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SantosvsPizardo:151452:July29,2005:J.Tinga:SecondDivision:Decision

SECONDDIVISION

[G.R.No.151452.July29,2005]

SPS. ANTONIO C. SANTOS and ESPERANZA C. SANTOS, NORA BARNALO,


BELINDA LUMACTAD, MARIENELA DY, NIKKA SANTOS and LEONARDO
FERRER, petitioners, vs. HON. NORMANDIE B. PIZARDO, as Presiding
Judge,RTCofQuezonCity,Branch101,DIONISIOMSIBAYAN,andVIRON
TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, INC., represented by VIRGILIO Q.
RONDARIS,President/Chairman,respondents.
DECISION
TINGA,J.:
[1]

InthisPetitionforReviewonCertiorari datedMarch1,2002,petitionersassailtheResolutions
oftheCourtofAppealsdatedSeptember10,2001andJanuary9,2002,respectivelydismissingtheir
petitionforcertiorarianddenyingtheirmotionforreconsideration,arisingfromthedismissaloftheir
complainttorecovercivilindemnityforthedeathandphysicalinjuriesoftheirkin.
Thefollowingfactsaremattersofrecord.
InanInformationdatedApril25,1994,DionisioM.Sibayan(Sibayan)waschargedwithReckless
ImprudenceResultingtoMultipleHomicideandMultiplePhysicalInjuriesinconnectionwithavehicle
collisionbetweenasouthboundVironTransitbusdrivenbySibayanandanorthboundLiteAceVan,
whichclaimedthelivesofthevansdriverandthree(3)ofitspassengers,includingatwomonthold
baby, and caused physical injuries to five (5) of the vans passengers. After trial, Sibayan was
convictedandsentencedtosufferthepenaltyofimprisonmentfortwo(2)years,four(4)monthsand
one (1) day to four (4) years and two (2) months. However, as there was a reservation to file a
separatecivilaction,nopronouncementofcivilliabilitywasmadebythemunicipalcircuittrialcourtin
[2]
itsdecisionpromulgatedonDecember17,1998.
OnOctober20,2000,petitionersfiledacomplaintfordamagesagainstSibayan,VironTransitand
itsPresident/Chairman,VirgilioQ.Rondaris,withtheRegionalTrialCourtofQuezonCity,pursuantto
[3]
theirreservationtofileaseparatecivilaction. TheycitedthereinthejudgmentconvictingSibayan.
Viron Transit moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds of improper service of summons,
prescriptionandlaches,anddefectivecertificationofnonforumshopping.Italsosoughtthedropping
of Virgilio Q. Rondaris as defendant in view of the separate personality of Viron Transit from its
[4]
officers.
Petitioners opposed the motion to dismiss contending, among others, that the right to file a
separateactioninthiscaseprescribesinten(10)yearsreckonedfromthefinalityofthejudgmentin
thecriminalaction.AstherewasnoappealofthedecisionconvictingSibayan,thecomplaintwhich
wasfiledbarelytwo(2)yearsthencewasclearlyfiledwithintheprescriptiveperiod.
The trial court dismissed the complaint on the principal ground that the cause of action had
already prescribed. According to the trial court, actions based on quasi delict, as it construed
petitioners cause of action to be, prescribe four (4) years from the accrual of the cause of action.
Hence, notwithstanding the fact that petitioners reserved the right to file a separate civil action, the
[5]
complaintoughttobedismissedonthegroundofprescription.
Improper service of summons was likewise cited as a ground for dismissal of the complaint as
summons was served through a certain Jessica Ubalde of the legal department without mentioning
herdesignationorposition.
Petitionersfiledamotionforreconsiderationpointingoutyetagainthatthecomplaintisnotbased
onquasidelictbutonthefinaljudgmentofconvictioninthecriminalcasewhichprescribesten(10)
[6]
yearsfromthefinalityofthejudgment. Thetrialcourtdeniedpetitionersmotionforreconsideration
reiteratingthatpetitionerscauseofactionwasbasedonquasidelictandhadprescribedunderArticle
1146oftheCivilCodebecausethecomplaintwasfiledmorethanfour(4)yearsafterthevehicular
[7]
accident. Asregardstheimproperserviceofsummons,thetrialcourtreconsidereditsrulingthatthe
complaintoughttobedismissedonthisground.
Petitioners filed a petition for certiorari with the Court ofAppeals which dismissed the same for
[8]

error in the choice or mode of appeal. The appellate court also denied petitioners motion for
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reconsideration reasoning that even if the respondent trial court judge committed grave abuse of
discretioninissuingtheorderofdismissal,certiorariisstillnotthepermissibleremedyasappealwas
available to petitioners and they failed to allege that the petition was brought within the recognized
exceptionsfortheallowanceofcertiorariinlieuofappeal.

[9]

In this petition, petitioners argue that a rigid application of the rule that certiorari cannot be a
substituteforappealwillresultinajudicialrejectionofanexistingobligationarisingfromthecriminal
liabilityofprivaterespondents.Petitionersinsistthattheliabilitysoughttobeenforcedinthecomplaint
aroseexdelictoandisnotbasedonquasidelict.Thetrialcourtallegedlycommittedgraveabuseof
discretionwhenitinsistedthatthecauseofactioninvokedbypetitionersisbasedonquasidelictand
concludedthattheactionhadprescribed.Sincetheactionisbasedonthecriminalliabilityofprivate
respondents,thecauseofactionaccruedfromthefinalityofthejudgmentofconviction.
Assumingthattheirpetitionwiththeappellatecourtwasprocedurallyflawed,petitionersimplore
theCourttoexemptthiscasefromtherigidoperationoftherulesastheyallegedlyhavealegitimate
grievance to vindicate, i.e., damages for the deaths and physical injuries caused by private
respondentsforwhichnocivilliabilityhadbeenadjudgedbyreasonoftheirreservationoftherightto
fileaseparatecivilaction.
[10]

In their Comment dated June 13, 2002, private respondents insist that the dismissal of the
complaint on the ground of prescription was in order. They point out that the averments in the
complaintmakeoutacauseofactionforquasidelictunderArticles2176and2180oftheCivilCode.
Assuch,theprescriptiveperiodoffour(4)yearsshouldbereckonedfromthetimetheaccidenttook
place.
Viron Transit also alleges that its subsidiary liability cannot be enforced since Sibayan was not
orderedtopaydamagesinthecriminalcase.ItisVironTransitscontentionthatthesubsidiaryliability
of the employer contemplated in Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code presupposes a situation
where the civil aspect of the case was instituted in the criminal case and no reservation to file a
separatecivilcasewasmade.
Private respondents likewise allege that the recourse to the Court of Appeals via certiorari was
improperaspetitionersshouldhaveappealedtheadverseorderofthetrialcourt.Moreover,theypoint
out several other procedural lapses allegedly committed by petitioners, such as lack of certification
againstforumshoppinglackofduplicateoriginalorcertifiedtruecopyoftheassailedorderofthetrial
courtandnonindicationofthefullnamesandaddressesofpetitionersinthepetition.
[11]

Petitioners filed a Reply


Rejoinder

[12]

dated September 14, 2002, while private respondents filed a

datedOctober14,2002,bothinreiterationoftheirarguments.

Wegrantthepetition.
Our Revised Penal Code provides that every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly
[13]

liable. Such civil liability may consist of restitution, reparation of the damage caused and
[14]
indemnification of consequential damages. When a criminal action is instituted, the civil liability
arising from the offense is impliedly instituted with the criminal action, subject to three notable
exceptions: first, when the injured party expressly waives the right to recover damages from the
accusedsecond,whentheoffendedpartyreserveshisrighttohavethecivildamagesdeterminedin
aseparateactioninordertotakefullcontrolanddirectionoftheprosecutionofhiscauseandthird,
when the injured party actually exercises the right to maintain a private suit against the offender by
institutingacivilactionpriortothefilingofthecriminalcase.
Notably,itwasthe1985RulesonCriminalProcedure,asamendedin1988,whichgovernedthe
institution of the criminal action, as well as the reservation of the right to file a separate civil action.
Section1,Rule111thereofstates:
Section1.Institutionofcriminalandcivilactions.Whenacriminalactionisinstituted,thecivilactionforthe
recoveryofcivilliabilityisimpliedlyinstitutedwiththecriminalaction,unlesstheoffendedpartywaivesthe
civilaction,reserveshisrighttoinstituteitseparately,orinstitutesthecivilactionpriortothecriminalaction.
SuchcivilactionincludesrecoveryofindemnityundertheRevisedPenalCode,anddamagesunderArticles32,
33,34and2176oftheCivilCodeofthePhilippinesarisingfromthesameactoromissionoftheaccused.
Awaiverofanyofthecivilactionsextinguishestheothers.Theinstitutionof,orthereservationoftherightto
file,anyofsaidcivilactionsseparatelywaivestheothers.
Thereservationoftherighttoinstitutetheseparatecivilactionsshallbemadebeforetheprosecutionstartsto
presentitsevidenceandundercircumstancesaffordingtheoffendedpartyareasonableopportunitytomake
suchreservation.
Innocasemaytheoffendedpartyrecoverdamagestwiceforthesameactoromissionoftheaccused.

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Whentheoffendedpartyseekstoenforcecivilliabilityagainsttheaccusedbywayofmoral,nominal,temperate
orexemplarydamages,thefilingfeesforsuchactionasprovidedintheseRulesshallconstituteafirstlienon
thejudgmentexceptinanawardforactualdamages.
Incaseswhereintheamountofdamages,otherthanactual,isallegedinthecomplaintorinformation,the
correspondingfilingfeesshallbepaidbytheoffendedpartyuponfilingthereofincourtfortrial.
Petitionersexpresslymadeareservationoftheirrighttofileaseparatecivilactionasaresultof
thecrimecommittedbySibayan.Onaccountofthisreservation,themunicipalcircuittrialcourt,inits
decisionconvictingSibayan,didnotmakeanypronouncementastothelatterscivilliability.
Predicatingtheirclaimonthejudgmentofconvictionandtheirreservationtofileaseparatecivil
action made in the criminal case, petitioners filed a complaint for damages against Sibayan, Viron
Transit and its President/Chairman. Petitioners assert that by the institution of the complaint, they
seek to recover private respondents civil liability arising from crime. Unfortunately, based on its
misreading of the allegations in the complaint, the trial court dismissed the same, declaring that
petitioners cause of action was based on quasidelictand should have been brought within four (4)
yearsfromthetimethecauseofactionaccrued,i.e.,fromthetimeoftheaccident.
Areadingofthecomplaintrevealsthattheallegationsthereinareconsistentwithpetitionersclaim
thattheactionwasbroughttorecovercivilliabilityarisingfromcrime.Althoughthereareallegationsof
negligenceonthepartofSibayanandVironTransit,suchdoesnotnecessarilymeanthatpetitioners
werepursuingacauseofactionbasedonquasidelict,consideringthatatthetimeofthefilingofthe
complaint, the cause of action ex quasi delicto had already prescribed. Besides, in cases of
negligence,theoffendedpartyhasthechoicebetweenanactiontoenforcecivilliabilityarisingfrom
crimeundertheRevisedPenalCodeandanactionforquasidelictundertheCivilCode.
Anactoromissioncausingdamagetoanothermaygiverisetotwoseparatecivilliabilitiesonthe
partoftheoffender,i.e.,(1)civilliabilityexdelicto,underArticle100oftheRevisedPenalCodeand
(2)independentcivilliabilities,suchasthose(a)notarisingfromanactoromissioncomplainedofas
a felony, e.g., culpa contractual or obligations arising from law under Article 31 of the Civil Code,
intentionaltortsunderArticles32and34,andculpaaquilianaunderArticle2176oftheCivilCodeor
(b) where the injured party is granted a right to file an action independent and distinct from the
[15]

criminalactionunderArticle33oftheCivilCode. Eitheroftheseliabilitiesmaybeenforcedagainst
theoffendersubjecttothecaveatunderArticle2177oftheCivilCodethattheplaintiffcannotrecover
damages twice for the same act or omission of the defendant and the similar proscription against
doublerecoveryundertheRulesabovequoted.
At the time of the filing of the complaint for damages in this case, the cause of action ex quasi
delictohadalreadyprescribed.Nonetheless,petitionerscanpursuetheremainingavenueopenedfor
them by their reservation, i.e., the surviving cause of action ex delicto. This is so because the
prescriptionoftheactionexquasidelictodoesnotoperateasabartoanactiontoenforcethecivil
liabilityarisingfromcrimeespeciallyasthelatteractionhadbeenexpresslyreserved.
[16]

The case of Mendoza v. La Mallorca Bus Company was decided upon a similar set of facts.
Therein,thedriverofLaMallorcaBusCompanywaschargedwithrecklessimprudenceresultingto
damagetoproperty.Theplaintiffmadeanexpressreservationforthefilingofaseparatecivilaction.
ThedriverwasconvictedwhichconvictionwasaffirmedbythisCourt.Later,plaintifffiledaseparate
civil action for damages based on quasidelictwhich was ordered dismissed by the trial court upon
findingthattheactionwasinstitutedmorethansix(6)yearsfromthedateoftheaccidentandthus,
had already prescribed. Subsequently, plaintiff instituted another action, this time based on the
subsidiaryliabilityofthebuscompany.Thetrialcourtdismissedtheactionholdingthatthedismissal
of the earlier civil case operated as a bar to the filing of the action to enforce the bus companys
subsidiaryliability.
Weheldthatthedismissaloftheactionbasedonculpaaquilianaisnotabartotheenforcement
ofthesubsidiaryliabilityoftheemployer.Oncethereisaconvictionforafelony,finalincharacter,the
employerbecomessubsidiarilyliableifthecommissionofthecrimewasinthedischargeoftheduties
oftheemployees.ThisissobecauseArticle103oftheRevisedPenalCodeoperateswithcontrolling
force to obviate the possibility of the aggrieved party being deprived of indemnity even after the
renditionofafinaljudgmentconvictingtheemployee.
Seen in this light, the trial court should not have dismissed the complaint on the ground of
prescription,butinsteadallowedthecomplaintfordamagesexdelictotobeprosecutedonthemerits,
[17]
consideringpetitionersallegationsintheircomplaint,oppositiontothemotiontodismiss andmotion
for reconsideration
arisingfromcrime.

[18]

of the order of dismissal, insisting that the action was to recover civil liability

Thisdoesnotoffendthepolicythatthereservationorinstitutionofaseparatecivilactionwaives
the other civil actions. The rationale behind this rule is the avoidance of multiple suits between the
[19]

same litigants arising out of the same act or omission of the offender. However, since the stale
actionfordamagesbasedonquasidelictshouldbeconsideredwaived,thereisnomoreoccasionfor
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petitionerstofilemultiplesuitsagainstprivaterespondentsastheonlyrecourseavailabletothemisto
pursuedamagesexdelicto.Thisinterpretationisalsoconsistentwiththebaragainstdoublerecovery
forobviousreasons.
Nowtheproceduralissue.Admittedly,petitionersshouldhaveappealedtheorderofdismissalof
the trial court instead of filing a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals. Such procedural
misstep,however,shouldbeexemptedfromthestrictapplicationoftherulesinordertopromotetheir
[20]

fundamental objective of securing substantial justice. We are loathe to deprive petitioners of the
indemnity to which they are entitled by law and by a final judgment of conviction based solely on a
[21]
technicality.Itisourdutytopreventsuchaninjustice.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered SETTING ASIDE the resolutions of the Court of
AppealsdatedSeptember10,2001andJanuary9,2002,respectivelydismissingthepresentaction
and denying petitioners motion for reconsideration, as well as the orders of the lower court dated
February 26, 2001 and July 16, 2001. Let the case be REMANDED to the trial court for further
proceedings.
SOORDERED.
Puno,(Chairman),AustriaMartinez,Callejo,Sr.,andChicoNazario,JJ.,concur.
[1]
[2]
[3]
[4]
[5]
[6]
[7]
[8]

[9]

Rollo,pp.2545.
Id.at5763.
RTCRecords,pp.15.
Id.at2032.
Id.at5456,OrderdatedFebruary26,2001.
Id.at5766.
Id.at7982.
CA Records, pp. 6061, Resolution dated September 10, 2001 penned by Associate Justice Teodoro P. Regino and
concurredinbyAssociateJusticesDelilahVidallonMagtolisandJoseL.Sabio,Jr.
Id.at7778,ResolutiondatedJanuary9,2002.

[10]
[11]

Rollo,pp.207240.

Id.at289314.

[12]
[13]
[14]
[15]
[16]
[17]
[18]
[19]
[20]
[21]

Id.at315321.
Art.100.
Art.104,RevisedPenalCode.
Canciov.Isip,G.R.No.133978,November12,2002,391SCRA393.
No.L26407,March31,1978,82SCRA243.
RTCRecords,pp.3741.
Id.at5760.
RafaelReyesTruckingCorporationv.People,386Phil41(2000).
Ramiscalv.Sandiganbayan,G.R.No.14057699,December13,2004,446SCRA166.
Dianav.BatangasTransportationCo.,93Phil.391(1953).

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