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10/9/2016

G.R.No.140420

TodayisSunday,October09,2016

RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila
FIRSTDIVISION
G.R.No.140420February15,2001
SERGIOAMONOY,petitioner,
vs.
SpousesJOSEGUTIERREZandANGELAFORNIDA,respondents.
PANGANIBAN,J.:
Damnumabsqueinjuria.Underthisprinciple,thelegitimateexerciseofaperson'srights,evenifitcauseslossto
another,doesnotautomaticallyresultinanactionableinjury.Thelawdoesnotprescribearemedyfortheloss.
Thisprincipledoesnot,however,applywhenthereisanabuseofaperson'sright,orwhentheexerciseofthis
rightissuspendedorextinguishedpursuanttoacourtorder.Indeed,intheavailmentofone'srights,onemust
actwithjustice,givetheirdue,andobservehonestyandgoodfaith
TheCase
BeforeusisaPetitionforReviewunderRule45oftheRulesofCourt,assailingtheApril21,1999Decision1 of
the Court of Appeals (CA) in CAGR CV No. 41451, which set aside the judgment2 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Tanay, Rizal. The RTC had earlier dismissed the Complaint for damages filed by herein respondents
againstpetitioner.ThedispositiveportionofthechallengedCADecisionreadsasfollows:
"WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is SET ASIDE, and in its stead judgment is rendered ordering the
defendantappelleeSergioAmonoytopaytheplaintiffsappellantsbrunoandBernadinaGutierrezasactual
damagesthesumof[t]wo[h]undred[f]ifty[t]housand[p]esos(P250,000.00)."3
LikewiseassailedistheOctober19,1999CAResolution,4whichdeniedtheMotionforReconsideration.
TheFacts
Theappellatecourtnarratedthefactualantecedentsofthiscaseasfollows:
"This case had its roots in Special Proceedings No. 3103 of Branch I of the CFI of Pasig, Rizal, for the
settlement of the estate of the deceased Julio Cantolos, involving six(6) parcels of land situated in Tanay
Rizal. Amonoy was the counsel of therein Francisca Catolos, Agnes Catolos, Asuncion Pasamba and
AlfonsoFormida.On12January1965,theProjectofPartitionsubmittedwasapprovedandxxxtwo(2)of
thesaidlotswereadjudicatedtoAsuncionPasambaandAlfonsoFormilda.TheAttorney'sfeeschargedby
Amonoy was P27,600.00 and on 20 January 1965 Asuncion Pasamba and Alfonso Formida executed a
deedofrealestatemortgageonthesaidtwo(2)lotsadjudicatedtothem,infavorofAmonoytosecurethe
paymentofhisattorney'sfees.Butitwasonlyon6August1969afterthetaxeshadbeenpaid,theclaims
settledandthepropertiesadjudicated,thattheestatewasdeclaredclosedandterminated.
"Asuncion Pasamba died on 24 February 1969 while Alfonso Fornilda passsed away on 2 July 1969.
Amongtheheirsofthelatterwashisdaughter,plaintiffappellantAngelaGutierrez.
"BecausehisAttorney'sfessthussecuredbythetwolotswerenotpaid,on21January1970Amonoyfiled
fortheirforeclosureinCivilCode4No.12726entitledSergioAmonoyvs.HeirsofAsuncionPasambaand
Heirs of Alfonso Fornilda before the CFI of Pasig, Rizal, and this was assigned to Branch VIII. The heirs
opposed, contending that the attorney's fees charged [were] unconscionable and that the attorney's fees
charged[were]unconscionableandthattheagreedsumwasonlyP11,695.92.Buton28September1972
judgment was rendered in favor of Amonoy requiring the heirs to pay within 90 days the P27,600.00
secured by the mortgage, P11,880.00 as value of the harvests, and P9,645.00 as another round of
attorney'sfees.Failinginthat,thetwo(2)lotswouldbesoldatpublicauction.
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"Theyfailedtopay.On6February1973,thesaidlotswereforeclosedandon23March1973theauction
salewasheldwhereAmonoywasthehighestbidderatP23,760.00.On2May1973hisbidwasjudicially
confirmed.Adeficiencywasclaimedandtosatisfyitanotherexecutionsalewasconducted,andagainthe
highestbidderwasAmonoyatP12,137.50.
"IncludedinthosesoldwasthelotonwhichtheGutierrezspouseshadtheirhouse.
"MorethanayearaftertheDecisioninCivilCodeNo.12726wasrendered,thesaiddecedent'sheirsfiled
on19December1973beforetheCFIofPasig,Rixal[,]CivilcaseNo.18731entitledMariaPenano,etalvs.
SergioAmonoy,etal,asuitfortheannulmentthereof.ThecasewasdismissedbytheCFIon7November
1977,andthiswasaffirmedbytheCourtofAppealson22July1981.
"Thereafter,theCFIon25July1985issuedaWritofPossessionandpursuanttowhichanoticetovacate
was made on 26 August 1985. On Amonoy's motion of 24 April 1986, the Orders of 25 April 1986 and 6
May1986wereissuedforthedemolitionofstructuresinthesaidlots,includingthehouseoftheGutierrez
spouses.
"On27September1985thepetitionentitledDavid Fornilda, et al vs Branch 164 RTC Ivth Pasig, Deputy
Sheriff Joaquin Antonil and Atty. Sergio Amonoy, G.R. No. L72306, was filed before the Supreme Court.
AmongthepetitionerswastheplaintiffappellantAngelaGutierrez.Onatwinmusiyun(MahigpitnaMusiyon
Para Papanagutin Kaugnay ng Paglalapastangan) with full titles as fanciful and elongated as their
Petisyung (Petisyung Makapagsuri Taglay and Pagpigil ng Utos), a temporary restraining order was
grantedon2June1986enjoiningthedemolitionofthepetitioners'houses.
"Thenon5October1988aDecisionwasrenderedinthesaidG.R.No.L72306disposingthat:
"WHEREFORE, Certiorari is granted the Order of respondent Trial Court, dated 25 July 1985,
grantingaWritofPossession,aswellasitsOrderd,dated25April1986and16May1986,directing
and authorizing respondent Sheriff to demolish the houses of petitioners Angela and Leocadia
Fornilda are hereby ordered returned to petitioners unless some of them have been conveyed to
innocentthirdpersons."5
ButbythetimetheSupremeCourtpromulgatedtheabovementionedDecision,respondents'househadalready
beendestroyed,supposedlyinaccordancewithaWritofDemolitionorderedbythelowercourt.
Thus,aComplaintfordamagesinconnectionwiththedestructionoftheirhousewasfiledbyrespondentsagainst
petitionerbeforetheRTConDecember15,1989.
In its January 27, 1993 Decision, the RTC dismissed respondents' suit. On appeal, the CA set aside the lower
court's ruling and ordered petitioner to pay respondents P250,000 as actual damages. Petitioner then filed a
MotionforReconsideration,whichwasalsodenied.
TheIssue
InhisMemorandum,7petitionersubmitsthisloneissueforourconsideration:
"WhetherornottheCourtofAppealswascorrectwascorrectindecidingthatthepetition[was]liabletothe
respondentsfordamages."8
TheCourt'sRuling
ThePetitionhasnomerit.
MainIssue:
Petitioner'sLiability
Wellsettledisthemaximthatdamageresultingfromthelegitimateexerciseofaperson'srightsisalosswithout
injurydamnumabsqueinjuriaforwhichthelawgivesnoremedy.9 In other words, one who merely exercises
one'srightsdoesnoactionableinjuryandcannotbeheldliablefordamages.
Petitionerinvokesthislegalpreceptinarguingthatheisnotliableforthedemolitionofrespondents'house.He
maintainsthathewasmerelyactinginaccordancewiththeWritofDemolitionorderedbytheRTC.
Werejectthissubmission.Damnumabsqueinjuriafindsnoapplicationtothiscase.

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True,petitionercommencedthedemolitionofrespondents'houseonMay30,1986undertheauthorityofaWrit
ofDemolitionissuedbytheRTC.ButtherecordsshowthataTemporaryRestrainingOrder(TRO),enjoiningthe
demolitionofrespondents'house,wasissuedbytheSupremeCourtonJune2,1986.TheCAalsofound,based
on the Certificate of Service of the Supreme Court process server, that a copy of the TRO was served on
petitionerhimselfonJune4,1986.
Petitioner,howeverm,didnotheedtheTROofthisCourt.WeagreewiththeCAthatheunlawfullypursuedthe
demolitionofrespondents'housewelluntilthemiddleof1987.ThisisclearfromRespondentAngelaGutierrez's
testimony.Theappellatecourtquotedthefollowingpertinentportionthereof:10
"Q.OnMay30,1986,weretheyabletodestroyyourhouse?
"A.Notall,acertainportiononly
xxxxxxxxx
"Q.Wasyourhousecompletelydemolished?
"A.No,sir.
xxxxxxxxx
"Q.Untilwhen[,]Mrs.Witness?
"A.Until1987.
"Q.Aboutwhatmonthof1987?
"A.Middleoftheyear.
"Q.CanyoutelltheHonorableCourtwhocompletedthedemolition?
A.ThemenofFiscalAmonoy."11
Theforegoingdisprovestheclaimofpetitionerthatthedemolition,whichallegedlycommencedonlyonMay30,
1986, was completed the following day. It likewise belies his allegation that the demolitions had already ceased
whenhereceivednoticeoftheTRO.
Althoughtheactsofpetitionermayhavebeenlegallyjustifiedattheoutsset,theircontinuationaftertheissuance
oftheTROamountedtoaninsidiousabuseofhisright.Indubitably,hisactionsweretaintedwithbadfaith.Had
henotinsistedoncompletingthedemolition,respondentswouldnothavesufferedthelossthatengenderedthe
suitbeforetheRTC.Verily,hisactsconstitutednotonlyanabuseofaright,butaninvalidexerciseofarightthat
had been suspended when he received thae TRO from this Court on June 4, 1986. By then he was no longer
entitledtoproceedwiththedemolition.
Acommentatoronthistopicexplains:
"Theexerciseofarightendswhentherightdisappears,anditdisappearswhenitisabused,especiallyto
theprejudiceofothers.Themaskofarightwithoutthespiritofjustciewhichgivesitlife,isrepugnanttothe
modern concept of social law. It cannot be said that a person exercises a right when he unnecessarily
prejudices another xxx. Over and above the specific precepts of postive law are the supreme norms of
justice xxx and he who violates them violates the law. For this reason it is not permissible to abuse our
rightstoprejudiceothers."12
Likewise,inAlbensonEnterprisesCorp.v.CA,13theCourtdiscussedtheconceptofabuseofrightsasfollows:
"Artilce19,knowntocontainwhatiscommonlyreferredtoastheprincipleofabuseofrights,setscertain
standards which may be observed not only in the exercise of one's rights but also in the performance of
one'sduties.Thesestandardsarethefollowing:toactwithjusticetogiveeveryonehisduerecognizesthe
primordiallimitationonallrights:thatintheirexercise,thenormsofhumanconductsetforthinArticle19
and results in damage to another, a legal wrong is thereby committed for which the wrongdoer must be
heldresponsiblexxx."
Clearlythen,thedemolitionofrespondents'housebypetitioner,despitehisreceiptoftheTRO,wasnotonlyan
abusebutalsoanunlawfulexerciseofsuchright.Ininsistingonhisallegedright,hewantonlyviolatedthisCourt's
Orderandwittinglycausedthedestructionofrespondentshouse.
1 w p h i1 .n t

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Obviously, petitioner cannot invoke damnum absque injuria, a principle premised on the valid exercise of a
right.14Anythinglessorbeyondsuchexercisewillnotgiverisetothelegalprotectionthattheprincipleaccords.
Andwhendamageorprejudicetoanotherisoccasionedthereby,liabilitycannotbeobscured,muchlessabated.
Intheultimateanalysis,petitioner'sliabilityispremisedontheobligationtorepairortomakewholethedamage
causedtoanotherbyreasonofone'sactoromission,whetherdoneintentionallyornegligentlyandwhetheror
notpunishablebylaw.15
WHEREFORE,thePetitionisDENIEDandtheappealedDecisionAFFIRMED.Costsagainstpetitioner.
SOORDERED.
Melo,Vitug,GonzagaReyes,SandovalGutierrez,JJ:concur.

Footnotes:
1 Rollo, pp. 3444. The CA Decision was penned by Justice Roberto A. Barrios, with the concurrence of

JusticesGodardoA.Jacinto(Divisionchairman)andRenatoC.Dacudao.
2Rollo,pp.8387writtenbyJudgeGilP.Fernandez.
3Rollo,p.41
4Rollo,pp.4344.
5Rollo,pp.3537.
6 The case was deemed submitted for resolution on July 21, 2000, upon receipt by this Court of

Respondents' Memorandum signed by Attys. Romeo B. Igot and Liberato F. Mojica. Filed earlier was
petitioner'sMemorandum,signedbyAtty.GelacioC.MamarilandRobertoB.Arca.
7Rollo,pp.180210
8Ibid.,p.192.Uppercaseusedintheoriginal.
9Custodiov.CourtofAppeals,253SCRA483,February9,1996China Banking Corporation v. Court of

Appeals,231SCRA472,March28,1994Sbav.CourtofAppeals,189SCRA50,Auguts24,1990ilocos
Norte Electric Company v. Court of Appeals, 179 SCRA 5, November 6, 1989 Auyong Hian v. CTA, 59
SCRA110,September12,1974.
10CADecision,pp.67rollo,pp.3940.
11TSN,February12,1991,pp.1415
12AliciaGonzalesDecano,NotesonTortsandDamages,p.97.
13217SCRA16,2425,January11,1993,perBidin,J.
14GlobeMackayCableandRadioCorp.v.CoutofAppeals,176SCRA778,August25,1989.
15Occenav.Icamina,181SCRA328,January22,1990
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