.
Relova 6 may be applied to the present case. Said case states that:

The mere fact that there are actions to annul the marriages entered into by the
accused in a bigamy case does not mean that "prejudicial questions" are
automatically raised in civil actions as to warrant the suspension of the case. In
order that the case of annulment of marriage be considered a prejudicial question
to the bigamy case against the accused, it must be shown that the petitioner's
consent to such marriage must be the one that was obtained by means of
duress, force and intimidation to show that his act in the second marriage must
be involuntary and cannot be the basis of his conviction for the crime of bigamy.
The situation in the present case is markedly different. At the time the petitioner
was indicted for bigamy on February 27, 1963, the fact that two marriage
ceremonies had been contracted appeared to be indisputable. And it was the
second spouse, not the petitioner who filed the action for nullity on the ground of
force, threats and intimidation. And it was only on June 15, 1963, that petitioner,
as defendant in the civil action, filed a third-party complaint against the first
spouse alleging that his marriage with her should be declared null and void on
the ground of force, threats and intimidation. Assuming that the first marriage
was null and void on the ground alleged by petitioner, the fact would not be
material to the outcome of the case. Parties to the marriage should not be
permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, for the same must be submitted to
the judgment of the competent courts and only when the nullity of the marriage is
so declared can it be held as void, and so long as there is no such declaration
the presumption is that the marriage exists. Therefore, he who contracts a
second marriage before the judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage
assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy. The lower court therefore, has
not abused much less gravely abused, its discretion in failing to suspend the
hearing as sought by petitioner.

In the case at bar, petitioner has not even sufficiently shown that his consent to the second
marriage has been obtained by the use of threats, force and intimidation.

Petitioner calls the attention of this Court to the fact that the case of De la Cruz vs. Ejercito is a
later case and as such it should be the one applied to the case at bar. We cannot agree. The
situation in the case at bar is markedly different. In the aforecited case it was accused Milagros
dela Cruz who was charged with bigamy for having contracted a second marriage while a
previous one existed. Likewise, Milagros dela Cruz was also the one who filed an action for
annulment on the ground of duress, as contra-distinguished from the present case wherein it
was private respondent Paz B. Abayan, petitioner's second wife, who filed a complaint for
annulment of the second marriage on the ground that her consent was obtained through deceit
since she was not aware that petitioner's marriage was still subsisting. Moreover, in De la Cruz,
a judgment was already rendered in the civil case that the second marriage of De la Cruz was
null and void, thus determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case. In
the present case, there is as yet no such judgment in the civil case.

Pursuant to the doctrine discussed in Landicho vs. Relova, petitioner Donato cannot apply the
rule on prejudicial questions since a case for annulment of marriage can be considered as a
prejudicial question to the bigamy case against the accused only if it is proved that the
petitioner's consent to such marriage was obtained by means of duress, violence and
intimidation in order to establish that his act in the subsequent marriage was an involuntary one
and as such the same cannot be the basis for conviction. The preceding elements do not exist
in the case at bar.

Obviously, petitioner merely raised the issue of prejudicial question to evade the prosecution of
the criminal case. The records reveal that prior to petitioner's second marriage on September
26, 1978, he had been living with private respondent Paz B. Abayan as husband and wife for
more than five years without the benefit of marriage. Thus, petitioner's averments that his
consent was obtained by private respondent through force, violence, intimidation and undue
influence in entering a subsequent marriage is belled by the fact that both petitioner and private
respondent executed an affidavit which stated that they had lived together as husband and wife
without benefit of marriage for five years, one month and one day until their marital union was
formally ratified by the second marriage and that it was private respondent who eventually filed
the civil action for nullity.

Another event which militates against petitioner's contentions is the fact hat it was only when
Civil Case No. E-02627 was filed on September 28, 1979, or more than the lapse of one year
from the solemnization of the second marriage that petitioner came up with the story that his
consent to the marriage was secured through the use of force, violence, intimidation and undue
influence. Petitioner also continued to live with private respondent until November 1978, when
the latter left their abode upon learning that Leonilo Donato was already previously married.

In the light of the preceding factual circumstances, it can be seen that the respondent Judge did
not err in his earlier order. There is no pivotal issue that must be pre-emptively resolved in Civil
Case No. E-02627 before proceedings in the criminal action for bigamy can be undertaken.

Accordingly, there being no prejudicial question shown to exit the order of denial issued by the
respondent judge dated April 14, 1980 should be sustained.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of
merit. We make no pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Teehankee, C.J., Narvasa, Cruz and Griño-Aquino, JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. L-48157 March 16, 1988

RICARDO QUIAMBAO, petitioner,


vs.
HON. ADRIANO OSORIO, ZENAIDA GAZA BUENSUCERO, JUSTINA GAZA BERNARDO,
and FELIPE GAZA, respondents-appellees, LAND AUTHORITY, intervenor-appellant.

FERNAN, J.:

This case was certified to Us by the Court of Appeals as one involving pure questions of law
pursuant to Section 3, Rule 50 of the Revised Rules of Court.

The antecedents are as follows:

In a complaint for forcible entry filed by herein private respondents Zenaida Gaza Buensucero,
Justina Gaza Bernardo and Felipe Gaza against herein petitioner Ricardo Quiambao before the
then Municipal Court of Malabon, Rizal, docketed therein as Civil Case No. 2526, it was alleged
that private respondents were the legitimate possessors of a 30,835 sq. m. lot known as Lot No.
4, Block 12, Bca 2039 of the Longos Estate situated at Barrio Longos, Malabon Rizal, by virtue
of the Agreement to Sell No. 3482 executed in their favor by the former Land Tenure
Administration [which later became the Land Authority, then the Department of Agrarian
Reform]; that under cover of darkness, petitioner surreptitiously and by force, intimidation,
strategy and stealth, entered into a 400 sq. m. portion thereof, placed bamboo posts "staka"
over said portion and thereafter began the construction of a house thereon; and that these acts
of petitioner, which were unlawful per se, entitled private respondents to a writ of preliminary
injunction and to the ejectment of petitioner from the lot in question.

Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, and upon denial thereof, filed his Answer to
the complaint, specifically denying the material allegations therein and averring that the
Agreement upon which private respondents base their prior possession over the questioned lot
had already been cancelled by the Land Authority in an Order signed by its Governor, Conrado
Estrella. By way of affirmative defense and as a ground for dismissing the case, petitioner
alleged the pendency of L.A. Case No. 968, an administrative case before the Office of the Land
Authority between the same parties and involving the same piece of land. In said administrative
case, petitioner disputed private respondents' right of possession over the property in question
by reason of the latter's default in the installment payments for the purchase of said lot.
Petitioner asserted that his administrative case was determinative of private respondents' right
to eject petitioner from the lot in question; hence a prejudicial question which bars a judicial
action until after its termination.
After hearing, the municipal court denied the motion to dismiss contained in petitioner's
affirmative defenses. It ruled that inasmuch as the issue involved in the case was the recovery
of physical possession, the court had jurisdiction to try and hear the case.

Dissatisfied with this ruling, petitioner filed before the then Court of First Instance of Rizal,
Branch XII, Caloocan City in Civil Case No. C-1576 a petition for certiorari with injunction
against public respondent Judge Adriano Osorio of the Municipal Court of Malabon and private
respondents, praying for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction ordering respondent
judge to suspend the hearing in the ejectment case until after the resolution of said petition. As
prayed for, the then CFI of Rizal issued a restraining order enjoining further proceedings in the
ejectment case.

In his answer, respondent municipal judge submitted himself to the sound discretion of the CFI
in the disposition of the petition for certiorari. Private respondents, on the other hand, filed a
motion to dismiss the petition, maintaining that the administrative case did not constitute a
prejudicial question as it involved the question of ownership, unlike the ejectment case which
involved merely the question of possession.

Meanwhile, the Land Authority filed an Urgent Motion for Leave to Intervene in Civil Case No. C-
1576 alleging the pendency of an administrative case between the same parties on the same
subject matter in L.A. Case No. 968 and praying that the petition for certiorari be granted, the
ejectment complaint be dismissed and the Office of the Land Authority be allowed to decide the
matter exclusively.

Finding the issue involved in the ejectment case to be one of prior possession, the CFI
dismissed the petition for certiorari and lifted the restraining order previously issued. Petitioner's
motion for reconsideration of the dismissal order, adopted in toto by Intervenor Land Authority
was denied for lack of merit. Hence, this appeal filed by petitioner Quiambao and intervenor
Land Authority with the Court of Appeals, and certified to Us as aforesaid.

The instant controversy boils down to the sole question of whether or not the administrative
case between the private parties involving the lot subject matter of the ejectment case
constitutes a prejudicial question which would operate as a bar to said ejectment case.

A prejudicial question is understood in law to be that which arises in a case the resolution of
which is a logical antecedent of the issue involved in said case and the cognizance of which
pertains to another tribunal. 1 The doctrine of prejudicial question comes into play generally in a
situation where civil and criminal actions are pending and the issues involved in both cases are
similar or so closely related that an issue must be pre-emptively resolved in the civil case before
the criminal action can proceed. Thus, the existence of a prejudicial question in a civil case is
alleged in the criminal case to cause the suspension of the latter pending final determination of
the former.

The essential elements of a prejudicial question as provided under Section 5, Rule 111 of the
Revised Rules of Court are: [a] the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to
the issue in the criminal action; and [b] the resolution of such issue determines whether or not
the criminal action may proceed.

The actions involved in the case at bar being respectively civil and administrative in character, it
is obvious that technically, there is no prejudicial question to speak of. Equally apparent,
however, is the intimate correlation between said two [2] proceedings, stemming from the fact
that the right of private respondents to eject petitioner from the disputed portion depends
primarily on the resolution of the pending administrative case. For while it may be true that
private respondents had prior possession of the lot in question, at the time of the institution of
the ejectment case, such right of possession had been terminated, or at the very least,
suspended by the cancellation by the Land Authority of the Agreement to Sell executed in their
favor. Whether or not private respondents can continue to exercise their right of possession is
but a necessary, logical consequence of the issue involved in the pending administrative case
assailing the validity of the cancellation of the Agreement to Sell and the subsequent award of
the disputed portion to petitioner. If the cancellation of the Agreement to Sell and the
subsequent award to petitioner are voided, then private respondents would have every right to
eject petitioner from the disputed area. Otherwise, private respondent's light of possession is
lost and so would their right to eject petitioner from said portion.

Faced with these distinct possibilities, the more prudent course for the trial court to have taken
is to hold the ejectment proceedings in abeyance until after a determination of the administrative
case. Indeed, logic and pragmatism, if not jurisprudence, dictate such move. To allow the
parties to undergo trial notwithstanding the possibility of petitioner's right of possession being
upheld in the pending administrative case is to needlessly require not only the parties but the
court as well to expend time, effort and money in what may turn out to be a sheer exercise in
futility. Thus, 1 Am Jur 2d tells us:

The court in which an action is pending may, in the exercise of a sound


discretion, upon proper application for a stay of that action, hold the action in
abeyance to abide the outcome of another pending in another court, especially
where the parties and the issues are the same, for there is power inherent in
every court to control the disposition of causes on its dockets with economy of
time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants. Where the rights parties to
the second action cannot be properly determined until the questions raised in the
first action are settled the second action should be stayed.2

While this rule is properly applicable to instances involving two [2] court actions, the existence in
the instant case of the same considerations of Identity of parties and issues, economy of time
and effort for the court, the counsels and the parties as well as the need to resolve the parties'
right of possession before the ejectment case may be properly determined, justifies the rule's
analogous application to the case at bar.

Fortich-Celdran, et al. vs. Celdran, et al., 19 SCRA 502, provides another analogous situation.
In sustaining the assailed order of the then Court of First Instance of Misamis Oriental ordering
the suspension of the criminal case for falsification of public document against several persons,
among them the subscribing officer Santiago Catane until the civil case involving the issue of
the genuineness of the alleged forged document shall have been decided, this Court cited as a
reason therefor its own action on the administrative charges against said Santiago Catane, as
follows:

It should be mentioned here also that an administrative case filed in this Court
against Santiago Catane upon the same charge was held by Us in abeyance,
thus:
"As it appears that the genuineness of the document allegedly
forged by respondent attorneys in Administrative Case No. 77
[Richard Ignacio Celdran vs. Santiago Catane, etc., et al.] is
necessarily involved in Civil Case No. R-3397 of the Cebu Court
of First Instance, action on the herein complaint is withheld until
that litigation has finally been decided. Complainant Celdran shall
inform the Court about such decision."3

If a pending civil case may be considered to be in the nature of a prejudicial question to an


administrative case, We see no reason why the reverse may not be so considered in the proper
case, such as in the petition at bar. Finally, events occuring during the pendency of this petition
attest to the wisdom of the conclusion herein reached. For in the Manifestation filed by counsel
for petitioner, it was stated that the intervenor Land Authority which later became the
Department of Agrarian Reform had promulgated a decision in the administrative case, L.A.
Case No. 968 affiriming the cancellation of Agreement to Sell No. 3482 issued in favor of private
respondents. With this development, the folly of allowing the ejectment case to proceed is too
evident to need further elaboration.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. Civil Case No. 2526 of the then
Municipal Court of Malabon, Rizal is hereby ordered DISMISSED. No Costs.

SO ORDERED.

Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano, Bidin and Cortes, JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. L-63198 June 21, 1990

VICENTE S. UMALI, BENJAMIN CALLEJA, JR., ALBERTO L. LEDESMA and EVANGELINE


U. LEDESMA, petitioners,
vs.
HONORABLE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT AND SPOUSES HONORIO and
SOLINA EDANO, respondents.

Vicente A. Garcia for petitioners.

Edano, Leynes Law Office for private respondents.

PADILLA, J.:

This petition seeks the review on certiorari of the decision * dated 23 September 1982 of the
respondent Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 14504, affirming the Orders dated 29 April
1982 and 24 June 1982 issued in Criminal Case No. 1423-I by the Court of First Instance (CFI)
of Zambales, Branch II (now Regional Trial Court, (RTC), Iba, Zambales, Branch LXIX). ** The
respondent court's decision ruled that the question raised in Civil Case No. 8769 pending before
the CFI of Quezon, Branch VIII (now RTC, Quezon, Branch LVII) re: annulment/ rescission of
the sale 1 is not prejudicial to the issues involved in said CR No. 1423-I as to warrant the
suspension of proceedings in said criminal case.

The facts material to the present case, as found by the Court of Appeals, are as follows:

... Petitioners are the officers of the Orosea Development Corporation,


hereinafter referred to simply as OROSEA. Sometime on September 4,1979, the
petitioners, as officers of OROSEA, purchased from the spouses Honorio and
Solina Edano, Lot No. 49 of the Cadastral Survey of Mulanay, Bo. Casay,
Mulanay, Province of Quezon, covered by TCT No. RT-(T-36471), in the name of
spouses Edano, for the sum of P1,036,500.00 payable in four installments, as
follows:

1
st - P225,000.00
Installment September
and 28, 1979
downpayment

2nd - March 271,500.00


Installment 31, 1980
3rd - 270,000.00
Installment September
30, 1980

4th - March 270,000.00


Installment 31, 1981

issuing for this purpose four checks drawn against the Chartered Bank, Manila
Branch. The first check for P225,000.00 was honored upon its presentment.

By arrangement of the petitioners with the Edano spouses, a deed of absolute


sale was executed by the vendors, inspire of the fact that the purchase price has
not yet been Idly paid. Thus, TCT No. (T36471) was cancelled and a new
transfer certificate of title was issued in the name of OROSEA. Thereafter,
OROSEA secured a loan of P1,000,000.00 from the Philippine Veterans Bank
using this property as security.

When the check for the second installment fell due, petitioners asked, for two
times, deferment of its presentation for payment, the first to June 30, 1980, and
the second to July 31, 1980. In the first deferment petitioners issued a check that
matured on June 30, 1980 to replace the check that matured on March 31, 1980.
On the second deferment petitioners issued another check dated July 31, 1980
to replace the check dated June 30, 1980. This second renewal check was
presented with the bank but it was dishonored due to lack of funds. So were the
checks postdated September 30, 1980 and March 31, 1981. They were also
dishonored upon their presentment for lack of funds. As a consequence of the
dishonor of these checks, the Edano spouses filed a complaint for estafa against
petitioners. The information was filed by the Provincial Fiscal against petitioners
on May 21, 1981, and it was docketed as Criminal Case No. 1423-I. Arraignment
was set on September 4, 1981 but petitioners failed to appear. It was reset to
October 5, 1981 but this was postponed upon motion of petitioners.

On October 14, 1981, OROSEA filed a Complaint in the Court of First Instance of
Quezon against the Edano spouses, docketed as Civil Case No. 8769, for the
annulment/rescission of the Contract of Sale executed on September 4, 1979 by
and between OROSEA and the Edano spouses covering Lot No. 49 of the
Cadastral Survey of Mulanay, and for which the petitioners issued the checks,
subject of Criminal Case No. 1423-1.

Criminal Case No. 1423-I was again set for arraignment on November 5, 1980.
This was postponed. With the entry of a new counsel, petitioners filed a motion to
quash Criminal Case No. 1423-I, on ground of improper venue, but this motion
was withdrawn by petitioners before it could be resolved. The arraignment was
again set for January 4, 1982 which was again postponed; then to February 5,
1982, again postponed; then to March 23, 1982. However, before March 23,
1982, petitioners filed, in Criminal Case No. 1423-I, a 'Motion to Suspend
Arraignment and Further Proceedings, with a Supplemental Motion To Suspend
Proceedings'. This was opposed by the Provincial Fiscal of Quezon. Resolving
the motion to suspend, respondent Judge issued his orders, now under question,
denying the motion. 2
Acting on the "Motion to Suspend Arraignment and Further Proceedings," the Court of First
Instance of Zambales, Branch II, in said CR Case No. 1423-1 in its order dated 29 April
1982 3 denied the same for lack of merit; and the motion for reconsideration of said order was
likewise denied in the Order dated 24 June l982. 4

A petition for certiorari and prohibition, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 14504, was then filed by
herein petitioners with the respondent Court of Appeals. The appellate court, resolving the said
petition, rendered the now assailed decision dated 23 September 1982 affirming the questioned
orders of the trial court and dismissed the petition for lack of merit. The Court of Appeals ruled
that, inasmuch as the issues in CV No. 8769 and CR No. 1423-I are completely different from
each other, and that the resolution of one is not necessary for the resolution of the other, the
issue involved in CV No. 8769 is not a prejudicial question vis-a-vis the issue in CR No. 1423-I
so as to warrant the suspension of the proceedings in the latter case, until the termination of the
civil case. In its resolution dated 3 February 1983, the Court of Appeals also denied for lack of
merit the petitioners' motion for reconsideration of the said decision.

In this present recourse, the principal issue to be resolved, as in the Court of Appeals, is
whether CV No. 8769 involves a prejudicial question in relation to CR No. 1423-I so as to
require a suspension of proceedings in the latter case, until the civil case is disposed of.

We find no merit in the petition.

In arguing that the principle of prejudicial question applies in the case at bar, petitioners contend
that, since in CV No. 8769 they seek to annul the deed of sale executed in their favor by the
private respondents, on the grounds that the latter committed fraud in misrepresenting that the
land they sold to petitioners is free from all liens and encumbrances, and that it is not tenanted,
when in truth and fact, as petitioners later discovered, the land is covered by the land reform
program and that vast portions thereof are timber land, hence, allegedly indisposable public
land, therefore, according to petitioners, CV No. 8769 involves issues, the resolution of which
will determine whether or not petitioners are criminally liable in CR No. 1423-I. They further
argue that, if and when the court hearing CV No. 7869 annuls the subject deed of sale, then,
their obligation to pay private respondents under the said deed would be extinguished, resulting
in the dismissal of CR No. 1423-I.

Petitioners, therefore, in CV No. 8969, in seeking the annulment of the deed of sale on the
ground of fraud or misrepresentation, are in effect saying that said deed is voidable, vitiated
consent being one of the grounds mentioned in Article 1390 5 of the Civil Code for voiding or
annulling contracts. Indeed the well-settled rule is that a contract where consent is vitiated is
voidable. 6

It can not be denied, however, that at the time the acts complained of in CR No. 1423-I were
committed, the deed of sale sought to be later annulled in CV No. 8769 was binding upon the
parties thereto, including the petitioners. The two (2) essential elements for a prejudicial
question to exist are: (a) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the
issue raised in the criminal action; and (b) the resolution of such issue in the civil action
determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed. 7

Given the nature of a prejudicial question, and considering the issues raised in CV No. 8769
and CR No. 1423-I, we agree with the ruling of the respondent Court of Appeals that the
resolution of the issues in CV No. 8769 is not determinative of the guilt or innocence of the
petitioners-accused in CR No. 1423-I, hence, no prejudicial question is involved between the
said two (2) cases.

As correctly observed by the appellate court, the issue in CR No. 1423-I is whether or not the
petitioners could be found guilty under Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 8 or under Article 315, No. 2(d)
of the Revised Penal Code. 9

More specifically, what private respondents complained of in CR No. 1423-I is that the checks
issued by petitioners in their favor were dishonored for lack of funds upon due presentment to
the drawee bank. Undeniably, at the time of said dishonor, petitioners' obligation to pay private
respondents pursuant to the deed of sale, continued to subsist. And because petitioners' checks
were dishonored for lack of funds, petitioners are answerable under the law for the
consequences of their said acts. And even if CV No. 8769 were to be finally adjudged to the
effect that the said deed of sale should be annulled, such declararion would be of no material
importance in the determination of the guilt or innocence of petitioners-accused in CR No. 1423-
I.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The decision dated 23 September 1982 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-GR SP No. 14504 is hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Melencio-Herrera (Chairperson), Paras, Sarmiento and Regalado, JJ., concur.