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Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court
Manila

SPECIAL THIRD DIVISION

ALFONSO T. YUCHENGCO, G.R. No. 184315
Petitioner,
Present:
CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,
- versus - VELASCO, JR.,
PERALTA,
MENDOZA, and
THE MANILA CHRONICLE REYES, JJ.
PUBLISHING CORPORATION, Promulgated:
NOEL CABRERA, GERRY November 28, 2011
ZARAGOZA, DONNA GATDULA,
RODNEY P. DIOLA, RAUL
VALINO, THELMA SAN JUAN and
ROBERT COYIUTO, JR.,
Respondents.
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RESOLUTION

PERALTA, J.:

For resolution is the Motion for Reconsideration[1] dated January 15, 2010,
filed by the respondents, and the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration [2] of
respondent Robert Coyiuto, Jr., dated March 17, 2010, from the Decision
rendered in favor of petitioner Alfonso T. Yuchengco, dated November 25, 2009.

At the outset, a brief narration of the factual and procedural antecedents
that transpired and led to the filing of the motions is in order.

Diola. the trial court rendered a Decision[3] in favor of petitioner. and Chronicle Publishing. CITED BY RESPONDENTS IN THEIR MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION. V. namely: (1) for damages due to libelous publication against Neal H. On March 18. COURT OF APPEALS. all members of the editorial staff and writers of The Manila Chronicle. Subsequently. 2002. Rodney P. Gerry Zaragoza. (2) for damages due to abuse of right against Robert Coyiuto. The present controversy arose when in the last quarter of 1993. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE REVERSIBLE ERROR IN RULING THAT THE SUBJECT . the CA rendered an Amended Decision[6] reversing the earlier Decision. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE REVERSIBLE ERROR IN RULING THAT THE CASE OF ARTURO BORJAL. the CA rendered a Decision[4] affirming in toto the decision of the RTC. B. and (3) for attorneys fees and costs against all the respondents. Noel Cabrera. On November 8. Cruz. Branch 136. several allegedly defamatory articles against petitioner were published in The Manila Chronicle by Chronicle Publishing Corporation. ET AL. under three separate causes of action. Jr. 94-1114. petitioner filed a complaint against respondents before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City. Aggrieved. 2008. Respondents then filed a Motion for Reconsideration[5] praying that the CA reconsider its earlier decision and reverse the decision of the trial court. 2008. Ernesto Tolentino. respondents sought recourse before the Court of Appeals (CA). docketed as Civil Case No. Thelma San Juan.. ET AL. Raul Valino. WARRANTED THE REVERSAL OF THE CA DECISION DATED MARCH 18. petitioner filed the present recourse before this Court which puts forth the following assignment of errors: A. Consequently. and Chronicle Publishing. 2008. On August 28. Donna Gatdula.

this Court rendered a Decision partially granting the petition. On April 21. 2. note the supplemental motion for reconsideration. RESPONDENTS DID NOT ACT IN A RECKLESS MANNER OR IN COMPLETE DISREGARD OF THE TRUTH OF THE MATTERS COVERED BY THE SUBJECT PUBLICATIONS. . also filed a Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration with Attached Supplemental Motion. Meanwhile. and require petitioner to comment on the motion for reconsideration and supplemental motion for reconsideration.s Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration[11] dated 17 March 2010. THE SUBJECT OF THE PUBLICATIONS CONSTITUTES FAIR COMMENTS. both dated March 17. this Court issued a Resolution[9] resolving to recall the Resolution dated March 3. Jr. which the Court denied in the Resolution[8] dated March 3. ON MATTERS OF PUBLIC INTEREST AND NATIONAL CONCERN. respondent Coyiuto. MALICE-IN-FACT HAS NOT BEEN PROVEN. 2010. 2010. 2010. In the Motion for Reconsideration.s motion for leave to file supplemental motion for reconsideration. Respondents later filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated January 15. grant Coyiuto. 2010. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE REVERSIBLE ERROR IN RULING THAT PETITIONER IS A PUBLIC OFFICIAL OR PUBLIC FIGURE. 2009. 3. ARTICLES IN THE COMPLAINT FALL WITHIN THE CONCEPT OF PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATION. respondents moved for a reconsideration of the earlier decision on the following grounds: 1. PETITIONER IS A PUBLIC FIGURE.[7] On November 25. C. 2010. Jr. On June 22. 2010 and Comment on respondent Coyiuto. ON PUBLIC ISSUES. 4. petitioner filed his Comment on the Motion for Reconsideration[10] dated January 15. 2010. Jr.

II. EQUITABLE AND UNJUSTIFIED. BE IMPLEADED TO HAVE . 10. THE IMPOSITION OF MORAL (P25 MILLION PESOS) AND EXEMPLARY (P10 MILLION PESOS) DAMAGES AGAINST RESPONDENT COYIUTO. JR. THE PROTECTIVE MANTLE OF QUALIFIED PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATIONS PROTECTS THE SUBJECT PUBLICATIONS. SEC DOCUMENTS SHOW THE CONTRARY. 1994). AS SUCH. RAUL VALINO ARE BASED ON FACTS. ROBERT COYIUTO. LIABLE FOR THE SUBJECT PUBLICATIONS. OFFICER. IS NOT IMPLEADED WITH THE EDITORS AND STAFF MEMBERS OF THE MANILA CHRONICLE. BUT IS SUED IN HIS PERSONAL CAPACITY FOR AN ABUSE OF RIGHT AND NO EVIDENCE LINKS HIM TO THE SUBJECT PUBLICATIONS. PRINCIPAL OWNER AND OFFICER OF RESPONDENT MANILA CHRONICLE PUBLISHING CORPORATION. JR. JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY. JR. WITH ALL DUE RESPECT.[12] In his Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration. AS CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD. IN RELATION TO ARTICLE 2233. Jr. HOWEVER. NO IOTA OF EVIDENCE WAS ADDUCED ON TRIAL IN SUPPORT OF THE ALLEGATION THAT RESPONDENT COYIUTO. AS WILL BE DISCUSSED HEREUNDER. 9. THUS. JR. NOT LIBELOUS. raises the following arguments: I. SO HOW COULD RESPONDENT COYIUTO. HAS NO BASIS IN LAW AND CONTRARY TO THE SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF ARTICLES 2219 AND 2229. OF THE CIVIL CODE AS WILL BE ELUCIDATED HEREUNDER. RESPONDENT ROBERT COYIUTO. 8. WAS CHAIRMAN.11 OF THE AMENDED COMPLAINT (ANNEX C OF PETITION FOR REVIEW). THE AWARDED DAMAGES ARE EXCESSIVE. JR. APART FROM THE SELF- SERVING/UNILATERAL ALLEGATION IN PARAGRAPH 3. THE QUICK NOTES COLUMN OF MR. OF THE MANILA CHRONICLE PUBLISHING CORPORATION UNDER ARTICLES 19 AND 20 OF THE CIVIL CODE. THIS HONORABLE COURT OBVIOUSLY OVERLOOKED THE FACT THAT IN PETITIONERS AMENDED COMPLAINT (DATED OCTOBER 17. 5. IN HIS PERSONAL CAPACITY FOR ABUSE OF RIGHT (SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION) ALLEGEDLY. HE WAS SUED. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO HOLD THELMA SAN JUAN RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SUBJECT PUBLICATIONS. WITH ALL DUE RESPECT. TOGETHER WITH THE EDITORS AND STAFF OF THE NEWSPAPER. RESPECTIVELY. 7. WAS NOT SUED FOR DAMAGES ALLEGEDLY DUE TO LIBELOUS PUBLICATIONS (FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION). 6. Coyiuto. PRINCIPAL OWNER. THERE IS NO LEGAL OR EVIDENTIARY BASIS TO HOLD DONNA GATDULA.

NON-STOCKHOLDER. Jr. it is apparent that the motion for reconsideration generally restates and reiterates the arguments. in order to write finis to the present controversy. 5. He has already conveyed such denial to plaintiff in the course of the pre-trial. which petitioner complied with. from the supplemental motion for reconsideration. NON-OFFICER OF RESPONDENT MANILA CHRONICLE PUBLISHING CORPORATION? IT IS FUNDAMENTAL THAT THE BURDEN OF PROOF RESTS ON THE PARTY ASSERTING A FACT OR ESTABLISHING A CLAIM (RULE 131. it is apparent that Coyiuto. F. However. petitioner was given the opportunity to refute Coyiuto. should be given all the opportunity to ventilate his arguments in the present action.s arguments by filing his comment on the motion for reconsideration and the supplemental motion for reconsideration. and G.s contention. E. a newspaper of general circulation. From these Comments and contrary to Coyiuto. Jr. . C. ADMITS that he was the Chairman of the Board but not President of the Manila Chronicle during the period Novemeber (sic) to December 1993. of which he is. Coyiuto. It should be noted that the Resolution denying the Motion for Reconsideration was later recalled by this Court in the Resolution dated March 3. even admitted this fact in his Reply and Comment on Request for Admission. basic equity dictates that Coyiuto. Jr. ABUSED HIS RIGHT AS A NON-CHAIRMAN. which were previously advanced by respondents and does not present any substantial reasons. that published the items marked as plaintiffs Exhibits A. which were not formerly invoked and passed upon by the Court. but more importantly. and therein. it was substantially established that he was the Chairman of Manila Chronicle Publishing Corporation when the subject articles were published. B. Defendant Robert Coyiuto Jr. Jr. admittedly Chairman of the Board. This notwithstanding. REVISED RULES OF COURT).[13] From the foregoing. raises a new matter which has not been raised in the proceedings below.[14] to wit: 4. DENIES paragraph 11. 2010. Jr. Defendant Robert Coyiuto Jr. D. It was The Manila Chronicle.

Jr.[17] In Globe Mackay Cable and Radio Corporation v. Robert Coyiuto. none of these exceptions exists in the present case. the cause of action of petitioner based on abuse of rights. was Chairman and President of defendant Manila Chronicle. act with justice. Every person must. is limited to the publications in The Manila Chronicle marked plaintiffs Exhibits A to G. No. While this Court has recognized several exceptions[16] to this rule. published by defendant Manila Chronicle. are binding and conclusive on this Court and will generally not be reviewed on appeal.[18] it was elucidated that while Article 19 lays down a rule of conduct for the . Court of Appeals.s contention. This case. consecutively. This provision of law sets standards which must be observed in the exercise of ones rights as well as in the performance of its duties. only the question of whether Mr. he was never President of The Manila Chronicle. and observe honesty and good faith. And defendant Robert Coyiuto. has answered that: Yes. No. More importantly and contrary again to Coyiuto. in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties. are relevant and material to this case. when adopted and confirmed by the CA. The principle of abuse of rights as enshrined in Article 19 of the Civil Code provides: Art. We reiterate that factual findings of the trial court. this Court finds no reason to depart from the findings of fact of the trial court and the CA. he did not cause the publications in The Manila Chronicle: it was the Manila Chronicle that published the news items adverted to. or Article 19. xxxx 12. based on plaintiffs Amended Complaint. in relation to Article 20 of the Civil Code.Accordingly. during these publications and whether he caused these publications. warrants the award of damages. and observe honesty and good faith. to wit: to act with justice. Jr. he was Chairman of the Board. give everyone his due. give everyone his due.[15] Both the trial court and the CA affirmed this fact. Thus. 19. among all of plaintiffs queries. Jr.

act with justice. and observe honesty and good faith. willfully or negligently causes damage to another shall indemnify the latter for the same. may nevertheless become the source of some illegality. 19. which is the sway and dominance of justice.[19] Corollarilly. Generally. it does not provide a remedy for its violation. though by itself legal because recognized or granted by law as such. if the provision does not provide a . It speaks of the general sanctions of all other provisions of law which do not especially provide for its own sanction. These standards are the following: to act with justice. Article 20 provides that every person who. a legal wrong is thereby committed for which the wrongdoer must be responsible. seeking to remedy the defect of the old Code which merely stated the effects of the law. to the end that law may approach its supreme ideal. Generally. to give everyone his due. an action for damages under either Article 20 or Article 21 would be proper. When a right is exercised in a manner which does not conform with the norms enshrined in Article 19 and results in damage to another. The law. therefore. the norms of human conduct set forth in Article 19 must be observed." [REPORT ON THE CODE COMMISSION ON THE PROPOSED CIVIL CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES. recognizes a primordial limitation on all rights. in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties. an action for damages under either Article 20 or Article 21 would be proper. and to observe honesty and good faith. known to contain what is commonly referred to as the principle of abuse of rights. incorporated certain fundamental precepts which were "designed to indicate certain norms that spring from the fountain of good conscience" and which were also meant to serve as "guides for human conduct [that] should run as golden threads through society.[20] Thus. This article. it does not provide a remedy for its violation. The framers of the Code. Every person must. but failed to draw out its spirit. p.government of human relations and for the maintenance of social order. A right. a legal wrong is thereby committed for which the wrongdoer must be held responsible.) Foremost among these principles is that pronounced in Article 19 which provides: Art. but also in the performance of one's duties. sets certain standards which must be observed not only in the exercise of one's rights. that in their exercise. give everyone his due. But while Article 19 lays down a rule of conduct for the government of human relations and for the maintenance of social order. When a right is exercised in a manner which does not conform to the standards set forth in the said provision and results in damage to another. contrary to law. 39]. The Court said: One of the more notable innovations of the New Civil Code is the codification of "some basic principles that are to be observed for the rightful relationship between human beings and for the stability of the social order." (Id.

neither to enrich the claimant at the expense of the defendant. the damages awarded to petitioner appear to be too excessive and warrants a second hard look by the Court.[25] Further. In the present case. Consequently. Jr. the trial court and the CA correctly awarded moral damages to petitioner.remedy for its violation. still such violations directly resulted in the publication of the libelous articles in the newspaper.[23] Even petitioner.s argument. the same should not be palpably and scandalously excessive. although petitioner is claiming damages for violation of Articles 19 and 20 of the Civil Code. Moral damages are not intended to impose a penalty to the wrongdoer. petitioner cites as sufficient basis for the award of damages the plain reason that he had to go through the ordeal of defending himself everytime someone . While there is no hard-and-fast rule in determining what would be a fair and reasonable amount of moral damages. which led to the publication of the libelous articles in the said newspaper. despite the foregoing. an action for damages under either Article 20 or Article 21 of the Civil Code would be proper. depends on the circumstances of each case. The question of whether or not the principle of abuse of rights has been violated resulting in damages under Article 20 or other applicable provision of law. in relation to Article 20. entitling petitioner to damages under Article 19. but to enable the latter to find some cure for the moral anguish and distress he has undergone by reason of the defamatory and damaging articles which the respondents wrote and published. agree that moral damages are not awarded in order to punish the respondents or to make the petitioner any richer than he already is.[22] However. in his Comment[24] dated June 21. by analogy. indeed abused his rights as Chairman of The Manila Chronicle. 2010. Jr. thus. which. converse to Coyiuto. it was found that Coyiuto. Such damages may be awarded when the transgression is the cause of petitioners anguish. is one of the ground for the recovery of moral damages under (7) of Article 2219.[21] Further.

respectively.00 and P25. Thoenen.approached him to ask whether or not the statements in the defamatory article are true. just and equitable.000. respectively. respectively.00. but to serve as a deterrent against or as a negative incentive to curb socially deleterious actions. among others.000.000.00. Article 2208 of the same Code provides.00 and P10.000. the award of exemplary damages in the first and second cause of action in the amount of P500. In any event. therefore.00 to P200.000.000. Moral damages should be reasonably approximate to the extent of the hurt caused and the gravity of the wrong done. Article 2229 provides that exemplary damages may be imposed by way of example or correction for the public good. however.000. Moral damages are not a bonanza. As for exemplary damages. They are given to ease the defendants grief and suffering. as moral damages are more reasonable.[30] Thus.[27] We noted that the damages in a libel case must depend upon the facts of the particular case and the sound discretion of the court.000. to be too excessive and holds that an award of P1.000. (Peoples Journal) v. although appellate courts were more likely to reduce damages for libel than to increase them. such award must be reasonable. . the award of attorneys fees and costs is reduced from P1.000.[28] The Court. respectively. On the matter of attorneys fees and costs of suit.000. finds the award of moral damages in the first and second cause of action in the amount of P2. Nonetheless. exemplary damages are imposed not to enrich one party or impoverish another.00.000.[29] On this basis.00.000. is reduced to P200. Inc.00 and P10.00 and P1. Almario.000.000.000. So it must be in this case. In Philippine Journalists.[26] citing Guevarra v. that attorneys fees and expenses of litigation may be recovered in cases when exemplary damages are awarded and where the court deems it just and equitable that attorneys fees and expenses of litigation should be recovered.00.000.

petitioner intended the liability of Coyiuto. for violation of the principle of abuse of right. was impleaded in the first cause of action for recovery of the civil liability in libel. pay millions of pesos by way of moral and exemplary damages in the second cause of action. Hence. under Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code. Jr. petitioner could not have prayed for higher damages. he cannot be held solidarily liable with the other respondents in the first cause of action. Because of the exclusion of Coyiuto. in the first cause of action for libel. hence. Corollarilly. had spared the other respondents from paying such steep amount of damages. It did not escape the attention of the Court that in filing two different causes of action based on the same published articles. Jr. Jr. in effect. It can be inferred that if Coyiuto. who are jointly and severally liable with one another. Petitioner. Jr. Jr. Nonetheless. Jr. considering that the other respondents. Jr. since damage to petitioner was in fact established warranting the award of moral and exemplary damages. only civil in nature. to be different from the other respondents. Coyiuto. are not in the same financial standing as Coyiuto. respondents liability was proven only on the basis of preponderance of evidence. . should have been held jointly and solidarily liable with the other respondents in the first cause of action under this article and not on the basis of violation of the principle of abuse of rights founded on Articles 19 and 20 of the Civil Code. The rule is that a party who has the burden of proof in a civil case must establish his cause of action by a preponderance of evidence. Thus. the case against respondent was one for damages based on the publication of libelous articles against petitioner. which is quite different from a criminal case for libel where proof beyond reasonable doubt must be established. the same could only be awarded based on petitioners second cause of action impleading Coyiuto. while at the same time prayed that Coyiuto. the person who caused the publication of a defamatory article shall be responsible for the same. One final note.

000. the amount of Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200. SO ORDERED.00) as moral damages. and b.000. jointly and severally: a. to pay plaintiff Yuchengco.000. ordering all defendants to pay plaintiff Yuchengco. PERALTA Associate Justice . Neil H. dated November 25. Gerry Zaragoza.000. jointly and severally: a. Costs against respondents. the amount of Ten Million Pesos (P10. WHEREFORE. the Motion for Reconsideration and Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration are PARTIALLY GRANTED. is MODIFIED to read as follows: WHEREFORE. Ernesto Tolentino.000. jointly and severally. ordering defendants Robert Coyiuto. Raul Valino and Rodney Diola. DIOSDADO M.00) as exemplary damages. Thelma San Juan. ordering defendants Chronicle Publishing. On the Second Cause of Action. Donna Gatdula. Noel Cabrera.00) as exemplary damages. On the First Cause of Action. 2009. The Decision of this Court. 2.00) as attorneys fee and legal costs. and Chronicle Publishing to pay plaintiff Yuchengco. On the Third Cause of Action. Cruz. Jr. the amount of One Million Pesos (P1.00) as moral damages.000. the amount of Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200. 3. the amount of One Million Pesos (P1. in view of the foregoing. judgment is hereby rendered as follows: 1. and b.000.000.

pp. JR. I certify that the conclusions in the above Resolution had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division. REYES Associate Justice CERTIFICATION Pursuant to Section 13. Article VIII of the Constitution. Associate Justice JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA Associate Justice BIENVENIDO L.WE CONCUR: RENATO C. VELASCO. CORONA Associate Justice Chairperson PRESBITERO J. CORONA Chief Justice [1] Rollo. . 428-459. RENATO C.

[21] Civil Code. 156841. [14] Records. G. Art. [15] Id. v. [3] Id. at 428-429. 543 SCRA 512. [5] Id.[2] Id. Inc. [17] GF Equity. [13] Id. at 174-194. 477 (1932). 512 Phil. wounded feelings. February 4. No. [10] Id. [7] Id. II. Inc. [27] 56 Phil. 158557. at 655-656. [19] Id. 607. 625 (2005). 847 (2005) . [28] Philippine Commercial International Bank v. 731-734. at 522-574. 2008. 783 (1989). 511.R. supra note 23. [24] Rollo. [30] Cebu Country Club. at195-248. [25] Id. x x x x. at 470-471. 2007. [20] Manuel v.R. 160273.. mental anguish. 2005. 757-758. moral shock. Moral damages include physical suffering. 524 (2002). [29] Country Bankers Insurance Corporation v. at 470-481. at 732-733. Inc. 462 SCRA 466. [12] Id. at 53-62. pp. Though incapable of pecuniary computation. No. pp. Inc. 478. January 18. September 21. 818. G. [4] Id. 75. 2217. v. at 625-659. Alejandro. slander or any other form of defamation. Valenzona. at 249-256. June 30. serious anxiety. . People. 542 SCRA 65. G. 175587. moral damages may be recovered if they are the proximate result of the defendants wrongful act for omission. [11] Id. Elizagaque. 625-659. 2008. xxxx (7) Libel. [6] Id. Pama. social humiliation. at 348-349. fright. at 511-512. 2219. [23] Cebu Country Club. Lianga Bay and Community Multi-Purpose Cooperative. No. G. [22] Art. besmirched reputation. No. [8] Id. at 783-784. 425 Phil. Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous cases. at 464-464 [9] Id. [18] 257 Phil.R. [16] See Montecillo v. [26] 513 Phil.R. Vol. at 76. and similar injury. Elizagaque. v. 533 SCRA 738.