SECOND DIVISION [G.R. No. 146322. December 6, 2006.]
ERNESTO RAMAS UYPITCHING and RAMAS UYPITCHING SONS, INC.
vs. ERNESTO QUIAMCO
D E C I S I O N
, J p: Honeste vivere, non alterum laedere et jus suum cuique tribuere. To live virtuously, not to injure others and to giveeveryone his due. These supreme norms of justice are the underlying principles of law and order in society. Wereaffirm them in this petition for review on certiorari assailing the July 26, 2000 decision
and October 18, 2000resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 47571. In 1982, respondent Ernesto C. Quiamco was approached by Juan Davalan,
Josefino Gabutero and Raul Generosoto amicably settle the civil aspect of a criminal case for robbery
filed by Quiamco against them. They surrenderedto him a red Honda XL-100 motorcycle and a photocopy of its certificate of registration. Respondent asked for theoriginal certificate of registration but the three accused never came to see him again. Meanwhile, the motorcycle wasparked in an open space inside respondent's business establishment, Avesco-AVNE Enterprises, where it was visibleand accessible to the public. It turned out that, in October 1981, the motorcycle had been sold on installment basis to Gabutero by petitionerRamas Uypitching Sons, Inc., a family-owned corporation managed by petitioner Atty. Ernesto Ramas Uypitching. Tosecure its payment, the motorcycle was mortgaged to petitioner corporation.
When Gabutero could no longer pay the installments, Davalan assumed the obligation and continued the payments.In September 1982, however, Davalan stopped paying the remaining installments and told petitioner corporation'scollector, Wilfredo Veraño, that the motorcycle had allegedly been "taken by respondent's men." Nine years later, on January 26, 1991, petitioner Uypitching, accompanied by policemen,
went to Avesco-AVNEEnterprises to recover the motorcycle. The leader of the police team, P/Lt. Arturo Vendiola, talked to the clerk incharge and asked for respondent. While P/Lt. Vendiola and the clerk were talking, petitioner Uypitching paced back and forth inside the establishment uttering "Quiamco is a thief of a motorcycle." On learning that respondent was not in Avesco-AVNE Enterprises, the policemen left to look for respondent in hisresidence while petitioner Uypitching stayed in the establishment to take photographs of the motorcycle. Unable tofind respondent, the policemen went back to Avesco-AVNE Enterprises and, on petitioner Uypitching's instruction andover the clerk's objection, took the motorcycle.EDIHSC On February 18, 1991, petitioner Uypitching filed a criminal complaint for qualified theft and/or violation of the Anti-Fencing Law
against respondent in the Office of the City Prosecutor of Dumaguete City.
Respondent moved fordismissal because the complaint did not charge an offense as he had neither stolen nor bought the motorcycle. TheOffice of the City Prosecutor dismissed the complaint
and denied petitioner Uypitching's subsequent motion forreconsideration. Respondent filed an action for damages against petitioners in the RTC of Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, Branch37.
He sought to hold the petitioners liable for the following: (1) unlawful taking of the motorcycle; (2) utteranceof a defamatory remark (that respondent was a thief) and (3) precipitate filing of a baseless and malicious complaint.These acts humiliated and embarrassed the respondent and injured his reputation and integrity. On July 30, 1994, the trial court rendered a decision
finding that petitioner Uypitching was motivated with maliceand ill will when he called respondent a thief, took the motorcycle in an abusive manner and filed a baselesscomplaint for qualified theft and/or violation of the Anti-Fencing Law. Petitioners' acts were found to be contrary to Articles 19
of the Civil Code. Hence, the trial court held petitioners liable to respondent for P500,000moral damages, P200,000 exemplary damages and P50,000 attorney's fees plus costs. Petitioners appealed the RTC decision but the CA affirmed the trial court's decision with modification, reducing theaward of moral and exemplary damages to P300,000 and P100,000, respectively.
Petitioners soughtreconsideration but it was denied. Thus, this petition. In their petition and memorandum, petitioners submit that the sole (allegedly) issue to be resolved here is whetherthe filing of a complaint for qualified theft and/or violation of the Anti-Fencing Law in the Office of the City