This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
G.R. No. L-48006 July 8, 1942
FAUSTO BARREDO, petitioner,
SEVERINO GARCIA and TIMOTEA ALMARIO, respondents.
Celedonio P. Gloria and Antonio Barredo for petitioner.
Jose G. Advincula for respondents.
This case comes up from the Court of Appeals which held the petitioner herein, Fausto Barredo,
liable in damages for the death of Faustino Garcia caused by the negligence of Pedro Fontanilla, a
taxi driver employed by said Fausto Barredo.
At about half past one in the morning of May 3, 1936, on the road between Malabon and Navotas,
Province of Rizal, there was a head-on collision between a taxi of the Malate Taxicab driven by
Pedro Fontanilla and a carretela guided by Pedro Dimapalis. The carretela was overturned, and
one of its passengers, 16-year-old boy Faustino Garcia, suffered injuries from which he died two
days later. A criminal action was filed against Fontanilla in the Court of First Instance of Rizal, and
he was convicted and sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of one year and one day to two
years of prision correccional. The court in the criminal case granted the petition that the right to
bring a separate civil action be reserved. The Court of Appeals affirmed the sentence of the lower
court in the criminal case. Severino Garcia and Timotea Almario, parents of the deceased on
March 7, 1939, brought an action in the Court of First Instance of Manila against Fausto Barredo as
the sole proprietor of the Malate Taxicab and employer of Pedro Fontanilla. On July 8, 1939, the
Court of First Instance of Manila awarded damages in favor of the plaintiffs for P2,000 plus legal
interest from the date of the complaint. This decision was modified by the Court of Appeals by
reducing the damages to P1,000 with legal interest from the time the action was instituted. It is
undisputed that Fontanilla 's negligence was the cause of the mishap, as he was driving on the
wrong side of the road, and at high speed. As to Barredo's responsibility, the Court of Appeals
... It is admitted that defendant is Fontanilla's employer. There is proof that he exercised the
diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damage. (See p. 22, appellant's brief.) In
fact it is shown he was careless in employing Fontanilla who had been caught several
times for violation of the Automobile Law and speeding (Exhibit A) — violation which
appeared in the records of the Bureau of Public Works available to be public and to himself.
Therefore, he must indemnify plaintiffs under the provisions of article 1903 of the Civil
The main theory of the defense is that the liability of Fausto Barredo is governed by the Revised
Penal Code; hence, his liability is only subsidiary, and as there has been no civil action against
Pedro Fontanilla, the person criminally liable, Barredo cannot be held responsible in the case. The
petitioner's brief states on page 10:
... The Court of Appeals holds that the petitioner is being sued for his failure to exercise all
the diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of Pedro
Fontanilla to prevent damages suffered by the respondents. In other words, The Court of
Appeals insists on applying in the case article 1903 of the Civil Code. Article 1903 of the
Civil Code is found in Chapter II, Title 16, Book IV of the Civil Code. This fact makes said
article to a civil liability arising from a crime as in the case at bar simply because Chapter II
of Title 16 of Book IV of the Civil Code, in the precise words of article 1903 of the Civil
Code itself, is applicable only to "those (obligations) arising from wrongful or negligent acts
or commission not punishable by law.
The gist of the decision of the Court of Appeals is expressed thus:
... We cannot agree to the defendant's contention. The liability sought to be imposed upon
him in this action is not a civil obligation arising from a felony or a misdemeanor (the crime
of Pedro Fontanilla,), but an obligation imposed in article 1903 of the Civil Code by reason
of his negligence in the selection or supervision of his servant or employee.
The pivotal question in this case is whether the plaintiffs may bring this separate civil action against
Fausto Barredo, thus making him primarily and directly, responsible under article 1903 of the Civil
Code as an employer of Pedro Fontanilla. The defendant maintains that Fontanilla's negligence
being punishable by the Penal Code, his (defendant's) liability as an employer is only subsidiary,
according to said Penal code, but Fontanilla has not been sued in a civil action and his property
has not been exhausted. To decide the main issue, we must cut through the tangle that has, in the
minds of many confused and jumbled together delitos and cuasi delitos, or crimes under the Penal
Code and fault or negligence under articles 1902-1910 of the Civil Code. This should be done,
because justice may be lost in a labyrinth, unless principles and remedies are distinctly envisaged.
Fortunately, we are aided in our inquiry by the luminous presentation of the perplexing subject by
renown jurists and we are likewise guided by the decisions of this Court in previous cases as well
as by the solemn clarity of the consideration in several sentences of the Supreme Tribunal of
Authorities support the proposition that a quasi-delict or "culpa aquiliana " is a separate legal
institution under the Civil Code with a substantivity all its own, and individuality that is entirely apart
and independent from delict or crime. Upon this principle and on the wording and spirit article 1903
of the Civil Code, the primary and direct responsibility of employers may be safely anchored.
The pertinent provisions of the Civil Code and Revised Penal Code are as follows:
ART. 1089 Obligations arise from law, from contracts and quasi-contracts, and from acts
and omissions which are unlawful or in which any kind of fault or negligence intervenes.
x x x x x x x x x
ART. 1092. Civil obligations arising from felonies or misdemeanors shall be governed by
the provisions of the Penal Code.
ART. 1093. Those which are derived from acts or omissions in which fault or negligence,
not punishable by law, intervenes shall be subject to the provisions of Chapter II, Title XVI
of this book.
x x x x x x x x x
ART 1902. Any person who by an act or omission causes damage to another by his fault or
negligence shall be liable for the damage so done.
ART. 1903. The obligation imposed by the next preceding article is enforcible, not only for
personal acts and omissions, but also for those of persons for whom another is
The father and in, case of his death or incapacity, the mother, are liable for any damages
caused by the minor children who live with them.
Guardians are liable for damages done by minors or incapacitated persons subject to their
authority and living with them.
Owners or directors of an establishment or business are equally liable for any damages
caused by their employees while engaged in the branch of the service in which employed,
or on occasion of the performance of their duties.
The State is subject to the same liability when it acts through a special agent, but not if the
damage shall have been caused by the official upon whom properly devolved the duty of
doing the act performed, in which case the provisions of the next preceding article shall be
Finally, teachers or directors of arts trades are liable for any damages caused by their
pupils or apprentices while they are under their custody.
The liability imposed by this article shall cease in case the persons mentioned therein prove
that they are exercised all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent the damage.
ART. 1904. Any person who pays for damage caused by his employees may recover from
the latter what he may have paid.
REVISED PENAL CODE
ART. 100. Civil liability of a person guilty of felony. — Every person criminally liable for a
felony is also civilly liable.
ART. 101. Rules regarding civil liability in certain cases. — The exemption from criminal
liability established in subdivisions 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 of article 12 and in subdivision 4 of
article 11 of this Code does not include exemption from civil liability, which shall be
enforced to the following rules:
First. In cases of subdivision, 1, 2 and 3 of article 12 the civil liability for acts committed by
any imbecile or insane person, and by a person under nine years of age, or by one over
nine but under fifteen years of age, who has acted without discernment shall devolve upon
those having such person under their legal authority or control, unless it appears that there
was no fault or negligence on their part.
Should there be no person having such insane, imbecile or minor under his authority, legal
guardianship, or control, or if such person be insolvent, said insane, imbecile, or minor shall
respond with their own property, excepting property exempt from execution, in accordance
with the civil law.
Second. In cases falling within subdivision 4 of article 11, the person for whose benefit the
harm has been prevented shall be civilly liable in proportion to the benefit which they may
The courts shall determine, in their sound discretion, the proportionate amount for which each one
shall be liable.
When the respective shares can not be equitably determined, even approximately, or when the
liability also attaches to the Government, or to the majority of the inhabitants of the town, and, in all
events, whenever the damage has been caused with the consent of the authorities or their agents,
indemnification shall be made in the manner prescribed by special laws or regulations.
Third. In cases falling within subdivisions 5 and 6 of article 12, the persons using violence or
causing the fear shall be primarily liable and secondarily, or, if there be no such persons, those
doing the act shall be liable, saving always to the latter that part of their property exempt from
ART. 102. Subsidiary civil liability of innkeepers, tavern keepers and proprietors of
establishment. — In default of persons criminally liable, innkeepers, tavern keepers, and
any other persons or corporation shall be civilly liable for crimes committed in their
establishments, in all cases where a violation of municipal ordinances or some general or
special police regulation shall have been committed by them or their employees.
Innkeepers are also subsidiarily liable for the restitution of goods taken by robbery or theft
within their houses lodging therein, or the person, or for the payment of the value thereof,
provided that such guests shall have notified in advance the innkeeper himself, or the
person representing him, of the deposit of such goods within the inn; and shall furthermore
have followed the directions which such innkeeper or his representative may have given
them with respect to the care of and vigilance over such goods. No liability shall attach in
case of robbery with violence against or intimidation against or intimidation of persons
unless committed by the innkeeper's employees.
ART. 103. Subsidiary civil liability of other persons. — The subsidiary liability established in
the next preceding article shall also apply to employers, teachers, persons, and
corporations engaged in any kind of industry for felonies committed by their servants,
pupils, workmen, apprentices, or employees in the discharge of their duties.
x x x x x x x x x
ART. 365. Imprudence and negligence. — Any person who, by reckless imprudence, shall
commit any act which, had it been intentional, would constitute a grave felony, shall suffer
the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum
period; if it would have constituted a less grave felony, the penalty of arresto mayor in its
minimum and medium periods shall be imposed.
Any person who, by simple imprudence or negligence, shall commit an act which would
otherwise constitute a grave felony, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor in its medium
and maximum periods; if it would have constituted a less serious felony, the penalty
of arresto mayor in its minimum period shall be imposed."
It will thus be seen that while the terms of articles 1902 of the Civil Code seem to be broad enough
to cover the driver's negligence in the instant case, nevertheless article 1093 limits cuasi-delitos to
acts or omissions "not punishable by law." But inasmuch as article 365 of the Revised Penal Code
punishes not only reckless but even simple imprudence or negligence, the fault or negligence
under article 1902 of the Civil Code has apparently been crowded out. It is this overlapping that
makes the "confusion worse confounded." However, a closer study shows that such a concurrence
of scope in regard to negligent acts does not destroy the distinction between the civil liability arising
from a crime and the responsibility for cuasi-delitos or culpa extra-contractual. The same negligent
act causing damages may produce civil liability arising from a crime under article 100 of the
Revised Penal Code, or create an action for cuasi-delito or culpa extra-contractual under articles
1902-1910 of the Civil Code.
The individuality of cuasi-delito or culpa extra-contractual looms clear and unmistakable. This legal
institution is of ancient lineage, one of its early ancestors being the Lex Aquilia in the Roman Law.
In fact, in Spanish legal terminology, this responsibility is often referred to as culpa aquiliana. The
Partidas also contributed to the genealogy of the present fault or negligence under the Civil Code;
for instance, Law 6, Title 15, of Partida 7, says: "Tenudo es de fazer emienda, porque, como quier
que el non fizo a sabiendas en daño al otro, pero acaescio por su culpa."
The distinctive nature of cuasi-delitos survives in the Civil Code. According to article 1089, one of
the five sources of obligations is this legal institution of cuasi-delito or culpa extra-contractual: "los
actos . . . en que intervenga cualquier genero de culpa o negligencia." Then article 1093 provides
that this kind of obligation shall be governed by Chapter II of Title XVI of Book IV, meaning articles
1902-0910. This portion of the Civil Code is exclusively devoted to the legal institution of culpa
Some of the differences between crimes under the Penal Code and the culpa aquiliana or cuasi-
delito under the Civil Code are:
1. That crimes affect the public interest, while cuasi-delitos are only of private concern.
2. That, consequently, the Penal Code punishes or corrects the criminal act, while the Civil Code,
by means of indemnification, merely repairs the damage.
3. That delicts are not as broad as quasi-delicts, because the former are punished only if there is a
penal law clearly covering them, while the latter, cuasi-delitos, include all acts in which "any king of
fault or negligence intervenes." However, it should be noted that not all violations of the penal law
produce civil responsibility, such as begging in contravention of ordinances, violation of the game
laws, infraction of the rules of traffic when nobody is hurt. (See Colin and Capitant, "Curso
Elemental de Derecho Civil," Vol. 3, p. 728.)
Let us now ascertain what some jurists say on the separate existence of quasi-delicts and the
employer's primary and direct liability under article 1903 of the Civil Code.
Dorado Montero in his essay on "Responsibilidad" in the "Enciclopedia Juridica Española" (Vol.
XXVII, p. 414) says:
El concepto juridico de la responsabilidad civil abarca diversos aspectos y comprende a
diferentes personas. Asi, existe una responsabilidad civil propiamente dicha, que en ningun
casl lleva aparejada responsabilidad criminal alguna, y otra que es consecuencia
indeclinable de la penal que nace de todo delito o falta."
The juridical concept of civil responsibility has various aspects and comprises different
persons. Thus, there is a civil responsibility, properly speaking, which in no case carries
with it any criminal responsibility, and another which is a necessary consequence of the
penal liability as a result of every felony or misdemeanor."
Maura, an outstanding authority, was consulted on the following case: There had been a collision
between two trains belonging respectively to the Ferrocarril Cantabrico and the Ferrocarril del
Norte. An employee of the latter had been prosecuted in a criminal case, in which the company
had been made a party as subsidiarily responsible in civil damages. The employee had been
acquitted in the criminal case, and the employer, the Ferrocarril del Norte, had also been
exonerated. The question asked was whether the Ferrocarril Cantabrico could still bring a civil
action for damages against the Ferrocarril del Norte. Maura's opinion was in the affirmative, stating
in part (Maura, Dictamenes, Vol. 6, pp. 511-513):
Quedando las cosas asi, a proposito de la realidad pura y neta de los hechos, todavia
menos parece sostenible que exista cosa juzgada acerca de la obligacion civil de
indemnizar los quebrantos y menoscabos inferidos por el choque de los trenes. El titulo en
que se funda la accion para demandar el resarcimiento, no puede confundirse con las
responsabilidades civiles nacidas de delito, siquiera exista en este, sea el cual sea,
una culpa rodeada de notas agravatorias que motivan sanciones penales, mas o menos
severas. La lesion causada por delito o falta en los derechos civiles, requiere restituciones,
reparaciones o indemnizaciones, que cual la pena misma atañen al orden publico; por tal
motivo vienen encomendadas, de ordinario, al Ministerio Fiscal; y claro es que si por esta
via se enmiendan los quebrantos y menoscabos, el agraviado excusa procurar el ya
conseguido desagravio; pero esta eventual coincidencia de los efectos, no borra la
diversidad originaria de las acciones civiles para pedir indemnizacion.
Estas, para el caso actual (prescindiendo de culpas contractuales, que no vendrian a
cuento y que tiene otro regimen), dimanan, segun el articulo 1902 del Codigo Civil, de toda
accion u omision, causante de daños o perjuicios, en que intervenga culpa o negligencia.
Es trivial que acciones semejantes son ejercitadas ante los Tribunales de lo civil
cotidianamente, sin que la Justicia punitiva tenga que mezclarse en los asuntos. Los
articulos 18 al 21 y 121 al 128 del Codigo Penal, atentos al espiritu y a los fines sociales y
politicos del mismo, desenvuelven y ordenan la materia de responsabilidades
civiles nacidas de delito, en terminos separados del regimen por ley comun de la culpa que
se denomina aquiliana, por alusion a precedentes legislativos del Corpus Juris. Seria
intempestivo un paralelo entre aquellas ordenaciones, y la de la obligacion de indemnizar a
titulo de culpa civil; pero viene al caso y es necesaria una de las diferenciaciones que en el
tal paralelo se notarian.
Los articulos 20 y 21 del Codigo Penal, despues de distribuir a su modo las
responsabilidades civiles, entre los que sean por diversos conceptos culpables del delito o
falta, las hacen extensivas a las empresas y los establecimientos al servicio de los cuales
estan los delincuentes; pero con caracter subsidiario, o sea, segun el texto literal, en
defecto de los que sean responsables criminalmente. No coincide en ello el Codigo Civil,
cuyo articulo 1903, dice; La obligacion que impone el articulo anterior es exigible, no solo
por los actos y omisiones propios, sino por los de aquellas personas de quienes se debe
responder; personas en la enumeracion de las cuales figuran los dependientes y
empleados de los establecimientos o empresas, sea por actos del servicio, sea con
ocasion de sus funciones. Por esto acontece, y se observa en la jurisprudencia, que las
empresas, despues de intervenir en las causas criminales con el caracter subsidiario de su
responsabilidad civil por razon del delito, son demandadas y condenadas directa y
aisladamente, cuando se trata de la obligacion, ante los tribunales civiles.
Siendo como se ve, diverso el titulo de esta obligacion, y formando verdadero postulado de
nuestro regimen judicial la separacion entre justicia punitiva y tribunales de lo civil, de
suerte que tienen unos y otros normas de fondo en distintos cuerpos legales, y diferentes
modos de proceder, habiendose, por añadidura, abstenido de asistir al juicio criminal la
Compañia del Ferrocarril Cantabrico, que se reservo ejercitar sus acciones, parece
innegable que la de indemnizacion por los daños y perjuicios que le irrogo el choque, no
estuvo sub judice ante el Tribunal del Jurado, ni fue sentenciada, sino que permanecio
intacta, al pronunciarse el fallo de 21 de marzo. Aun cuando el veredicto no hubiese sido
de inculpabilidad, mostrose mas arriba, que tal accion quedaba legitimamente reservada
para despues del proceso; pero al declararse que no existio delito, ni responsabilidad
dimanada de delito, materia unica sobre que tenian jurisdiccion aquellos juzgadores, se
redobla el motivo para la obligacion civil ex lege, y se patentiza mas y mas que la accion
para pedir su cumplimiento permanece incolume, extraña a la cosa juzgada.
As things are, apropos of the reality pure and simple of the facts, it seems less tenable that
there should beres judicata with regard to the civil obligation for damages on account of the
losses caused by the collision of the trains. The title upon which the action for reparation is
based cannot be confused with the civil responsibilities born of a crime, because there
exists in the latter, whatever each nature, a culpasurrounded with aggravating aspects
which give rise to penal measures that are more or less severe. The injury caused by a
felony or misdemeanor upon civil rights requires restitutions, reparations, or
indemnifications which, like the penalty itself, affect public order; for this reason, they are
ordinarily entrusted to the office of the prosecuting attorney; and it is clear that if by this
means the losses and damages are repaired, the injured party no longer desires to seek
another relief; but this coincidence of effects does not eliminate the peculiar nature of civil
actions to ask for indemnity.
Such civil actions in the present case (without referring to contractual faults which are not
pertinent and belong to another scope) are derived, according to article 1902 of the Civil
Code, from every act or omission causing losses and damages in which culpa or
negligence intervenes. It is unimportant that such actions are every day filed before the civil
courts without the criminal courts interfering therewith. Articles 18 to 21 and 121 to 128 of
the Penal Code, bearing in mind the spirit and the social and political purposes of that
Code, develop and regulate the matter of civil responsibilities arising from a crime,
separately from the regime under common law, of culpa which is known as aquiliana, in
accordance with legislative precedent of the Corpus Juris. It would be unwarranted to make
a detailed comparison between the former provisions and that regarding the obligation to
indemnify on account of civil culpa; but it is pertinent and necessary to point out to one of
Articles 20 and 21 of the Penal Code, after distriburing in their own way the civil
responsibilities among those who, for different reasons, are guilty of felony or
misdemeanor, make such civil responsibilities applicable to enterprises and establishments
for which the guilty parties render service, but with subsidiary character, that is to say,
according to the wording of the Penal Code, in default of those who are criminally
responsible. In this regard, the Civil Code does not coincide because article 1903 says:
"The obligation imposed by the next preceding article is demandable, not only for personal
acts and omissions, but also for those of persons for whom another is responsible." Among
the persons enumerated are the subordinates and employees of establishments or
enterprises, either for acts during their service or on the occasion of their functions. It is for
this reason that it happens, and it is so observed in judicial decisions, that the companies or
enterprises, after taking part in the criminal cases because of their subsidiary civil
responsibility by reason of the crime, are sued and sentenced directly and separately with
regard to theobligation, before the civil courts.
Seeing that the title of this obligation is different, and the separation between punitive
justice and the civil courts being a true postulate of our judicial system, so that they have
different fundamental norms in different codes, as well as different modes of procedure,
and inasmuch as the Compaña del Ferrocarril Cantabrico has abstained from taking part in
the criminal case and has reserved the right to exercise its actions, it seems undeniable
that the action for indemnification for the losses and damages caused to it by the collision
was not sub judice before the Tribunal del Jurado, nor was it the subject of a sentence, but
it remained intact when the decision of March 21 was rendered. Even if the verdict had not
been that of acquittal, it has already been shown that such action had been legitimately
reserved till after the criminal prosecution; but because of the declaration of the non-
existence of the felony and the non-existence of the responsibility arising from the crime,
which was the sole subject matter upon which the Tribunal del Juradohad jurisdiction, there
is greater reason for the civil obligation ex lege, and it becomes clearer that the action for
its enforcement remain intact and is not res judicata.
Laurent, a jurist who has written a monumental work on the French Civil Code, on which the
Spanish Civil Code is largely based and whose provisions on cuasi-delito or culpa extra-
contractual are similar to those of the Spanish Civil Code, says, referring to article 1384 of the
French Civil Code which corresponds to article 1903, Spanish Civil Code:
The action can be brought directly against the person responsible (for another), without
including the author of the act. The action against the principal is accessory in the sense
that it implies the existence of a prejudicial act committed by the employee, but it is not
subsidiary in the sense that it can not be instituted till after the judgment against the author
of the act or at least, that it is subsidiary to the principal action; the action for responsibility
(of the employer) is in itself a principal action. (Laurent, Principles of French Civil Law,
Spanish translation, Vol. 20, pp. 734-735.)
Amandi, in his "Cuestionario del Codigo Civil Reformado" (Vol. 4, pp. 429, 430), declares that the
responsibility of the employer is principal and not subsidiary. He writes:
Cuestion 1. La responsabilidad declarada en el articulo 1903 por las acciones u omisiones
de aquellas personas por las que se debe responder, es subsidiaria? es principal? Para
contestar a esta pregunta es necesario saber, en primer lugar, en que se funda el precepto
legal. Es que realmente se impone una responsabilidad por una falta ajena? Asi parece a
primera vista; pero semejante afirmacion seria contraria a la justicia y a la maxima
universal, segun la que las faltas son personales, y cada uno responde de aquellas que le
son imputables. La responsabilidad de que tratamos se impone con ocasion de un delito o
culpa, pero no por causa de ellos, sino por causa del causi delito, esto es, de la
imprudencia o de la negligencia del padre, del tutor, del dueño o director del
establecimiento, del maestro, etc. Cuando cualquiera de las personas que enumera el
articulo citado (menores de edad, incapacitados, dependientes, aprendices) causan un
daño, la ley presume que el padre, el tutor, el maestro, etc., han cometido una falta de
negligencia para prevenir o evitar el daño. Esta falta es la que la ley castiga. No hay, pues,
responsabilidad por un hecho ajeno, sino en la apariencia; en realidad la responsabilidad
se exige por un hecho propio. La idea de que esa responsabilidad sea subsidiaria es, por
lo tanto, completamente inadmisible.
Question No. 1. Is the responsibility declared in article 1903 for the acts or omissions of
those persons for who one is responsible, subsidiary or principal? In order to answer this
question it is necessary to know, in the first place, on what the legal provision is based. Is it
true that there is a responsibility for the fault of another person? It seems so at first si ght;
but such assertion would be contrary to justice and to the universal maxim that all faults are
personal, and that everyone is liable for those faults that can be imputed to him. The
responsibility in question is imposed on the occasion of a crime or fault, but not because of
the same, but because of the cuasi-delito, that is to say, the imprudence or negligence of
the father, guardian, proprietor or manager of the establishment, of the teacher, etc.
Whenever anyone of the persons enumerated in the article referred to (minors,
incapacitated persons, employees, apprentices) causes any damage, the law presumes
that the father, guardian, teacher, etc. have committed an act of negligence in not
preventing or avoiding the damage. It is this fault that is condemned by the law. It is,
therefore, only apparent that there is a responsibility for the act of another; in reality the
responsibility exacted is for one's own act. The idea that such responsibility is subsidiary is,
therefore, completely inadmissible.
Oyuelos, in his "Digesto: Principios, Doctrina y Jurisprudencia, Referentes al Codigo Civil
Español," says in Vol. VII, p. 743:
Es decir, no responde de hechos ajenos, porque se responde solo de su propia culpa,
doctrina del articulo 1902; mas por excepcion, se responde de la ajena respecto de
aquellas personas con las que media algun nexo o vinculo, que motiva o razona la
responsabilidad. Esta responsabilidad, es directa o es subsidiaria? En el orden penal, el
Codigo de esta clase distingue entre menores e incapacitados y los demas, declarando
directa la primera (articulo 19) y subsidiaria la segunda (articulos 20 y 21); pero en el orden
civil, en el caso del articulo 1903, ha de entenderse directa, por el tenor del articulo que
impone la responsabilidad precisamente "por los actos de aquellas personas de quienes se
That is to say, one is not responsible for the acts of others, because one is liable only for
his own faults, this being the doctrine of article 1902; but, by exception, one is liable for the
acts of those persons with whom there is a bond or tie which gives rise to the responsibility.
Is this responsibility direct or subsidiary? In the order of the penal law, the Penal Code
distinguishes between minors and incapacitated persons on the one hand, and other
persons on the other, declaring that the responsibility for the former is direct (article 19),
and for the latter, subsidiary (articles 20 and 21); but in the scheme of the civil law, in the
case of article 1903, the responsibility should be understood as direct, according to the
tenor of that articles, for precisely it imposes responsibility "for the acts of those persons for
whom one should be responsible."
Coming now to the sentences of the Supreme Tribunal of Spain, that court has upheld the
principles above set forth: that a quasi-delict or culpa extra-contractual is a separate and distinct
legal institution, independent from the civil responsibility arising from criminal liability, and that an
employer is, under article 1903 of the Civil Code, primarily and directly responsible for the negligent
acts of his employee.
One of the most important of those Spanish decisions is that of October 21, 1910. In that case,
Ramon Lafuente died as the result of having been run over by a street car owned by the "compañia
Electric Madrileña de Traccion." The conductor was prosecuted in a criminal case but he was
acquitted. Thereupon, the widow filed a civil action against the street car company, paying for
damages in the amount of 15,000 pesetas. The lower court awarded damages; so the company
appealed to the Supreme Tribunal, alleging violation of articles 1902 and 1903 of the Civil Code
because by final judgment the non-existence of fault or negligence had been declared. The
Supreme Court of Spain dismissed the appeal, saying:
Considerando que el primer motivo del recurso se funda en el equivocado supuesto de que
el Tribunal a quo, al condonar a la compañia Electrica Madrileña al pago del daño causado
con la muerte de Ramon La fuente Izquierdo, desconoce el valor y efectos juridicos de la
sentencia absolutoria deictada en la causa criminal que se siguio por el mismo hecho,
cuando es lo cierto que de este han conocido las dos jurisdicciones bajo diferentes as
pectos, y como la de lo criminal declrao dentro de los limites de su competencia que el
hecho de que se trata no era constitutivo de delito por no haber mediado descuido o
negligencia graves, lo que no excluye, siendo este el unico fundamento del fallo
absolutorio, el concurso de la culpa o negligencia no califacadas, fuente de obligaciones
civiles segun el articulo 1902 del Codigo, y que alcanzan, segun el 1903, netre otras
perosnas, a los Directores de establecimientos o empresas por los daños causados por
sus dependientes en determinadas condiciones, es manifesto que la de lo civil, al conocer
del mismo hehco baho este ultimo aspecto y al condenar a la compañia recurrente a la
indemnizacion del daño causado por uno de sus empleados, lejos de infringer los
mencionados textos, en relacion con el articulo 116 de la Ley de Enjuciamiento Criminal,
se ha atenido estrictamente a ellos, sin invadir atribuciones ajenas a su jurisdiccion propia,
ni contrariar en lo mas minimo el fallo recaido en la causa.
Considering that the first ground of the appeal is based on the mistaken supposition that
the trial court, in sentencing the Compañia Madrileña to the payment of the damage caused
by the death of Ramon Lafuente Izquierdo, disregards the value and juridical effects of the
sentence of acquittal rendered in the criminal case instituted on account of the same act,
when it is a fact that the two jurisdictions had taken cognizance of the same act in its
different aspects, and as the criminal jurisdiction declared within the limits of its authority
that the act in question did not constitute a felony because there was no grave
carelessness or negligence, and this being the only basis of acquittal, it does no exclude
the co-existence of fault or negligence which is not qualified, and is a source of civil
obligations according to article 1902 of the Civil Code, affecting, in accordance with article
1903, among other persons, the managers of establishments or enterprises by reason of
the damages caused by employees under certain conditions, it is manifest that the civil
jurisdiccion in taking cognizance of the same act in this latter aspect and in ordering the
company, appellant herein, to pay an indemnity for the damage caused by one of its
employees, far from violating said legal provisions, in relation with article 116 of the Law of
Criminal Procedure, strictly followed the same, without invading attributes which are beyond
its own jurisdiction, and without in any way contradicting the decision in that cause.
It will be noted, as to the case just cited:
First. That the conductor was not sued in a civil case, either separately or with the street car
company. This is precisely what happens in the present case: the driver, Fontanilla, has not been
sued in a civil action, either alone or with his employer.
Second. That the conductor had been acquitted of grave criminal negligence, but the Supreme
Tribunal of Spain said that this did not exclude the co-existence of fault or negligence, which is not
qualified, on the part of the conductor, under article 1902 of the Civil Code. In the present case, the
taxi driver was found guilty of criminal negligence, so that if he had even sued for his civil
responsibility arising from the crime, he would have been held primarily liable for civil damages,
and Barredo would have been held subsidiarily liable for the same. But the plaintiffs are directly
suing Barredo, on his primary responsibility because of his own presumed negligence — which he
did not overcome — under article 1903. Thus, there were two liabilities of Barredo: first, the
subsidiary one because of the civil liability of the taxi driver arising from the latter's criminal
negligence; and, second, Barredo's primary liability as an employer under article 1903. The
plaintiffs were free to choose which course to take, and they preferred the second remedy. In so
doing, they were acting within their rights. It might be observed in passing, that the plaintiff choose
the more expeditious and effective method of relief, because Fontanilla was either in prison, or had
just been released, and besides, he was probably without property which might be seized in
enforcing any judgment against him for damages.
Third. That inasmuch as in the above sentence of October 21, 1910, the employer was held liable
civilly, notwithstanding the acquittal of the employee (the conductor) in a previous criminal case,
with greater reason should Barredo, the employer in the case at bar, be held liable for damages in
a civil suit filed against him because his taxi driver had been convicted. The degree of negligence
of the conductor in the Spanish case cited was less than that of the taxi driver, Fontanilla, because
the former was acquitted in the previous criminal case while the latter was found guilty of criminal
negligence and was sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of one year and one day to two years
of prision correccional.
(See also Sentence of February 19, 1902, which is similar to the one above quoted.)
In the Sentence of the Supreme Court of Spain, dated February 14, 1919, an action was brought
against a railroad company for damages because the station agent, employed by the company,
had unjustly andfraudulently, refused to deliver certain articles consigned to the plaintiff. The
Supreme Court of Spain held that this action was properly under article 1902 of the Civil Code, the
Considerando que la sentencia discutida reconoce, en virtud de los hechos que consigna
con relacion a las pruebas del pleito: 1.º, que las expediciones facturadas por la compañia
ferroviaria a la consignacion del actor de las vasijas vacias que en su demanda relacionan
tenian como fin el que este las devolviera a sus remitentes con vinos y alcoholes; 2.º, que
llegadas a su destino tales mercanias no se quisieron entregar a dicho consignatario por el
jefe de la estacion sin motivo justificado y con intencion dolosa, y 3.º, que la falta de
entrega de estas expediciones al tiempo de reclamarlas el demandante le originaron daños
y perjuicios en cantidad de bastante importancia como expendedor al por mayor que era
de vinos y alcoholes por las ganancias que dejo de obtener al verse privado de servir los
pedidos que se le habian hecho por los remitentes en los envases:
Considerando que sobre esta base hay necesidad de estimar los cuatro motivos que
integran este recurso, porque la demanda inicial del pleito a que se contrae no contiene
accion que nazca del incumplimiento del contrato de transporte, toda vez que no se funda
en el retraso de la llegada de las mercancias ni de ningun otro vinculo contractual entre las
partes contendientes, careciendo, por tanto, de aplicacion el articulo 371 del Codigo de
Comercio, en que principalmente descansa el fallo recurrido, sino que se limita a pedir la
reparaction de los daños y perjuicios producidos en el patrimonio del actor por la
injustificada y dolosa negativa del porteador a la entrega de las mercancias a su nombre
consignadas, segun lo reconoce la sentencia, y cuya responsabilidad esta claramente
sancionada en el articulo 1902 del Codigo Civil, que obliga por el siguiente a la Compañia
demandada como ligada con el causante de aquellos por relaciones de caracter
economico y de jurarquia administrativa.
Considering that the sentence, in question recognizes, in virtue of the facts which it
declares, in relation to the evidence in the case: (1) that the invoice issued by the railroad
company in favor of the plaintiff contemplated that the empty receptacles referred to in the
complaint should be returned to the consignors with wines and liquors; (2) that when the
said merchandise reached their destination, their delivery to the consignee was refused by
the station agent without justification and with fraudulent intent, and (3) that the lack of
delivery of these goods when they were demanded by the plaintiff caused him losses and
damages of considerable importance, as he was a wholesale vendor of wines and liquors
and he failed to realize the profits when he was unable to fill the orders sent to him by the
consignors of the receptacles:
Considering that upon this basis there is need of upholding the four assignments of error,
as the original complaint did not contain any cause of action arising from non-fulfillment of a
contract of transportation, because the action was not based on the delay of the goods nor
on any contractual relation between the parties litigant and, therefore, article 371 of the
Code of Commerce, on which the decision appealed from is based, is not applicable; but it
limits to asking for reparation for losses and damages produced on the patrimony of the
plaintiff on account of the unjustified and fraudulent refusal of the carrier to deliver the
goods consigned to the plaintiff as stated by the sentence, and the carrier's responsibility is
clearly laid down in article 1902 of the Civil Code which binds, in virtue of the next article,
the defendant company, because the latter is connected with the person who caused the
damage by relations of economic character and by administrative hierarchy. (Emphasis
The above case is pertinent because it shows that the same act may come under both the Penal
Code and the Civil Code. In that case, the action of the agent was unjustified and fraudulent and
therefore could have been the subject of a criminal action. And yet, it was held to be also a proper
subject of a civil action under article 1902 of the Civil Code. It is also to be noted that it was the
employer and not the employee who was being sued.
Let us now examine the cases previously decided by this Court.
In the leading case of Rakes vs. Atlantic Gulf and Pacific Co. (7 Phil., 359, 362-365 [year 1907]),
the trial court awarded damages to the plaintiff, a laborer of the defendant, because the latter had
negligently failed to repair a tramway in consequence of which the rails slid off while iron was being
transported, and caught the plaintiff whose leg was broken. This Court held:
It is contended by the defendant, as its first defense to the action that the necessary
conclusion from these collated laws is that the remedy for injuries through negligence lies
only in a criminal action in which the official criminally responsible must be made primarily
liable and his employer held only subsidiarily to him. According to this theory the plaintiff
should have procured the arrest of the representative of the company accountable for not
repairing the track, and on his prosecution a suitable fine should have been imposed,
payable primarily by him and secondarily by his employer.
This reasoning misconceived the plan of the Spanish codes upon this subject. Article 1093
of the Civil Code makes obligations arising from faults or negligence not punished by the
law, subject to the provisions of Chapter II of Title XVI. Section 1902 of that chapter reads:
"A person who by an act or omission causes damage to another when there is fault
or negligence shall be obliged to repair the damage so done.
"SEC. 1903. The obligation imposed by the preceeding article is demandable, not
only for personal acts and omissions, but also for those of the persons for whom
they should be responsible.
"The father, and on his death or incapacity, the mother, is liable for the damages
caused by the minors who live with them.
x x x x x x x x x
"Owners or directors of an establishment or enterprise are equally liable for the
damages caused by their employees in the service of the branches in which the
latter may be employed or in the performance of their duties.
x x x x x x x x x
"The liability referred to in this article shall cease when the persons mentioned
therein prove that they employed all the diligence of a good father of a family to
avoid the damage."
As an answer to the argument urged in this particular action it may be sufficient to point out
that nowhere in our general statutes is the employer penalized for failure to provide or
maintain safe appliances for his workmen. His obligation therefore is one 'not punished by
the laws' and falls under civil rather than criminal jurisprudence. But the answer may be a
broader one. We should be reluctant, under any conditions, to adopt a forced construction
of these scientific codes, such as is proposed by the defendant, that would rob some of
these articles of effect, would shut out litigants against their will from the civil courts, would
make the assertion of their rights dependent upon the selection for prosecution of the
proper criminal offender, and render recovery doubtful by reason of the strict rules of proof
prevailing in criminal actions. Even if these articles had always stood alone, such a
construction would be unnecessary, but clear light is thrown upon their meaning by the
provisions of the Law of Criminal Procedure of Spain (Ley de Enjuiciamiento Criminal),
which, though never in actual force in these Islands, was formerly given a suppletory or
explanatory effect. Under article 111 of this law, both classes of action, civil and criminal,
might be prosecuted jointly or separately, but while the penal action was pending the civil
was suspended. According to article 112, the penal action once started, the civil remedy
should be sought therewith, unless it had been waived by the party injured or been
expressly reserved by him for civil proceedings for the future. If the civil action alone was
prosecuted, arising out of a crime that could be enforced only on private complaint, the
penal action thereunder should be extinguished. These provisions are in harmony with
those of articles 23 and 133 of our Penal Code on the same subject.
An examination of this topic might be carried much further, but the citation of these articles
suffices to show that the civil liability was not intended to be merged in the criminal nor
even to be suspended thereby, except as expressly provided in the law. Where an
individual is civilly liable for a negligent act or omission, it is not required that the injured
party should seek out a third person criminally liable whose prosecution must be a
condition precedent to the enforcement of the civil right.
Under article 20 of the Penal Code the responsibility of an employer may be regarded as
subsidiary in respect of criminal actions against his employees only while they are in
process of prosecution, or in so far as they determine the existence of the criminal act from
which liability arises, and his obligation under the civil law and its enforcement in the civil
courts is not barred thereby unless by the election of the injured person. Inasmuch as no
criminal proceeding had been instituted, growing our of the accident in question, the
provisions of the Penal Code can not affect this action. This construction renders it
unnecessary to finally determine here whether this subsidiary civil liability in penal actions
has survived the laws that fully regulated it or has been abrogated by the American civil
and criminal procedure now in force in the Philippines.
The difficulty in construing the articles of the code above cited in this case appears from the
briefs before us to have arisen from the interpretation of the words of article 1093, "fault or
negligence not punished by law," as applied to the comprehensive definition of offenses in
articles 568 and 590 of the Penal Code. It has been shown that the liability of an employer
arising out of his relation to his employee who is the offender is not to be regarded as
derived from negligence punished by the law, within the meaning of articles 1902 and 1093.
More than this, however, it cannot be said to fall within the class of acts unpunished by the
law, the consequence of which are regulated by articles 1902 and 1903 of the Civil Code.
The acts to which these articles are applicable are understood to be those not growing out
of pre-existing duties of the parties to one another. But where relations already formed give
rise to duties, whether springing from contract or quasi contract, then breaches of those
duties are subject to articles 1101, 1103, and 1104 of the same code. A typical application
of this distinction may be found in the consequences of a railway accident due to defective
machinery supplied by the employer. His liability to his employee would arise out of the
contract of employment, that to the passengers out of the contract for passage, while that
to the injured bystander would originate in the negligent act itself.
In Manzanares vs. Moreta, 38 Phil., 821 (year 1918), the mother of the 8 of 9-year-old child
Salvador Bona brought a civil action against Moreta to recover damages resulting from the death of
the child, who had been run over by an automobile driven and managed by the defendant. The trial
court rendered judgment requiring the defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of P1,000 as
indemnity: This Court in affirming the judgment, said in part:
If it were true that the defendant, in coming from the southern part of Solana Street, had to
stop his auto before crossing Real Street, because he had met vehicles which were going
along the latter street or were coming from the opposite direction along Solana Street, it is
to be believed that, when he again started to run his auto across said Real Street and to
continue its way along Solana Street northward, he should have adjusted the speed of the
auto which he was operating until he had fully crossed Real Street and had completely
reached a clear way on Solana Street. But, as the child was run over by the auto precisely
at the entrance of Solana Street, this accident could not have occurred if the auto had been
running at a slow speed, aside from the fact that the defendant, at the moment of crossing
Real Street and entering Solana Street, in a northward direction, could have seen the child
in the act of crossing the latter street from the sidewalk on the right to that on the left, and if
the accident had occurred in such a way that after the automobile had run over the body of
the child, and the child's body had already been stretched out on the ground, the
automobile still moved along a distance of about 2 meters, this circumstance shows the fact
that the automobile entered Solana Street from Real Street, at a high speed without the
defendant having blown the horn. If these precautions had been taken by the defendant,
the deplorable accident which caused the death of the child would not have occurred.
It will be noticed that the defendant in the above case could have been prosecuted in a criminal
case because his negligence causing the death of the child was punishable by the Penal Code.
Here is therefore a clear instance of the same act of negligence being a proper subject-matter
either of a criminal action with its consequent civil liability arising from a crime or of an entirely
separate and independent civil action for fault or negligence under article 1902 of the Civil Code.
Thus, in this jurisdiction, the separate individually of a cuasi-delito or culpa aquiliana under the Civil
Code has been fully and clearly recognized, even with regard to a negligent act for which the
wrongdoer could have been prosecuted and convicted in a criminal case and for which, after such
a conviction, he could have been sued for this civil liability arising from his crime.
Years later (in 1930) this Court had another occasion to apply the same doctrine. In Bernal and
Enverso vs. House and Tacloban Electric & Ice Plant, Ltd., 54 Phil., 327, the parents of the five-
year-old child, Purificacion Bernal, brought a civil action to recover damages for the child's death as
a result of burns caused by the fault and negligence of the defendants. On the evening of April 10,
1925, the Good Friday procession was held in Tacloban, Leyte. Fortunata Enverso with her
daughter Purificacion Bernal had come from another municipality to attend the same. After the
procession the mother and the daughter with two others were passing along Gran Capitan Street in
front of the offices of the Tacloban Electric & Ice Plant, Ltd., owned by defendants J. V. House,
when an automobile appeared from the opposite direction. The little girl, who was slightly ahead of
the rest, was so frightened by the automobile that she turned to run, but unfortunately she fell into
the street gutter where hot water from the electric plant was flowing. The child died that same night
from the burns. The trial courts dismissed the action because of the contributory negligence of the
plaintiffs. But this Court held, on appeal, that there was no contributory negligence, and allowed the
parents P1,000 in damages from J. V. House who at the time of the tragic occurrence was the
holder of the franchise for the electric plant. This Court said in part:
Although the trial judge made the findings of fact hereinbefore outlined, he nevertheless
was led to order the dismissal of the action because of the contributory negligence of the
plaintiffs. It is from this point that a majority of the court depart from the stand taken by the
trial judge. The mother and her child had a perfect right to be on the principal street of
Tacloban, Leyte, on the evening when the religious procession was held. There was
nothing abnormal in allowing the child to run along a few paces in advance of the mother.
No one could foresee the coincidence of an automobile appearing and of a frightened child
running and falling into a ditch filled with hot water. The doctrine announced in the much
debated case of Rakes vs. Atlantic Gulf and Pacific Co. (), 7 Phil., 359), still rule.
Article 1902 of the Civil Code must again be enforced. The contributory negligence of the
child and her mother, if any, does not operate as a bar to recovery, but in its strictest sense
could only result in reduction of the damages.
It is most significant that in the case just cited, this Court specifically applied article 1902 of the Civil
Code. It is thus that although J. V. House could have been criminally prosecuted for reckless or
simple negligence and not only punished but also made civilly liable because of his criminal
negligence, nevertheless this Court awarded damages in an independent civil action for fault or
negligence under article 1902 of the Civil Code.
In Bahia vs. Litonjua and Leynes (30 Phil., 624 [year 1915), the action was for damages for the
death of the plaintiff's daughter alleged to have been caused by the negligence of the servant in
driving an automobile over the child. It appeared that the cause of the mishap was a defect in the
steering gear. The defendant Leynes had rented the automobile from the International Garage of
Manila, to be used by him in carrying passengers during the fiesta of Tuy, Batangas. Leynes was
ordered by the lower court to pay P1,000 as damages to the plaintiff. On appeal this Court
reversed the judgment as to Leynes on the ground that he had shown that the exercised the care
of a good father of a family, thus overcoming the presumption of negligence under article 1903.
This Court said:
As to selection, the defendant has clearly shown that he exercised the care and diligence of
a good father of a family. He obtained the machine from a reputable garage and it was, so
far as appeared, in good condition. The workmen were likewise selected from a standard
garage, were duly licensed by the Government in their particular calling, and apparently
thoroughly competent. The machine had been used but a few hours when the accident
occurred and it is clear from the evidence that the defendant had no notice, either actual or
constructive, of the defective condition of the steering gear.
The legal aspect of the case was discussed by this Court thus:
Article 1903 of the Civil Code not only establishes liability in cases of negligence, but also
provides when the liability shall cease. It says:
"The liability referred to in this article shall cease when the persons mentioned
therein prove that they employed all the diligence of a good father of a family to
avoid the damage."
From this article two things are apparent: (1) That when an injury is caused by the
negligence of a servant or employee there instantly arises a presumption of law that there
was negligence on the part of the matter or employer either in the selection of the servant
or employee, or in supervision over him after the selection, or both; and (2) that
presumption is juris tantum and not juris et de jure, and consequently, may be rebutted. It
follows necessarily that if the employer shows to the satisfaction of the court that in
selection and supervision he has exercised the care and diligence of a good father of a
family, the presumption is overcome and he is relieve from liability.
This theory bases the responsibility of the master ultimately on his own negligence and not
on that of his servant.
The doctrine of the case just cited was followed by this Court in Cerf vs. Medel (33 Phil., 37 [year
1915]). In the latter case, the complaint alleged that the defendant's servant had so negligently
driven an automobile, which was operated by defendant as a public vehicle, that said automobile
struck and damaged the plaintiff's motorcycle. This Court, applying article 1903 and following the
rule in Bahia vs. Litonjua and Leynes, said in part (p. 41) that:
The master is liable for the negligent acts of his servant where he is the owner or director of
a business or enterprise and the negligent acts are committed while the servant is engaged
in his master's employment as such owner.
Another case which followed the decision in Bahia vs. Litonjua and Leynes was Cuison vs. Norton
& Harrison Co., 55 Phil., 18 (year 1930). The latter case was an action for damages brought by
Cuison for the death of his seven-year-old son Moises. The little boy was on his way to school with
his sister Marciana. Some large pieces of lumber fell from a truck and pinned the boy underneath,
instantly killing him. Two youths, Telesforo Binoya and Francisco Bautista, who were working for
Ora, an employee of defendant Norton & Harrison Co., pleaded guilty to the crime of homicide
through reckless negligence and were sentenced accordingly. This Court, applying articles 1902
and 1903, held:
The basis of civil law liability is not respondent superior but the relationship of pater
familias. This theory bases the liability of the master ultimately on his own negligence and
not on that of his servant. (Bahia vs.Litonjua and Leynes , 30 Phil., 624; Cangco vs.
Manila Railroad Co. , 38 Phil., 768.)
In Walter A. Smith & Co. vs. Cadwallader Gibson Lumber Co., 55 Phil., 517 (year 1930) the plaintiff
brought an action for damages for the demolition of its wharf, which had been struck by the
steamer Helen C belonging to the defendant. This Court held (p. 526):
The evidence shows that Captain Lasa at the time the plaintiff's wharf collapsed was a duly
licensed captain, authorized to navigate and direct a vessel of any tonnage, and that the
appellee contracted his services because of his reputation as a captain, according to F. C.
Cadwallader. This being so, we are of the opinion that the presumption of liability against
the defendant has been overcome by the exercise of the care and diligence of a good
father of a family in selecting Captain Lasa, in accordance with the doctrines laid down by
this court in the cases cited above, and the defendant is therefore absolved from all liability.
It is, therefore, seen that the defendant's theory about his secondary liability is negatived by the six
cases above set forth. He is, on the authority of these cases, primarily and directly responsible in
damages under article 1903, in relation to article 1902, of the Civil Code.
Let us now take up the Philippine decisions relied upon by the defendant. We study fi rst, City of
Manila vs. Manila Electric Co., 52 Phil., 586 (year 1928). A collision between a truck of the City of
Manila and a street car of the Manila Electric Co. took place on June 8, 1925. The truck was
damaged in the amount of P1,788.27. Sixto Eustaquio, the motorman, was prosecuted for the
crime of damage to property and slight injuries through reckless imprudence. He was found guilty
and sentenced to pay a fine of P900, to indemnify the City of Manila for P1,788.27, with subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency. Unable to collect the indemnity from Eustaquio, the City of
Manila filed an action against the Manila Electric Company to obtain payment, claiming that the
defendant was subsidiarily liable. The main defense was that the defendant had exercised the
diligence of a good father of a family to prevent the damage. The lower court rendered judgment in
favor of the plaintiff. This Court held, in part, that this case was governed by the Penal Code,
With this preliminary point out of the way, there is no escaping the conclusion that the
provisions of the Penal Code govern. The Penal Code in easily understandable language
authorizes the determination of subsidiary liability. The Civil Code negatives its application
by providing that civil obligations arising from crimes or misdemeanors shall be governed
by the provisions of the Penal Code. The conviction of the motorman was a misdemeanor
falling under article 604 of the Penal Code. The act of the motorman was not a wrongful or
negligent act or omission not punishable by law. Accordingly, the civil obligation connected
up with the Penal Code and not with article 1903 of the Civil Code. In other words, the
Penal Code affirms its jurisdiction while the Civil Code negatives its jurisdiction. This is a
case of criminal negligence out of which civil liability arises and not a case of civil
x x x x x x x x x
Our deduction, therefore, is that the case relates to the Penal Code and not to the Civil
Code. Indeed, as pointed out by the trial judge, any different ruling would permit the master
to escape scot-free by simply alleging and proving that the master had exercised all
diligence in the selection and training of its servants to prevent the damage. That would be
a good defense to a strictly civil action, but might or might not be to a civil action either as a
part of or predicated on conviction for a crime or misdemeanor. (By way of parenthesis, it
may be said further that the statements here made are offered to meet the argument
advanced during our deliberations to the effect that article 0902 of the Civil Code should be
disregarded and codal articles 1093 and 1903 applied.)
It is not clear how the above case could support the defendant's proposition, because the Court of
Appeals based its decision in the present case on the defendant's primary responsibility under
article 1903 of the Civil Code and not on his subsidiary liability arising from Fontanilla's criminal
negligence. In other words, the case of City of Manila vs. Manila Electric Co., supra, is predicated
on an entirely different theory, which is the subsidiary liability of an employer arising from a criminal
act of his employee, whereas the foundation of the decision of the Court of Appeals in the present
case is the employer's primary liability under article 1903 of the Civil Code. We have already seen
that this is a proper and independent remedy.
Arambulo vs. Manila Electric Co. (55 Phil., 75), is another case invoked by the defendant. A
motorman in the employ of the Manila Electric Company had been convicted o homicide by simple
negligence and sentenced, among other things, to pay the heirs of the deceased the sum of
P1,000. An action was then brought to enforce the subsidiary liability of the defendant as employer
under the Penal Code. The defendant attempted to show that it had exercised the diligence of a
good father of a family in selecting the motorman, and therefore claimed exemption from civil
liability. But this Court held:
In view of the foregoing considerations, we are of opinion and so hold, (1) that the
exemption from civil liability established in article 1903 of the Civil Code for all who have
acted with the diligence of a good father of a family, is not applicable to the subsidiary civil
liability provided in article 20 of the Penal Code.
The above case is also extraneous to the theory of the defendant in the instant case, because the
action there had for its purpose the enforcement of the defendant's subsidiary liability under the
Penal Code, while in the case at bar, the plaintiff's cause of action is based on the defendant's
primary and direct responsibility under article 1903 of the Civil Code. In fact, the above case
destroys the defendant's contention because that decision illustrates the principle that the
employer's primary responsibility under article 1903 of the Civil Code is different in character from
his subsidiary liability under the Penal Code.
In trying to apply the two cases just referred to, counsel for the defendant has failed to recognize
the distinction between civil liability arising from a crime, which is governed by the Penal Code, and
the responsibility for cuasi-delito or culpa aquiliana under the Civil Code, and has likewise failed to
give the importance to the latter type of civil action.
The defendant-petitioner also cites Francisco vs. Onrubia (46 Phil., 327). That case need not be
set forth. Suffice it to say that the question involved was also civil liability arising from a crime.
Hence, it is as inapplicable as the two cases above discussed.
The foregoing authorities clearly demonstrate the separate individuality of cuasi-delitos or culpa
aquiliana under the Civil Code. Specifically they show that there is a distinction between civil
liability arising from criminal negligence (governed by the Penal Code) and responsibility for fault or
negligence under articles 1902 to 1910 of the Civil Code, and that the same negligent act may
produce either a civil liability arising from a crime under the Penal Code, or a separate
responsibility for fault or negligence under articles 1902 to 1910 of the Civil Code. Still more
concretely, the authorities above cited render it inescapable to conclude that the employer — in
this case the defendant-petitioner — is primarily and directly liable under article 1903 of the Civil
The legal provisions, authors, and cases already invoked should ordinarily be sufficient to dispose
of this case. But inasmuch as we are announcing doctrines that have been little understood in the
past, it might not be inappropriate to indicate their foundations.
Firstly, the Revised Penal Code in article 365 punishes not only reckless but also simple
negligence. If we were to hold that articles 1902 to 1910 of the Civil Code refer only to fault or
negligence not punished by law, according to the literal import of article 1093 of the Civil Code, the
legal institution of culpa aquiliana would have very little scope and application in actual life. Death
or injury to persons and damage to property through any degree of negligence — even the
slightest — would have to be indemnified only through the principle of civil liability arising from a
crime. In such a state of affairs, what sphere would remain for cuasi-delito or culpa aquiliana? We
are loath to impute to the lawmaker any intention to bring about a situation so absurd and
anomalous. Nor are we, in the interpretation of the laws, disposed to uphold the letter that killeth
rather than the spirit that giveth life. We will not use the literal meaning of the law to smother and
render almost lifeless a principle of such ancient origin and such full-grown development as culpa
aquiliana or cuasi-delito, which is conserved and made enduring in articles 1902 to 1910 of the
Spanish Civil Code.
Secondly, to find the accused guilty in a criminal case, proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt is
required, while in a civil case, preponderance of evidence is sufficient to make the defendant pay in
damages. There are numerous cases of criminal negligence which can not be shown beyond
reasonable doubt, but can be proved by a preponderance of evidence. In such cases, the
defendant can and should be made responsible in a civil action under articles 1902 to 1910 of the
Civil Code. Otherwise, there would be many instances of unvindicated civil wrongs. Ubi jus ibi
Thirdly, to hold that there is only one way to make defendant's liability effective, and that is, to sue
the driver and exhaust his (the latter's) property first, would be tantamount to compelling the
plaintiff to follow a devious and cumbersome method of obtaining relief. True, there is such a
remedy under our laws, but there is also a more expeditious way, which is based on the primary
and direct responsibility of the defendant under article 1903 of the Civil Code. Our view of the law
is more likely to facilitate remedy for civil wrongs, because the procedure indicated by the
defendant is wasteful and productive of delay, it being a matter of common knowledge that
professional drivers of taxis and similar public conveyance usually do not have sufficient means
with which to pay damages. Why, then, should the plaintiff be required in all cases to go through
this roundabout, unnecessary, and probably useless procedure? In construing the laws, courts
have endeavored to shorten and facilitate the pathways of right and justice.
At this juncture, it should be said that the primary and direct responsibility of employers and their
presumed negligence are principles calculated to protect society. Workmen and employees should
be carefully chosen and supervised in order to avoid injury to the public. It is the masters or
employers who principally reap the profits resulting from the services of these servants and
employees. It is but right that they should guarantee the latter's careful conduct for the personnel
and patrimonial safety of others. As Theilhard has said, "they should reproach themselves, at least,
some for their weakness, others for their poor selection and all for their negligence." And according
to Manresa, "It is much more equitable and just that such responsibility should fall upon the
principal or director who could have chosen a careful and prudent employee, and not upon the
injured person who could not exercise such selection and who used such employee because of his
confidence in the principal or director." (Vol. 12, p. 622, 2nd Ed.) Many jurists also base this
primary responsibility of the employer on the principle of representation of the principal by the
agent. Thus, Oyuelos says in the work already cited (Vol. 7, p. 747) that before third persons the
employer and employee "vienen a ser como una sola personalidad, por refundicion de la del
dependiente en la de quien le emplea y utiliza." ("become as one personality by the merging of the
person of the employee in that of him who employs and utilizes him.") All these observations
acquire a peculiar force and significance when it comes to motor accidents, and there is need of
stressing and accentuating the responsibility of owners of motor vehicles.
Fourthly, because of the broad sweep of the provisions of both the Penal Code and the Civil Code
on this subject, which has given rise to the overlapping or concurrence of spheres already
discussed, and for lack of understanding of the character and efficacy of the action for culpa
aquiliana, there has grown up a common practice to seek damages only by virtue of the civil
responsibility arising from a crime, forgetting that there is another remedy, which is by invoking
articles 1902-1910 of the Civil Code. Although this habitual method is allowed by our laws, it has
nevertheless rendered practically useless and nugatory the more expeditious and effective remedy
based on culpa aquiliana or culpa extra-contractual. In the present case, we are asked to help
perpetuate this usual course. But we believe it is high time we pointed out to the harm done by
such practice and to restore the principle of responsibility for fault or negligence under articles
1902 et seq. of the Civil Code to its full rigor. It is high time we caused the stream of quasi-delict
or culpa aquiliana to flow on its own natural channel, so that its waters may no longer be diverted
into that of a crime under the Penal Code. This will, it is believed, make for the better safeguarding
of private rights because it re-establishes an ancient and additional remedy, and for the further
reason that an independent civil action, not depending on the issues, limitations and results of a
criminal prosecution, and entirely directed by the party wronged or his counsel, is more likely to
secure adequate and efficacious redress.
In view of the foregoing, the judgment of the Court of Appeals should be and is hereby affirmed,
with costs against the defendant-petitioner.
Yulo, C.J., Moran, Ozaeta and Paras, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. L-24803 May 26, 1977
PEDRO ELCANO and PATRICIA ELCANO, in their capacity as Ascendants of Agapito
REGINALD HILL, minor, and MARVIN HILL, as father and Natural Guardian of said
Cruz & Avecilla for appellants.
Marvin R. Hill & Associates for appellees.
Appeal from the order of the Court of First Instance of Quezon City dated January 29, 1965 in Civil
Case No. Q-8102, Pedro Elcano et al. vs. Reginald Hill et al. dismissing, upon motion to dismiss of
defendants, the complaint of plaintiffs for recovery of damages from defendant Reginald Hill, a
minor, married at the time of the occurrence, and his father, the defendant Marvin Hill, with whom
he was living and getting subsistence, for the killing by Reginald of the son of the plaintiffs, named
Agapito Elcano, of which, when criminally prosecuted, the said accused was acquitted on the
ground that his act was not criminal, because of "lack of intent to kill, coupled with mistake."
Actually, the motion to dismiss based on the following grounds:
1. The present action is not only against but a violation of section 1, Rule 107,
which is now Rule III, of the Revised Rules of Court;
2. The action is barred by a prior judgment which is now final and or in res-
3. The complaint had no cause of action against defendant Marvin Hill, because he
was relieved as guardian of the other defendant through emancipation by marriage.
(P. 23, Record [p. 4, Record on Appeal.])
was first denied by the trial court. It was only upon motion for reconsideration of the defendants of
such denial, reiterating the above grounds that the following order was issued:
Considering the motion for reconsideration filed by the defendants on January 14,
1965 and after thoroughly examining the arguments therein contained, the Court
finds the same to be meritorious and well-founded.
WHEREFORE, the Order of this Court on December 8, 1964 is hereby
reconsidered by ordering the dismissal of the above entitled case.
Quezon City, Philippines, January 29, 1965. (p. 40, Record [p. 21, Record on
Hence, this appeal where plaintiffs-appellants, the spouses Elcano, are presenting for Our
resolution the following assignment of errors:
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING THE CASE BY UPHOLDING THE
CLAIM OF DEFENDANTS THAT -
THE PRESENT ACTION IS NOT ONLY AGAINST BUT ALSO A VIOLATION OF
SECTION 1, RULE 107, NOW RULE 111, OF THE REVISED RULES OF COURT,
AND THAT SECTION 3(c) OF RULE 111, RULES OF COURT IS APPLICABLE;
THE ACTION IS BARRED BY A PRIOR JUDGMENT WHICH IS NOW FINAL OR
THE PRINCIPLES OF QUASI-DELICTS, ARTICLES 2176 TO 2194 OF THE CIVIL
CODE, ARE INAPPLICABLE IN THE INSTANT CASE; and
THAT THE COMPLAINT STATES NO CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST
DEFENDANT MARVIN HILL BECAUSE HE WAS RELIEVED AS GUARDIAN OF
THE OTHER DEFENDANT THROUGH EMANCIPATION BY MARRIAGE. (page 4,
It appears that for the killing of the son, Agapito, of plaintiffs-appellants, defendant- appellee
Reginald Hill was prosecuted criminally in Criminal Case No. 5102 of the Court of First Instance of
Quezon City. After due trial, he was acquitted on the ground that his act was not criminal because
of "lack of intent to kill, coupled with mistake." Parenthetically, none of the parties has favored Us
with a copy of the decision of acquittal, presumably because appellants do not dispute that such
indeed was the basis stated in the court's decision. And so, when appellants filed their complaint
against appellees Reginald and his father, Atty. Marvin Hill, on account of the death of their son,
the appellees filed the motion to dismiss above-referred to.
As We view the foregoing background of this case, the two decisive issues presented for Our
1. Is the present civil action for damages barred by the acquittal of Reginald in the criminal case
wherein the action for civil liability, was not reversed?
2. May Article 2180 (2nd and last paragraphs) of the Civil Code he applied against Atty. Hill,
notwithstanding the undisputed fact that at the time of the occurrence complained of. Reginald,
though a minor, living with and getting subsistenee from his father, was already legally married?
The first issue presents no more problem than the need for a reiteration and further clarification of
the dual character, criminal and civil, of fault or negligence as a source of obligation which was
firmly established in this jurisdiction in Barredo vs. Garcia, 73 Phil. 607. In that case, this Court
postulated, on the basis of a scholarly dissertation by Justice Bocobo on the nature of culpa
aquiliana in relation to culpa criminal or delito and mereculpa or fault, with pertinent citation of
decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain, the works of recognized civilians, and earlier
jurisprudence of our own, that the same given act can result in civil liability not only under the Penal
Code but also under the Civil Code. Thus, the opinion holds:
The, above case is pertinent because it shows that the same act machinist. come
under both the Penal Code and the Civil Code. In that case, the action of the agent
killeth unjustified and fraudulent and therefore could have been the subject of a
criminal action. And yet, it was held to be also a proper subject of a civil action
under article 1902 of the Civil Code. It is also to be noted that it was the employer
and not the employee who was being sued. (pp. 615-616, 73 Phil.).
It will be noticed that the defendant in the above case could have been prosecuted
in a criminal case because his negligence causing the death of the child was
punishable by the Penal Code. Here is therefore a clear instance of the same act of
negligence being a proper subject matter either of a criminal action with its
consequent civil liability arising from a crime or of an entirely separate and
independent civil action for fault or negligence under article 1902 of the Civil Code.
Thus, in this jurisdiction, the separate individuality of a cuasi-delito or culpa
aquiliana, under the Civil Code has been fully and clearly recognized, even with
regard to a negligent act for which the wrongdoer could have been prosecuted and
convicted in a criminal case and for which, after such a conviction, he could have
been sued for this civil liability arising from his crime. (p. 617, 73 Phil.)
It is most significant that in the case just cited, this Court specifically applied article
1902 of the Civil Code. It is thus that although J. V. House could have been
criminally prosecuted for reckless or simple negligence and not only punished but
also made civilly liable because of his criminal negligence, nevertheless this Court
awarded damages in an independent civil action for fault or negligence under article
1902 of the Civil Code. (p. 618, 73 Phil.)
The legal provisions, authors, and cases already invoked should ordinarily be
sufficient to dispose of this case. But inasmuch as we are announcing doctrines that
have been little understood, in the past, it might not he inappropriate to indicate
Firstly, the Revised Penal Code in articles 365 punishes not only reckless but also
simple negligence. If we were to hold that articles 1902 to 1910 of the Civil Code
refer only to fault or negligence not punished by law, accordingly to the literal import
of article 1093 of the Civil Code, the legal institution of culpa aquiliana would have
very little scope and application in actual life. Death or injury to persons and
damage to property- through any degree of negligence - even the slightest - would
have to be Idemnified only through the principle of civil liability arising from a crime.
In such a state of affairs, what sphere would remain for cuasi-delito or culpa
aquiliana? We are loath to impute to the lawmaker any intention to bring about a
situation so absurd and anomalous. Nor are we, in the interpretation of the laws,
disposed to uphold the letter that killeth rather than the spirit that giveth life. We will
not use the literal meaning of the law to smother and render almost lifeless a
principle of such ancient origin and such full-grown development as culpa
aquiliana or cuasi-delito, which is conserved and made enduring in articles 1902 to
1910 of the Spanish Civil Code.
Secondary, to find the accused guilty in a criminal case, proof of guilt beyond
reasonable doubt is required, while in a civil case, preponderance of evidence is
sufficient to make the defendant pay in damages. There are numerous cases of
criminal negligence which can not be shown beyond reasonable doubt, but can be
proved by a preponderance of evidence. In such cases, the defendant can and
should be made responsible in a civil action under articles 1902 to 1910 of the Civil
Code. Otherwise. there would be many instances of unvindicated civil wrongs. "Ubi
jus Idemnified remedium." (p. 620,73 Phil.)
Fourthly, because of the broad sweep of the provisions of both the Penal Code and
the Civil Code on this subject, which has given rise to the overlapping or
concurrence of spheres already discussed, and for lack of understanding of the
character and efficacy of the action for culpa aquiliana, there has grown up a
common practice to seek damages only by virtue of the civil responsibility arising
from a crime, forgetting that there is another remedy, which is by invoking articles
1902-1910 of the Civil Code. Although this habitual method is allowed by, our laws,
it has nevertheless rendered practically useless and nugatory the more expeditious
and effective remedy based on culpa aquiliana or culpa extra-contractual. In the
present case, we are asked to help perpetuate this usual course. But we believe it
is high time we pointed out to the harms done by such practice and to restore the
principle of responsibility for fault or negligence under articles 1902 et seq. of the
Civil Code to its full rigor. It is high time we caused the stream of quasi-delict
or culpa aquiliana to flow on its own natural channel, so that its waters may no
longer be diverted into that of a crime under the Penal Code. This will, it is believed,
make for the better safeguarding or private rights because it realtor, an ancient and
additional remedy, and for the further reason that an independent civil action, not
depending on the issues, limitations and results of a criminal prosecution, and
entirely directed by the party wronged or his counsel, is more likely to secure
adequate and efficacious redress. (p. 621, 73 Phil.)
Contrary to an immediate impression one might get upon a reading of the foregoing excerpts from
the opinion in Garcia that the concurrence of the Penal Code and the Civil Code therein referred to
contemplate only acts of negligence and not intentional voluntary acts - deeper reflection would
reveal that the thrust of the pronouncements therein is not so limited, but that in fact it actually
extends to fault or culpa. This can be seen in the reference made therein to the Sentence of the
Supreme Court of Spain of February 14, 1919, supra, which involved a case of fraud or estafa, not
a negligent act. Indeed, Article 1093 of the Civil Code of Spain, in force here at the time of Garcia,
provided textually that obligations "which are derived from acts or omissions in which fault or
negligence, not punishable by law, intervene shall be the subject of Chapter II, Title XV of this book
(which refers to quasi-delicts.)" And it is precisely the underline qualification, "not punishable by
law", that Justice Bocobo emphasized could lead to an ultimo construction or interpretation of the
letter of the law that "killeth, rather than the spirit that giveth lift- hence, the ruling that "(W)e will not
use the literal meaning of the law to smother and render almost lifeless a principle of such ancient
origin and such full-grown development as culpa aquiliana orquasi-delito, which is conserved and
made enduring in articles 1902 to 1910 of the Spanish Civil Code." And so, because Justice
Bacobo was Chairman of the Code Commission that drafted the original text of the new Civil Code,
it is to be noted that the said Code, which was enacted after the Garcia doctrine, no longer uses
the term, 11 not punishable by law," thereby making it clear that the concept of culpa
aquiliana includes acts which are criminal in character or in violation of the penal law, whether
voluntary or matter. Thus, the corresponding provisions to said Article 1093 in the new code, which
is Article 1162, simply says, "Obligations derived from quasi-delicto shall be governed by the
provisions of Chapter 2, Title XVII of this Book, (on quasi-delicts) and by special laws." More
precisely, a new provision, Article 2177 of the new code provides:
ART. 2177. Responsibility for fault or negligence under the preceding article is
entirely separate and distinct from the civil liability arising from negligence under the
Penal Code. But the plaintiff cannot recover damages twice for the same act or
omission of the defendant.
According to the Code Commission: "The foregoing provision (Article 2177) through at first sight
startling, is not so novel or extraordinary when we consider the exact nature of criminal and civil
negligence. The former is a violation of the criminal law, while the latter is a "culpa aquiliana" or
quasi-delict, of ancient origin, having always had its own foundation and individuality, separate
from criminal negligence. Such distinction between criminal negligence and "culpa
extracontractual" or "cuasi-delito" has been sustained by decision of the Supreme Court of Spain
and maintained as clear, sound and perfectly tenable by Maura, an outstanding Spanish jurist.
Therefore, under the proposed Article 2177, acquittal from an accusation of criminal negligence,
whether on reasonable doubt or not, shall not be a bar to a subsequent civil action, not for civil
liability arising from criminal negligence, but for damages due to a quasi-delict or 'culpa aquiliana'.
But said article forestalls a double recovery.", (Report of the Code) Commission, p. 162.)
Although, again, this Article 2177 does seem to literally refer to only acts of negligence, the same
argument of Justice Bacobo about construction that upholds "the spirit that giveth lift- rather than
that which is literal that killeth the intent of the lawmaker should be observed in applying the same.
And considering that the preliminary chapter on human relations of the new Civil Code definitely
establishes the separability and independence of liability in a civil action for acts criminal in
character (under Articles 29 to 32) from the civil responsibility arising from crime fixed by Article
100 of the Revised Penal Code, and, in a sense, the Rules of Court, under Sections 2 and 3 (c),
Rule 111, contemplate also the same separability, it is "more congruent with the spirit of law, equity
and justice, and more in harmony with modern progress"- to borrow the felicitous relevant language
in Rakes vs. Atlantic. Gulf and Pacific Co., 7 Phil. 359, to hold, as We do hold, that Article 2176,
where it refers to "fault or negligencia covers not only acts "not punishable by law" but also acts
criminal in character, whether intentional and voluntary or negligent. Consequently, a separate civil
action lies against the offender in a criminal act, whether or not he is criminally prosecuted and
found guilty or acquitted, provided that the offended party is not allowed, if he is actually charged
also criminally, to recover damages on both scores, and would be entitled in such eventuality only
to the bigger award of the two, assuming the awards made in the two cases vary. In other words,
the extinction of civil liability referred to in Par. (e) of Section 3, Rule 111, refers exclusively to civil
liability founded on Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, whereas the civil liability for the same
act considered as a quasi-delict only and not as a crime is not estinguished even by a declaration
in the criminal case that the criminal act charged has not happened or has not been committed by
the accused. Briefly stated, We here hold, in reiteration of Garcia, thatculpa aquiliana includes
voluntary and negligent acts which may be punishable by law.
It results, therefore, that the acquittal of Reginal Hill in the criminal case has not extinguished his
liability for quasi-delict, hence that acquittal is not a bar to the instant action against him.
Coming now to the second issue about the effect of Reginald's emancipation by marriage on the
possible civil liability of Atty. Hill, his father, it is also Our considered opinion that the conclusion of
appellees that Atty. Hill is already free from responsibility cannot be upheld.
While it is true that parental authority is terminated upon emancipation of the child (Article 327, Civil
Code), and under Article 397, emancipation takes place "by the marriage of the minor (child)", it is,
however, also clear that pursuant to Article 399, emancipation by marriage of the minor is not really
full or absolute. Thus "(E)mancipation by marriage or by voluntary concession shall terminate
parental authority over the child's person. It shall enable the minor to administer his property as
though he were of age, but he cannot borrow money or alienate or encumber real property without
the consent of his father or mother, or guardian. He can sue and be sued in court only with the
assistance of his father, mother or guardian."
Now under Article 2180, "(T)he obligation imposed by article 2176 is demandable not only for one's
own acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible. The father and,
in case of his death or incapacity, the mother, are responsible. The father and, in case of his death
or incapacity, the mother, are responsible for the damages caused by the minor children who live in
their company." In the instant case, it is not controverted that Reginald, although married, was
living with his father and getting subsistence from him at the time of the occurrence in question.
Factually, therefore, Reginald was still subservient to and dependent on his father, a situation
which is not unusual.
It must be borne in mind that, according to Manresa, the reason behind the joint and solidary
liability of presuncion with their offending child under Article 2180 is that is the obligation of the
parent to supervise their minor children in order to prevent them from causing damage to third
On the other hand, the clear implication of Article 399, in providing that a minor
emancipated by marriage may not, nevertheless, sue or be sued without the assistance of the
parents, is that such emancipation does not carry with it freedom to enter into transactions or do
any act that can give rise to judicial litigation. (See Manresa, Id., Vol. II, pp. 766-767, 776.) And
surely, killing someone else invites judicial action. Otherwise stated, the marriage of a minor child
does not relieve the parents of the duty to see to it that the child, while still a minor, does not give
answerable for the borrowings of money and alienation or encumbering of real property which
cannot be done by their minor married child without their consent. (Art. 399; Manresa, supra.)
Accordingly, in Our considered view, Article 2180 applies to Atty. Hill notwithstanding the
emancipation by marriage of Reginald. However, inasmuch as it is evident that Reginald is now of
age, as a matter of equity, the liability of Atty. Hill has become milling, subsidiary to that of his son.
WHEREFORE, the order appealed from is reversed and the trial court is ordered to proceed in
accordance with the foregoing opinion. Costs against appellees.
Fernando (Chairman), Antonio, and Martin, JJ., concur.
Concepcion Jr., J, is on leave.
Martin, J, was designated to sit in the Second Division.
Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. L-33171 May 31, 1979
PORFIRIO P. CINCO, petitioner-appellant,
HON. MATEO CANONOY, Presiding Judge of the Third Branch of the Court of First Instance
of Cebu, HON. LORENZO B. BARRIA City Judge of Mandaue City, Second Branch ROMEO
HILOT, VALERIANA PEPITO and CARLOS PEPITO, respondents-appellees.
Eriberto Seno for appellant.
Jose M. Mesina for appellees.
This is a Petition for Review on certiorari of the Decision of the Court of First Instance of Cebu
rendered on November 5, 1970.
The background facts to the controversy may be set forth as follows:
Petitioner herein filed, on February 25, 1970, a Complaint in the City Court of Mandaue City, Cebu,
Branch II, for the recovery of damages on account of a vehicular accident involving his automobile
and a jeepney driven by Romeo Hilot and operated by Valeriana Pepito and Carlos Pepito, the last
three being the private respondents in this suit. Subsequent thereto, a criminal case was filed
against the driver, Romeo Hilot, arising from the same accident. At the pre-trial in the civil case,
counsel for private respondents moved to suspend the civil action pending the final determinati on
of the criminal suit, invoking Rule 111, Section 3 (b) of the Rules of Court, which provides:
(b) After a criminal action has been commenced. no civil action arising from the
same offense can be prosecuted, and the same shall be suspended, in whatever
stage it may be found, until final judgment in the criminal proceeding has been
The City Court of Mandaue City in an Order dated August 11, 1970, ordered the suspension of the
civil case. Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration thereof, having been denied on August 25,
petitioner elevated the matter on certiorari to the Court of First Instance of Cebu,
respondent Judge presiding, on September 11, 1970, alleging that the City Judge had acted with
grave abuse of discretion in suspending the civil action for being contrary to law and
On November 5, 1970, respondent Judge dismissed the Petition for certiorari on the ground that
there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the City Court in suspending the civil action
inasmuch as damage to property is not one of the instances when an independent civil action is
proper; that petitioner has another plain, speedy, and adequate remedy under the law, which is to
submit his claim for damages in the criminal case; that the resolution of the City Court is
interlocutory and, therefore, certiorari is improper; and that the Petition is defective inasmuch as
what petitioner actually desires is a Writ of mandamus (Annex "R"). Petitioner's Motion for
Reconsideration was denied by respondent Judge in an Order dated November 14,1970 (Annex
"S" and Annex "U").
Hence, this Petition for Review before this Tribunal, to which we gave due course on February 25,
Petitioner makes these:
ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR
1. THE TRIAL COURT, RESPONDENT JUDGE MATEO CANONOY, ERRED IN
HOLDING THAT THE TRIAL OF THE CIVIL CASE NO. 189 FILED IN THE CITY
COURT OF MANDAUE SHOULD BE SUSPENDED UNTIL AFTER A FINAL
JUDGMENT IS RENDERED IN THE CRIMINAL CASE.
2. THAT THE COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT IN ORDER TO AVOID DELAY
THE OFFENDED PARTY MAY SUBMIT HIS CLAIM FOR DAMAGES IN THE
3. THAT THE COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE PETITION FOR certiorari
IS NOT PROPER, BECAUSE THE RESOLUTION IN QUESTION IS
4. THAT THE COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE PETITION IS
all of which can be synthesized into one decisive issue: whether or not there can be an
independent civil action for damage to property during the pendency of the criminal action.
From the Complaint filed by petitioner before the City Court of Mandaue City, Cebu, it is evident
that the nature and character of his action was quasi-delictual predicated principally on Articles
2176 and 2180 of the Civil Code, which provide:
Art. 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault
or negligence is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if
there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is caned a quasi-
delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter. (1902a)
Art. 2180. The obligation imposed by article 2176 is demandable not only for one's
own acts or omissions but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible.
xxx xxx xxx
Employers shall be liable for the damages cause by their employees and household
helpers acting within the scope of their assigned tasks, even though the former are
not engaged in any business or industry.
xxx xxx xxx
The responsibility treated of in this article shall cease when the persons herein
mentioned prove that they observed all the diligence of a good father of a family to
prevent damage. (1903a)
Thus, plaintiff made the essential averments that it was the fault or negligence of the driver, Romeo
Hilot, in the operation of the jeepney owned by the Pepitos which caused the collision between his
automobile and said jeepney; that damages were sustained by petitioner because of the collision;
that there was a direct causal connection between the damages he suffered and the fault and
negligence of private respondents.
Similarly, in the Answer, private respondents contended, among others, that defendant, Valeriana
Pepito, observed due diligence in the selection and supervision of her employees, particularly of
her co-defendant Romeo Hilot, a defense peculiar to actions based on quasi-delict.
Liability being predicated on quasi-delict the civil case may proceed as a separate and independent
civil action, as specifically provided for in Article 2177 of the Civil Code.
Art. 2177. Responsibility for fault or negligence under the preceding article is
entirely separate and distinct from the civil liability arising from negligence under the
Penal Code. But the plaintiff cannot recover damages twice for the same act or
omission of the defendant. (n)
The crucial distinction between criminal negligence and quasi-delict, which is readily
discernible from the foregoing codal provision, has been expounded in Barredo
vs. Garcia, et al., 73 Phil. 607, 620-621,
Firstly, the Revised Penal Code in article 365 punishes not only reckless but also
simple imprudence. if we were to hold that articles 1902 to 1910 of the Civil Code
refer only to fault or negligence not punished by law, according to the literal import
of article 1093 of the Civil Code, the legal institution ofculpa aquiliana would have
very little scope and application in actual life. Death or injury to personsand damage
to property through any degree of negligence — even the slightest would have to be
indemnified only through the principle of civil hability arising from crime. In such a
state of affairs, what sphere would remain for quasidelito or culpa aquiliana We are
loath to impute to the lawmaker any intention to bring about a situation so absurd
and anomalous. Nor are we, in the interpretation of the laws, disposed to uphold the
letter that killeth rather than the spirit that giveth life. We will not use the literal
meaning of the law to smother and render almost lifeless a principle of such ancient
origin and such full-grown development as culpa aquiliana or quasi-delito, which is
conserved and made enduring in articles 1902 to 11910 of the Spanish Civil Code.
Secondly, to find the accused guilty in a criminal case, proof of guilt beyond
reasonable doubt is required, while in a civil case, preponderance of evidence is
sufficient to make the defendant pay in damages. There are numerous cases of
criminal negligence which cannot be shown beyond reasonable doubt, but can be
proved by a preponderance of evidence. In such cases, the defendant can and
should be made responsible in a civil action under articles 1902 to 1910 of the Civil
Code, otherwise, there would be many instances of unvindicated civil wrongs. Ubi
jus ibi remedium.
Thirdly, to hold that there is only one way to make defendants liability effective, and
that is, to sue the driver and exhaust his (the latter's) property first, would be
tantamount to compelling the plaintiff to follow a devious and cumbersome method
of obtaining a reliel True, there is such a remedy under our laws, but there is also a
more expeditious way, which is based on the primary and direct responsibility of the
defendant under article 1903 of the Civil Code. Our view of the law is more likely to
facilitate remedy for civil wrongs because the procedure indicated by the defendant
is wasteful and productive of delay, it being a matter of common knowledge that
professional drivers of taxis and similar public conveyances usually do not have
sufficient means with which to pay damages. Why, then, should the plaintiff be
required in all cases to go through this round-about, unnecessary, and probably
useless procedure? In construing the laws, courts have endeavored to shorten and
facilitate the pathways of right and justice.
At this juncture, it should be said that the primary and direct responsibility of
employers and their presumed negligence are principles calculated to protect
society. Workmen and employees should be carefully chosen and supervised in
order to avoid injury to the public. It is the masters or employers who principally
reap the profits resulting from the services of these servants and employees. It is
but right that they should guarantee the latter's careful conduct for the personnel
and patrimonial safety of others. As Theilhard has said, "they should reproach
themselves, at least, some for their weakness, others for their poor selection and all
for their negligence." And according to Manresa, "It is much more equitable and just
that such responsibility should fail upon the principal or director who could have
chosen a careful and prudent employee, and not upon the such employee because
of his confidence in the principal or director." (Vol. 12, p. 622, 2nd Ed.) Many jurists
also base this primary responsibility of the employer on the principle of
representation of the principal by the agent. Thus, Oyuelos says in the work already
cited (Vol. 7, p. 747) that before third persons the employer and employee vienen a
ser como una sola personalidad, por refundicion de la del dependiente en la de
quien la emplea y utihza (become as one personality by the merging of the person
of the employee in that of him who employs and utilizes him.) All these observations
acquire a peculiar force and significance when it comes to motor accidents, and
there is need of stressing and accentuating the responsibility of owners of motor
Fourthly, because of the broad sweep of the provisions of both the Penal Code and
the Civil Code on this subject, which has given rise to overlapping or concurrence of
spheres already discussed, and for lack of understanding of the character and
efficacy of the action for culpaaquiliana there has grown up a common practice to
seek damages only by virtue of the Civil responsibility arising from crime, forgetting
that there is another remedy, which is by invoking articles 1902-1910 of the Civil
Code. Although this habitual method is allowed by our laws, it has nevertheless
rendered practically useless and nugatory the more expeditious and effective
remedy based on culpa aquiliana or culpa extra-contractual. In the present case, we
are asked to help perpetuate this usual course. But we believe it is high time we
pointed out to the harm done by such practice and to restore the principle of
responsibility for fault or negligence under articles 1902 et seq. of the Civil Code to
its full rigor. It is high time we cause the stream of quasi-delict or culpa aquiliana to
flow on its own natural channel, so that its waters may no longer be diverted into
that of a crime under the Penal Code. This will, it is believed, make for the bet ter
safeguarding of private rights because it re-establishes an ancient and additional
remedy, and for the further reason that an independent civil action, not depending
on the issues, stations and results of a criminal prosecution, and entirely directed by
the party wronged or his counsel is more likely to secure adequate and efficacious
redress. (Garcia vs. Florida 52 SCRA 420, 424-425, Aug. 31, 1973). (Emphasis
The separate and independent civil action for a quasi-delict is also clearly recognized in section 2,
Rule 111 of the Rules of Court, reading:
Sec. 2. Independent civil action. — In the cases provided for in Articles 31, 32, 33,
34 and 2177 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, Are independent civil action
entirely separate and distinct from the c action, may be brought by the injured party
during the pendency of the criminal case, provided the right is reserved as required
in the preceding section. Such civil action shag proceed independently of the
criminal prosecution, and shall require only a preponderance of evidence.
Significant to note is the fact that the foregoing section categorically lists cases provided for
in Article 2177 of the Civil Code, supra, as allowing of an "independent civil action."
Tested by the hereinabove-quoted legal tenets, it has to be held that the City Court, in surrounding
the civil action, erred in placing reliance on section 3 (b) of Rule 111 of the Rules of
Court, supra which refers to "other civil actions arising from cases not included in the section just
cited" (i.e., Section 2, Rule 111 above quoted), in which case 6 once the criminal action has being
commenced, no civil action arising from the same offense can be prosecuted and the same shall
be suspended in whatever stage it may be found, until final judgment in the criminal proceeding
has been rendered." Stated otherwise, the civil action referred to in Secs. 3(a) and 3(b) of Rule 111
of the Rules of Court, which should be suspended after the criminal action has been instituted is
that arising from the criminal offense not the civil action based on quasi-delict
Article 31 of the Civil Code then clearly assumes relevance when it provides:
Art. 31. When the civil action is based on an obligation not arising from the act or
omission complained of as a felony, such civil action may proceed independently of
the criminal proceedings and regardless of the result of the latter.
For obviously, the jural concept of a quasi-delict is that of an independent source of obligation "not
arising from the act or omission complained of as a felony." Article 1157 of the Civil Code bolsters
this conclusion when it specifically recognizes that:
Art. 1157. Obligations arise from:
(4) Acts or omissions punished by law; and
(5) Quasi-delicts. (1089a)
It bears emphasizing that petitioner's cause of action is based on quasi-delict. The concept of
quasidelica as enunciated in Article 2176 of the Civil Code (supra), is so broad that it includes not
only injuries to persons but also damage to property.
It makes no distinction between "damage to
persons" on the one hand and "damage to property" on the other. Indeed, the word "damage" is
used in two concepts: the "harm" done and "reparation" for the harm done. And with respect to
harm it is plain that it includes both injuries to person and property since "harm" is not limited to
personal but also to property injuries. In fact, examples of quasi-delict in the law itself include
damage to property. An instance is Article 2191(2) of the Civil Code which holds proprietors
responsible for damages caused by excessive smoke which may be harmful to persons or
In the light of the foregoing disquisition, we are constrained to hold that respondent Judge gravely
abused his discretion in upholding the Decision of the City Court of Mandaue City, Cebu,
suspending the civil action based on a quasi-delict until after the criminal case is finally terminated.
Having arrived at this conclusion, a discussion of the other errors assigned becomes unnecessary.
WHEREFORE, granting the Writ of certiorari prayed for, the Decision of the Court of First Instance
of Cebu sought to be reviewed is hereby set aside, and the City Court of Mandaue City, Cebu,
Branch 11, is hereby ordered to proceed with the hearing of Civil Case No. 189 of that Court.
Without pronouncement as to costs.
Teehankee (Chairman), Makasiar, Fernandez, Guerrero and De Castro, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. 97336 February 19, 1993
GASHEM SHOOKAT BAKSH, petitioner,
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and MARILOU T. GONZALES, respondents.
Public Attorney's Office for petitioner.
Corleto R. Castro for private respondent.
DAVIDE, JR., J.:
This is an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to review and set aside
of the respondent Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 24256 which affirmed in
toto the 16 October 1939 Decision of Branch 38 (Lingayen) of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Pangasinan in Civil Case No. 16503. Presented is the issue of whether or not damages may be
recovered for a breach of promise to marry on the basis of Article 21 of the Civil Code of the
The antecedents of this case are not complicated:
On 27 October 1987, private respondent, without the assistance of counsel, filed with the aforesaid
trial court a complaint
for damages against the petitioner for the alleged violation of their
agreement to get married. She alleges in said complaint that: she is twenty-two (22) years old,
single, Filipino and a pretty lass of good moral character and reputation duly respected in her
community; petitioner, on the other hand, is an Iranian citizen residing at the Lozano Apartments,
Guilig, Dagupan City, and is an exchange student taking a medical course at the Lyceum
Northwestern Colleges in Dagupan City; before 20 August 1987, the latter courted and proposed to
marry her; she accepted his love on the condition that they would get married; they therefore
agreed to get married after the end of the school semester, which was in October of that year;
petitioner then visited the private respondent's parents in Bañaga, Bugallon, Pangasinan to secure
their approval to the marriage; sometime in 20 August 1987, the petitioner forced her to live with
him in the Lozano Apartments; she was a virgin before she began living with him; a week before
the filing of the complaint, petitioner's attitude towards her started to change; he maltreated and
threatened to kill her; as a result of such maltreatment, she sustained injuries; during a
confrontation with a representative of the barangay captain of Guilig a day before the filing of the
complaint, petitioner repudiated their marriage agreement and asked her not to live with him
anymore and; the petitioner is already married to someone living in Bacolod City. Private
respondent then prayed for judgment ordering the petitioner to pay her damages in the amount of
not less than P45,000.00, reimbursement for actual expenses amounting to P600.00, attorney's
fees and costs, and granting her such other relief and remedies as may be just and equitable. The
complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. 16503.
In his Answer with Counterclaim,
petitioner admitted only the personal circumstances of the
parties as averred in the complaint and denied the rest of the allegations either for lack of
knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth thereof or because the true facts
are those alleged as his Special and Affirmative Defenses. He thus claimed that he never proposed
marriage to or agreed to be married with the private respondent; he neither sought the consent and
approval of her parents nor forced her to live in his apartment; he did not maltreat her, but only told
her to stop coming to his place because he discovered that she had deceived him by stealing his
money and passport; and finally, no confrontation took place with a representative of the barangay
captain. Insisting, in his Counterclaim, that the complaint is baseless and unfounded and that as a
result thereof, he was unnecessarily dragged into court and compelled to incur expenses, and has
suffered mental anxiety and a besmirched reputation, he prayed for an award of P5,000.00 for
miscellaneous expenses and P25,000.00 as moral damages.
After conducting a pre-trial on 25 January 1988, the trial court issued a Pre-Trial Order
the stipulated facts which the parties had agreed upon, to wit:
1. That the plaintiff is single and resident (sic) of Bañaga, Bugallon, Pangasinan,
while the defendant is single, Iranian citizen and resident (sic) of Lozano Apartment,
Guilig, Dagupan City since September 1, 1987 up to the present;
2. That the defendant is presently studying at Lyceum Northwestern, Dagupan City,
College of Medicine, second year medicine proper;
3. That the plaintiff is (sic) an employee at Mabuhay Luncheonette , Fernandez
Avenue, Dagupan City since July, 1986 up to the present and a (sic) high school
4. That the parties happened to know each other when the manager of the
Mabuhay Luncheonette, Johhny Rabino introduced the defendant to the plaintiff on
August 3, 1986.
After trial on the merits, the lower court, applying Article 21 of the Civil Code, rendered on 16
October 1989 a decision
favoring the private respondent. The petitioner was thus ordered to pay
the latter damages and attorney's fees; the dispositive portion of the decision reads:
IN THE LIGHT of the foregoing consideration, judgment is hereby rendered in favor
of the plaintiff and against the defendant.
1. Condemning (sic) the defendant to pay the plaintiff the sum of twenty thousand
(P20,000.00) pesos as moral damages.
2. Condemning further the defendant to play the plaintiff the sum of three thousand
(P3,000.00) pesos as atty's fees and two thousand (P2,000.00) pesos at (sic)
litigation expenses and to pay the costs.
3. All other claims are denied.
The decision is anchored on the trial court's findings and conclusions that (a) petitioner and private
respondent were lovers, (b) private respondent is not a woman of loose morals or questionable
virtue who readily submits to sexual advances, (c) petitioner, through machinations, deceit and
false pretenses, promised to marry private respondent, d) because of his persuasive promise to
marry her, she allowed herself to be deflowered by him, (e) by reason of that deceitful promise,
private respondent and her parents — in accordance with Filipino customs and traditions — made
some preparations for the wedding that was to be held at the end of October 1987 by looking for
pigs and chickens, inviting friends and relatives and contracting sponsors, (f) petitioner did not fulfill
his promise to marry her and (g) such acts of the petitioner, who is a foreigner and who has abused
Philippine hospitality, have offended our sense of morality, good customs, culture and traditions.
The trial court gave full credit to the private respondent's testimony because, inter alia, she would
not have had the temerity and courage to come to court and expose her honor and reputation to
public scrutiny and ridicule if her claim was false.
The above findings and conclusions were culled from the detailed summary of the evidence for the
private respondent in the foregoing decision, digested by the respondent Court as follows:
According to plaintiff, who claimed that she was a virgin at the time and that she
never had a boyfriend before, defendant started courting her just a few days after
they first met. He later proposed marriage to her several times and she accepted
his love as well as his proposal of marriage on August 20, 1987, on which same day
he went with her to her hometown of Bañaga, Bugallon, Pangasinan, as he wanted
to meet her parents and inform them of their relationship and their intention to get
married. The photographs Exhs. "A" to "E" (and their submarkings) of defendant
with members of plaintiff's family or with plaintiff, were taken that day. Also on that
occasion, defendant told plaintiffs parents and brothers and sisters that he intended
to marry her during the semestral break in October, 1987, and because plaintiff's
parents thought he was good and trusted him, they agreed to his proposal for him to
marry their daughter, and they likewise allowed him to stay in their house and sleep
with plaintiff during the few days that they were in Bugallon. When plaintiff and
defendant later returned to Dagupan City, they continued to live together in
defendant's apartment. However, in the early days of October, 1987, defendant
would tie plaintiff's hands and feet while he went to school, and he even gave her
medicine at 4 o'clock in the morning that made her sleep the whole day and night
until the following day. As a result of this live-in relationship, plaintiff became
pregnant, but defendant gave her some medicine to abort the fetus. Still plaintiff
continued to live with defendant and kept reminding him of his promise to marry her
until he told her that he could not do so because he was already married to a girl in
Bacolod City. That was the time plaintiff left defendant, went home to her parents,
and thereafter consulted a lawyer who accompanied her to the barangay captain in
Dagupan City. Plaintiff, her lawyer, her godmother, and a barangay tanod sent by
the barangay captain went to talk to defendant to still convince him to marry plaintiff,
but defendant insisted that he could not do so because he was already married to a
girl in Bacolod City, although the truth, as stipulated by the parties at the pre-trial, is
that defendant is still single.
Plaintiff's father, a tricycle driver, also claimed that after defendant had informed
them of his desire to marry Marilou, he already looked for sponsors for the wedding,
started preparing for the reception by looking for pigs and chickens, and even
already invited many relatives and friends to the forthcoming wedding.
Petitioner appealed the trial court's decision to the respondent Court of Appeals which docketed
the case as CA-G.R. CV No. 24256. In his Brief,
he contended that the trial court erred (a) in not
dismissing the case for lack of factual and legal basis and (b) in ordering him to pay moral
damages, attorney's fees, litigation expenses and costs.
On 18 February 1991, respondent Court promulgated the challenged decision
toto the trial court's ruling of 16 October 1989. In sustaining the trial court's findings of fact,
respondent Court made the following analysis:
First of all, plaintiff, then only 21 years old when she met defendant who was
already 29 years old at the time, does not appear to be a girl of loose morals. It is
uncontradicted that she was a virgin prior to her unfortunate experience with
defendant and never had boyfriend. She is, as described by the lower court, a
barrio lass "not used and accustomed to trend of modern urban life", and certainly
would (sic) not have allowed
"herself to be deflowered by the defendant if there was no persuasive promise
made by the defendant to marry her." In fact, we agree with the lower court that
plaintiff and defendant must have been sweethearts or so the plaintiff must have
thought because of the deception of defendant, for otherwise, she would not have
allowed herself to be photographed with defendant in public in so (sic) loving and
tender poses as those depicted in the pictures Exhs. "D" and "E". We cannot
believe, therefore, defendant's pretense that plaintiff was a nobody to him except a
waitress at the restaurant where he usually ate. Defendant in fact admitted that he
went to plaintiff's hometown of Bañaga, Bugallon, Pangasinan, at least thrice; at
(sic) the town fiesta on February 27, 1987 (p. 54, tsn May 18, 1988), at (sic) a
beach party together with the manager and employees of the Mabuhay
Luncheonette on March 3, 1987 (p. 50, tsn id.), and on April 1, 1987 when he
allegedly talked to plaintiff's mother who told him to marry her daughter (pp. 55-56,
tsn id.). Would defendant have left Dagupan City where he was involved in the
serious study of medicine to go to plaintiff's hometown in Bañaga, Bugallon, unless
there was (sic) some kind of special relationship between them? And this special
relationship must indeed have led to defendant's insincere proposal of marriage to
plaintiff, communicated not only to her but also to her parents, and (sic) Marites
Rabino, the owner of the restaurant where plaintiff was working and where
defendant first proposed marriage to her, also knew of this love affair and
defendant's proposal of marriage to plaintiff, which she declared was the reason
why plaintiff resigned from her job at the restaurant after she had accepted
defendant's proposal (pp. 6-7, tsn March 7, 1988).
Upon the other hand, appellant does not appear to be a man of good moral
character and must think so low and have so little respect and regard for Filipino
women that he openly admitted that when he studied in Bacolod City for several
years where he finished his B.S. Biology before he came to Dagupan City to study
medicine, he had a common-law wife in Bacolod City. In other words, he also lived
with another woman in Bacolod City but did not marry that woman, just like what he
did to plaintiff. It is not surprising, then, that he felt so little compunction or remorse
in pretending to love and promising to marry plaintiff, a young, innocent, trustful
country girl, in order to satisfy his lust on her.
and then concluded:
In sum, we are strongly convinced and so hold that it was defendant-appellant's
fraudulent and deceptive protestations of love for and promise to marry plaintiff that
made her surrender her virtue and womanhood to him and to live with him on the
honest and sincere belief that he would keep said promise, and it was likewise
these (sic) fraud and deception on appellant's part that made plaintiff's parents
agree to their daughter's living-in with him preparatory to their supposed marriage.
And as these acts of appellant are palpably and undoubtedly against morals, good
customs, and public policy, and are even gravely and deeply derogatory and
insulting to our women, coming as they do from a foreigner who has been enjoying
the hospitality of our people and taking advantage of the opportunity to study in one
of our institutions of learning, defendant-appellant should indeed be made, under
Art. 21 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, to compensate for the moral damages
and injury that he had caused plaintiff, as the lower court ordered him to do in its
decision in this case.
Unfazed by his second defeat, petitioner filed the instant petition on 26 March 1991; he raises
therein the single issue of whether or not Article 21 of the Civil Code applies to the case at bar.
It is petitioner's thesis that said Article 21 is not applicable because he had not committed any
moral wrong or injury or violated any good custom or public policy; he has not professed love or
proposed marriage to the private respondent; and he has never maltreated her. He criticizes the
trial court for liberally invoking Filipino customs, traditions and culture, and ignoring the fact that
since he is a foreigner, he is not conversant with such Filipino customs, traditions and culture. As
an Iranian Moslem, he is not familiar with Catholic and Christian ways. He stresses that even if he
had made a promise to marry, the subsequent failure to fulfill the same is excusable or tolerable
because of his Moslem upbringing; he then alludes to the Muslim Code which purportedly allows a
Muslim to take four (4) wives and concludes that on the basis thereof, the trial court erred in ruling
that he does not posses good moral character. Moreover, his controversial "common law life" is
now his legal wife as their marriage had been solemnized in civil ceremonies in the Iranian
Embassy. As to his unlawful cohabitation with the private respondent, petitioner claims that even if
responsibility could be pinned on him for the live-in relationship, the private respondent should also
be faulted for consenting to an illicit arrangement. Finally, petitioner asseverates that even if it was
to be assumed arguendo that he had professed his love to the private respondent and had also
promised to marry her, such acts would not be actionable in view of the special circumstances of
the case. The mere breach of promise is not actionable.
On 26 August 1991, after the private respondent had filed her Comment to the petition and the
petitioner had filed his Reply thereto, this Court gave due course to the petition and required the
parties to submit their respective Memoranda, which they subsequently complied with.
As may be gleaned from the foregoing summation of the petitioner's arguments in support of his
thesis, it is clear that questions of fact, which boil down to the issue of the credibility of witnesses,
are also raised. It is the rule in this jurisdiction that appellate courts will not disturb the trial court's
findings as to the credibility of witnesses, the latter court having heard the witnesses and having
had the opportunity to observe closely their deportment and manner of testifying, unless the trial
court had plainly overlooked facts of substance or value which, if considered, might affect the result
of the case.
Petitioner has miserably failed to convince Us that both the appellate and trial courts had
overlooked any fact of substance or values which could alter the result of the case.
Equally settled is the rule that only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review
on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. It is not the function of this Court to analyze or
weigh all over again the evidence introduced by the parties before the lower court. There are,
however, recognized exceptions to this rule. Thus, inMedina vs. Asistio, Jr.,
this Court took the
time, again, to enumerate these exceptions:
xxx xxx xxx
(1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or
conjectures (Joaquin v. Navarro, 93 Phil. 257 ); (2) When the inference made
is manifestly mistaken, absurb or impossible (Luna v. Linatok, 74 Phil. 15 );
(3) Where there is a grave abuse of discretion (Buyco v. People, 95 Phil. 453
); (4) When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts (Cruz v.
L-4875, Nov. 27, 1953); (5) When the findings of fact are conflicting (Casica v.
Villaseca, L-9590 Ap. 30, 1957; unrep.) (6) When the Court of Appeals, in making
its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the
admissions of both appellate and appellee (Evangelista v. Alto Surety and
Insurance Co., 103 Phil. 401 );
(7) The findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court
(Garcia v. Court of Appeals, 33 SCRA 622 ; Sacay v. Sandiganbayan, 142
SCRA 593 ); (8) When the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of
specific evidence on which they are based (Ibid.,); (9) When the facts set forth in
the petition as well as in the petitioners main and reply briefs are not disputed by
the respondents (Ibid.,); and (10) The finding of fact of the Court of Appeals is
premised on the supposed absence of evidence and is contradicted by the
evidence on record (Salazar v. Gutierrez, 33 SCRA 242 ).
Petitioner has not endeavored to joint out to Us the existence of any of the above quoted
exceptions in this case. Consequently, the factual findings of the trial and appellate courts must be
And now to the legal issue.
The existing rule is that a breach of promise to marry per se is not an actionable
Congress deliberately eliminated from the draft of the New Civil Code the provisions that
would have made it so. The reason therefor is set forth in the report of the Senate Committees on
the Proposed Civil Code, from which We quote:
The elimination of this chapter is proposed. That breach of promise to marry is not
actionable has been definitely decided in the case of De Jesus vs. Syquia.
history of breach of promise suits in the United States and in England has shown
that no other action lends itself more readily to abuse by designing women and
unscrupulous men. It is this experience which has led to the abolition of rights of
action in the so-called Heart Balm suits in many of the American states. . . .
This notwithstanding, the said Code contains a provision, Article 21, which is designed to expand
the concept of torts or quasi-delict in this jurisdiction by granting adequate legal remedy for the
untold number of moral wrongs which is impossible for human foresight to specifically enumerate
and punish in the statute books.
As the Code Commission itself stated in its Report:
But the Code Commission had gone farther than the sphere of wrongs defined or
determined by positive law. Fully sensible that there are countless gaps in the
statutes, which leave so many victims of moral wrongs helpless, even though they
have actually suffered material and moral injury, the Commission has deemed it
necessary, in the interest of justice, to incorporate in the proposed Civil Code the
Art. 23. 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.
An example will illustrate the purview of the foregoing norm: "A" seduces the
nineteen-year old daughter of "X". A promise of marriage either has not been made,
or can not be proved. The girl becomes pregnant. Under the present laws, there is
no crime, as the girl is above nineteen years of age. Neither can any civil action for
breach of promise of marriage be filed. Therefore, though the grievous moral wrong
has been committed, and though the girl and family have suffered incalculable
moral damage, she and her parents cannot bring action for damages. But under the
proposed article, she and her parents would have such a right of action.
Thus at one stroke, the legislator, if the forgoing rule is approved, would 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.
Article 2176 of the Civil Code, which defines a quasi-delict thus:
Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or
negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there
is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-
delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter.
is limited to negligent acts or omissions and excludes the notion of willfulness or
intent. Quasi-delict, known in Spanish legal treatises as culpa aquiliana, is a civil law
concept while torts is an Anglo-American or common law concept. Torts is much broader
than culpa aquiliana because it includes not only negligence, but international criminal acts
as well such as assault and battery, false imprisonment and deceit. In the general scheme
of the Philippine legal system envisioned by the Commission responsible for drafting the
New Civil Code, intentional and malicious acts, with certain exceptions, are to be governed
by the Revised Penal Code while negligent acts or omissions are to be covered by Article
2176 of the Civil Code.
In between these opposite spectrums are injurious acts which, in
the absence of Article 21, would have been beyond redress. Thus, Article 21 fills that
vacuum. It is even postulated that together with Articles 19 and 20 of the Civil Code, Article
21 has greatly broadened the scope of the law on civil wrongs; it has become much more
supple and adaptable than the Anglo-American law on torts.
In the light of the above laudable purpose of Article 21, We are of the opinion, and so hold, that
where a man's promise to marry is in fact the proximate cause of the acceptance of his love by a
woman and his representation to fulfill that promise thereafter becomes the proximate cause of the
giving of herself unto him in a sexual congress, proof that he had, in reality, no intention of
marrying her and that the promise was only a subtle scheme or deceptive device to entice or
inveigle her to accept him and to obtain her consent to the sexual act, could justify the award of
damages pursuant to Article 21 not because of such promise to marry but because of the fraud and
deceit behind it and the willful injury to her honor and reputation which followed thereafter. It is
essential, however, that such injury should have been committed in a manner contrary to morals,
good customs or public policy.
In the instant case, respondent Court found that it was the petitioner's "fraudulent and deceptive
protestations of love for and promise to marry plaintiff that made her surrender her virtue and
womanhood to him and to live with him on the honest and sincere belief that he would keep said
promise, and it was likewise these fraud and deception on appellant's part that made plaintiff's
parents agree to their daughter's living-in with him preparatory to their supposed marriage."
short, the private respondent surrendered her virginity, the cherished possession of every single
Filipina, not because of lust but because of moral seduction — the kind illustrated by the Code
Commission in its example earlier adverted to. The petitioner could not be held liable for criminal
seduction punished under either Article 337 or Article 338 of the Revised Penal Code because the
private respondent was above eighteen (18) years of age at the time of the seduction.
Prior decisions of this Court clearly suggest that Article 21 may be applied in a breach of promise
to marry where the woman is a victim of moral seduction. Thus, in Hermosisima vs. Court of
this Court denied recovery of damages to the woman because:
. . . we find ourselves unable to say that petitioner is morally guilty of seduction, not
only because he is approximately ten (10) years younger than the complainant —
who was around thirty-six (36) years of age, and as highly enlightened as a former
high school teacher and a life insurance agent are supposed to be — when she
became intimate with petitioner, then a mere apprentice pilot, but, also, because the
court of first instance found that, complainant "surrendered herself" to petitioner
because, "overwhelmed by her love" for him, she "wanted to bind" him by having a
fruit of their engagement even before they had the benefit of clergy.
In Tanjanco vs. Court of Appeals,
while this Court likewise hinted at possible recovery if there
had been moral seduction, recovery was eventually denied because We were not convinced that
such seduction existed. The following enlightening disquisition and conclusion were made in the
The Court of Appeals seem to have overlooked that the example set forth in the
Code Commission's memorandum refers to a tort upon a minor who had
been seduced. The essential feature is seduction, that in law is more than mere
sexual intercourse, or a breach of a promise of marriage; it connotes essentially the
idea of deceit, enticement, superior power or abuse of confidence on the part of the
seducer to which the woman has yielded (U.S. vs. Buenaventura, 27 Phil. 121; U.S.
vs. Arlante, 9 Phil. 595).
It has been ruled in the Buenaventura case (supra) that —
To constitute seduction there must in all cases be some sufficient
promise or inducementand the woman must yield because of the
promise or other inducement. If she consents merely from carnal
lust and the intercourse is from mutual desire, there is no seduction
(43 Cent. Dig. tit. Seduction, par. 56) She must be induced to depart
from the path of virtue by the use of some species of arts,
persuasions and wiles, which are calculated to have and do have
that effect, and which result in her person to ultimately submitting
her person to the sexual embraces of her seducer (27 Phil. 123).
And in American Jurisprudence we find:
On the other hand, in an action by the woman, the enticement,
persuasion or deception is the essence of the injury; and a mere
proof of intercourse is insufficient to warrant a recovery.
Accordingly it is not seduction where the willingness arises out of
sexual desire of curiosity of the female, and the defendant merely
affords her the needed opportunity for the commission of the act. It
has been emphasized that to allow a recovery in all such cases
would tend to the demoralization of the female sex, and would be a
reward for unchastity by which a class of adventuresses would be
swift to profit. (47 Am. Jur. 662)
xxx xxx xxx
Over and above the partisan allegations, the fact stand out that for one whole year,
from 1958 to 1959, the plaintiff-appellee, a woman of adult age, maintain intimate
sexual relations with appellant, with repeated acts of intercourse. Such conduct is
incompatible with the idea of seduction. Plainly there is here voluntariness and
mutual passion; for had the appellant been deceived, had she surrendered
exclusively because of the deceit, artful persuasions and wiles of the defendant,
she would not have again yielded to his embraces, much less for one year, without
exacting early fulfillment of the alleged promises of marriage, and would have cut
short all sexual relations upon finding that defendant did not intend to fulfill his
defendant did not intend to fulfill his promise. Hence, we conclude that no case is
made under article 21 of the Civil Code, and no other cause of action being alleged,
no error was committed by the Court of First Instance in dismissing the complaint.
In his annotations on the Civil Code,
Associate Justice Edgardo L. Paras, who recently retired
from this Court, opined that in a breach of promise to marry where there had been carnal
knowledge, moral damages may be recovered:
. . . if there be criminal or moral seduction, but not if the intercourse was due to
mutual lust. (Hermosisima vs. Court of Appeals,
L-14628, Sept. 30, 1960; Estopa vs. Piansay, Jr., L-14733, Sept. 30, 1960; Batarra
vs. Marcos, 7 Phil. 56 (sic); Beatriz Galang vs. Court of Appeals, et al., L-17248,
Jan. 29, 1962). (In other words, if the CAUSE be the promise to marry, and the
EFFECT be the carnal knowledge, there is a chance that there was criminal or
moral seduction, hence recovery of moral damages will prosper. If it be the other
way around, there can be no recovery of moral damages, because here mutual lust
has intervened). . . .
together with "ACTUAL damages, should there be any, such as the expenses for the
wedding presentations (See Domalagon v. Bolifer, 33 Phil. 471).
Senator Arturo M. Tolentino
is also of the same persuasion:
It is submitted that the rule in Batarra vs. Marcos,
still subsists, notwithstanding
the incorporation of the present article
in the Code. The example given by the
Code Commission is correct, if there was seduction, not necessarily in the legal
sense, but in the vulgar sense of deception. But when the sexual act is
accomplished without any deceit or qualifying circumstance of abuse of authority or
influence, but the woman, already of age, has knowingly given herself to a man, it
cannot be said that there is an injury which can be the basis for indemnity.
But so long as there is fraud, which is characterized by willfulness (sic), the action
lies. The court, however, must weigh the degree of fraud, if it is sufficient to deceive
the woman under the circumstances, because an act which would deceive a girl
sixteen years of age may not constitute deceit as to an experienced woman thirty
years of age. But so long as there is a wrongful act and a resulting injury, there
should be civil liability, even if the act is not punishable under the criminal law and
there should have been an acquittal or dismissal of the criminal case for that
We are unable to agree with the petitioner's alternative proposition to the effect that granting, for
argument's sake, that he did promise to marry the private respondent, the latter is nevertheless
also at fault. According to him, both parties are in pari delicto; hence, pursuant to Article 1412(1) of
the Civil Code and the doctrine laid down inBatarra vs. Marcos,
the private respondent cannot
recover damages from the petitioner. The latter even goes as far as stating that if the private
respondent had "sustained any injury or damage in their relationship, it is primarily because of her
. . . She is also interested in the petitioner as the latter will become a doctor sooner
or later. Take notice that she is a plain high school graduate and a mere employee .
. . (Annex "C") or a waitress (TSN, p. 51, January 25, 1988) in a luncheonette and
without doubt, is in need of a man who can give her economic security. Her family is
in dire need of financial assistance. (TSN, pp. 51-53, May 18, 1988). And this
predicament prompted her to accept a proposition that may have been offered by
These statements reveal the true character and motive of the petitioner. It is clear that he harbors a
condescending, if not sarcastic, regard for the private respondent on account of the latter's ignoble
birth, inferior educational background, poverty and, as perceived by him, dishonorable
employment. Obviously then, from the very beginning, he was not at all moved by good faith and
an honest motive. Marrying with a woman so circumstances could not have even remotely
occurred to him. Thus, his profession of love and promise to marry were empty words directly
intended to fool, dupe, entice, beguile and deceive the poor woman into believing that indeed, he
loved her and would want her to be his life's partner. His was nothing but pure lust which he
wanted satisfied by a Filipina who honestly believed that by accepting his proffer of love and
proposal of marriage, she would be able to enjoy a life of ease and security. Petitioner clearly
violated the Filipino's concept of morality and brazenly defied the traditional respect Filipinos have
for their women. It can even be said that the petitioner committed such deplorable acts in blatant
disregard of Article 19 of the Civil Code which directs every person to act with justice, give
everyone his due and observe honesty and good faith in the exercise of his rights and in the
performance of his obligations.
No foreigner must be allowed to make a mockery of our laws, customs and traditions.
The pari delicto rule does not apply in this case for while indeed, the private respondent may not
have been impelled by the purest of intentions, she eventually submitted to the petitioner in sexual
congress not out of lust, but because of moral seduction. In fact, it is apparent that she had qualms
of conscience about the entire episode for as soon as she found out that the petitioner was not
going to marry her after all, she left him. She is not, therefore, in pari delicto with the petitioner. Pari
delicto means "in equal fault; in a similar offense or crime; equal in guilt or in legal fault."
it could be conceded that she is merely in delicto.
Equity often interferes for the relief of the less guilty of the parties, where his
transgression has been brought about by the imposition of undue influence of the
party on whom the burden of the original wrong principally rests, or where his
consent to the transaction was itself procured by
In Mangayao vs. Lasud,
Appellants likewise stress that both parties being at fault, there should be no action
by one against the other (Art. 1412, New Civil Code). This rule, however, has been
interpreted as applicable only where the fault on both sides is, more or less,
equivalent. It does not apply where one party is literate or intelligent and the other
one is not. (c.f. Bough vs. Cantiveros, 40 Phil. 209).
We should stress, however, that while We find for the private respondent, let it not be said that this
Court condones the deplorable behavior of her parents in letting her and the petitioner stay
together in the same room in their house after giving approval to their marriage. It is the solemn
duty of parents to protect the honor of their daughters and infuse upon them the higher values of
morality and dignity.
WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the challenged decision, the instant petition is hereby
DENIED, with costs against the petitioner.
Feliciano, Bidin, Romero and Melo, JJ., concur.
Gutierrez, Jr., J., is on leave.
Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. 108017 April 3, 1995
MARIA BENITA A. DULAY, in her own behalf and in behalf of the minor children KRIZTEEN
ELIZABETH, BEVERLY MARIE and NAPOLEON II, all surnamed DULAY, petitioners,
THE COURT OF APPEALS, Former Eighth Division, HON. TEODORO P. REGINO, in his
capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court National Capital Region, Quezon
City, Br. 84, SAFEGUARD INVESTIGATION AND SECURITY CO., INC., and SUPERGUARD
SECURITY CORPORATION, respondents.
This petition for certiorari prays for the reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals dated
October 29, 1991 in CA-G.R. CV No. 24646 which affirmed the order of the Regional Trial Court
dismissing Civil Case No. Q-89-1751, and its resolution dated November 17, 1991 denying herein,
petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
The antecedent facts of the case are as follows:
On December 7, 1988, an altercation between Benigno Torzuela and Atty. Napoleon Dulay
occurred at the "Big Bang Sa Alabang," Alabang Village, Muntinlupa as a result of which Benigno
Torzuela, the security guard on duty at the said carnival, shot and killed Atty. Napoleon Dulay.
Herein petitioner Maria Benita A. Dulay, widow of the deceased Napoleon Dulay, in her own behalf
and in behalf of her minor children, filed on February 8, 1989 an action for damages against
Benigno Torzuela and herein private respondents Safeguard Investigation and Security Co., Inc.,
("SAFEGUARD") and/or Superguard Security Corp. ("SUPERGUARD"), alleged employers of
defendant Torzuela. The complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. Q-89-1751 among others alleges
1. . . .
Defendants SAFEGUARD INVESTIGATION AND SECURITY CO., INC.,
(Defendant Safeguard) and SUPERGUARD SECURITY CORPORATION
(Defendant Superguard) are corporations duly organized and existing in
accordance with Philippine laws, with offices at 10th Floor, Manufacturers Building,
Inc., Plaza Santa Cruz, Manila. They are impleaded as alternative defendants for,
while the former appears to be the employer of defendant BENIGNO TORZUELA
(defendant TORZUELA), the latter impliedly acknowledged responsibility for the
acts of defendant TORZUELA by extending its sympathies to plaintiffs.
Defendant BENIGNO TORZUELA is of legal age, an employee of defendant
SAFEGUARD and/or defendant SUPERGUARD and, at the time of the incident
complained of, was under their control and supervision. . . .
3. On December 7, 1988 at around 8:00 a.m., defendant TORZUELA, while he was
on duty as security guard at the "Big Bang sa Alabang," Alabang Village,
Muntinlupa, Metro Manila shot and killed NAPOLEON V. DULAY with a .38 caliber
revolver belonging to defendant SAFEGUARD, and/or SUPERGUARD (per Police
Report dated January 7, 1989, copy attached as Annex A);
4. The incident resulting in the death of NAPOLEON V. DULAY was due to the
concurring negligence of the defendants. Defendant TORZUELA'S wanton and
reckless discharge of the firearm issued to him by defendant SAFEGUARD and/or
SUPERGUARD was the immediate and proximate cause of the injury, while the
negligence of defendant SAFEGUARD and/or SUPERGUARD consists in its having
failed to exercise the diligence of a good father of a family in the supervision and
control of its employee to avoid the injury.
xxx xxx xxx
(Rollo, pp. 117-118)
Petitioners prayed for actual, compensatory, moral and exemplary damages, and attorney's fees.
The said Civil Case No. Q-89-1751 was raffled to Branch 84 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon
City, presided by respondent Judge Teodoro Regino.
On March 2, 1989, private respondent SUPERGUARD filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground that
the complaint does not state a valid cause of action. SUPERGUARD claimed that Torzuela's act of
shooting Dulay was beyond the scope of his duties, and that since the alleged act of shooting was
committed with deliberate intent (dolo), the civil liability therefor is governed by Article 100 of the
Revised Penal Code, which states:
Art. 100. Civil liability of a person guilty of a felony. — Every person criminally liable
for a felony is also civilly liable.
Respondent SUPERGUARD further alleged that a complaint for damages based on negligence
under Article 2176 of the New Civil Code, such as the one filed by petitioners, cannot lie, since the
civil liability under Article 2176 applies only to quasi-offenses under Article 365 of the Revised
Penal Code. In addition, the private respondent argued that petitioners' filing of the complaint is
premature considering that the conviction of Torzuela in a criminal case is a condition sine qua
non for the employer's subsidiary liability (Rollo, p. 55-59).
Respondent SAFEGUARD also filed a motion praying that it be excluded as defendant on the
ground that defendant Torzuela is not one of its employees (Rollo, p. 96).
Petitioners opposed both motions, stating that their cause of action against the private respondents
is based on their liability under Article 2180 of the New Civil Code, which provides:
Art. 2180. The obligation imposed by Article 2176 is demandable not only for one's
own acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible.
xxx xxx xxx
Employers shall be liable for the damages caused by their employees and
household helpers acting within the scope of their assigned tasks, even though the
former are not engaged in any business or an industry.
xxx xxx xxx
Petitioners contended that a suit against alternative defendants is allowed under Rule 3, Section 13
of the Rules of Court. Therefore, the inclusion of private respondents as alternative defendants in
the complaint is justified by the following: the Initial Investigation Report prepared by Pat. Mari o
Tubon showing that Torzuela is an employee of SAFEGUARD; and through overt acts,
SUPERGUARD extended its sympathies to petitioners (Rollo, pp. 64 and 98).
Meanwhile, an Information dated March 21, 1989 charging Benigno Torzuela with homicide was
filed before the Regional Trial Court of Makati and was docketed as Criminal Case No. 89-1896.
On April 13, 1989, respondent Judge Regino issued an order granting SUPERGUARD'S motion to
dismiss and SAFEGUARD'S motion for exclusion as defendant. The respondent judge held that
the complaint did not state facts necessary or sufficient to constitute a quasi-delict since it does not
mention any negligence on the part of Torzuela in shooting Napoleon Dulay or that the same was
done in the performance of his duties. Respondent judge ruled that mere allegations of the
concurring negligence of the defendants (private respondents herein) without stating the facts
showing such negligence are mere conclusions of law (Rollo, p. 106). Respondent judge also
declared that the complaint was one for damages founded on crimes punishable under Articles 100
and 103 of the Revised Penal Code as distinguished from those arising from, quasi-delict. The
dispositive portion of the order dated April 13, 1989 states:
WHEREFORE, this Court holds that in view of the material and ultimate facts
alleged in the verified complaint and in accordance with the applicable law on the
matter as well as precedents laid down by the Supreme Court, the complaint
against the alternative defendants Superguard Security Corporation and Safeguard
Investigation and Security Co., Inc., must be and (sic) it is hereby dismissed. (Rollo,
The above order was affirmed by the respondent court and petitioners' motion for reconsideration
thereof was denied.
Petitioners take exception to the assailed decision and insist that quasi-delicts are not limited to
acts of negligence but also cover acts that are intentional and voluntary, citing Andamo v. IAC (191
SCRA 195 ). Thus, petitioners insist that Torzuela' s act of shooting Napoleon Dulay
constitutes a quasi-delict actionable under Article 2176 of the New Civil Code.
Petitioners further contend that under Article 2180 of the New Civil Code, private respondents are
primarily liable for their negligence either in the selection or supervision of their employees. This
liability is independent of the employee's own liability for fault or negligence and is distinct from the
subsidiary civil liability under Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code. The civil action against the
employer may therefore proceed independently of the criminal action pursuant to Rule 111 Section
3 of the Rules of Court. Petitioners submit that the question of whether Torzuela is an employee of
respondent SUPERGUARD or SAFEGUARD would be better resolved after trial.
Moreover, petitioners argue that Torzuela's act of shooting Dulay is also actionable under Article 33
of the New Civil Code, to wit:
Art. 33. In cases of defamation, fraud, and physical injuries, a civil action for
damages, entirely separate and distinct from the criminal action, may be brought by
the injured party. Such civil action shall proceed independently of the criminal
prosecution, and shall require only a preponderance of evidence. (Emphasis
In the same vein, petitioners cite Section 3, Rule 111 of the Rules of Court which provides:
Rule 111. . . . .
Sec. 3. When civil action may proceed independently — In the cases provided for in
Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, the independent
civil action which has been reserved may be brought by the offended party, shall
proceed independently of the criminal action, and shall require only a
preponderance of evidence. (Emphasis supplied)
The term "physical injuries" under Article 33 has been held to include consummated, frustrated and
attempted homicide. Thus, petitioners maintain that Torzuela's prior conviction is unnecessary
since the civil action can proceed independently of the criminal action. On the other hand, it is the
private respondents' argument that since the act was not committed with negligence, the
petitioners have no cause of action under Articles 2116 and 2177 of the New Civil Code. The civil
action contemplated in Article 2177 is not applicable to acts committed with deliberate intent, but
only applies to quasi-offenses under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code. Torzuela's act of
shooting Atty. Dulay to death, aside from being purely personal, was done with deliberate intent
and could not have been part of his duties as security guard. And since Article 2180 of the New
Civil Code covers only: acts done within the scope of the employee's assigned tasks, the private
respondents cannot be held liable for damages.
We find for petitioners.
It is undisputed that Benigno Torzuela is being prosecuted for homicide for the fatal shooting of
Napoleon Dulay. Rule 111 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure provides:
Sec. 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. When a criminal action is instituted,
the civil action for the recovery of civil liability is impliedly instituted with the criminal
action, unless the offended party waives the civil action , reserves his right to
institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action.
Such civil action includes recovery of indemnity under the Revised Penal Code, and
damages under Articles 32, 33, 34, and 2176 of the Civil Code of the Philippines
arising from the same act or omission of the accused. (Emphasis supplied)
It is well-settled that the filing of an independent civil action before the prosecution in the criminal
action presents evidence is even far better than a compliance with the requirement of express
reservation (Yakult Philippines v. Court of Appeals, 190 SCRA 357 ). This is precisely what
the petitioners opted to do in this case. However, the private respondents opposed the civil action
on the ground that the same is founded on a delict and not on a quasi-delict as the shooting was
not attended by negligence. What is in dispute therefore is the nature of the petitioner's cause of
The nature of a cause of action is determined by the facts alleged in the complaint as constituting
the cause of action (Republic v. Estenzo, 158 SCRA 282 ). The purpose of an action or suit
and the law to govern it is to be determined not by the claim of the party filing the action, made in
his argument or brief, but rather by the complaint itself, its allegations and prayer for relief. (De
Tavera v. Philippine Tuberculosis Society, 112 SCRA 243 ). An examination of the complaint
in the present case would show that the plaintiffs, petitioners herein, are invoking their right to
recover damages against the private respondents for their vicarious responsibility for the injury
caused by Benigno Torzuela's act of shooting and killing Napoleon Dulay, as stated in paragraphs
1 and 2 of the complaint.
Article 2176 of the New Civil Code provides:
Art. 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault
or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if
there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties is called a quasi-
delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter.
Contrary to the theory of private respondents, there is no justification for limiting the scope of
Article 2176 of the Civil Code to acts or omissions resulting from negligence. Well-entrenched is
the doctrine that article 2176 covers not only acts committed with negligence, but also acts which
are voluntary and intentional. As far back as the definitive case of Elcano v. Hill (77 SCRA 98
), this Court already held that:
. . . Article 2176, where it refers to "fault or negligence," covers not only acts "not
punishable by law" but also acts criminal in character; whether intentional and
voluntary or negligent. Consequently, a separate civil action against the offender in
a criminal act, whether or not he is criminally prosecuted and found guilty or
acquitted, provided that the offended party is not allowed, if he is actually charged
also criminally, to recover damages on both scores, and would be entitled in such
eventuality only to the bigger award of the two, assuming the awards made in the
two cases vary. In other words, the extinction of civil liability referred to in Par. (e) of
Section 3, Rule 111, refers exclusively to civil liability founded on Article 100 of the
Revised Penal Code, whereas the civil liability for the same act considered as
quasi-delict only and not as a crime is not extinguished even by a declaration in the
criminal case that the criminal act charged has not happened or has not been
committed by the accused. Briefly stated, We here hold, in reiteration of Garcia,
that culpa aquiliana includes voluntary and negligent acts which may be punishable
by law. (Emphasis supplied)
The same doctrine was echoed in the case of Andamo v. Intermediate Appellate Court (191 SCRA
195 ), wherein the Court held:
Article 2176, whenever it refers to "fault or negligence," covers not only acts
criminal in character, whether intentional and voluntary or negligent. Consequently,
a civil action lies against the offender in a criminal act, whether or not he is
prosecuted or found guilty or acquitted, provided that the offended party is not
allowed, (if the tortfeasor is actually also charged criminally), to recover damages
on both scores, and would be entitled in such eventuality only to the bigger award of
the two, assuming the awards made in the two cases vary. [citing Virata v. Ochoa,
81 SCRA 472] (Emphasis supplied)
Private respondents submit that the word "intentional" in the Andamo case is inaccurate obiter, and
should be read as "voluntary" since intent cannot be coupled with negligence as defined by Article
365 of the Revised Penal Code. In the absence of more substantial reasons, this Court will not
disturb the above doctrine on the coverage of Article 2176.
Private respondents further aver that Article 33 of the New Civil Code applies only to injuries
intentionally committed pursuant to the ruling in Marcia v. CA (120 SCRA 193 ), and that the
actions for damages allowed thereunder are ex-delicto. However, the term "physical injuries" in
Article 33 has already been construed to include bodily injuries causing death (Capuno v. Pepsi-
Cola Bottling Co. of the Philippines, 121 Phil. 638 [1965); Carandang v. Santiago, 97 Phil. 94
). It is not the crime of physical injuries defined in the Revised Penal Code. It includes not
only physical injuries but also consummated, frustrated, and attempted homicide (Madeja v. Caro,
126 SCRA 293 ). Although in the Marcia case (supra), it was held that no independent civil
action may be filed under Article 33 where the crime is the result of criminal negligence, it must be
noted however, that Torzuela, the accused in the case at bar, is charged with homicide, not with
reckless imprudence, whereas the defendant in Marcia was charged with reckless imprudence.
Therefore, in this case, a civil action based on Article 33 lies.
Private respondents also contend that their liability is subsidiary under the Revised Penal Code;
and that they are not liable for Torzuela's act which is beyond the scope of his duties as a security
guard. It having been established that the instant action is not ex-delicto, petitioners may proceed
directly against Torzuela and the private respondents. Under Article 2180 of the New Civil Code as
aforequoted, when an injury is caused by the negligence of the employee, there instantly arises a
presumption of law that there was negligence on the part of the master or employer either in the
selection of the servant or employee, or in supervision over him after selection or both (Layugan v.
Intermediate Appellate Court, 167 SCRA 363 ). The liability of the employer under Article
2180 is direct and immediate; it is not conditioned upon prior recourse against the negligent
employee and a prior showing of the insolvency of such employee (Kapalaran Bus Lines v.
Coronado, 176 SCRA 792 ). Therefore, it is incumbent upon the private respondents to
prove that they exercised the diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision
of their employee.
Since Article 2176 covers not only acts of negligence but also acts which are intentional and
voluntary, it was therefore erroneous on the part of the trial court to dismiss petitioner's complaint
simply because it failed to make allegations of attendant negligence attributable to private
With respect to the issue of whether the complaint at hand states a sufficient cause of action, the
general rule is that the allegations in a complaint are sufficient to constitute a cause of action
against the defendants if, admitting the facts alleged, the court can render a valid judgment upon
the same in accordance with the prayer therein. A cause of action exist if the following elements
are present, namely: (1) a right in favor of the plaintiff by whatever means and under whatever law
it arises or is created; (2) an obligation on the part of the named defendant to respect or not to
violate such right; and (3) an act or omission on the part of such defendant violative of the right of
the plaintiff or constituting a breach of the obligation of the defendant to the plaintiff for which the
latter may maintain an action for recovery of damages (Del Bros Hotel Corporation v. CA, 210
SCRA 33 ); Development Bank of the Philippines v. Pundogar, 218 SCRA 118 )
This Court finds, under the foregoing premises, that the complaint sufficiently alleged an actionable
breach on the part of the defendant Torzuela and respondents SUPERGUARD and/or
SAFEGUARD. It is enough that the complaint alleged that Benigno Torzuela shot Napoleon Dulay
resulting in the latter's death; that the shooting occurred while Torzuela was on duty; and that either
SUPERGUARD and/or SAFEGUARD was Torzuela's employer and responsible for his acts. This
does not operate however, to establish that the defendants below are liable. Whether or not the
shooting was actually reckless and wanton or attended by negligence and whether it was actually
done within the scope of Torzuela's duties; whether the private respondents SUPERGUARD and/or
SAFEGUARD failed to exercise the diligence of a good father of a family; and whether the
defendants are actually liable, are questions which can be better resolved after trial on the merits
where each party can present evidence to prove their respective allegations and defenses. In
determining whether the allegations of a complaint are sufficient to support a cause of action, it
must be borne in mind that the complaint does not have to establish or allege the facts proving the
existence of a cause of action at the outset; this will have to be done at the trial on the merits of the
case (Del Bros Hotel Corporation v. CA, supra). If the allegations in a complaint can furnish a
sufficient basis by which the complaint can be maintained, the same should not be dismissed
regardless of the defenses that may be assessed by the defendants (Rava Dev't. Corp. v. CA, 211
SCRA 152  citing Consolidated Bank & Trust Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 197 SCRA
663 ). To sustain a motion to dismiss for lack of cause of action, the complaint must show
that the claim for relief does not exist rather than that a claim has been defectively stated, is
ambiguous, indefinite or uncertain (Azur v. Provincial Board, 27 SCRA 50 ). Since the
petitioners clearly sustained an injury to their rights under the law, it would be more just to allow
them to present evidence of such injury.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for review is hereby GRANTED. The decision of
the Court of Appeals as well as the Order of the Regional Trial Court dated April 13, 1989 are
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Civil Case No. Q-89-1751 is remanded to the Regional Trial
Court for trial on the merits. This decision is immediately executory.
Narvasa, C.J., Regalado, Puno and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?